The sort of individuals who have had the biggest effect on me have been the kind of people who were the least concerned with having an effect. Their presence was big, through no effort on their part. If they were musicians, people listened, if they were artists, people looked. If they were teachers, people learned.

In Nashville, Tennessee, I ran into a couple of musicians who I perceived to have a big effect on not just me, but other folks as well, and who did so through a medium that was bigger than their music. Maybe “medium” is the wrong word. I like to think of it as “Gravity.”

This “Gravity” seemed to be magnetic, in a way. If I was to say where it came from, I could only use metaphysical terms like “well-grounded” or “character,”  but that wouldn’t paint the whole picture. But whatever it was, I could tell these men stood for something.

The thing that struck me the most was that they attracted people. If you were lucky enough to introduce yourself or be introduced, you felt as though they were somehow calling you to be more. When they played their songs, you were listening to them, not so much the song.

“Gravity” is earned through being a certain kind of person, not necessarily from obsession with technique or virtuosity – or any kind of isolation. You can’t separate the Music, or the Art, from the Man. But the Man is still there when the song ends.

Shout Out To Jeff Syracuse!

I just wanted to do a quick shout-out to Jeff Syracuse, who I met last Tuesday at the Phat Bites open mic. Mr. Syracuse was kind enough to upload a video of me performing “My Funny Valentine,” and to include some very kind words in his website. I was pleased that he enjoyed my performance enough to put it on his website. Mr. Syracuse is running for Metro Council, and he certainly has my vote!

You can see the video he uploaded, and check out his website, here. He’s a dude with a lot going on!

That’s all for now… until next time.


Since the last blog was a bit cryptic, I felt compelled to write another one explaining circumstances a little more. Since so much has gone down in the last eight days, I won’t waste much time.

Here’s the condensed version:

On August 17, I went down to Nashville to perform a couple of original songs at a Commodore Writers Round. The night went well and was a great experience.

That night, I was joined by a good friend. We split a motel room, having planned on camping out together for a week or two as soon as we could find a free campsite. A free campsite we found two days later: Meriwether Lewis State Park, a beautiful place in Hohenwald, TN, in Lewis County about an hour and a half from Nashville, near the Natchez Trace. We stayed there for a grand total of three days, not the least of which was spent trapsing back and forth to and from Wal-Mart for necessary materials. (Even before camping, we had purchased and returned four separate mini refrigerators for the purpose of freezing ice packs for my still-healing foot.)

The third night camping, I got wind of a letter declaring that my driver’s license is suspended. Heeding the advice of my friend, I threw all of the camping gear back into my car and hit the road for home.

Turns out that the letter was simply an administrative printoff that should have been sent months ago, around the time of my hearing on February 18 (if you’ve been following me, you’ll know the events leading up to this). My driver’s license is still effective, provided I get it restricted in the next 14 days.

Phew! That was probably more than you wanted to know. It seems that a warp in the space-time continuum propels me back to West Virginia each time I head back to Nashville before my karma is sufficiently worked out.

More on this odd self-correcting conundrum and why I am the single most “willy nilly” person I know ever, later.

Back In The “Groove”

As the days unfold, and the time to go back down South approaches, time speeds up. And all at once, I find I am to be gone on Friday, not Saturday as planned, and my time in West Virginia has already come to an end.

Back in early June, when a debilitating accident brought me home for the summer, I remember dreading the long days, the simpler small town life, the humility I knew that I would inevitably have to experience. And, as I expected, life became much different for nine weeks. But, through the space, I got back in a groove that I had been missing in Nashville – having no other choice.

That groove was Songwriting. Often in Nashville, I’d been so caught up in how to make just enough to get through one more day, that I would have no room for writing songs. I wasn’t doing it right. The stress that came with this struggle brought about outside issues: I was distracted.

I knew that things weren’t right and that I was approaching a break in the tracks, and when that break came, it wouldn’t be pretty. Something had to give. And what gave was my foot.

Here, at the foot of the Allegheny mountains, I was forced to sit with myself (and my swollen foot) and face the situation. I had really no choice but to continue writing, so that’s just what I did. I even recorded some, too. I just sent off some work tapes to good friend and drummer Aaron Latos to have some drum tracks added.

