Indiana where I was raised with my two sisters by our amazing single mother. To say that money was tight was a massive understatement. Though we were financially poor, we were beyond blessed with the love of our family and the support of the church. I didn’t even know we were poor until a bully named Joe Green pointed it out in the third grade. My mother met and married a wonderful man who raised me and pulled us out of that situation the very same year. So take that, Joe!
It was also around the third grade I discovered the school was not going to be the same experience for me as it was for most of my peers. I was the poster child for ADHD long before anyone knew what that was. In those days kids like me were considered lazy and undisciplined. Now, there are medications,customized diets, and specialized curriculums to help kids with ADHD keep up with the rest of the class. Back then, it was detentions and repeated trips to the principal’s office, neither of which did anything except make matters worse.
For some reason, when I listened to music, I could not only pay attention, but I was able to hyperfocus on every detail of the song I was listening to. And after much begging and pleading, I was given my first guitar at age 10 – an $80 Oscar Schmidt acoustic that had a bent neck and typically five or fewer strings on it at any given time. As guitars go it was an absolute POS, but for me, it was the key to a door I had been trying to unlock for a very long time. I spent hundreds of hours in my room that year just trying to figure out how to make this thing produce a noise that didn’t offend everyone within earshot.
I was also gifted guitar lessons that Christmas. During my second lesson, my instructor asked me to play the notes written on the page in my book. I proceeded to play the notes on that page and every page after. However, the instructor noticed I was not looking at the music when I played. I told him that the book came with the CD and I thought that was a much easier way to learn the songs. That was my last guitar lesson as the instructor told me and my mother that I had a natural ability to play by ear. Thank God, because learning anything from a book had always been a challenge for me!
my guitars got nicer and I truly fell in love with making music along with everything it entails. By 15 I started singing, much to the misfortune of my sisters who had to be there for the “learning years”. They had a front-row seat to some of the worst performances ever sung by anyone; my voice was changing daily, which certainly didn’t help with the way I sounded at the time. To their credit, they never discouraged me and were always happy to give me an honest opinion – good, bad or indifferent.
After high school, I bounced around, playing open mics and house parties until I was 20, when I started my first real band, Eastonashe, thus beginning the adventure of a lifetime. Try to imagine six early 20 somethings living in one house, touring in one van, and experiencing every stereotype one can imagine. That band will forever be my first true love, and I owe everything I have to the lessons I learned in those 10 years.
In 2013, as the remaining original member, it was time to make a change. It was around this time that country music had begun to change drastically with artists like Keith Urban bringing a decidedly more rock ‘n’ roll feel to country radio. So I made the decision to strike out on my solo country career.
Fast forward a couple of years when I was offered the opportunity that I had always prayed for.
In high school, while bussing tables at the local Honkytonk in my hometown of Cave Creek, Arizona I met Liz Burns. It’s quite uncommon for patrons of a bar to strike up a conversation with the kid clearing the dishes off the table. Uncommon for most, but not for Liz.
Years later, a popular Irish pub in Scottsdale booked my band for recurring Friday night gigs. One night, I saw a familiar face in the crowd; turns out Liz owned that Irish pub. We started meeting for lunch at least once a month for several years until she asked if I would be interested in signing with her if she started a record label – thus began Cave Creek Records.
That is my story – God willing, there will be many chapters. Getting to write and sing songs for y’all, with my best friend Liz backing me, is a blessing beyond measure. I have a lot more songs to sing and stories to tell. Hopefully, you hear one that means something special to you, and you keep on coming back for more.
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