The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I traveled to Louisville, KY to play a show. The venue asked for some local support and I found Hannah McKee on Bandcamp. I loved her work and thought her sound would add some compliment and variety. Her song “November 2nd” has that quality of connecting to memories. Click play and see what you remember as you listen. Read the story behind the song below.
The Story Behind November 2nd
November 2nd is a song I wrote about idealizing people. I’ve found throughout my life that I have a bad habit of forming an idealistic vision of who someone is before I’ve actually gotten to know them. I think we all do that to some extent, especially with people who are “famous”, and it’s always disappointing when we discover that they aren’t who we made them out to be, even if who they really are is a wonderful human.
I jotted down the first shreds of lyrics for this song in the middle of the night on the way back from a concert in Nashville where I had an experience like this. One of my absolute favorite artists (who I had a friend of a friend connection with), was playing a show and it was my first time seeing him headline, not just open for someone. For some reason I had built up this persona in my head of who he was and what the night was going to be like, but by the end of the concert I had realized that a person is just a person. No matter how talented or incredible they are, they’re still human, and it’s unfair of me to expect anything different.
Interestingly, this past summer when I was performing this song in Cincinnati, a friend of mine came up to me after and said that she loved the song, and that it exactly described how she felt about our mutual friend, the guy I wrote the song about! She had no idea at the time that that was who it was actually written about.
I hope you enjoy the song, and if you also find yourself making other humans into something more than just that, I hope you will try, as I do, to show some grace.
Hannah McKee Bio
Hannah McKee is a singer-songwriter from Jacksonville, FL, currently located in Louisville, KY. Her debut album, RAW, which focused on authenticity and vulnerability, sought to fearlessly share the things of the heart, in hopes that listeners will feel understood, and encouraged to do the same. Her forthcoming album, Wash, will be a cataloguing of change. The first single, Is Love Just Feeling Weak in the Knees Because If So I Don’t Want It, has been released on all platforms.
During the summer of 2017, I connected with a tour manager and we planned out a series of weekend dates. From July 31 to December 9, I played fourteen shows in Indiana, Kentucky, Kansas, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Arkansas. Yes, I have a day job and play locally around St. Louis too. I grew a beard. It has gray hairs. I met cool people and have some stories to tell. I’ll tell the highlights and give a little financial information. For a first tour, I spent more than I made but I got better by the end and learned an invaluable amount.
My songwriter friend, Nathan Andrew Jones, suggested I vlog the tour after I told him about the first trip. This play list captures most of October and has the November and December dates.
To begin, I headed to Indianapolis to 10 Johnson Street and played as a featured artist. The main goal of this tour was to get into different markets. Playing as a featured artist does just that–you get a bit of the spotlight and can network with local players. What I forgot about in Indy was that I was in a different time zone. My phone was correct but my car was not. I overpaid for a hotel room because it was later than I thought. First lesson learned–book your room in advance.
From Indy, I drove to Muncie, IN the next day. At Be Here Now, I was a featured performer again. Be Here Now has a college-artsy vibe and is a place you can just hang out. After Muncie, I had a couple weeks. My day job started back up then it was time to hit the road.
In mid-August, I performed as a duo with a friend of mine Scott Schuchmann. We played in the afternoon at Gerstle’s Place in Louisville, KY. We left early in the morning to play 11am-3pm. We arrived without a minute to spare, my fault in navigation, and the best chicken and biscuits ever. We shook the cook’s hand. It was that good. From there, I had a month from traveling and played locally.
The last Friday in September, my wife rode with me to Wichita, KS to play at The Pumphouse. This may have been the most attended show of the tour. There were many inside and I played outside at a very busy corner. Hundreds walked by and there were many that came inside. We had to return early the next morning for a local show.
This was the month that was packed. Well, packed at first. The first weekend, I drove to Louisville to play again at Gerstle’s. That was a fun crowd and maybe the second most attended show of the tour. The following day I drove to Nashville to play but when I arrived a sign hung in the door stating, “Closed. Private party.” I checked with the staff and the private party did not include me so I drove home. I did have a local Sunday show but that canceled as well. This was the first vlog so you can tell I’m finding my voice doing that.
