Saturday, March 31, 2012

One Quarter Down...

Well, we've made it through a fourth of this 52 thing! Honestly, I cannot believe that I've made it this far. Like I said in my initial post, I am not a very disciplined person. Maybe I am getting better at it. I still have had some problems with procrastination. A few of these weeks, I pushed it to the very last minute. But hey, they all got done. I am pleased at the quality of the work thus far. I am getting more efficient every week. So far, I give myself a -B. I can pull it up, I promise. To celebrate the close of this first quarter of our journey together, I'd love it if you'd answer a couple of questions for me...

       1) Which week of 52 has been your favorite? 
       2) Why?

All you have to do is leave a comment below with your answers. If you don't know how to comment, click this...

If you do comment, you will have the chance to win a goodie bag filled with sounds and clothing and other fun stuff. You will even get to make a request for a future 52 piece. Your song wish will be granted! The winner will be randomly selected at 12:06 pm on Friday, April 6, 2012. Pretty exact time, huh? That is precisely the time that my first twin baby girl, Isaiah Jane was born one year prior. I'll then announce the winner at 12:07 pm on Friday, April 6, 2012. That is the exact time that my second twin baby girl, Honor Rose was born. Then we will all celebrate; For different reasons, I'm sure. It should be a fun day! So, what do you say? Comment away!



Friday, March 30, 2012


A long while back, Rachael and I were hanging out with a large group of friends. We decided to play Musical Catchphrase. Basically, you try to get your team to guess the title of a song with hints or humming. This can be ridiculously funny.

We went around the room until it came to our friend Nicole. She was on my team. She looked at her answer and started humming. We started to zero in on the song. It sounded pretty familiar. When we guessed "The Land Down Under" by Men at Work, she said no. The timer was running out and she hummed louder and faster. When the buzzer went off, she was so disappointed in our inability to score the point. We all asked what was the answer?! She said, "Africa" by Toto. We then had to inform her that she had mixed up the two songs. Lots of laughter ensued. It was priceless. She has never lived it down!

Just to further the joke a bit more, some friends of mine and I recorded our own version of "Africa." Let me know what you think about it.



Recorded August, 2010. Kevin McClain played drums. He tours the country with a band named American Aquarium. Ethan Ricks played bass. He tours the country with a band named Crowfield. They are both ridiculously talented and stellar dudes. Both of have given so much of their gifts and free time to my music. I am thankful for both of them. Don't tell them I said that, though. 
Written by David Paich and Jeff Porcaro.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Week 13...

I'm gonna keep this one short and sweet. This has been a busy week, so I thought I would scale down this song and just record it live. Well, live, all except for the whistles at the end. I'm not so good at whistling. I mic'd the guitar amp and my voice and pressed record. It ain't the prettiest thing you've ever heard, but it'll do.

Charleston circa 2005
My desire to do this Otis Redding song sprang from some serious spring fever. With that comes the gravitational pull of my soul towards the ocean. I love standing on the shoreline with the waves lapping at my feet. I look out into all of that green-blue water and realize how incredibly small I am. And at that point, everything is just right.

It was beautiful today. My wife and I worked outside in our garden. We ate lunch at our picnic table. We talked and laughed. It was great, but personally, I would have rather been sitting on the dock of the bay wastin' time, (with her by my side, of course.)



P.S. Please don't make fun of my whistling.

P.S.2.0 The reason this week is so busy is that I am playing at Charlotte One on Tuesday night and Ridge Church this Sunday morning.  You should come hang out with me, if you'd like.

     Recorded March 26, 2012. My two year old, Ames Emmanuel was eating lunch while I set up for this recording. The first couple of takes, he was awfully loud. He would bang his water bottle on the table or sing or say that he had to potty. Needless to say, after lunch, he went off to enjoy nap time. 
     "Dock of the Bay" written by Otis Redding and Steve Cropper.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Week 12...

So, I fell in love with this girl, right? She is funny and smart. She is beautiful and kind. She has her stuff together. Honestly, she is very much out of my league. She went to private school, you know. The world was her oyster but she decided she wanted this clam of a man. Namely, me. I don't deserve her, I'll admit it. Did I mention that she has a father? Oh, man.

Three months after Rachael and I started dating, she went on a mission trip with YWAM. She was gone for five months. I was miserable. But through that time apart, I realized how much she meant to me. I knew if we could date for three months then be apart for five and still be into it... It must be something special. We sent letters and emails. We would talk on the phone when we could. And guess who payed her phone bill. Have I mentioned her father yet?

Mr. Brown and Rachael circa 1986
Needless to say, Mr. Brown was not so enthused at the idea of his little princess falling for a man who had been married and divorced. A man with two kids and a decade more of life experience. The situation was definitely not the norm. But there was something about this girl that I couldn't get over. 

