Confidence? Authenticity? Tricky tricky...
movin' and shakin'
This past Thursday, my husband and I drove to Georgia to have a creative meeting with the producer and his team.
On the way there, we stopped in Chattanooga and went to the Tennessee Aquarium and Cheeburger Cheeburger (a famous burger place). We went in honor of our 1st wedding anniversary that happened yesterday (Sunday). aaaawww :P I have one picture from it. You really don't wanna see it. It's very lame.
See, I told you. Moving on...
We made it to Georgia. Valdosta, GA to be exact. Home of the - well, I'm not real sure yet. We did find a $2.50 movie theater and a few pawn shops. And we found one of those parking lot fairs, too. But we didn't do any of it because
we have no money we're extremely fancy.
We met Mark the producer, Jim the business guy, and Steve the assistant, at the new studio.
Yes, this is it. This is what a Grammy winner's studio looks like. Okay, maybe not ALL of them, but swampy, soulful, southern ones can make this old building a bad@$$ music-making hub.
'Don't judge a book by it's cover' would be an appropriate reminder at this moment.
Anyways, My husband played guitar, and I played a little piano, and we played through my songs. We re-worked a couple of things, but every song is being kept the same as I had written them. Pretty awesome. :)
That's Mark there on the right. :)
After the meeting, we left the next day to play a show at The Rookery in Macon, GA. We like them there, and it's a good place to try out new songs.
Then, we got up the next morning, visited with my cute lil Nana Banana,
...and then went back home to recoup. I'm still recouping. I'm sleepy. Somebody gimme a Red Bull. No, please don't give me a Red Bull, that stuff tastes like ABC bubble gum dipped in dirty Koolaid.
Elvis Costello said that. I have come to the conclusion that this should be in the Constitution. Okay, that's a little overboard. But still... I could tell you how much I write, what my songs sound like, brag to you about "all the ideas that float through my head" (I've heard this too many times from artists, as if they're the only ones whose brain works.). I could tell you what my music sounds like 'til you're blue in the face, and you're still not going to REALLY know until you hear it.
I can tell you that this album will be swampy, soulful, southern music. But I'm sure most of you don't even really know what that means. Of course you don't! You haven't HEARD it yet. Heck, I don't completely know what it's going to sound like yet! I have to RECORD it first. (In April. 2013. Shameless plug. I digress....)
So... If someone asks me again to describe my music, I won't be upset, and I will understand their wondering, but I think I'm just going to say, "you'll have to wait and hear it." Because there is no way I can answer that question to the satisfaction of the questioner. Plus, we all have different interpretations of a song anyways. Am I right? Yes. I am.
So, I'll write about funny stuff and about pursuing dreams and such on this blog, but you won't hear me talk much about the music. You'll have to just wait to HEAR that.
Hooray, hooray! I have a few more hours to celebrate this newest step forward in my music endeavors, and then it's back to work. I still have a long ways to go. I just signed a production agreement with a producer named Mark Neill. Thanks to the funds raised on my Kickstarter campaign, and a sweet Lord taking care of me, I am able to work with a Grammy-winning producer like him. I feel honored. I also feel motivated to work my butt off to prove myself to this guy and to everyone who donated. Before now, this music process has been slower than a turtle. But now, it's going to go CRAZY fast. WooWEE!
I thought I'd share a "behind-the-scenes" look at how I picked this producer. I like to document this stuff, so when I'm 80, I can come back to this blog and remember what a crazy person I was. :P
The search for a producer felt a bit like grasping at straws at first. I realize that I live in Nashville, where every other person you meet is a producer, so I shouldn't have a problem finding one. But finding THE one was a bit trying. There are so many different ways one can go, and there's no one right way to do this business. Many people had many different opinions about what route I should take, and that grew slightly daunting. But I knew it was a decision I had to make with MY gut, not anyone else's.
I started with one producer I was really hoping would work with me. I spoke with him some, and he was interested, at first. It became obvious that my interest in him was far greater than his interest in me, so that fizzled out. Yes, the music business IS a lot like dating.
So I made a few calls to some other Nashville-based producers who I knew had great reputations. While I was doing that, I also was doing something kind of ridiculous. My "Hail Mary pass," if you will. I decided to Google some albums that I really like and see who produced them. I would then search for that producer's contact information online. If I found it, I would send them info about myself and see if I'd get a bite.
I didn't really expect anything from this. I was emailing the most fancy producers I could possibly find. And as a general rule, fancy producers produce fancy artists with fancy budgets on fancy record labels. Basically, not me.
I sent out about 10 of these emails, overall. Two people responded. The first one was an email from an assistant of an assistant who said, in a nutshell, "I'm sorry, you will not be able to afford him."
I hadn't even given him my budget yet. THAT'S how expensive he was.
Then, I received a call from a guy named Mark Neill. I had found his email address because I was looking up who produced The Black Keys' "Brothers" album, one of my favorites. I also found out that he's from South Georgia, same as me. And then I read some interviews he did where he talked about loving and understanding southern music and southern culture and history, and I thought YEAH! THAT'S my dude!
To make a long story short, he called me 2 hours after I emailed him. We talked about South Georgia and farming and soul music and lots of other awesomeness. He then asked me how in blue blazes I found him, and I had to admit to him that it was through Google. ha. He then told me that he is moving his studio (Soil of The South Studios) from San Diego, BACK to South Georgia. Sa-weet!
I then sent him some more of my songs, talked with his business partner, talked a little more about vision and ideas, talked money, went and met them in person, got offered a contract, took contract to my lawyer, after lawyer approval, we both signed it, and then well, there ya go. It was quite quick, the whole process.
