Rambling Across America with Tommy Ray

TR Fly

Carl Hose: Tommy, a lot has happened since we talked last. You’ve made some big steps in your career, there’s a new book, not to mention you went through a hurricane and spent how long without power? We’ll talk about the new book in a bit, but how did the hurricane affect the timeline of your plans and how did it affect you creatively?

Tommy Ray: After coming off the road from the “Confessions of a Dreamer Tour,” in May of 2016. I pondered my next step. I allowed fear to re-enter my mind and chose to return to the matrix of a safe day job. I relocated to St. Croix of the US Virgin Islands. I am basically about 1900 nautical miles south of Miami, FL. On the surface, St. Croix is the most majestic Caribbean Island you could ever dream about. That was until September 2017. Within two weeks, two separate Category V hurricanes crashed through all three Virgin Islands. The first was Irma, which only skirted by us. I saw no damage even though St. Thomas was leveled. Unbeknown to me, Maria was to follow less than two weeks, landing directly on us. The hurricane lasted over 12 hours, with sustained winds of 175 mph and gusts over 220 mph. I was in a bunker about 5 feet underground, surrounded by concrete to ensure safety.

The next day, I was able to walk around my complex and view the horrific damage. We were under 24-hour curfew for about 5 days, where you could not leave your house for safety. Overall, I went 3 months with no daily power or clean running water. I had a generator, which I would run a few hours during the day and a couple hours at night. The remainder of the day was nothing but the aftermath of Hurricane Maria for us. On the island of St. Croix, we use cisterns (wells which catch the rain water) for our water supply. The hurricane tainted those. A neighbor would pour gallons of bleach into his to somewhat make it safer and ran a garden hose to my apartment so I could begin taking a shower after about 6 – 8 weeks. Up to that point it was boiling water on a camping stove and taking sponge baths. So, with that said, going almost three months without power meant no cell phones, along with no Internet. My original motto was as long as I had Internet, I could live anywhere in the world and maintain a voice to the world with Tommy Ray Entertainment (a new umbrella company for Tommy Ray Books, Tommy Ray Insights, Tommy Ray Music, and my YouTube Channel). There were many days I would have anxiety thinking how much ground I was losing in exposing my creative outlets to the world. Besides the actual darkness (here gets dark around 6:30 pm every night), I was losing faith I could have my voice heard. When I was able to talk to family or friends about I am safe, I have food, I have drinking water, most of my musician friends were like, you must be writing tons of lyrics with everything going on. Sadly, my creative energy was nonexistent. I did not write a single line and barely strummed my guitar. It was a dark age for me indeed. I now find myself with mild shell shock when I see a new storm brewing in the Atlantic Ocean that might be heading our way.

CH: Let’s talk about the book. I read it. There’s a lot of positive messages in there, a lot about music, your views on life in general, and some great stories. How hard was it to capture your journey? Did you find you had to pick and choose what to put in and what to leave out?

TR: Thank you for the kind words, I am truly grateful. I am still a newbie as an author. I love to write as well as compose lyrics, however, it is different writing a book and describing what I was seeing, thinking, etc. Verbally, I was creating a lot of inspiration for the choice, the risks, the adventure. However, my vocabulary is quite straightforward. So many of the sights I saw were not described in enough detail to have a person truly sense my emotions as I was driving through a mountain range in New Mexico or up the California highway alongside the Pacific Ocean. I attempted to keep a daily journal to remind myself of details as I chose not to begin writing the book until after the tour was completed. Perhaps a mistake I shall not make on future “Country Boy” adventures. Another difficult aspect was desiring to capture the landscapes with pictures. I desired to stop every few minutes for another shot. Sadly, I knew I had to keep driving to reach the next town/city. The same with street performances or venue performances. I wish I had more video from those experiences. Ultimately, I did not desire to bore with too many details, which meant trying to figure out what to utilize for the book and what to discard.

I did have to pick and choose material. For the most part, each day was the same thing. I woke up, drove to a town/city, either performed on the street or located a venue to perform, then went to sleep. I did this for over 7 weeks. That routine was fine with me, yet boring to a reader. So, I tried to utilize the important interactions, certain performances, or sights I saw to allow insights to the tour, yet keep anticipation for the reader.