Don’t get me wrong. There were days when I did Nothing, too. But those days were just as important and just as necessary. They say everything happens for a reason, and I believe this summer’s “accident” was no exception. Here’s to another return to Nashville, another great round of music-making and collaborating, and to some fantastic adventures ahead.

Don’t forget to catch me Sunday night at the Commodore, at Holiday Inn Select, 2613 West End Ave, Nashville, TN, 37203, playing a few NEW original songs with some other great songwriters! Here’s the schedule.


IMG Source:Gramophone record – Wikipedia

I’ll Be At The Commodore On August 17

My last blog post was June 22. That’s not like me, right? What happened? Did I go into a coma for six weeks?

Well, not quite. But I did have a pretty severe accident that caused me to be bedridden for six weeks. And I obviously did not use that time to write blogs. Why? The simple answer is, I didn’t feel like it. That’s right. I wasn’t compelled. So I simply stopped.

But now, I’m starting up again! I got to thinking about my upcoming performance at the Commodore on August 17, and how I want to tell everyone about it, and that got me thinking about the website, and the blog, so here I am.

First and foremost, I’d like to make sure to invite you to the Commodore Grille at the Holiday Inn Select, Vanderbilt. I’ll be appearing among several other Nashville artists, singing and playing original songs.

The way I understand it is there will be hour-long sets of groups of three or four writers who will take turns playing their songs, and I’ll be in one of those sets. Here’s the schedule.

This is my first time playing all original music in a Nashville writers round format, so I’m psyched! I hope you can make it out. I am sure I won’t be the only worthwhile artist performing that night!

I’ll be sending out periodic reminders between now and then. I’ll also be sprinkling in some new blogs and content.

Until next time!

Where I Belong

Wow, this is my first blog in, like, over a week. Inexcusable.

I’m sure if you’ve followed my goings-on via Facebook, you’ve learned of the recent unfortunate event that has left me temporarily not able to walk, and also back in the old West Virginia hometown house to recoup. And so it is.

I do not, however, anticipate my stay to be long, as I am all too familiar with Nashville’s magnet-like ability to pull me back after some strange circumstances force me away – again, only temporarily.

Actually, I see this time here, back in my stomping grounds, as time that I will use well to my advantage, to grow, write, and – well, mostly write. Oh, and record. As it turns out, my little brother, Thomas, happens to be something of a producer in his own write, and as long as I delegate to him, seems to be able to hold my hand through the process of home recording, one that I’ve up until now avoided like the plague.

But, as Nashville producer and engineer Chad Fowler (who actually got it from one his past attorneys) told me, “He who has the content, has the power.” So it’s a deed that has to be done. I’ve made it a goal: create 30-60 work tapes by Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 2014.

I hope you can all hold me accountable for this goal that I’ve set for myself. And if you can’t, don’t worry, I’m sure my wallet will. Feel free to shoot me a motivational and/or tough love message: “Get on yo shit!” or something of the sort.

I’m thinking of posting each work tape up on a new page on this website, to be offered for your listening pleasure or as an actual place where it can be. As always, comments, suggestions, critiques, outbursts, and other kinds of remarks are welcome, and encouraged.

In the meantime, here’s a song. Thanks to Robert LaSalle, my cowrite on this one. He made me sound good.

Until next time… Happy Sunday.


Image source:, [Accessed June 22, 2014]


Two New Songs [VBlog]

Thought I’d throw up a couple of videos of two songs. One, I wrote last week in a couple of days. The other, last year, some time in spring. They’re both about struggling with mistakes and actualizing the self. I’ve been writing a lot of sad songs for about as long as I can remember, and I think it just comes naturally to me – whether because the piano is such a melancholy instrument, or I just need to get it out of my system. At any rate, here they are, in a rough-and-ready format.

(I didn’t realize the video size was too small until I saw them on YouTube. I might re-upload them within the next couple of days, but I threw them up here tonight to meet my “two blog posts a week” quota!)