The second weekend I drove to Wichita, KS to play Kirby’s Beer Store and on Saturday I went to Salina, KS to play Ad Astra Coffeehouse. Since I had the day to spend, I looked up music stores in Salina. That’s where I found my new guitar. Now, as a guitar player, I have enough guitars. Yeah, I’m an unusual dude. But, I’m good with my instruments. I tried a guitar and it didn’t feel right and this Fender Duo-Sonic was hanging just calling to me. I spent a couple hours playing it in the store. Finally, I understood retail therapy and really needed that. The guitar has now become my solo gigging guitar and my site now bares the surf green color scheme. After playing in Salina, I drove part way back and played locally for Sunday brunch.
The third week was an extended weekend. With my day job teaching, I get an extra day off for parent conferences and traveled to Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois that week. In Iowa City, I played Uptown Bill’s. This was a feature spot that was broadcast on public access tv. On this trip, my GPS started giving me drive times that were off by an hour. That was the only stressful part about the whole tour actually–getting somewhere on time. So, driving from Iowa City to Madison, WS, my drive time was unpredictable. The Madison stop was a date I booked myself. I did that before the tour manager could secure a date. The Fountain in Madison is tied in second for the most attended. The event was broadcast on local radio part of the time and there was a tremendous amount of foot traffic due to homecoming weekend for the university. The next day I went to the north burbs of Chicago–Glenview, IL to play at The Rock House. I drove home that night.
The fourth week, my wife rode with me to Milwaukee, WS. We left early enough so we could have dinner there and enjoy a little time. The show was at Art*Bar Riverwest. Though I’m a relatively smart person, I’m very bad with dates. I did not think about the last weekend being Halloween. One extra cool thing about Milwaukee was that I got to meet an online music friend who lives there.
I had three weeks before hitting the road again in November. Just to show how busy things were, I played six shows locally in those three weeks. No sleep for Kyle.
The week of Thanksgiving, I drove to Muncie, IN on Tuesday to return to Be Here Now. Now, I can say I had no gear failures nor did I lose anything–no cords, not even a guitar pick. But, the day before I was conferencing with my tour manager and he said to be wary of failures; they will happen. So, Tuesday eve, I plugged in and had limited sound. I had no time to check it out. I was disappointed for that reason but more so because the staff remembered me and we had a blast in August. The next day, I didn’t have any means to probe the problem and drove to Louisville, KY to play at Magnolia Bar. When there, I plugged in and the same thing. I drove home that night and the next day, woke up and saw in less than two minutes that a button was pushed in that should not have been. Despite that hickup, I could plan ahead and it didn’t effect my performance at the Magnolia Bar. I shared the stage with a couple local performers and I’m hoping to blog them soon.
The end of November was the first time I had off since September. So much happened in those couple months…way beyond the scope of music. But, December came around and I was ready. The second weekend, I drove to Eureka Springs, AR to play at Brews. Though I’ve just been giving a basic summary of everything here, I have been learning lessons along the way. My first night I didn’t book a room in advance and over paid, this time I had everything down and the only costs I had were gas and tipping staff. As a traveling musician, think ahead and make everything a situation from which you can learn. After playing, I drove to my parents near Springfield, MO. The next day I drove to Poplar Bluff, MO to play The Wine Rack and Java Stop Cafe. Both shows went well and I drove home Saturday night, slept a few hours and played a local brunch show. Then I came home and stared at nothing. For about five hours.
Goals and Finances
As mentioned before, the goal was to get into different markets. Also, for me, the goal was to increase my local value. Through working on those goals, I learned much inside information about how to communicate, what not to do (there’s more than you’d think), and how to present yourself. For future purposes, the goal of getting into different markets will be evaluated. There were two return bookings at venues and returns to the same market, so the fulfillment of that goal seems promising. For increasing local value, I’m getting into new local venues and staying booked up.
