Archive by Author

In The Moment

There’s lots of moments to embrace. As a songwriter, I sometimes focus too much on the ones dealing with music. Like the moment you finish writing a song. It has a certain godlike feeling to it and it is most addicting. Be mindful of those other moments, though. They might just be the ones that inspire a great song.

2014 Couch By Couchwest Awards

cxcw2014Big surprise for me to receive an award for anything, really. So I’m overly happy to have won Best Song With A Message category. The song, Company Song, is one I’ve toiled over for a couple years. Which is to say I wrote the first verse a couple years ago. I had all the melodies for the chorus and all the verse parts, but nothing to say. The poisoning of the water in the Charleston area was what I needed to finish. I’d much rather it didn’t happen and I don’t finish the song. But since it did…

I can’t thank the folks at Couch by Couchwest for all they do. It’s a beautiful thing, the celebration of not being able to make the trip to SXSW. Turning lemons into lemonade. Because it’s probably as good a thing I can do to connect with music fans and musicians. You would do well to scan through from the beginning or from the top down. I have no doubt you will hear something you can’t live without. It’s such a wide range of genres and littered with inspired performances.

Go now! Thank me later, and thank CXCW as well!

The Heart Of Songwriting

via berkleegroove.com

I’ve had the pleasure to sit in on quite a few songwriting discussions in my day. Not enough that I would consider myself a master on the subject. Really, just enough that I have something up my sleeve when I need it. There was a time, though, that I thought everything had to come 100% from me. So I shunned any suggestion of using tricks to write songs.

Obviously, I was being stupid. Now I’m much less worried about where the song comes from and more concerned that the songs keep coming. The little things you can do, like reading a random line of poetry or in my case, a random phrase from a random phrase generator. You see these things and it sparks something inside you. Whether you recognize that as being organic or not is really up to you. The tricks, of which there are a ton, spark something that was already inside you. When I see the work flame, I see something completely different than you or anyone else. Some days it’s magic and some days it’s crap.

And of course, there are times when I just play guitar until I make a mistake I like and turn it into the melody for a song. I think if you talk to any songwriter you’ll get the sense that we all have our own little tricks. Or we have an understanding that you can’t push for creativity. You just need to be awake enough to recognize it when it comes. I don’t think I’ve heard this process described better than a series of videos of John Mayer speaking at Berkley. He’s not exactly my favorite, but I’ve always had a great respect for him. I would encourage you to watch all the videos. But this one is the one for me. Talking about expectations, he’s not just talking about songwriting. He’s talking about life.

Welcome Back

MYTHSI never left. I’ve wavered quite a bit about the pros and cons of keeping this site going. After all, there’s Tumbler. I’ve used that as my art testing ground more than anything else. Pretty heavy on the “such” and low on the “music”. I considered that being the whole show and letting this page expire. But in the end, this page provides a broader appeal and ease of use.

I consider this the relaunch of the site. I hope I take you on a fun trip.

I have a few new projects started, but nothing I really would want to post. I am not committed to any of them over the other. Getting the drums lined up is always the hardest part for me. Usually, I’ve played the song a hundred times before I try to record it. This group of songs is no different.

Will work to keep this interesting, you know, hopefully…probably.

More Couch By Couchwest

cxcw123Time to hit on some highlights from some other artists that I’ve seen on Couch By Couchwest.  I may not get through all the videos until after it’s over (03/9/14-03/15/14). But these are some things I know I know.

I have to start with friend, brother, and fellow guitarist in The Feast of Stephen, Joe Vallina. Joe may be a robot. He’s for certain a good guitarist and songwriter. I’m happy he decided to share. Here he is with, To The Phono-matic.

 

 

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Next is Mat D. I don’t know what to say, other than he is the read deal. Just gritty dairy goodness.

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The Miners doing Walnut Lane. I don’t know, man. I just really like the steel guitar. It’s a little loud and a lot cool.

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Like I said, I haven’t had a lot of time to watch. Maybe more than anything else I want people to head over and check out all the different kinds of music and find their favorites. I’ll get back with more later.

Couch By Couchwest 2014

couch by couch westWe’re really happy to be part of Couch By Couchwest 2014. If you don’t know, CXCW was started for those of us too poor or too unmotivated to make the trip to Austin, TX for musical gathering known as South By Southwest.

Instead, artist (mostly independent artist) submit a video of a live performance of an original or cover song made just for CXCW. It’s incredibly awesome, but I warn you now that not every artist is the next superstar waiting to happen. Most are like me. Just good artists/songwriters looking for a place to share their music.

