I was 23 when I finally put my guitar down for the last time.
I had quit my band six months earlier, the last band of about 12 that I had been in. I had just played my last open mic which consisted of a couple original tunes, a Britney Spears cover, and a crowd that couldn’t have cared less. I had dropped out of college where I had been a music and business major the previous year due to lack of funds. I was burnt out. Tired of performing my “art” and still having nothing to show for it, not even a kind word from one of the grad students drinking Dollar PBR’s while desperate musicians like myself scratched and clawed for a 20 minute set at The Mill. I was done.
And that was how it went for the next two years. I never sold my instruments or gear, but it all sat idle in each new apartment I moved in to. The music “business” is tough. And in reality, for me, the “business” was non-existent. My gigs had primarily consisted of free open mics and painfully empty tip jars. When I look back on it, I’m kinda surprised I tried it as long as I had. More on that to come…
Two years later
I found myself out in the mountains of Montana. I had moved here to help open and operate a wine store, and was eager to meet some new people. The first person in town I met was Doug when he had overheard me talking about guitar and Bourbon and he had invited me to his place for what was called “Whiskey and Strings”, a weekly get together that involved whiskey. And strings. That night Kevin bounded through the door holding a half full bottle, a guitar, and a handshake that would have ripped the arm off of a lesser man.
We immediately started playing music, the first song being a John Prine tune. This was the first time I really played music in years. I was rusty and my fingers were soft. But the music (Prine, Townes van Zandt, Steve Earle, Robert Earl Keen, etc) proved to be everything that was missing in my earlier attempt at being a musician. At this point I was ready to relearn what it meant to be a musician, and for the first time in ages I was looking forward to the next time I got to pick up my guitar. I really consider this the phoenix event of my musical career.
We played together as much as possible over the next few years, and eventually I found myself playing bass in a young country band. The band was more interested in writing their own tunes. The lead singer was an excellent writer as was the fiddle player, and being around that kind of creativity sparked my own. The experience was valuable because I was able to work on live performance (we were playing sometimes three nights a week) and learned how to better work in a group. I also learned the hard lessons of life on the road, away from your family. While I wish I had a lot of that year back, it would be hard to give up the experience I gained as a performer from that era.
Fast forward once again and I was back in Red Lodge with my family. I had been writing music for the past three years and was eager to get a band together to start playing my original country music. I felt it was time to give it another shot. But now, I’m determined to do it the right way, our way.
So lets try this again.
I’m excited to be playing with a group of guys who have all been in the trenches before. We seem to have the same direction in mind for the band, and even more exciting, we are all eager to put out our original music. The sound is everything I’ve wanted, tight rhythms and exciting lead parts. Each instrument fits the personality of the player. Each player adds a perfect component to the group.
It feels awkward sometimes being a 35 year old who just started a band. I know that some people think it is time to “grow up”. But come on, it isn’t like I’m skateboarding again. We have no delusions of “making it” or getting that incredible record deal. We are just eager to make our own music and get it in front of people who might like it. I’m not going to kid myself and say I’ll give it 100%, because I don’t have that much in my tank right now. If I have 20% I’d be lucky, and since it is all that is left, I don’t feel like I’d be half-assing it, either.
...to everyone that has truly encouraged us over the years, and especially with our new group Calvin and the Coal Cars. We are thrilled to have you join us on our musical journey!