CH: I have to ask this. You’re a songwriter, a musician, and really good at it. I love your stuff. Do you prefer writing books or your songs, or are they two different things altogether?

TR: You are very kind. First, I simply love to write. I desire to read, learn, and write each day, every day. I prefer lyrics. I now consider myself a lyricist. The reason why is when I write, I compose to basic boring open chords on my guitar. My producer Jimm Mosher of Hit Music Studios in North Carolina creates all of my music. I may give him the key of the song or a basic tempo, but he has other top quality musicians perform the melodies as he arranges the overall product. In my eyes, if you are a songwriter, you also can create the melodies, breaks, intros, etc.

Please do not get me wrong, I love being an author. I desire to continue my travel series of “A Country Boy” as well as I recently added suspenseful short stories to my repertoire. I truly desire to create inspiration and value to the world. I am utilizing multiple types of media to perform this goal/desire/dream.

I plan my week accordingly. Monday and Thursday nights are music nights, Tuesday and Wednesdays are author nights. Sundays are for my blog writing. Saturdays I try to actually venture out into nature for the day. Then I intertwine my YouTube channel along with various other activities of reading, learning, etc. throughout the week as well. So, I work my current day job to about 5 pm, then come home for a break of an hour, then I work on the above activities to about 11pm to midnight each night of each week.

CH: You gave up a pretty good career to do the things you’re doing. How many times have you heard people say you lost your mind? What were some of the struggles involved with giving all that up to pursue a dream, both internally and externally?

TR: I have heard that from more than I can count and a lot from family. This was the second time I exited a premium job which most would think a dream to listen to my heart, maintain unwavering faith, as well as trust my instincts. I departed a position in 2012 and walked the Camino de Santiago (about 600 miles through France and Spain). The “Confessions of a Dreamer Tour” was the second. A little secret, a third is on its way.

External struggles were the financial. Overall, I owed $200,000 in school loans plus about $15,000 in credit cards. In order to accomplish this trip, I had to put the school loans in forbearance, (increased interest), cash out assets with large tax penalties, move out of my apartment, and place everything in storage.

As mentioned before, the family kept saying how I was wasting my life, I should stick to the job, find a girl, settle down, and stop these foolish dreams of mine, but internally, I was actually at peace. I sensed I was doing what I was meant to do. It was like a load of boulders were removed from my shoulders on that last day of the day job. I was confident everything would work out through blind, unwavering faith. With the mottos of “if you want a new life, rewrite your life,” “One shot at life,” “Never give up on your dreams,” and “Do not take this life for granted,” I was grateful I was able to do this.

“One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.”—Andre Gide

CH: What is one of the biggest challenges you’ve had to face traveling so much?

TR: I am alone. I am in solitude a lot. However, I am happy. I am strong enough to handle this. Besides, this is my choice. No one is to blame or twisting my arm. I am a quiet person anyway. So, add the transitions. It creates a quiet path. I mean, I have lived here on St. Croix now for two years and I have minimal contacts. I do almost everything alone like hike, paddle board, snorkel, relax at the beach. My belongings are in storage, so I do not feel like I have a true home yet. Though a lot of this could be due to the way I was raised. I attended like 3 kindergartens, 2 or three 1st grades, 2 or 3 second grades, and 2 third grades before relocating to North Carolina in the 3rd grade when my parents separated. But even through those years and college, I lived in multiple different apartments. So, I have never had a room which was mine where I can visit now and see memories. I was born into a rambler lifestyle and guess a reason I love to travel. In my opinion, the world is a massive, abundant, beautiful place, created by God. I desire to see it all. I am sure one day I will meet a woman who would like to join me on my adventures, lol . . .

CH: Talk a little about your songwriting process. Do you write all the time, only when the mood strikes, and do you have any special way you prefer to do it? Do you start with a title, keep notes, use a computer or write by hand?

TR: I go through phases with songwriting. I currently have about a dozen half written songs. I dedicate two days a week to my music. Reading articles, gaining wisdom/knowledge about all aspects of music. I practice once or twice a week singing and playing through my equipment for about an hour each time. However, if an idea hits me, I ensure I write it down. So, if I cannot work on it at that very moment, I have the idea on paper to add to my to do list.