New Song 1 – Passion Play (Spring 2013)

New Song 2 – Down (Winter 2014)

As always, your feedback and constructive criticism and comments of any kind are exceedingly welcome. Thanks so much for watching and listening!


“Only Possible World”

As the spinning events of the last week begin to calm down, I finally have found a place to sit down and write this week’s blog post. And what a week it has been! One of throwing the last of my belongings into my compact sedan, braving the snows of Kentucky, and facing lengthy judicial processes after limited sleep. But as things come to a head, I find myself thinking about serendipity.

This is my second move to Nashville in less than a year, and I hope it to be my last. I suppose the whole idea of leaving something or somewhere, and then if it comes back it’s truly yours, isn’t so far from true. Not to
say that Nashville “came back”, but I came back to Nashville, and now I find myself in the same old house, almost as if nothing had happened.

I’m fascinated by the small things that fall into place when I’m really working hard for something. It seems that if I have a goal in mind – moving back to Nashville, for example – and I work really hard to do what is necessary to make that goal a reality, life has a way of opening certain doors.

For example, I knew I had to find a place. So I looked around on Craigslist for about two weeks, looked at some houses, but still found nothing that really suited me. Around the second time I drove into town with the last batch of belongings (right after Monday night’s Taste of 502 gig), an opening had just come up in the Cloverleaf house. Needless to say, I moved back in Tuesday.

In my experience, life offers what we put into it. The funny thing is, the offers are often not what we expect. We hustle, taking action every day, putting in our time, our requests, our applications, and usually we have something in mind, thinking, “If I keep working, then at some point this will happen.” And indeed, something  always happens if we work hard enough, just most of the time, it is the thing that we least imagined!

As creative people, we have to believe that what ends up happening is the best thing that could have happened. We need to take the unexpected in stride and say, “Well, that may not have been what I thought it would, or even what I want, but it must be what I need.” As C.S. Lewis wrote, maybe this is not the best of all possible worlds, but the only possible one.” I remember reading that sentence as a young teenager and still resonate with it today.

The other side of this idea is that we should retain this serendipitous attitude even when things don’t go well. If something goes badly, throws us for a loop, costs us a lot of money, sets us back… still believing that it was “for the best.” With this attitude, we can only learn from the bad stuff. We can also reframe it as good and in some cases use it to our advantage. This can be difficult, but I believe it to be necessary.

In my case, I will soon have a restricted Tennessee license, causing me to not legally be able to drive anywhere other than my job, or where I go to church. (Luckily, one of my “jobs” consists of gigging around town, a profession whose hours are… sporadic, to say the least!) I could say, “Man, this sucks… now I can’t go anywhere unless I ride my bike or take a taxi. And I’ll have to be bumming rides from my friends all the time.” OR, I could reframe my situation, see it as the only possible one and maybe even the best, and say, “This is great. So much more time to stay at home and work on my music!”

For me, a lot of insecurity comes from doubting myself. Doubting decisions, personal or artistic, or just doubting the present situation in my life. But when I look at my decisions or my situation in a different way, from a place of “This is me, this is where I’m at,” a lot of anxiety suddenly goes away. I remind myself that everything will turn out for the best – because there’s no other option, really.

When was the last time you found that an “only possible world” scenario helped to change your attitude?

Winter, Midland Falls

Preface This blog was begun Monday, February 3, when it should have been finished, but it needed some more work. As personal as it is, it was hard to write, and I wrestled with the decision of sharing it, and how to share it. In the future, I want to lean away from writing so much about me, me, me – but I feel it’s important to let readers know what is going on in my life. Here it is, what I’ve been up to for the past couple of weeks and months:

I spent the weekend of January 31 – February 2, and some of the following week, back in Nashville, TN. That’s when I started this post. It was harder to say which city was home – Louisville, KY or Nashville. I had been caught between the two for a few months – a foot in each city.

Back in December (2013), I made the move from Nashville to Louisville, KY, which had been my “home away from home” for three and a half years starting in September of 2009 when I began my studies there as jazz piano major. For three and a half years, I lived in Louisville, went to school, played in combos, started groups of my own, and ventured into the realm of Dueling Pianos.

