We gathered in the home studio of my friend, Lester Price. His sons, Jeff and Sean were at the board, and steadily setting up microphones, running cables, making things come together. The band played together, live, for two days, and the Diamond Ranch sessions came alive.
After the initial session, I asked a few friends to overdub their harmonies or instrumental parts from afar. The sonic genius, Chris Latham, stitched our performances together in Nashville, TN, and so it was.
These may be the final two tracks in my Diamond Ranch series, but the process was so fun, we’re bound to record more, once the pandemic blows over. Until then, I hope you enjoy listening to these tunes, as much as we enjoyed playing them.
– JE –
Jackson Emmer: vocals, guitars, bass, songwriting Lester Price: guitars Chris Goplerud: drums Mike Facey: bass Larry Gottlieb: steel guitars Letitia VanSant: harmony vocals Sam Moss: fiddle Jeff Price: recording engineer Sean Price: recording engineer Chris Latham: mixing and mastering
A lot has changed since we last spoke. It’s April 12th, which means I’ve been Social Distancing/on lockdown for 32 days. It began on March 10th, just after I returned home from Austin, TX. I’d been on planes, and at several concerts, so I just assumed I had the Corona bug and kept to myself.
I’m grateful to have my wife, Olivia, and our dog, Willoughby around to keep me company. We live in a very rural area, so it’s easy for us to get outside for a walk without running into other people. This has been a blessing, and has kept us relatively sane.
For each week of lockdown/distancing, I’ve made a commitment to broadcast live, weekly performances on Facebook (Quarantunes), and to release new music every week (sometimes on YouTube, sometimes Spotify). This has been a fun challenge, and I’m enjoying the creative spark it’s lent to my isolation. Making music has always been my way of connecting with others- my way of reaching out. It seems I need it now more than ever. Thank you for listening. Stay safe, and take care of each other.
I began touring 10 years ago. It was spring of 2009, and I was about to graduate from college during the peak of “The Great Recession.” There weren’t any jobs to be had anyway, so I figured I might as well play music. I pulled together my friends Sam Moss and Will Stratton, and we planned a humble tour. For two weeks at the birth of summer, we drove around New England performing in backyards, garages, art galleries, living rooms, and any place that would have us. We slept on floors, couches, and ate whatever people fed us. We had a tremendous time, seemed to make people happy, and after expenses, we each went home with $92. It seemed too good to be true.
Ten years later, things aren’t too different, but I’m even more grateful for living a life that might as well be a lucid dream. In 2019 I performed approximately 90 times. Some were gigs, some were shows, and some were on-air radio spots. I booked all of them myself, or as a collaborative effort with fellow musicians. I performed in 18 states across the US. My music was played on approximately 150 radio stations, and streamed in 36 countries, with 1,400+ listeners just on Spotify. On YouTube and Facebook combined, my songs were streamed over 22,000 times. I wrote 32 songs. These statistics aren’t staggering, but things have certainly grown over the past 10 years.
I don’t make music so I can pour over numbers. I make music because I love the process, and feel that somehow, I have something to contribute to this artistic canon. I enjoy sharing a part of myself with listeners, and consider every tune, every note, every word an offering. When I look back at the journey and success I’ve enjoyed in 2019, one thing is clear: I owe it all to you. Without you, I’d have no one to sing for but myself. I am grateful for every moment you spent with me and my music this year, and every year. I am honored you care enough to listen, show up for a concert, and share a part of yourselves and your lives with me. Above all things, I am grateful, and cannot thank you enough. I don’t know what the next ten years has in store for us, but if it’s anything like previous decade, I’ll be pinching myself the whole way through. Thank you for everything.
dust is clouding always but it’s most visible in the slanted sunset’s pour.
streamers of light through pink sandy puffs, the charcoal ghosts of 4 wheelers, motorbike trailers, and gasoline enthusiasts.
under navy milk skies pockmarks of starry freckles shine, shine, shine. blanket of night- split open by the cries of distant suns. I AM HERE! YOU ARE NOT ALONE! wimper through the uncaring distance of space.
once sexual, the grey and twisting juniper corpse lays indifferent by the campsite road. dry as moonrock, it can still be recognized “former tree of life, child of god” now designates parking.
the beginning of tent city, nylon, thinsulate, marshmallow sticks empty, green gas canisters. tack your receipt to the post.
ranger Judy, once sexual, hums through camp. our dirt pit, affectionately renamed “the G spot” while dead juniper carries on.
I’ve received a number of requests for the chords/a lesson on how to play this song. I am honored that other musicians are interested in it, and so decided to post my own “how to” video for the song. Video below, and a downloadable chord chart is posted below that. Please reach out if you have any questions. Thanks for watching!
I’ve been teaching songwriting workshops recently, so I put together a brief packet to help students jumpstart their “song” brains. Most of the information I cover in the workshop is about the writing process, and encouraging good writing habits. This always leads to a lively conversation with students- but there’s one page of the packet that is fairly “nuts and bolts.”
It covers basic chords, how those chords fit into keys, and a brief note on how to transpose (change keys) by using a capo. I’ve posted this sheet below, and hope you find it helpful. Please comment, share this link with your friends, or message directly if you’d like me to clarify anything. Again, I hope this helps! Enjoy.
I decided to compile my favorite music of 2018. These are not just songs or albums that were released in 2018, but what I found myself listening to most this year. The tunes are compiled in a Spotify playlist. Enjoy!
I am often asked about my influences, and always do my best to answer thoughtfully. I’m honored that anyone cares enough about who I listen to to ask. I see this as an opportunity to send more ears to the music of my closest influences and friends. For example: Sam Moss, Trevor Wilson, John Lilly, Terry Klein, Alison May, Letitia VanSant, and Alexa Rose are all artists I have performed or written with, and believe in.
If asked specifically about my favorite country songwriters, I often mention Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, John Prine, and Hank Williams– All of which should be fairly obvious. Chuck Berry should be on that list too, but I don’t mention him often because I don’t feel like arguing over whether or not his style was country or rock. It was both, and he was a talented, hardworking genius. I understand that celebrating Chuck has become increasingly problematic (as is the case with so many artists). Read more about that here, here, and in his own words, here.
What I rarely mention, is the influence of literature and poetry in my songwriting. It takes a while to explain, and I don’t think much about it during interviews because I’m too busy trying to field questions honestly without saying something stupid. That said, it’s time I give a few writers their due.
E. E. Cummings showed me just how far one’s imagination could take a poem- I started reading his work when I was 11 or 12.
J. D. Salinger was also a big influence. I was an eager reader during my pre-teen years, and “Catcher in the Rye” made me feel understood, and inspired me to take writing seriously as my own form of expression.
Wayne Hoffmann-Ogier taught literature at my college. He told me once “Your writing is not good enough.” Then suggested I read “The Elements of Style” by Strunk & White. I’m glad Wayne was straight with me about this. I learned a lot.
You may have noticed that there are more men on this list than women. Although I wish my consumption was more evenly split, I find that I often relate more towards male narratives. Perhaps that will shift over time.
I hope this list helps you find more art to love. I hope finding more art to love inspires you to make your own- write a song, write a poem, write a book, whatever moves you. I hope people will someday list you and your irreplaceable work as one of their influences- Thanks again for asking about mine.