Wednesday, March 30, 2016


I wrote this with my co-writer Adam Byrd, who is a great writer and we have a great cowriting relationship that features millions of text messages, long arguments featuring lots of bad language, and good songs that actually get finished.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

This was fun

Really, really, really fun.

This is "Bear With Me," at the Open Chord Brewhouse. Which is a great venue and I can't wait for my chance to gig there. More about that later.

Special thanks to Diane Shelton for filming this. What I am saying before the clip starts is that I wrote the song with Fish: "he writes with everyone. He's kind of a songwriting.... slut..."


P.S., I am not really this fat. The camera adds at least 35 pounds.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

CDs go on sale Monday December 14th


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Get Back, again

Country music is like a mean girl in your class at school. You try so hard to get her to like you. Well, you probably don't, but I do. And every time I try to do what might make me cool in her eyes, she hastens to tell me that whatever it is I'm doing is so last year. The country genre, from the songwriter's perspective, is ruled by oligarchs who are mostly men hogging the top 50 with songs about, well, you know. Those sex-in-a-pickup-truck songs we hate. Although I couldn't help noticing a great lyric in a Florida Georgia Line song about Friday night at the swimmin' hole / creek / bonfire / cornfield / dirt road / place where country boys get country girls to undress, which is "Victoria's secret ain't a secret no more." Well done.

The genre is also ruled by gatekeepers who want an unforgettably hooky, fresh-yet-comfortable, witty-yet-conversational, relatable-yet-not-cliche thing about something we can all understand that has never been written about that way before, with an irresistible groove and guitar licks that they definitely absolutely have heard a million times before, that is always anything but what I have just written. It reminds me of a scene in "Tootsie," (an old, old movie from the eighties with a lot of truth in it, kids) where Dustin Hoffman is auditioning and the director says "we want somebody taller" and "we want somebody older" and Dustin Hoffman keeps showing that he can be those things and the director finally says "we want somebody else." Oh. Okay.

To be fair, I started listening to country music when I wanted to write country music, and if you had to pass a test of country music literacy, I would fail. (In Yoda voice: "hmm, maybe your problem that is.")

Anyway, I finally wrote a country song last year that They liked, and They liked it a lot; except for the lyric. It was a great lyric, but it was all wrong. Too young, too dated. And isn't that horrible - putting words in the mouth of a young person that are the words of an old person. Yeesh. And it took almost a year for me to get the critique where people finally told me every word and idea that was wrong, and it took five of them to do it, but finally I got it.

Because God is merciful, I was able to re-write it, anticipate three things that They wouldn't like, re-write those, and find a new singer who is a fine replacement for the girl who used to sing my country songs before she went off to get famous.

And so far, in 6 days, my preliminary impression is that They like it. They might even like it a lot. Oh and go click and like Chelsea Stepp because she has a great sound and is a good writer too.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Apparently it's all about Karns

I know that internet radio isn't exactly the big time, but still, it's fun. My song "Feel This Way," featuring Sydni Stinnett, will be played starting at 5 today here.

She's a 14-year-old from Karns.

And then there's the girl who sang this song of mine, Emily Roberts. She's on "The Voice" tonight. Somebody let me know how she does because I have rehearsal. She's also from Karns. I don't know what's going on up there but I like it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Singing Friends

When my son was about four, he brought me some sheet music I had just printed and said "Mama, here's your singing paper." Early on, he learned to distinguish between my "lady friends" - usually there is cackling, food and wine - and "singing friends" - there is singing, cackling, and usually not wine. Because wine.

I love singing friends, and I need them. I have some in the Knoxville Choral Society (alto section = much cackling), and some at my church singing gig, and some who go way back and are precious to me. I have my producer, Steve Rutledge, who is like the brother I never wanted, and the random characters who come in to play.

Some of my favorite singing friends are the singers who come in to sing my demos. I look for great, unforgettable voices, and I look hard. It's not always easy; this past week I dragged myself to the Tennessee Valley Fair after slaving over a hot microphone all morning, to go sit in the Pepsi Tent and hear a lot of 9-year-old girls in cowboy boots sing their hearts out in the talent competition. The jazz guitarist should have won, by the way; and I really want to find the girl who sang "Jar of Hearts," and they should have turned her track down. If you see her tell her to call me.

...and by the way if you are a talented very young person and you put your stuff online without saying your city or a way to get in touch with you, you are making sure that pedophiles don't find you, and you are also making sure that people like me who want to give you recording opportunities don't find you either. May I suggest a Reverbnation account where the parent can check and screen the messages? Unless you just want to have your stuff on Youtube forever, reaching only your three friends who say "omg your amazing."

Anyway, I look hard to find the singers who get my songs signed to sync deals, the singers who make the publishers say "who's the singer?" before they talk about the song. I'm pleased with this unexpected outcome in my life, which is that all the voice studying I've done hasn't given me a money-making voice, but I've got great ears.

My favorites of these singing friends climb into the song and make it their own and I love where they take it. I also love the collaboration, so much, because I don't love working alone. When I don't get the cut I'm not so much sad about the money that I won't make, as I am sad that there is a musical party going on and I don't get to go. But I'm realistic. The singers I pick are on their way to bigger careers and record deals, and when they get where they're going I have no illusions that they will remember me at all; this is why I'm not going out of my way to get the cut.

There is usually a parent or other members of the entourage, and I also love the joy the parent gets when they hear it. There is a mystery to your child's gift - they just walk into the vocal booth at age 14 or 16 or 20 and wail out an incredible vocal without really thinking much about it.

My latest singing friend just recorded this for me and it's ... oh right. Go listen. I'll wait.

Right? She's kinda bluesy kinda R&B kinda her own special thing. I'm moving away from the squeaky clean young songs that nobody wants, and loving her earthy sexy energy and she's got some chops too. She writes her own stuff so she hasn't got much use for me, alas. Now go give her some money. I'll wait.

Anyway, Alyssa has chosen to live in Kentucky just to thwart my deep need to have her record my songs but I'll recover. When I hear a voice I like, I start hearing it a lot, and I usually can't help but write for it. I've got another one waiting and by the time she decides to cross state lines again I'll probably have others.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Open for business

I finally took the digital distribution plunge. I'm not dying to sell my songs on Itunes but it's kind of a thrill to see it there.