Knock on wood 

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt this way.  Like, a REALLY.  Long.  Time.  I had a great and long conversation with a friend yesterday after eating a ton of crawfish with another good buddy of mine and his 3 kids.  And now I’m listening to Kyle Hutton’s weekly radio series on KOKE-FM, Real Life, Real Music while I’m writing this and about to get ready to go play some golf shortly.  Kyle’s guest this week is Paul Overstreet, who has written a ton of memorable and well-known songs for himself and plenty of other acts.  I love listening to, talking about, talking with other creative folks about what drives us, especially when it comes to singing, writing, and playing music. 

But, yesterday, my energy level and excitement could not be contained.  I’m very transparent when it comes to all of that.  So when I’m connecting and get the ability to dream about the possibilities that, at this exact point in time last year, I thought were gone forever it’s hard for me to not finally feel that it might actually happen soon.  My lifelong dream of playing inside the sacred circle at the Grand Ole Opry stage inched just a little bit closer yesterday and I’ll make the official announcement about it tomorrow, so stay tuned because, to quote Deryl Dodd, “Things Are Fixin To Get Real Good”. 

I titled this entry, knock on wood, because there's still a small part of me that's waiting for the floor to drop out beneath me because every time I've gotten my hopes up about my musical dreams, something always happened that altered, dissipated or changed my trajectory permanently and sometimes left me worse off than I was before.  When I was talking to my friend yesterday and the subject of my time at NGL came up, it was a sore spot and not for the time I spent there but for the things I thought I had to give up in order to live what most people consider a "normal" life.  I had steady income, stability and although it was going to end abruptly, I considered it a long term career in which I'd finally be able to settle down, find a wife, have some kids and raise a family out in Colorado.  Obviously, a little over a year later now, that wasn't meant to be the case and I'm finally coming to terms with that after years of trying to push it away.

I came to the realization in the last couple of weeks that no matter how hard I try to push it out of my life, music is and always will be a part of me.  My energy changes when I talk about it, my mood changes and I talk about it like I'm a kid in a candy store.  It recharges me, fills my spirit and every time I get a chance to feel the passion that resides within me, I love daydreaming about the possibilities that are waiting ahead of me on the road that I've strayed on a thousand times, but never left.  My destiny was always there waiting for me to embrace it, no matter how hard I tried to ignore, dismiss or sacrifice it for a life of convenience and keeping up with my bills at a job I was never going to be as passionate about as I ever have been with music.  That, and I've got plenty of great stories to fill up a whole bunch of new songs and another chapter in my musical backstory that I know folks will enjoy hearing more about soon.

Anyway, I’m going to head up to the driving range soon to see if I can improve my skills before we tee off in a couple of hours.  I’ve only played twice in as many months, so my game is completely off.  When we played last Saturday my buddy and I lost at least a dozen golf balls between us and then when we played on Super Bowl Sunday, it wasn’t much better and injured my elbow.  I’m probably not the only shitty golfer out there who can get hurt while playing golf, but hey - what else is there to do on a Sunday Funday?  It’s going to be a good one, so if I see you out there later, I only have one word for you: 


Early Tuesday Morning Thoughts 

Good morning and Happy Tuesday, my friends.  And also, Happy Texas Independence Day!  Yep - today in 1836, Texas was officially declared a state and, now, here we are 185 years later and things are slowly starting to get better.  I know I'm not the only one who cannot wait for things to start settling down, getting back to normal.  Anxious to get back up on the stage with a band behind me and a few thousand people in front.  In the meantime...

I was just looking over my Facebook memories page and have also noticed that we were playing the Houston Rodeo BBQ Cookoff this week back in 2009.  2013 was the year when my friend Mary and I were out at the Texas Heritage Songwriters VIP party and got to meet one of my musical heroes, Ronnie Dunn from Brooks and Dunn.  That was such a great night and wonderful party where other cool folks like Mac Macanally, Larry Gatlin, Mac Davis, and so many others too numerous to list were there.  I felt like a kid in a candy store that night and still remain so grateful to Mary and also Joe Ables for always putting together one of the coolest events I’ve ever been to.  The after party that night was like a who’s who in country music and I look forward to the days where we can all get to hang like that again soon. 

I’ve also been writing songs so much lately, I can hardly keep up with them all.  There’s something to be said about the things you listen to, the people you interact with and the momentum that begins to build up behind you when you’re moving forward with purpose.  I’ve also been spending a lot of time during the day on this new app called Clubhouse, which is purportedly looking to overtake or compete with the other social media apps like Facebook, Twitter, etc. Their format is voice conversation only, so no pictures, instant messaging or commenting on things.  It’s all real-time and personal interaction, but it’s only available on iPhone and invitation only right now, and I hear there are 10k new people joining per day.  Sorry - I’m all out of invites for now!  

