“John Hartford talked about the process of driving a river boat is not to look right in front of you, but to look a mile down the river.” – Bryan Sutton
Busy musical artists oft times become tangled in their own lack of long-range strategy. The majority of us in the pack fear the act of turning down a booking or a favored-called-in by a colleague. Bryan Sutton understands the challenge. Continue reading
Do this each week and by the end of the month (simple math) you’ll have 4 really good, authentic bluegrass licks. Rinse and repeat on the following months. You’ll be a killer side artist or band leader by the end of the year. Continue reading
I've never used Kickstarter.
Only because I've not yet developed or designed a product or initiated a project so revolutionary or unique that it would change the lives of others in a positive and impactful way -- with no accessible funding support available should I do something so remarkable.
That's my policy for myself. I'm self-righteous about it - definitely to a fault. Yes, most definitely to a fault. Continue reading
This year, I promise not to fire my bandmate, Pete. Don’t laugh. Okay, laugh.
Every couple of years I terminate him. It’s because we are such good friends, know each other inside-out, and love each other like the closest of siblings – and when we travel too much together in close quarters, we get on each others’ nerves. Seriously, he won’t let me keep left-overs in the bus or hotel mini-fridge. Stuff like that.
In the 10 years that we’ve been bandmates, I’ve fired him 3 times. After a couple weeks of missing him, and at the gently prodding from the rest of the band, I rehire him.
He has become very patient with me on this. I sometimes wonder why he hasn’t taken it upon himself to fire me from the band. We are equals. Let’s hope he Continue reading
In mid-May of last year, I traveled to Franklin, Tennessee to interview the beautiful, talented and highly successful songwriter, Miss Dixie Hall.
or… Miss Dixie, if you’ve known her for your entire life – or if you have just met her. Permission granted.
Here in the deep south, women of a certain age and elegance are regularly addressed by the tender use of the salutation Miss followed by their first name. It doesn’t matter if she is married, or never been, or not now.
Right now, I think we need writers who know the difference between the production of a market commodity and the practice of an art.” – Ursula Le Guin Continue reading
The rumor is true. Jack White’s “Upholsterers” vinyl does exist - copies of which were recently found hidden inside couches. My take on all this? Jack and Brian were not great predictors of the "10 years later" entertainment climate. Instead Jack White and Brian Muldoon were authentic do-ers, confident that industry hi-jinx with its perceived advantageous partnerships is trumped by artistic craft. They didn't place their focus on who was being chosen or what others were doing or receiving Continue reading
Unless it is Gospel and giving praise to the Almighty – or the safe bet of celebrating our military veterans – then we just don’t seem to be keen on owning our truths through our music.
Is it cultural? Is it some sort of proper manners? Is it lack of interest? Is it fear of bullying or negative repercussions? Or… is it a show of assent? Continue reading
What's it take to have the right people playing in a band? We're not talking musical ability, instead that all important "off stage" time together? Frank Solivan shares his thoughts on that, as well as he gives us a peek into his pre-performance routine that is critical to pulling off a great show. Continue reading
There is a side that Robyn Taylor is slowly revealing through song. She has been through serious personal trials, and I mean difficult trials. And from those, she is creating an admirable professional life for herself by way of carving out a peaceful, artistic personal space in an overly “look at me” Nashville music scene. Continue reading
In the pursuit of creativity, a true artist relies on a counter-intuitive vision to see and develop opportunities that others miss. Yes… counter-intuitive. They travel to where others won’t, and they believe in who they Continue reading
I am honored to announce that the International Bluegrass Music Association has asked me to speak at its Media Licensing & Royalties panel at the upcoming World of Bluegrass conference September 30 – October 4, 2014… Continue reading
Take a member from the The Rolling Stones, the Allman Brothers Band, The Marshall Tucker Band, the Zac Brown Band, and let’s say… the David Grisman Quintet, as well as a few others who breathe rarefied musical air, and stick them in a recording studio for a couple weeks at the invitation of 5-String Banjo wizard Barry Waldrep and what we all receive is Continue reading
To look at Larry Keel, well he is a study in opposites, sort of a mix of professorship with his working-man’s eyeglasses perched on the edge of his nose. He gives off that overworked college professor feel, all scruffed up with a swath of unruly hair and mustache. His necktie assortment would capture the eye of any Grateful Dead fan.
But don’t allow that laid back feel of his fool you, because when he has guitar in hand, Larry Keel plays with a deliberative musical eloquence that his peers refer to as “Signature Keel.” Continue reading
If you are fortunate to live in a region where bluegrass music is tied to the local culture, you might be discovering that bluegrass music is treading water.
Bluegrass music is a style that once was embedded in a rural, family centered culture … a culture that is slowly disappearing as suburban strip malls, Walmarts and Home Depots overtake our farms, and half-backers who are escaping the hurricanes of Florida build their gated community dream cabins in the last remaining hollers of our mountains, and YouTube is the music instructor for our young people.
One thing that Laurie Lewis is not – she is not YouTube sameness. But what Laurie Lewis is – she’s an accurate reflection of the culture and uniqueness found in the music of our 1st-2nd generation musicians. Continue reading
So this happens to all performing musicians. In fact, it's a constant for many. You are on stage for a show and it's one of those dreadful nights where you are getting in your own way. Your total focus is on the neck of your guitar, banjo, bass, fiddle, mandolin or perhaps the strings across you resonator guitar. You are staring so hard that you could drill a hole right through your instrument - concentrating on the rhythm, ready to deliver that scorching break. Look at photos of your band, other bands, solo acts - you'll see what I mean. Continue reading