Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Music That Speaks to Your Heart(beat)

Have you ever had one of those moments when you know you're in the right place? When you look around the room and think to yourself, "This is where I'm supposed to be. This is what I'm supposed to be doing. And this is how I'm supposed to feel." It feels good. It feels right. It's almost as if the Universe is saying to you, "PAY ATTENTION. THIS IS IMPORTANT." It feels like you're free. And for that moment, it's as if nothing else really matters. 

Rewind to a Thursday night at Gramercy Theatre back in March. Somewhere between the harmonica-blowin', the tambourine-shakin' and the boot-stompin', I had one of those moments, and I've come to this conclusion: A Drake White show is a celebration of living.

It's doing what feels right.
It's loving life.
It's all country, blues and funk at the same time.
It's feeling energized.
It's singing about all of the things that matter.
And it's good for your soul.

Aside from knowing I was exactly where I needed to be that night, I found myself wishing I was a member of the band, known as The Big Fire. For one, they're all so cool, like you just want to be a part of their club. But you can also tell that they are truly having fun, though I can't imagine who wouldn't enjoy playing feel-good music for a living. At one point during the show, Drake said, "Can you dance like this?" and for a solid two or three minutes, danced around the stage to whatever came to his body. Not choreographed. Not perfect. Just purely dancing how the music came to him. And somehow, he managed to even make that look cool.

If the fun, funk-soul vibes don't pull you in, then surely the voice will. Because that voice. It is literally chill-inducing, and paired with songs like Makin' Me Look Good Again, it will give you all sorts of feelings. That man was great with just an acoustic guitar (flashback: Housing Works Songwriter's Series) but add a band and a few amplifiers, and he falls into the category of best live performances I've ever seen.

Drake White and his music are all kinds of right. And in the craziness that is life, it has the power to pull me back to real, back to me. We spend so much time trying to figure out who we are and what we love, when the signs are usually right in front of us. Whether a Drake White show, or something else, do more of what feels good, and what feels right. You know what that is. And if you need any help trying to figure it out, I know just the guy.

Back to free
Like we used to be
Yes, you and me
Let's get back to free


Monday, May 15, 2017

I Like BobbyCast, And I Cannot Lie

It's a typical weekday morning. I've just recently opened my eyes, had a shower and made my first cup of coffee. The next thing I do is load the purple podcast app on my iPhone to see what new BobbyCast episode is in store for me today. Then, I push the power button on my speaker, press 'play' on my phone and I'm transported to Bobby Bones' living room, hanging with what feels like a group of my friends.

I never know exactly what I'm going to get out of each episode, which is half of the fun. Today I might learn how much Kelsea Ballerini and I have in common, or what a kind and down-to-earth human-being Jake Owen is, while tomorrow I might discover that Charles Esten was on Whose Line Is It Anyway? way before he was even considered for the hit TV show, Nashville. It's all interesting stuff. But, aside from the sneak peek into their personal lives, Bobby also uncovers the stories behind their music, and all of the things that had to happen before a song even made its way to my ears. No matter what surprises are in store though, I'm a fan of them all, and it's a guarantee that when the episode comes to an end, I always hop on the subway feeling energized and excited for the day. 

Perhaps the reason why I love this podcast so much is because I literally cannot get enough of country music (truth), but maybe what's even more exciting is that Bobby asks interesting questions - not the boring stuff. I've always said that if I had the chance to interview anyone famous, I wouldn't ask them 'who's your biggest inspiration?' or 'what's it like to perform on stage?'. I would ask them what their favorite Netflix shows are, what's on their "Get Happy" playlists (we all have one), and what keeps them up at night. Bobby gets it. And he's always searching for the honest-to-God truth.

Since listening to the BobbyCast, I've learned so much... not just about the individuals themselves, but about the importance of doing what you love. Hearing these people talk about chasing their dreams, and witnessing Bobby's clear passion for learning about it, is inspiring. Dierks Bentley may seem like a hero at times, but in all reality, he's just a human like you and me, singing Carley Rae Jepson's Call Me Maybe to his son.

Thank you, Bobby, for bringing me closer to the music and the people. <3 

Every day is a good day
It's how you see it, that's what I say
When you wake up in that mind frame
Singing with the Blue Jays, sipping on a latte
Every day is a good day


Saturday, May 13, 2017

2016, That's a Wrap.

[This post has been a long time coming]

2016 was spent in and out of concert halls, stomping around stadiums and fields, and racking up a record number of swipes on my MetroCard. I spent countless nights singing my heart out with some of the greatest artists and musicians I know, which gave me all sorts of feelings. And, because I cannot possibly find a way to make beautiful, flowing sentences out of it all, lists will have to suffice. 

