Thursday, January 30, 2014

almost a week in the making

Well, some things have happened since the last post - good and bad. :-)

Today is Thursday, so I'm going to try and catch you up since the last post last Wednesday... (and catch myself up - this is a journal for me as well, I'm just sharing it with you too :-)   ).

First, let me fill you in on some details... Friday night the 21st of February, I'm booked for a singer/songwriter "round" the other side of Nashville. It's a pretty good drive, but it's also Vanessa's birthday weekend, so we're going to make it a full weekend in the area.

Travis Bowlin books for this. It's held at Jim Oliver's Steakhouse and I'll be sharing the stage with my buddy Steve Rempis - founder and host of the Commercial Suicide Songwriting Podcast - at 9 PM. This is supposed to be more than the typical "3 songs in a round" like at other places. My understanding is that three of us will have the stage for over 90 minutes, so there's more time to get to know the crowd, let them get to know us, etc. Also looking forward to Vanessa and I having supper with Steve and his wife before the show and getting a taste of their great food first hand!

And of course no trip to Nashville would be complete without a visit to Demos' and Wild Horse. Hoping to make it a memorable birthday weekend for my soul mate!

Now, back to local stuff...

Last I told you, I played lead guitar with Larry Frye. I was asked to come back on January 31st for his next show there. The day after my blog post, I received word that Larry's band was being hired to play on Saturday nights. So - that gig has played out. I wish the owner luck and Larry is a good musician, so people will still have a good time. That did free us up to pursue something else we had been talking about...

There's a place in Cayce, KY - just north of Union City - where they apparently have two bands every Saturday night. I've never been, but my understanding is they cater to "listeners" as well as "dancers." We have been booked to play there on March 1st to see how it goes. Here's a link to their Facebook page - Cayce Junction Jamboree. I would love to see YOU there!

Had another writing session with Dustin Hamlin on Thursday night. We worked more on a song he had brought to the "re-write table" last week. Still not finished, but getting there.

Friday I received a text that the lead player at Halls was not going to be there and I was asked to sit in. Of course I jumped on the chance, taking my Gretsch and my Peavey Classic Amp. Below is a head shot of the guitar - and the amp pic is one I found on the Internet. I realized I don't have a pic of mine...


At the bottom of the blog you'll find some pics that Vanessa took, but the main thing I want to say here is that I had the best time making music that I have had in a long while! I always have a good time, so this is really saying something. The guy on steel is one of my favorite musicians of all time and an old family friend (his brother Bobby and my dad were best friends) - Max Winchester. It's ALWAYS a joy to get to make music with him, but to sit in all night on lead and swap licks and accents with him was just downright magical.

At the end of the night I realized something... The night had FLOWN by. We started about 7 and it literally seemed like three or four songs later it was pushing 8 o'clock and time for a break. We went back and again three songs later it was 9 o'clock. We took a very short break then two songs later it was 10 o'clock and time to stop. Yes, it really seemed like it went that fast to me.

I also realized after the fact that I needed this... Having been "fired" from our Saturday night gig made me think "no music" this weekend, so I was pleasantly surprised to get to play and it was good therapy. :-)

Saturday night we had supper with Deb & Tracy and Royce & Linda - great steaks! After supper Royce and I did a little picking (me on guitar & him on banjo).

Sunday James asked me after church if I would play bass Saturday at the Alamo Retirement Home, and following the "resolution" of my buddy Steve Rempis, I said yes. :-) As you know, gentle reader, I prefer to play guitar, but they already have several guitars in the group and no bass, so you play what is needed. Besides, I'd rather play bass as not play at all, and I like being versatile. :-)

Sunday I finally got What Went Wrong recorded. This was another co-write with Jedediah Inlow. Here's the YouTube link -

Tuesday night James and I did some picking & practicing and we worked on some new songs. No videos to post yet - still working out some arrangements and we hope to have at least one more guitar player there next week for some more "rhythm section" - and a bass soon too...

Last night Jimmy Skiles (the keyboard player in the pics) emailed me some lyrics for a song idea he had. Looking forward to working on that with him as well.

That's it! That catches you up, gentle reader, and catches me up too... :-)

The full band above - Jimmy Skiles on keyboard, Hugh "Sigmund" Ellington on bass, Jason (don't remember his last name) on drums, me & Max Winchester on steel

Love the feel of that guitar... And the history... And the tone... And what it represents. :-) It was almost playing itself when Sig sang Blue Suede Shoes. It's as if I could feel Carl leading me...

