October 24th, 2014

Hitting the Pause Button

I’ve hesitated to write this for a while now. As if, by writing these thoughts down, it will make them more real.

Before I get too far… I should preface this by saying that everything is great. This summer overseas in Monaco with The Downtown Band was absolutely incredible. We’re still busy even as we’ve returned to “normal” gigging life. My personal life is going swimmingly too. I’m very happy in general.

But ever since my return from this summer’s escapades I’ve felt like I’ve not been able to give what I want to give to my own music. I’ve done a few acoustic shows. I just released the music video for “Let’s Go” below. I’m finally releasing the third record of my trilogy Twisted and I’m very proud of it; it’s been a long time coming. And the full band show next Wednesday, the 29th here in Nashville to celebrate its release will be awesome. I had a rehearsal with my band the other day and they are sounding phenomenal.

However, after that is done, I’m going to hit the pause button on performing my own music for a while. I’ll still be writing and probably recording demos and videos. I’ll be playing all the time with other projects like Codaphonic and The Downtown Band. But you won’t see me out on the road and I probably won’t have an in-town show either.

For most of you out there, this is not much of a change and probably doesn’t even warrant a blog post. For me, though, this is a gigantic mental shift. Whether my execution is effective or not, I am constantly thinking about my next step and what I’m doing with my own music. Am I writing enough? Am I playing enough shows? How should I promote it? Every artist out there knows what I’m talking about. Throughout these feelings one absolutely MUST keep the inner drive and belief in what you’re doing. And right now what I need to do is take a step back and seek that belief out.

I can’t say for certain that this “pause button” won’t turn into a stop button. But I doubt it. But there may be a change in direction. I’ve always been more of a collaborative person when it comes to music which is one of the reasons why I get so frustrated playing in a solo setting.

Things tend to slow down in the coming months anyway with colder weather and the holidays, so this may not end up being much different than any other year. But I don’t know, and that’s the part I have come to accept. I haven’t been working on the next thing because I have to figure out what that’s going to be.

So, dear reader, what does this mean for you? Not too much. I’ll still be posting here. I’ll still be on social media outlets as per usual. If you’re here in Nashville, do please stop by The Rutledge on Wednesday, October 29th as it will be your last chance to see me life for the foreseeable future. Those of you outside of the city, I think they will have the live stream up on the venue website, so you can catch it there!

Otherwise, thank you kindly for all the fun and support. Talk to you again soon, but perhaps my head will be clearer.

October 23rd, 2014

Let's Go Music Video

It’s finally here! Thanks to all the people that worked so hard to make this video happen: director Jeff Wyatt Wilson, actress Britt Ronstadt, special consultant/props master Carrie Lorene and Justin Caldwell for lending me equipment!

August 12th, 2014

"Let's Go" - Single Up Now

There are many terrible and sad things happening right now. We are all feeling outraged and grieving and pontificating about what’s going on in the world and in our lives.

I am not a philosopher. I am not a doctor. I am not a politician. I am a musician, so I would like to distract you from all of that for about 3 minutes with a little song about adventuring. Stream it for free, download it for free, pay a little money, pay a lot of money, all of it is good. Share it if you like it, don’t if you don’t. Wiggle in your seat or stare dourly at your computer screen. Be who you’ll be.

The music video is coming very soon but I just couldn’t wait to share this with you. Let’s go.

August 8th, 2014

Monte Carlo: Days 28 - 38

Sooo… I am now in Monte Carlo, Monaco until the middle of August. I’m performing in the house band of the Monte-Carlo Summer Sporting Festival. We’ll be opening for an unbelievable slew of artists like: Lana Del Rey, Kevin Costner, Robin Thicke, Paolo Nutini, Chic featuring Nile Rodgers, Marcus Miller & Joe Satriani, The Jacksons, Elton John, Paul Anka, Boy George, Bryan Adams, Gipsy Kings, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Tom Jones and more! I’ll be chronicling the adventures here when I can! The band is: me (guitar), Justin Caldwell (lead vocals, guitar, percussion), Erin McCarley (lead vocals, guitar, percussion), Ian Miller (keyboards), Taylor Jones (bass) and Lee Holland (drums, percussion, guitar).