We’re hoping to be able to release some new information about how things are going with the music now that things are slowly starting to open back up, so stay tuned to that and all of the other social media pages for announcements coming soon! 

Off to the grind. 

Have a great Texas Independence Day!

1,296 and counting...but who's counting? 

At some point during the summer of last year, one of my best friends (and also the one who helped me get the album finished, financially) had me over for dinner at his house out in Jonestown.  He’s got a thick east coast accent, someone whom I trust a great deal, and also know who is very proud whenever he introduces me to his friends.  He’s also got a great sense of humor and knows how to put things in perspective.  During that dinner, where it was only he and I, I confessed to him that I was a terrible overthinker.   

He immediately came back with the greatest line I’ve heard, and have since used plenty of times, anecdotally.  “Look, Brent,” (and again, picture this with a deep, bass/baritone New England Patriots fan dialect) “if there were were an Olympic event for over fuckin’ thinkin, I’d either be on the podium or be the fuckin’ coach” :) 

I don’t know why that resonated so well with me, but it’s pretty easy to figure out when I think about it.  He’s a great friend, I trust him immensely, wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am now without him, and in that second he reminded me that I wasn’t the only one that did it. 

It’s been cold here in Texas the last few days.  And, as such, I haven’t been able to drive in to work due to the road conditions.  Living in Colorado for a while, not a big deal.  Living back in Texas, the whole state shuts down, and for good reason - we’re just not as prepared or used to it here as it would be if I were back there.  So, I’ve had a lot of time on my hands to write new songs the last day and a half, and will have even more of it in the next few days.  My job is also not-at-all stressful, but a bit repetitive and I have to use my hands a lot.  But when I’m listening to my airpods, I’m getting all kinds of great ideas that it’s not hard to stop for a quick moment, write the idea down on my iPhone, and get a general song down.  Basically, no matter where I am these days, it's not hard at all for me to come up with a song idea and try to write it down in some form.  Finishing it?  Well, yeah, that's where it gets a bit more complicated.  

It's during those moments where my inner critic has stopped, I don’t self-edit during the process, and I try to be as genuine as I possibly can so the creative muse can work through me before the automatic over-thinker has a chance to intervene.  I’ve been writing down song ideas for so long that my instinct, for a while, was always trying to box my songs into what would be radio-friendly.  To stop yourself, creatively and internally, in the middle of writing a song is very much contrary to the whole process of songwriting, and I was doing that for years.  And it sucked.  Big time.  Of course, I didn’t realize I was doing it because I thought everyone else was doing it too, and it was all part of the norm of what you had to do to be a successful artist in country music.  So, at the time, it didn’t matter.  Except it did.   

For all that time, I just wrote and wrote and wrote so many song thoughts, ideas, fragments, titles, and hooks that when I finally started to count them all up last August, I had tallied up 1,253 new original ideas.  That was back almost a year ago.  Now I’m up to almost 1300.  And as I’m finishing this entry, I’m listening to a live recording of Walt and Tina Wilkins playing tonight at Schoepf’s BBQ in a Facebook video providing me even more inspiration.   

There’s still plenty of times, my friends, where I’ve had doubts, fears, uncertainty and all of that other shit that comes along of taking a big risk and following your heart not just once or twice, but several times.  Vegas would love the odds they’ve had on me over the years.  Sounds like a good song idea, but I think the late great Doug Supernaw said it better. 

Couldn’t roll me a 7, if you gave me loaded dice.

Hurry up and wait 

I’m so anxious to get back out on the road playing full band shows again, I can hardly stand it.  There’s so much going on over here, behind the scenes that, once things start to settle down and venues begin to open up again, it’s going to be a lot of fun for all of you, and for me.   

But, for now, we all have to wait.  I know, it’s hard.  Trust me.  The overall mentality of everyone I’ve talked to, inside and outside of the music industry, is that we’re all tired of the restrictions and want life to get back to normal as we approach the 1 year mark when things started to shut down.  I was having conversations with some of my fellow musicians on Sunday, and it was the first time I’d seen many of them in 3-4 years.  And we were all pretty much in the same mentality, that we’re all ready to get back out there and start performing for the fans again, and it’s not a question of ‘want’ but one of ‘can’t’.   

As I sit here and type this, my car has been in the shop for a week and a half for a warranty repair from the dealership in Colorado, who is going back and forth with Pep Boys about what they’re wanting to pay for.  I’m coming up on the 1 year anniversary of my separation from my last job, and about to head out to the one I’m at now where I’m making nearly 80% less than I was then, and really struggling to get my bills paid.   

So, this entry could be considered a reminder to you, but also to me that we’re all going to look back at this very soon and remember it as being something in the past.  And we’ll all be able to say to each other things like ‘wow, I can’t believe we had to go through that for so long’, and ‘I wasn’t sure we’d be able survive’, but we did.  And we will.  And we can.   