I find the best time for me to write is after being placed into a highly emotional state. After an emotional movie or YouTube video, a lot of times my mind will flow with ideas. For example, after watching “A Star is Born” as well as “Bohemian Rhapsody” in the theaters, I rushed home and worked on lyrics as my heart was talking to me.

When I try to sit down and tell myself, “Okay, let’s compose,” I first strum basic chords like D, C, and G or variants until words begin to flow. I do not record, which is a mistake, because I have lost many great words or lines. After I compose a few lines or more, I then build off of them, finding improved words, or play with the structure to find a unique twist. I then use an App called “OnSong,” which has all of my lyrics on it. I will use it like a piece of paper. It allows me to copy and paste and frees up a laptop so I can research themes of what I am attempting to describe. I still find a pen and paper quite valuable. I believe the pen and paper are connected to my heart and soul.

CH: Is everything composed on guitar or do you play keyboards as well?

TR: I only use my guitar currently. My mom once owned a piano. I can play about 5 basic chords on a piano. It does add a different texture to my writing. At times when writing, I may have instrumental music playing in the background as I improve an older song or update a song I am working on currently. I do not use programs to write lyrics, but I will research on a laptop themes or phrases I can use to portray a scene as I write to tell stories.

CH: What are your favorite foods on the island? Is there a lot of good local food?

TR: Here on St. Croix of the US Virgin Islands, the main local dishes are: Goat, Ox tail, Conch, Saltfish, a unique black stuffing, seasoned rice, Patte. The positive about the island is there is limited fast food, (2-McDonalds, 1-Wendys, 1-KFC, 3-Subways). Everything else is local restaurants. Food is expensive here. Exmple, a basic single cheese combo at Wendys will cost you almost $9). There is a woman who has a grill at a gas station down the road who serves grilled chicken with two sides for $10. I eat a lot of Mahi, chicken, tacos. St. Croix is a food paradise. Like mentioned above, I can take you to a place you can eat for $10, then another place where it will cost you $40 for a small entrée. The best time to eat is during our special events. People will grill out chicken or beef kabobs, patte, along with fried chicken legs.

CH: Do you have any regrets since you’ve started your journey? Would you do it all the same way again?

TR: The major regret after the completion of the “Confessions of a Dreamer Tour,” I stopped. During the tour through posting on Facebook, I made some friends in Nashville. In hindsight, I should have gone there to at least perform at some songwriter nights. Instead, I visited family in Mississippi and Florida and I lost some of the spark I had. I began thinking about the future instead of maintaining the present moment. I allowed some fear to enter, now I am back at a day job again.

In hindsight, I would still complete the tour the way I did, but I would have performed more. I spent three days in Lubbock Texas lying in bed drained and exhausted. They had a venue for songwriters and due to the start time being 10 pm, I chose not to go. I beat myself up for not performing there. I also talked myself out of street performing in quite a few cities. It was surprising how negative it was looked at in the cities I visited. I mean, I was told to stop performing by police in Austin, Texas, the capitol of live music with people around me listening. In order to perform, you needed permits which could cost up to $150. Great if you lived in the city full-time, but not great for what I was attempting. In the beginning, I did attempt to have scheduled stops where I would be paid to play. I sent out over 100 emails and did not get a single response. Perhaps if I tried a different technique I could have had gigs lined up.

CH: You’ve changed the name of your company. What is the address of your website and where can you be reached on social media. Plug your book and your record. Where can people buy those?

TR: I created Tommy Ray Entertainment. It is basically an umbrella company for all of my creative endeavors.

http://www.tommyraybooks.com/

https://www.tommyraymusic.com/

https://www.tommyrayinsights.com/

https://www.youtube.com/user/rayatc73

Twitter: @TommyRayBooks, @TommyRayMusic, https://twitter.com/TRayEntertainm2

Facebook: Tommy Ray Books, Tommy Ray Music, Tommy Ray Entertainment, Tommy Ray Insights

Paperback: “Rambling Across America

Digital: https://books2read.com/ramblingacrossamerica

CH: What are your plans for the future?

