Two years ago, on Tuesday, October 28, 2008, Straight No Chaser's debut album on Atlantic Records, Holiday Spirits, was released. We in SNC found ourselves at our respective homes and workplaces, wondering where we were headed, how we were going make ends meet performing, and what putting a group of friends back together to sign a recording contract with one of the most storied labels in the industry truly entailed. While a small handful of those early questions linger in our minds, now some 730 days since we were officially introduced to the world, I can attest that they are far outweighed by the amazing memories and strong(er) friendships that we've created along the way.
(Rising in pitch) Awwwwww.
Two years ago, I, for one, was weighing how long I could juggle a rewarding and enjoyable career teaching my guitar and voice students back home and a fledgling career as a professional singer that was rapidly thrusting each of us in SNC into uncharted territory. In other words, none of us had a clue what was going to happen to us once Holiday Spirits was released. For that matter, Atlantic Records had no idea what was going to happen. Everyone took a moderate risk on us while we risked everything we had to see what could happen if we gave this all another shot; this time, on a much, much bigger scale than singing 30 minutes at an Alpha Chi Omega Mom's Weekend brunch.
Back to 10/28/08. SNC was not the line-up you'd see at a show now. We had Steve, Dan, & Mike (Itkoff) alongside us (all of whom are doing great, by the way...) and had spent several months rehearsing Christmas songs as our work schedules permitted. This usually meant we would work all week in our respective cities, meet in New York on a Friday, sing Christmas tunes for two days straight, fly home, and repeat the madness weekly for three months. I recall Steve would rehearse with us for five hours in the morning, go perform in Mama Mia on Broadway, and meet us back at the rehearsal studio until we split for dinner at 8 or so. To put it simply, all of us were freaking exhausted for most of 2008. And, mind you, this was before we laid down one note in the studio! If Marty McFly rolled up to me on the street tomorrow and invited me to take the DeLorean for a spin into the past, that taxing rehearsal period in New York would not be highest on my list (although it would be fun to be a fly on the wall and witness us learning some of those songs for the first time together...).
Seriously, typing that paragraph just made my Summer of 2008 twitch come back.
On top of rehearsals and recording, we also had a tour shaping up for December that would end up taking us from coast to coast, up to Canada (eh) in radio stations talking to hosts who were sharing our music with their listeners for the first time, on studio sets for TV shoots, on basketball courts to sing the National Anthem, and packed into more cramped 15-passenger vans and cabs than I care to remember. None of us knew how to pack efficiently for a tour (some still don't, but I won't mention any names, Charlie), one of us lost our luggage by an airline that rhymes with Mouthwest (I'm over it, really, I am), and let's never forget that each of us had a wife/girlfriend supporting us back home, each of whom had the same questions about everything going on as we did...
Since that Tuesday two years ago, we have been handed the opportunity to perform hundreds of shows for tens of thousands of people, produce a national PBS special that has reached countless more, collaborate with amazing artists, build a residency show from the ground up, meet fans of all ages (you're the best in the world!), and release three albums, an EP, and a DVD - of which nearly half a million copies combined have been sold. Seriously, who gets to do this?
To some extent, we still don't have any idea what's going to happen in the future (who really does, after all?), but the number of question marks above our heads has diminished significantly thanks to the team of professionals we have been blessed to have working alongside us for nearly the past three years. There are ten of us singing onstage every night, but without the hundreds of people working at our management company, record label, booking agency, etc. - some of whom we haven't even met - not to mention our families back home, we would have zero chance of being able to do what we do for a living. If you are reading this and you are one of those people, we could never tell you how grateful we are for your daily support and "behind-the-scenes" effort to help our music be heard. (Keep it up, please.)
Holiday Spirits, Happy 2nd Birthday! You're so cute with your gold-ish packaging, adorable Copperplate font, and completely outdated diamond group photo in your liner notes that makes Seggie, Tyler, and Don cringe a bit every time they see it in a signing line. Enjoy your moment in the spotlight today; you've earned it. Now blow out the candles so I can go to bed already...
From a hotel room in Grand Junction, Colorado,