See, it’s all about how you frame things and put them in perspective.  Am I happier now that I’ve embraced the fact that I’ll always be a musician, chasing that dream of mine?  You bet your ass, I am!  Could things be easier if I were back making all that money again?  Of course they could, but I would still be convincing myself even today that it was all worth giving up on my passion, just so I could live a little more comfortably while also being alone, miserable and unhappy with where I was headed.   

I’ll share a bit of a personal story with you before I wrap up this entry to get ready to head out for the day.  I’ve known Roy Granados, who is now my manager, for a long time now, and he’s the one that’s really pushing and encouraging me to get outside of the comfort zone and break out of the bubble I’ve been in for the last several years.  He and I have known each other well and have continued our friendship since the days where he was managing a club called Rumor’s down in Laredo.  He's also I guy that I know I can trust, considering what we've gone through together during our friendship.  There have been plenty of times over the years where he always had my back, even during the times where it would've been easy for him to walk away.  The music business is full of people who will abuse your trust and try to manipulate you. Roy isn't one of those guys.

It was also pretty funny, too where I was on my way to fly back to Colorado last year to start packing up my apartment and I was watching TV and drinking a beer at the Salt Lick bar at the airport.  I struck up a conversation with some oil field guys while waiting for our respective flights, and they all knew Roy, Rumor’s and remembered seeing me perform there.  It’s a damn small world, my friends. 

Last Saturday he and I had one of our many long conversations we’ve had over the last year, and he told me he has a lot of things planned for me.  Considering where my state of mind has been during that time, he really had to work hard to convince me that this would work, and that wasn’t easy.  Remember, I had convinced myself for almost 3 years, regularly, that my full time job was now how the rest of my life was going to be and music, while a great after thought, was no longer possible.  That’s not an easy mind-frame to break out of, I assure you.  I had no evidence that things were going to change.  Until they did.  And they continue to, so when we spoke last weekend, it really resonated with me that this time, things were going to be different.  And the very next day, I genuinely felt the power and the camaraderie during an amazing memorial ceremony surrounded by some of my musical heroes, honoring one of our collective musical heroes and being reminded by all of them that things were, and are going to get better for us all.  

We just have to keep hanging in there.  Even if it means holding on to that one last burning ember.  That one small sliver of the piece of faith, endurance, perseverance and hope that we’ve all been so desperate to barely hang on to.  It’s still there and I’m finally beginning to believe that again. 

And I promise if my jaded, worn out, stubborn, hard headed, skeptical ass can manage to accomplish that you can too. 

Hang in there my friends.  Hit me up anytime if you need a friend, want some encouragement or just want to say hi.  I’m always listening. 

Have a great day! 



If you’re going through Hell, keep going 
-Winston Churchill  

Sometimes you just know.  I mean you feel it in your bones, in your soul, in your heart and even though it’s there, it can be hard to pry it out when the shit is constantly hitting the fan.  Over the last few years, even while I was working for NGL, I spent a lot of time traveling around West Texas, Colorado, Wyoming, North Dakota, several states on the East Coast and then through Washington state.  I met a countless amount of people during that time, getting to know all kinds of diversity from all walks of life.   

The topic of conversation was, for the most part, work related and my helping to take care of their needs as their field IT technician.  In many cases, I’d have to be at sites for a few hours at a time or even all day.  Invariably, when the conversation turned more personal and I would get asked what I did before this job, I would tell them that I was a full time touring country musician, the tone would immediately change, as would my energy while I was talking and reminiscing about all of the things I did when I was out there.  And since the majority of the people I talked to on the job sites were in their late teens/early 20’s, when I said that I was on Spotify, it was like they felt like they were in the presence of someone famous.  It was always a great ego boost because, to the majority of the younger music listeners out there, Spotify is where your music is if you’re truly successful and well-known, even if it really isn’t all that hard to get on that platform.  Be that as it may, I never missed a chance to enjoy retelling all the stories to the guys that were out there, in most cases, by themselves with no one to talk to during their 12 hour shifts but tanker drivers and traveling IT technicians.  One younger guy out in West Texas even asked me to autograph his hard hat, having heard of me and was even a fan.   

It was during those times, which I never grew tired of, that I joked that I was living vicariously through myself.  The job, while having its perks, wasn’t something that I aspired to do as a career, even though I was good at it and enjoyed the people.  Working in the IT industry over the years was only something for me to do to keep my musical aspirations going.  But once I arrived at NGL and was making a good salary with benefits, it seemed to me that those days were likely over, and I would spend my remaining years feeling like the door had closed, despite every single time talking about being in music and always fondly remembering the best days of my life.  And you could see my energy change during the entire conversation - I would light up like a Christmas tree when I started talking about all those cool memories with friends and co-workers.   

