Things are happening over here, guys. Gosh, where to start?! Normally, I try to keep these blog posts concise and well-written. This one will be more of an unbridled ramble. Buckle up.
My wife Olivia and I are expecting our first child in the next couple weeks. It’s real. It’s happening. Basically, our baby could “arrive” any day. We are beyond excited, and a little overwhelmed. That said, my parents live just a couple towns away so we aren’t going through this completely alone. Plus, we have a solid group of friends here in Colorado, for which I am grateful.
In other news, I received my second dose of the Moderna vaccine last week. The day after my vaccination, I felt like I’d fallen down a flight of stairs. By day two, I was back to 100%. I’m grateful the side effects were minimal and am looking forward to the world opening up again. I miss concerts, and I miss you.
After months of recording, correspondence, and work, our John Lilly tribute album “April In Your Eyes” is out now. Available exclusively through Bandcamp, 100% of the proceeds go to John Lilly to support him as he lives with Parkinson’s and is unable to tour. This record was an absolute joy to produce, and has brought so many wonderful people into my life. The album has received generous reviews, and our pre-order numbers were strong, which helps John out.
In the midst of preparing for baby, teaching music lessons, and renovating my house (yes, chaos reigns supreme in my life these days), I’ve also been writing a song each week with Tom Paxton (yes, the folk music legend) via Zoom, and starting a new band with a group of players in Denver. We have a video shoot scheduled for this coming weekend, so as long as my wife doesn’t go into labor, I’ll be sharing more new music with you shortly.
That’s really it for now. Don’t be a stranger. Holler anytime.
I wish there was more to say. I wish this post was longer. I wish it was worth waxing poetic, or getting granular. I wish there was a secret to tell. There’s no secret.
That is all you have to do. Writing is the way through, the way out, the way of becoming. Writing is the answer. People contact me regularly, asking how to advance their careers as songwriters. One of the first questions I ask is “How many songs have you written?” Most people say eight, 15, 20, 50… If the answer is less than 150, then you’re not really trying.
According to his first autobiography, Willie Nelson had written over 2,000 songs before he wrote “Crazy.” By my count, John Prine has written over thirty, perfect, timeless songs- and he wrote almost every day, and he’s JOHN PRINE. Bob Dylan has published over 600 songs- and those are just the ones we know about. I guarantee you he’s written far more. If these artists had to show up and write, then certainly, we must too.
Songwriters write songs all the time, or at least regularly. They do not write a handful and then expect the Recording Academy to come knocking– They move on to the next batch. They write because the process calls them. They write because writing is its own reward. This might sound cliche or oversimplified. It is not. Keep writing. The other components of music-career advice are borderline irrelevant until you are writing good songs, so I would focus on that.
Other things I tend to say include: “Your best writing is ahead of you.” “Writing happens at the speed of thought.” “Do not wait for inspiration to find you – you must pursue it.” “Songwriting is like picking apples: don’t expect the trees to come to you.” I could go on, but I’d be better off taking my own advice. Please excuse me, I have a song to write. And so do you.
I look forward to hearing your next batch of tunes,
Pre-orders for my new album have begun. Alpine Coda will be released on October 2nd, 2020. I have been working on this record for two years… which feels strange to admit – because the whole album was recorded in only 5 days. Months of writing, preparation, and planning, culminated in those sessions in Nashville. The recording days were a whirlwind, and left me happily exhausted. Then came weeks of mixing, mastering, and months of planning the release – only to be thwarted by the pandemic… which meant months of planning, revisited.
When I began releasing records in 2008, the process was mercurial, rushed, and solitary. The results were thrilling, haphazard, and bizarre. The process for making Alpine Coda could not have been more different; collaborative, intentional, and virtuosic – but the results speak for themselves. This record thrills me. It makes me dance. It brings me to tears. After years of making albums at home, toiling alone, it was an absolute thrill to work with the 10 outstanding musicians you hear on this record. This process has been a joy, and a roller coaster. I am excited to share the fruits with you on October 2nd.
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.