Lunar Tides “Would You Believe”

July 15, I met Lunar Tides the old fashioned way.  No, not MySpace, but in person.  I had the honor of opening for them at Moon City Pub in Springfield, MO.  A week or two before the show, I messaged Lucas O’Dougherty the drummer and one of the vocalists.  Before the show, I had a chance to meet him and the rest of the band.  I respect the attitude of the the band, they seem to “get it” and we were giving shout-outs for each other and made a cool connection.  Lunar Tides stream often on and have some music online.  Click play to catch this Carthage, MO trio perform “Would You Believe” and read about the band below.

Story Behind Lunar Tides

Hello Internet! We are Lunar Tides, a three piece rock band out of Carthage, MO. The band consists of Randy, Lucas and Lydia. A little family piece that has been heavily inspired by many genre’s and forms of music. We formed Lunar Tides in late 2013 after watching a documentary on Ian Curtis of Joy Division, and another documentary called “Horse the Band: Earth Tour” which was pretty life changing to say the least.

We hadn’t really had much experience playing music, and it had been quite some time since any of us had really touched any musical instruments or tried writing a solid song.

Lunar Tides

Lunar Tides

We kicked off writing our first songs Spring of 2014 trying to model our sound lo-fi, and similar to Joy Division from the late 70s, however over time this quickly changed to become more of a heavy melody riff based type of band with inspirations from the 80’s, to modern day metal and break downs. To be honest, we are probably still searching for our sound. Having only been a band for three years, I think we have plenty of exploring to do with out we continue to write and what will influence us next in the songwriting process.

We’ve been playing shows pretty solid for the last year. I think we did 13, which was a huge accomplishment for us. There were times early on that we didn’t think we’d even get to play one but it’s been a 99.9% positive experience for us in the Southwest MO area, with venues, bands, and other friends and family that have supported our music and what we do. We’re taking a few months off to recharge, work on a studio we’re building, write some more material and add a few covers to the set in the future, but we plan on playing out again this fall, and into the winter months. We hope to see you out!

Lunar Tides Links

You can find us on facebook, twitter, instagram,, youtube, etc.  We hope to see you out at a local show sometime.

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Kascarade feat. Julie E. Gordon “Rise Again”

A little milestone here with the 50th I met Martin from Kascarade on Twitter.  After a couple clicks, asked if they might be in sharing a song on here.  Click play on this Leeds/Halifax area group and enjoy this superb video.  Read the story behind their song below.

Story Behind “Rise Again”

On a cold January winters morning we took to the hills in beautiful West Yorkshire. Where the members of kascarade prepared to film on location at Ilkley “Cow and Calf”.

Featuring Matthew Milnes (Lead Vocals) and Julie E Gordon backing singer from the Happy Mondays, and all the film crew.

“Rise Again” is a traditional pop/rock song with driving drums, distorted guitar riffs. Backed up with sharp melodic organ sounds. The message within this track is an urgent call to get on with living, which states “what’s been has gone” and all we have is “here and now” so get up and start again.



We do write as a collective, or build on an idea from a lyric that one member might want to use. Our main priority is to create a feeling within a moment that the audience or listener can relate to.
We have performed this track many times and was always well received. As to the recording process we felt that this particular recording was great as a single but compared to the rest of the tracks that feature on our debut album (Start of it All) we would re work the track?

We are lucky enough to have our own recording studio in Bradford and wanted to take it to the next level.

We are now currently working on album no 2 which we are very excited about.

Kascarade Links

Rise Again – Single by Kascarade

Kascarade Bio

Kascarade are Matthew Milnes (vocals), Luke Milnes (lead guitar), Carl Bower (drums), Adam Brankin (bass), Martin Horton (keys).

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Tracy Colletto “The Ride”

Twitter has been a great place to find new music.  I met Tracy Colletto sending blue birds around and checked out her music.  The storytelling vibe in Colletto’s folky genre combination of folk, country, Celtic, makes you want to listen to what comes next.  Click play on “The Ride” and enjoy the story.  Read about the song and Colletto below.

Story Behind “The Ride”

The Ride was one of the later songs written for my 2016 album, Chocolate Happy Cake. Being more of a balladeer at heart, I needed a few more upbeat tracks to round out the album. I liked the thought of paying tribute to people I have met along “the ride” of life. At first I was thinking of a bus theme where friends of mine would get on and off as life progressed, but later it became a positive spin on conflict resolution. Most of this song was written while driving or on lunch break, it took me a couple months to complete the lyrics although the melody came right away.

