I can't believe how time flies. This spring has been jam packed with travel, meeting new friends, and playing some amazing gigs. And there's more to come!
The only reason my family found out I could carry a tune is because of my older sister, Becky. I watched her audition for a community theater production in our hometown when I was three years old, and I ended up getting bitten by the bug. It's all her fault, really. Of course, she decided to do something smart and grown-up with her life and majored in architecture, while I became a wandering musician. But I'm so glad she has returned to the stage in her adulthood and is having a blast! Now she has two daughters who are also musical and perform, as well. I got a chance to go back home in early March to see my niece star in a children's theater performance and I went back to Town Theatre, where my musical journey started, and saw Becky perform in the local production of 9 to 5. It was so much fun and I'm so proud of them.
Danny Myrick ("Truck Yeah," "She's Country"), Tim James ("Love Like Crazy," "All I Ask For Anymore," "Give It All We Got Tonight"), Tiffany Goss ("Like We Never Said Goodbye"), and I went back to Jackson, MS to play two incredible shows, and even better, we made some lasting new friendships...
... so we piled back into the car about a month later and headed back down I-65 to an Ole Miss baseball game just to hang out with our new friends! It was also a great excuse to stop back by the original Dreamland BBQ in Tuscaloosa, and rest assured, we dropped by on every leg of the trip.
My parents came to Music City to celebrate Easter with me and got a chance to stay for the Tin Pan South show I played at the Bluebird Cafe with Danielle Peck, Megan Conner, and Jesse Lee. Tin Pan has always been one of my favorite music festivals in Nashville because you can see dozens of hit writers share their stories behind the song in a span of just a few days. The festival is also a fundraiser for NSAI to help support advocacy for songwriter's rights, and that is very dear to my heart.
I made my way to Lexington, KY for my first Keeneland experience. Thankfully, I didn't lose much money, but met some more amazing people -- and horses -- and had an absolute blast! Early May brought a trip to New York, where I played and wrote songs with the North American headquarters of L'Oreal with Kidbilly Music. That was one of the coolest experiences! To get a peek behind the curtain of one of the largest and most successful cosmetic companies in the world was amazing. L'Oreal is truly an exceptional company who seem to put people first. One of their top VP's, Vince Serpico, is retiring and I was asked to write a song with a group of L'Oreal execs as a tribute to him. What an honor! After we performed the song, Mr. Serpico made such a heartwarming speech. The biggest takeaway I got was when he said, "It's not what you do in life, but how you do it. It's not the business perspective, it's the people perspective." Amen.
Next up: I'm heading to Augusta, GA to play a new venue called M.A.D. Studios this Friday, May 24 and I'm playing my hometown of Columbia, SC on Saturday, May 25th. Check out details on my tour page if you're in the area and still need tickets!
In other news, my iPod is giving me dirty looks because the only music I've allowed it to play in the last month are the new JT and Kacey Musgraves records. I'm totally obsessed with Justin Timberlake. He nailed it... totally worth the seven year wait. "Pusher Love" is maybe my favorite track. And have y'all heard Kacey's "Dandelion" and "It Is What It Is?" No? Well, go buy the record. I'm also currently crushing over two visual artists. Check 'em out if you're in the market for new artwork on your walls: Peyton Hutchinson and Steven Whetstone.
Hope everybody is enjoying their spring. More tales from the road soon!
Quick update on a few fun things in the works:
I was asked to film a Words & Music segment for Channel 5 last week with my friend and co-writer, Damien Horne. Damien's been touring with John Legend and is currently on radio tour with his country band, The Farm. We played a few songs and interviewed with the always lovely, Harry Chapman. It was such a blast! The segment should air throughout March, so keep your eyes peeled if you're in the Nashville area.
NSAI presented their World's Largest #1 Party today for Nashville songwriters who've had #1 hits on the radio during the last quarter. We celebrated 10 songs and their writers. Natalie Hemby, Kip Moore, Eric Paslay, and my South Carolina brother, Jesse Rice, who wrote the Florida Georgia Line smash, "Cruise," were among the few honored this afternoon.
Speaking of the Carolina's, I'll be heading down to Charlotte in a few weeks to open for my friend Patrick Davis on Friday, March 8th at The Evening Muse. I've heard from some of you already who are planning on coming to the show. Here's just a friendly reminder to go ahead and get your tickets ahead of time because Patrick's shows usually sell out fast! This will be my first time at The Evening Muse and I can't wait, plus it's always fun to play music with Patrick.
Looks like I'll be heading back to Jackson and Tunica, MS, Columbia, SC, and New York City this Spring. Details to come... I'll keep you posted.
Hope everybody has a great week.
Don't ya hate it when you find a product you absolutely love and then they discontinue it?! I love Trader Joe's... a lot. But, TJ, you're letting me down! The two things that I make a special trip for -- and never waiver on -- are their coffee and little black Scottie dog licorice candy. They seem to no longer carry my Scottie dogs. Grrrrr. I've been on a new vegetarian (okay... truthfully, more of a pescetarian) kick since late fall, and this candy was my only dietary cheat (okay, okay... other than
In other news, I found out that the beautiful, talented, and lovely Danielle Peck cut a song of mine for her upcoming album. It's a song I wrote with my friends Chuck Jones and Derek George called, "Kiss Me Like You Miss Me." I am psyched that Danielle cut it because we have known each other for years and I think she is a doll! I'm also super excited that she has the brilliant Lari White at the production helm.
