For me, it’s always been about the songs…the clever turn of a phrase, the sincerity and emotion conveyed by a melody and the way both are placed over some evocative chord changes. Simply put, music says to us those things that words alone cannot. For that reason, I’ve always held a special respect, admiration, and appreciation for songwriters and their craft. In that sense, my solo shows are a tribute to the writers and songs that are special to me. My goal is to share those songs with a wider audience and younger ears that might not otherwise experience them. Most of the songs I cover are the ones I’ve loved for most of my life or have played in bands over the course of 35 years. Ultimately, I suppose this part of my musical career is really about gratitude and acknowledging the writers who have had a hand in writing the soundtrack of my life.
If you take a look at the “Song List” page, you’ll likely notice some that some familiar names…and some unfamiliar ones… keep popping up: Gram Parsons http://www.gramparsons.com/, John Prine http://www.johnprine.net/, Steve Earle http://steveearle.com/, Jerry Jeff Walker http://www.jerryjeff.com/, Guy Clark http://guyclark.com/, Slaid Cleaves http://slaidcleaves.com/, and Woody Guthrie http://woodyguthrie.org/ to name a few.
My list also includes a fair number of “classic country” songs by artists like Johnny Cash http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Cash Hank Williams http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hank_Williams, Jim Reeves, Hank Snow, and Marty Robbins. I play these in memory of my dad, who loved county music. When I was a kid, riding with him on Saturday errands, he’d have the local country station blasting from the 3″ dash speaker in his pickup (he wasn’t allowed to play country in the house)…and I thought it was awful. It wasn’t until I discovered bluegrass in college and backtracked from there into classic country that I finally “got it”. Playing in my first bluegrass band with country-minded musicians sealed the deal. These days, the fond memories of long ago trips in dad’s truck are what make those songs special. Whenever somebody says “Hey, how about some old Hank?” or “Do you know any Buck Owens?”, the chance to play one of those old tunes always takes me back to when I was that 10 year-old kid riding shotgun in my old man’s GMC. You can bet that I’m more than happy to oblige….
In case you hadn’t figured it out, I grew up in the 60s and “came of age” in the 70s…and just like most everybody else, I think of the music my peers and I grew up with as “my music”…just like Glenn Miller and Artie Shaw were part of my parents’ generation and Nirvana and Green Day belong to my friends’ kids….Everyone’s “special memories” always include those tunes that were blasting on the radio (or boom box, for you 80s kids) when you were off “getting in trouble” with your junior high pals, or out on that first date with that impossibly beautiful girl who, to you complete amazement, said “yes” when you asked her out. Well, “my music” is a big chunk of what’s on my solo playlist…as well it should be - from The Monkees to The Beatles to The Grateful Dead…even Procol Harum! I’m sure I’ve got something to make all you 50-somethings will feel right at home….