It’s All in the Family

Picture of the Barren River Trio in the Fall seasonA few days ago I had the fortunate opportunity to stumble across a group I had never heard of. I turned on the tv to get ready to watch a movie, and the first channel that popped up just happened to be a PBS station. I wasn’t really paying attention to the screen as I was focused on setting up the movie. That all changed in an instant when I suddenly heard some of the tightest, most perfect female harmonies that have ever graced my ears. I looked up and quickly became oddly mesmerized by what I was watching. Turns out, PBS was airing a special on a group called Read more »

Ask This Old Guitar

A picture of a 1950's Gibson RoyaltoneThere is something about playing an old guitar that just provides the musician with a different feel. Whether it’s the aesthetic appeal of a vintage instrument, or the crafted handiwork to which it was assembled, it seems that some old guitars simply influence my ability to play.

I have heard it said that certain guitars just have songs in them. Neil Young talks about his Martin D-28 that once belonged to Hank Williams in his song “This Old Guitar”. You wonder what an old instrument like that would say and the stories it would have if it could speak. Well there is a place that is full of guitars that are sure to have stories and character all their own. Read more »

The Evolution of a Song

Alex's GuitarWhat makes a good song? Is it the catchy lyrics? The clever rhymes at ends of sentences? Or maybe it’s the music – slow ballads that bring out emotion; fast rocker’s that make you want to dance along with the beat.

There are many things that can make a particular song appealing to an individual. Some songs are targeted for a specific audience – written with intentional purpose to please their specific ears. Typically, those are the songs that one person may absolutely love, while another may despise. I’ve certainly had those types of experiences. My family and friends often introduce me to new music that they are really into. Sometimes I’m able to enjoy it as much as they did; other times, I’ve walked away regretting I wasted 4 minutes of my life listening to garbage.

So the question becomes… what makes a great song? Read more »

Vinyl Is Better

Last time I mentioned finding an old 45 with a demo song written by my great Grandpa. I did some more looking through old lyrics and copyrights, and I found out that I was actually wrong about who wrote the song. My Grandpa wrote the song sometime in the late 60s, and it is called “Out of the Shadows”. Read more »

Music Personality Test

I have had many opportunities for people to tell me what kind of person I am. I’ve been categorized via animal characteristics such as of a beaver, a lion, an otter, and even a Golden Retriever. I have answered pages of questions just to find out if I’m introverted or extraverted. But this is no sociology or psych class, I suggest there is a far more fun and easy way to conduct a true personality test. Read more »

Out with Old, In with the New

I heard somewhere once that Ray LaMontagne was quoted as saying (paraphrase) “I never listen to my first album, ‘Trouble’.” His reasoning was simple – although he enjoyed writing and creating the music for that album, it wasn’t anywhere near the depth of the music he writes now.

When I first heard that, I didn’t understand how he could think that way. Wasn’t he proud of his album? Wasn’t he satisfied with the outcome of months and years of hard work? It seemed so puzzling. After all, “Trouble” is the album that really brought him to the forefront of the folk music scene. Read more »

Do what you love

Someone once said “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” I can’t recall the exact moment I heard that phrase, or even who it was that was kind enough to bestow those wise words to me. What I do know, however, is that it stuck with me.

As I went through my adolescent years, I spent a large portion of my time trying to figure out what it was that I LOVED to do. In high school, I was involved with a program that allowed me to pour countless hours into shadowing many Read more »

Cabin Fever

Wintertime for me means cabin fever. If we aren’t on the road somewhere, I prefer to be cooped up at home with a few instruments and my good friends Clint Eastwood and John Wayne. At home in Atlanta we don’t get too awful much snow. Winters are full of rain, ice, and slick roads that cause people to gravitate more towards being homebodies. Kentucky however, is very unpredictable. Last year there was about three times when I thought, “Yep, that’s the last snow for sure. Bring on the spring.” But go figure, the snow kept coming, the hermit in me kept getting more comfortable, and we kept writing music through the winter months.

My family has a 12-year tradition of Read more »