For the finances, many details fall into the non-disclosure disclosure area so, I’m generalizing here. I recouped 40% of what I spent. Meaning, if I spent $1000, I made back $400. What surprised me is I spent about the same amount for rooms as I did gas and travel fees. The breakdown was 42% gas, 42% rooms, 16% food. Since I have a day job, some of the expenses were not an issue and I enjoyed everything and took in local flavor as much as I could.
And Now For Something Completely The Same
I’ll do more dates like this in the future. I learned so much and enjoyed working with my tour manager and going through the process. With a new album coming in 2018, I’m looking at touring options over the summer and considering taking a chunk of time to tour as opposed to weekends.
I know I may have left some things out. I’m tired. It’s the Monday after as I typed this so I’ll likely read this many times and remember things I should have added. But, that is part of the experience too.
Recently, a situation arose that inspired me to think about my creative process. More specifically, how life inspires my creations.
As a songwriter, I gather inspiration from experiences and observations. In turn, those become stories in my songs. Experiences that are great, horrible, life changing, mistakes, thought provoking, and humorous all can influence my stories. Likewise, observations that are of people doing good, bad, awesome, and selfish actions can influence my stories. The common ground is that experience and observation influence the fiction I create.
…the fiction I create.
Rarely does 100% of a song reflect something that actually happened as it actually happened. Some songs get close. Really close. Some songs get no closer than you currently are to Neptune. Neptune is further than Uranus.
I try to take the inspirations for a song, which vary, and create details to which people may relate. Therein lies the crux of the recent situation. But more on the idea first… Songwriters want to write a song that connects to a memory, generates a feeling, or causes reflective thought in the greatest amount of people that hear the song. I realize I’m not going to be a world famous or even regionally famous songwriter. I write because I love the creative outlet, I do well performing my original content, and there’s always the opportunity to connect your art with people.
The situation, simply–my songs aren’t about you. Maybe inspired by something you did, said, mentioned, or possibly mumbled. Or, not. If you find yourself or a friend or anyone in one of my songs, it’s because I’m trying to write about relatable topics that people can understand.
The situation, simply–my songs aren’t about you.
To expand on why I write, focus on the phrase ‘creative outlet’ take the word ‘outlet.’ Long story for another time–I’m an emotional person. It’s just how I’m made. I feel sad; I write sad songs. I feel happy; I write happy songs. I feel moody and hurt; I’ll write (guess…) songs that see the world in moody and hurtful eyes. I write to process my feelings. Friends are an area in which I’m poor. Yes, I have a few people that I know through music or work, but rarely do people know me. I’m not complaining, I’m describing. Due to my shortage of willing ears, I have my art to process my feelings.
Please understand what I am describing here. Experience and observation lead to inspiration. Inspiration leads me to create stories that attempt to have universal elements that lead to people making connections. I am not designing specific references. Anyone part of any inspiration should be able to differentiate between what happened and what did not. I definitely can.
In our world of opinions and skewed, relative standards, I cannot stop anyone from thinking what they want. But, that does not mean such thoughts are correct. Thank you for checking out indie music.
In Mid-October, I did a run of three shows on tour. Madison, WI was stop two of three. The show at The Fountain was broadcast on WMUU radio and Durango McMurphy was the host and co-performer. Durango and I had a great time playing some music and playing off each other. Click play on “Aliens Over India” and read about the song below. Durango has probably the best bio I’ve seen.
