The First Ever Unchained Tour of Georgia

George Dawes Green started The Moth fourteen years ago, this you might already know. There are about nine sentences written in every article about the so-called storytelling scene in New York and this is one of them, so apologies if you’ve read it a thousand times. When George called me up this summer and asked me to do 14 dates with him in Fall, I said yes. Aside from liking him, I am deeply indebted to George and The Moth. In 1999 when I quit drinking, broke up with my girlfriend, and lost my job, those nights at The Moth were keeping me out of a tiny apartment without furniture where I would just sit for hours feeling confused about the future; those nights at The Moth back then were probably saving my damn life. So when they call, or George calls, I say yes, period. And I figured these dates George called about were a book tour thing for him or maybe a Moth thing that he was putting together. It slowly became clear it was neither. Talk of an old school bus. Talk of playing anywhere that would have us; of musical acts like Katy Cox & Phil Roebuck and Cary Ann Hearst & Michael Trent playing murder ballads throughout the show. Talk of never leaving the state the tour starts in. Fourteen shows in Georgia. Are there even fourteen places to play in Georgia? I mean, you have Athens. You have Atlanta. There’s Decatur. George has seen something small become something big and worldwide and maybe he wanted to see something be small again. The guy is first and foremost a poet, if you ask me - and the romance of small is giant. So here was The Unchained Tour — a chance to get on the bus, and for the bus to break down, a chance to play any place that would have us, for better or worse. It was old theaters, it was small town bookstores, it was roadhouse bars like Manuel’s in Atlanta. It was long drives and no sleep; navigating truck stops with the people you were onstage with last night and the night before and the night before that; pulling over on a five-hour drive with four of those hours still ahead of you, just because the moon is full and you all figure you should be standing out there under it for a few minutes and feeling it. It was finding these gems of towns you never knew existed and remembering that the world is not New York and Los Angeles. It was ghosts, moonlight, Spanish moss, and widow’s walks. It was late-night waves of Red Bull or coffee in your blood washing a million new things into your heart. It was saying old and new words into microphones and making random asides that you didn’t know were in you, probably ghosts getting a laugh through you. And every night started with lights going down and Michael & Cary stomping out songs about Bad Luck or Katy & Phil sliding through the bluesy dirge of John and his ghost being chilly with no skin on. It was driving with Francis Allen and him making us laugh so damn hard when I, for one, didn’t think I had it in me from being so completely drenched, then dried, then spent and wired. These shows were maybe the best I’ve ever been on a stage. And I got to see people I see doing shows all the time in New York —like Juliet Wayne and Edgar Oliver— push it to new levels doing so many nights in a row; I think it was the best I’ve seen them. I’m lucky as hell to have ever gotten tangled up with The Moth ten or eleven years ago now. And lightning struck twice when I got a front row seat to how gigantic it is to be part of something small and just getting up on its feet the way Unchained is. I fell in love a thousand times out there I think; every single person on The Unchained Tour was a gem and a luckiest chance meeting. If I learned anything these three weeks to share with you it is this: if you are someplace small, don’t waste a minute thinking you need to be in New York or London; follow your heart; let your work pick you up and take you where it’s trying to; roll your eyes at every little fear talking smack in your head, because your head has nothing to do with it in the end. And also: sing and dance a little bit about death and how we’re all heading that direction, and a little bit about love and how none of us know what the hell is happening — after starting 21 nights this way, it has been my experience that it is a secret to realizing you are alive and lucky to be. I’ve been back home two days and am just beginning to realize that this thing changed my heart and every riff and rhythm I thought I had down pat. Viva being Unchained. 

-Dan Kennedy

  1. binni-turner reblogged this from dankennedy-nyc
  2. mulmer reblogged this from dankennedy-nyc
  3. bdbm reblogged this from elizabethrushing and added:
    I ran into George a few months back at McDonoughs (of all places) and had a great chat about the tour. Was very excited...
  4. elizabethrushing reblogged this from dankennedy-nyc and added:
    I’ve posted a few links regarding George’s latest creation, The Unchained Tour. The following is a personal account of...
  5. jannygirljr reblogged this from dankennedy-nyc and added:
    I’m so honored to have been so involved with this tour. Dan Kennedy sums it up so beautifully. (Plus I really like Dan...
  6. dankennedy-nyc posted this