While busily prepping for my new album launch coming up this fall, in the mean time, I’m brushing up on the new songs, playing shows, and connecting with music industry advisers about the steps moving forward.
Also, I’m getting ready to officially don the producer’s hat – not only for my own upcoming album release, but also for a recording project happening in a few weeks with a young artist named Abbey Cone I’ve been mentoring for almost three years.
She’s a phenomenal talent, and comes from a wonderful family of pure Texas class and character. The whole Cone bunch is great, and I’m honored to be working with them to help launch Abbey’s artist career. You can check out Abbey’s website here to hear what she sounds like: Abbey Cone Website. [be sure to opt in to her mailing list so you can get to know her and get a free song]
Abbey’s recording project features Nashville session greats JT Corenflos and the one and only Paul Franklin. Paul’s new album with Vince Gill is getting rave reviews, and he told me the other day that Vince said about Bakersfield, “If this album really takes off, we’ll set country music back 25 years.” Sounds like a good plan to me.
In the meantime, this Friday I’m getting ready to play a really cool show here in Franklin, TN.
When I was a baby writer, I had the great honor of catching the attention of legendary song woman, Donna Hilley. She was a mentor to my dad, and she took a special interest in helping me shape my career.
Donna was the head of Tree International (now Sony/ATV), the publishing company on Music Row back in those days.
Donna’s mentor was Buddy Killen – and both of them are prominently featured in the Alabama Music Hall of Fame for their contributions to country music.
So on Friday, I get the honor of performing on the steps of Buddy Killen’s estate out in the Franklin – Leiper’s Fork area at City Farmhouse presents the Pop Up Barn Show. It’s a weekend long event with shopping, crafts, and of course, music.
My set is on Friday, October 17th from 3PM – 4:30PM, so take off work early and come hear some of the new tunes. It’s supposed to be sunny after this long week of rain and storms.
Here’s a link to more info about the upcoming shows: Amanda Williams Show Calendar.
Looking forward to seeing you soon.
Love & Light,
P.S. I haven’t forgotten about posting pics from the Colorado trip. The Internet has been getting knocked out because of the rain, so I have to take my digital scrap booking to the coffee shop later this week.
Greetings from the road. Here’s a quick update. On Saturday, we stopped in at an alternative school – psychiatric hospital in Kansas City and taught a songwriting workshop to the kids living there.
Songwriting is a great form of self-expression, and kids who are wards of the state are often in urgent need of an artistic outlet for their feelings. It’s great to be able to help provide them with tools to cope with all they have to go through. Songwriting and music saved my life – so I know first hand the impact learning to write can have.
The workshop was coordinated by the Kansas Youth Board an organization called Gear Up based out of Wichita State University. They help kids with mentoring and college preparation courses, and work with kids all over the state. Met some fantastic people (Cathy and Robert) at that event that I know we’ll be seeing again in coming months.
We also got to see our pal Justin Callahan – SMB Member who moved to Kansas City from Kingsport, TN last year. We hadn’t gotten to see him since the move, so it was nice that he came out to help facilitate the workshop with us.
After the workshop, we headed west to Manhattan, Kansas where I played at Jonathan Mahorney & Mary Lynn Higginbotham’s house concert series. They have been doing the series for a little over a year now, and I got to be lucky performer #13.
Jonathan and Mary Lynn are fantastic people with a great group of friends, and we had a blast playing music together. Vicki from the Kansas Youth Board also came, and I got to meet her in person at the house concert. During the late night set, some of the audience pulled up requests on their phones and I tried to play them as best I could. You would’ve have laughed hearing me try to sing Folsom Prison Blues like Johnny Cash– those low notes’ll get ya!
In addition to being a creative artist, architect, sign maker and music connoisseur, Jonathan is also one heck of a chef. Here’s a picture of the breakfast he made for us before we headed over to Radina’s coffeeshop in Aggieville for a quick Songpreneur meetup with our SMB Community members in the area.
Michael & Mrs. Klenda drove two hours to visit with us! So sweet of them, and great to see their smiling faces in person instead of just online.
After the meetup, we headed west again to sunny Colorado where we played music with friends and ate hotdogs and fresh garden veggies until the wee hours of the night.
Today, we’re going to hike up into the Rocky Mountain National Park and take in some fresh mountain air.
Then tomorrow, I’ll be speaking at Benom Plumb’s music publishing class over at the University of Colorado. His class is doing a creative listening assignment, so I’ll be giving feedback on original songs (I think) and letting the class know what we listen for when screening for film/TV, major label pitches, indie artist pitches, and the like.
Tomorrow night, we’ll be hosting a very informal Songpreneur meetup before the open mic at Front Range Brewery in Lafayette, CO – free and open to the public. Come hang out and meet some local writers and stick around for the open mic after. Meetup at 5:30PM and open mic starts at 6:30PM.
Wednesday is the meet and greet for the Durango Songwriters Expo at the Walnut Room Denver 6PM. It’s a good place to hear some of the talent from the Expo.
