I’ve been a bit absent from the website this summer as I’ve been traveling to play shows and promote “Songs of Home, pt. 1.” When I originally started this website my hopes were to post a couple times a month or more, and I’ve discovered that writing blog posts can be time consuming. While I want to keep everyone updated on what I’m doing, it is always a fine balance between self promotion and improving my craft. I have a sort of allergic reaction to self promotion, so I naturally lean toward spending more time working on writing and, as of late, performance.
I have gotten to do some great shows this summer and also meet some great folks. I recently opened for The Dirty River Boys at George’s Majestic in Fayetteville, and they invited me to Austin to do another show with them. I’ve learned a lot this summer and have recently started a AAA/Americana radio campaign. This is an exciting time as I get to experience part of the musicians dream of putting music in front of radio listeners. I am going for adds to radio rotation next week and hope that, if you hear me out there on the radio waves, you will let your local radio DJ know that you like what you hear, and would like to hear more.
I am also looking to book more shows, and have found this to be the most challenging part of this whole business. Obviously, the field of performing musicians is competitive, and as I try to put myself in the position of those club owners who book, I can understand why it happens that way. I don’t have a large network of friends in any specific towns that allow me to promise those club owners a crowd, and so I rely on some folks to give me a shot as an opening act, and work on making the show the best that it can be in the meantime.
In addition to that, and since the shows have been inconsistent, I have been spending much of my time researching and writing “Songs of Home, pt. 2” and plan to go into the studio in November to record it. I have collected some great stories for this record and hope that I am able to present them in these songs in a way that speaks to the listener as much as the stories speak to me personally. While getting started in the music industry can be a challenging grind at times, it is sharing these stories with people that has become an inspirational focus. I will continue to update the website as I book more shows, and I hope that everyone has had a great summer.
Last week I was asked to perform at the Garner Farm this Saturday afternoon in a benefit show called One Boogie. The show is an event co-hosted by Youth Bridge and Feed Communities, the aim to raise funds to fight homelessness in Arkansas. When I was first asked, I knew nothing about the organizations, and little about homelessness in Arkansas. It didn’t take much research to discover that Arkansas is at the lower end of homelessness rankings in the United States, and what was more startling were statistics on homeless youth (under 18) in Arkansas. (more statistics)
I guess the stereotype I always associate with “homelessness” is the old guy panhandling on the street. It’s easy to walk past, maybe throw him a dollar, maybe not, and forget about the encounter pretty quickly. It can be easy to forget, because we think there is not much we can really do to help an older man out of work.
But to think about over 18,000 children in Arkansas experiencing homelessness each year is not as easy to ignore. It IS possible to effect their futures. We ARE their futures, in a sense. Contributing to organizations like Youth Bridge and Feed Communities is a way to offer these young people something that they may not otherwise experience: Stability.
There are many problems in the world, and we live in a divided and excitable time when political disagreement and media inflammation can quickly turn neighbors to enemies. But what these organizations, and One Boogie is offering Arkansans is a way to get to the root of tomorrows problems in America. Teaching troubled youth what stability looks like gives them that much more opportunity to grow into stable and productive adults.
So, I will be performing along with Candy Lee and Benjamin Del Shreve from 2-5 on Saturday, June 28th at the Garner Farm in Fayetteville. Tickets are 20$, or 30$ for a pair, and there will be healthy food provided by local vendors. Please join us in helping these organizations attain the necessary resources to continue the fight against homelessness.
Last Friday I did a release party for all my friends and family here in Fort Smith. It was a sort of test run for how we will attempt to promote “Songs of Home, pt. 1” over this next year. Being a hometown show, it allowed us to control the environment enough to give an ideal setting for my show. A small and intimate setting allows me to give the stories behind the songs, my motivation for writing them, other useless information, and all of that while telling funny jokes hilarious jokes. And who doesn’t enjoy a nice love song on the acoustic guitar?
