The air was heavy and liquid as the sun hovered above the horizon as if waiting, reluctant to relinquish another Summer's day. Out here in the center of the hay field I thought that this is how it must feel in the middle of the ocean, with the distant trees on the property line seeming like a faraway island and a cloudless sky dominating from above. Soon the lights from the neighbor's farmhouses would signal the end of the day, and we'd make the last trip to the barn through the twilight. Shocking silence flooded in when the tractor's staccato rumble came to it's abrupt end, allowing the crows nagging squawks, the whispering evening breeze and the humming power lines to become the soundtrack for our labors. One task left; to unload and stack the sweet smelling bales, lit by the faint single bulb hanging from the rafters. Then, brushing the hay from our clothes and out of our hair as we went, the walk back to the house where dinner was waiting. For the moment the knowledge that the this day would be bringing another just like it was put aside, put into it's place in an order both urgent and timeless.
It had been a long day on the road, seemingly endless mile after mile of a arrow straight interstate with a flat featureless landscape on either side. In such a place the mind drifts, alternating between past and future, almost uncontrollably, as I tried to make some sense of how I came to this place and where it was leading me. As I considered my past I knew that every choice had been made by someone who was different than who I had become and that those choices steered me towards this moment and it's decisions. For the moment, however, the only option was to keep moving, keep looking ahead. I knew that at some point, hopefully soon, that this emotional desert would end and I would come to a place where the world would once again become complex, challenging and distracting. There I would find relief from the chaotic thoughts chasing me down this highway, and some comfort knowing despite all I had earned the right to be loved.
"Home For Good" is now on CDBABY and also streaming, but I hope people will download the album because it's a better way to support an artist. It's no secret that streaming music services are taking advantage of the fact that lawmakers are behind the times in regulating this industry. I am asking $1.99 to download, because I don't want any obstacle between the music and those who may be interested in it. That's 19 cents per song. In order for me to earn the same amount from Spotify I would need to get about 40 plays. I feel the problem with the streaming services is that the subscriptions are too cheap to support the music they provide at a level that would be sustaining for the artists. The other downside is that since people don't have to go to the effort to log on, and pay for the album they tend to rely on streaming, which if it doesn't provide a fair royalty is just as bad as piracy.
I've had a few people, other musicians, ask me if I regret leaving Nashville, along with asking if I had success there. When I get this question I answer with something like "Well, I put my songs out there but didn't get a cut." From there the conversation heads into how competitive the business is and so on, and how it's "who you know", etc...So, yeah, I haven't had a cut yet, and maybe I never will, but I do consider my time there a success for many reasons chief among them the amazing creative journey I had in the process of developing my songs. I feel that if I had been anywhere else I wouldn't have grown anywhere near as much or been as creatively challenged as I was there, and that's as fulfilling to me as if I had sold a song. In the process I met and worked with some great people, made a living in my chosen field and left knowing I would continue to grow. So no regrets, thanks, and we'll keep pitchin'!
I wasn't able to be part of the Americana Festival this year due to the move. It has been the highlight of my Fall and I've looked forward to it every year since when I first attended. The minute I learned about this all embracing genre I knew I had found a home for my music. I never quite fit into Rock, Pop, or Folk (Folk Rock?), but Americana as I see it gives me a frame for what I do. I'm drawn to sounds and styles that originated in the '50s and '60s and even earlier, and that strain runs through some modern music and for me gives it a sense of timelessness. Now, Americana directly includes artists who emulate "old-time" music, calling it roots and I think it provides another point of reference. The operative here is "America", and I feel that if you can reflect some of the uniquely American attributes and draw from all eras, even back to the turn of the century, then you are firmly Americana by any definition.
After living and working in Nashville we have moved back to the West Coast to start a new chapter. It's a homecoming and though I haven't lived here for a long time it has a familiar feel. I did well in Tennessee but I never felt completely at home there. I'll definitely miss the robust music scene in Nashville and I'm looking forward to collaborating remotely, not only with friends back there, but from all over the country. Songwriter's Studio did a few projects with artists from other cities, and it's something I want to explore more. We did over 30 projects and in the process developed an efficient recording process that enabled artists to fully realize their songs, and I will continue to look for opportunities to work with promising projects. In the meantime "Home For Good" is nearing release and I'm excited to put out some new music of my own.
You love music. It is the most compelling thing you've ever experienced and it's become a lifelong passion. Why? If you really think about it, only three reasons emerge. You are a savant with OCD who is driven to practice until multi-scale thirty second note runs are as natural as breathing, you are completely seduced by the prospect of fame and everything that comes with it, or you've found something that simply provides a challenge that seems limitless. Maybe at first it was just for fun, but somewhere along the line you realized that music was changing you. As you become better, through practice, self-criticism and patience, a transformation started happening that continues to this moment. Call it growth, metamorphosis or whatever you like, it has taken you beyond what you thought you were, or could be. At that moment, after all the shows, sessions and hours of solitary practice, you find that you and music have become one. It's no longer something you do...it's something you are.
Question: How to you get to the Grand Ole Opry?...Over the holidays I got out of my regular routine, such as it is, and didn't play my guitar for a couple of weeks. I haven't performed for a while either, so my New Year's resolution is to get out more. It's amazing how fast you lose your chops if you let off even for a little while, and I'm full of admiration for all those great players who spend hours every day honing their skills and have the success to show for it. There's something very therapeutic about the time you spend alone with your instrument. It's a form of meditation and not something to be taken lightly. I like to make the distinction between practicing and rehearsing. Practicing is the zen part. Working on songs, running scales, and even just noodling is like the mantra, where you go into a trance-like state. It it's purest sense practicing has no other purpose. Rehearsing on the other hand is a way to prepare for a performance, where you imagine yourself onstage and sharing with an audience. In those hours that you have the opportunity to connect with a higher power and it's through that process that your music helps you find your way through everything else we all have to deal with.
I recently spent an afternoon listening to a genre of music I don't particularly like...I won't say what because I'm sure anyone can relate. I was with a fan of this genre and he was excited to turn me on to it and I went along, partly to be polite and also to see if I could maybe re-evaluate my attitude. We were listening to a really good system, so I could really hear clearly and darned if after a few tracks I started to enjoy it. These were really good recordings, which helped, and as I listened I could hear the care and talent that went into them. I admit, some of it still was like poking my ear with a stick, but at the end of the session I felt I had learned some new things, techniques I intend to apply to my songs. All music comes from the same source no matter what it is. All music is created with different degrees of skill, no matter what style. All music, if you listen prejudices aside, can offer some value if you just listen sideways.
Over the last year I've worked with a variety of artists and it recently occurred to me that sometimes one can forget why they are here. What struck me was how fortunate I am to work with such creative and courageous people. They have a passion to make and share a personal vision and, more importantly, are taking action to make that vision a reality. Seen in that light labels like "good" are essentially meaningless. Everyone is on their personal journey and should measure their progress not by where they are but by how far they have come. Moving from the living room to the studio is a huge step, the first on a long road and no one knows where it may lead. When someone writes a song it's a personal statement, and should they want to make a record of it, whether it's on their phone or in a studio it should be seen first and foremost, as a communication from one person to another, a sharing of experience, and not something that should immediately be compared to what's on the radio. That's only one standard, and not necessarily one that should be applied to every recording. What's lost in that point of view is the beauty of an individual making a work of art.