Then, the DSE (Durango Songwriters Expo) gets started in full blast on Thursday evening at the Omni hotel in Broomfield. It’s an action packed weekend of song evaluations, co-writing, networking and having fun with songwriters and music industry folks from all over.
Looking forward to posting some pictures from our adventures later this week.
Love & Light,
I just wrote that in my new website content. Been working on it for a long time, and I’m starting to put the finishing touches on it, filling in the gaps and what not.
A light heart means that you’re not taking yourself too seriously. Serious people are prone to stress, bouts of pride, hardness. None of that is very fun or fun to be around. So a light heart it is. Laugh. It’s good for us.
An open mind is essential to living in these crazy modern times. Just when you think you know the answer to something, everything changes and nothing is as it seemed.
You know what I’m talking about. It’s like my dear grandma who hated the Germans because her brother was killed in WWII. She had dogmatically decided that Germans were the root of her problems… until my uncle Charlie married a German lady, Aunt Brigette.
Grandma never could reconcile her illogical hatred for Germans with her love and appreciation for my Aunt Brigette. Why? Because it doesn’t make sense to hate! Duh. But try telling that to someone with a closed mind. Impossible.
So, here I ride down the road on the way to teach a songwriting workshop or two and play a show or two over the next week. I’m grateful to be working my tail off at a job I love, helping my kids with their homeschool work via internet while they spend some time with family, and writing about things that are important – like love and goodwill and stuff.
If you’re reading this, maybe you’re looking for something. Maybe it’s something you feel you need – maybe there’s a feeling in you that something is missing.
Here’s a happy thought – all over the world there are groups of people who do nothing much more than pray for the safekeeping of our human family here on this earth. There are sages who live on mountain tops (in Tibet and whatnot) who meditate about peace and harmony for the rest of us around the clock.
Doesn’t that feel nice? Maybe you can tune in on some of that good juju and spread some goodwill in your family. Maybe that’s what’s missing.
In the meantime… you got it… keep a light heart and an open mind.
Love & Light,
Just watched President Obama address the United Nations assembly today asking for help combating the threat of the Islamic extremist groups.
Yesterday, I was coming up the road past Walmart and saw a license tag that said “ISIS.”
Now, you know the people who got that tag did it to honor the goddess, not the terrorist group who stole her name, but how eerie to see that driving down the street.
It got me to thinking how many symbols have been stolen by hate groups over the years. The swastika of Nazi Germany, the pentacle of earth loving goddess religions, and even the holy cross of Jesus Christ – all of those symbols have been used in the name of hatred and violence against their original purpose.
Can we try to ignore the hate? Does that make it worse? Does paying attention to it feed it? But how can one turn away from such horrors and not be affected? Impossible.
We do have to come together to combat the threats to the peace in our world, but how odd that sounds and paradoxical – combating the threat to peace. Those very words are at odds.
So it is with symbols. They are always rubbing up against each other and the ideas they are meant to clothe.
What can we do?
We artists can create.
We can vision the world as a place of beauty, respect and tolerance, and in our creation we can help shape the future for our children to see.
Is that all?
I don’t know. But it’s a start.
(The picture above is the donkey from Jerrod Niemann’s “Donkey” song video. Saw him hanging out side at my cowriter Shannon Lawson’s house the other day.)
Kick it with me more often over at the SMB Community site while the AW website is under construction.
A lot of people think songwriters have an easy life.
They think we get to wake up at the crack of noon and leisurely pour over pen and paper, drinking cup after cup of coffee until a few lines emerge onto a page.
Then, we stroll down to Music Row where our publisher eagerly awaits our latest brain fruit. Excitedly, they swoop up the song, rush it into the demo studio and whisk the newly minted tune over to their record label friends whose artists cut it and make everyone a lot of money when it gets played on the radio the following week.
Ha! If that were only the case! But the life of a songwriter isn’t nearly so cut and dry (or easy!).
So what does a real Monday morning look like for a real songwriter?
Well, that depends on which hat you’re mostly wearing that day… or more accurately, which hats.
Today, for example, I’ve got a few different tasks to complete and only one of them is writing a song.
This morning, I’m catching up on paperwork and administrative-secretarial stuff before an 8:30AM parent-teacher conference with my son’s teacher. Yes, we homeschool, but the kids are part of the Tennessee Virtual Academy and as such are technically public school students complete with teachers and standardized testing.
Next, I’ll race down to the Secretary of State to visit my pal Jaime in the Trademark office to fill out some paperwork on a new product line. Then, it’s back to Music Row where I’m writing a tune with my pal Sarah Aili on the NSAI porch until around 1, and then it’s up and down and all around 16th and 17th avenues where I’m delivering gifts to our Conference Industry Pros. (I’d tell you what it is, but if any of them are reading this it would spoil their surprise.)
Later, it’s back home to go over school, answer correspondence and upload materials for my SAE Institute class students (I’m teaching Business and Legal Foundations and the Music Business Culminating Project courses at SAE Nashville this semester) onto our new Canvas system.
