If there are storms, we weather them. If there is sun, we must remember to welcome it. As a decade closed with 14 gigs in 14 days, I took a step back to reflect on the alpenglow moments (cue Bobby Charles’ “I Must Be in a Good Place Now”). A huge thanks is in order as THE MEANDER was voted #4 on Wyoming Public Radio & Media’s Best Wyo Albums of 2019! ☺ …grateful for the opportunity to be making and sharing music that reaches people either from stage or through experiences with my recorded music. 2019 was a creative windfall: played 141 shows (!) including some wonderful festivals and theaters, filmed a music video for “The Wolves,” wrote/arranged/engineered/produced album #9, The Meander, with great friends and tour mates of The Mystery Machine — Jason Baggett, David Bundy, Mike Patton — along with studio contributions from so many talented folks: my loving and extremely supportive wife Seadar Rose, Jalan Crossland, Isaac Hayden, Matt Herron, Karee Miller Jaeger, Greg Creamer, Dusty Nichols, Bo Elledge, Kate Swanson, Mike Swanson, mastering engineer Jim Wilson, and always the icing on the cake, Austin-based engineer Britton Beisenherz.
Three Hearted Studio has evolved and producing/recording other folks has really been gratifying. Though I’ve been self-recording for over fifteen years, the last three years have proven to be some of the most enlightening. I realize more and more that I lucked into a great asset, a woody a-framed cabin room, seemingly built for the type of mountain music often captured here. With the unexpected bread from licensing a couple of songs for commercial/film recently, significant studio upgrades were made this month to the entire signal chain. Tech specs aside, this re-investment sets me up for the long haul. If you are reading this and contemplating a place to record, I’d love the opportunity to capture your music.
Perhaps above all the things regarding creative work and which is difficult to articulate is an appreciation for The SongSphere headspace of chasing musical ideas, and the fortunate occasion of when they chase me. There’s no greater metaphysical escape into another dimension // “meander as you will to the great unknown” — a mantra that has been rooted with me since my early twenties. Having an artistic outlet is fuel for the fire.
Some of this may sound sugar coated because it is. In all honesty, there was a real process of self-loathing during the writing of The Meander—inner discomfort, second-guessing, doubting, shutting down before starting, the nagging flame of lingering unproductively. Why would someone want to write about that?! Ha. Perhaps it’s a strange psychotherapy for a long history of human indignities. I’m not sure that I would make music without the element of creating something out of nothing, something I can call my own for better or worse and own it (can’t say I’m satisfied with every nugget of my nine album catalog or years of live performance, but I’ll take a micro moment to be proud of the evolution). I’ve come to know that it’s a foreign and misunderstood lifestyle to most, and being on the fringe is just fine. Creatives migrate to urban areas like Austin, Nashville, NYC, and LA for more than just opportunity. There’s a deeper level of circular inspiration and collective mindfulness of what it takes to put art into the world. The alternative opportunity here in Wyoming or any rural area is to carve out a pocket of like-mindedness that embraces artistic expression. (You just have to channel more Ralph Waldo Emerson). Nearly twenty years later, I still prefer the latter. I love it here.
For me professionally (and for many artists I know), social media is another storm to weather and time diverted away from the blank canvas, but I ramble here knowing the sun will shine on our backdoors one day. When you open that door, whatever it is that warms your heart, actively support it and honor it with love. Be well in 2020 and may this next decade as good as the last ;)))