OK, so I’m really behind on this blog so I’m going to do a Tarantino-style backwards catch up starting with last night.

Day 38

August 7th, 2014

Last night was Neil Young! We ended up not getting to open for him, so we were pretty bummed about that. I know it’s difficult to feel sorry for us, so I’ll move on. We did go to the show though!

Afterwards some folks went to the casino to definitely earn money but I opted for Netflix and a sandwich in my hotel room. ROCK STAR LIFE 4EVS.

Day 37

August 6th, 2014

Gipsy Kings!

One of first records I ever heard where the guitar player was playing so fast that it sounded like an acoustic guitar machine gun was a Gipsy Kings greatest hit collection with this song “Djobi Djoba” on it, which is my favorite of theirs.

I was pretty excited for the show.

It’s indescribable to get the opportunity to be around music that had such a profound effect on me growing up and learning how to be a performer. Speaking of…

Day 36

August 5th, 2014

Bryan Adams' “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” was the first song I ever sang in public (and one of my first encounters with the use of a somewhat superfluous parenthetical in a song title). Our music teacher in 4th grade allowed us to bring in a cassette tape to sing over as a combo show-and-tell and performance practice thing. My first memory of this experience is a classmate (Jamie?) getting reprimanded for singing “Cold Hearted Snake” by Paula Abdul because it was too evocative of the devil. (This is a Christ-ee-an school, young lady!) The second is singing this warbling over top of Bryan Adams' gruff-yet-smooth delivery of this monster hit from the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves soundtrack. (My pal Kev was in that. Remember him?)

We didn’t get to meet Bryan Adams because the Princess was around and security was tight. Another sentence I never thought I would ever type. His piano player, Gary, was very nice though! This guy can still DELIVER. It was pretty amazing to hear someone just nail everything vocally. Sometimes a person is over-hyped. Sometimes they have their era and then they lose some skill or passion. And sometimes you’re lucky enough to witness someone who is just incredibly skilled and has maintained that skill throughout their long and storied career and it’s an absolute pleasure to watch.

Day 35

August 4th, 2014

Status Quo was supposed to be on Monday, but they ended up dropping out due to illness. Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

I do not remember what I did on this day but I’m sure it was incredible.

Day 34

August 3rd, 2014


Sunday was a planned day off so Ian, Taylor and I ventured over to the village of Èze! We took the short train ride to the Èze-sur-mer stop and then the looooooooong hike up the Chemin de Nietzsche (Nietzsche trail - he spent a good deal of time in Èze toward the latter part of his writing career) to the village and chateau up top. It was sweaty and a bit arduous but I made it and didn’t even die once. And Èze is remarkable to witness. I can see why my pals Friedrich and our U2 pals like it so much.

We walked around a bit before grabbing some delicious crepes at a little restaurant built into the chateau (the whole place was teaming with shops, restaurants, a cathedral and even a hotel) and heading back down. We had planned to hike to La Turbie and then back down to Monaco from there but decided we were too tired for that crap after the long hike up.

Later than night we caught Begin Again (or New York Melody as it’s called here) at the amazing Open Air Theater here in Monaco. The movie was decent but the setting was incredible!

Day 33

August 2nd, 2014

We opened for Boy George on Saturday and it was one of the most receptive audiences yet! A couple of kids even threw roses at me after I took a solo (throwing roses and twirling napkins is how the Monegasque tend to show their approval)!

Boy George was great and called the audience’s throwing-of-roses technique “posh violence.”

Day 32

August 1st, 2014

Last Friday was the Red Cross benefit gala and the first time we got to really let loose and be a dance band! Diana Krall was the headliner and her and the band were absolutely amazing. There was some announce-y award-y business then Krall’s set, a crazy fireworks display and then we got to get ‘em grooving as the after party!

We were told that once the Prince left the room everyone would clear out and that was mostly right. But we got them dancing quite a bit at the beginning and it was nice to have people listen and get to play to our strengths a little bit.

I missed out on meeting Ms. Krall but some of the guys got to say hello!

