Memphis

Downtown Memphis mural

Downtown Memphis mural

These last couple of weeks have been so jam packed it's hard to even know where to start. I had a great time playing Nebulosity Fest in Atwood, TN though it was super hot. How hot you ask, my weather app said it felt like 120, definitely the hottest temp I've played in so far.

Josh Gray at Nebulosity Fest

Josh Gray at Nebulosity Fest

I can't remember if I announced it last time but I have a band now, we're called Josh Gray and The Dark Features. We'll be headlining our first show on September 1st at The Crying Wolf in East Nashville. I've been working on new songs and the plan is to have some full band videos up soon so stay tuned. I'm in the process of setting up short tours in Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. This month I'll be playing at the Howl at the Moon Indie Festival in Nashville on 8/20. Also May of next year I'll be back up playing in MD/VA!

Howl at The Moon Indie Music Festival Nashville Poster

Howl at The Moon Indie Music Festival Nashville Poster

After playing the festival I got in the car and drove the two hours to Memphis. I'd never been to Memphis before, I did know it's known for Blues and Barbeque. My first experience of Memphis was stressful trying to find parking downtown for dinner. I forgot how much I don't miss driving in Philly and Manhattan. I love those cities but there's something claustrophobic about being surrounded by skyscrapers and people who can't drive. At the same time I'm no stranger to people who can't drive since I live in Nashville.

Now keep in mind I was only in Memphis for a weekend and there's no way to see everything worth seeing in that time. I did plan out some places I wanted to see and one of those wasn't music related at all. I'll start with my favorite museum of the trip, the National Civil Rights Museum. Having lived near DC and travelled a bit of the US I've been to a ton of museums. This is one of the best museums I've ever been to. Make sure you give yourself around 2 1/2 - 3 hours when you go. It's very detailed, sobering and necessary I think for all Americans to experience.

The Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered, this also serves as the front of the museum

The Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered, this also serves as the front of the museum

The Middle Passage

The Middle Passage

Slaves chained in a ship

Slaves chained in a ship

Bus burned when freedom riders were attacked in Anniston, AL

Bus burned when freedom riders were attacked in Anniston, AL

Racial Terrorism Map

Racial Terrorism Map

Early protest photo

Early protest photo

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks

Footage of a sit-in in Birmingham

Footage of a sit-in in Birmingham

Sit-ins in Nashville

Sit-ins in Nashville

Sanitation workers strike in Memphis

Sanitation workers strike in Memphis

Martin Luther King Jr.'s room at the Lorraine Motel

Martin Luther King Jr.'s room at the Lorraine Motel

Assassination site of Martin Luther King Jr. 

Assassination site of Martin Luther King Jr. 

We can never fully understand someone's struggle without experiencing it ourselves but we can make an effort to understand and empathize. Museums like this are necessary to make sure we learn from and never repeat this horrible past. This museum is a testament to the courage of those who spoke out, protested and marched. We must be grateful to them and also vigilant, the fight for equality is far from over.

 

When I got out of the National Civil Rights museum I was hungry and didn't have plans for lunch. Luckily I stumbled on a place right around the corner that turned out to be really great. I'd heard about 99¢ Soul Food Express online but didn't realize it was right near the museum. I had fried catfish, fried green tomatoes and peach cobbler. Everything was delicious and the people were really nice, can't recommend this place enough! Despite going to some of the top rated fancy restaurants in Memphis my mind kept drifting back to this place.

99¢ Soul Food Express

99¢ Soul Food Express

 

After lunch I went across the street to the Blues Hall of Fame. It's a small museum that you can get through in an hour. They have a lot of cool little exhibits from the early days of blues to more modern music. I especially enjoyed the first section which featured Robert Johnson and Mississippi John Hurt. If you have any questions the people who work there are knowledgeable. They were happy to recommend places in the city to see live music.

Early Blues Exhibit at the Blues Hall of Fame

Early Blues Exhibit at the Blues Hall of Fame

 


On the banks of the Mississippi  

On the banks of the Mississippi  

That same evening I drove over to Beale street to check it out.  It was packed as can be expected on a Saturday night. There were lines to get into the street because police were checking ID's and wanding everyone. It looks a little like Broadway in Nashville but feels grittier and because of that I think more real and less touristy. I enjoyed it, there was great blues music coming out of the clubs that lined the street and not a cowboy boot in site!