Aliens Over India Story
I’m trying to stop World War lll before it starts . I saw the headline Aliens Over India in some newspaper . I’ll break it down verse by verse :
They’re swarming like mosquitoes
swear they’re everywhere ya’ hang yr hat
they’re all so clean , never seen
like Elvis @ the Laundromat
bolt the doors they’re comin’ thru
electric ants in neon blue ..
trust the rain the rain is true
they talk about freedom but they don’t mean you …
Aliens are sailing over India tonight
saw it on the TV news , then I saw the light…
Look out boys for the asteroids they’re comin’ in the night don’t you know
racin’ thru the stars all aglow / what a show ..
look out boys for the asteroids they’re crashin’ from above & below
yr runnin’ but there’s nowhere to go / what a show …
I resent Orwellian omnipresent surveillance cameras & find them to be an affront to our Liberty. They pander to the lowest common denominator in society , not the highest and most noble .
In my opinion , you can’t really be Free if a mosquito-like swarm of never-accountable , invisible government officials & police ( electric ants in neon blue ) armed with delusions of power , technology and very real hand guns , are , in an effort to control your life , perpetually watching you from cameras affixed to drones , stop lights , buses , schools , buildings & banks .
Chorus – I saw a newspaper headline that read ” Aliens Over India “. I saw this arguably absurd statement as an example of ” fake news ” , and used it to represent the fact there may not be aliens but there are drones & spy satellites sailing overhead with technology capable of looking into your bedroom window , a reality indeed alien to human creativity & freedom . I find the fundamental assumption the technology will only be used for “the good” flawed and unsustainable . I trust the rain . Nature doesn’t lie . The media , not so much .
police states wait / hate ain’t that great
the aliens must be on drugs
too arrogant to understand
the future of the world is Love
Verse 2 is pretty straight ahead : This is not the United Police States of America.
Paranoia , hate & oppression just create a snowballing karma of more negativity .
I’m basically an optimist . A happy existentialist .
I declare the future of the World is not Armageddon ,
the future of the World is Love . Holy John Lennon , Batman .
Bonus tracks :
I filmed the Video on a simple Sony Handicam & did the editing on Adobe Premier Pro .
I included the Bonus Track just for fun , playing around w/ language & imagery .
Durango McMurphy Bio
It seems I was born, a bunch of weird stuff happens, then I die. If you’d like to contact Durango, please use his email: email@example.com.
Around St. Louis, The Wolf is a place to meet other sing-songwriters. I’ve seen Haley there but didn’t “meet” her until viewing her ReverbNation page. Click play on the song “Love Like That” and meet the musical side of Haley too. Read more about this St. Louis artist and her song below.
“Love Like That” Story
This song is a depiction of what it’s like to love someone from afar. It’s the heartache of unrequited feelings, watching the person you want to be with be with someone else. I wrote this at a time in my life where I was surrounded by relationships, and I was the single person in the middle of it all. I was yearning for a relationship that looked like all of those around me. I was yearning for someone I couldn’t have.
Performing this song is always an emotional experience for me because I perform it acoustically, so it’s a stripped down version that feels much more intimate and emotional. I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Nashville and record this song with an amazing producer and band backing me up that truly made the song come alive!
All my music can be found on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, Soundcloud, and more! Head over to my website for more information!
Haley Woolbright Bio
Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Haley Woolbright is an up and coming singer-songwriter creating songs infiltrated with a blend of acoustic/indie pop. Haley writes with the intention of sharing her heart through her music, and most importantly, keeping it real. Music has always been a closet hobby for Haley, serving as an outlet for creativity and escape. It was not until her junior year of college that she truly started experimenting with songwriting; Haley has always enjoyed writing, so she began pairing her writing with her guitar playing. Songwriting is what opened the floodgates to Haley’s musical endeavors; since then she has begun performing weekly. Now chasing a childhood dream of hers, Haley is actively pursuing a music career as a new artist.
ReverbNation is second to Twitter in how I find new music. With RN, the local aspect is really cool and, though Detective Wadd are not local to me, drifting through charts is how I found them. On their page, I clicked play and the sound grabbed me, and like usual, brought back some memories. The sound of NOFX and Bouncing Souls–especially the time I saw Bouncing Souls with Mustard Plug in St. Louis all came to mind listening to the Medellin, Columbia based Detective Wadd. Check out “Sin Solución” and see if some punky past comes to mind as you listen.