The BEST steel player I've ever heard.

You are supposed to smile on stage, but that is a genuine one - not a stage one. I think we had just swapped some licks back and forth...

Okay - this one is a pose, but it's also while he was playing live.
I just had to photo bomb it to get one of "us" together. :-)

(Thanks - Vanessa - for doing the pics...)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

musical update

Still don't have the home demo of What Went Wrong done... Been a busy few days...

Had the co-writing session last Thursday with Dustin Hamlin. Went great! We didn't get a song "finished," but we go to know each other, shared some background, talked some things through, etc.

I did get a verse done on the one Gary and I had started working on... I did that while waiting for Dustin, but haven't gone back to it.

Friday night we went out to eat with Colton and Tiffani. No music, but had a great time with the kids and then Vanessa and I watched "Burn Notice" into the night. :-)

Vanessa drove Saturday on the way to Jackson and I took my little guitar. We worked on "Miracle in Me" and some other stuff. That's still a blog post I need to write... Saturday night we were back in Hornbeak and we had a great time! Vanessa and I did "You Ain't Dolly" again, and I brought out a new song for an old friend - "I'll Sail My Ship Alone." Glad you liked it Bill!

Sunday morning we visited at Archer's Chapel and worshipped with The Dills. They are some DEAR old friends of ours and we love spending time with them. They invited us to eat lunch with them in Humboldt, so we did - and continued the fellowship. Love you guys! (and girls)

Monday was a holiday so we stayed around the house most of the day... Just had a good "day off." :-)

Back at work Tuesday, but no bluegrass Tuesday night. Ms. Robbie at Boot Scoot in Hornbeak had asked me to fill in on Lead Guitar for Larry Frye. She's trying out another night to try and help build the business. Was the first time I've gotten to "pick" (other than bluegrass) in a while and had a GREAT time! Got to sing a few as well, and that's always fun...

He asked me to come back on January 31st when they are going to try a Friday night... Come on out!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

several days of writing

Okay - a quick update from the last post...

Three more songs under my belt! Steve and I collaborated on a new twist to "Grandpa Said" - it's up on YouTube now -

Jed and I finished another one - Don't Let the Weeds Outgrow the Rose -

And Jed and I have done 99% of the work on another one - What Went Wrong - it's not online yet, as there's still a bit of tweaking and testing we wanted to do. I brought it out last night for James and we played through it a few times. Fits the bluegrass style we are playing. Look for it in the next few days...

The one Gary and I are going to work on is still sitting untouched, but it's in the queue. I also had another writer contact me via Jed. He sent me a couple of "poetic lyric sheets" and I'm excited to be working with him as well.

I have a live co-writing session planned for tomorrow night... I had a local performer contact me via Facebook and wanted to get together and do some writing. Seems the drummer on Saturday night had good things to say about me and my writing. High hopes for this one!

Randy - I wanted you to know that I've tried to keep what you said in mind... Saturday was not a "writing day" but I know that my writing is a culmination of years and years of musical experience, so I put in another night of musical experience. :-) I didn't do any originals Saturday night, but I did do a couple of "non-standard" covers that you don't normally hear, plus a duet that Vanessa and I heard Saturday morning. We worked it up and performed it Saturday night as well.

Sunday I did some writing. Monday I did some writing. Tuesday I practiced bluegrass and pulled out TWO of the new ones. Today I listened to the podcast and got some nuggets, plus made some contacts.

Friday, January 10, 2014

long distance co-writing

Just a quick note before I leave for work...

I finally got caught up on the last three episodes of The Commercial Suicide Songwriting Podcast. For some reason they episodes were NOT coming to my phone and I stumbled on them on my laptop, so I manually put them on my phone and spent a couple of days catching up. Lots of great info and I can't say enough good things about this show!

So that put me in the mood to write... :-) Last night I pulled a song out that Steve Rempis had sent me back in November. He wanted a bluegrass take on it and I was hearing a slightly different tune in my head, so I rewrote part of it to adjust the phrasing, etc. I sent it back to him last night to see what he thinks of the changes and to see where we go from here.

Then I pulled out a song "idea" that another songwriter - Gary Jolly - had shared with me. Since it had been so long I didn't know if he had already collaborated with someone else. Since the "idea" is from a third party I didn't want to jump in if the project was done and complete.

