By the time these words become ink, John Nemeth will be walking in Memphis. But when I call him, he's still en route, driving alone outside Flagstaff, Ariz., with a jade plant and Christmas cactus seated next to him.
"Man, I got a 26-foot, Budget rental, straight-truck diesel with an SUV on a tow dolly behind me," the singer and harmonica virtuoso says.
He sounds rather ecstatic.
Nemeth, who returns to his former hometown of Boise for a Feb. 16 concert at the Egyptian Theatre, is moving to Tennessee.
In 2004, he relocated from Idaho to the Bay Area, where he landed a deal with Blind Pig Records and made career-advancing connections with big-city blues and soul musicians.
But it's time for another change.
Memphis has a deep music history. Plus, the cost of living is lower than in Oakland, Calif. - so much that Nemeth will have a three-bedroom, two-bath house with a two-car garage and a shop to serve as a rehearsal studio.
"And I'm saving $950 a month in rent," he exclaims, cackling gleefully.
Most important, Memphis will make touring efficient.
"I can hit every town up to Chicago and back in five days," he says. "I can pretty much scoot anywhere without having to be on the road for six to eight weeks at a stretch.
"I'm going to be able to spend twice as much time with my family."
That's crucial to a man with a wife and 2-year-old daughter.
With musical gifts like his, Nemeth is bound to find new extended family in Memphis, too, where classic labels such as Stax and Sun Records were founded. He's already lined up killer Memphis soul-jazz band The Bo-Keys to back him on his next studio album.
Nemeth's voice rises excitedly as he talks about drummer Howard Grimes, who played on albums in the 1970s for artists such as Al Green and Ann Peebles.
"Oh, man, what a groove," Nemeth gushes. "This is gonna be fantastic."
There's one other reason Nemeth might as well go to Memphis: The 34th annual Blues Music Awards (www.blues.org), which take place May 9 at the Cook Convention Center.
Nemeth's two self-released live CDs, "Soul Live" and "Blues Live," are up for a whopping five honors: Soul Blues Album, Contemporary Blues Album, Soul Blues Male Artist, Instrumentalist - Harmonica, and B.B. King Entertainer of the year.
Winning a few of those awards would be validation that can be used by publicists, agents and labels to further Nemeth's career.
"Better gigs. More cash. Hallelujah!" Nemeth says.
First, however, he'll visit Boise for a gig at the Egyptian Theatre, a fine venue for his rich, powerful voice.
It's a show celebrating a performance milestone for the former Bishop Kelly high school kid.
"I mean, this is my 20th year - since Fat John and the Three Slims in 1993 took Downtown Boise by storm," Nemeth adds, laughing.
Back then, Nemeth would play as many as four or five shows a week at places such as the Sandpiper, Tom Grainey's, Pengilly's, Eastside Tavern and Blues Bouquet.
Nowadays, he laments, folks don't go out quite as much. Gigging has changed.
"It's more like 200 to 250 shows a year, but I'm traveling all over the country to do it," he says.
Living in Memphis should help. And, if not, Nemeth still will find a way.
After all, this is a man well-versed in singing the blues.
"You just keep moving forward one juke joint at a time," he says.
- John Nemeth, 7 p.m. Feb. 16, Egyptian Theatre, 700 W. Main St., Boise. $20, $25 and $30, www.egyptiantheatre.net. Opening: Frim Fram Four.
LOUIS CK COMEDY CONCERT
Comedian Louis CK, whose FX series, "Louie," is one of the best things on television, will roll into Boise for a March 7 show at Taco Bell Arena .
Tickets are $45 - that's total, no hidden service fees - and are available exclusively at www.louisck.net.
If you haven't seen "Louie," do yourself a favor: set the DVR. The loosely autobiographical show about a single father raising two daughters is hilarious yet horribly uncomfortable. It's like having someone aggressively scratch a chalkboard with one hand while tickling you mercilessly with the other. Until you pass out.
The Idaho Botanical Garden and Idaho Center Amphitheater have had enough of winter.
Both venues recently announced outdoor concerts in August.
- Pop-rock act fun. - which is up for multiple Grammy Awards (7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10, CBS) - is headed to the Idaho Botanical Garden's Outlaw Field on Aug. 28. Tickets are $35 and go on sale at noon Feb. 15 at TicketWeb. Tegan and Sara open.
- Country singer Alan Jackson will headline "Idaho's biggest backyard summer kegger" Aug. 9 at the Idaho Center Amphitheater.
Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Feb. 15 for $39.50 lawn, $59.50 reserved seat, at ICTickets.
NEWS RADIO UPDATE
Two news programs will debut Monday, Feb. 11, on NewsRadio KINF 99.1 FM.
"The Austin Hill Show" will air from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. weekdays. Hill also is a reporter for the Idaho Freedom Foundation's news arm, IdahoReporter.com.
And Brian Wiley leaves KIDO 580 AM to host "The Money Show" on 99.1 FM from noon to 2 p.m. weekdays.
Michael Deeds' column runs Fridays in Scene and Sundays in Life. Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @IDS_Deeds