I’m gonna buy myself a bike with a basket
Tell people where to go when they ask it
Drink just enough coffee not to call you
Every time I know I’ll want to
And I’ll finally make some friends who play the banjo
If I’m lucky, with a porch we can all go
Maybe take some walks when the sun’s low
Remind me I should leave my phone at home
– Hayley Reardon, “When I Get to Tennessee”
Back when I was simultaneously booking musicians, running a retail store for new mothers, and raising my babies, I felt I should have a business card that just read “Professional Mom.” All those mother-hen instincts kicked back in last night, when a teenager with a guitar case bigger than her body walked through my front door. The magic of the internet lets us get a glimpse of strangers, but YouTube did not fully reveal what a sweet, professional, effervescent young woman would be playing in my dining room. Hayley’s many years of experience were immediately clear in the ease of her set-up and one-woman sound check, but it was a relief to see that spending her entire adolescence as a performer hadn’t dampened a bit of her enthusiasm and wonder.
I deliberately didn’t mention Hayley’s age when I introduced her, because I didn’t want to put an asterisk on her performance. Her songs stand on their own, without any qualification. Her voice isn’t ever going to get carded. But of course, as the authentic storyteller she is, Hayley doesn’t shy away from her own history. She’s more than willing to explain that a song is called “Tornado in a Teapot” because she’d only heard the original phrase once, spoken by a “grown-up,” (“they don’t say that on the playground”) and couldn’t remember the word “tempest.”
I can’t recreate the feeling of the room in words, nor would I want to try. The reason I produce these shows is because the experience is so personal. But it was, once again, a reminder that the connection between music, musicians, and listeners is a tenable, powerful thing. Each house show creates a small community. It’s sort of like boot camp, if drill sergeants sang in beautifully turned phrases. I’m so happy to know that Hayley is just down the road in Nashville now, because it’s wonderful to have her be part of the family.
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