The fine folks at CXCW don’t ask for money, retweets, or anything really. It’s just grass roots dairy goodness. As a songwriter, you go to share your music. But as a person and a music lover, you find a lot of inspiration and make a few friends along the way. If you are a semi-pro musician/songwriter or even if you are just semi-anything, go give this a look and listen. You won’t like everything, but I promise you’ll find something (at least one) that you just can’t put down.

I’m backed up pretty bad with life right now. But hopefully as the week goes on I will be able to add some of my favorites from this year’s CXCW. For now here’s my submission, Company Song.

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Am I a Songwriter?

CIRCLE LOGOIt’s a good question to ask every once in a while. A look in the mirror moment and confirm or deny. What purpose does it serve? Who benefits? On and on. None of that is why I do it or did it. It’s a love and a way of life that kept me whole. And if not writing songs, I’m sure there’s something you do that you can point to as more than a hobby. It’s a passion.

Sometimes life interrupts and you spend time away from the process. Or find that the process is no longer possible. If you’re smart, you find a way to do both. Having said that, I really regret nothing. If anything, I just wish I had time to have my cake and eat it too. I’m spoiled like that.

Back to the question, though. Am I a songwriter or am I someone that writes songs. I think of a songwriter as someone who can’t turn it off and a person that writes songs as just having the ability. The truth is, I’m a walking melody and my footsteps are the beat. My left foot is the kick drum and my right is the snare. Honestly, I wasn’t really aware of it until I sat down to write this. It’s just one of those things that’s on the tip of your tongue all the time. So much so that you never really see it.  And of course, my voice or my whistle is the melody.

The good thing about it is that I’m always exploring melody. It’s spilled over into the time I spend with my son. He doesn’t speak yet. So we communicate more with noises and gestures. I don’t practice this or do it purposefully, it just comes out. I love it, and I hope it someday spills over to him and he carries a song in his heart all the time like I do. On the flip side, though, it only stays with me as long as I am not distracted by a new task or issue.

If I was smart, I would attempt to record the melodies and revisit them when I have time. I’m not, though. I guess I haven’t made the transition to parenthood in that respect. I still believe my creativeness is a never ending well. But the longer I go without applying this creative gift to a focused effort, the more I get anxious about if I can still put it all together into a single thought.

I don’t know, maybe I’m a songwriter that stopped practicing. Like a lawyer or doctor that went on sabbatical. I don’t want it to stay that way. But the responsibilities before me demand my time and attention. Like I said before, I’m fine with that. The loss of myself does at least give back in love and enjoyment of those around me. Why keep the webpage, though? Well, someday I’ll be back and I’d hate to get rid of this place that I’ve chronicled the last decade of my life and music. It’ll be fun to look back on one day and take stock of my life.

Shutting Down The House Concerts

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It is with a sad heart that we have decided to stop hosting house concerts. Last year about this time we had the same thoughts, and we gave it another go this year but with the same results. It’s no one’s fault. It just doesn’t work the way we need it to in order to keep doing it. Hopefully over the next few months we’ll be able to post more of the videos from the shows we’ve hosted. We’ll certainly keep this list of people we’ve hosted up for as long as we keep this site going.

We were able to make some great memories with these fine folks, and we will forever be grateful to them and to everyone that attended.

 

Artists we’re happy to have had at the house concert series

Small Houses

Dean Fields

Appalachian Criminal

Kevin Montgomery

Brooke Brown-Saracino

Rob Szabo

Peter Katz

The Good Lovelies

Owen Temple

Adam Carroll

(Gary Floater)

The Kernal

Mechanical River

Andrew Combs

Blackwater Mojo

Option 22

Andrew McKnight

Jill Jackson

Marium Bria

Wilbur By The Sea

The Parlor Soldiers

Haggard Wulf

Water Liars

Dean Fields June 7th House Concert

DEAN FIELDSWe’re happy to have Dean come play for us June 7th. He’s a wonderful songwriter and performer as you’ll see below. We love witty, and this snippet from his bio reminds us of us in a way. But we never forget the catbox smell.

It takes a long time for me to wake up. Often Ill get up in the middle of night, change the cat box, and go back to bed with no recollection of it.   Im an over-thinker and an undecider.  I make up words.  I went to grad school to pursue music and left grad school to pursue music.  I moved 7 times in 3 years between 4 states.  I have 300 voices with 300 accents for 301 different moods.  I cannot park a car.   My wife is the coolest person I know.  And she is not a horse.