I remember very specifically a conversation with one of my friends there who was a Texas Country music fan, and loved hearing all of my stories and revealing to others when we were out at a bar somewhere or at the company Christmas party 2 years ago.  A few days later we were all flying over to Wyoming on the company plane, and Eli and I began talking about our pie in the sky dreams and what you’d really want to be doing if you could do anything.  When he asked me about mine, I took a long pause in thinking about it because it wasn’t until that moment that I realized that I no longer had one.  My pie in the sky was always performing in front of a crowd traveling around the world and being able to sing for people.  So when I told him I no longer really had one that didn’t involve music in some way, I didn’t know how to answer the question anymore.  It really bothered me to feel like I no longer had a goal or a dream in mind, and that I had essentially surrendered my entire life to a job that would eventually be letting me go in a matter of months.  That was one of the bigger reasons why I was so crushed by losing it that day - everything I did for so many people and the sacrifices I made to work as hard as I could, and then being dismissed so callously struck a very painful blow that I, only recently, have been able to start getting over. 

That was, until yesterday happened.   

I went in to work for a few hours and since I was only there with 1 other coworker, I spent my time doing my job and listening to a podcast hosted by Jack Ingram as he interviewed Wade Bowen, 2 guys I’ve met a few times over the years and have a tremendous amount of respect for.  I would highly encourage any fan of either of these two artists to give it a listen because, over the course of the 2+ hour interview, Wade went into depth about a lot of personal things that I related to, and really made me think long and hard about what it’s going to take in the next step in my musical journey.  As I was listening to the podcast, my manager Roy texted me to let me know he and his wife April would be coming into town to see my old friend and fellow roster artist Aaron Navarro play a gig at Unbarlieveable downtown.   

I was in relaxed work mode, but decided to run home and clean up before the 2 pm gig and get into ‘artist mode’, which I’m very glad I did.  Throughout the course of the gig, Aaron brought me up to sing 3 different times, and after the 1st song, this mostly college aged crowd of people were cheering, screaming and getting into me singing ‘Killin’ Time’ by Clint Black - a reaction I did not expect from mostly guys who were watching the football game.  When I went back to sit with Roy and April, several people came up to me to give me props and fist bumps on the performance.  It was like being back in my element again, and the energy that I had been missing for so long immediately returned.  The crowd, which had surprised me by their reaction, refueled the return energy I needed to remind myself that the next chapter is just around the corner.  Once Roy, Aaron, April and I started talking about the things we want to accomplish as we all move forward together, the hairs on my neck started standing up and I felt that energy again.   

And I can’t wait for you all to be along for the ride and see, along with me, what we’re going to do.  

The Last Day of My Life (or so I thought) 

I’m normally at my most creative in the early mornings when I first wake up, and I like to write about just about anything to get it down on paper.  I’ve got just over 2 hours before I have to head over to work, so I thought I would talk more about the events and the actual day I had my major anxiety attack, in part to possibly help others who may be suffering or have suffered from one.  I also wanted to because my friend Mary, whom I regularly play golf with, mentioned it and how much she enjoys reading my blog entries.  I repeated to her a long standing joke I’d been saying to others for years, “I think I’d be able to write a pretty good autobiography if I can only get famous enough for people to want to read it.” :) 

(What follows is a bit of a lengthy entry about the day I had a major anxiety attack that sent me to the ER, but also some important context about how it finally got to that point and why.)

When I was working for NGL, I was on top of the world.  For over 2.5 years I had that job, which was the equivalent of the longest drought of not having one after I moved back from the UK in 2015, and it was finally putting me back where I needed to be.  I had freedom, independence, good money and people who respected the job that I did.  I also got great perks like the trip we had to take out to the East Coast, where I saw my first Boston Red Sox game, eat some great seafood and see and stay with one of my best friends and his wife while in Vermont, as their house was only miles away from the site we were working.  Then I was sent out to Washington state, and got to see another family I knew who had moved out there from Texas, while seeing some amazing scenery on the drive from Spokane and eventually to Portland, Oregon throughout the week.  I also got to check off several bucket list items during my time with them including finally seeing Mount Rushmore for the first time, but also getting to see Devil’s Tower National Monument in the same week.  I’d seen ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ so many times that, when I was driving up to it, I was in awe of finally being able to see it, still in disbelief that I did.  Even as I eventually drove away from it, I could still see it in my rearview mirrors, smiling at the memories I’d made and can still picture in my mind’s eye, even while writing this. 

Many of the people I worked with became good friends and, since my family was so far away, they had become my support network.  I was on call 24/7 which left little time for having much of a personal life outside of work, which was fine for me because I was happy doing what I was doing and it really didn’t bother me.  I’d become pretty much of a homebody, and enjoyed the downtime, whether it was in Midland, Texas or Fort Collins, Colorado.  I may have been alone, but I was not lonely out there by myself because, come Monday morning and the rest of the work week, I was back helping the people who relied on me out in the field, and hanging out with my friends in the Denver area do the same when I’d make the trips down there.  NGL was my whole world during that time and I had planned on making that job last, at the minimum, longer than my longest job previously, which was 5 and a half years. 

