Singer Songwriter Blogger Guitarist Content Creator
EP 3 Update time!
The holidays made us all take a bit of a break on the record making front, which was fine. Things are picking up again and I had a meeting with Emily Shirley this week about artwork. This is one of my favorite parts of the process because really, I don’t have to do anything. I kept a Pinterest board of images I liked over the past few months that I thought might supply some sort of vibe for Emily to work from. That was really the extent of my work here. We had a great chat and Emily now goes off and does her art voodoo and I get to see what she comes up with. Super fun.
Dan also just sent me the last two rough mixes of songs, meaning I have a pretty good idea of the whole EP. It sounds awesome. We’ll keep mixing and we have one more meeting in early February to kind of sort things out. Progress!
These end of the year list things are always fun and popular, but I can’t keep track of a whole year, people. It’s hard to remember what is a 2013 release. The fact of the matter is my listening habits have shifted with the rest of the world and I listen to a lot of single tracks. It is what it is. I’m not listing a lot of hip stuff. Lorde is cool but I am tired of “Royals” on the radio every 30 seconds. Patty Griffin put out a couple and she sounds like Patty. Katy Perry’s album sounds like Katy Perry. One of Natalie Maines’ best tracks on her solo album was a Patty cover. WHAT? It’s all good, but sometimes fleeting.
On the flip, these are all albums that caught my interest and kept it.
Drew Kennedy: Wide Listener
Drew is a smart writer and his songs are all gems. While I rant above about only liking singles this year, Wide Listener holds my attention the whole way through. “Age and Color” and “Rose of Jericho” are good places to start. He also wins for favorite album art, how cool is that?
Brandy came to Texas from Canada and I am super glad she did. She sounds like nothing else in this state, and I have had Mourning Dove stuck in my head in total for approximately 1/32nd of this whole year. Seriously, it’s going to get stuck in your head. Brandy writes with metaphor and poetry, and her guitar playing is fantastic. Get it.
The only list of 2013 where you’ll see Drew and Brandy followed by Demi Lovato, but hey. This is my favorite pop album of the year. It’s mature, hooky, Demi can sing like a fiend, and she manages to (thus far) avoid the drama and circus that a lot of the pop folk have going on these days. She’s a lived a little, and you can tell it from some of the song topics. Just look at all that dirt on her arms!
I’ve been following Holly since her first album, and this one continues her streak of excellence. I can’t really imagine trying to follow up on a family name like Williams with a music career, but she’s more than capable of handling it. “Railroads” and “Without You” are stand outs.
Ok, of COURSE this is on my list because I unapologetically love Gaga. I think she is the best thing to happen to commercial pop in a long time. This is a good record. That being said, I am not in love with every single track, but that’s what happens when someone delivers what is, to them, a piece of art. “Applause,” “Swine,” and “Gypsy” are my favorites.
I found these girls on a music blog early this year, happened to find them at SXSW, had my mind blown, and now they are all over the TV and festival circuit. Good on them. This record is full of chill pop-rock-80′s hybrid tunes, but go see them live and prepare for your face to melt off. Best of both worlds.
I am really looking forward to 2014…the first half of the year brings us releases from SUSAN GIBSON (yay!), Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Rosanne Cash. Oh, and some folk-pop from moi. Brang it.
It’s silly that I do not make it to Santa Fe and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum every time I am in New Mexico, because it’s a beautiful town and O’Keeffe is one of my favorite artists. She painted for over 60 years, lived to be 99, and her body of work is stunning.
She was also full of wisdom…
Definitely check out the O’Keeffe Museum next time you are in The City Different.
I feel the need to blog more before it is 2014. Uh…
I had the joy of spending the week before Christmas with the Traveling Red River Songwriters’ Tour…with the amazing Drew Kennedy, Walt Wilkins, Kelley Mickwee, Brandy Zdan, Josh Grider, and SusanG. We all gather for the Red River Songwriters’ Festival in January in New Mexico, and this set of Texas shows was to show people how fun and awesome the festival will be. I think we succeeded. Truly an amazing bunch of songwriters and more importantly, human beings.
Join us in Red River…it’s a small festival and we keep it that way so get your tickets soon!