Shortly after I graduated, I felt myself stagnating and longing for a change. So, I took what little was in my bank account, threw my belongings into a ’96 GMC Vandura, played a Dueling Pianos show in Cincinnati, and from there headed south to “Music City,” TN, which I would call my new home for the next six months.

I had already found a house in the East side where I would be living. I used my Cincinnati show for the first month’s rent and started my Nashville life. Everything was great: a new home, new friends, and new city, all to be discovered. Plus, it was the summer, and the weather was great. No better time to move to a new city to start a brand new life!

Fast forward six months: I’m packing my things and making the arrangements to move back to Louisville, KY! Why was I not serenading the cowboys of Broadway at Margaritaville, making regular appearances in writer’s rounds, and killing every open mic in town?

The answer is simple: “It’s my own damn fault.”

It all started when I was driving home from Tootsie’s on Halloween night, and – folks, I’m ashamed to say – I ran a red light.

Now, we all do these things from time to time. Our favorite song on the radio, a little too much adrenaline (or something else) coursing through the veins, and human tendencies kick in. But what was unique about this red light was… the police officer on the corner.

I won’t bore with details – but I will say that, through a sequence that was actually comical, I was transported downtown. What began as a fun Halloween night on Broadway ended as a miserable night in the “tank”!

After this jolting experience, I found myself facing a host of possible repercussions, none of which I was prepared for… among them, a charge for driving under the influence, and a charge for reckless driving (running the red light). Knowing that I was in no position to face the court on the date given, I had my attorney push the date back to January of 2014, the following year. (For those wondering, I am still awaiting the final plea – February 18 – but now am no longer facing a D.U.I. charge. A class, some court costs, and this run-up will be a thing of the past.)

At the time, I moved back to Kentucky because I thought I had found a loophole in the system. If I got my Louisville license before my scheduled court appearance, there wasn’t much Tennessee could do – other than inform Kentucky that I had had my license suspended in Tennessee. Still, it was unclear whether or not Tennessee ever communicated with Kentucky, so this uncertainty was also in my favor. Even if Kentucky somehow caught wind of my breach in another state, they would, according to my attorney, sentence me to a suspension period of a mere 90 days, paling in comparison to Tennessee’s one year.

Then there was the offer a friend had made. I would play keyboards and sing backups in his band, which was already playing actively around Louisville and the greater area. We would form a mastermind, write songs, save money, and eventually, move to Los Angeles, California, where we would continue to pursue our musical destinies on the sunny West Coast. The plan seemed foolproof. And so I called my landlord, informed him I wouldn’t be around come January 2014, and bade Nashville a good-hearted farewell.

In my mind, Nashville was already a time and place of the past, a brief foray that didn’t pan out. I already had my heart set on sunny beaches, tall palm trees, and sun-tanned girls. Onto the next place – which, aside from what I had heard through the grapevine and seen in movies, I knew nothing about!

The shift back to Louisville started out as I had anticipated – rocky. I was living in a basement, a sizable one, where we had rehearsals. But my bed was in a corner that seemed to be covered in some sort of mold or mildew – perhaps induced by leaky pipes? – accompanied by a moist, musky smell that was not entirely pleasant. Some nights I would adjust my pillow to find damp spots!

Before long (before the end of January), we moved to my friend’s cousin’s house out in the country – Mt. Washington, KY. The cousin had offered us cheap rent – even cheaper than the damp basement. I was optimistic about this new place. Though this would be the third time in two months I’d be changing my address, I was looking forward to being out in the country, away from the noise of the city and of modern-day life. I was in an “anti-world” phase.

The appeal of the country was soon toppled by the inconvenience of the location. Working third shift at Café 360 on Bardstown Road, a job I had started right upon moving back to Louisville, I found myself being home from work an hour later than before – if I got off at 8 in the morning I couldn’t get to bed till 9 or 10. One morning I had to drive home through heavy snow. Another morning I could not even make it further than a few blocks and had to sleep in my car in a Walgreen’s parking lot.