I had driven down to Denver that day with the expectation that I would be discussing a project I’d been working on with my manager, who was flying in from Tulsa that day and wanted to meet with me to talk more about it.  When I got there, I looked around and talked to my friends while I was waiting there until he finally saw me, and summoned me over to, what I thought, would be one of the conference rooms nearby so we could talk about the project.  My heart began to sink into my chest as we passed it up, and we were on our way to the HR office where 2 other HR reps were there waiting for me as well, as I made my way over to a table in the corner where I was told very succinctly but bluntly, “unfortunately today is your last day at NGL.” 

I was devastated, and completely stunned as I had not only NOT seen the decision coming, but was totally unprepared for what I was being told.  I began to cry - a lot.  The news hit me like a Mack truck, and I was suddenly faced with a myriad of consequences and uncertainty that were about to find their way to me now that my only source of income was being stripped away from me.  My family was 1000 miles away and all of the memories, trips, but most importantly the coworkers who had become my close friends and extended family were being ripped away from me.  All of a sudden, it felt like I had nothing left in the world and no idea how I was going to recover from such a devastating and heartbreaking loss. 

A whole week went by and I managed to summon the strength somehow to get a suitcase of things together and flew down to Austin.  I was still in a mental mindset of anxiety and already had a tough enough time thinking straight, since I had spent most of the week drinking whiskey and in shock, but I put 2 and 2 together and eventually made it back to my parents house here in Northwest Austin.  During this whole time, even though I never told anyone, even during the plane ride back, my chest around my heart had been in pain and had been very tight almost all week, and I thought I was having some issues.  I kept that a secret because I didn’t want to panic myself or anyone else even further, and figured it would eventually go away.  But it didn’t.  It ended up getting much worse. 

I woke up early one morning and my chest pain had gotten to the point to where I was getting a little more lucid and by that time, after spending all that time thinking about what had just happened to me, wondering what my life was going to be like, how I would go on from there, I began to feel concerned that this was about to be my time.  I was genuinely afraid and feeling certain that, the next time I closed my eyes, I would not wake up again.   

I decided that one of my final tasks would be to write a very long letter to everyone who meant anything to me, and also a will to make sure all of my possessions went to the people I wanted to have them.  One of my dearest and lifelong friends had passed away before Thanksgiving and did not have one, which made things difficult for them, and I wasn’t going to make my family try and figure out what my final wishes were.  So I wrote.  And wrote.  And wrote.  I wrote as long long as there was a thought in my head about the people that I thought needed to hear my final words to them as I was certain in my mind that this was it.  I also wrote a few words on a hand-written note with my phone, laptop and other important passwords to be able to see the entries and access my personal info.  It was, at the time, the closest I thought I’d ever been to my final days here on Earth and to me, making sure that everyone who meant anything to me knew it. 

Well, fast forward to today and I’m obviously still here.  What had felt like a full on heart attack was a major anxiety attack which, at the time, I was unaware that the symptoms are extremely similar.  One of the EMTs that worked on me and was monitoring my EKG even told me I had the heart of a 20 year old.  And although my days at NGL are over by almost a year next month, and as excruciatingly painful as it was, I still think it was the universe’s way of helping me get back to where I needed to be and the path I needed to be back on.  As hard as the whole process was for moving myself back down here to Austin, I reminded myself and others who cared about me of this: 

“I don’t think whatever benevolent force is out there would kick me out of a job and out of Colorado only to send me back home to fail at the one thing I’ve truly loved more than anything else in the world, which is music.” 

I still believe that.  

2020 - WTF 

So, here we are in the last week of a year that, to put it mildly, was a total catastrophe for me and a countless number of others.  I’ve had rough years before, but this one totally knocked me on my ass.  And it started out so well, too.  January and February were looking pretty nice.  I was living in Fort Collins, Colorado, had a place of my own, finally was able to save up enough money to buy a car, and started being able to make friends outside of work.  It all came to a crashing halt on February 21st when I was let go from my job.  It’s a memory that has continued to haunt me over the last few months, because I didn’t even remotely see it coming, and it devastated my life in ways that I’m still feeling now.  I had a full time job with benefits, cool perks like traveling around the country, and sometimes in a private jet - that was really incredible.   