I am so relieved it’s December, which is not usually a statement I utter. November was such a whirlwind of awesome (see below) and other stuff (flat tires, moving, broken laptop) that surviving it was a feat. Things will calm down in December, though there is plenty to do.
Susan is mixing her live album right now and that comes out in February. I am so excited for it – it sounds amazing and plotting how to promote these things is always a good time. Here we are listening to mixes whilst driving. Road tested, you would say.
Dan is mixing my EP…we might have a close to final mix on one song, more to follow. I’m glad my part is done for the time being. Artwork is on deck next…I’ve collected a Pinterest board of ideas for Emily to look at and I imagine we’ll start that this month sometime.
I got to go home to Albuquerque for Thanksgiving and we ate a lot of kolaches and pie like the Czechs we are.
Happy holiday season, everyone!
Whew. I have to admit, I’m gonna sleep a lot tonight. It’s been a whirlwind of adventure these past two weeks, with recording the new album, the Kickstarter, playing Rice Festival, and a bonus encounter with a hero of mine all wrapped into these past few days. I need a nap, but a satisfied, happy one.
In no order:
Yep! We did it! 133% of goal which blows my mind. I was checking email on Friday morning, a day before the campaign ended, and got this email that a very awesome backer had rounded me out to $10,000 – a number I couldn’t fathom when I started the campaign. My friend Heidi caught me exclaiming about the perfectly round number. We eventually got up to $10,227…I am so excited to put that money to work! We have another studio day this week…who knows what craziness will ensue.
Susan’s set the night before was also magic…it was fun to watch people watch her play, if that makes sense. So good.
If you read this blog at all you know I love Mary Chapin Carpenter. Her “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her” was the first song I learned to play on guitar when I was 11…that was 19 years ago. She’s inspired my writing and my guitar playing and my work ethic ever since. I’ve seen her about 12 times in concert, but never had the chance to meet her until Wednesday at the Paramount Theater in Austin. My friend Heidi knows people (named “MCC”) and we got backstage. When Heidi told me this was going to happen about 1.5 hours beforehand, I had three goals:
- speak whole words
- do not babble
- radiate gratitude
I think I did all those things. MCC was as gracious as I had imagined she would be, and we got this photo that is my new favorite possession. Amazing.
We also saw Mary Chapin and Shawn Colvin at Dosey Doe in The Woodlands the next night and I could watch her guitar playing from super close! Great seats, and a super kick in the pants for inspiration.
To top it all off Susan and her band played a great show at Gruene Hall today and I got to get up and play a little. Super grateful for all these folks.
And now…a 10 hour nap.
What a week! Dan and I spent 2 more days in the studio. There was lots of singing from me, a bass part by Eric Holden, all manner of fun things from Dan, and then Susan came in and sang a really cool part on a tune called “Middle of My Chest.” She even added a “doot doot doot” line that totally works. What a blast.
I’m listening to an unmixed version of that very song that Dan sent over right now, and this might sound weird coming from the writer of the songs, but I am so impressed with the trajectory of this album. It’s different. It is folk, pop, rootsy, rock, electronic. All of those components are on the album thus far and all of them speak to various facets of my musical passions. Dan is really outdoing himself on producing these songs, and I am lucky because he knows me so well and he gets the vision of what I want to do with them.
What do I want to do with these songs? This is where I gratefully acknowledge that my Kickstarter is 111% funded right now. AMAZING. Dan gets paid for his hard work, Emily gets paid for her (what I am sure will be amazing) artwork, copies will be printed, all that goodness.
Since we’re OVER-FUNDED, however, it’s giving me new goals. Since I could not be more thrilled with the sound of this album…I can say with complete confidence I think some of our larger goals can actually do something here. One of the discussions Dan and I had before starting was placements…meaning I want these tunes to be in TV shows and movies. Grey’s Anatomy has kind of been our go-to example because they pick a lot of folkies and songwriters, but overall it’s making Dan angle his production to that type of sound. It’s a little more pop, it’s got some edge. It’s still 100% me, but these songs have things to do so we’re dressing them up nicely.
One of the things I’d love to do with the overage money is get a membership to TAXI, which is how a lot of placements happen in this business. I’ve not done it before and now is the time with these new songs.
