Hello World. Inspiration from the treasure state.

The Here and Now 

It’s certainly relevant, but it’s only part of the equation. 

I have been a proponent of living in the moment for many years now. One of my favorite sayings of the last 15 years or so has been “Enjoy this moment, for this moment is your life.” It definitely seems like the most effective way to deal with worry, stress, and other future related concerns. Knowing that tomorrow is never guaranteed can be beneficial in making the most of now. 

However, I have spent the day today reevaluating this approach to my life and I have to admit that there are certainly benefits to spending a little bit of quality time on tomorrow and the future. Also, gleaning wisdom from the mistakes of the past is also very beneficial, considering we don’t get bogged down by them. It’s a fine line. 

As I look over the past 30 years or so of my career, I do have some regrets. I’m often asked for my advice by young performers on getting into the entertainment business, staying in the business and/or leaving the business. Today, I have some easy answers, so I will share them. Number one: If it’s a career that you wish to pursue, do so only with knowledge and extreme caution. Do not “wish” or “dream” your way into it. Know exactly (or at least as much as possible) about reality of the business and proceed carefully with your eyes wide open. 

For example, Tennessee is what they call a “right to work” state. Therefore, unions like AFTRA/SAG have little to no control over what happens in the recording and television industry in Tennessee, specifically Nashville where I spent 30 years of my life. In those 30 years, I have spent countless months, days and hours making money in the recording business. Hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars, in my estimation, have graced my bank account over the years from recording sessions; from country music, to gospel music, to jingle sessions, to solo albums, to video games, to recordings of various religions and languages, to.....well, you get the point. 

What do I have to show for it today? About 40 extra pounds, grey hair and a handful of good stories and bragging rights. I don’t know, maybe in the big picture that’s enough. However a pension, some residuals, and a health plan would have been nice right about now. Just a thought. So, when you are faced with the nagging and annoying choice of having to turn down scab work in order to pay your bills....start to think about how difficult it’s going to be to pay those same bills 30 or so years from now. Believe me, it is a reality that will hit you smack dab in the face if you are lucky enough to be alive 30 years from now. 

Now, how do you choose to work only union in a “right to work” state where you will be quickly and easily looked over when you stick to your guns? Number 2: Location is everything! Live where your industry thrives. And, if you can’t live there then you better be damn sure you can get there quickly and easily. So much of every business is the day to day networking, interaction and involvement with the people you work with. The music/entertainment business is all this times 20. Most of the work you will be considered for will happen in a discussion at lunch or over drinks, or in the studio, or at a performance, or at the gym, etc. How do you make this happen when you are 2,000 miles away from all of your colleagues? It’s not likely. 

Don’t want to live in NYC or LA? Well, then you might want to consider a different profession. Yes, it’s true that a handful of people have been successful at the art of living elsewhere yet staying in the industry, but it’s not the majority I can promise you. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you to move anywhere...as a matter of fact, I’m encouraging you to find your heart and stick to it. Just know there are consequences to doing so. Personally, I’ve found little to no joy in life living in NYC. I’ve spent years there and have spent most of them looking for ways to get out. When I got into my car last October and headed across the country to Montana, I knew that I would not be returning to the east coast again to live. It took me 20 some years to figure that out, but I now know that it is my reality. I have also learned to never say never...but, the chances of this ever happening again are similar to the chances of me winning the Publisher’s Clearinghouse $100 million. 

This brings me to number 3: Success takes sacrifice. I’ve known a ton of extremely successful people in my life. I’ve known many of them well. One of the first things to go in a successful entertainment industry person’s life is SANITY. Yes, you must sacrifice a certain amount of your sanity to be incredibly successful in the business. Now, for some of you that isn’t too much to ask, I know...but for most grounded, well-rounded people it’s a big sacrifice. I am the kind of person that loves balance. I’m not so good at it, but in general it is a goal of mine. I tend to lean toward drama and the so-called “roller coaster” approach to life, but as I get older I am focused on balance and sanity. The more I focus on it, the further I get from my career. It’s just true. I find myself longing to throw away my suitcases forever, give up all of my hotel membership cards, not to mention my frequent flier memberships (don’t get me started) and my car rental memberships. 

