Austin and I pulled into Raleigh, North Carolina at 2:30 PM. Sweet Will Smith (friend to many, stranger to none) met us at Woody’s, a local hangout a few blocks from his condo and we recapped the events of the tour over a few frosty beverages. The show that evening was doubling as a Toys For Tots benefit, so after knocking back our brews we jumped into the Element and parked it as his place before heading out to buy some toys. Holly was flying in for the Raleigh and Richmond shows, and after grabbing a significant amount of loot we waited for her arrival at the condo.
Sweet Will’s pad is spectacular– its huge floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the very center of the city. It’s a veritable home away from home for me… I’ve spent many a day there, taking a breather from the hectic pace of life on the road. I even wrote most of Buzzing Like A Wire while sitting in an armchair overlooking the busy city street below his place one sunny afternoon a year or so ago. Will has been an invaluable friend to me over the years, and if a man can measure the value of his worth by the quality of his friends, Sweet is one of the reasons why I consider my life and experiences to be of the highest value. I hope everyone has a Sweet Will in their lives.
Holly and Summer (Will’s girlfriend, and ambassador for all that is good in Raleigh) arrived a few hours later, and we decided to order pizza and hang out for a couple of hours before we headed to The Oxford for the show. Fully fortified, we set out on the lengthy trek to the venue… down 5 flights, hang a right, walk 100 ft, and duck into The Oxford. It’s in the same building as Will’s condo, so the load in and out was as easy as it has ever been.
We played that night to a packed house of friends and fans. By closing time, the crowd had thinned out, we said our goodbyes to the people that were still hanging around, and headed back to Will’s place (again, up 5 flights, down a hallway, and through his front door) for after party, which lasted well into the wee hours of the morning in fitting Raleigh fashion.
Raleigh has a lot going for it– a growing city that has been developing its reputation as a family-oriented, yet slightly cosmopolitan beacon amidst the pine trees and piedmont of the North Carolinian landscape. It’s hip and it’s fun, but that’s not what makes it such a special place. It’s the people. There is not a familiar building, street, venue, or park that I do not associate with wonderful memories that I have shared with equally wonderful friends. Friends that feel almost as if they are family.
Raleigh is my kind of city.
Then again, any city would be my kind of city if it had Sweet Will and his merry band of ladies and gentleman living within its borders.
In the morning we’d be off to Richmond to see more friends and play one more show before making the long drive back to Texas.