So, there’s what you missed. I am doing another release party tonight at The Independent Denim & Essentials on the Fayetteville square tonight, Thursday, June 5th, at 6pm. I’m not sure if they can get the lighting as chiaroscuro as the above video, or as me and my friend Jade Howard did in this picture (Taken in the Independent dressing room…).
My gratitude to those who came out and supported me is difficult to express. This is an exciting time for me, and I am starting to build some momentum, it seems. I am also thankful to have such a great team to help with these sorts of events. My very talented brother Clay Pruitt filmed and edited the video you just watched, and my wonderful wife put together a pretty stunning merchandise table
I am working on bringing this to your city, and would love to hear from you about where you live, where I should play, how you’re enjoying the new record, and what your favorite songs are. I won’t really know how many copies of this thing I’ve sold on Itunes for another 6 weeks or so, so I’m interested to know who’s listening and what you’re thinking about it.
The key is this: If you dig it, share it.
I can’t overstate that enough. Tell your friends you like it. And then tell some more friends. And then I’ll come to your town and we will throw a party. If you’re not gonna do it for me, at least do it for the party.
See you soon.
I am officially a part of the ever crowded world of music. I would like to thank everyone who has already, and will purchase the record. Your comments, Itunes reviews, shares, and tweets mean a lot to me, and I’m honored to be able to share this work with you. I will keep this post short and leave you with the liner notes of the record, which you can download for free in the shop area, where you can also buy the record. Also, I will post the record to listen to on the player, but listen to the opening track “County Fair” here.
This recording was made by the sweat of the laborer and the skill of the artisan.
The songs were formed the way the machine worker cuts the raw iron at his lathe, shredding the excess and leaving only what is useful.
The songs were then arranged and produced under the direction of Calvin Turner; the way the master distiller blends the mash and chooses the barrel, and knows from experience when the color and flavor are fully absorbed from the oak and the bourbon is at its finest.
The musicians crafted their respective part the way the tailor cuts and sews cloth into a suit, measuring carefully so that that each seam is shaped cleanly across the body in a custom fit.
The sounds were engineered by Elliot Lopes the way that the civil engineer designs and overseas the building of a bridge, with attention to minute detail that ensures both stability in it’s structure and beauty in its aesthetics.
Thank you for supporting fine craftsmanship.
I hope everyone had a safe and fun Memorial Day weekend. I spent the weekend in Louisville playing a show and then took a detour on the way back to Arkansas to Bloomington, Indiana, because I’d never been there, and it was a rare opportunity to explore a strange place. As I get set to release “Songs of Home, pt. 1” I am certain I will be spending quite a bit of time over the next couple of years in places I’ve never been before, in front of people I’ve never seen before. It’s kind of a scary thought, to always be a stranger to people, but an important part of getting started in the business of taking music to the people.
” Songs of Home, pt. 1″ will be available tomorrow. Obviously, this is an exciting time for me as I begin a career in music, and a strange and hectic time as I learn to deal with each nuance of the business and seek a team of people that will improve my chances of success.
A little background info for “Songs of Home, pt. 1”:
I wrote “Your Man” at the end of last summer and it sort of catalyzed a streak of writing through the fall. I was sharing the songs with my friend and engineer Elliot Lopes and started toying with the idea of recording some of them in a setting other than my home studio. For several years prior to this point I had really been out of the music business altogether, and until I started sharing the songs with Elliot and another encouraging friend I had little intention of re-entering it. I left Nashville in 2009 to get married, and left my hopes of a music career there with Nashville. I had kept playing and writing, but only in inconsistent spurts and mainly just for the personal satisfaction of doing it. I had started attending some college classes here in Fort Smith, Arkansas, studying English and trying to get a long overdue college degree. It was this time that I really regained my interest in writing again. I had spent the summer studying feminism and writing papers about how feminist philosophy can be seen in the TV show “Mad Men”. (I’ve found that explaining this to people makes most of them cringe. However, I could probably do that every day and love every second of it.) Anyway, it was great practice in the skill of writing, and it led to writing songs again, and in some ways shaped the foundation for the concept of “Songs of Home”.
