Day 6 – #HOPEtour (Naperville, Andy Grammer, and Strip Clubs)

I arrived at the hotel in Naperville around 4:00 the night before the show at North Central College w/ Andy Grammer. I arrived and checked in, but had to fight the lady behind the counter and explain to her that I was not “Andy Grammer” and that while the reservation was under his name, it was my room, and I was playing the same show… (Eventually, I had to tell her I WAS Andy Grammer… and that was a stage name… My REAL name was Josh Damigo…don’t judge me… I was tired… and she wouldn’t give me my room…)

I got to my room and there was a rave going on next door… I didn’t know that people still did that… Was offered E in the hall, but turned it down cause I was tired…(J/k mom…sheesh… let me finish…) …just like you guys should. #rolemodel I fell asleep and woke up around 12:30.

My sound check was at around 2:00, so I strolled to a coffee house to get my Grande Sugar free Hazelnut Americana w/ Room #hint, and got myself to the Wentz Music Hall.

When I got there, I was greeted by Ryan, who I’ll talk more about later, and about 6 of the volunteers from the show. Each of them grabbed a box/bag and helped carry it to the stage/dressing room. I could get used to having roadies! I went down and got comfortable in my green room, set up my coffee machine to make a batch at 7:00 and got back in my car to find a Wells Fargo.

Wells Fargo does not exist in ATM form in Naperville… just so you know. It’s mostly just Home Mortgage locations. After an hour of driving all over Naperville looking for one, I realized why there were so many spots for home mortgaging, though… Naperville is like a scene from a pop-up story book. it’s beautiful!

My sound check was about 6:00, so I got back to the venue at around 5:30 and ran a couple students through the credit card process/which I guess they didn’t use, since I didn’t sell any cd’s via credit card…. 😛

I stood back and watched Andy’s soundcheck. Everything was awesome, and it made me miss my backing band, “The Midnight Pound.” I wish I could tour with them… actually… I wish I could just play with them. It’s such a bummer that I can’t afford to pay a band right now… but I will eventually! 🙂 I shook hands, but they were in “work mode” so I don’t think they really knew who I was, or that I was opening. (I actually know the drummer, Mike Baker, from LA, but he and I didn’t put it together until about 5 hours after the gig… he didn’t even know I opened… haha!) But you don’t play for the headliner, you play for the fans. 🙂

There was another band that was on before I was, and the guitar player was really nice. I let him check out my new Deering Banjo, and he was digging it.

The sound guys were all based out of Chicago and treated me great. They were super careful with my sound, and helped me get the best tone out of my guitar and banjo that I’ve had so far. After the show, the lead sound guy’s dad even offered me a place to stay the next time I come to Chicago. 🙂

15 minutes before the show, I started over-thinking everything. “They are gonna hate me… I’m just acoustic, and the guy after me is playing to a track AND has a band… and Andy Grammer has hits and a full band… I’m gonna suck… My “coffeehouse” techniques aren’t gonna work in front of 600 people… nobody is gonna care why I wrote this song… they’re not gonna laugh at my jokes…etc…” I started having a mini-panic attack and my phone died… so I ran to my car and started charging it. I played “Watch the Throne” by Kanye West and Jay-Z to get my swagger back and texted Deez and Farley to tell them how much I loved them and how I couldn’t have gotten where I am without them. Both of them sent me encouraging texts back which was totally what I needed and I started dancing/getting down to the songs… and suddenly, I was ready to play… It’s amazing what music can do.

I got back to the stage as Ryan was starting to introduce me: Here’s Ryan’s story- I was on tour with Matt Ryd, and was bumming kinda hard because the tour was being lower attended than I had hoped, and some of the venues sound systems were terrible. I was wrestling with the same issue I always am, “Is this all really worth it? Is the music industry broken, and I’m fighting an uphill battle and expecting more than can actually be delivered? Do I still want to do this?” when I got an e-mail.