As I sit here right now, I’m going to be getting ready, soon, to go to a temporary contract job that doesn’t pay much, but it’s the first actual job I’ve had since that day.  The days that have passed since then have seen us all trying to stay careful during a contagious virus, and so while I’m grateful to have been able to move back in with my parents, I felt like I was falling off of a cliff in the worst possible time, and under circumstances that led me to my very first major anxiety attack.  I may put another entry together for that harrowing moment, but suffice to say, it has taken me almost the entire year just to put myself back together.  I honestly did not know how I was going to get through losing one of the best jobs I’d had in recent memory, and in the week before I flew back to Austin, I was suffering from major depression and must’ve drank 3-4 bottles of whiskey.  People were worried about me, and I was so alone and terrified that my mom was going to send the police over for a wellness check.   

A week after I got back to Austin, which coincided with my dad’s birthday, the country shut down 10 days after and I was essentially stuck and couldn’t get back to my place in Fort Collins.  I wasn’t about to fly back at the beginning stages of the pandemic, and my options were limited.  I wasn’t going to rent a car to drive back and spend the months during the lockdown by myself, because I would’ve ended up back in that same mental mind game, wondering what I was going to do next.  So, it was a good thing I was here with family.  But I still had to pay rent on my apartment to avoid getting evicted.  I already was looking at having to break my lease, since in Colorado and with the apartment management company, they weren’t able to budge one bit.  By the time I moved back at the end of June, I would eventually spend a little over $11,000 in moving, rent, lease break fees and the loss of my deposit.  So, everything I’d worked and saved for during my time with the company would be gone in a matter of months.  My savings nearly drained, I had no choice but to close my 401k and hopefully get through it all. 

I need to wrap this entry up so I can get ready to go soon, but I’ll end with this.  I know I wasn’t affected nearly as bad as others, nor did I die from a deadly disease or by my own hand...both of which were genuine possibilities.  I’ve managed to get through a lot of things in life that I didn’t expect that I’d make it through, and after 10 months of holding my breath, it looks like things are finally starting to come back together for me, in more ways than just work.   

I sincerely hope that 2021 will bring a much different path forward than this year did.  I know we could all use a breather.   

Ya’ll be safe out there for this final week of 2020.  My love and best wishes to you and yours.


PS - I'm enjoying putting together these blog entries not just for you, but also for myself.  It's a good way to vent my thoughts and put them down on paper, and I truly appreciate you all reading them.  If you like what you see, please feel free to comment on it for any reason, suggestion, thoughts of your own or random nonsense.  We're really working on building this site up to do some great things!

Farewell, sir 

I’ve always considered myself a regular guy - nothing special.  Ask any one of my closer friends, and they’d agree with that statement.  I don’t have an ego, and I’m pretty much one of the most humble guys you’d ever know.  But after writing up that new bio the other day, I felt nearly every moment I’ve had during my career again, and it was hard to not want to put everything I was feeling into it that could easily have ended up being more than just the 6 pages it became.  I had actually gotten a little over 5 that morning, and by the time I got back home from work to do some editing on it, it grew to over 6.  I really wanted to add more to the 1995 CMA story, as well as the 1999 trip and the Stars Over Texas show - 2 things I’d forgotten to mention but added the context of just how lucky I was and how the odd things just kept happening, almost completely at random.  Like the fatefulness of the things that shouldn’t have kept on happening to me, but did, for a while it just seemed like the universe just kept on intervening.   

I had another several of those moments over this past weekend when I felt compelled, almost by instinct and intuition, that it was necessary.  I’m certainly not making the same kind of money I was at this point last year, so spending money on new clothes wasn’t in the budget.  But something inside me just told me that everything was going to be ok, and I just needed to be there.  James White was an Austin icon, and although I can only count on a few times of performing at the Broken Spoke, the stories I can tell from just being there, being close to the people there or just absorbing the history of it couldn’t be dismissed in the hundreds of times I was there.  There’s so many amazing stories that could literally fill up the entire venue to the point of it bursting at the seams, and I can only tell a few.  No one who has ever been there can tell you of all of the times where Mr. White and just being there was nothing short of magical.   

The job I had for the last few years had taken me away from so many of my musical extended family in Austin that I wasn’t even sure if anyone would remember me all that well.  That and the fact that most people’s faces, including mine, were hidden under masks, sunglasses and cowboy hats.  I was also attending by myself didn’t make things much easier when emotions were getting the better of me.   

I don’t do well at wakes, and couldn’t make it over to the viewing last Thursday, so I thought I was able to get around not seeing him.  The casket, however, was open when I got there, so the last image my mind’s eye will see is of him in that state.  I went and gave Annetta a hug, and turned over to James to pay my final respects.  My spiritual side has, admittedly, been taking a lot of blows over the years, but I was compelled to take off my hat, bow my head and say a silent prayer for the man who was now lying before me.  No one was watching me, and everyone deals with death in their own way, even though less than 24 hours prior, I felt I needed to get a shirt I couldn’t afford, a haircut I could’ve waited on, and clean a hat I hadn’t worn in ages.  I wiped away the tears that had welled up in my eyes, and walked around to find a recognizable face to share my sorrow, but that wouldn’t happen until after the service was over.   

