It has been quite an adventure. Brisbane to LA to Nashville and back again. Lots of workshops, networking, songwriting, recording and plain old hanging out with my fellow bpm friends and new friends along the way.
I can truly say I have grown and developed as a musician and artist in these last couple of weeks. The busy days have both challenged and rewarded me. I now feel like I have new kit bag full of skills and a few shortcuts and tricks up my sleeve.
As I sit here after a great home cooked chicken soup and a couple of local brews, I am watching my boy Banquo draw pictures with his mum. One week ago he was in hospital not being able to move his legs due to a viral myosotis. He is all good now and I am glad to be here watching a healthy, happy little boy. My daughter jonquil has caught the virus now and is in bed exhausted, but on the mend.
To be home is great. I am tired, but I am used to being tired after a jam packed two weeks full of music and good times.
Keep tuned, as I continue to piece together the songs that I wrote over in the USA.
Oh the warm nights in Qld. A far cry from the cold nights in Nashville. Yet they are both romantic to me.
Well it was certainly hard to wake up this morning. We put a huge dent in a 2lt honey Jack Daniels last night in celebration of yesterday’s recordings. Then we had to pack our bags and clean the house.
I had a record waiting for me at Grimy’s to pick up. It was the quickest record visit ever. 5 minutes and about 6 records. Pity I don’t have a working record player.
The we went to Gruhn’s guitars to window shop. I said before we walked in ‘don’t let me buy a guitar unless I really really want it’. I bought a lap steel. How did that happen. Well, 10 years ago I did not buy one from Gruhn’s. This time it was different. I spotted a 1950’s national lap that sounds hot. $500 later I am a happy man. I will make that money back being a steel player. And it is going to fill a lot if gaps in my recordings. Ooh yeah.
A couple of hours till we fly out. We are eating burgers and drinking craft beer. I will miss you Nashville. And so will my taste buds.
This here is my partner in crime today in Nashville. Nick and me met and wrote a song a couple of days ago. We recorded it today at RCA studio A. I played guitar and Nick sung. We had a great band play under the direction of a legendary Aussie producer Mark Moffatt, who produced Yothu Yindi and The Saints’ first recordings. It was a slightly surreal but cool day. Our song took barely half an hour. Crazy but true. As a collective we cut 6 tracks in two calls (2 by 3hrs). Everything worked like clockwork and sounded really cool.
We have chatted heaps today about the processes and outcomes of our musical week. It is a place I want to come back to again to write and record.
It was our last night hanging out friends. Drinking whiskey and beer and celebrating. Jake just jumped on me in bed and has said he wants to sleep all day.
I know he will snore himself (myself) silly tonight.
Stay tuned for some new sounds…..
‘Twas another day of songwriting. We had a bunch of local folks come over to our house to team up and write. A couple of them we had met the night before at the gig. We paired up as best we could according to style and got to work.
Aaron and me were both of alt-country stylings so we figured we would be a good match. I soon found out he was on a whole different level to me. He was a songwriting machine. He had both a great turn of phrase and a quick ear for melody. And he was funny as hell. I felt like I was on the back foot for while. But I caught up and we wrote a great downbeat country tune called “Never light your own cigarette”. It was a mother telling her daughter all the things she should know as she walks out the door. Like ‘Write songs your father would not approve of…say yes to every man and his drink’. Aaron sang with his southern drawl. It was a killer.
We had that done in just over an hour, so we moved on to another. We detuned our guitars and fooled around with a country blues feel aka Mississippi John Hurt. And we created a lullaby to a child as the sun rises in the morning called “Good morning baby”. Short and sweet.
We hung out with some of the songwriters, eating pizza and chatting about all things. There were some real good songs that came out of today. Songwriting sorta leaves you exhausted but with a huge buzz.
We then headed off the Scott Gerow’s house for some pre production for tomorrow’s session at RCA studio A. We played him the songs and made some rough plans of attack. I am really looking forward to what will come. There are some great little songs we all have come up with and they are going to take on another life tomorrow under the guidance of Scott and Mark Moffatt.
We ate great burgers, drunk good beer and then wrote our charts. Now we are all in bed trying to get rest. I heard there was a touch of snow this morning and the forecast is for snow on Monday. But we fly out on Saturday. You never know. We could get lucky.
I suppose my day started laying in bed not being able to sleep until the wee hours of the morning. I have not even changed the time on my phone to USA time. It is still Gold Coast time. So I have no idea when I finally fell asleep.
But I did. And when I woke we had about half an hour to get moving to go to MTSU (Middle Tennessee state university)
Oh…..it was cold. 2 degrees Celsius. Coming from the Gold Coast that is pretty cold. It took skills not to look like a shivering fool (like I did one day going for a swim at St Kilda in winter)
So we joined in on a class of Odie Blackmon and a guest lecturer. They talked about the song, the telling of the song and the selling of the telling of the song. All of this within the context of revolutions in communication and our current climate of technology. We topped this off by listening to a great Roger Water’s song “amused to death” which was a response to a book by Neil Postman.
