music industry

some good news lately

It's a messy business promoting music, but sometimes things start lining up a bit in your favor. This last week has brought me a lot of good news.

but that's not all. American Tracks Music Awards does seem to offer some good opportunities for exposure, but we also have 2 nominations in the older and more legit International Songwriting Competition (ISC).

And there are quite a few more submissions moving through the process with other organizations. Different songs seem to resonate with different folks, which is fine by me. So far:

  1. American Tracks Music Awards - December 2017 - Best Independent Artist (selection: Go My Way)
  2. American Tracks Music Awards - December 2017 - Best American Song (selection: Someday)
  3. International Songwriting Competition - 2017 Unpublished (selection: Follow the Light)
  4. International Songwriting Competition - 2017 Unsigned (selection: Seeing Stars)

This should turn out to be a great year for the music in and of my life. Thank you.

this is the best I have ever looked on TV

NOTE: This story was originally published on my old blog (from before I moved to Squarespace).

I would like to announce, to the media gods who are always keeping score, that this is the best I have ever looked on broadcast television. Remember me thusly when I am at the pearly gates.

screen grab from the CHEYENNE DVD (MTV 2006)

screen grab from the CHEYENNE DVD (MTV 2006)

I finally watched the dvd that I have had for 6 years now, and it is actually not a bad show. I remember how much empathy I had for her, she was such a sweet girl with so much going on and I can't imagine what it's like to have had so much success so early in her life. As turns out, I got on camera a little bit, which surprised me. My face was in the tag montage, which was cool. And the shot above is a screen capture of me walking on stage in Breckinridge, about to play keys and sing backup for CHEYENNE at our show there which was being filmed for an HD special. There are a few other shots of me in the earlier episodes, but this is far and away the biggest shot of me in terms of time and closeup level that has ever been broadcast on any channel of television. I have set my own bar in terms of media slam dunks.

The line-up was:
Cheyenne Kimball - acoustic guitar, lead vocals
Dave Krusen - drums
Joey Clement - bass, vocals
Krister Axel - keyboards, vocals
Travis Arnold - electric guitar

a Trip to Austin to perform at Austin City Limits and Willie Nelson's Ranch

I suppose I'm in the habit now of taking a lot of photos. Ever since I became a dad I am pretty shameless with my camera. Life is too short to not get good photos of the fun stuff. That being said, I was a little over-cautious taking photos of some the 'insider' stuff, like Tito's secret backstage area, that had a Prohibition vibe and massage chairs and free vodka drinks. I still got some photos but it was even bigger than it looks. I did get a bunch of shots at Willie's ranch, because they bussed in the visitors and then promptly bussed them out so we had the place to ourselves a bit more than at ACL which was totally insane with crowds of people. The whole photo album is on Google photos if you want to take a look. Below are the highlights.

A big shout-out to my buddy Shawn Pander, who called me up to sit in on his ACL gig because his main keyboard guy was in Italy.

Flying in to Austin.

Flying in to Austin.

setting up at Willie's Ranch - called simply 'Luck'.

IMG_2920.jpg
Food trucks! The lobster roll was delicious.

Food trucks! The lobster roll was delicious.

Most of the buildings were put up in the 80's for a movie that Willie did. The story goes that he loved them all so much that he had the  script  changed so that they wouldn't have to be burned down at the end of the movie.

Most of the buildings were put up in the 80's for a movie that Willie did. The story goes that he loved them all so much that he had the script changed so that they wouldn't have to be burned down at the end of the movie.

After 2 great sets at Luck Ranch we started getting ready for our show at Austin City Limits. We performed on the Tito stage, who I met briefly and seemed like a very cool guy. He certainly takes care of his employees and his performers and he is quite rightly a big deal in the Austin music and business community.

I got a kick out of this Henry Rollins quote posted right at the entrance to the stage.

I got a kick out of this Henry Rollins quote posted right at the entrance to the stage.

