I’ve always thought it cool when rich folks don’t flaunt their money so that other people can see it. I saw an interview on a late night show with a famous actor recently who said that when he began making real money, he bought a farm, log cabin, a trampoline, and a bed. Apparently he decided to stick with the essentials.

Lately I’ve been stuck on Bob Marley’s Legend record. It’s a “the best of” record and I just can’t seem to listen to anything else right now. I’ll pull out Merle Haggard or Jackson Browne but always end up switching over to Bob and the Wailers again. Right now my favorite track is “No Woman No Cry”; it’s a live recording from Europe, and it’s one of those where the crowd doesn’t recognize it right off the bat. But anyway, the reason for my Marley rant was that I found a quote from him that was funny and somewhat genuine. He said…

“I have a BMW. But only because BMW stands for Bob Marley & the Wailers, and NOT because I need an expensive car.”
This reminded me a lot of the interview I had seen a few days before. Some celebrities are rich and flaunt it; some are eccentric and buy weird stuff, and some buy BMWs because they have the same initials as their band.

If you get the chance, get Bob Marley’s Legend album. It’s one that makes you think of summer time when it’s cold outside, and it’s one of my all-time favorites.

Legend (Remastered) [Bonus Tracks] - Bob Marley

The Band

There is a fine line between a group spinning its wheels for years, and really making something big happen with their music. While I wouldn’t call us a “bar band”, we have been playing smaller gigs for going on a year and a half now. Given, we have had a handful of bigger shows that really seemed to help us out with meeting the right people.

“The Band” (above) is a big influence on the way that our music sounds. They started as a backing band for Ronnie Hawkins from ’58-’63. When they left Hawkins in ’64, Bob Dylan took notice and they began to back him on a world tour, and then for a few informal recordings in the late ‘60s. In an interview lead guitarist Robbie Robertson said, “We spent 8 years in dives, pubs, and smaller places. Then, we spent 8 more playing arenas and stadiums”. Eight years is a long time to be grinding away at getting your music out there, but it seems like most hard working bands have to go through this phase before they can make an impact.

Recently I was asked what my goal is with all of this music business, and honestly it was the first time I had actually sat down and thought about it. When we first started making music I was along for the ride, and just wanted to see where it might go. But now I think I have more specific goals in mind for the group and for myself. My goal for us is to get our music out to as many people as possible, and to keep creating more of it. I certainly have no dreams of striking it rich, but I would love for my living to be made from something that I love doing. And it seems like lately we are getting closer to being able to do that, with new and bigger show opportunities that are coming in the springtime.

Robertson also said, “It is an impossible life (living on the road), it’s no way to live. I can’t imagine being on the road for another 20 years”. I hope to never be on the road for 20 years, but I do hope to be able to do what I love.

The Mother Church of Country Music

A couple days ago I came up through Nashville with a close friend, and we decided to take the self-guided tour at the Ryman Auditorium. We walked around from the back of the building and snuck up on the sweetest looking tour bus I’ve ever seen; turns out it was Gregg Allman. What are the odds? We walked in hoping to accidentally catch a glimpse of the man himself, but ended up watching the crew set up for sound check.

While the crew set up, we wandered around the creaky floors and read the exhibits from artists 60+ years ago. It was a surreal feeling looking at the stage from the original pews where people sat to hear fiery preaching over 100 years ago. But the real kicker for me was just wanting to be a part of the country music throw-down that was the Grand Ole Opry. I had no idea how many of my favorite artists played there during that time. Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Patsy Cline, Bill Monroe, & Hank Williams brought the tunes at the Opry and kept the monster crowd coming back for more. Given, this is only a FEW of the amazing artists that played, but those were some of my top choices. I was shocked to find out that Elvis Presley only played one show in ’54 to an audience that couldn’t seem to warm up to his style. Elvis was never asked to come back. I guess no matter how good you are, if you don’t fit the vibe, you just won’t play certain venues.

As we kept browsing I realized that I might have been acting like a fat kid in a candy shop. Around every corner I was dying to see the next old artifact they had preserved in their king-size display cases. There were show posters, old guitars, clothes, shoes, sequin suit jackets (yep, sequin), and even Charlie Daniels XXL shirt from a show. The place reeks of real, genuine heart and soul, the kind that can’t be manufactured or commercialized, but real, good music.

If you’re ever in Nashville and have the chance to tour the Ryman, don’t pass it up. Best $13 I ever spent. You can feel the incredible history when you walk in, and you can’t seem to shake it off you when you leave. From the musty smell to the cracked and worn wooden pews, this place is all about good music that I wish I could have been around to hear 50 years ago.

Moonlight on the Mountain

It’s tricky finding good venues. It’s got to be a cool place, the vibe has to be right, it has to be full of people, and most importantly THEY have to want YOU to come out because they like your band. We have played some pretty nice venues, but we are always looking for new places to try out.

In late summer we played Moonlight on the Mountain in Birmingham, Alabama. Keith, the owner, has spent a lot of time and effort to keep Moonlight strictly how he feels a music venue should be. It might be one of the coolest concepts for a venue that I have ever seen; but what’s crazy is how simple it is. Moonlight is neither a bar, nor a restaurant. It is a smoke-free listening room that caters to the listener. Not to mention, all you have to do is step out the front door for an amazing view.

Walking in, the first thing you notice is the living-room feel that this place puts off. There’s a fireplace that wraps around to the sitting area for shows, and the audience is able to sit a good five feet from the artist. It is easy to get the impression that they were going for an “unplugged” feel when setting up the place. But the kicker with Moonlight is that people come ONLY for the music. They aren’t interested in food, drinks, or getting rowdy, they want to listen and get close to the artist. Its places like this that are a real pleasure playing, and we hope to be able to go back and pack the place out.

If you’re reading this and are thinking, “I know of a place JUST like Moonlight that would be perfect”, please let us know. We are always fishing for the outstanding venues, wherever they might be.

Vinyl Is Better

Last time I mentioned finding an old 45 with a demo song written by my great Grandpa. I did some more looking through old lyrics and copyrights, and I found out that I was actually wrong about who wrote the song. My Grandpa wrote the song sometime in the late 60s, and it is called “Out of the Shadows”. Read more »

Cabin Fever

Wintertime for me means cabin fever. If we aren’t on the road somewhere, I prefer to be cooped up at home with a few instruments and my good friends Clint Eastwood and John Wayne. At home in Atlanta we don’t get too awful much snow. Winters are full of rain, ice, and slick roads that cause people to gravitate more towards being homebodies. Kentucky however, is very unpredictable. Last year there was about three times when I thought, “Yep, that’s the last snow for sure. Bring on the spring.” But go figure, the snow kept coming, the hermit in me kept getting more comfortable, and we kept writing music through the winter months.

My family has a 12-year tradition of Read more »