He called me one afternoon, (surely after receiving his phone bill.) He wanted to meet me for a chat. We arranged a time and place. I had a feeling that we might hit it off. Rachael had mentioned that he was a musician. I went into it like a job interview. A job that I wanted - no, needed, very badly. I made sure I had good posture and dressed well. We sat down at a table in the food court at Southpark Mall. He sat back in his chair, crossed his legs with his hands on his knees and listened to my story. Every now and then, he would come back to the table to write a note on his legal pad. I thought, "oh, he's just taking notes so he can remember things." I felt like it was going pretty well. Nearing the end of the conversation, he dropped the bomb on me. He told me that he no longer wanted me to see his daughter. It took the wind right out of my sails. I remember feeling embarrassed. I could feel the blood run to my cheeks.

Just at this moment, over Mr. Brown's left shoulder, I saw a familiar face. My bassist, Jason, from One Amazin' Kid was standing there, making a ridiculous face. He thought I was in a business meeting and was trying to mess with me. Jason is one of the most hilarious people I know, but I didn't seem to have any problem keeping a straight face and focusing on the situation at a hand. He then realized, by the look on my face, that he shouldn't be messing around. The atmosphere was heavy. It was funny to talk about later, but not in the moment. 

I surprisingly mustered up enough courage to rebut his statement. See, I knew something that he didn't. I knew that Rachael was in love with me. I knew the chemistry and connection that bound us together, even before we started dating. I knew that this woman would change my life; and I, hers. I knew. So, I said, "I mean you no disrespect at all, but that is a decision that Rachael will have to make."  

An engagement, a wedding, a boy, a house, twin girls and seven years have passed since then. I have learned and grown quite a bit. A good chunk of that is because of my father-in-law, Gary Brown. He is a great and generous man. He is a wonderful teacher. He recently sent me a text message in which he called me, "son." I don't know if he knows how much that meant to me. If he reads this, he will. Oh, the old days aren't completely forgotten. The family still likes to joke about Scary Gary and the alleged "bullet with my name on it." I wonder whatever happened to it?

I've been talking to my brother-in-law, Tyler, (singer/songwriter in his own right,) about doing a piece for 52. I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to surprise Mr. Brown with a song. We decided to do something from the Beatles, since they are one of Mr. Brown's favorite bands. Everything came together nicely. But we realized it needed a bassline. Even though we wanted to surprise Mr. Brown with the song, we thought it would be even better if he played on it. He came the next day, ready to record. It was perfect. I even managed to get his little princess to record some background vocals. So, here it is...



     Recorded, March 15-19, 2012. Lead guitar, claps and background vocals by Tyler Brown. Background vocals by Rachael Brown Kincaid. Bass guitar by Gary Brown. I played guitar, claps, tambourine and those sweet Hammond licks. I had a blast doing this one. Thank you guys for giving your time and talents. I hope the hot tea and spaghetti was payment enough. 
     Update - At this time, I have yet to hear anything from Sir Paul McCartney. If you talk to him any time soon, let me know what he thinks about the song. 
     "I'm Looking Through You" written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Week 11...

This post is a little bit of a carry over from last week. In the mid-nineties, I was introduced to a couple of bands and a sound that would spark my love for the guitar and songwriting. I have never been about who could be the most technical with their skill. For me, it was more about that wall of sound coming out of the speakers. My two biggest influences were the Smashing Pumpkins and Hum.

Hum - You'd Prefer an Astronaut
I would love to know how many hours I spent listening to and memorizing their records. How many gallons of gasoline I used while carting my friends around, just so we could listen to music. Seriously, we would spend entire evenings driving around in my '93 Ford Escort, (aka the Freshcort,) with the stereo at full volume. I was one of the older guys in my group of friends, so of course I had to pick on the younger ones. I can remember driving in the dead of winter, with the windows rolled down, as to freeze the younger lads in the back seats. All the while, I had the heat blazing on my feet and hands. They never seemed to mind... Because the music was on.

If we weren't driving around, we hung out in our church parking lot, or the CPL for short. We would talk, throw football or frisbee, do really stupid stuff like set off fireworks or explode two liter bottles of soda. There was always someone on our hit list. To pull off our pranks, we would regularly use things like eggs, water balloons, a three man sling shot, a life-size dummy or a full case of dish soap. These were weapons in our arsenal of mayhem. But, we were good kids. We were getting into that kind of trouble so that we wouldn't get into the wrong kind of trouble. That was the deal, every weekend night, for hours on end. We were forging the bonds of friendship. Figuring out who we could trust in this lonely world. And all of it was done... With the music on. It is a time, encapsulated; beautiful in my youth; vibrant in my memory.