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The next day I went to check out the Stax Museum of American Soul. Let me start off by saying my pictures don't do this museum justice. There's easily 2 1/2 hours worth of great exhibits here and I definitely recommend it. I didn't get a picture of it but there's a map that shows many of their most famous artists and where they lived in relation to the studio. So much talent came out of this area!  

Stax Museum of American Soul Music

Stax Museum of American Soul Music

Old church within the museum. Most of the top soul artists started by singing gospel music in church

Old church within the museum. Most of the top soul artists started by singing gospel music in church

Stax Records Studio A

Stax Records Studio A

Albert King exhibit

Albert King exhibit

Isaac Hayes' gold Cadillac

Isaac Hayes' gold Cadillac

Historic Audiotronics console. Some of the artists mixed on this board include Isaac Hayes, Led Zeppelin, James Taylor, John Prine, the Staple Singers and The Cramps.

Historic Audiotronics console. Some of the artists mixed on this board include Isaac Hayes, Led Zeppelin, James Taylor, John Prine, the Staple Singers and The Cramps.

 

 

After Stax I went to check out the Legendary Sun Studio. For those who don't know the studio is called the birthplace of Rock and Roll. This is due to the song "Rocket 88" by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats, recorded here by owner and record producer Sam Phillips. The story goes that the guitarist's amp fell off a truck on the way to Memphis and they stuffed newspaper into it to continue using it. This resulted in what some call the first guitar distortion sound. Elvis Presley, B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis and many others would go on to record here. 

Sun Studio

Sun Studio

Early recording device

Early recording device

Sun Studio, the small black x next to the mic in the center is where Elvis originally stood when first recording here. 

Sun Studio, the small black x next to the mic in the center is where Elvis originally stood when first recording here. 

 

So what can I say, Memphis is a really cool city. I didn't get to see Graceland, maybe next time. I'd definitely recommend coming here for the history, it's far too much to see in one weekend. Comment below and let me know what you thought about this blog. As always I appreciate you reading this far, make sure to sign up to receive blog and music updates.

Do you have tips on venues I should play or want to host me for a house show? Send me an email at JoshGray@JoshGrayMusic.com, I'd love to hear from you!

I hope to see you on the road at one of the many shows I'm playing, take care friends.

  

 

 

Summer Updates

Hey friends it's been a little while, I wanted to update you on the music side of things. I've been hard at work writing songs for my upcoming full length album. Without giving too much away a cool theme has emerged that I'm excited about. I have a couple new songs that haven't been put online yet and I hope to change that soon. I'm looking into Kickstarter as a possible way to try and fund my next album. It's going to cost more this time around for a couple reasons. It's going to be full length so it'll be more songs. Also many of the songs will be full band and just a bigger sound in general. One of the other ways I'm trying to fund things is through the sale of merchandise. If you didn't catch it in my last email I launched a new store with CDs and shirts so definitely check that out!

 

I've started auditioning musicians for a backing band I'll be playing with. My main focus aside from writing songs is expanding the radius I play in and venturing outside of Nashville. On the 21st of this month I'll be playing Nebulosity Festival in Atwood, TN. Then on the 29th I'll be down in Tullahoma, TN with a couple friends for a show at The Celtic Cup. I plan on playing shows in other states as well soon, check my full list of upcoming shows here!

 

Josh Gray at Nebulosity Festival in Atwood, TN

Josh Gray at Nebulosity Festival in Atwood, TN

At the end of June I played a great house concert here in Nashville with my Baltimore friends ilyAIMY. I seriously love everything about house concerts. I could go on and on as to why but I think I'll dedicate a separate blog post to it soon. We had a great time and got an awesome review on Nashville Offbeat which you can read here! I'm planning on putting together small tours and would love to play more house concerts. If you think you may be interested in hosting me at a house concert sometime you can email me at joshgray@joshgraymusic.com and I'd be happy to explain what goes into hosting one.

Josh Gray performing at house concert in Nashville

Josh Gray performing at house concert in Nashville

I recently visited the newly opened Patsy Cline museum downtown. Hers is a tragic story but also one of inspiration. She came from poverty and fought her way to the top. She was born in Virginia and for a period of four years lived in Frederick, MD where I used to live before moving to Nashville. 

Patsy Cline's mother Hilda was a seamstress. She made all of Patsy's performance outfits throughout her career. 

Patsy Cline's mother Hilda was a seamstress. She made all of Patsy's performance outfits throughout her career. 