I’d also love to investigate a publicist for some promotion. These songs can be on the radio, and getting reviews and write-ups would also help this whole operation be a success. TAXI is $300 for a year’s membership and while I have not found a publicist yet, campaigns can be $1000 up to well, a lot of thousands depending on length and the publicist. A stretch goal on Kickstarter would be $9200 to cover those things and KS fees. And REAL stretch goal would be $10,000 because that’s a great number.
I’m putting this out there because if you’re on the fence of not pre-ordering and just waiting to get the album when it comes out, having this pre-order money will take these songs a long ways to finding a bigger place in the world. I have never been so dang confident about something that has come out of my mouth.
Here’s the link to the Kickstarter. Pre-order for as little as 5 bucks, tell your friends, be a part of what I hope is a long, successful journey for these songs!
Kids. I am not even kidding. We are having such an amazing time making this EP. If you all like it 1/8 as much as we have loved making it, you will dig it. I think you will.
Right now, as I type, Dan is playing some killer electric guitar on the fastest, rockingest, most uptempo song on the album. And it’s got some different electronic sounds happening on it, too…as Dan just told me, “This is when Folk meets Gaga.” He’s pretty right.
I cannot express how thrilled I am (but watch me try to express it) about the direction of this EP. It’s got my acoustic guitar on it, which is the backbone of everything I do. It’s strong on electric guitar sounds, which is what I grew up on and love. Then there’s this love for pop music I have been shy about expressing but have had for about 4-5 years now. We are throwing all these things in and it sounds like meeeeeeee! Phew. Onward.
Get in on the Kickstarter here – there’s still time! I’m doing special sneak peeks for backers and of course you get this thing the first possible chance when it’s done!
I wrote this a few months ago…wondering about the success of my Kickstarter and of social media in general. It’s hard to ask people to buy your stuff, maybe especially when you’re an artist. Then there’s the weird idealistic/totally self-limiting persona of the “starving artist.” Like you can’t make a living and be relevant and “of the people.” I don’t buy it. And where is this music industry going? The commodity is not vinyl or CD or even mp3 anymore. It’s streams, Youtube views. Things that don’t immediately transfer to money. Something higher must be the commodity. What do artists offer? What do consumers get from artists, what is it worth?
“Now is not the time to ask when I’ll get a real career.” I have been asked by well-meaning people I grew up with when I might “settle” and get a “JOB job.” Also, when I graduated with my History degree, someone asked me if I would like fries with that, so I guess I have always been on the perceived track of “Huh?”
Truth is there are lots of ways to make money in music, and I have found a couple. I pay rent. I don’t ask my mom for money (all the time, hi Mom). I have found some and I see countless others. Music, art, and entertainment are massive economies in this country. There need not be starvation. Are they JOBS? Yes. You gotta clock in and probably work harder than a lot of other job types, and even then it’s not guaranteed. You have to schmooze. You have to have 10,000 hours in at whatever you want to do. You have to be professional. You have to be steadfast in your vision (and know what your vision is). It’s a lot. But it’s not unfruitful, and lots of working musicians and music business folk pay their rent and buy their lattes every day.
What is the fans’ role in all of this? A little recognition that a Spotify stream does not totally make up the difference in the decline of the physical album is step one, but really…the fans’ role is to pick those artists that live and breathe something beyond a download. It’s not charity, it should never be charity. The music should be great. If it touches your life on a daily basis, join the community. Help the artist’s community get bigger. Go to shows. Share links. All that stuff.
I am used to making my living with about 4 jobs. People joke, but I see the uncertainty of corporate jobs and lack of longterm, fulltime work in a lot of industries, and I am grateful I know how to make it piece together. Maybe in the future people will be asking musicians for advice on how to work in the new economy…I don’t see that as being very far-fetched at this juncture.
Anyway, food for thought. Hug a musician today, just not while they’re playing.
As you can see below, WE MADE IT! 102% funded as of this writing, with 11 days to go. Still time for pre-orders, indeed. I am so relieved…and so grateful to this community that is larger than I thought it was. You all are champs.
Dan and I had a GREAT time in the studio this past weekend. There are in-depth updates for the Kickstarter Backers (a perk, if you will), but here are a few shots.
We have 2 songs in the works – we don’t know if they’re done yet, but they have grown a lot in the last 4 days. The other 3 are on deck for next weekend and beyond.