Tracy Colletto

Tracy Colletto

When it was time to record the track, I saw it as a fun type of song so the fiddle quickly came to mind. Gary Oleyar is the fiddle soloist, he tours with Loggins and Messina and it is great to have him featured. We all had a lot of fun recording it. So far, The Ride was nominated as Best Alt Country Song at the 15th Independent Music Awards in 2016 and it has received airplay on many independent radio shows globally, especially in the country genre. Many friends of mine like the catchy phrase, “It’s inevitable, inevitable.” If I did a music video for The Ride, it would have a hoedown theme.

Tracy Colletto Links

Listen to “The Ride” on Spotify

Tracy Colletto Bio

Tracy Colletto’s lyrics are poetic and story-telling. Her delivery is straightforward and vulnerable, and with an emotive, versatile range. Several songs from her most recent album, Chocolate Happy Cake, have been added to the playlists for radio stations, including WXPN’s Sleepy Hollow and Women of Substance Radio. Her single, The Ride, is a recent nominee for Best Alt. Country Song at the 15th Annual Independent Music Awards. You can listen and purchase her music at, and her website
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Guitar Sculptures Merch

Talking with a tour manager, he passed along a great idea for merchandise.  As I get to that idea, I need to state that I’ve been trying to find a good story for myself.  Like the difficulty my students have when I ask them to write about themselves, I’m having the same experience.

The tour manager suggested using my teaching job as a way to put a twist on things.  Like most ideas I like, my imagination begins flowing like a river out of its bounds.  I wanted to have fun with the idea and here’s just one manifestation of my thoughts: destroyed pencil and used guitar strings art.  This helps me build a story for myself–you can see I love my job yet I’m not the typical teacher.

I wanted merch that’s unique, has a cool edge, and is easy to carry.  For the art, I put some ideas on paper and drafted some construction plans.  I researched supply costs, made purchases well under budget, and set out to work.  One final note I made was time.  In arts, it’s easy to not value your time spent working.  Keeping track of time is one of the best measures of effectiveness.  Of course, while building the first piece, I learned a lot.  Each piece is titled, numbered, and mounted on a dated and signed card.

I’ll be opening these pieces up for sale at the June 24, 2017 Refrain Showcase event.  The cost is $10.  Going to see how people respond before making more.  But, I do have many other related ideas besides these.

Art piece 1

Art piece 1

Art piece 2

Art piece 2

Art piece 3

Art piece 3

Art piece 5

Art piece 4

Art piece 5

Art piece 5

Art piece 6

Art piece 6

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Nightmare River Band “Goodbye To Your Friends”

As I think to myself how great Twitter is as a way to discover music, I find Nightmare River Band.  Their SoundCloud link became my focus and I enjoyed what I heard.  After typing with front-man Matt, we came down to blog business. Click play on “Goodbye To Your Friends” and resist smiling.  This Bronx NYC based group is sure to keep you smiling.  Read about the story and the band below.

Story Behind “Goodbye To Your Friends”

Goodbye to Your Friends was one of those songs that stuck around for years without being finished. I wrote the verses sitting at a campfire overlooking Lake Algonquin in the Adirondack Mountains. It was part of a two week writing/ rehearsing retreat with my previous band, Fire Flies. There was an old boat next to the cabin we were staying in. Being out in the open air, overlooking the dark water, and most likely having a couple PBR’s down the hatch, I set out to write a sea shanty.

Nightmare River Band

Nightmare River Band

“First we’ll patch the old boat up, and sail into the sea..” was the first line I came up with. Oddly enough, it ended up being the final line of the song. Fire Flies eventually split up, and the song sat around unfinished. Years later, I was flipping through one of my old writing notebooks and stumbled across it. I was reminded of all the great times we had with Fire Flies, and though we were still all close friends, certain things had obviously changed with time. I sat down, and within minutes I had the chorus to “Goodbye to Your Friends” and the song was finally finished.

Nightmare River Band Links

Nightmare River Band Bio

The Nightmare River Band (NRB) is a fierce combination of raucous Alt-Country, Americana and good ol’ Rock N’ Roll. According to Matt Krahula, songwriter and front man, the songs are about “love, loss, pain and drinking… not necessarily in that order.”

