I recently heard Ray Wylie Hubbard say (I'm paraphrasing here) that there are songs that go to your butt and make it shake, and then there are songs that, if you let them, will fill your mind, heart, and soul. Townes Van Zandt is often quoted, "there's only 2 types of songs, zippa dee do da and the blues."
I wrote a song called Dead Horses that I think fills the heart, mind and soul if you let it. Most of the stuff I write is pretty straight forward. My songs generally pull up in the parking lot and go through the front door. Dead Horses parachutes on to the roof, and sneaks in through a vent. The recording is on our 2012 album Middle Ground. The Moon Blues guys did a good job keeping it spacey, and Ken's guitar work is Chris Isaac like and dreamy. I could hear a falsetto "oooohhhh" at the end, but I couldn't sing it. Troy Richard came I and nailed it first take. I've only played it live a couple of times.
Riding dead horses
Down a trail of fire
Skeletons in the sand all around us
I'm so tired
Tangled up and torn in this bird's nest
Of barbed wire
I guess I should be thankful
I'm not a hand for hire
Riding dead horses
Across a field that meets the sea
When I reach the ocean
My sense of direction
Will come back to me
Drop my saddle in the sand
Set him free
And walk a while
Bridle in my hand reminds me
Of all our miles
Riding dead horses
Through a land
That meets the other side
Hoping that I find there
That the valley
Ain't quite as wide
As the old man back in town
Who claims he crossed it once
Said it was
I'll prove the naysay gang all wrong
Who said "he can try, but he's damned if he does"
The other night I did a test run with the Periscope App. Within a couple of minutes I had over 50 viewers which was totally unexpected. If you're not familiar with Periscope, it's a live stream app. So I can play a show anywhere that has wifi and prop my phone up, and you can watch the whole thing here in your phone. Looks like people use it to live stream themselves doing all kinds of weird stuff. I'll be using it for music. I have a few ideas. In addition to streaming upcoming gigs I may go on a "periscope tour". This will be especially cool for people who don't live in my area. I'll set up at some cool locations and do some busking. I may debut the songs for the new album one night too....why the heck not? So many tools. I'll post on here when I get all of that rolling.
I'm obsessed with Otis Gibbs podcast and his show on Pandora (Country Built). This guy is determined not to let cool country music landmarks and stories fall through the cracks without being his guest first. If you love country music, and if you want to know more about it's history and it's characters find Otis Gibbs podcast and his Pandora show. He also writes great songs and takes really cool pictures. You might hear him interviewing Johnny Cash's drummer on his podcast, or playing Webb Pierce, Hank Williams, Kitty Wells, Hank Cochran on his Pandora station with commentary from Peter Cooper and Ray Wylie Hubbard. As Dale Watson put it, the Internet killed music sales, but saved it's roots. Roots = growth. No need to wait for an awards show or "country" radio to give you permission to like something. Get online and find the next Chris Stapleton, and tell your friends. This device you're holding right now saved Country music.
It was a Fall Friday evening in 2005. My back was to a large window that was the only thing separating me from the heavy downtown sidewalk traffic. To my left was Ken and his black cutaway Takamine acoustic guitar. In front of me was a packed house of Friday night drinkers, and the room was buzzing with excited not-for-long-sober chatter. We had just launched into Folsom Prison Blues, a Friday night firecracker that was probably being played at that same moment by 1000 bands and acoustic duos across the country. We were hanging on the first note, letting the "boom chicka boom" roll over the room like a wave before coming in with the big pay off of a first line. In walks a lad with glasses and a Polo shirt with the collar turned up. He couldn't hand over his 5 bucks to the door fast enough. He had a plan. As he walked toward us with a big smile, he looked over my shoulder through the window and gave his friends a point, that was accompanied by what I guess he would call a "country yell." I turned around for a sec to see several other pop collared gentlemen gathered at the window, cheering him on. His spontaneity was paying off. His friends were entertained at whatever it was he had planned, and it had only cost him $5. He took his stance a couple of feet in front of me and began to do what I guess he would call a "country dance." His friends erupted behind me in cheers and laughter. Ken and I continued on with the Boom Chicka Boom. I had yet to sing the first line. My curiosity was aroused. Pop Collar looked up at me for a reaction, but I gave none. Feeling that he should poke inside the cage, he turned around and bent over, continuing a girating type movement. Years later this would become known as the infamous "twerking". There's a voice that tells us all that we shouldn't do something just before we do it. When I drink whiskey, that voice lets loose of the reins. I stepped up to the mic, but I did not unleash the first line. "What would Johnny do?" I yelled, while simultaneously extending my right leg up with what the Army calls "a sense of purpose". Unfortunately for Pop, I had not yet switched to square toe boots. The points on those old Justins may as well have been sharpened. Upon connection he spun around how the Army calls "quick, fast, and in a hurry." His facial expression could only be compared to an individual who had just bit into a lemon. He shuffled toward the door, one hand clinched on the area that had just been assaulted, and out into the night. I looked over at Ken for a nod of approval, but the incident had not taken him away from his work. I looked over the crowd for anyone that may have been offended or inspired, nothing. I stepped up to the 58. "I hear that train a coming, its rolling 'round the bend.............."
It's 1981 or '82, I'm guessing around 7pm. The fat bass line from Waylon Jennings' signature song starts thumping. I'm on the floor with a toy model of the General Lee. The real one is on the TV screen tearing down a dirt road. One hand is on my toy car, both eyes are on the TV. When it zigs and zags so does my toy. At the end of the song there is silence, except for a drawn out "yeeeee haaaaaw", both from the TV and from me as the General Lee is flying over a valley in slow motion, and I have risen to my feet to ensure that my car's jump can match it's jump.
I don't recall much else from The Dukes of Hazzard other than when Bo and Luke went sliding over the hood and into the car via the open windows (the doors were welded shut, my brother told me), the music started and so did the car chase. This went on for a couple of years. Bo and Luke Duke were a part of my life. Etched into my brain forever. As with everything else, time goes on and other interests come in and out of your life, but you take it with you.
I'm not sure how John Schneider found his way to Holden, Louisiana to open John Schneider Studios, but last Summer they hosted Shakespeare in the Swamp :A Midsummer Night's Dream. A play that they put their own spin on. They were looking for musical acts as openers, and a cousin of mine who is in the film industry recommended me. As Buck and I rolled East from a Friday night Houston gig we had no idea what to expect. I'd never played for theater crowds before (theaters, sure. never fans of the theater). We rolled up, plugged in and went to work. The audience was very kind. (Editor's note: Playing music for a bar crowd vs. playing for a listening audience is about as comparable as night and day. Both are necessary in what some call "paying dues", and both prepare you for and make you appreciative of the other.)
As Buck and I were packing up, shaking a few hands and selling a few cds I heard a slight commotion. It was the crowd's reaction to being in the presence of a star. John Schneider had slipped into the venue and onto the stage, and was motioning for me to join him there. I dropped my quarter inch and xlr cables and ran back onto the stage to shake hands with the host of the evening. He encouraged the enthusiastic crowd to give us one more round of applause. He asked me a couple of questions about the album I was selling from the tailgate of my truck, repeating my answers aloud so the crowd could hear them with his no need for a microphone stage voice. He asked the price of the cd as to inform the crowd. "only $10" I said."Only $10! and there's one...two....sixteen songs? that's a heck of a deal" he said, getting the crowd laughing and loose. "Some of those songs are worth more than others" I said. This made him really laugh, which made the crowd really laugh.
It's 2015, I'm guessing around 7pm, and I'm standing on stage with John Schneider. He has my cd in his hand. In my hand, I can feel a toy model of the General Lee.