Patsy Cline with second husband Charles Allen Dick

Patsy Cline with second husband Charles Allen Dick

Fancy outfits

Fancy outfits

Her life was cut short but her voice lives on as beautiful and strong as ever. 

Her life was cut short but her voice lives on as beautiful and strong as ever. 

Next I went and checked out the Willie Nelson and Friends museum. To me Willie Nelson is one of the few true outlaw country musicians. What I mean by this is having a bad attitude and a criminal record and calling yourself a rebel is easy. Willie's history of activism however is far more rebellious and admirable. 

  

Willie Nelson's Opry debut

Willie Nelson's Opry debut

Little known Tootsie's history

Little known Tootsie's history

Cool little Lefty Frizzell display

Cool little Lefty Frizzell display

 

When you get in the car and start driving you never know what to expect and that's part of the fun. Occasionally you get more than you anticipated and that's exactly what happened when I visited Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park. The park sits in Tennessee's Coffee County about an hour Southeast of Nashville. The museum is small but has an interesting little documentary about the area and is worth watching.

The Old Stone Fort as it's called is a prehistoric Native American structure constructed sometime between 80 and 550 AD. It's the most complex hilltop enclosure found in the South and is believed to have been used for ceremonial purposes. The walls consist of stone and earthwork and average 4-6 feet high. They appear as mounds now as soil has covered them over the years. There's a great trail that takes you around the perimeter of the fort where you'll see some beautiful waterfalls. I'd definitely suggest visiting, especially if you go to Bonnaroo which is right near there.

Start of the trail around Old Stone Fort

Start of the trail around Old Stone Fort

Remnants of the Old Stone Fort Paper Mill

Remnants of the Old Stone Fort Paper Mill

Please like and comment if you enjoyed this post. It's encouraging to know that people are actually reading this. I'm going to have a lot for you in the next post as well as I travel to Memphis. Until next time, take care and keep moving forward! 

Chattanooga Travelogue

I spent my entire first year in Nashville meeting new friends and playing music. This year I'm starting to venture out of the city. I want to see all of the cool things Tennessee and the surrounding states have to offer. I thought I'd share these places with you as I visit them. Have a must see place I should visit? Let me know in the comments and I'll check it out!

This last week I drove an hour Southwest of Nashville to check out Jackson Falls. It's a unique waterfall that flows down and feeds into the Duck River. Fun fact, the Duck River is the most biologically diverse river in North America. It has over 50 species of freshwater mussels and 151 species of fish!

Walking down the 900 foot path you're greeted by a beautiful cascade that empties into a small clear pool at the bottom. So what makes it unique you ask? If you're careful and climb up above the cascade you will see. The water slides down a slope before washing across the flat rock and over the lip. You can walk up and stand in the water as it rushes down. The day I went we hadn't had much rain recently so the flow of water was weak. But you can imagine how great it would look after rainfall.

Josh Gray waterfall

Josh Gray waterfall

 

On Friday I drove down to Chattanooga. It was a beautiful day and a nice scenic drive. I went to check out the Tennessee Aquarium I'd heard so much about. The aquarium has a lot of the standard sea creatures you've come to expect. However there are some stand out things. For one, I haven't seen such a diverse jellyfish collection anywhere else.

 

They also have a great collection of beautiful butterflies. There's even a window into a small room where you can see their cocoons and watch them hatch. They were flying all over the place and would even land on your finger.

 

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The staff are genuinely interested in the exhibits and will answer any questions. There are interactive sections that staff are stationed at to talk to guests. Overall great aquarium and I would definitely recommend it if you're in the area.

 

The next day I visited Rock City in Lookout Mountain, GA. It's a natural rock garden with the nice Lookout Mountain overlook. The waterfall is man-made but it looks cool. There's a plaque at the lookout that says you can see seven states from it. This is based on journal entries from both union and confederate soldiers but has never been proven. Either way it's a cool roadside attraction.

 

 

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Last but certainly not least I drove to Ruby Falls. This cave system first opened to the public in 1930. Leo Lambert who first excavated the cave in 1928 named it after his wife Ruby. The guided tours have you take an elevator down a few hundred feet. Walking through narrow passages of cave formations you slowly descend over 1,120 feet. What do you find at the end of the tour at 1,120 feet? A massive underground waterfall of course!!

 

The trip was a lot of fun! I definitely plan on doing more. If you enjoy blog posts like this let me know in the comments and I'll be sure to write more.

