Support It! 

Okay, so about 2 years ago, after I moved to Austin and started hangin’ around all the open mics and getting to know folks, I was sitting in the audience one night, and the most beautiful voice arose from the stage, golden - like honey.  Velvet soft, and plush like it, too.  I was awestruck.  The song was brilliant, the girl was Arielle LaGuette, now one of my dearest friends.  

It sure is something to have friends who inspire, and no surprise here, there is a depth and essential quality to what Arielle shares as an artist.  She’s involved in some super rad facets of Austin life, expressing her soul through theater, comedy/improv, songwriting, art - you name it, she probably has a hand in it.  And through this very compelling outward spirit, shines her newest collection of songs about spreading the light of love in the face of adversity.  A Case of the Times is beautiful, poignant, sound, and it rocks!  My favorite track on her new EP is The Last Time, a super chic reggae rendition of self-realization - makes you believe in yourself as she’s singing about trusting her own intuition.  

But don’t take it from me - check it out!  She’s releasing her second EP next week, February 22 at Stubb’s, Austin.  She asked me to sing backup for the show, and I’m honored and thrilled to share the stage with her for the release.  The harmonies are dangerously dissonant, hard to find, and very interesting (practicing as I type this).  If you make it to the show, come say hey, buy an EP, support a local artist, get to know a very cool gal, and become a fan instantly.  Like I did. 

Show Your Work! 

We had our first full band gig at the ABGB this past week as opening for The Lonesome Heroes as Megan Lacy and The Good Guys, and it was pretty good!  No forgetting the lyrics halfway through a tune (totally been there), not one broken string, free (even vegan) pizza, and endless support and cheering from the crowd (mostly friends).  I said CHeering, not Jeering!  The Good Guys were/still are Andrew Pressman playin bass, Jordan Burchill on guitar (Beth James) and Jimmy Milner with the double drum kit (Joking, not yet - we’ll get there, Jimmy).  These dudes were truly the blessing in this experience - they are so sincere, dedicated, talented.  They made the show, and I’m honored to have had them there alongside me.  Thanks a lot, guys!

 

The Lonesome Heroes came on and stole my heart as a vibrant quartet, expansively talented and darn good lookin’.  I’ve had a few opportunities to sit around the campfire, so to speak, with the lonesomest (?) of the heroes, Rich Russel - he lives juuuust ... acRosssss... riiiight overrrrr... There.  He’s my neighbor.  He’s been playing music in Austin for, like, a decade, so he knows a lot of folks, venues, stuff.  When I asked him about booking full band gigs, he gave me some advice, (which included co-billing with other bands to give the venue more to bite onto), and pretty much right after that (obviously sensing my ineptitude for getting a ball rolling without a downhill), he invited me to open for The Lonesome Heroes at the ABGB.  A huge thanks to you, Rich and The Heroes for including us in your very cool scenario.

Revise It! 

Life probably wouldn’t make any more sense if everything just ran along smoothly with no sign of that rocky, melodic drama on the horizon, so when a change occurred to my immediate situation, I asked for the understanding to embrace it.  After working together for several months on this album, Mark Hallman and I have parted ways.  The changing tide will draw me wherever I’m supposed to go, so at the moment I’m tying up some loose ends, and casting out new lines.   

In this process, it is most important to be collaborative, to bounce ideas, to push and pull, and gather pieces that may not have appeared without the voices and direction of those who inspire me.  It is just my first record, but I have a sense of what it can be, so my lantern out in front of me (although dull and heavy at times), I follow just enough light to see the next step forward.   

For the next few months I know I’ll have to make moves forward, take some steps back, and push through the discomfort of uncertainty, but how else am I supposed to grow out of this little kid suit?   

  

In the past month, I got to do some very cool things!  Jess and I revisited Truckee, CA, and in our homecoming, the valley even gifted us a good dusting of snow (thanks for the powder day, Squaw Valley USA!).  After setting up our trip to coincide with the holidays, I began contacting musician friends and old band mates to put together a show at the new local brewery in town Alibi Ale Works.  What a turnout!  The room was packed with old friends, beautiful vibes and that ol’ Truckee Christmas spirit.  Megan Lacy and The Sidemen belted out the emotions of the past year, and made way for the new turnaround.  A giant thanks to everyone who came out to support the show, and a very special thank you to Gil Gaus (of the Tom Joad Time Machine [Watch this vid!]), Steve Kershiznik, Steve Satourno, and Will Richardson who took part in making music with me that night.  And the room couldn’t have rocked like it did without the sound crafting of Peter Kowalczyk.  So many thanks for such a cool evening (it was 8 degrees, so thanks to you too, Mother Nature).  

Work It! 

Well, we’ve been working on this record, and slowly, but surely it is making its way into the world.  The most exciting part so far?  Working with some super talented dudes to lay down the rhythm section!  See, as a songwriter, you might have a song, but unless there’s a band to bring it to, you’re kind of left imagining what it would sound like all put together.  I’ve heard part of the answer, and it sounds so good.  

