Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Back in the Saddle, Pt. 2

A handful of people have asked me what has prompted me to write new material and get back to playing shows, so I'll explain where I've been the last few years, where I am currently, and where I am headed.  In Part 1 I talked about what I've done over the course of the last few years.  Today I will explain a bit of what I am doing now.
*See Part 1 Here

Where Am I?

Graduate school was, in retrospect, a hugely ironic step in life for me.  I can't quite say it was a mistake or even a misstep, but when I read about the upcoming crisis with student loan debt in America I completely understand and sympathize.  I needed to make more money, so I went way further into debt thinking more education would enable me to do so.  I am making better money at my day job than ever before, but more of that money goes right out the door to pay back Uncle Sam than ever as well. 
A great cartoon by Adam Zyglis

My loan debt and some reading I have done has led me to live a more simple lifestyle.  My wife has also had a huge role in this.  Simply put, we have stopped participating in the great American sport of accumulating stuff.  We have more fun throwing things away or donating them than I ever had obtaining them.  Not "needing" new clothes or televisions or phones or whatever else has allowed us to eat better quality food that we prepare ourselves and spend what little money we have leftover after bills (daycare=$$$$$) on experiences rather than things.  As an example, a day at the zoo or a trip to a park is way more fun for us all than a new toy could ever be.  Having to live a simpler life on a budget has made me really appreciate the joy I get from being an active participant in life rather than just an observer.

What does any of this have to do with my music?  A lot, actually. Our lifestyle has driven me back into music because I've been inspired by my family and a handful of concerts that we've gone to. My creative side came back to life after deciding to do the reunion with Bullistic last year, and I started writing and playing again.  I even started using some recording equipment that been sitting on a shelf for over a year unused. My wife sings and plays piano, and, naturally, our daughter loves singing and dancing.  Playing, singing, and dancing became a fun way for us all to unwind after supper and before bedtime.  I'm sure some of our neighbors have gotten sick of hearing us, but playing with my girls has really rekindled the idea that God intended to make a musician when he made me.

I haven't gotten out often, but I've seen some really great concerts over the last couple of years when life has permitted.  I saw Ben Nichols give a great solo acoustic performance, and it reminded me of how amazing William Elliott Whitmore has been the handful of times I've seen him.  I also went to see Lucero play, and they were great as always, but their opener that night quickly became one of my favorite bands.  Larry and His Flask put on an amazing show for a somewhat infuriatingly disinterested crowd, but it's a strange crowd sometimes where I'm living.  The Flask's music is incredibly good, and their approach to touring and making music has been a big inspiration as well. Scott H. Biram was another stunningly good show. He does the solo artist/one-man-band thing better than just about anybody on the planet.  Again, I thought of Will Whitmore and Ben Nichols, and the wheels really started spinning.  Most recently, I caught a Murder By Death show.  Maybe it was because of a greater degree of sobriety on my part, but I really payed more attention to how the band played and interacted live than I ever had before.  I was really struck by just how much they sounded like their records live without the show feeling stale.  They were able to play extraordinarily well and make the show a unique, memorable experience.  In fact, that much is true of every artist I have mentioned here.  Seeing other musicians play well and have fun doing so has pushed me to do it again myself.
The Dirty Old One Man Band

I am currently writing and recording new songs, and I am playing gigs in order to start building a local fan base since I live far away from most of you who know me from my previous work.  I am also going to record my own version of at least one more unreleased BKD song.  These new songs could end up as a new album, or they may end up being released as two separate EPs.  I'll explain what that's all about in the next (and final) installment of this series.  Keep an eye out for the bands I've mentioned above in the Other music you should be listening to series as well.

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