Show starts at 8pm. We ask for a $10 donation and hope you’ll follow Dean on Facebook and YouTube. Visit his website Dean Fields

House Concerts Are Coming

houseconcerts

It’s been way too long. I miss them as I’m sure some of you do. Thankfully, our friends over at Vulcan Army Booking have lined us up with Good Night, States. The show will be Friday May 17th. I’ll work out the particulars later and update the House Concerts page. I don’t have the time it takes to do this band justice in a post. They did a tour with the Lumineers this past summer and I really need to read up a little bit on that before I go any further.  So for now, I just want to share some of their music with you. Hope to see you there!

Good Night States

This is my favorite song, so far…Ceilings. I hate to make comparisons, but makes me think Pixies. There, I said it.

 

This Is Where My Life Comes Full Circle

Image via http://popdose.com/

Image via http://popdose.com/

Growing up, at least the part where I was learning to play guitar, I was a huge REM fan. At the time, their music was completely original to me. It was low-fi, melodic, angry, happy, and just plain original. I didn’t even care what Michael Stipe was singing about. I just enjoyed the music and the melody of his voice.

Having spent the majority of my young life listening to heavy metal, it was weird to me that I would gravitate toward something so completely different. But I did. And it really changed everything for me as far as music was concerned.

So like I do from time to time, I did a youtube search for REM and came across this video of Pilgrimage performed by the Long Players in Nashville. If you are unfamiliar, the Long Players are a loose group of mostly studio and touring musicians that get together every so often and perform a classic CD from start to finish and have guest singers step in to perform various songs. A friend and school mate of mine, John Deaderick plays with these guys. Whether you know it or not, you’ve heard him play with just about anyone who is anyone and I’m really proud of him for all he has been able to accomplish in the music biz. It never ceases to amaze me at who he has shared the stage and studio with.

This particular song, the Long Players had Don Dixon, the producer of REM’s Murmer to sing. As I’ve mentioned on here a time or two, Don Dixon played bass and produced RJ Cowdery’s first CD One More Door, which was recorded here in my house.  It still hasn’t quite sunk in to my brain that I got to share my house with the producer of REM’s Murmer as well as RJ, Todd Burge, and a couple members of the Mountain Stage band. Maybe it never will, but I can tell you it was so incredible and uplifting to walk into the house after work and hear the beautiful music that was being made.

Seeing this video this morning just brought a rush of emotion and tied several distinctively different parts of my life together all at once. It’s cool, and I love it!

Muse Recorded for Couch By Couchwest

Hey all,

If you can’t make it to SXSW, you should go check out CBCW (Couch by Couchwest). Stay at home and check out all the great bands and artist that didn’t get to perform at SXSW. Everyone uploads a video/videos made especially for CBCW to Youtube and the folks at CBCW make the playlist. If you are looking for a way to find some new artist, this is it.

I figure I got time for just one this year. Maybe more. We’ll see. I did Muse, recorded in the attic with one of the stage lights that pulses more the louder you get. Thanks for listening/watching!

Music News And Other News

Yeah, so I have this website right here that I have all but ignored over the past few months. It’s not that I want you to be in the dark or anything. I just don’t ever seem to find the time or the desire to update it. Expecting the birth of your first child can do that to you. Also, a rather lengthy job assignment out of town from September to December assisted in my absence.

Don’t feel out of place, though. I haven’t had much of any time to work over at The Smoking Musket either. Considering how the football season went and the basketball season is going, that’s not really a bad thing. But my love of WVU sports is a strong one and I do miss it. I miss the hours I would spend dreaming up and making animated GIFs to go along with my posts. For example:

From the WVU-Iowa State basketball game…yeah, we lost.

Oh hey, I play music too! So, quietly, I’ve been working on songs and an absolute ton of graphic things I want to do when the next CD is complete. My only real question is whether to make physical CDs, or to just release it as a download. I tend to want to lean more towards doing one song at a time in the future. The way the business side of things currently stands, I think an artist doesn’t do themselves any favors by releasing a CD. Fans wait to hear the next set of songs instead of having a regular stream of songs released. I’m just thinking of you guys. Matter of fact, I’m thinking of just finishing the songs I have demos for and just releasing them. Thanks to Hardy and Joseph, a couple of those are near done. If ya wanna listen, the player on the right called, Demolicious.

It’s a tough thing, the lack of production. But I’m looking forward to the baby making his grand entrance into this world, and the ways it will change me. I’m thinking I’m going to have a lot of time to play for him. I’m interested how that will effect my songwriting. I have thoughts about songs all the time, a melody in my head. I hope those come out. Maybe not the heavy ones, though. Ha!

So anyway, happy new year. It’s warm somewhere.

John

universe

 

I like GIFs

Just goofing off, and came up with this.

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