Then at 6PM, it’s Monday Songpreneur meetup with our SMB Community and friends (it’s free and open to the public if you’re curious).
Whew. So only a tiny part of my day is actually songwriting and the rest of the day is other stuff.
Is it leisurely? Hardly. Filled with coffee drinking? Absolutely. Worth it? Most days I think so.
As Dad always said, “It sure beats working for a living.”
Once again, I am reminded of the miraculous power of songwriting to affect ones moods.
In the most desperate of painful conditions, when everything seems wrong, but there’s nothing to point to -
Picking up the guitar, virtual pen and paper -
soothes the savage beast that threatens to consume
and frees -
releases me from some of the burden.
The pain is diluted by the sounds I make
And by the end of the song
it’s almost gone.
Form be damned
Rhyme scheme tossed aside
Harlan would call it a pencil sharpener.
Not for the market.
Not for the screaming adoring crowds or the hopes of grandeur
or even dreams of seeing the light of day outside this box of zeros and ones.
Songwriting can do that.
That is why we write.
I went down to Dan McGuinness pub on Music Row last night to see one of my favorite performing songwriters, Dave Pahanish (“Without You” Keith Urban, “American Ride” Toby Keith) play his regular Wednesday night gig with one of my other favorite writers, Bruce Wallace (“My Baby” Kix Brooks).
Earlier in the day, I had gotten a mass text from Dave’s manager saying that he was going on at 8PM as opposed to his usual time of 11ish. Since the kids are with their dad for a few days helping his mom fix up her new house in Kentucky, I thought it would be an awesome chance to see all of Dave’s show for once, since the 11PM start times usually have me leaving after the first set to get home and get enough sleep for the grueling 14 hour work days I’ve been pulling for the past few years as a self employed songwriter-entrepreneur business owner.
But, I should have known better than to think Dave would take the stage anytime before 10PM.
Regardless, it was fun catching up with his wife Kristin, an awesome songwriter and performer herself who just had the couple’s second daughter six months ago.
I thought you guys would be interested to know, I asked her if Dave got his big cuts by pitching demos of the songs, or by pitching songs off his solo artist albums. Just as I suspected, Kristin confirmed that all of Dave’s big hits were originally released on his solo album projects, confirmation of what I’ve been saying for a while now about getting your music out there instead of holding on to it like some “precious” never to see the light of day outside the publishing house.
A few hours into waiting for Dave to get started playing, a long-haired, bearded fellow walked in and sat at Kristin’s table. We recognized each other, and acknowledged that when Kristin introduced us, but I couldn’t place him right away. His name was Leroy.
After a few minutes of thinking about it, I remembered that he had been in Shooter Jennings’ band years ago, and that he and I had jammed in a friend’s living room with Shooter’s drummer, Brian. Brian and I really hit it off musically on a tune of mine called “Children in the Garden” that Shooter expressed interest in maybe cutting some day.
After I figured it out, I leaned over and told Leroy that’s where we met. He kind of remembered it, and that was about all of our conversation. I noticed Kristin and Dave looking at me kind of funny, like I should know Leroy from somewhere else, but I blew it off thinking it was just my imagination.
Later, I ran into my pal George Shingleton, probably one of the best male vocalists I’ve heard in Nashville in a long time. George sounds pretty similar to a young Travis Tritt, with just as much power and soul, and on top of that, he’s a heck of a nice guy. Good ole West Virginia boy. George and I talked a few minutes, and Leroy waved goodbye as he walked past us to go home, and shortly after, my man and I headed for home, too.
…but we had to stop for dog food. So, we stopped off at the Walmart about 10 miles from our house and went in to get stocked up on kibbles.
Standing in line with my giant bag of cotton balls and Garth Brooks box set no one bought me for Christmas, my man suddenly exclaimed, “Look at the cover on that magazine!”
Lo and behold, the entire cover of OK Magazine is graced this week by the lovely face of Ms. Amy Wilcox, star of the new Nashville reality series on A&E “Crazy Hearts.” Better still is the fact that Amy and I got to do some writing last year, and she cut our song “Virginia Is For Lovers” on her debut CD. I even sang harmonies on one or two takes in the studio, though I don’t know if they ended up using my tracks on the final album.
On top of that, Anthony Billups, one of the other stars of the show cut a song I wrote with him about Amy’s mom called “She’s Just Like Her Mother” in which he expresses his untamed affection for, you guessed it, Amy’s mom who he claims, in typical Billups fashion, “is hot.”
Funny enough, the guy Leroy I had seen earlier is Leroy Powell, also from the show. Haha. That’s Nashville for you. I wonder if Dave and Kristin think I was pulling his leg and pretending not to recognize him from the show. Guess that’s what happens when you work too much to watch the TV show your songs might be played on!
Now y’all go buy Amy and Anthony’s albums now, y’hear? And Leroy’s too if he has one. J