It was from Ryan Pletsch, a student from North Central College, who was in charge of a big show, and he couldn’t give me all the info yet, but he wanted to know if I’d be available for a show in October. I kinda rolled my eyes, cause usually people don’t follow through on e-mails like this, but I e-mailed back and told him that “If the price is right, I’ll be there!” 😛 He e-mailed me back, shocked that I had responded so quickly, and gave me more info. They were in the final stages of booking Andy Grammer for a show, and I had come up on his Pandora, and he wanted me to open… My mouth dropped and before I e-mailed him back, I texted my girlfriend, that I was dating at the time, and told her the good news. (Best part of dating her was how supportive we were of each other.) I let him know that I was down, and would work with whatever budget they had, and that he should come to my show in Chicago later that week to make sure he dug my stuff. He agreed and came out to my show at Elbo Room.

That show wasn’t my best, but it wasn’t my worst… 😛 I actually popped 2 strings and tried doing an acapella version of “Pocket Change” that in my opinion… failed miserably…  But afterwards he came up to me and said, “THAT WAS AMAZING… WE’LL DEFINITELY BE CONTACTING YOU…”

Fast forward through e-mails, paperwork, insurance (Really??? I didn’t even have to carry anything… why did I need insurance???? haha) and I was about to walk onto a stage full of energized 19 year olds and play. None of this would have been possible if someone didn’t believe in me more than I believed in myself. Ryan. Thank you, man… I hope I’m the best 3rd option you ever book… 😛 But seriously. Thank you for believing in me.

I heard my name and walked out on stage. I took a few photos with my camera, because it seemed like the thing to do…. I told them it was because my mom wouldn’t believe me. (Side note: when I texted her those pictures and called her, she said, “That’s nice, Josh. I have to go because your grandparents and I are going to the neighbors to talk about their car…” apparently my brother ran into their car on accident. That little kid gets all the attention… ::sigh:: :-P)

I played “Just Let Me Love You” and people started clapping along, which was cool… but they have MAD RHYTHM in Naperville. I joked around that I thought that they must sit around when it snows and just clap to songs… (I hate snow more than I hate the rain… #seewhatididthere?) I did my loop and could feel people’s conversations ceasing… except for this one girl on my left side who talked through the whole set… but she was talking about how good I was, so I didn’t call her out on it….

I grabbed my banjo and played “Pocket Change” and “Alright”. I love this thing. it sounds so cool, and brings a whole new dimension to the songs. I followed that one with “LA is Not My Home”, and ended it with “…I belong here at North Central….” (Which was amazing, because I COULDN’T REMEMBER WHERE I WAS… I’m glad they had NC shirts in the front row…. cause I almost peed.)

I wanted to play “I’ll Have to Say I Love You in a Song” by Jim Croce, but didn’t wanna go over my set length, so I skipped it and went straight to “If I Had a Dollar”. I told them that being a broke singer/songwriter is tough. Guys on record labels are like, “Yo girl… you should take me home with you… I’m like, ‘Yo girl, can I come borrow your shower???’ Seriously… Your parents would approve of me…” Later I had a few tweets/facebook posts offering me free showers. Haha!

I finished the set with “Cougar” and popped a string on the last strum. (whew… so glad that didn’t happen earlier in the set…) I thanked everyone grabbed my stuff and walked off.

Photo by Devon Dickson

The energy was amazing. Just absolutely… amazing.

I met and took pictures with about 50 people and they are AWESOME in Naperville. Everyone was so kind and friendly and I hope to see them all again.

The rest of the show was awesome, and there was even a part where they turned all the lights off and just had glowsticks. Andy said one of the greatest lines I’d ever heard, “We are all glowsticks… we have to break to shine.” #genius.

I went back to the hotel, slept for a little bit, not much tho, cause my adrenaline was still pumping. Then came the crash…..