This week's song is "I Hate It Too," from Hum's 1995 release, You'd Prefer an Astronaut. It has always been one of my favorites from that record. I love diverse dynamics within a song, if you couldn't tell from my own music. "I Hate It Too," is a perfect example of that. This is the first time I've had the privilege and opportunity to collaborate with other people on 52. My old pal, Adam Morgan took a day out of his busy schedule to lay down the drum tracks. Together, Adam and I started One Amazin' Kid and Hopesfall. We had a lot to catch up on. My dear friend, Daniel Owen played the bass. He was my band mate in Laurelei and during the middle stages of One Amazin' Kid. I've been honored and blessed to have these guys in my life. They is good people. 



     Recorded March 11-13, 2012. Drums tracked February 27. Drums by Adam Morgan. Bass guitar by Daniel Owen. After Adam and I finished recording the drums, we went to eat the lunch special at Carmella's. That is always worth mentioning. 
     "I Hate It Too," written by Matt Talbott, Tim Lash, Brian St Pere and Jeff Dimpsey.

Friday, March 9, 2012

My Lion, My Prince...

My first-born is twelve years old today. Where has the time gone? I recall the day this picture was taken. It was a warm, sunny day. I was sitting on my patio while he played in the back yard. He had taken off his shoes and put on mine. He was sitting on a bucket, using a plastic shovel to dig in the dirt. The smudges on his face and those sweaty curls just begged for a snapshot.

Nowadays, he'd rather be playing with his iPhone or his skateboard. He is getting pretty good at running receiving routes. He's handsome and tender-hearted. He loves his little brothers and sisters, so well. He will be an amazing father. I take pride in that. I'm really hard on him, I know. But he is growing into a fine specimen. He is becoming his own person. I just cannot believe how far he has come; how big he is getting.

One night, when he was six, he was having trouble sleeping. I came into his room and talked to him. I told him that if he was scared, he could pray about it. I said he could ask Jesus to take away the things that he was afraid of. The next night, I stood at his door, to make sure he was sleeping. I could hear his little voice saying, "Please, Jesus. Please, Jesus." It continued and got more and more panicked. I entered the room and calmed him. I held and prayed over him. I'll never forget it.

The episode inspired my song, "Sacred Heart." It is a lullaby for my Lucas Grey. You can download the acoustic version for free! My favorite part of the song is the bridge. The lyrics are, "It's time to close your eyes and lay your head down. Precious child, we'll get through this. The terrible world sways at your movement. You can walk through it alone and unafraid. My lion, my prince... There's no comparison. So, don't you shed a tear, my son. There's a sacred heart that beats for you alone." Man, it made me tear up just typing it. 

If you didn't know it already, I love my boy. I am proud of the man he is becoming. Happy birthday, Lucas.



Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Week 10...

When I look back at my musical history, there is a certain point where I start to cringe. It's the place where I begin to say, "what was I thinking!?" I don't like to actually listen back to my early recordings. They are far too painful. I usually can't make it through an entire song.

Circa September 1997

I do, on the other hand, fondly remember those days. I remember buying my first guitar. All of the guys I had been playing with and learning from, played Fender Strats. And, of course, that's what I wanted and set out to purchase. I drove over to the old McFayden Music store on Independence Blvd. My salesman was a guy named Van Sachs. Little did I know, he is a well known guitar player here in Charlotte. He was very accommodating. He asked what I was interested in and I confusedly said, "a Telecaster, sir." Stratocaster... Telecaster... They sound the same, right? Well, they are not the same at all, nor do they sound the same. 

He would pick up a guitar and play it. Then he would hand it to me. I remember feeling so embarrassed to play in front of him. I had just started playing and only knew a few chords (not by name, but by finger position.) Alas, I fell head over heels for one. It was a slightly used, cream yellow, American Telecaster with a rosewood fretboard. I told Van I would have to think about the purchase and get back to him soon. Soon turned out to be the next day. I had to have her. She needed me and I needed her. I talked him down a little on the price and walked out the door with such excitement. 

I was stoked to show my friends my new obsession. When I did, I realized that I had bought a Telecaster, not a Stratocaster. What a huge mix up. I am pretty sure I felt stupid for about half of a second. Then, I started making music. Good times.

This week's song is from that era. I wrote "A Remembrance" in a time where everything was golden. I didn't know pain. I'd never met loneliness. I had only dreamt of love. It touches on the enduring question of, "can we go home again?" Looking back, it almost seems prophetic. With the trials I have endured in my life, I can reminisce and laugh at my former self. But maybe my former self knew what awaited me in the future. 



     Recorded March 5-6. I hadn't played this song in a decade or so. My ring finger on my picking hand cramped up on me something fierce. 

This house seems small. The trees are shorter than I recall. I've still got the sap on my hands from back in the day. I will return to you. I will return to you. Chase like the wind. Without a fear inside my head, but that of death. And I am still a little scared, I admit. I will return to you. I will return. I'm so thankful for all that I've endured. And to my flesh and blood for all that I've become. If I could go back again, would I change all that's been? If I could go home tonight, would I make it all right? No, I would stay. I'd keep it all the same. I would stay.