After their debut album Call the Cops!! (2009) NRB hit the road and played SXSW, CMJ, Summerfest, and the Old Port Festival, sharing the stage with acts such as The Legendary Shack Shakers, Sean Rowe, Robert Ellis, Tokyo Police Club, and Old Man Markley. Their crowd-pleaser “Mary,” was nominated for an Independent Music Award for Best Alt-Folk Song of 2010. When NRB released their sophomore album Last Goodbye (2012), Popmatters gave it 8 out of 10 stars, referring to it as “One of 2012’s best!”

Recently, core members Matt Krahula, Seth Faulk (Drums, Vocals), and Wil Farr (Guitar, Vocals) teamed up with an all-star roster of collaborators to record their third full length release, entitled Stormville. The new album, due out fall 2017, represents a departure from the typical studio recording environment. After several writing and arranging sessions, the songs were recorded live in a remote farmhouse in upstate New York. Stormville combines all of the ingredients of The Nightmare River Band’s potent blend: foot-stomping rhythms, overflowing arrangements, and infectious chorus’ that you can’t help but sing along to.

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One Year After New Album

Looking at my site, I realized that I haven’t posted anything selfish in awhile.  Always working to network is showing by my lack of self attention.  [Insert strength and laughing face emojis.]  Since December of 2016, I’ve been approaching music with the whole focus on meeting monthly goals.

Review Goals

As with any goal setting, you have to look at your goals and see if they remain relevant, have been met, or need revision.  When reflecting, I realized that one goal was the driving force and included the other goals.  The simple idea of “each month, I want to earn $X with music” has guided me to find gigs both paying and non, network, and work smart.

When you revisit your goals and experience epiphany moments, you need to remember that music, and all artistic entrepreneurial endeavors, are fickle.  (Oh, bonus points to any music friends that can work either of those assonant examples into lyrics…before I do.)  Think about how you got to now and think about where you are going.  Ask if the goals at hand are the guiding factor.  If not, revise.  Keep things simple.

Having a simple directive has made a world of difference.  Now before I come across as Mr. he-who-sets-goals-gets-success, let me clarify.  I set a modest monetary goal.  Something doable with he amount of time I have available.  Four months into the year, I raised that goal because I met it every month.  The goal remains modest.

Examples Applying Goals

When setting up shows, I ask myself does this meet my goal in any way.  Remember that my goal has three arms hanging off of it: gigs, networking, being smart.  Let these examples demonstrate the thought process.

For a paying gig, part of a summer concert series in the community, I thought about each goal part.  The gig pays enough to meet my monthly goal, so gig check.  Since that main goal is met, other things like advertising is bonus.  For networking, making the contact in the community is good but there’s the potential in the community to gain more opportunity, so networking kinda checked.  Note that having a system that makes sense to you if you meet a goal or not is useful.  Not every goal is binary.  Usually, a kinda meets or kinda doesn’t meet split up the gray area well.  For being smart, I look at travel and set up times versus performance time, is the show of value, if I am not breaking even then what is the justification, and does the show meet my goal.  Because of the gig check and networking kinda check, this gig rated well on the smart scale.  This one gig meets my main goal, is close to home, and has value in presenting other opportunities so the a resounded check on the smart scale is made.

For a free gig, a venue that caters to original music, I again considered each goal part.  The gig is free but includes a meal and advertising, a kinda or kinda doesn’t gig check.  I looked at the rest of the month and already met my main goal.  That makes it a kinda gig check.  For networking, playing a new place always has the opportunity to meet new people but based on factors like location, opportunity is tougher to guess, so kinda doesn’t networking check.  For being smart, I’m looking at being at a new place and having fun with originals only.  The performance times are great–which to older or day-job musicians means early.  The distance is reasonable.  This goal part seems to be a kinda smart check.  So, to play or not?  With two kinda checks, I reiterate that my main goal has been met and that weighs in favor of doing the gig.  I’ll get the answers to questions about the gig’s value and will have more information to use to base booking again at the same place.  As most musicians will say, I’ve done more for less before.

