To have and to be an Anam Ċara. This translates into my own musical artistry. The word’s of Irish mystic & poet John O’Donohue can be found in the music of Van Morrison, George Harrison, Paul Simon, Sting…
When pianist and composer Chad Lawson sits at his Steinway and improvises, anything might happen, such as his own take on great classical works. His album, “Chopin Variations,” debuted at Number 1 on iTunes Classical last year. In this self-narrated profile – part of our Short Takes series – Lawson shows us his life as […]
“It’s the space between the notes, that’s where the art resides.” - Arthur Rubinstein “A songwriter's solemn duty is to shorten the distance between the truth and the public.” - Graham Nash "A song is a gift from your Muse. Handle & Deliver with Care." - Lisa Jacobi "If there is only a handful in my audience, I feel even more enriched. They are there for a purpose. They may not know the purpose, and I certainly don't, but I recognize that an unseen force intends for us to be in this moment... together." - Lisa Jacobi
You know what drives me nuts? It’s pretty simple. It’s for me to be on stage and play a fiddle note that is of not good quality. Mind you, it can be one note in thousands — or it can be […]
For those who don’t regularly attend bluegrass festivals, or listen to the classic bluegrass music on albums or on terrestrial, streaming and satellite music stations — the clash of musical voicing is what makes classic bluegrass music… bluegrass music. It’s that quirky “you know it when you hear it” sound.
Listen to Lisa’s *dog park* conversation with […]
They say a band is like a family. There must be trust among the members. There must be an atmosphere of peace and gentleness that allows for quiet time to think, and be inspired, and to create. There can’t be any secrecy. There must be easy laughter. Hanging out should be effortless as breathing. And […]
“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 […]
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.
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.
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 […]
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 […]
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
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?
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.
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.
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
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
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.”
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.
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.
If you are the type who regularly taps into your inner sheep and just follows along – or allows the winds of others’ desires to buffet your music direction from side to side – you will be eventually be obliterated by minor, if not nut-case, music industry challenges. As the decades roll along, every musician makes internal and external choices that build either a positive or negative foundation for their artistry. This foundation is what makes for soul-honoring decisions when faced with the dissenting expectations of others, whether they be self-serving promoters, less than reputable record labels, the highly opinionated *chair snappers* at a festival, and the like. Along with that foundation is having awareness of, and trusting in, your inner compass. That compass is what gives reverence to your artistry, as well as...
As performers, we all get a case of the jitters every now and then. No matter your level of musicianship, a healthy dose of nerves on stage is a positive tip-off that you are leaning across the front edge of your craft and into the zone where art moves forward. And if you don't think the same is true for full-time, award winning, tour-slammed musicians -- then International Bluegrass Music Association award winning bass player Missy Raines will beg to differ. I interviewed Missy on stage, at doors open, at the beautiful Red Clay Theatre in Duluth, Georgia. It is a musician's dream of a venue with great audiences and wonderful professionals working behind the scenes to make every show the best. Missy shares her performance focusing strategy and why she studies, so closely, the craft of one of her idols, Marty Stuart. We get underway with a look back on her youth, and how a surprise purchase by her dad gave direction to her early musical passion.
Most Monday nights at the Station Inn in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, Larry Cordle brings together his musical friends such as Carl Jackson & Val Storey, along with others - to perform a couple long sets of original and classic songs.
Larry Cordle got his break in professional songwriting by way of his childhood friend Ricky Skaggs, and from that entry, he has carved out a many decades-long career by, as he describes, "hard work and showing up daily” - as you’ll learn in my talk with him in the dressing room backstage at the Station Inn.
Music lovers who don't pay close attention to bluegrass may not know Ron Block by name, but they would recognize the sound of his banjo in the contemporary bluegrass music group Alison Krauss and Union Station.
I caught up with Ron on a warm, autumn evening at the Loveless Barn just south of Nashville, Tennessee U.S.A. We were there to enjoy the album release party of our friend, book author and songwriter, Sandra Boynton. Ron plays banjo on Sandra's album "Frog Trouble." Our time spent talking was nothing less than magical. He revealed some of his deepest held truths about life, a life that at times has been a struggle. Also, Ron shared some of the tools he uses in his quest for spiritual fulfillment and life excellence.
When it comes to musical artistry, Ron plays well beyond his bluegrass music upbringing, with an attention to musical excellence and beauty of prose that he shared with me in this revealing interview.
Jamie Dailey is one half of the award winning bluegrass music group Dailey & Vincent. Individually he has been nominated numerous times and won Entertainer of the Year and Contemporary Male Vocalist of the Year. I spoke with Jamie before a recent Dailey & Vincent show about his take on what makes for a great entertainer, his time traveling with the U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland, and one of his passion projects that helps children. All this despite his band mates best attempts at doing whatever they were doing on stage in an effort to distract him. And you'll definitely want to watch the short video catching him off guard...