Tonight, I write with a full heart. Earlier today, I was invited to hang out with my old friends John and Jay Dub at their band, Strangers When We Meet's practice. It was a great chance to catch up with a couple songwriters that I became close with in the early days of becoming Dallas Danger. We reminisced about years gone by, even recalling that I released CDs of my live set from the first night we met at an open mic at O'Mainnin's Pub in Bristol, Tennessee.
In addition to seeing John and Jay Dub, I got to spend some time with their talented drummer, Tyler, John's brother, Jeremy (who has always been a big supporter of my music), John's wife Lily (another big fan), John's son, Clark River (who I share a birthday with), and even Quentin Horton, who you may recognize from the liner notes of both of my full-length albums (seriously, his name is all over them haha).
After listening to SWWM run through a couple of their songs, I got to play them a couple of mine, including a song that they were the first people to hear. I've always respected John and Jay Dub as songwriters, so it was nice to get feedback on a brand new tune.
All of the aforementioned made tonight a really great time, BUT the most exciting part of the night was that SWWM asked me to open for them on St. Patrick's Day! I'm so excited for a couple reasons. First, the show will be at Market Street Social Club in Kingsport, TN; a venue that is still very young but has the personality of a long-standing institution you might find along Broadway in Nashville. The other reason I'm so excited is that I'VE NEVER PLAYED A SHOW ON ST. PATRICK'S DAY BEFORE! Not once in my entire career. So, this will be a long overdue first for me.
One of my main goals for the incoming year is to be more vulnerable and open to getting out of the house and being seen. It would have been easy to turn down a 5pm invite to a 6pm practice. I could've come up with plenty of reasons not to go, even though I didn't REALLY have one. I'm obviously very glad that I decided to go and be seen. Here's to plenty more great nights like this in 2023!
For anyone who is unaware, I played a Facebook live set today as a part of "Stay at Home Fest". The event was put together by Kevin of Appalachian Artists and Kim of Witzend (formerly Perfectly Unhinged) in Kingsport, TN. This marked the first time I've played for an audience of any kind since November. To be honest, it felt like much longer. I completely separated myself from my music. My brain rebooted and I thought the part of myself that I've always referred to as "songwriter brain" was gone, or atleast dormant.
"Songwriter brain" is the natural instincts that cause me to see something or experience something in my day-to-day life and immediately come up with a song in my head about it. Sometimes it's a one-liner. Other times it's an entire verse or chorus. Some instances it's simply a concept that I know I need to explore further. There was a period of years where my songwriter brain was always on, always churning out ideas. Over the last couple years, that changed.
I was so excited to release "The Way we Spend Our Nights", my sophomore slump, in November 2018. I felt it was a more concentrated, more professional effort than my debut record, "Autumn Southbound". Unfortunately, it didn't take long for that excitement to turn into thoughts and feelings I can only refer to as "burnout". Every car ride, every show felt like a chore. The joy was gone. Hell, I started to question if playing music had ever truly given me joy in the first place. I needed to step away. It was time for me to focus on other aspects of my life. I packed away my guitars. My trusty notebooks collected dust. My brain rebooted.
Over the last month or so, I've blown the dust off of my guitars and notebooks. I have starts on a couple new songs. I have a newfound appreciation for keeping notes in my iPhone as opposed to pen and paper. Most importantly, I have a new outlook on my place in this world as a storyteller and musician. I'm refocused. It feels invigorating.
When Kevin Edwards posted about putting together a Facebook live concert with multiple local acts here in the Tri-Cities, I had mixed feelings. Part of me wanted to jump at the opportunity right away. Another part of me felt guilty. Part of the spirit of such an event is to aid artists who have lost income from cancelled gigs. I do not fall into that category. Thus, I waited. After a couple days, I reached out to Kevin and was thrilled to find out he still had available slots.
No part of the preparation and buildup to Stay at Home Fest felt like a chore. I was excited to be a part of such a cool concept, but I honestly didn't know what to expect. The entire day was therapeutic on multiple levels. Kim's space is charming and has beautiful acoustics. My set felt good. It's one thing to sound good, but it's another entirely to FEEL good. That was there for me today, and it was much needed. Now there is just one question: what's next?
Although I don't fully know the answer to that question, I plan on utilizing the free time our situation is offering to get back on the saddle. I want to write a handful of new songs. When this all blows over and normalcy returns, I want to get back on stage and back in the studio. My vision for Dallas Danger is different than it has ever been, but I truly feel like it's also clearer to me than it has ever been. I'm ready to get to work and make the new vision a reality.
In closing, I must thank Kevin and Kim for putting Stay at Home Fest together. I also need to thank my friends Oreon and Beth for throwing me a bone and donating some of their hard-earned money via virtual tipping. I'm truly grateful for all the support I've received over the last decade through the highs and lows of Dallas Danger. The last chapter is yet to be written. Stay tuned, folks. The best is yet to come. Let's ride this wave together!
I'm a punk rock storyteller from Johnson City, TN. As I get back in the saddle and begin to write songs for my next album, I'd like to keep anyone and everyone interested in the process up to date. I will attempt to do that in this space. Thanks for your support!