Tito of course has a killer backstage area set up for his artists and their friends, as well as his own entourage. It had a roaring 20's/prohibition vibe which was pretty cool.

Tito of course has a killer backstage area set up for his artists and their friends, as well as his own entourage. It had a roaring 20's/prohibition vibe which was pretty cool.

Shawn and his wife Beth.

Shawn and his wife Beth.

You know it's a big stage when you have to shoot a panoramic just to see the whole thing. Note the lack of crowd at the beginning.

People started showing up during the set and by the end we had quite a crowd.

People started showing up during the set and by the end we had quite a crowd.

Beth's sister got a few good shots of the stage before it got too crowded.

Beth's sister got a few good shots of the stage before it got too crowded.

after we were done we just kicked it back stage with Tito's people. :)

after we were done we just kicked it back stage with Tito's people. :)

yes they had a craps table. Tito does not mess around.

yes they had a craps table. Tito does not mess around.

Bloody Mary bar and finger food. Yes please.

Bloody Mary bar and finger food. Yes please.

notes from the road

When in doubt, write. This coming from someone who for the moment has taken a step back from one of my main loves, which is performing music. But, to be fair, before I became a songwriter I was already a bit of a writer, and certainly a poet. Hell, the one degree I have right now is in Poetry. And I spent the last 3 years pretty much silent in terms of writing. For anyone who was following my previous blog, and there might be a few of you, I just kind of signed off. It was certainly a slow fade. I could feel my own creative center just ceasing to be. It was a bit horrifying, but also sort of fascinating. I remember when I started writing songs way back in the 90's, I used to wonder that if I ever lost momentum, would it be the end? I spent easily ten years from my late twenties to my late thirties, writing feverishly so as not to lose the thing. The arc, the trajectory. I had to make sure I worked hard, and that I wasn't letting anything get by me. But the thing about that kind of work ethic, especially when it comes to being creative, is that it is not the whole story. You want it to be, because it feels more or less in your control, but there is so much more out there.

And here, you might be forgiven for thinking that I was going to say something about the cruel world, or how fleeting and nebulous success is, and the cold character of a critical heart. And all of that is at least a little bit true. But the thing that I only figured out recently is that there is you. You are a consideration. It's easy to come to terms with the goals, and the trappings, and certainly the social element that comes with personal fulfillment. And at least in Southern California, which is where I cut my teeth, personal fulfillment (or 'self-help') is its own cottage industry. But I'm not talking about time management tips, or how to network, or how to keep your skin flawless. I'm talking about the simple concept of both knowing yourself, and allowing yourself to evolve.

Because that turned out to be very powerful for me. As someone who from about the age of 17 to somewhere in my 30s was chasing the exact same goal, which was to 'be on the radio', without stopping for a moment to revisit the motivation, it dawned on me that I both knew what it would take to achieve greater success, and knew that I was no longer ready to put in that kind of work. I didn't want to be on the road anymore. I didn't really want to go to any more parties in the Hollywood Hills, just to try not to smoke too many cigarettes, and sneak into the bathroom every now and then to brush my teeth, and pretend I was interested, and hand out flyers, and give 20 second pitches, and just push push push. I just wasn't interested any more. LA burned me out.

And at first you just feel guilty. Guilty because you had a chance, guilty that you weren't trying hard enough, guilty because pain is good. But that is what I mean about listening. Sometimes the only person who will tell you that you've had enough is you. But it doesn't mean you can't come back, and it doesn't mean you failed. It means sometimes that you have changed. But sometimes it just means that you needed a break.

And that is where I was. My first great love was always writing - songs and poetry, and eventually blogging as well, and to wake up one day and realize that I had left what I loved behind because I somehow felt beholden to my own expectations for the future, that was a real catharsis. When your plans for the future are keeping the current moment locked up, maybe it is time for some new dreams. And I'm not talking about delayed gratification, I'm talking about atrophy.

When in doubt, write. I don't need a better future. My present is pretty much perfect. What I needed to do was stop waiting.