It was this time that Elliot introduced me to Calvin Turner as a possible producer for the record. Calvin is a bass player/producer/and arranger living in L.A., and after talking to him and Elliot about the project, it seemed to be a great fit. Calvin’s skills in arranging, his reputation as a musician, and his experience in the studio were an ideal fit for my songs. So, I continued writing until we agreed on six to take into the studio, and in December, we took a band into the studio and made an EP.
There is a song about a young kid learning to make money with his guitar, a song about a Ma and Pa Vietnamese restaurant, and the story of it’s refugee owners. And of course, songs about love, what it means to us, how it makes us feel, and how it’s such a difficult thing to express with words.
Needless to say, I’m extremely honored to have my name on this product. I’ve done plenty of recordings throughout my life, but none that I have been so eager to present to people and share with people. For now, finding live shows and every opportunity to expose people to my music is a top priority, and “Songs of Home, pt. 2” is starting to take shape as I begin writing it. I will certainly be keeping up with each of you and look forward to performing these songs for you.
I’m releasing the first single from “Songs of Home, pt. 1” today, and you can download it in “The Goods” section. This is the first song that I wrote for the record, and Calvin Turner did a great job on the production and the horns arrangements. I have also released a free download of the liner notes for the finished record which you will also see in the shop.
I’ve spent the morning trying to figure out the shop section of the website, and hopefully this will be a good learning experience as I head into releasing the rest of it. I noticed that once I checkout and click “Download File” there is some confusion in the site, and it will send you to another page where the ticker starts spinning but the download doesn’t occur. I found that refreshing the page makes it download automatically, or you could select “Download File” to open in another tab. I hope that you are able to access the file without problems. If you do have problems, feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
also, check out the upcoming shows. I am playing a set tonight at George’s Majestic lounge at 8:30, opening for the Casey Donahew Band. I hope that you can make it out if you’re in the area. Enjoy the song. Share it, rate it, tell me what you think about it. I hope you all have a great weekend.
It has been an exciting few weeks for me as I prepare to release “Songs of Home, pt. 1” on May 29th. In addition to preparing the details of the release and organizing release parties, I have began playing more shows in Arkansas and Tennessee and working on booking more shows once the EP is released. While I have been playing music most of my life, a lot of this stuff is new to me, or at least enough time has passed for it to feel new. With that said, it seems like I spend a lot of time just being confused about how things work (haha). The experience, though frustrating at times, has been a valuable one that I am hopeful will leave me with a basic foundation for growth in the future.
I was fortunate last week to be offered the opportunity to open for The Randy Rogers Band at George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville, Arkansas. A while back I wrote a post about the ways that we hear “new” music, meaning music that is “new to us”. As a live performer, there are many times that we perform for a new audience that, try as we may, is not responsive to music that they don’t know. It is an interesting subject that I love talking about and look forward to learning more about as I perform for new people. With that said, though, there are times like the other night at George’s, when people are open to it, interested in it, and respond well. It is a great feeling of encouragement and carries with it a bit of confirmation that I am doing the right thing. So, to all of you who were at The Randy Rogers Band show last Wednesday, thank you for listening. Thank you for making me a part of your night out. Thank you to George’s for the opportunity to be on stage, and thank you to Randy Rogers for cultivating a community of people who love hearing new music. I am grateful.
I have recently gotten my newsletter set up and am looking forward to communicating with you through that. There is a box at the top right of the page where you can sign up. If you are interested in receiving updates on shows, new music, and other news, please sign up. As an independent musician, there is nothing more valuable to have than your email address. We are all constantly exposed to music through advertisement by companies with much larger marketing budgets than myself and other independent artists, so to be able to communicate directly to your email when I have something new to offer is more valuable now than ever. I am constantly seeking new avenues to expose people to my music, but as we all know, the best advertisement is from you, the people who have taken the time to listen to what I am creating and look at the website to find out what I’m doing. In other words, if you enjoy what I’m doing, please share it.
