Back in the day I burned '40 oz. to Freedom' from our dial-up desktop , stashed it in the latest and greatest walkman and cruised around on my skateboard like it was 1992. The walkman would skip every time I'd propel myself forward, barefoot on the concrete, so I'd try and time my ground contact with the musical interludes. Some of the best days of my childhood were spent sitting in the park spitting sunflower seeds into the grass, listening to 'House of Holies' on our state-of-the-art boombox with my three older sisters and twin brother, sprawled out on a big blanket, soaking in a little sun and a lot of tomorrow's past. Thinking back on those times I revel in the days before streaming, to be a musician then, the excitement of getting 'discovered' and the idea of finally 'making it' still a possibility, fame and fandom from a labor of love instead of a love of money, sitting within reach of 'almost famous' but the pay-off of glory and greatness forever sitting on the horizon at the end of a hard day's work rather than the amount of subscribers on Youtube or followers on social media networks. Today, it's pre-fabricated overnight viral produced sound made solely for consuming instead of for comforting, for inspiring, for crying, for a moment of suspension between heaven and earth where the world sits still for you to just soak it in. Don't get me wrong, all of the music isn't like that today, so many artists are creating heart-pumping work that deserves attention and accolades. Unfortunately t's mostly drowned in the shallows, for lack of million dollar budgets to pay for large productions and self-promotion. I hear the masses from the pre-internet generation asking where the 'real music' is and I'd have to say the answer is back in the garages, in the living rooms and 200 sq.ft spaces at grandmas house, making real music, for the sake of music. The 15 second IG cover of the latest song isn't where the weight lies. It's still in bed, from playing nightly gigs until 3am and loading out, getting paid pennies on the dollar just because you're in love, not with the lights or the stage or the crowd, those are all good, but with the sound, the feeling, the emotionally charged movement created when instead of figuring out the perfect camera angle for your next youtube cover, you're covered in sweat with calloused hands trying to perfect the riff that is sitting at the edge of your fingertips. The 'real music' is inside of the real musicians, who are just playing catch up trying to get discovered, too tired to post an update because they woke up late from pouring it all out, and drinking it all in again, the night before. Those are the people that I'm on stage with, that I'm applauding, that I'm privileged to know and be known by, in this little riverside city known as Savannah. If I make a moment to write a blog, or post a video, y'all, it's a small miracle. I get asked so often at my nightly gigs "Why don't you have anything on Youtube?" and I reply with a smile "because if I were busy making videos for youtube, I wouldn't get the chance to play for you fine folks tonight, but please feel free to share whatever you'd like and maybe I'll find myself up there someday. Then I'll know I really made it." And we all have a good laugh at the irony. The fact is, I'm making a living playing music and I have been for awhile now. I am blessed beyond reason and grateful for every opportunity, even when that opportunity includes playing 'sweet home alabama' one too many times per request of 'that guy' at the bar.
I digress, I'm amazed at the ability of the music market now. I'm amazed that I can find any resource I may need to become a better musician online. I'm amazed that I can in some respect, make myself 'internet famous'. It's brilliant, but I'm taking a different road. Here's how and a little of why:
I'll be releasing a few songs at a time. You won't find them on the larger streaming platforms for immediately. As silly as that seems for an "up and coming artist" it makes sense for me, as an artist and a musician who has spent countless hours creating my work of art at my own expense with all of my heart. I don't want to build a viral fanbase. I want longterm fans. I want people in whom I have invested to take the time to invest in me, out of want rather than advertisement. I want to step out of the viral mindset and step into the "Is this worth it? Does it have value? Is it quality? Does it move me?" I've spent years on these songs. I've played on a good number of albums for comrades and peers in this game of musical chairs. Who gets a seat and who doesn't isn't what I want to play. I want to set up a table for anyone who wants to come dine and I want them to be fed and I want them to be well and I want to know, that at the end of the day, I've done my best and I have given it my all. I don't want fans to support me out of guilt but out of pleasure. Multiple times in my music career I've been approached with opportunities that had the potential to take me down golden roads, that I wouldn't own. I've turned them down out of an internal knowing that if I give up some of my rights as an artist now, I may have no rights as a human being later. I would have run the risk of losing my soul. I would rather own one-hundred percent of something than zero percent of everything. When I look back now, I'm thankful I've stuck by this. Especially now that I am beginning to see that beyond the stage lights there are people, like me, wanting something real. I've done my best to keep my music as honest and forthright as I can. It's come from a place of trials and love and joy and grief and everything in between. Now, after working extremely hard as a musician, I have been able to self-fund my album. It's been a slow barefoot to concrete process and sometimes the walkman would skip, but to be able to release the songs at the rate I would like to and how I would like to, to hear people's reactions individually, to grow a fan base organically, and to be able to provide them with something to hold onto, I wouldn't have done it any differently. I don't owe anyone, every spare moment I've had and every spare tip I've made by playing music has gone into my music, a labor of love. Because of this, because I haven't had a manager or a record label or financial help in this process, because I've eaten cans of black beans and said "it's worth it", I don't think it makes sense to then give iTunes, Spotify, or any other platform that isn't first and foremost there to serve the artist, the right to distribute my music until it makes sense not just practically but economically. I'll be using other platforms, like live shows and lesser known online platforms (this website, bandcamp etc.) to provide my music to the broader audience. It's still downloadable and works exactly the same way as iTunes, it's just there to serve the artist rather than 'the man' so the artist keeps more of the money you spend on their music. So, my friends, come to my shows. Come see me play live, come enjoy the vibes and see the fruit. This has been amazing and will continue to be if you'll continue to support me and enjoy the harvest. I'll update as I can and who knows, maybe you'll find me on Youtube someday ;)