Greetings and salutations! The earth has revolved around the sun yet another time and here I find myself contemplating new beginnings and reminiscing over the previous year. I find myself doing the latter more often than not, especially as my beard gets grayer and grayer (of course, nothing makes me feel older than reading Buzzfeed’s list of things that are 25 years old…bleh!) I digress. 2014 was a pretty good year. I’ve had more ups than downs and played lots of music for lots of people.
Of particular note, I’ve recently played several shows at the Purple Fiddle in Thomas, WV. If you’ve not played this venue or seen music there, then you are doing yourself a disservice. Forget the fact that the scenery on the way there, and once you arrive, is the breathtaking; then venue and owner are as awesome as the view. The venue offers full sound and lights with a very attentive listening crowd, two things that I appreciate as a performer and listener. Of specific note, I recently opened for the Steel Wheels to a sold out crowd (200+) at the Fiddle. By no means can I take credit for the crowd as the Steel Wheels are to thank for that (top notch guys…click on the name to check them out), but for the first time in my career I had the distinct pleasure of having a sing along to one of my songs. It was surreal and my Grinch heart expanded to ten times its normal alcohol enlarged self. I feel as though I could retire from music after something like that, but I think I will keep pushing for new heights, which brings me to the purpose of this post.
While reminiscing and soul searching, I’ve decided that I need to do better at challenging myself, challenging those around me, and surrounding myself with those that challenge me; these thoughts have been plaguing me, in large part, thanks to a conversation with a dear friend who asked me “What will you be proud of when you’re sitting on your front porch talking to your grand kids?” The question was a real mind f@#$. I’m 36 and I still have a lot to accomplish and, God willing, a good bit of time to accomplish things, but it still gave me pause. So, in 2015 I’ve decided to challenge myself, challenge, by virtue of example, those around me, and surround myself with people that challenge me.
With the above in mind, I feel as though I’m off to a good start with the following list of musicians that I find inspiring and are challenging me to be better. In no specific order, they are as follows (this is not an exhaustive list so please don’t feel slighted if you didn’t make the list):
- Eric and Kate Avey (String Tight and Mountain Ride)-fantastic family band.
- Chelsea McBee-oldtime songstress and hired banjo gun (Christian Lopez Band)
- Thomas Roue (Pale Barn Ghosts and One Lonely Ghost)-folktastic songster
- The Negley Brothers-Everly Brotherly Harmony
- Ben Proudman, Domonic Giannonito, and Tucker Riggleman (Rhin)-I list these guys individually because Rhin creates spectacular hard driving rock and roll, but individually, these guys kick my creative ass with their sheer output!
Do yourself a favor and check all these folks out! As well, check out my calendar and come see me play, as I would love to see all your beautiful faces! Below are a list of shows in the near future that I’m excited about:
Thanks for reading! In the comments below, feel free to tell me who or what inspires you!