March 28, 2004

Last night was so much fun! The band and I (with a fill-in bassist named Andrew Young and minus our kit drummer, Loyd Warden) had a great show at MoJo's. The place was well-filled, tables and booths full, people standing and sitting on extra chairs. We had some technical difficulties in the first set which threw our momentum just a bit, but the second two sets were great. I think I played one of the most fun violin solos I've ever done on 'That Kind of Woman.' It just went on and on and all these new ideas were flowing out of me. I haven't been in the pocket like that for a while.

I also notice that my body is out of "full playing mode." When we were busy touring to different cities and playing several times a week, my fingers and arms were well adjusted to the demands placed upon them, but now that I've spent the last two months in Nashville not having much time to play my instruments (or certainly not for several hours a day as I was) I'm actually a little bit SORE, like a runner who didn't train all winter and suddenly goes full-bore for a six mile run. It's so weird to realize how much energy you utilize in performance.

The best part of last night was seeing so many friendly faces. I can't express how great Columbia is. It's a tight-knit, but accepting community, and I would be lost without the awesome support base we have here. I met some new faces last night two, such as a couple from Jefferson City who heard a couple of my tunes on KOPN and so came to the show on that basis, and a man from Columbia who had been referred to our show by someone who heard us play earlier this month. There were many other people there who were obviously new to our show but I didn't have the chance to meet them. I want to just thank anyone and everyone who came! It was a great show to get us back in full swing! I also think last night was a great example of how word-of-mouth and local advertising can work so well. Many people had heard of us from other people, or from the local paper, commercial radio ads, etc. And to all those KOPN DJs doing late-night radio works! You're doing a great job! Thank you!

March 24, 2004

Some stories I'd like to write key-phrases for so I remember to write more about them later:

Hot Steve (Barry Rex)
Wouldn't see me for 3 weeks if...

These don't make sense right now, they might some day!

March 23, 2004

A small investment I made this week is paying off. I spent nineteen dollars on a Monchhichi (yes there are two '"h's" in the middle) shirt at a vintage clothing store in Oxford while walking around the square with my sister. For those of you who don't remember, or never knew the Monchhichis, they were toy monkeys, fuzzy little things with soft fur and hard plastic faces and they sucked their thumbs. One was a boy and one was a girl. My sister had some. Anyhow, I wore the shirt today, and so am sporting two monkey heads on my front. For the most part, nobody that I've run into has remembered the Monchhichis, but I even remember the theme song: "Monchhichi, Monchhichi, oh so soft and cuddly."

I had some time to myself today while Matt was working on another project, and decided to go to Starbucks and sit and read a book. A guy approached me and said, "hey, I like the Monchhichis." He then explained that he lived in France for a while and had a girlfriend there. He asked her if she knew of the Monchhichis and she said no, then they got on a bus, headed somewhere, and there was, of all things, a Monchhichi monkey hanging from the overhead handrail of the bus! Funny coincidence. The t-shirt and I are making friends wherever we go! :)

March 22, 2004

I LOVE recording vocal harmonies. Even though I'm a little under the weather I have found today's sessions invigorating because I get to do what I love which is harmonize. I've always found harmony to be one of the most vital and interesting parts of musical composition, it is a big part of what creates the "feeling" of music for me.

Most of today was experimental in nature although there were some harmonies I had "nailed down," so to speak. The added voices are creating some great layers and automatically kick the intensity of the songs up a notch or two.

I am staying in Nashville through tomorrow to work on some more harmonies and possible some editing/production, and then will head home on Wednesday! Yeah! I get to rest, maybe visit friends, get together with the band and get ready for our Saturday MoJo's show, which we are all excited for! I'm hoping to see a lot of people I haven't seen in months. It should be awesome...

March 21, 2004

Back in Nashville. Had a GREAT time with my sister in Oxford, Mississippi for the last two days, but the time was far too short. The weather has been as extreme as my mood, going from a hot nearly 90 yesterday while we wandered around Oxford to a breezy 49 here in Nashville today. It might freeze tonight. I've been sick again, and I think I'm just exhausted. I'm ready for several days of NOTHING on my plate so I can gather my thoughts back together and feel like I can get my body back on a schedule.