TR: Currently writing one new book to continue my “Country Boy” travel series. I am writing a second short story to be part of “Amid the Blackness.” These are suspenseful thrillers of 1,000 – 3,000 words. The first was “Mirror of Perception.”

https://books2read.com/mirrorofperception

I recently recorded two singles at Hit Music Studios. My producer has them ready for mastering. So, maybe in December or January 2019 I can release those. I write a weekly inspirational blog on my Tommy Ray Insights website. I began building my YouTube channel. I am creating a weekly “Confessions of a Dreamer” series.

The debut video: https://youtu.be/pGXOx5zZf74

Besides those, I read daily to increase my wisdom, knowledge, along with insights to keep improving myself so I can ultimately live my dream life. The ability to create inspiration and value to the world and in return, I profit from royalties so I can be free to travel, write, compose, and assist others in attaining their dreams. I desire Tommy Ray Entertainment to be a global brand which sustains myself without the day job and others dictating how I must live.

CH: Thanks for talking to me again.

TR: It was my pleasure Mr. Hose. I am truly grateful and appreciative. Please remember anything is possible. Dream big, my friend. Do not let anyone ever talk you out of your dreams. I truly believe there is nothing you cannot achieve. Become the best version of yourself. Imagine, living your dream life. May I be the example.

“Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.”—Unknown.

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Nothin’ Matters and What If It Did

I’ve been wanting to write about this for a long time. I’m talking about the album Nothin’ Matters and What If It Did by John Mellencamp. It’s a great album. It’s the third Mellencamp album I ever listened to. The first one was John Cougar. Years later, I heard American Fool, and when I realized it was by the same guy who did the John Cougar album, I went out to find more. I found Nothin’ Matters and What If It Did? and I’ve been a John Mellencamp fan since. A huge Mellencamp fan.

The thing about Nothin’ Matters and What If It Did is that John Mellencamp doesn’t really like the album. Now, I get that his songwriting has improved with each album, but to me that doesn’t, nor should it, negate what came before. I’ve written a lot of songs, and yeah, some I look back on and I’m a little embarrassed. There are a lot of songs I’ve written that still sound good to me regardless of the improvement I’ve made as a songwriter. This isn’t the way John feels, as far as I can tell. He’s very picky about his stuff, and in most cases, he doesn’t impress himself.

Is Nothin’ Matters and What If It Did full of catchy pop numbers that John despises? Sure it is. Are they far from the type of music he writes today? Hell yes. The thing is, he wrote the songs on that album, and while he blames it on the record company, they are still products of his songwriting skills. I know a lot of songwriters that would give anything to have composed one of the songs on that album. Great melodies, catchy hooks, and fun lyrics make the songs on Nothin’ Matters and What If It Did a cool record.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying Mellencamp has to like the album because he wrote it. If he wants to call the songs, “Stupid little pop songs,” that’s certainly his right. They are, however, his songs. He wrote all but one of them. They aren’t songs that will change the world. They aren’t songs that make a huge statement on society, politics, morals, or anything like that. What they are is fun songs. Songs to dance and sing to. That’s it.

I appreciate the songs Mellencamp has written through the years. All of them. Each album represents a specific time and place. You can’t take away one of those albums without altering who Mellencamp is today. I don’t think so, but maybe I’m wrong. The thing is, John Mellencamp doesn’t have to like Nothin” Matters and What If It Did. I like it enough for both of us.

All songs written by John Mellencamp except where otherwise noted.

1. “Hot Night in a Cold Town” (writers: Geoffrey Cushing-Murray, Richard Littlefield) 3:47
2. “Ain’t Even Done with the Night” 4:38
3. “Don’t Misunderstand Me” 3:33
4. “This Time” 4:18
5. “Make Me Feel” 4:04
6. “To M.G. (Wherever She May Be)” 4:50
7. “Tonight” 3:17
8. “Cry Baby” 0:25
9. “Wild Angel” 3:13
10. “Peppermint Twist” (writers: Henry Glover, Joey DiNicola) 0:28
11. “Cheap Shot” 3:00

nothin matter

KISS End of the Road Tour

KISS has announced, and by now begun, their End of the Road world tour. It’s supposed to take three years to get it done. There are a lot of people who take it with a grain of salt. KISS has, after all, played the final tour card before. This time, however, I think they probably mean it. They are getting pretty old, and eventually it has to end, right?

