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.
As we approach April 27th, (the release date for my new album, “Jukebox“) I’m finding my music in more and more corners of the internet. Glide Magazine premiered my song, “Don’t Leave Me Blue” and declared: “The song has a loose, rambling country sound that immediately brings to mind the redneck-meets-hippie culture of Austin, Texas in the 1970s.” I can think of no higher compliment.
The blog, Daily Country, premiered the album’s title track, “Jukebox” and called it: “A sweetly sentimental trip to simpler times that appeals to both your ears and your heart.”