I was in a band once – Part 2: Songwriter

Once I opened the door to songwriting, it was as if the floodgates burst. I started writing songs all the time. Some were horrible and were quickly forgotten but some were quality and I still play them from time to time when I pick up a guitar. One thing I learned as I began my songwriting phase is that when you write a song, you want someone to hear it! I wanted an ear to listen to what I had to say. The songs I was writing were conveying emotions, stories, my heart was being poured out and I needed someone to catch it.

At first I would play songs for friends who would take the time to listen, but as the months went on I wanted to take them to a broader audience. I started playing at a church on Sunday mornings with some friends. We would do some worship songs and as a thank you the pastor would take us out for milkshakes. These types of things broadened my spectrum about who else at my campus played and sang and through that I learned about places where I might be able to play.

I kept writing so I had a repetoire of decent songs that I thought people would enjoy, but I also learned a few cover songs that people would recognize. My first year in college came to a close and I had yet to play a show but I knew I would be ready when the fall came. That summer while I was home in Maryland I continued to write and I began to play some solo songs during youth group as special music. I would bring my guitar and sing songs for my hometown friends to get their feedback. My confidence in my songs and my voice grew and finally the summer drew to close and I went back to Florida ready to share my music with the college scene.

I was able to schedule a few gigs around Lakeland and to my surprise people came. Not just my close friends, but people I didn’t know! Most of the times there were a few different acts playing so I started off opening up the shows and I tried to include friends (playing bongo’s or singing with me) but as time went on I was pushed back later in the show’s lineup until finally I was the closing act a few times. People actually stayed through all the other singers to hear me. I was ecstatic. Songs continued to be written, I had inspirating coming in from all areas and I was enjoying the singer/songwriter life. 

Then one night a few of us guys got together to jam. It sounded good, we blended together well, we planned another night to play together, and in the back of all of our minds we started thinking about band names…

Advertisements

I was in a band once – Part 1: Strummer

The audience had left, the smoke began to clear, but my ears were still ringing…then I woke up.

I was in my own home, it was 5:30 am, and I had to go to work. I wasn’t a rock star, I wasn’t a radio hero, I wasn’t even a local coffee shop favorite, I was a “pick-up my guitar once in a while” kind of guy. But that wasn’t always the case….I was in a band once.

A long time ago, when I was a younger man with a lot more hair (and a tongue piercing) I lived in Florida and was in a band called Faintly Macabre. There were 4 of us: drums, lead guitar, and then another guy and I sang and switched off on bass, rhythm guitar, mandolin, piano, and even the spoons. But let me not get ahead of myself, my music career didn’t begin with Faintly Macabre, it started a few years earlier when I was still in high school.

P.O.G. (Peace of God) started out of a need for a worship team at our youth group. I had never played an instrument before but I volunteered to learn the bass guitar, so I bought one and taught myself. After a while I realized it was kind of boring to sit at home and play the bass (it’s not really a solo instrument) so I bought an acoustic guitar and taught myself to play that as well.

There were 3 of us in P.O.G. and we all played the acoustic guitar. We played together for a few years, mostly just at church services, but then I moved away to college and an interesting thing happened. I had always learned to play songs but I had never written a song of my own, but during my first semester at college in Florida a friend of mine asked me to write a song for her. A few night’s later I was in my dorm rooming, strumming my guitar and then I found a chord sequence that I liked, then I began to hum a melody, then words fell off my lips and after a while I had composed my first song. And with that song, a new chapter in my musical career had begun.

Humidity

I graduated high school in the spring of 1998 (yes, that is over 10 years ago) and that fall I moved over 1,000 miles away from  home to the Sunshine State of Florida. Keeping with the theme of this week (hot, hot, hot) I started thinking about the weather in Florida and the thing that stands out the most to me is the humidity. It seemed like it rained every day, not for long periods of time, just short bursts of hot, drenching, pounding rain and it usually decided to pour when I was walking from my dorm to the cafeteria or had to walk outside of one building to get to another one. Ten minutes after the rain started the clouds would roll back and the sun would come out and the campus would literally start to steam, like walking around in a sauna. The heat would radiate up off the pavement as well as fall on you from above. Within seconds you would start to sweat. If you somehow managed to dodge the rain burst, you would still be soaked by the time you got to your classroom.

Showering didn’t help either, that cold water blasting out of the spigot felt refreshing for the few minutes you allowed it to pour over you, but as soon as the water was turned off, that humidity would start creeping in and even if you had a dry towel, it wouldn’t dry you off, it basically served the purpose of spreading around the sweat that had already came out of your pores! My college wasn’t top of the line, so the air conditioning wasn’t exactly top notch so this is what I learned to live with!

I ended up living in Florida for two years, and they were great years; I liked the beach and there are some absolutely beautiful places to visit, but where I was living, in Central Florida, is not a place I would recommend to anyone, unless of course, you like saunas.

For those who don’t know me, a quick overview

I was born and raised in Cumberland, Maryland for the first 17 years of my life. I have a lot of great memories of growing up there and I have a lot of friends from there who have grown up and scattered themselves around the world. I spent two years after high school living in Lakeland, Florida going to college. It was an interesting time and I learned a lot about life and God. While I was home I saw a choir from Africa and my life was completely altered. The next 3 years of my life was consumed with traveling around the world as a sound technician and “father” to children from all over the wonderful continent of Africa. Finally, after years of touring with Africans I moved there and spent 3 years living in Uganda. I traveled around East Africa working with numerous organizations and lots of children. It was the most amazing time, loving these kids and showing the love of Jesus to them on a daily basis. I’ve made friends from all over the world along the way and even though I don’t get to see them much, they are still great friends. In October of 2005 I met my future wife while in Uganda and a few years ago ended up moving to southern California where she was from and I have been living here ever since. We’re happily married now and we’re loving it!