3/12/2022-3/17/2022 Austin, Texas

I’ve been in Austin, Texas for the last 5 days. I rolled in after spending a day in El Paso, Texas, and then one night in Midland, Texas.

El Paso is a funky, west Texas town. I originally planned on playing there but it was another stop along the way where there wasn’t really much happening. There weren’t people walking around and the downtown was kind of beat. I didn’t bother unpacking my stuff. I slept one night not too far from the border of Mexico and then drove further on into Texas.

Midland, TX has been a place I’ve thought of a lot because of the book “Friday Night Lights” which tells the story of this town and their love for the high school football team. There’s also a great tv series by the same name. Midland is in the middle of nowhere and when you drive there you begin to understand why high school football is such a big deal. There’s really not much else around. The area seemed big on farming and the oil fields surrounding the area. It was hard to get a sense of what else the town was about. I could definitely feel the blue collar-ness of that town. Anyhow, I stayed the night and then got up pretty early to head south.

I originally planned on heading to San Antonio but after passing through, again I had a hard time discerning where to play music. It was difficult to get a feel for the city. There were a lot of people, who I assume were tourists walking around but I felt kind of congested being there and needed a bit more time to figure out where I could play. That said, I decided to skip San Antonio for now and headed to Austin.

I had been to Austin before a few years prior and had some great experiences playing on the Lamar Street foot bridge which is where I am in the photo above. Someone saw me playing and asked I wanted to be a part of a benefit concert. I said yes so they started filming me. Low and behold a few weeks later the video that was shot of me was used alongside footage of some other very prominent musicians for a live-stream concert. I was then sent a very generous check in the mail for contributing my part. I’m addition, someone else saw me playing who happened to work at a club on 4th street downtown and asked if I wanted to play in the club. Again, I said yes and performed a week or so later. I started to get plugged into the gigging system in town but soon after the clubs started getting shut down due to COVID 19.

This go round things picked up right where they left off. I’m a bit more seasoned and have a lot more added to my repertoire so I was curious to see how things would unfold. I’ve played 5 days in a row, 2-6 hours a day, and it’s been overall another special experience. There have been a lot to people taking interest, offering support, and complimenting what it is I’m doing. What that is I’m not even sure.

I haven’t felt particularly great any of the days, in fact a lot of the opposite. I’ve been still dealing with an anxiousness, fear, and a mind that seems to have a mind of its own. Despite my own inner experience, what’s reflected outward seems to be different. There have been people crying, a lot of babies and young children soothed, countless smiles, videos taken, and numerous chills up and down my spine. There has been lots of beautiful eye contact and lots of reassurance of the path I’m walking.

Nothing I do is flashy, and doesn’t use effects or gimmicks. It’s gritty, dirty, and very down home. It relies on faith more than anything. Faith in my own philosophy about what I’m doing. It doesn’t want to try and fit in or be popular, but it strives to be real. It’s not about the perfect song as much as it about the embodiment of the moment. About feeling every song out and letting it exist as it is. There’s no special song, or song that I think will win people over. It’s really just about playing something and feeling all that comes up from playing it.

The next step is to start writing on the spot, writing songs for people in the moment and giving them away. I have about 160-200 songs I can play from memory. I love them all. But I also have about 200 songs I’ve written, some of which don‘t have melody yet, and they too need a voice. So this is where my work lies ahead. To start introducing more and more of my own work to compliment what I already have.

What I’m coming to see is that I’m not a part of any music scene per say and I don’t know if that’s what I want. I want to create my own sense of identity from just doing what I’m doing. I don’t desire to be seen or to make it big. I’ve spent so many years trying to fit in to something that doesn’t work for me. I won’t do it anymore. It feels nice to get validation but more than anything it feels nice to validate myself. This path is not about writing a hit, or getting my name in the marquee lights. It’s about grinding, and pushing through the boundaries of what I’m told are acceptable and somehow finding myself in that process. I’ve always felt on the outside and I’m learning to love my place there and hope to meet others who have felt similarly. Music happens to be that place where we can bond. I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be in Austin but it’s been supportive in a lot of ways and I’m looking forward to getting back out there again to play whether it’s today or tomorrow.

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