Story Behind Sin Solucion
About the writing process of the song it was around one year ago when we where starting with the band and Xekthor the guitar player had done all the music of the songs we had at that time so I decided to put my hands to work and create some guitar riffs and sent them to xekthor and he created the final structure. At that point there was no lyrics but I normally do it alone and at home in the night, is a good time to focus in such thing as the creation of the word of a song.
We have to say that the reaction of the audience has been really good and I have to say that is the most recognized song because hast that power and that beggining with the overdriven bass makes the people say “umm it seems that something interesting is coming.”
The recording process was incredibly fast because was done in a friend’s studio. That was really cool. It was a friendly environment and everything flowed incredibly good.
Bio of the band: basicly this band was started as 4 friends that has played in different bands for long time in different types of music, from death metal to pop but pun was a genre of music we always eanted to do and once we meet and where drinking a couple of beers a decided to do a couple of songs to see how it was going to work and well we have been working since one year ago and has been a fantastic experience.
Music is a way of communicating the reached beyond location. On Twitter, I met Donna Marie. I visited her YouTube channel and really enjoyed what she had posted and found the song “Run.” The video has a charm to it and works with the energy of country sound. Click play on “Run” and see if you get that energy too. Read about the Warrington, UK artist, Donna Marie, below.
Story Behind “Run”
In the words of Donna:
I’ve been madly in love with music my whole life but our relationship hasn’t always been plain sailing. As any independent artist will tell you, life as a musician can have as many lows as highs. Despite being one of the most important things in my life, music has broken my heart quite a few times. Some years ago, music and I separated and the ‘divorce’ wasn’t entirely amicable. We parted ways and I never expected to see it again.
In 2015, I felt that sufficient time had passed to take a chance and attempt to rekindle my former passion. I teamed up with producer John Kettle who was able to reignite a spark I thought I’d lost. John and I worked on ‘Run’ an old song I’d abandoned years before and together we managed to turn it into the fun, uplifting track I had always envisaged. That experience was enough to inspire me to record a full EP, my first release in almost a decade. The EP “Broken love” went into the iTunes Country charts at number 5 and it was this success that made me realise that my journey was in no way over.
As well as writing my own new material I now find myself co-writing with other artists. The shared experience of developing and shaping a new composition with another artist is now one of my favourite things and it continues to inspire my own songwriting.
I subsequently met Justin Johnson, drummer and producer for UK country artists such as Jade Halliwell, Raintown and Thorne Hill. Justin offered me the opportunity to play live with Thorne Hill and I jumped at the chance. We played a whole host of festivals and embarked upon a nationwide tour (my first ever) visiting places as far and wide as London to Scotland. I wasn’t sure how I’d take to life on the road in a small tour bus being cooped up with the band and tour manager but I absolutely loved it. The only downer was when the tour bus was broken into when we were on stage in London and most of the band and crew lost all of their personal belonging but still we didn’t let it stop us. We were a musical family and still are.
Through my experiences in playing with a number of artists on the scene I found myself landing a job as a musician for the touring theatre show ‘A Country Night In Nashville’. I am regularly playing in prestigious theatres such as The Kings theatre, Scotland and Liverpool Philharmonic hall. I truly love playing in this show but its not all huge theatres as I still play covers in small pubs to a crowd of sometimes 5 (including the bar staff) and often with the TV playing behind me but it’s all part of the life of a musician.
Donna Marie Bio
Quite a few years have passed since I first set foot on a stage but I now find myself at the most exciting time of my musical career. I’m still learning, I’m still creating but most importantly I’m still having fun. That’s exactly why I fell in love with music all those years ago. Join me as I embark upon my next chapter.
My fall tour kicks off this week by heading to Wichitas, KS. Excited give a little weekend warrior version to touring around the Midwest. A music friend of mine, Nathan Andrew Jones, gave me the idea to vlog a bit of the experience. Now, in musician fashion, I just need to remember to do so. I had three dates not clustered together in Indianapolis, Muncie, and Louisville. Traveling is a great learning experience and nothing helps you learn like learning by doing. If you’re nearby one of these places, stop by and say hello.