Oh and I almost forgot, I have some very cool things on the music front. Make sure you join my email list here if you haven't already. You'll get a free song download and other exclusives. I have new songs I'll be sharing online soon. I'm still compiling songs for my full length album. I plan on releasing it by the end of this year.

I wanted to share this cool poster with you for a show I have next week. The poster was created by my friend Meaghan Cahill.  

Josh Gray Poster

Josh Gray Poster

I also just printed t-shirts for the first time. You can check them out by clicking here. The blue shirts are limited edition and there aren't many so pick yours up today!

Josh Gray Shirts

Josh Gray Shirts

As always thank you so much for your support. I couldn't do this without your help!

 

 

Nashville Updates

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As I sit here in Eighth & Roast sipping an iced coffee a beautiful day is unfolding. It's seventy degrees here in Nashville with a light breeze. Fall is quickly becoming my favorite time of year here. I took the above picture this morning atop Love Circle Hill. As I was driving up the incline Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land" started playing over Spotify. While I am enjoying this weather I can't help but think of those weathering the storm. My heart goes out to everyone in those areas being hit, stay safe!

I've been playing a number of writer's rounds and shows around town. If you've never heard of a writer's round I'll explain, as it seems to be a uniquely Nashville thing. There are so many musicians in this city that when you play an open mic you're typically limited to one song. The writer's round is something in between an open mic and a show. You get three or four original songs and you share the stage with two or three other songwriters. Since all performers are on stage at the same time the audience gets to hear everyone. The first songwriter plays a song and then the next and on down the line until it loops back. It's a great way for songwriters to network and try out songs when they may not want to play a full show.

I played my first full show in Nashville on September 30th at Cafe Coco with John Franco and my friend Cooper Baker. The show went really well and was hosted by our friend Cody Bottoms. Cody not only runs some of the best sound in the city but also hosts the open mic on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Cafe Coco. I'm not exaggerating when I say this open mic is easily the best in Nashville. I've said it before and I'll say it again, if you've never been you need to come here! Sign up starts at 7pm but you'll want to make sure you get there by 6:30pm to make sure you get a spot. There are no hoops to jump through, no phone calls to secret numbers, no sitting through four hours of openers, no host writing his friends into the early slots, just a pen and a piece of paper.

I've been working on writing new songs and I have a few that I'm really excited about. One of them is a duet and it's coming along really well. Another is a song about songwriting and the struggle that comes with it, I covered that a little in my post on success. I've been focused on writing but I'm also working on developing a really interesting and engaging live show. Which is why I'm in the process of putting a band together.  I've been meeting with great local musicians and I hope to be playing shows with them as soon as November. My sound is evolving, I'm challenging myself and using my voice more. It will still be Folk/Americana music but definitely a bigger sound. 

I have another really cool development but it's a bit too early to announce. Sign up to my email list and you'll be the first to hear about it! Also for a limited time when you sign up I'm offering a free song download from my debut EP so check it out!

I also wanted to share with you this Spotify playlist I put together. If you're a fan of old folk, country and blues music I think you'll enjoy it. It will also give you an insight into a lot of the music that influences me. Make sure to follow the playlist on Spotify as I'm adding new songs to it all the time!

I really want to thank everyone who has supported me and liked my music page on Facebook. We recently hit 400 likes which is insane to me! I really hope to see you at one of the shows listed above so I can thank you in person. Come say hi and grab a CD or free sticker! Thanks as always for reading, we'll talk again soon!

The Process Part 2: Don't Hold Yourself Back

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How have you been, and how's the writing coming? Me, I've been juggling live music three to four times a week, working on songs and writing this blog. It's been pretty crazy but I'm committed to it. I hope you enjoy it and get something out of it.  I enjoy reading your comments so keep them coming! Make sure you subscribe to my email list below to get notifications when I post new blog entries. Check out my Facebook page as well, it's where I debut new songs and announce shows! Now without further ado let's get into part two of The Process!

In this series I'll be explaining skills you can put into practice to improve your songwriting. They've helped me in my writing and they can do the same for you. Whether you're just starting out or have been writing for years I'm confident there's something here for you. 

In this second part of The Process, we discuss listening to yourself as well as ignoring yourself when necessary.  If you're just joining us, make sure you go back and read part one for additional tips! As we progress we'll be digging deeper into the writing and performance process, stay tuned!