As I mentioned earlier, I am working on booking shows through the year. I will keep them listed in the booking section of this site, and they will always be on the sidebar as well. While the internet is a great tool for researching venues in different places, it is difficult to predict the odds that a show will be successful as I don’t know the landscape and the culture of many of the places I’m trying to book. If any of you have a place that you like to go to hear live music, I would love to know about it. You can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I check it regularly and would enjoy hearing from you. Have a good week.
Ain't I Lucky (Acoustic) Play
On May 29th I will have my first EP, “Songs of Home, pt. 1” available to you. It has been a great experience seeing this project become a reality since I began writing last summer, and I am excited to be able to offer it to the music listener. Though I’ve been creating and performing music for most of my life, I have never released anything to the public. In the weeks to come before the release, I will be filling you in on the background of the project, who is involved, and what I have planned for future projects.
Today, I am sharing an acoustic version of a song off of the EP, titled “Ain’t I Lucky”. This is a song that I wrote to perform at a friends wedding this past fall. I like the light hearted nature of the song and the playfulness of the narrator, trying to put an economic value on “love”. As excited as I am to bring you this song, I am equally as excited to have Jillia Jackson accompanying me on background vocals. Jillia is a Fort Smithian and long time friend (we go back to first grade…) who has been in Nashville making music for years. When I played this song for her a few weeks ago she was excited to sing it with me and I am honored to have her. It is inspiring to share music with people who’s talent you admire. There is a kinship to it that I don’t know of in any other facet of life.
So, enjoy the song, and the album cover. The picture was taken by Jade Howard and the text was done by Bryce Harrison. I look forward to bringing you more information in the coming weeks. Take care.
I recently saw a Facebook post that a friend made referring to Townes Van Zandt as the greatest songwriter to ever live. Since last weeks post dealt with the subjectivity of music and it’s listener, I feel that Townes is a great subject in the attempt to objectively define what “greatness” is. While I assume that most people reading this already know Townes Van Zandt’s music, I would bet that those not familiar with him are at least familiar with “Pancho and Lefty”, popularized by Willie Nelson. For the musician, songwriter, or music enthusiast, though, it seems a shame that there are many people unfamiliar with the rest of his body of work, not only for the songs themselves, but also for his influence on so many other songwriters.
To my generation of songwriters who were unfamiliar with him prior to his death on January 1, 1997, he is a sort of mythical legend. Diagnosed with manic depression in college and treated with shock therapy, as well as suffering a lifelong battle with heroin and alcohol addiction, he embodies the “troubled, but brilliant songwriter”. And there is no denying his brilliance. He had an unparalleled ability to paint a beautiful picture of sorrow. The songs sing as though Townes was constantly finding a happy place in a sad world, and was so caught in that world that he had become unaware of the sadness. You don’t have to search too long in Nashville for a story about someone seeing him perform when he was too drunk or high to remember his lyrics or play his guitar. Whether the stories are told accurately or not, the legend persists, a legend that leads many to wonder what impact his troubles had on his brilliance, and what impact they had on his career.
Still, there often exists a great gap between what is beautiful art and what is useful in our economy. We all have that pop song that we think is void of artistic value, yet it’s creators are given awards and trophies for it’s economic success. This creates a sort of binary distinction between the “artist” songwriter and the “craftsman” songwriter that crafts music used to promote consumerism, wether directly tied to a product, or advertising a lifestyle in which consumption of goods is a necessary and inevitable byproduct. While I do claim a binary distinction exists, there is undoubtedly a grey area, a narrow line that welds the two together that few songwriters have consistently walked. While it is hard to argue that those few are worthy of being considered the “greatest” songwriters, there are still the Townes Van Zandt’s of the world, the ones who create something that is beautiful, but has little value to those who place songs into the public mainstream that convince us to buy a certain type of food, go on a certain vacation, or to join a certain group. There is a loneliness to his songs that leave the listener in a sort of unsettled wonder at the human condition.