And if you're in the Charlotte area, I'm coming your way on March 8th, opening for my friend and hit songwriter, Patrick Davis, at the Evening Muse. You can get tickets here in advance -- which I recommend, because Patrick's shows sell out. Other upcoming dates are listed on my tour page. I'm looking to fill a few dates in May around Memorial Day Weekend, if anyone is in the SC, NC, GA, or TN areas and wants to book a house concert. Hit me up!
Welp, I thought it would be fun to let y'all hear something new I've been working on and include a worktape of a song I recently wrote with a great artist and writer named Ann Marie Boskovich. Many thanks to Park Chisolm for his production and letting us take over his studio. Ann Marie is recording a new project right now and just finished shooting her first music video. She's been touring with Kip Moore, Chris Young, and other great artists, so be on the lookout and catch a show. She's awesome.
Cheers and Happy Presidents Day!
I remember getting picked up after elementary school most days by my grandmother. She took care of me a lot and she was the one who first introduced me to country music at an early age. My first recollection of the radio was Alabama's "Roll On 18 Wheeler" and Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again."
About a year and a half ago, I got a call from Bart Herbison at NSAI (Nashville Songwriters Association International), and he told me that I was being asked to serve on the Board of Directors for the organization. For over 40 years, NSAI has been protecting the rights and serving the American songwriter in all genres of music, and I had been a part of several trips to D.C. in the past, so being asked to serve on the board felt like a huge honor. Near the end of last year, the all-songwriter board envisioned introducing a new lifetime achievement award for songwriters named after one of NSAI's founding members: Kris Kristofferson. It became a reality last week. Kristofferson chose to give the inaugural "Kris Kristofferson Award" to one of his fellow Highway Men, and one of my musical heroes, Willie Nelson. The amount of hits both of these men have penned for themselves and other artists boggles the mind. I mean, let's face it, there isn't a chick singer on this planet that hasn't sung "Me and Bobby McGee" or "Crazy" on a cover gig. She just doesn't exist.
I've been in town 14 years now, and last Monday night was probably the best night I've ever had in Nashville. I was at the Bluebird Cafe with board members and close family friends of the heroes, and maybe 15 feet away from Willie Nelson playing "Crazy" on that same beautiful, beat up, ol' guitar I always see in pictures. My heart felt like it was going to burst wide open. Kristofferson played "Sunday Morning Coming Down," introduced Willie Nelson, and spoke of his incredible talent, wisdom, and unique style. One of my favorite quotes of the night is when he said, "Sometimes I try to envision what God might look like, and he always comes out lookin' like Willie!"
I got a chance to shake Willie's hand and we all got quick pictures with Kris Kristofferson, but they have yet to arrive, so for now, my crappy iPhone pictures will have to do. I want to leave y'all with one of my favorite lyrics from Kristofferson's "Beat the Devil," because they ring so true, not just for songwriters and singers, but for everyone who has ever had the courage to create something out of nothing -- a song, a picture, an invention, a great business idea -- and believe in it come hell or high water:
"And you still can hear me singin' to the people who don't listen,
To the things that I am sayin', prayin' someone's gonna hear.
And I guess I'll die explaining how the things that they complain about,
Are things they could be changin', hopin' someone's gonna care.
I was born a lonely singer, and I'm bound to die the same,
But I've got to feed the hunger in my soul.
And if I never have a nickel, I won't ever die ashamed.
'Cause I don't believe that no one wants to know."
P.S. I think it would be awesome if God turns out to have a face (and long braids?!) and looks like Willie Nelson.
P.P.S. Go 49ers!
Often times, independent musicians find it prudent to expand their resumes and dabble in several areas of the creative process. Producers begin to write. Writers begin to produce. Studio musicians become label heads. Writers become publishers, and so on. I feel fortunate to have found my way to a pretty unique gig, thanks to Billy Kirsch and his company, KidBilly Music. Billy has written major hits like, "Holes In the Floor of Heaven" (Steve Wariner), "Stay Gone" (Jimmy Wayne), and "Is It Over Yet" (Wynonna), and in the past several years decided to expand by starting a company that provides teambuilding through songwriting. Sometimes he asks his writer friends (like me!) to help. And sometimes, the team building jobs find their way to a Ritz Carlton in Laguna Niguel, CA. One of my favorite west coast songwriting buds, Shevy Smith, was on the gig as well, so we got a chance to girl talk, eat amazing food, and play music and write with the fine folks of Altour. (By the way, you'll want to make Shevy's new album, Ad Astra, a staple on your iPod.)
On the flight back, Billy and I sat in front of three screen writers for the new ABC show, Nashville, and tried our best to eavesdrop to get the lowdown on the upcoming season's plot development. I am loving watching that show every week and seeing our great city so well represented!
So, today was my first day back to the "day job," and I had a co-write with the immensely talented Damien Horne. Some of you know Damien as a founding member of the Muzik Mafia, and most of you probably know him as one third of the new Warner Brothers Records trio, The Farm, who's single is currently on the charts. It looks like an older song Damien and I wrote together might get placed in an upcoming movie, but I'll fill you in once I have more details.
Until then, take care of each other.