6 Things You Don’t Know About Me:
Growing up in Lake Toxaway, North Carolina, your father played the blues, your mother classical songs on the piano, and your sister singing. Your sibling chose the opera, you went with bluegrass/folk/mountain music and carpentry-starting your own construction business. If you were to write about life as a carpenter, how would the first verse go?
Kickstarter campaign. Taking your music seriously, the funds will go towards promotion (PR, radio campaign, digital & social media, and videos), merchandise and consultation. Building something from the ground up, can you share the importance of being involved in every step of the ‘construction’ process as an artist?
I got to enjoy full artistic expression while forming my own brand and crafting a sound that fit my personal style. No one could tell my story as accurately as me. The passion of every note and the pain of every dollar I suffered for has all brought me here. Starting a label on your own is hard but…. being dead broke and living in a 300 square foot helps me realize what matters most in life. I’m no different than every dream chaser that came before me. And this will only bring more heartfelt stories that can reach people that are having and living out their own hard times.
Writing for the past decade plus and now seeing your songs come together as The Ballad of Aesop Fin, based on a mythical character raised in the woods. What would you want listeners, unfamiliar with your hometown, to know about the mountains of Appalachia?
The rural areas of Appalachia have always been mystic and much is still unknown. Achieving a true friendship with these hills and communities goes beyond the tourist experience.
Our lives are rooted in the hunting of wild game and shade tree mechanics. We rely on linemen, carpenters, machine operators and many other tradesmen as well as our local businesses that feed off the tourism and keep the visitors and locals supplied. It’s the only security folks have here. Food insecurity in this area is real for lots of people and our lives are geared to serve the community and to keep on serving. Oh, and yes, real mountain folks still eat the fish we catch because we’re hungry and trout is delicious. I love that folks come and visit or come to stay because it provides economic hope. So for that I say thank you and keep on coming. And bring an open heart for this rural culture when you visit.
Working with your musical heroes like drummer Jeff Sipe and Woody Platt of Steep Canyon Rangers. How did their contributions to the album encourage you as you completed the project?
Woody has always been kind to me and supported my business in its earliest stage. He was so kind and supportive of my endeavors from the beginning. When I brought the track “Quiver” to him, I remember hearing his review of it and it gave me so much encouragement throughout the production process that really made me dig in and keep pushing for a bigger plan and a bigger release. Jeff always had a place in my heart as a teacher of mine at my earliest stage of music on the drums. He was kind, precise and very educational. Even in his live performance on “Quiver” he guided me and the other artists in such a graceful way. His leadership and incredible skill led our live sessions to greatness with patience and precision.
The Song. Deconstructed. The different parts of a song – intro, verse, pre-chorus, refrain, hook, chorus, interlude, bridge, breakdown chorus, solo, and outro – together become the building blocks to the song’s structure. Can you share the process, start to finish, for the first song you wrote for the album?
“Your Worth” was a song that I had focused on since 2011-12. It started with a banjo-like roll for the acoustic guitar. The time I spent on my buddies’ banjo helped me to create it. It was a chorus first situation. I usually always go for a verse or a chorus first. It feels natural. After words I construct what’s missing and create a pattern from that first impression. This way every song is different and the way I go about it is ever changing. It keeps the sound fresh despite the fact that I typically use a pattern. This song was eventually constructed into verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge and then chorus.
Family of four, wife Johanna and two children. What would be your dream family getaway?
My dream getaway is the same and always will be. Every two or so years my mother-in-law will send us to my wife’s home in Holland to spend time with our family. They are a strong family unit and they have built a bond that can never be broken. My wife’s family relies on the Lord for that strength and it always feels like going home to a warm and stable environment.
Can you share 12 songs that have influenced your life and career?
“Hurt” Johnny Cash version
Of course I have contemplated my existence and its meaning to this song….however the build and power in this track’s simplicity has taught me so much about production.
“Whipping Post” The Allman Brothers Band
This was a foot tapper for me since the age of four. I cannot express the groove that began in me after hearing the first note.
“I Got a Name” Jim Croce
The story in this song is word for word how it feels to live out a life as a carpenter who is struggling with every bit of his being to show the world that he is more than just a laborer or just a flash in the pan restaurant entertainer. This song has spoken to me for ages.
“These Days” Jackson Browne
A true story of the human condition. I have never felt a song that acknowledged human characteristics with such honesty or such beauty.
“Sister Golden Hair” America
I don’t know what it is but every time that slide comes in it makes me wanna move and that is exactly what I love about this song. I always have and always will.
“Sweet Amarillo” Old Crow Medicine Show
I fell in love with this song in 2014 and it changed the way I thought about acoustic music. The vibe is so compelling and it really brings you into the writer’s world. There is truth in every word.
“Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” Bob Dylan
Words can’t describe one of the most popular songs on earth. I must admit I have pulled the courage to end quite a few toxic relationships from this famous tune. I always hoped that my lyrics could have a positive effect on a person’s ability to find freedom and comfort in being alone.
“In These Arms” The Swell Season
Glen Hansard is probably one of my most powerful lyrical inspirations and an unsung hero that happens to be one of my biggest heroes. Glen, thank you for this song and many others.
“(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay” Otis Redding
A cultural masterpiece that happened to be the first song I learned on guitar. Every part of his style, his passion and his groove has shook me to my core since day one. I will always be a blues musician and I was from the start. I’ve just saved those tunes for a later album.
“Let’s Stay Together” Al Green
One of the hardest songs I ever learned on guitar and the intelligence of this piece, both musically and lyrically, has taught me so much respect for the art of guitar and songwriting. It remains to this day to be an inspiration in the car as well as the bedroom.
“All These Things That I’ve Done” The Killers
At 17, I got the chance to slay this tune for a couple hundred screaming kids and for one small moment I was SpongeBob rising in the glory of the rock gods while Patrick bore his fishnets. I will never forget how this song still makes me feel and forever brings that young rocker back to life every time I hear it.
“Milk” Kings of Leon
Aha Shake Heartbreak really got me through a lot. I was stocking shelves for a night shift at 18 and had grabbed an apartment as soon as I came of age. My struggle to find boundaries was so strong for me at this age and at home I had none. This song is a call back to the crude and raunchy feels that I often felt at this raw age. Eventually, I found my place and this song/album helped me skip to the beat of a painful drum. With joy and ignorance, I became brave and emancipated myself from youth.