We then paired up with some students to do some songwriting. I teamed with a guy called Nick Carpenter and hit it it off, talking about the class we just had and the just recent landing of a robot on that comet. I had written down the lines ‘dust or diamonds’ and we went from there, piecing together an alt/country style song that we will most likely take to the studio on Friday. It was a pretty cool process with a pretty cool outcome. I think everyone came up with the goods today.
Time flies when things are going good. We bundled in the car to get back to Nashville for our gig at the National Underground on Broadway. I played first but was pretty under rehearsed and under prepared. It was alright, but I was left with a feeling that playing live is sometimes just not my thing. It was a realization that came as a relief. I think I have definitely come to some crossroads in my musical direction on this trip. I have new ideas and new thoughts as to what I want to do and what I am good at. These are all good thoughts.
Despite Taylor loosing her voice during her gig, she did a great job. Jake funked the joint and Essie rocked with an acoustic guitar. We met some great locals and drank some good whiskey.
The night continued back home, where we chatted more about the day and the trip in general. Really cool day. I am pretty buzzed still as I lay in bed writing this on an iPhone while Jake snores the house down.
It was a ‘sleep in’ sort of morning today. We did not have any thing to do till 11 and it was a welcome rejuvenation for us all.
Trey Bruce, a Nashville songwriter, made his way over to work with us on some songs. After a chat about the industry both here in Nashville and in Australia we split into groups and started writing.
Essie, jake and myself wrestled with a song until we could take no more, while Trey worked solid with Jared and Taylor. After pizza, Trey worked with Essie and Jake individually while Jared and Taylor took a brain break. I worked on a song which came together pretty good until it was time to get moving to the next meet.
We bundled in the car and went and hung out with expat Aussy producer, Mark Moffatt at his house (he engineered The Saints first recordings). We sat around and talked about the town and the music. We played him some tracks and checked out his studio (and amazing collection of guitars).
We could not get into the blue bird cafe, so it was cheap, lip smacking Mexican for dinner then home. Early to rise tomorrow, so early to bed….well sort of.
Oh what a different feel there is arriving in Nashville from LA. There was an immediate chilled vibe that was welcoming at the airport. A welcome relief from LAX.
We got our car and found our house for the week, just in time to see the colors from the autumnal sunset. It is great to see the bronzed trees and the piles of leaves mounting in the gardens.
There was no need to linger, so we drove downtown and walked around Broadway and listened to the music spilling out of almost every establishment in town. Garry then took us to Puckett’s Grocery for some southern cuisine. I had fried catfish, but was glad I sampled the glazed ribs from Taylor’s plate.
We heard there was a big band playing at 3rd & Lindsey so we headed over a caught Duffy Jackson on drums doing his thing with a 15 price band. His jokes were pretty bad his delivery was hilarious. The music was excellent. It was great to hear some tight arrangements and kick arse drumming.
Everyone is asleep now. Jake is snoring in bed and the vented heating has turned off. It is starting to get cold and we have a day of songwriting tomorrow.
Maybe I can write a song about that.
Someone’s been sleeping in my bed. My dear guitar has had more sleep than me that is for sure.
I tried to make it to bed early tonight, as we fly out first thing in the morning to Nashville. But It was hard to leave the lobby bar, saying goodbye to all the friends we made over the weekend.
I did sleep in a little this morning but woke up just in time to catch Pat Pattison’s class in the art of phrasing in music. It was a really insightful lesson in taking control of melody and lyrics. Using simple ideas of shifting the phrasing around, on and off beats, on weak bars or strong bars, to help direct movement, motion and emotion.
Another greasy burger gave me my sustenance for the day before I sat in on a talk about a 5yr plan for writing, pitching and placing music for film and tv. My new goals are to concentrate more on the sounds I am already good at creating and to be more prolific and less precious about my music. This will help lead me in new directions in a more organic, satisfying way.
Everyone has been so generous with information and ideas. I have absorbed a lot and have formed new musical aspirations as a result.
Essie got a song played on a listening panel this afternoon. It sounded great. I think everyone has made some positive contacts as well as having new opportunities opened up. I certainly have.
I shall now put my almost untouched guitar in its case and sleep a short while before tomorrow’s adventures.
These posts get posted a little later in the eve as we hang out with more people and meet new friends.
I started the day going to a great production workshop with a dude named Fett from Nashville. I really enjoy getting insights and tips in the world of recording and mixing. A few years ago I had little interest. Now I am immersed in the tech world.
I soon lost a little energy and wandered around a little deflated. After a great greasy hamburger I regained my enthusiasm and went to a workshop by muso named Chuck Schlacter. Composer to some of the music to Duck Dynasty. It was the best talk all weekend so far. He talked about the music industry being a marathon not a sprint. Maybe it doesn’t sound that interesting, but it evolved into a discussion about the importance of community and the leverage you can create by collaborating with your peers.
I was intrigued by the musical community that exists and flourishes within the Taxi group. Something I had not witnessed yet this weekend. Oh…. And I won a software prize.
Taylor and Essie got up and played a couple of songs at the open mik night. Kicking butt for the Aussie contingent.
And the rest….well… we had some fun, just like the rest of the Taxi Rally family.