I've already said this a gazillion times, but I am so excited. Creative meetings start this month. Recording in April. Release should be this summer.
Here goes nothin'!
Oh, you sweet, sweet Maconians. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways... 1. You know how to lay back and let loose. You're just fun people. 2. You have good taste in burgers. (The Rookery's burgers are pretty ridic.) 3. You're super cute. Every single one of you. 4. You thought my jokes were funny (some people don't, can you believe it?! hehe).
And best of all, most wonderful thing of all is...
YOU CAME!! YOU CAME TO HEAR ME SING!!!
I'm honestly so amazed at how many of you came to hear and cheer and bob your sweet little heads to the music. You allowed me to do my most favorite thing in the world -
be a totally obnoxious ham entertain. I am working on getting down there again in March. Yeehaw!
I leave you with this lil cute picture of y'all from my point of view. :)
Not a sad sack in the place. I heart you.
With Love, Jessie.
I hope your holidays were glaaahrious. I hope you were able to rest and laugh and get lots of hugs. I had the privilege of playing for a good many Christmas parties this year. And then I spent actual Christmas with my in-laws at a lake. It was fun. I ate some turkey. I slept a lot. I even read a book. I forgot to take pictures. Got some pretty sweet gifts. Yep. That's about it.
Wow, this blog post is really starting with a bang....
Well anyways, right after Christmas, my husband and I took a trip to Ft. Walton Beach, FL to get away and write some songs, thanks to my aunt and uncle's gorgeous beachside condo. Good lord, it was heaven.
Aw, heck. We're all friends here.
Woowee! What a treat we didn't deserve in a million years. And we wrote new songs that you can hear at my shows!
So we drove back from Florida on New Years' Eve, just in time to hang out with these n00bs:
We hung out, ate soup, drank some sherry (and by sherry, I mean I tried the sherry and then proceeded to cut it with a large amount of Mountain Dew), and then drove to downtown Nashville to "watch the music note drop."
In the freezing rain.
And the chick on the left in the last picture wore her pajamas.
I love my friends.
So anyways, we stuffed ourselves onto Broadway like sardines, running into each others' umbrellas, and feeling the water seep through our clothes. This picture really sums it up nicely.
I kid, I kid. Well, not about the rain part. I kid about the insinuation that it wasn't fun - okay, so it wasn't the BEST time I've ever had, but if it wasn't for good company, I believe I would've been the cranky so-this-is-what-it-feels-like-to-live-in-an-ice-cube lady. Instead, I was the joyful mute, glaring at the intoxicated many who ran into me with my laser beam eyes.
Wow, Jessie, you're lame. But I digress... how cute are my little friends?!
Yay, adventures. :)
Like any good starving artist, I have been trying to play as many shows as I can. This includes the ever-interesting "Open Mic Nights." As one can imagine, open mic nights are GREAT people-watching. It's kinda like the DMV of the music industry, if you get my drift.... I kidnapped my husband last night, and we drove down to the historic Bluebird Café in Nashville. I've decided that's why God made marriage. So people don't have to go to awkward Open Mic Nights alone. Among other things.
I knew it was going to be a bit crazy, as the Bluebird is quite the tourist attraction, and it's probably tinier than any other bar or restaurant ever, in the history of ever. But alas, this is what people do if they wanna be a singer/songwriter, so I better get in line.
We walked up to the unassuming line with a smile on our faces. We were ready to OWN this thang.
But as a few hours passed, standing in line in the cold, our attitudes got a little cold, too. We tried to entertain ourselves, and as the line grew, it worked for a little while.
But we quickly got cranky. Like, super cranky. I'm not posting pictures of that.
We finally got inside. Yessssss. We signed in, got a hot chocolate and prepared for a long night. They then called out by random drawing, who was playing when. By the time they got to #30, they said, "The following people MAY be able to play 1 song tonight, but it's not guaranteed: JESSIE SMITH...."
"AW H*LL NAW," I yelled. "YOU GONNA LET ME PLAY, SON!"
Just kidding. I didn't say that. I just made this face.
I was fading FAST. Then, the announcer guy said, "If you want, you can take a number and come back next week and have the opportunity to play in the first hour, because this is a big pain my @$$." (That was a loose translation.)
So we took our number and happily got outta dodge.
Maybe next time we will ACTUALLY get to perform.
Yesterday, the hubs and I took our Sunday to record 3 swampy new songs (acoustic versions) I've written for my album (the album that is being funded by the most wonderful lil' buddies in the world, via our successful Kickstarter campaign!). So, I've written a few more songs to add to the consideration list. Today, I posted song #1. Tomorrow I'll post #2 and Wednesday I'll post song #3. Then, I'll post some bloopers, but that's not 100% guaranteed as of yet. They're pretty humiliating bloopers. I'm sure you would find them funny, because let's face it, humiliating things are hilarious. So, without further adieux, here's song #1 - Frozen Man
I would love to know what you think of it. Especially if you like it. :P
And if you're interested, here are the lyrics!
Cold hands, cold heart
you used to melt me in your arms
where has all of your passion gone
i need that fire back, make me burn
I Can’t seem to leave, don’t wanna stay
held together by just this pain
can you convince me you wanna change?
is this worth enough to save?
Never gonna be satisfied
Never gonna be satisfied
Never gonna be satisfied
With a frozen man
i’m not saying it’s all your fault
i plead guilty to building walls
i wanna love you, but it’s so damn hard
you won’t see me beg or crawl