The song I have chosen is “Loretta”, a song that was recommended by a commenting reader last week, and a song that has long been one of my favorites. I am interested in what you find to be “great” music, and also the principles by which you judge that greatness. While musical tastes differ so vastly, there seems to exist a common, though undefined, recognition of artistic value, regardless of our limited exposure to so much art.
Blog time again, which means I have sat around for the last couple of days with my palms sweating and wondering “what do I tell people about?” I never really had an idea of what a blog was until a few months ago (honestly), and although I enjoy the creative aspects of writing, it is something I struggle to do day in and day out for an informative purpose. Mostly I wonder “which part of this is interesting,” and my reaction to worrying about whether or not something is interesting is just to not post, or in many cases, not finish writing at all. Consistent inspiration is always the hardest part for me about writing. Writing records is a better suit for my attention span, as I can allow myself to go through all the “cycles” of writing, and pick and choose the best times to write. Blogs are not as suited to me though, as I’m supposed to be constantly thinking of the next clever entry (Maybe I’m not that clever?).
But alas, I have chosen to take on this blog writing, and so in an effort to not let you down, I will persevere. I was reading a study the other day about music taste and personality, and how when forming new relationships, music is one of the first topics of conversation to come up, and one of the most thoroughly discussed. While it seems superficial on the surface, I suppose that there is a lot that can be read into a persons personality by the music they like. Many times that personality stigma can sort of take over the music itself, at least from the outsider (meaning one who doesn’t listen to that music regularly) perspective. I always think of Dave Matthews being immediately associated with the “frat crowd” when i was growing up. To admit to listening to Dave Matthews was sort of like a curse word, or an instant fraternal bond, depending on who you were talking to.
With that example, it leads me to wonder about the balance between being attached to the music itself, and being attached to the “image” of the music as it is packaged and sold to us. Personally, I often let my nostalgia influence my attachment to new music that I’m introduced to. For example, it is much easier for me to attach myself emotionally to music that was made in the 40’s-70’s than it is for me to attach myself to something new on the market. It is difficult to put into words why exactly this is. I could argue that music made in that technological era “sounds” better to me, but the subjective nature of music is such that it is easy for me to justify liking or not liking pretty much anything within a given context. I’ve probably spent an embarrassing amount of time in conversations with friends, debating a certain musician, trying to objectively define the music as “good” or “bad”. I have probably done this to the point that the parameters for defining “good” and “bad” music are blurred. Still, discretion is inevitable, and it is still easy, upon hearing something “new”, for me to lump it into one of those two categories almost immediately. I have found ways to be more mindful of this behavior, and remind myself to keep listening, and even make a conscious effort to connect myself to it beyond just the surface level of sensory perception.
Knowing this about myself and assuming I’m not alone, to me as a new and independent artist, it poses an intriguing challenge. When independent artists come to your town to play a show, we are constantly battling the listeners initial reaction to it. I doubt that there exists a performer in the world who has not thought to himself while on stage “is anyone listening?” As we are all seeking most any venue that will have us, there are certainly times that we have all landed in front of a crowd that may not be interested in listening. The most recurring post show compliment I will get is “Good job man, you really remind me of….” In most cases, the reasons for this association are legitimate, if not intentional on my part (which is certainly the other half of this discussion), but it is still interesting to me that people’s attachment to music seems to come from an association with other music they know and have already attached themselves to, or at least that is the way many people choose to communicate it.
With all that said, I have gone another week without posting a new song. I struggle with much of the same questions when choosing a song that I do when choosing a blog topic. Part of me says, “just do something and post it” while the other part of me over thinks it, wondering if it’s the right song to post. I would be happy to get some feedback from you, the audience, about which songwriters you think I would represent well. In the meantime, I hope that you may share something about your favorite music, and why you relate to it. Music is, to most of us, so important in accompanying our presentation of ourselves. It serves in many aspects as a window into our perception of ourselves beyond a surface level. It can be a soundtrack to the story our lives tell, or at least how we want them to be told to others. I will have a new song next week.