Today was another one of those times where I felt close to greatness, but still was in awe of how I came to be there.   The energy of the environment was all around those of us who were in attendance at the White Family Ranch.  A lot of the names that are easily recognizable were there, but I don’t think it’s necessary to drop them since the day wasn’t about them, but rather for the White family and the loss of their patriarch.  There were plenty of anecdotes, stories, tears, laughter and songs throughout, even during a time where we’re all not entirely sure how to show grief, hugs and sympathy at 6 feet away while wearing a mask.  Also, as a surprise to the family during the ceremony, the owners of several Nashville bars (including Ernest Tubb’s Record Shop) presented Annetta with a long-lost hat that ET, himself, had worn which was to be donated to the ‘Tourist Trap’ at the Spoke.  I’ve, long, been a fan of Ernest Tubb and loved being present during that moment.   

But somehow, even through it all, being around my friends, peers, fellow musicians, and people who were all there to honor a true Austin icon felt like home to me.  I hadn’t seen many of these people in years, and it was like no time had passed at all.   

Remember when I said a few weeks back where you can just feel the energy pouring through you?   

Those times are rare these days, and I’m profoundly grateful to have had that opportunity again today. 

As I close this entry, the resounding theme of the service was very simple.  Many people have been concerned about the future of The Broken Spoke, now that Mr. White has passed on. He may be gone, but one of the last True Texas Honky Tonks will go on, so long as the rest of us show up and visit often.  Austin, Texas may be changing, and the Spoke will endure if we all do our part to keep it that way.  So, go and check it out soon, if you haven’t already.  You’ll be glad you did. 

RIP and Godspeed, sir.  Thank you for so many memories.  

Day Number One 

Well, hello there and welcome to the first day of the year 2021!  I know there are quite literally millions of us who were so ready to see 2020 finally come to an end, me being one of them.  I had no interest in getting out and doing anything to celebrate it because I was already worn out from a long day at work Wednesday, watching some of the Florida/Oklahoma game and only getting a few hours sleep before having to wake up at 5:30 yesterday morning.  And even though I was already in bed by midnight last night, I did technically ring in the New Year with my good friends in the UK last night at 6pm via Zoom.  It was really great to see them all again. 

I had also made a personal commitment to myself to not drink last night and, as of this entry, I haven’t had anything since last Saturday night.  That is particularly significant since, for the most part, I’d gotten in the habit of drinking something nearly every day, and then eventually every day.  After all, I had  money, couldn’t get out much except to play golf, and couldn’t find the right fit for a job.  What else is there to do during a lockdown, right?  And there were plenty of others I hung out with last year who were doing the same thing, so I didn’t really give it much thought. 

And just as 2020 has taught most of us, it was easy and even acceptable to drink every day because, hell, why not?  But I have so many things I’m planning on doing during this new year, especially regarding my creative passions, that I decided last week that it’s time to close up the liquor cabinet, put the cork back in the bottle, and get back on the right track, both physically and mentally.  It wasn’t going to be a resolution, either.  After all, a new goal is a new goal and doesn’t really need a start date - just the willingness to shake off the cobwebs and do something that you know you need to be doing, but can’t seem to find the motivation to do it.  Mine was finally having enough of tossing and turning during the night, and getting virtually no sleep on evenings when I didn’t have anything to sedate me into falling asleep and staying that way during the night.   

It certainly has helped that I have a regular schedule now and expect to put my best effort into the job, but the feeling of clarity and lack of brain fog has motivated me to want to keep that trend going, perhaps even longer after the ‘Dry January’ that I volunteered to do with some of my friends I play golf with regularly.  Back in 2019, I did the same thing while I was back in Colorado and ended up not having anything to drink for about 45 days, and I felt really good.  During this past week already, even after a couple of days of sobriety, my creativity was starting to generate some new ideas, and 2 nights ago, despite wanting to watch my Longhorns play their final bowl game, I turned it off when it was a clear win, and slept through the night with no issues.  And even funnier still, as I was putting some things together yesterday, I found myself bobbing my head, headphones in my ears and smiling as I was listening to KNBT playing a favorite Mavericks tune “Back In My Arms Again”, and then immediately followed by Asleep at The Wheel’s cover of “Take Me Back to Tulsa”.  And if you know me, and how much I’ve never really considered myself as a dancer, then the image of me grooving should make you smile, too. :) 

Having to move back to Austin with my folks, and also during a pandemic has obviously forced me to adapt to doing things differently again.  Even as I’m writing this, from my perspective, it still doesn’t feel like it’s a new year, since 1 day of 2020 was equivalent to 34 days in dog years.  But now that I’m more focused, motivated and driven to shake off the wounds and thoughts that took their toll on me in one of the worst years ever, I’m pretty optimistic about how this year is going to shape itself together for all of us.   