When you get to meet other artists and they have infectious energy, you can’t help but smile. That’s the effect of San Diego based country singer Alyssa Walker and her song “Stupid Boy.” Click play on the song and read the story of how this song was made.
Story Behind “Stupid Boy”
“Stupid Boy” is a song that I wrote when I was in a rough place. I had just had my heart broken for the first time and I really didn’t know how to deal with it. It took me awhile to get back into music, but when I did, the songs just kept coming. Stupid Boy was written when I finally realized that I was going to get through my heartbreak and that my ex wasn’t going to be able to destroy or control my life, whether he was a part of it or not. This was my most therapeutic song about my break up.
Being able to record this song with a Grammy winning producer, Steve Churchyard, was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had. Getting to share this song with the world is so important to me. I want this song to be relatable to other girls, and I want to be able to lift people’s spirits and let them know that even though there are going to be rough times, they are strong enough to get through anything.
You can find my song on itunes, spotify, soundcloud, amazon, and more. All my information is on my website at
Alyssa Walker Bio
Alyssa Walker is a talented singer-songwriter and acoustic guitar player. She developed a love for writing songs at a young age and currently has written over thirty original songs which she performs on a regular basis. Her lyrics not only tell a story, but are relatable to her fans, as many have reached out to Alyssa to tell her that her song “struck a chord” with them. Her music can be described as pop, indie, folk, country and Americana. She can also play a wide-range of covers from all different genres.
Meeting like minded artists is always good. Through Twitter, Marianne from Every Lovely Thing and I started talking about the music blog and setting up a song. To find a song, I visited Every Lovely Thing’s site and really enjoyed the feel of “Running.” The song is one that inspires lots of cool memories. I found myself thinking of music from Tori Amos to Enigma and how my life intersected those sounds. Click play on the beautiful video for “Running” and see what memories the song brings for you. Every Lovely Thing is a musical duo from Dayton, OH. Read about their music below as you listen.
Story Behind “Running”
We recorded ‘Running’ late July 2016. It was officially released August 26th, the video released October 1st. This was the culmination of writing songs together for over a year!
The song is about toxic relationships. Both of us are INFJs on the Myer’s-Briggs personality test and highly sensitive people – thus have had our share of relational struggles, sometimes feeling swallowed up, misunderstood, overrun by others. Rather than “I am a victim running away,” it is our intention to depict a healthy acceptance of ourselves, and of moving (or running) toward the freedom of positive life-affirming boundaries.
Every Lovely Thing
We feel like our emerging sound is ambient dream pop. We really had no parameters when we started writing music together other than to create a beautiful sound with authentic introspective lyrics. Kate brings her ethereal vocals and elegant piano stylings, with Marianne adding vocals and harmonies in a lower register, and often playing acoustic guitar.
The studio experience was amazing! Marianne has experience in the studio with her solo singer-songwriting career, but it was Kate’s first time recording professionally. We worked with Ben Kesler (Ex’treme Institute by Nelly) at Red Pill Studios in St. Louis. His expertise and quiet demeanor, plus our friendship and understanding of each other’s personalities and how that affects our work, helped create a beautiful studio experience!
Every Lovely Thing Bio
Every Lovely Thing is a music duo from Dayton, Ohio formed by singer-songwriter Marianne Kesler and Kate Stanton. Following a decade long friendship, the two decided over coffee to try writing a song together. Sharing lifelong passions for music, they had no idea what was in store for them. One song turned into twenty, monthly co-writing into weekly sessions. Before long the duo, dubbed Every Lovely Thing, was on their way to St. Louis to record their first single “Running” with producer Ben Kesler.
Their debut single “Running” is available on CDBaby, iTunes, Amazon, and other online sources for digital music, as well as now playing on Spotify, and Cascade.FM!