Knowing that this was an adventure that could not last, I started planning – subconsciously, at first – my return to Nashville. I had rationalized to myself and a couple of close friends that I did not want to move anywhere until I was absolutely sure it was where I belonged. I still thought of L.A., of New York… and, of course, Nashville, though my mind was still not made up.

The thing that pushed me over the edge was the feeling that I would just get too stir-crazy waiting for the perfect indication to move anywhere. I was in my quiet room, just getting settled in – the fan was buzzing, the blankets warm – when that restless something stirred inside me yet again and I knew I simply could not stay in Louisville. Nashville was pulling me back, whether I liked it or not.

The time for fantasizing about New York or L.A. was over. I knew that I had to make a choice – and I had to make it fast. I had just quit the Café with no backup plan. My calendar for the rest of the year was a bunch of blank squares. I had a choice: I could either hustle in Louisville, or I could hustle in Nashville.

I’m sure you can guess which choice I made.

The Truth About Pierson Keating

I am a Peak Experience junkie. This doesn’t necessarily mean I’m an alcoholic or a drug addict (though I can’t say I haven’t wondered), but it does mean I love exciting experiences that give me a sort of “high” and that I have often foregone the healthy ones in favor of the more immediate less healthy ones. I am sure that this condition exists in most of us. In myself it is prevalent.

In George Carlin Unmasked, Carlin talks about two lives: The A Life and the B Life [see the REFERENCE SECTION]. Here’s how I interpret it: The A Life is the one where we strive to be disciplined, to be looked up to, to “have our shit together” – and it is also, consequentially, the more “mainstream” path. The B Life is the one of rebellion – of living on the edge, sometimes without responsibility – of growing the hair long, so to speak. For Carlin, his challenge most of his life – until he really started to find his voice in his early 40’s – was balancing the two lives. This couldn’t be more true for myself.

For me, the struggle began when I discovered Jazz music. Ironically, Jazz sprung out of an environment of drug use and civil and racial disillusionment, but has somehow evolved into an extremely straight-laced art form, perhaps because of its demand for lifelong discipline. I remember as far back as age 14 or 15, refusing an offer to play with a professional country band because I considered myself more of a “jazz musician.” When I auditioned for colleges and conservatories, I tried hard to maintain that straight-laced demeanor, but was derailed by the B Life – in this case, the demands of other social pressures.

All through my college career, I experienced the massive conflict between my A Life and my B Life. In my A Life, I wanted to be a great student and an exceptional jazz and classical performer. I wanted to compose, perform, and record my original music in a pop or rock band before audiences even at the same time I was performing the duties of being a student. In my B Life, I wanted to have an active social circle – but unfortunately, I associated that with unhealthy forms of recreation, a psychological disadvantage that lasted through three schools.

By the time I transferred to the third school, it was becoming apparent that I was not at all clear on my academic direction. Although my major had remained jazz piano performance, I had still showed teetering consistency in the areas of dedication, practice regimen, and punctuality. I remember staying up late partying and sleeping through important classes the next day, or showing up tired. I also recall the disturbed reactions of my fellow students, and of many of my professors.

I can think of so many instances of my difficulty balancing the A and B Lives: my halfhearted attempt to join a fraternity at the same time I was preparing for my Eastman School of Music audition, my short-lived double major in jazz piano and composition, my late-night lifestyle, my inability to stay in one place, and my constant need to rationalize it all.

As this erratic juggling act continued, the pattern evolved into a larger problem of my actions not reflecting my words and my words not reflecting my actions. What started out as an A Life/B Life conflict became a larger problem of personal misrepresentation.

Recently, this incongruence has caused some deterioration in my personal and business relationships. My failure to really know myself, brought on by years of misdirection and confusion, has led to distrust among my friends and fans. I am aware of it, and I am not pretending it is not real.

After lengthy contemplation, what I know to be true is that these setbacks are a result of an unclear vision from the start. My love for variety, though beneficial in a professional sense, has been detrimental to my focus. Thinking I should be anywhere than where I was, I ended up not embracing any one style of music, venture, or path in my life.