I am so ready for spring. I see it everywhere, especially here in the south. New things are happening everywhere, in my life and all around me.

But I miss home...

This BLOG is like a diary, but people have the key.

March 18, 2004

Heading back to Nashville tomorrow after a 10-day hiatus to finish backing vocals and work on some more production of the tracks. I'm so excited to hear the finished product and see where it takes me, but this time at home has been great. Of course, my body let down enough, as it always does after a long stretch of intense work, to let in my second virus in the last month, and now I've got bronchitis really making me feel wonderful.

However, right at the beginning of this week before the cold had truly attacked, the band and I got to play together (it's been a while) at a gig we are jokingly called the "Tiffany Tour." Yes, we played at the mall, but it was for the colleges in town. People came in to get info, and there was also a prize drawing. The grand prize was a trip to Cancun, and this girl the band has known for years (one of our very first Stephens College Fans) won the trip. She was so shocked and she said she'd only come there to hear us it turned out to be a great night for her. I couldn't think of a more deserving person. She's a sweetie.

It felt great to play with the guys after such a long break. The room was echo-y and boomy and problematic, and we were right next to the deep fat fryers, but hey! It was music, and we were together again, and it was cool. I was flying high on Day-Quil which is always a good thing :).

I will keep this blog updated on the final days of the Nashville project, which will be coming right up!

March 8, 2004

Out of all the nights I've spent in Nashville, two of them have been the most special so far; the night when I finished the rhythm tracks with the studio musicians, and tonight. I just had my "audition and meeting" with the entertainment lawyer, and he loved the tracks. Surprisingly, 'People on a Train' was one of his very favorites, as it has the Led Zeppelin, classic rock twinge to it. He thinks pitching songs like that to the labels, investors, radio, etc., songs with edge and meaning, will carve a unique nitch for me. To think the song I thought would be most problematic to re-arrange and edit, has turned out to be many people's favorites, even in this difficult industry. I've managed to meet people who are still interested in making and receiving good music, not just aiming for a narrow, formatted box!

Although I'm not wishing upon a star, putting all my eggs in one basket, or any of those other cliches that mean you've got your head in the clouds, I realize I've taken a huge step in getting the attention of an influential music lawyer. With him in my court I have a much better chance of getting my music out to a wider audience.

I'm elated, and a little tipsy, and I am going to bed!

March 7, 2004

Tonight is my last night of main vocals, but I'm feeling icky and weird after eating WAY too much at lunch with my sister. I ate the best burger I've had in a while, and some Ben and Jerry's frozen yogurt. My stomach is revolting! BUT....I had the most fun day with my sister. When we woke up, it was gorgeous outside, so we took a half-hour walk and looked at all the beautiful trees, which are now in bloom.

After doing some editing early in the afternoon, we were given some time "off" and Heather and I took off to the Opryland Hotel! This place is a world in and of itself! There are trees, canals, gondolas, birds, ducks, fish, tropical flowers, waterfalls, little boutique shops, great restaurants, etc. Quite an experience. As a "post-Christmas" gift, my sister bought me this microphone pin, which has rhinestones for the mic holes. I'm going to pin it on my guitar strap. I love it. You've got to leave with one piece of Opryland, and that was mine.

Anyhow, tonight, after singing 'Calls From Springfield' (again) we might go see a movie. I saw 'Passion of the Christ' about a week ago, and it hasn't left my mind, but that's a topic for another day. We might go see 'Butterfly Effect' or 'Big Fish' or '50 First Dates.' Anything to get my mind out of the studio and ready for tomorrow when I have my big 'audition' with two certain very important industry pros. I'm a little scared. It's easier to perform for hundreds, thousands, than TWO. But I'm going to give it all I've got.

March 5, 2004

Well, vocals are coming along nicely. Last night we got the final vocals on 'My Friend,' which means I now have 'Brave New World' and 'My Friend' locked down. I am going to tackle 'Sometimes Sun, Sometimes Rain' tonight. During the day we've been editing guitar tracks, fleshing out solos, making decisions about what sounds and effects we'd like to use, and then during the evenings we do vocals. I can see everything coming together and am getting more excited every day.