I moved on to a third song that was a complete song sent to me by another long distance co-writer - Jed Inlow. This guy and I have collaborated on several songs already and he had a "beat" in mind for the song. He is a lyrics writer only, not a musician, so he asked me back in September to send him a performance of the song with a specific "beat" in mind. Sure enough, it fits the STYLE of the old song he had in mind, but I was careful not to make it a copy of that song. The hook and repeating line is a GREAT line!

I emailed him as well, and was immediately called out on an errand. As with the other, if he had already collaborated with someone else I didn't want to do too much with it, but I had a specific suggestion in mind. He contacted me while I was out and had not sent it to anyone else, so we're going to work on that one for sure.

Meanwhile I get an overnight reply from Gary - nothing done yet as he's been "out of pocket" as well, so no harm. Good. :-) I'm excited to be working on this one as well.

So - that's three songs I collaborated on last night. Only did real "work" on one of them, but it felt great! Playing live music is fun and playing music for people to dance and smile to is even better, but the writing is even more magical. I can not explain it, but trust me - it's magical.

Another writer friend, Randy Finchum, gave me some words of encouragement as well when I mentioned to him on Facebook that I was writing for the first time since before the holidays -

Marla Sitten told me once to do one thing a day to help your career, and you're did it today man! Sometimes this writing/music thing seems overwhelming, but the biggest thing is doing the little things....they move us forward every time!

Thanks again, Randy, and glad to hear your voice on the podcast!

One last thing... The Bare Basics plan to try out a bass player this coming Tuesday night... This song I worked on last night with Steve will make a great addition to the bluegrass side of things.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Star Wars & gaming

Okay, my geek is showing... A LOT...

Vanessa and I bought a used Wii quite a while ago (several years now) for exercise apps, etc. I picked up a copy of Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings, but never played it much. Earlier in the holiday break I started playing it again and have really had a great time with it! I got far enough today that I found out what the Staff of Kings is. No spoilers here, but let me know if you want to know...

Anyway, what with my getting back into Star Wars in a big way (X-Wing Miniatures game, the role-playing game I'm hosting, watching Clone Wars, etc.) I bought a used copy of Force Unleashed & Force Unleashed II for the Wii. Started playing the first one today. I plan to take it back to GameStop and get a refund. It's a good game, and I can see Kyle or Colton really playing it and enjoying it, but it's not for me.

The story itself is VERY cool! It takes place between episodes III & IV and the "clone troopers" have the uniforms from the Clone Wars era and the ships they use also "fit," but the game play itself is too complicated for my 46 year old brain. :-) You have motion with the controller and the nunchuck, then you have something that ALL of the buttons do, then you have combinations of buttons and movements, etc. Not something that holds my attention.

I am enjoying hosting the RPG though and I'm prepared for our next session... I need to do some more uploading of files to, and I have most everything ready now... The players have all shared more backstory with me and they've also given me permission to blog about the game. Not HERE, which I would do anyway, but in more detail...

I enjoy reading other's stories about their sessions and enjoy listening to podcasts where people have recorded their actual games. I get GREAT tips on what to do and not to do as a GM, and they are just plain enjoyable too, so I thought I'd start a separate blog for this. If you're interested, head on over and check it out...

One more thing about Star Wars... I've shared this theory with a few people and want to mention it here and solicit your comments or thoughts... R2-D2 in Episodes IV, V & VI is obviously an older droid. He's a hero, for sure, but he's not "new" anymore.

In Episode I we see where he came from... He was one of several astromech droids on board Queen Amidala's ship, and he was a hero there as well. In Episode II we see that he has "jets" on his "legs," and everyone was surprised to see them! He doesn't have these in IV, V or VI, nor in I. He has them again in Episode III and of course all through the Clone Wars cartoon.

Here's the question - why? Was it just a twist thrown into the movies? Was it a "newer" R2-D2 even though II - Clone Wars - III took place 20 years before IV? My theory is that it was Anakin. Watto says that he can fix anything, and he even built his own pod racer I think that as R2-D2 became "his" droid that he modified him and gave him the jets. Once Anakin became Darth Vader he no longer had any contact with R2-D2 and thus wasn't there to repair and maintain the special modification, and it eventually quick working.

What do you think?