Kiss-End-of-The-Road-Tour-

There are a lot of bands I like better than KISS. I was about 15 years old when I discovered KISS, and my musical taste has evolved a lot since that time. That doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate what the band meant to me when I was younger, and what they continue to mean to me today, regardless of the fact that my musical taste has evolved. KISS played a huge role in my early musical development. There’s no denying that.

Imagining a world in which KISS doesn’t tour anymore, or doesn’t make records, is a little on the melancholy side. KISS is not only a part of my personal history, they are a part of music history. No matter what people say about the band today, how much people put them down, how many arguments there are about whether are not they are still relevant, KISS is a big part of music history. They did something different, and yes, they should be recognized for their contributions to music, both from a commercial standpoint and a creative standpoint. KISS is an important part of the musical landscape.

As anyone who’s followed KISS through the years knows, there have been plenty of ups and downs. A lot of them. The loss of two of the original four members created a controversy that continues today. Other bands can lose original members and keep going without suffering the wrath of the fans. Not KISS. No matter how long the newer members have been in the band, fans want the original guys back. For many fans, KISS is not KISS unless it is comprised of the original four members, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley, and Peter Criss. That’s just silliness, but hey, that’s the way it is.

I get it. The original guys built the KISS machine. The original guys created that KISS history. You can’t take away what they all built. That doesn’t mean KISS should have stopped after Peter Criss left. They shouldn’t have stopped after Ace Frehley left. There’s a run of great KISS albums that wouldn’t exist if that had happened. Think of Creatures of the night, Lick It Up, Animalize, Crazy Night, and Revenge. Those are good records. Are they on the same level as the first six studio albums? No, not at all. They’re different. Those are KISS albums made at a different time. For me, those fist six KISS records can’t be matched. At the same time, I appreciate the 80s albums (and, in fact, all of the post-make-up albums) for what they are. They represent KISS in that moment.

KISS is a great band. KISS is a legendary. Are they the greatest band ever? That depends on who you ask, but there’s no taking away the legacy KISS will leave behind. There’s no denying the chunk of music history they represent. There will never be another band like KISS. It just won’t happen. That doesn’t take away from any other band, that doesn’t mean there aren’t better bands, that doesn’t mean KISS is anything more than a band that carved out a notable place in music history.

So, yeah, One Last KISS, the End of the Road tour is bittersweet. I’m happy I supported the band through the years. I’m happy to have been a part of that experience. When they finally take off the make-up, hang up leather, put away the bombs, and call it a day, I will have my KISS records and other cool KISS stuff to remember what they brought to the world of music, and what they gave me personally.

Songwriter’s Pad for Songwriters

songwriterspad

If you look through my blog, you’ll find reviews I’ve written on a variety of songwriting apps. The reviews are all positive. It’s not because I will write a positive review about anything. It’s because, at the time of the writing, I was having a positive experience with the app and wanted to share the positive experience with other songwriters. Unfortunately, those apps ended up failing on some level, forcing me to try another product. I pay for all of the songwriting apps I review, whatever the cost, and I expect I will get what I’m looking for in the product. That doesn’t always happen.

The songwriting app I started with, over five years ago, was Songwriter’s Pad. It was a great product but was still in its infancy with a lot of growing up to do. There were things about it that needed to be tweaked.  After using it for a bit, I moved on to other apps, always running into one issue or another. Either it wasn’t user friendly, didn’t have an effective way of backing up and exporting, or lacked features a songwriter needs. Whatever the reason, I always moved on to another product. That’s why when I say I’ve tried almost every songwriting app on the market, I’m telling you the truth. I’ve tried songwriting apps for both Apple devices and Android devices, and here’s what I know; after trying out all of those songwriting apps, I’ve come back to Songwriter’s Pad because it is the best of the best.

Songwriter’s Pad is the only songwriting app that has been continually updated since its inception. Even while using other songwriting apps, I kept Songwriter’s Pad on my devices and followed the progress of Paragoni, the company that created and distributes Songwriter’s Pad. Dante Moore, the guy who actually created the software, is still personally involved today and dedicated to making sure Songwriter’s Pad is the best songwriting tool on the market. That’s huge. So many of the other songwriting apps I’ve purchased have either disappeared (after I paid for them) or they don’t get updated. Songwriter’s Pad is always there, getting better all the time.