Here’s another example, meeting with a venue manager to set up a free gig that may lead to paying gigs.  I can feel your spidey senses responding to this one.  For those starting out, this is a common ploy for free entertainment.  Looking at their site and social media, they haven’t advertised any music event in 10 months.  So, my process changes a bit with this situation.  Meeting with the manager, in about 90 minutes as of this typing actually, I want to ask what’s the metric for moving from free performer to paid performer and how often performers move from free to paid gigs.  That information will help evaluate the rest.  Now, based on the free gig example, I’m leaning toward playing for free.  I think of it being similar to an open mic that may lead to a gig.  Also, a venue that had been one of my main bread and butter gigs is changing who handles their booking and is considering their live music budget–information that typically means you probably won’t be playing there anymore.  They have a juke box and I always wonder how they justify the expense of live music, so I understand their decision.  I mention that information to show that since I lost a paying gig and this situation may replace that, I’m very interested.  The times for a free gig will likely not interfere with a paying gig the same day.  Always consider logistics and things like that.  Doing two gigs in one day in the winter or cold season would be something to avoid.  But, during summer time, I’d rather do a couple weeks of work in one day and have thirteen days to enjoy myself…planning more gigs.  [insert smiley emoji.]

Be Natural

Yes, you see what I did there…

When deciding that a goal is irrelevant, it’s often a matter of some activity taking precedence over the goal.  The process is natural.  I started the year wanting to do monthly video streaming.  As it turned out, streaming would take a long time to develop into a gig replacement and I had better results with getting gigs.  Less work with more results equals the smart choice.

The streaming idea has morphed into a different goal idea.  I’ve been working to organize a songwriter showcase.  The showcase idea combines gigs and networking.  I’d like to grow the event beyond a house concert type thing to something public.  To add value, streaming is a natural component.

Think Ahead

In the goal post from December, I (over)used the phrase “thinking ahead.”  The idea is think about what else, next, other.  You don’t have to think of what more.  If you do that, raise your goal.  Mentioning that loosing a paying gig shouldn’t lead to frustration and self doubt.  Those thoughts typically exists anyway.  We are artists after all.  But, use that energy to keep on your path and move forward.  The day of that news, I generated responses from four new venues.  The day after, I progressed talks with a tour manager.  Even if those actions bear no results, I’m making actions.  All the time.  I’m thinking about actions I can repeat and ones that I can initiate.  All the time.

You don’t need to make my same actions or follow my process.  My intent is to show what I do so maybe someone will make some progress too.  Or, maybe contact me and share some ideas as well.  Learn your whole life.  That’s how we find, gain, and reflect value.

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Jordan Indiana Gonzalez “Starship”

The Wolf in Ballwin, MO has led me to more music friends than an other place.  Jordan Indiana Gonzalez is a regular there and, if my memory is correct, we first spoke after I did a trivia question there and gave him a draft of my songbook for knowing the answer.  Since then we’d occasionally talk, share a table, and do music stuff.  Jordan possesses a well versed musicianship and has a specific vision for his songwriting.  If you get the chance to hang, it’s fun on so many levels.  To get a glimpse into Jordan Indiana Gonzalez’s process, click play on Jordan’s song “Starship” and read about his song below.  You can catch his streaming shows on Facebook and

The story behind Starship

“Starship” is about wanting to leave the troubles of this world behind and escape with that special someone into the stars. The music for the song came about when I was toying with a chord progression based on keeping the upper voice of the chords the same but just changing the root (i.e. the power chord in the intro keeping the fifth and root of the I chord when the bass changes to the IV of the key). I liked the feeling of simplicity, and so I started coming up with some words and sang “I’m writing you a simple melody,” which ended up being the first line of the song. The rest of the song came about through comparing the beauty of a loved one with the beauty of the universe.
Jordan Indiana Gonzalez

Jordan Indiana Gonzalez

Jordan Indiana Gonzalez Links

Jordan Indiana Gonzalez Bio

Jordan Indiana Gonzalez is a singer/songwriter based out of St. Louis, MO. He has released two EPs and is now working on his first full-length album. You can catch him live-streaming his music on his Facebook page every Tuesday for #TuesdayTunesday and on his Twitch page every Friday for his weekly Serenade.
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Mac Connelly “I Didn’t Run”

For songwriters, having a local place like The Wolf in Ballwin, MO, is a great place to meet others.  Mac Connelly is new to the St. Louis area by way of Wisconsin.  After a few months of seeing Mac play, we finally introduced ourselves and you’re reading the product of that meeting.  Click play on “I Didn’t Run” and read about Mac Connelly’s process.

Story Behind “I Didn’t Run”

About recording:

I’ve recorded and released three CD’s Butterflies (2010), The Master (2011), Treacherous Waters (2016).

About inspiration and the writing process:

Songwriting is more hard work than inspiration for me. I’ll start with a chord progression and build from there. The feel of the song will drive the lyrical content, and in my opinion the best songs have a lyrical “payoff.”