Places I set my boots down:

A farm in Nowhere, Tennessee.
A polo field in the middle of San Francisco.
A National Historic Landmark in upper Manhattan.
A home stadium for two National Football League franchises in New Jersey.
A cozy bookstore in Soho.
An 18,000 person arena in Brooklyn.
And many, many more.

Me attempting do my feelings justice: 

Energetically entertaining
Beautifully honored
Wildly empowered
Home sweet home
An electrifying awakening of the soul
Feel-good feelings
Timelessly talented
Emotionally captivating
Unapologetically liberating
Rebelliously young
Dancin' on the ceiling
Exactly how summertime should be
Magically connected
Deeply understood
Member of an underground club
Admiration and appreciation
For the love of the music
Don't mess with Texas

An assemblance of all the tickets:

Needless to say, it was really great. 

I'm not sure what was more challenging, nailing a whole year down to just a few words or a creating a playlist that spans less than 2 hours, but nevertheless, I've attempted both. Listen to my 2016 here.

I tell myself I’m not in love
But one more time is not enough
One last kiss and then you’re a goner
And I’m here wishing you could stay a little longer


Friday, May 12, 2017

Music: The OG Time Machine

It's pretty incredible that a song has the power to transport you to another place and time. Just like a movie, when the screen cuts to a completely different scene, you almost forget what is real; or like pulling into your driveway wondering how you got there because you were thinking about something else the entire time. The song comes on and those feelings come rushing back as if you're literally in the moment again.

We've all been there. 

What triggered the flashback this time? Old Dominion, of course. I know what you're thinking... I talk about them all the time, but they put me in a good mood (hence, why you'll find me listening to them on the morning subway commute). First it was Wrong Turns and all of the sudden I was back at Jenk's, having the actual best summer of my life. And then came Song For Another Time and I'm in a basement with maybe 50 other people, so close to the amp I could literally feel the music in my chest. The irony of that song title is too real. 

I happen to crave those magical moments, because as I mentioned in my last post, I love feelings. Of course though, if I get to relive the good moments, I also have to relive the not-so-good: realizing it's over. And knowing I'll probably never get to see Old Dominion in that small of a venue again is a very hard thing to come to terms with.

But to end on a positive note, it's New Music Friday, and that means welcoming a beautiful new Brett Eldredge tune (listen here).

That's the power of a song
When it grabs you by the heart
It's gonna find you when it wants to
No matter where you are


Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Brains Behind the Operation: Songwriters

I've always been a lyric person. Play me a song that's raw, real and full of emotion and you've got me hooked. Sure, the notes, instruments and incredible voices are a huge part of what makes a song a song, but the most interesting part to me has always been the words. I suppose it's because I like to feel things (you could say I'm an emotional person) especially when those feelings are familiar. Songs just seem to explain my life better than I know how to.

You may remember the time I attended my very first guitar pull (or if not, you can read about it here), which was my introduction to the world of songwriting. Since that day, I've spent a lot of time learning the 'whys' and the 'whats' and the 'hows' (and ultimately the 'whos') behind all of my favorite songs. Nothing is more fascinating than hearing the story behind why a song was written, and in my opinion, nobody can sing it better than the one who wrote it. 

Which brings me to the point of my feeling explosion... the Nashville Songwriters Series at Joe's Pub.

If you've listened to any country music at all, there's a good chance you've heard something written by Shane McAnally, Luke Laird or Bob DiPiero. In fact, take a pause right now and listen to just a few songs that never would have existed without them:

Great. Now you understand why I felt so lucky to get a glimpse into their world for an evening, let alone be in the same room. I got the chance to hear three of the best songwriters in country music tell the story behind why and how they wrote songs like Follow Your ArrowBlue Clear SkyDrink In My HandPontoon and Body Like A Back Road. How freaking cool is that?!

I could sit here and tell you stories about the music and what the words mean all day long, but what I think is more important is to share the epiphany I had that night: I belong in Nashville.

Sitting in that audience, I felt like I was amongst my future neighbors and friends, and instead of waking up the next day sad and wishing it wasn't over, I woke up motivated. Motivated by Luke Laird's story of starting out as the merch guy for Brooks & Dunn. (He now writes songs for some of the biggest names in country music). Motivated by three individuals sharing their music with a crowd of people for no other reason than because it's what they love. Motivated.

The best part of it all though, was Shane McAnally telling me that not only had he read my blog, but that it was good. Yep... I'm still waiting to wake up from that dream. Witnessing others doing what they love is quite contagious. And hearing words of encouragement from someone you admire is sometimes all it takes to keep you pushing forward... to Nashville.

There are very few days that can top April 19 in my book. It was one of those moments when you realize the universe really is on your side. And I will never forget it. 

Say what you think
Love who you love
Because you just get so many trips round the sun
Yeah you only, only live once