Are there a couple of wonky things about Songwriter’s Pad that annoy me? Sure there are. The good news is, Dante is always open to listening to users and making improvements based on suggestions. You don’t get ignored like you do with other songwriting apps. You can spend your money on Songwriter’s Pad knowing the product isn’t going to disappear and it will roll with the changes. It’s here to stay, with one purpose, and that’s to make songwriting easier for songwriters. Simple as that.

So yeah, I’ve tried all the songwriting apps that claim to be the one. Songwriter’s Pad is the only one that can make that claim with any legitimacy. It’s been around the longest, it has improved consistently and will continue to improve (there are some great changes coming), and Paragoni will support the product. Dante has answered hundreds of questions from me without ever missing a beat.

Save yourself a lot of wasted time, energy, and money. Buy Songwriter’s Pad. This really is the only songwriting app for Apple and Android devices you’ll need. Anything else is going to give you a headache. I’m tired of headaches. I’m tired of trying out songwriting apps that give me headaches. I’ll be using Songwriter’s Pad full time now.

Paragoni Website

Songwriter’s Pad Facebook

Songwriter’s Pad Twitter @SongwritersPad

Hum Songwriting App

hum

I am picky as hell about the songwriting app I use. I’m also loyal. I used Songwriter HD for nearly four years, then the app was sold to a developer who has no intention of updating the app, leaving me in a real bind. I have been contacted by Apple and Dropbox both letting me know the app will soon be useless. That pisses me off, but hey, it happens, right? Doesn’t make me feel better, though.

What does make me feel better is the heir to the throne, a nifty little songwriting app called Hum. It’s almost everything you need in a songwriting app without the crap you don’t need. It makes capturing your songs an effortless process. It’s an iPhone app, but it does work on my iPad Pro as well. I now have the ability to write and keep all my lyrics and audio in one place. There’s Dropbox support that seamlessly keeps everything backed up behind the scenes, which frees me to focus on writing songs, always with the confidence that what I write won’t disappear.

Hum is relatively new, but rest assured, they are on top of the game and already making changes that will help us to continue to write songs more conveniently. Why? Because they listen to their customers. I have already talked to someone at the company. They are real people with their fingers on the pulse of songwriting. They want to know what makes us happy. That’s the truth. They listen and they are working to develop the best songwriting app possible.

Losing Songwriter HD ended up being a good thing. I probably wouldn’t have discovered this new gold standard for songwriters. I have seen the future of songwriting apps. Its name is Hum. If you’re looking for the perfect tool to help you write and track your songs in the most convenient, non-intrusive way possible, forget about everything else and get your hands on Hum. This is a songwriter’s dream tool. It really is.

UPDATE (9-8-2018): I no longer use this product. It’s still pretty much what I described in this post, but the problem is, there are some things it needs before it is a real contender and the updates on the app don’t come frequently. If you’re looking fo the songwriting app I most recommend, and the one I currently use, check out my post on Songwriter’s Pad. I don’t mean to be harsh, but I write my reviews in good faith based on what I see at the time, and if things change, I have to point them out. There are some good things in Hum, and they certainly have a good idea, but they need to tweak it a bit.

Website: Hum

Twitter: @justhum

 

Epiphone Dove Pro – A Pure Joy Acoustic

EpiphoneDovePRO

Look at the guitar in the picture above. Isn’t it beautiful? Yeah, it’s beautiful. I have one and I can’t say enough good about it. In fact, if you are unfortunate enough to have watched my Youtube video, you’ll hear me go on and on and on . . . and on about it. Here’s a link to the video if you’re up for the punishment: Epiphone Dove Review.

This guitar is phenomenal. Epiphone is one of my favorite guitars. They are owned by Gibson. The quality is there. It shows in this guitar. This is a great acoustic/electric whether you want to use it for writing songs, performing with a band, or just playing for your own enjoyment. I use it for all of these things.

epiphonedove1

I got my Epiphone Dove Pro from Musician’s Friend. If you’ve never bought any musical instruments online and you want to but your nervous, check them out. I get most of my stuff from them and have never had an issue. Great products, competitive prices, awesome customer service. You get all that from Musician’s Friend. Anyway, I love them, but this isn’t about them. It’s about the beautiful Epiphone Dove Pro you see in my hands.