5) Take Notes: So you're in the car driving down the highway and suddenly a great new lyric pops into your head, what do you do? One thing I do is call my own number and leave a voicemail singing or speaking the lyrics. Here's the thing you need to remember, your memory is both better and worse than you think. When I'm playing a six-minute song sometimes I'll amaze myself like how the hell did I remember all of those lyrics? So yeah you might surprise yourself that way but on the other hand we all forget important things from one second to the next. If you've every said "well if it was important I would have remembered it," I'm imploring you to take a different approach! Back in the day everyone had to have a pen and pad on them but in these days of smart phones and tablets you have no excuse! Either record yourself speaking, singing or text or email it to yourself. There have been studies that say writing something down improves memorization. So if you recorded it I'd recommend writing it down as well when you get home! Take notes and record because ideas will not stick around and no you won't remember them in the morning!

6) Silence your internal editor: We are all our own worst critics, this is both a good and bad thing. Sometimes criticism is justified and will make you a better writer. It's when criticism hinders productivity that it becomes a problem. We all have an internal editor that tells us what we are thinking is stupid and not worth writing down. That internal editor is almost always wrong, ignore your editor and get it on the page! Often we don't fully appreciate what we have until we've had the time to appreciate it.

Try this stream of consciousness exercise and let me know how it works for you! This is a good exercise for when you can't think of anything to write. Give yourself a ten-minute limit and start writing. Write anything and everything that comes to mind. The key is don't pause, keep your hand writing as fast as you can. If your mind goes blank keep writing the last word you wrote until a new thought pops up. Practice this on a regular basis and you should see a noticeable increase in the amount of writing you get on the page. Much of this writing won't be useable but we all have to write a ton of crap before something worth using appears.

7) Chisel away excess: So you've written a song or at least have a big bulky outline of a song on the page. You aren't happy with it, good you shouldn't be! We don't just write songs, we write them and edit, polish, agonize over, play over and over etc. Many songs that are regarded as bad have generally good ideas, they just haven't been properly polished. One of the first things I do when I go through a rough song I've written is I make sure I'm not saying the same thing multiple times. It's surprising how many times I'll find a line restating something I've already said or have insinuated in an earlier line. Each line is an opportunity to elaborate and pull the listener in deeper, don't waste any space!

The next thing I do is play the song over and over while cutting or editing anything that ruins the flow. I also look to see if I can be more specific if I feel the story warrants that. There are times when saying "the woman" is preferable to saying "Sarah." There are times when saying "crimson" works better than saying red. There's a fine line between using descriptive language effectively and attempting to sound intelligent, tread carefully!

8) Learn from others instead of drawing comparisons - Have you ever listened to your favorite artist and said I'll never be that good? When you listen to an artist in their prime you're listening to someone who has perfected their craft and delivery over many years. And believe me they themselves do not think they are perfect. More than likely they wish they were as good as some other artist. There was a great interview with Bob Dylan a few years ago and they were asking him about his early songwriting. I'm paraphrasing but he said I can do some things I couldn't do back then but I can't do that anymore. It's good to remember that everything we write is a product of where we are at that moment. Focus on writing good songs and the rest will follow. Great artists are consistent in the quality of what they produce.

Another thing I want to touch on is as an artist you will cover topics that have been covered before. Don't waste time entertaining the part of your brain that says it's been said before so there's no point in writing it. There is a point in writing it as long as you write it from your own unique point of view!  Say you're writing a love song, write it as if you were writing the first love song!  

Thanks so much for reading this, I hope you've found it useful! Share this with anyone you think it could benefit! Please Like and Comment because it helps build our community! Who is your favorite songwriter and what qualities make them unique? Until next time my friends, keep writing great songs!

Songwriting Confidence Builder #368: Next time you're in the grocery store or pharmacy stop what you're doing and listen. Listen to the lyrics of the music playing over the speakers!  

The Process part 1: Becoming a Better Songwriter

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When I finished writing my song The Outlaw I had been writing off and on for about ten years. I never had any real aspiration to become a musician but in that moment I saw a path. For the first time I was happy with a song and felt my lyrics and playing were on the same level. All musicians will tell you there's a moment of surprise where you're suddenly able to do something you never were before. It's kind of the "wax on, wax off" concept of The Karate Kid. One minute you're sitting on the couch and the next minute you're playing Doc Watson style bluegrass licks. (Okay maybe not quite like that ha)

In this series I'll be explaining some of these skills so you can consciously practice them. They've helped me in my writing and they can do the same for you. Whether you're just starting out or have been writing for years I'm confident there's something here for you.