In the past, I have blamed outside factors for my floundering indecision. Advertising, social media, and even people have been past targets. Some of you may even remember some public rants I displayed on Facebook. I am not proud of these.

My Kickstarter campaign for my first ever album, put up in April of last year, was unsuccessful, largely due to my failure to keep fans engaged. Long before the launch, I should have  been putting out lots of musical content – and had not been, thus not providing possible funders with any examples of what I was asking funding for. After the launch, I did not post consistent updates. During the two months when I should have been most active, I instead displayed ambivalence.

This being said, I am where I am. My past has brought me to a point in my life where I now have no excuses left. I am in a place where I am neither here nor there… but I do not think I am the only one who feels this way.

I just discovered a wonderful new book. It is all about this very phenomenon. It’s called The In-Between by Jeff Goins, and it follows his journey and the journey of others as they struggle to find meaning in the space between the Big Events, or, as I call them, Peak Experiences. I was relieved and overjoyed to find that I am not alone in this journey.

Goins writes:

“I’ve spent my whole life longing for the next season, hoping better things would come when I graduated or got married or gave my life to a career worthy of my talents. But now I’m not sure holding out for what’s to come is the smartest strategy. And I have a feeling that I’m not alone.” [Jeff GoinsThe In-Between: Embracing The Tension Between Now And The Next Big Thing. Moody Publishers, Chicago: 2013. 16.]

He goes on to say that the real meaning lies not so much in the experiences we wait for, look forward to, and work toward, but in the confusing and “taunting” space in between (hence the title). This space is, by nature, seemingly insignificant, so we distract ourselves with social media, nights on the town, and urgent meetings, filling up the space-time that forces us to reflect on our lives and cultivate the difficult virtue of patience. [Goins, 16-19]

This is basically what I was referring to at the beginning of this post when I talk about going for the cheaper experiences. For some of us, these experiences can include such things as alcohol or pot, which in my opinion are not in their nature bad, but can be abused and destructive to the quality of our lives, as well as cause trouble of other kinds that ripples out into multiple areas of our lives and forces us to slow down even more. I am currently going through a place in my life where this is the case, and I have been forced to go through it again and again – until I learn.

Finding myself in the wonderful town of Louisville again, I know that I made the decision to return here for a reason, even if I cannot consciously name what that is. I did love Nashville, and found a profound sense of connection there that I regret having left. Still, I have learned to trust myself, rather than question myself at every turn. I am here for a reason – perhaps many reasons.

Why should you listen to anything I have to say? Well, there is absolutely no reason to. I am not qualified to talk on any subject, not even the one which I claim to be my specialty. In fact, my past behavior of false promises, lukewarm intentions, and non-follow-throughs should only serve to deter you from reading a single word that I post publicly, or listen to a single note of music that I share on the Internet, or anywhere. I do not seek approval or forgiveness. I do not even expect attention from anyone. But still, I wish to impart a few final words to my readers, if there, indeed, are any at all.

I would ask you, if you are a friend, a fan, a subscriber, or simply a person who has stumbled onto this post and read this far, to be patient with me as I go through this “in-between” stage. I would also ask you to be patient with yourself, as I am sure you have gone, are going through, or will go through, a similar stage in your life. I would say, above all, to remind yourself that it is OK, that although you may be going through intense doubt and confusion, or pining over some decision that led you to the in-between, know that the in-between is actually where the magic happens. Where the growth happens. Where the Old You dies and the New You is born. And, in the great words of a man who was inarguably caught in the in-between many times during the course of his still extraordinary life, and whose song is playing in the coffee shop where I write these words at this very moment, “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright.”

Be you.



  1. Goins, Jeff. The In-Between: Embracing The Tension Between Now And The Next Big Thing. Moody Publishers, Chicago: 2013. 16.
  2. I failed to find a direct source for George Carlin Unmasked, though I know that it was part of a series by SiriusXM Radio. I am unaware of the date of this program. The entire program was uploaded to YouTube, however, but because I am not sure about the legality of this upload, I will allow the reader to search for it him or herself if he or she so chooses.