Report from Van Nuys, California: I have been in a bar about three times in my life, all within the last nine years. Bars make me nervous -- maybe because they are generally loud and I'm very sensitive to loud noises and loud places.
But, Wednesday night, our friend Dillon invited us to hear some friends of his play at Irelands 32 in Van Nuys. When people in Los Angeles invite you to hear their friends play, don't be surprised if their friend turns out to be Merle Haggard's bassist. Just act casual, like it happens every day.
At some point, the band invited Dillon up to play and sing and then the late Etta James's guitarist offered Billy his guitar. It seemed like a casual enough act, but then he sat down beside me and said, "I never let anyone play that guitar, but I know there's some history there." He closed his eyes and listened with a smile.
And so for the first time in 32 years, Dillon and Billy played country blues together. And for the first time in nine years Billy played electric guitar.
After a lifetime of playing and producing country, blues, rock, Eastern Indian, and folk music, touring on spiffy buses, and performing at the Grand Ole Opry, Billy heard my songs and offered to go out on the road with this unknown Appalachian storyteller and songwriter. He believed in me completely and has stood there on my left through hundreds of concerts over the last nine years. And I am ever mindful of the deep love he has for music and the lifetime of performance he brought to our leap into Jeni & Billy.
Here's to Billy, my true love, and here's to Dillon O'Brian, our true blue friend. It was pure joy to hear you Baltimore Boys together again.