On a personal note, my sister Heather is coming to visit me tomorrow and will stay for a couple of days. It has been a long time since I've seen her. We will have some time to spend together during the day while Matt works on some other projects, and then she will probably observe me in the studio for a while.

Let me take this opportunity to tell you about the great vocal booth I sing in. Matt has it decked out inside almost like a castle. The walls have this stone-like facade on them, the lights are in these very gothic-looking casings, and I've requested red and orange lights to keep the look "fiery." It manages to create a great mood without leading one to a completely "dark" energy. There are some rooms that either have too MUCH personality and are distracting, or have too LITTLE personality, and make you super-conscious of where you are; a sterile audio environment. Matt's booth stands perfectly between too much and too little. It sparks your imagination but you manage to stay focused.

My allergies have been terrible, so in order to be in good voice I take a non-drowsy antihistamine an hour before singing and gulp down water like nobody's business, gargle with salt-water, and then suck on Ricola. It seems to do the trick!

Off again I go...

March 3, 2004

Today was fabulous! (I wonder how many times I've used that word in recent weeks). Seriously, though, today we got Jerry Kimbrough, the session guitarist, back into the studio and he laid down smokin' guitar tracks on 4 of the 6 songs. I thought I was happy after the first session, now I'm wallowing in it! The impact of the original tracks was multiplied a thousand times, and I'm so excited to start laying down my vocals.

We spent from 10am to 5pm working the guitar tracks, (okay, and taking an hour respite for a great Mexican lunch) and then we got a call from a Nashville entertainment lawyer (I won't give names but let's just say he's done great things for many artists here) who asked us out for a drink. We had some great conversation about the future of labels, artist development, etc. He had some wonderful ideas and got me even more excited about the near future. I love being completely immersed in the music, and right now I eat/sleep/breathe it.

I feel that my joy is redundant. But right now I can't say anything else. I am in a state of happiness. I am learning an incredible amount and seeing things in a new light. I feel that one of the lines of my song, "Lay Your Burden Down" is appropriate here: 'we're all leaving something that we've been'...

It's not so much that I'm LEAVING what I've been, but I am in a state of "becoming," as we all are. We're different people every day. I wish I could take a snapshot of every moment.

March 2, 2004

I had the funniest dream last night. It was a very restless night, as I spent most of it tossing and turning and trying to get comfortable. It seems those nights are always when the best dreams are brewed. I have a high school reunion coming up, and the dream was a hilarious way for my brain to work out all of the questions I must have about the people I used to know.

In the dream, it was a blazing hot June day, and yet all the girls who I knew of, but never knew well because they wouldn't deign to speak to me :) were wearing leather pants and jackets, like some kind of uniform. I could see they were miserable, but hey they looked good!

People were playing some sort of weird "sport" tossing balloons around, but there didn't seem to be a goal, a purpose, a point system, anything, but they were sure competitive with it. It's hilarious to see someone trying to act barbaric with a balloon.

All the old groups sort of reformed, but I was this floating observor kind of weasling my way into every group and not caring. I was having fun listening to everyone's stories, and then one girl showed up with two new babies and started talking about how she avoided getting stains on her clothes during feeding time, and the dream turned very commercial-like, with her holding up bottles of detergent, different samples of baby food, etc. Crazy!

Then the most frustrating part of the dream was that I couldn't find any of the old friends I was really curious about. Random...there was more to it that I just don't remember, but those details were quite clear. Funny what the brain does to sort out information. Oh, and one more detail I remember is that people looked like themselves, but I kept saying their names wrong. I was aware in my own head that those weren't their names in real life, but in the dream their names had changed, and it was perfectly normal that someone named Mark suddenly became a Paul or Dan, for example.

Anyhow, I'm definitely not feeling that refreshed, but today is keyboard day! I am going to lay down some keyboard tracks on Calls From Springfield, My Friend, and People on a Train, and possibly Brave New World.

Wish me luck!