A big part of this process, for me, has been about following the little leads sent down from (I assume) the Ultimate Songwriter in the sky.  They led me to Austin, to the Congress House and Mark Hallman, and introduced me to Jon Greene and Andrew Pressman, who agreed to help me find the feel (using a drum kit and a bass guitar) for this record.  It’s a process, but one which encourages collaboration, nudges toward lasting friendships, and inspires creative action.  I really can’t wait to experience how this album feels, how it sounds, or even to see in the end what it lacks, because that, too, I know is a part of it.    

Some of the most inspiring moments so far have come from the uncertainty in front of me.  Part of this uncertainty lies in being a songwriter without a band.  I write songs with a band in mind, but have played a lot of this material for the better part of two years without ever hearing the complimentary instrumentation actualized.  Some of the searching leads to dead ends, some of it garners frustration or faulty communication, and it can seem very daunting at times.  But I know enough to know that the entirety is what I’m here for, not just an end result.  It is something I forget almost daily, which is inherently comedic.   

There have been some solid Harry Potter moments, where I’ll walk into a room feeling entirely incapable of tying my own shoes, yet will have to lead people I don’t know toward a goal I have a hard time defining.  I’ll tell you, it’s a lot of falling on my face, and unlike Harry, I don’t have a wand to make things appear.  But something tells me I just have to keep walking into rooms being okay with not knowing the outcome.  

Record It! 

It’s time to make a record! I’ve been writing and writing, and dang, it feels really good.  This will be a debut album for me -  I am finally putting out a group of songs I really love with little record of what came before.  As if nothing exists before this moment..  Nah!  There are old songs, too.  Unfortunately some were scrapped long before this project was even a glimmer in my eye.  My parents frequently request old songs of mine, and I don’t remember how to play them (I swear I don't remember, Mom and Dad).  It's a cryin' shame, but into the ether they've flown…  And out from the ether've flown the new!  Give and take, they say.

To some, it may look like I’m just getting into songwriting.  But I’ve been writing songs for the better part of my existence on this planet.  I remember making up songs sitting on the toilet as a little kid (TMI?); my best friend Alesia and I made stuff up all the time, (as well as singing hits from the radio in the back of her mom's Nova with fogged up windows breathing in the smell of cold interior and old cigarettes), and we wrote a song when we were 10 about starving children in Africa (a hit) called What Will We Do When All the Children Die (never noticed the amazing alliteration until just now); I wrote a song and sang it at my 8th grade graduation (wish I had a link, y’all, you’ll have to bug my mom for that tape); I wrote all through college - my brother, Jason, taught me to play guitar, and we performed as the "before their time" folk duo, Sibling Rivalry; I began to understand the depth and craft of songwriting while playing and performing with my friend and mentor Gil Gaus in SoulRadio and The Third Hand String Band in Truckee, CA; I wrote and performed with my phenomenally talented and alien friend, Aaron Oropeza; and I had so much fun collaborating with my good friends Steve Labella and Will Richardson before moving to Austin to pursue music as a career a year and a half ago, and finally finishing this sentence.

In the time since, I've met such inspiring friends and fellow songwriters, I am amazed on the daily by the gravity/levity of the community I get to be a part of here in Austin, Texas.  The feeling in this city has the emotional impact of a punch in the gut, sitting in these great listening rooms like the Saxon, the Continental Gallery, the Cactus Café, and walking over the corpse of some old haunt with a new condo on it - the ghosts walk through those walls too.  It's the kind of town where dreams come to come true, and here I am, waiting to write it all down and sing it out loud.

Last week I pulled into the drive of the Congress House studio.  I saw the little green house shaded underneath a low canopy of more green, a front porch with a dusty couch and no frills.  I felt magic.  I promptly pulled my guitar, Lucy, out of the heat of her case, sat on the couch and played a song.  The magic clung to it - couldn’t have been the 90% humidity, it didn't feel heavy.  I’m tellin’ ya, this place is cool.  When I met with Mark Hallman, he said, “Let’s make a record,” because isn't that what all record producers say?  

 

 

The idea is to put together a group of songs and then tour it across the country/world/etc.?   I'm planning a west coast tour for the spring of 2018, and will work hard to build a fan base anywhere, so that eventually I can know every person on the face of the earth.  Think you can help?  Send me an email, and let me know where I ought to play that might have an impact on folks, and I’ll try to get there!  Know someone who wants to play in a kickass alt-country band?  Send them to my site, show them the email button, or drive them to my house!  I'm looking forward to meeting musicians who want to collaborate and tour.  For now, keep checking in, I’ll give you some thoughts every now and then - maybe some video from the studio in August.  Peace, be well, and say hi if you come out to hear some music!