Happy New Year to one and all, my friends!  Let’s make this one to remember!

Story Behind the Song - See You In My Dreams 

“See You In My Dreams” was one of the first songs I wrote, and I got the idea after the death of my paternal grandfather, Gene.  He was one of the coolest guys ever, and had a warmth to him that I only began to realize and understand after I grew older; I can still picture him in the back bedroom where he had his favorite couch, his TV and seemed to be reading the newspaper every time we walked in.  My grandmother, LaFraye, was one of the most loving, caring and affectionate people ever, as most grandmothers tend to be.  I still remember the feeling of her fingers brushing my hair back over my ears when I was little and sitting next to her whenever they would visit us. 

Gene’s death in 1997 was unexpected, and hit my family pretty hard, as it was also very sudden, since he was due to be discharged from the hospital in a few days.  Instead, sadly and heartbreakingly enough, he ended up literally dying in my dad’s arms.  They were close, and even though we don’t talk about him much, I know my dad still misses him a lot.   

The imagery of his memorial service was enough to stay with me and I can still recall, even today driving up to Mission Park on Military Drive in San Antonio, which was only a short drive from my grandparent’s house.  I remember it being the first time that I had seen a small roadside florist stand on the way to the gravesite, and would serve as the inspiration for what is still one of the most personal songs I’ve ever written.  I crafted it around the last verse with that imagery: 

“I came to visit you today
And bought some flowers along the way 
I told you how I missed you so, 
And how I wish you didn’t go” 

I thought of her, especially now that he was gone, with the last two lines: 

“And I’ll fall asleep in our old bed 
And a tear will touch my face again” 

Over the years, she and I would grow closer, and she would often confide in me how much she missed him.  Everyone in the family always knew that, for as long as she lived the rest of her years, she missed him every day until she sadly left our family on July 4th, 2013.  Her passing was not as sudden and unexpected as Gene’s, but it still hurt.  While I helped to write her obituary, that wasn’t nearly as hard as singing Garth Brooks’ “The Dance” at her service, for which I barely made it through without breaking down in tears.   

The following week, I was due to perform a gig at The Hangin Tree in Bracken, Texas which is one of the places I’ve played at for many years throughout my music career.  I had considered cancelling, because I was still emotionally recovering from the loss.  Nevertheless, I was convinced to play it in her memory.  Throughout the night, I had my friends playing on stage behind me, most of my family in front of me and the show couldn’t have gone any better.  My dear friends at the Tree have become my extended family over the years, all of them knowing how much my she meant to us all and showed my family the same love they’ve always given me over the years of playing there. 

For the final song of the night, I decided to dismiss the band and play the song for her as Kathy, the bartender, placed a Miller Lite and a cup of ice, (my grandmother’s favorite drink) on the empty table near the stage. When it came time to get to that last verse, with the imagery and memories still fresh in my mind I began to falter.  My voice was breaking, tears were in my eyes and it was getting harder to finish the song.  Then, my friends, family and everyone else in the audience began to cheer, clap and encourage me to get through it.  It’s been over 7 years since we had that show, and I can still remember it all like it was yesterday. 

But you see even that, still, isn’t the end of the story that this song has meant to me and to others.  After that night, I was unsure that I’d be able to perform it again without that or the memories reminding me of how hard it was, now that the last of both sets of grandparents were gone.   

Almost a full year later, 2 of my close friends from the Tree were getting married and of course I wasn’t going to miss it.  Many other friends I knew from the bar were there, and it was a beautiful ceremony.  The reception was just getting under way, and I enjoyed talking to many of them again, as we hadn’t seen each other much since the gig that night.  We all sat down at our respective tables, and what happened next is another one of those moments I’ll remember forever.  When it came time for James and Shelby to take their first dance as man and wife, I heard “See You In My Dreams'' come up and almost immediately began to weep at just how meaningful that was to me.  I had never been the recipient of such a heartfelt gesture in that way before, and I was profoundly overtaken by the feeling.  Overcome with emotion, I was already on my way to the dancefloor while James was making it a point to introduce me as the artist who sang the song after it had ended with the cheers and applause from the Hangin Tree crowd in attendance the same as it was only a year before. 

It was a well-planned surprise that I obviously wasn’t expecting, and changed my perspective of the song on that day, as it took on an entirely different meaning for me in those few short minutes while they were dancing. 

“See You In My Dreams” has a long history with me and my family, and for the whole year following the Hangin Tree gig, I didn’t think I’d be able to look at it again and not think of my grandparents.  But that night at the reception, the song (while still written by me) had no longer belonged to me.  It now belongs to them and they tell me they still dance to it often.  I can think of no better way to honor my grandparents than to have that song live on forever, now, in the hearts of my friends.  And mine.