I realize this all might sound like the rantings of a disgruntled entertainer...and maybe they are a little...but I truly feel grateful for all of the experiences I’ve had over the years. I know that many people would kill for the opportunities I’ve been given. I’m not complaining. I am, however, committed to telling the truth to the young dreamers out there. Wisdom and knowledge are mandatory in my opinion. Don’t attempt a career in entertainment without accumulating as much of both of these things as possible. Does it kill the dream a little? Yes. Will knowing the reality make your future and your retirement better? No question. If only someone had grabbed me, looked in my eyes and told me these things, maybe I wouldn’t be in my 50s wondering where my next paycheck will come from. Or maybe many did and I didn’t hear them over the loud ringing of my passion. Maybe youth is supposed to drown out the sound of responsibility. I don’t know....I just wish, often, that I had been a little smarter than I was. 

All this being said, tomorrow may never come. So make the most of these beautiful gifts you have been given. Today, and the Arts.

Music, Health and Sanity 

As I'm preparing for some upcoming concerts this month, I've been spending more time than usual these days with music.  I'm listening, watching videos, studying lyrics...learning melodies. 

I've also spent a lot of time in the last few months with some amazing students...coaching, mentoring, counseling, and encouraging.  I'm grateful for these opportunities to be reminded of what really matters in our society today.  Music. Art.

It sounds crazy, I know,  but I truly believe it.  I think it is our hope for the future.  I think it is our well being.  I think it is our health.  I don't take this lightly. 

Greed is destroying so much of what is good about our nation these days....more so than ever I think.  I feel the need to be proactive and aggressive about sharing the gift of music and creativity with the world.  I'm encouraging every one that I know to do the same.  It will make us all better.

A musician friend of mine died recently, of brain cancer.  Dawn was determined to live and take care of her son and loved ones...and she was always determined to make music and heal the world.  I loved that about her.  She lived over five years after she was diagnosed with stage four cancer.  Impressive, no doubt.  It's hard to imagine that she's gone so soon.  But, I'm reminded of how she would cling to her music and artistry for life.  Our conversations were about music...and life.  It all meant so much to her....and she had so much to offer the world.  And she's gone, so quickly and prematurely.  It makes me realize that there is so little time to waste, and so much to do. 

I commit and pledge to you that I will do my best to continue the task I was given at an early age....making music.  I know that it's a gift and I don't take it lightly.  I hope you don't as well.  The world needs all that you have to give....




At Such a High Price 

Today, I honor all of the men and women who have given so much for all of us.  It's hard to imagine being willing to give my life for the freedoms and privileges we all enjoy on a daily basis.  I wonder what kind of person does this sort of thing?  Is he a powerful person?  Is she a rich person?  Are they so brave that their own life matters less than the lives of others?  Are they humble?  Are they self confident?  Do they understand the risk they are taking?  Are they searching for a deep sense of belonging?  Do they need approval that they aren't getting elsewhere?  Does she passionately believe in the value of freedom?  Can he fully grasp what it's like to live in a land where freedoms and choices don't exist?  What is the motivation?  Is it loyalty?

Whatever it is, it's unbelievable that people make the choice to pay the ultimate price for others.  All that I could possibly do today to honor and memorialize these people could never be enough.  It just doesn't make sense to me how today, Memorial Day, could ever be a celebration.  How can it ever be a time to party, drink, relax, enjoy?  How have we become so shallow and simple in this country?  When will we begin to understand and/or appreciate the complexities of all that makes us who we are as a nation?  When will we grasp what is required of each of us?

My beautiful state of Montana just had a significant election where less than half of the state's residents showed up to vote.  But, I can guarantee that more than half of those same people all out there grilling, drinking, and enjoying this holiday.  It's bizarre to me.  So little is asked from most, but still so many are willing to die for the right to vote.  Needless to say, I'm in awe of the people who fight and die for this privilege and freedom, in spite of the many of us who can't be bothered to take a trip to the voting booths. 

That is a special person.  Thank you.  Thank you a million times over.  Today, I commit myself to showing my gratitude with action.  I want to share my voice. I want to share my opinion. I want to give of my time, my resources, and my energy.  I commit to do whatever it takes to show my appreciation. 

Thank you.

America, The Beautiful? 

I'm presenting this new video because I needed it.  I needed to be reminded of the beauty that once was and is sure to return again some day.  I need a shot in the arm.

I know I'm not alone.  I know you are not alone.

It's hard to remain positive and upbeat in a time when so much seems wrong, but I know that music is my healer and my guide.  Let's all make music together...in whatever way possible...so that we can be reminded of how much we need each other.  Republican, Democrat, Black, White, Gay, Straight, Male, Female, Christian, Muslim, Green, Blue, Orange.....

We need each other.  We can fix this.


America, The Beautiful


High Notes from the Last best place