It’s similar to what I imagine Post Partum Depression is like- And it happens after alot of shows. I play a spectacular show/event and then the next day or so, I go into a kind of depression/hangover that wonders if people really liked it, if it was all just my imagination, that they’d forget how to spell my name/forget who I was/etc… I’m sure that’s not normal, or healthy, but it happens all the time. My mom and Hamby always say that they are prepared for me to be down the day after a big show… ha… at least they know me… and don’t send me those “How was the show???” texts… (It’s also funny how I try to explain this to people, but they never get it… The last thing I want to think about is the show… but I understand that people get excited… I guess it’s just how I deal with it. At the end of the day, this is still a job. It may be a fun job, but it’s still a job, and I have to perform with everything I have, and then want to relax after/not talk about it.)

So I drove to Toledo and talked to John McAfee, my bass player, Kory’s dad. I’m playing with him tonight and it was good talking to someone who knows the high’s and low’s of the road/biz. I got to Toledo, and watched the Patriot’s game, got some dinner and then went to Applebee’s to watch the Chargers/Saints game and a little of the Yankees/Baltimore game because it was pretty much the only place showing the game that wasn’t a Strip Club. (I had to put Strip Club in the title so people would actually read this post….:-P)

Went to bed, texted a few friends and drifted off.

I guess that’s everything. I’m so thankful to Ryan and NCC for all the love and the opportunity to play for them. I wish I could do this more often. Anyone wanna give me a record deal? 🙂

Till tomorrow, know that I love ya.

(P.S. Thanks to everyone who came to the show that knew who I was before I even spoke. Keep finding good music, and thanks for coming! Love you guys!) How’s that, @lois321? Thanks for coming all the way from Cali! 🙂


About Josh Damigo

Josh will cheerfully admit that he averaged less than a dozen people a show when he first began playing San Diego coffee houses. But he garnered diehard fans in the process, sold a few thousand copies of his homemade EP, Pocket Change, and picked up few awards along the way. After a traumatic family incident, Damigo retreated inward, and he ended up writing what would ultimately become his breakout debut, Raw. The album was true to its name and people noticed - Josh picked up two San Diego Music Awards for “Best Acoustic” and “Best Local Recording,” opened for the likes of Zac Brown, Jason Mraz, Eric Hutchinson, and Matt Nathanson, and had enough money and momentum to tour the country a few times over. A few years after Raw, there was his third release, Hope. Whereas Raw was a mostly acoustic, vulnerable affair, Hope was a celebration. Pleading and poignant, heartfelt and heavy hearted, it segued effortlessly from orchestral to alt-country, eventually landing him in the top 25 on the country charts. One of the hardest working indie singer/songwriters in Southern California, Damigo spent much of year with producer Mike Butler, gathering up some of the finest musicians in town, shaping his songs and sound further still for his latest album, "Just Give Me a Call", available now, on Randm Records. From the up-tempo single, “Just Give Me a Call”, to the simple sincerity of the ballad “Tennessee”, Josh’s songwriting skills are clear, his voice rings true and his goals remain the same as when he started - to keep making the best music he can, and to share it with all.
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2 Responses to Day 6 – #HOPEtour (Naperville, Andy Grammer, and Strip Clubs)

  1. Kim Frazier says:

    Just wanted to let you know you did an AMAZING job at NCC!! We didn’t know you before Saturday, but I can assure you we do now! We have looked at lots of your videos and love, love, love your acoustic music, especially some of your older stuff! Wish we had connections to help you make it big in the music industry, but unfortunately we don’t. Just know that one day YOU WILL MAKE IT BIG, and that’s coming from the 40 something year olds in the audience! Just don’t forget your fans when you do make it big… were the only one that posted anything about the concert at NCC…kudos to you!

  2. biancaalice says:

    I love Andy Grammer, he is the next IT boy, thank goodness as all of these 18 year old boys have just been clustering the music scene. Watch and share this video if you agree:

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