A lucky man who’s never felt so loved.
The capacity of the Revival Room at the Southgate House is fewer than 100 people. Tommy Womack is thrilled with the prospect of playing for whoever shows up Saturday night.
Of course, if you were T-boned by a semi truck on a rural Kentucky intersection a little more than a year ago, you would be happy to be alive.
The Nashville singer-songwriter has a new album, “Namaste” (Na Ma Stay – “The spirit in me salutes the spirit in you”), that celebrates his appreciation to be drawing breath.
“I should have looked both ways (he mistook the intersection for a four-way stop) a little more carefully,” he says with the hint of humor that comes across in almost every sentence, and many of his songs as well. “I’ve never felt so loved as I did after that wreck.
“We had casseroles comin’ in the house one after another. This lady asked me not to say anything, but what the hell: A big fan in Florida gave us a car. Things like that happened right and left.”
There is good reason those things happened. Womack has built 30 years of goodwill with fans and fellow musicians in Nashville. He has worked with a number of top-tier folks, including Will Kimbrough, Todd Snider, Jason Ringenberg and David Olney. He was in the influential (if not commercially successful) bands Government Cheese and the BisQuits. (Watch Womack and Kimbrough perform Daddy Duo – YoYo Ma.)
Womack doesn’t have any physical restrictions from the event that put him in a wheelchair for a month and on a crutch for another six weeks, but he has made one concession to the aches and pains.
“I play sitting down whenever I can,” he says. “I’m surprisingly recovered, better than what anybody can expect. But the biggest result is the specter of the car wreck and hearing that crash and shattered glass. There’s a little bit of PTSD going on there. I think about it now and get freaked out more than I did then.”
When Womack’s mind wanders there, however, he has a remedy to relieve the anxiety. In September, friends organized a benefit at Music City Roots in Nashville to raise money and celebrate his return to performing. The night confirmed what he already knew: he is a lucky man.
“The picture of me on the cover of (“Namaste”) with me bowing was taken on stage,” he says. “It was packed in there, standing room only, and I thought to myself at that moment, ‘If my last record had sold 40,000 copies and I was getting 3 to 5 grand a night to play, this would be exactly the same. This is about as good as it’s going to get and it’s pretty good.’
“It felt like going to my own funeral to hear all the nice things that people said about me. That was definitely an aspect of it.”
The best aspect, however, was driving home after the ceremony.
This story was originally published in the Cincinnati Enquirer in July 2016.