Days 30 & 31

July 30-31, 2014

Our last double-day off of the trip was July 30-31 so Taylor, Justin and I rented a small apartment in Nice and spent our “weekend” there. Lots of walking, eating, exploring and a quick boat trip to Cannes!

Day 29

July 29th, 2014

Paolo Conte!

I only knew about Paolo Conte through “Via Con Me”, a song that I used to play in a band with my friend Chad “Chillow” Willow back in our Minnesota/North Dakota days. I’ve always loved the song (and playing it!) but I didn’t know much else about Paolo.

He and his band were absolutely incredible. Everything was meticulously arranged and sounded perfect. It harkened back to a big band era in a way that I’ve rarely seen done so well. I am a new Paolo fan for sure.

Day 28

July 28th, 2014

Paul Anka!

The show was a bit cheesy for my tastes, but there is absolutely no denying Mr. Anka’s oeuvre! Really cool to see the people who wrote and/or performed such legendary songs in the flesh!

NEXT: Texas, Julio Iglesias and a return to chronological format!

July 28th, 2014

Monte Carlo: Days 25, 26 & 27

Sooo… I am now in Monte Carlo, Monaco until the middle of August. I’m performing in the house band of the Monte-Carlo Summer Sporting Festival. We’ll be opening for an unbelievable slew of artists like: Lana Del Rey, Kevin Costner, Robin Thicke, Paolo Nutini, Chic featuring Nile Rodgers, Marcus Miller & Joe Satriani, The Jacksons, Elton John, Paul Anka, Boy George, Bryan Adams, Gipsy Kings, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Tom Jones and more! I’ll be chronicling the adventures here when I can! The band is: me (guitar), Justin Caldwell (lead vocals, guitar, percussion), Erin McCarley (lead vocals, guitar, percussion), Ian Miller (keyboards), Taylor Jones (bass) and Lee Holland (drums, percussion, guitar).

Day 25

Friday was a benefit show featuring a French artist named Chrisophe Maé. We hadn’t heard of him but did some cursory listening before the show. After our set we stuck around and watched for a bit and he put on a great show! Fun costumes and a great sounding band!

Day 26

Elton John Day!

We got to open for one of the most accomplished artists still alive today– what an honor! I’ve always loved some of his songs but I have to admit that I’ve never been a super fan. However, after seeing him just KILL IT playing classic tune after classic tune, I definitely have a new-found love and respect for him as an entertainer/writer/artist.

After we finished our set, we were stage-rolled into the wing as usual. Sir Elton was waiting to go on and Justin went up to say ‘hello’. He was extremely gracious and walked over and greeted each of us in the band and shook our hands and made idle chit-chat. He also agreed to a photo!

(Yeah, yeah, Tony Danza, we know.)

After his set, a few of us hung out backstage like the gherms that we are trying to get another chance to say hello. We got a quick conversation with Bono and his wife again (ho-hum, right?) but Sir Elton buzzed up to the dressing room. I guess one greeting and brief hang out session with one of the most legendary performers still making music today is enough!

We took the long walk back to Monte Carlo and hung out for a bit with some of the crew members before calling it a night.

Day 27

Day off! On Sunday, Justin and I took a short train ride and ventured into Villefranche-sur-Mer, a nearby town on the coast. It’s not quite all the way to Nice, the largest nearby city, but it’s very close. We strolled around and looked at the beautiful views and old architecture before having a really great seafood lunch at a place recommended to us by The Edge called La Mere Germaine. (AHAHAAHAHA I can’t believe I just typed that, I’m so sorry. I’m not sorry enough to delete or re-type it though.)

(Have fun storming the castle!)

It was such a fancy day off that we all went to the ballet when we returned to Monaco! We were treated to box seats in the opulent casino opera house and the show was incredible! The costumes and dancing were all amazing. I have no idea what the show was about.

Taylor took a great panorama of us before the show getting ready to get all cultured and stuff.

Immediately after we exited the theater, there was a phenomenal fireworks display (the Monte-Carlo International Fireworks festival happens on a few Sundays throughout the summer) right off the Casino terrace. We were all too enamored to take any decent pictures. That drone video from July 4th is hard to top video-wise anyway!

NEXT: Paul Anka!