Check out these specs:

Dove Pro Acoustic-Electric Guitar

  • Top: solid spruce
  • Body: select maple
  • Neck: hard maple
  • Neck joint: glued-in, dovetail
  • Neck Profile: SlimTaper “D” profile
  • Fingerboard: rosewood
  • Fingerboard Inlay: pearloid parallelograms
  • Fingerboard Radius: 12″
  • Binding:
  • Fingerboard, 1-ply white
  • Body top, 5-ply white/black
  • Body back: 1-ply white
  • Scale: 25.5″
  • Saddle: compensated, imitation bone
  • Truss Rod: adjustable
  • Bridge: rosewood with “Dove”-shaped pearloid inlay
  • Pickguard: imitation tortoise with traditional “Dove” artwork
  • Nut: 1.68″
  • Frets: 20, medium
  • Hardware: nickel/ Grover tuning heads
  • Endpin: 1/4″
  • Strings: D’Addario Phosphor (12-53)
  • Power: 9-volt battery
  • Pickup: Fishman Sonicore (under saddle)
  • Preamp: Fishman Sonitone soundhole preamp
  • Master Volume/tone

This baby came o me set up and ready to play. I wrote a song on it straight out of the box. It’s just an incredible instrument at an affordable price. The original Dove’s came out in 1962 and became an iconic part of the music scene. This new Epiphone Dove carries on that legacy. Get one in your hot little hands today and know the joy of a magical instrument that will inspire you. Epiphone has knocked it out of the park.

Once again, if you want to torture yourself and hear me go on and on about this instrument, go to my Youtube channel. If you’re feeling real generous, like a couple of videos and subscribe to the channel. I’d certainly appreciate the support.

epiphonedove2

God’s Problem Child – Willie Nelson

Willie_Nelson_God's_Problem_Child

Man, Willie Nelson has never been better. At 84 years old, he’s still playing the music that he’s always loved and played, and the kick ass part of it is, he’s playing it as good as he ever has. I can’t say God’s Problem Child is the best record Willie has ever done because he’s done some damn good records. I can say it’s right up there with the best of his records, though. Willie sings and performs on God’s Problem Child as good as he ever has. I mean, this record is a pure damn joy to listen to from start to finish.

There are 13 awesome tracks on God’s Problem Child. Of those, 7 were co-written by Willie and Buddy Cannon, the producer of the album. While the album isn’t a concept album, many of the songs focus on mortality and coming to the end of one’s life. It’s not as bleak as it sounds, though. Willie approaches the topic with his trademark humor and makes clear that he’s more than comfortable with whatever the future has in store for him. There’s certainly no need to pussyfoot around it. We all grow old (if we’re lucky) and move on eventually. All you can do is make your life the best it can be while you’re here and try to leave something behind you can be proud of.

The first song was written by Buddy Cannon’s mom, Lyndel Rhodes. It’s called Little House on the Hill. A video of Lyndel listening to Wille perform her song went viral on social media in 2016. Here the song opens the album with a bang. It’s one of the standout tracks on the album. This is just the start of something really good.

Other great songs on the album include Delete and Fast Forward (Willie’s commentary on the current state of politics), Still Not Dead (a humorous song that refers to the Internet hoaxes involving Willie’s death), and He Won’t Ever Be Gone (a tribute to Merle Haggard). These are just the songs that came to mind immediately. I could have said Lady Luck, Old Timer, True Love, I Made a Mistake, or the title track, God’s Problem Child, with guest vocalist Leon Russell, who died November 2016. There’s really not a bad song here.

If you’re a fan of Willie Nelson, you know what to expect with God’s Problem Child, and if you’re not a Willie Nelson fan (huh?), this album is a great way to introduce yourself to a wonderful songwriter and great performer. Whether Willie is doing his own songs or lending his signature to songs written by someone else, it’s all pure Willie. Warm, honest, and somehow comforting. Check out Willie’s new album. It’s one of the best of his career.

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