Mac Connelly

Mac Connelly

About performing and audience reaction:

I performed in public a lot in college and in my 20’s, but then life got busy with family and jobs. I still played my guitar every day (it was my stress reliever!), but I rarely performed in public and I stopped songwriting entirely. I’d lost my muse until I found her back in 2008 when I started gigging again after too many years. I discovered that I could still turn people on with a song, young or old, and grab their attention when they least expected it. When people started approaching me after a show asking if I had any CDs, it was time to start recording. As the 19th century author George Eliot once said, “It’s never too late to be who you might have been.”

Mac Connelly Links

Mac says “I Didn’t Run” is the most played and downloaded song he has on these two sites.  You may also download his entire catalog for free.

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The Zoo Girls “Black Lodge”

I met The Zoo Girls through Twitter. After finding the song “Black Lodge” I contacted them and had a cool conversation about their home, Memphis, and music. Click the live video for “Black Lodge” below and you’ll get a taste of their awesome sound.  Try to guess some of their influences from their music and read about the song and their bio to see if you’re right.

The Story Behind “Black Lodge”

While working on the song “Millerwood,” a melancholy ballad about the untimely deaths of two friends, a line popped into Molly’s head: “You love yourself so much/How could I love you more?” Molly jotted it down quickly, and we continued on with the song at hand. Later, Molly brought it to the attention of then-bandmate Lauren, and Lauren started to play a bluesy tune on her guitar to accompany it. Molly encouraged Lauren to continue playing while the remainder of the lyrics flowed out quickly. Lauren & Molly played the new tune for Beth, who worked her magic on it, tightening up the lyrics and making it flow more easily. It’s a song about a former lover of Molly’s, a narcissist who thought highly of himself despite a lack of evidence that he should.

The Zoo Girls

The Zoo Girls

We utilized Lauren’s (and now current band member Katie’s) deep, throaty vocals on the verses while Molly wails Robert Plant-style on the chorus, and Beth keeps the rhythm with a striking, lively, blues-oriented piano melody. Because it starts out softly, the song tends to quiet an audience, who quickly pick up on and sing along with the original, catchy lyric that inspired the song, “You love yourself so much/How could I love you more?” along with the de-masculating line that follows: “You’re so damn amazing, mama/It’s you you’re living for.”

The Zoo Girls Bio

The Zoo Girls are comprised of local musicians Molly Okeon, Beth Okeon, Katie Clark and, previously, Lauren Taylor. The group performs regularly at area venues including Imagine Vegan Cafe, the Memphis Farmers Market, the High Point Pub and Otherlands Coffee Bar. Friends for years, the girls enjoy writing music and lyrics that are relatable, honest and resonate with situations every human encounters from love to heartbreak and everything in between. Musical influences that have shaped their writing include Counting Crows, R.E.M. and Lucinda Williams, to name a few. In 2014, the Zoo Girls were awarded the Peer Award from the Memphis Songwriters Showcase.

The Zoo Girls Links

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Gracious Me “The Part Of Me”

Through Twitter, I’m always looking for real people behind the accounts. That led me to find Gracious Me a singer-songwriter based in Washington DC.  When I hear the opening riff, I totally fell for the song.  Click play and see if you feel the same way. Read below to get the story behind the song.

Story Behind “The Part Of Me”

I’m Gracious Me, and I write and sing Americana songs. My song “The Part of Me” originated with an Emily Dickinson poem that I once had memorized, Hope is the Thing with Feathers (314).

I heard a snippet of that poem some time later and my songwriting wheels started turning, imagining in the first verse the human impulse of longing as a bird that would fly away to the beloved if not kept caged. The bird image ties in to Dickinson’s depiction of hope as an emotion that soars and sings enduringly, but in “The Part of Me” the chorus dwells on hope lost and the barrenness of living without hope. The second verse focuses on the embodiment of ways that we protect or guard our emotions and guard ourselves from them — images of skin as a protector and a receptor, and armor as a protector but also as a block or a barrier. In the third verse, the imagery is of the heart as the bodily center of our feelings. The ghost of a lost love is felt and lives on, haunting the singer’s memory.

Gracious Me

Gracious Me

Listeners seem to appreciate the poetic feel of this song, as I’ve had several ask me about the origins of it or comment on the dreamlike mood it creates. Thanks for reading about this song, and please come over to my website at and sign up for my mailing list to get occasional updates and insights into my journey as a songwriter!

Gracious Me Links

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