In this first part of the series I've come to call The Process, I'll be discussing tips to consider before even putting pen to paper. Stay tuned friends, as we progress we'll be digging deeper into the writing and performance process!

1) Read: What is the first step to improving your skills as a writer? Reading great writing of course! It seems like common sense yet so few of us do it. Many of us have drifted away from reading because we associate it with school and work. It should be fun, there's nothing like getting lost in a great book. If you're on page fifty and it feels like work don't feel obligated to suffer through it. Don't feel like you're missing something when you're not enthralled by books everyone else seems to love. Some classics are true works of art and some are just bestsellers from sixty years ago. Read challenging things with words you don't know. Stop halfway through a paragraph, look up the word and reread the sentence so it makes sense. There's no age at which you stop improving so keep working at it! The better command you have of your chosen language the better you'll be able to express yourself in it.

2) Listen: Who are your favorite songwriters? What makes them great? Consciously or subconsciously we start out emulating our favorite artists. Everyone wants to start with their own sound and writing style but that comes later. Now here's the key, make sure you are listening to the best example of the style of writing you want to create. If you learn everything emulating someone who can't write then you can guess how good you'll be. Have you ever listened to a song and said they should have used this word instead? If you have then you're thinking like a songwriter, you should analyze every song you hear. Was it just a bad word choice, or a compromise made for sake of the flow of the song? In future posts I'll go more in depth into listening and delivery.

3) Sit: We all convince ourselves that we're so busy yet often fill our days with things that don't satisfy or benefit us. We have goals yet don't put the time in to see them to fruition. Dreams don't come true by virtue of them being dreams but little steps do add up to big things. You need to relax and be in the right mindset to write a song, you can't force these things. It may not happen in the first ten or even thirty minutes but I know you'll persevere. We have to tell our brain okay it's time to get into songwriting mode. You'll start to notice trends of what helps get you into that mode. You might say hey somehow writing was easier the other day and I wrote three great verses. Ask yourself what did you do differently the other day? Maybe you had a cup of coffee or maybe it took picking up your guitar for lyrics to come to you. I have no doubt you'll get it down and figure out the perfect formula needed for you to write songs.

4) Take your time: We've all heard interviews where a songwriter says I don't know it just came to me in fifteen minutes. The story of the ten year song isn't nearly as romantic but there's something admirable in the discipline. Every ten minutes a songwriter somewhere ruins a song that is 80% great by adding 20% filler because they didn't feel like putting the time in. (I may or may not have made this stat up) Well I'm here to tell you, put the time in if you want to be noticed! When you are releasing music into the world you are affecting your reputation.  Do you want a reputation of they occasionally put out a good song so we'll see? Or do you want your reputation to be their past material has been so good that I'm sure it's amazing? That's the kind of loyalty you build when you put the time in to make sure your writing is up to par. It's called dedication and your songs deserve it.  Taking the time to make sure a song is right is what separates the pros from the amateurs.

Thanks so much for reading this, I hope you've found it useful. If you've enjoyed this it really helps grow the community when you like, comment and share! What are some books or authors you've read who you feel you've learned from?  What are some tips that have helped improve your writing? What would you like to see me cover in future posts? Until we speak again, remember you and you alone determine how far you take this!

Success

Josh Gray in Shepherdstown, WV

Josh Gray in Shepherdstown, WV

"How many years are you going to give it?"

I've been asked this a couple of times since I announced my move to Nashville. This is a pretty common thing that artists ask themselves. How long am I willing to struggle before I either reach my definition of success or admit defeat.

This question is entirely dependent upon the artist.  I can definitely tell you the type of artists who are more likely to stick around though.  They are the ones for whom making art is not a choice. Now it's amazing to be appreciated but believe me when I say I'd be making music either way.  Something clicks in my brain and I feel compelled to pick up the guitar and play. The wonderful thing about doing something you love is it doesn't feel like work.  You are improving at something, often without consciously attempting to improve.  If I were to relate it to food it would be like getting to eat cake every day and waking to find you've lost weight. Although in reality if this happens make sure you get checked for a tape worm!

I've heard many stories of musicians heading to Nashville or any other big music city only to return defeated. If fame is your focus then you're in this business for the wrong reasons and almost guaranteed to be disappointed. If you make quality art and work to perfect your craft, people will take notice. This is a long lonesome road but it's not like you and I ever had a choice. We will make music until we die because it's what we love and that to me is success.