That’s right! The Great River Folk Festival is accepting entries to their songwriter contest. This was a fun event last year and I’m getting my entry ready!
Best wishes to those out there submitting an entry!
So I’ve had a tough time getting used to the new setup of prairie home companion. I don’t really enjoy the comedians so much (has never been my thing) and I miss the storytelling. That being said, I LOVE the guests Chris Thiele has on the show.
Last weekend he had Josh ritter. I’m a big fan of him so we got tickets. To my surprise, our other favorites Aoife Odonovan and Sarah Jarohz were there too. Also Jon batiste was ther to top it off.
They do a live video of every show. After seeing the show, you really realize the new format is all about the music. It is an amazing show but it is, for sure, best seen and not heard, at lest in my opinion.
If you can go see it, it’s worth it!
Midwest music fest is a two weekend event held in lacrosse, Wisconsin and Winona, Minnesota each spring. There are tons and tons of bands playing throughout each city during the weekends. Lots of genres and styles. Intimate venues and big stages. It is awesome and a great way to explore a city.
Last weekend I went to Winona with a couple friends to spend the afternoon biking around Winona and then enjoy music throughout the night.
Winona is a cool city. It has about 30,000 people and is essentially a city on an island. It is in between the Minnesota and Wisconsin blufflands along the Mississippi River and is almost completely surrounded by water. It has a couple universities giving it a nice energy. Great biking trails and some nice lookouts including Gavin Heights lookout.
I made a short video of the trip. I used a song played that night by Jay Smart during his set. He had a phenomenal voice. Think David Gray meets Ed Sheeran meets Tracy Chapman. His cover of Nirvana “Smells like teen spirit” was something to behold.
Check out the video here on Vimeo!
Country music Hall of Fame detailing the relationship between Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan. I had up to me to go couple weeks ago and it still is on my mind.
Hank Williams guitar is on display. Look at the scratches. I love this guitar.
One of the older guitars had a small set list taped to the top of it. So cool.
During the trip I made my way to Carter’s vintage guitar shop. This place is amazing. I picked up a new capo as a little Momento.
The highlight of my trip was wondering in to Leila’s bar on Broadway. I heard some bluegrass playing and I was interested to hear more. It seems like every other bars playing the top 40 hits in Nashville. Little did I know Kennedy Denny used to have some hits and played on CMT and Jenny Lynn Gardner on mandolin has a Grammy nomination for the group Della Mae. They were so good.
I woke up the next morning and begin writing the lyrics to the song that should be on the next city. Fittingly titled “Nashville.”
I went down to Nashville for a business trip. I’ve never been before and know just about as much about the music scene there as any other average joe.
The first thing I learned is Broadway is full of amazing musicians. The bittersweet thing about this is that most of them are feeding the entertainment machine driven by the popular and predictable demands of the hoards of folks looking to get messed up and sing to the top 40 covers. Finding original music on broadway was pretty hard in the few nights I was there. But I may just not be in the know.
Second, the Country Music Hall of Fame had an amazing exhibit on the days of Cash and Dylan. So cool. Dylan was the troubadour we think of for much less time than he has been everything else.
Lastly, it still is possible to stumble into something great and surprising in Nashville. I waltzed into Layla’s after some bluegrass caught my ear and Found myself staying till close. The musicians were amazing. Again, mostly playing covers and standards but still. Kenny Denny was lead vocals and apparently had some hits and was on CMT a few times. Jenny Lin is a rocking mandolin player who was in the group Della Mae who has a Grammy nomination in their pocket. So cool.
The trip definitely inspired a song and maybe more. We will see if this next album takes a slight southern turn.
Sometimes a photo just grabs you. That is what happened for the cover of the next album (to be released later this year). I was flying into Chicago on a sunny morning with low clouds. It had the look of a steaming, sweaty August day but was truly a crisp fall morning.
Once I took the photo I knew this would be the cover of the new album. Of the 8 songs written and recorded so far, not of them have anything to do with this photo specifically. But this album is my effort at becoming more of a storyteller. Fewer first person perspectives.
I’m really trying to push my writing and not settle for any cliches or trite lines. So far, I’m very happy with the songs that have made the cut.
I can’t wait to share them with you.
I write songs several different ways. Sometimes it starts with a melody or a lyric. I find the voice recording app on my phone to be extremely useful in this regard. I can record a line pause and continue recording as I go. Sometimes I can work toward rough versions of songs listen to them back easily without having to worry about more complex recording software. It honestly is wonderfully convenient and sometimes produces pretty reasonable recordings. The added benefit is I can quickly send a rough version of a song off to a friend.
When you need to quickly record something, what do you use?