Creative work is a funny thing. It’s a strange mix of work and luck- heavy on the work. There are long stretches that feel like a real grind, and if you’re trying to put your creative work out in the world, that’s a whole ‘nother grind.
So you have to take the sparks wherever you find them. While I’m as undisciplined as ever, I have learned a few things over the years. When I am lucky enough to get served up an idea for a song, I’ve learned to write it down much more regularly. Even if I don’t turn it into a finished song, I’ve captured that spark for later.
But sometimes you feel like either it’s all output, or you feel a bit empty and there’s no output at all. And you have to find a way to put some energy back in, some gas in the tank, so to speak. I’ve found, as a songwriter, that if I want songs out, I need songs in. Sometimes that’s just listening- either to old favorites or something new. But if I really need the lift of inspiration, there’s nothing like going to a good show.
In the past week I got to see two of my favorite songwriters live. That’s a pretty hot streak. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit was at Red Rocks for two nights last week, and American Aquarium played the Aggie in Fort Collins this week. Red Rocks is, of course, a deestination venue, and any show there is special. I’ve been lucky enough to see quite a few shows there over the last 30+ years that I’ve been in Colorado, and it’s never anything less than awesome just to be there.
Isbell and crew did not dissapoint. They looked as loose and happy as I’ve ever seen them for a show, and both nights were fantastic. The second night might have been a little better (sorry Paul!), but I might be biased since they played some really deep cuts that night.
Then Tuesday night I drove up to FoCo to see American Aquarium. If you haven’t heard of them, well, that sounds like a you problem, but the link is above. I love AA and the Aggie is a great room for a band like that. They stormed the stage and didn’t let up on the gas for two straight hours. I still really love seeing shows in small rooms like that.
I also found it really gratifying as a musician. Tuesday night is tough for a touring band. AA had over 200 people out on one of the hardest nights to sell tickets, and it was great. Yes, we probably went to work tired the next day, but who cares.
In the middle of all that, John, Derek and I played a show in Loveland last Friday night. In a really nice combination (for me anyhow) of sleep deprivation and post Red Rocks hype, I felt really loose myself and I think we played about as good as we ever have. So the input of inspiration is clearly working!
My calendar is a little sparse for a month or two here. We’re working on some recordings (new music coming this year- I promise!), and I’m about to go through a pretty big life/professional transition. We have some family travel this summer that I’m really looking forward to, and I’ll need a little extra head space as I head into a very new phase of my adult working life. Hopefully, at the other end, there’s more music, more travel, and more enjoying hanging out with my wife. I’ll let you know.
In June I’ll be up in Montana as a finalist in the songwriter competiton at the Red Lodge Songwriter Festival. Then John and I will be doing a duo show at Beyond the Mountain in Boulder. I’m sure there will be some adds to the calendar, so stay tuned.
In the meantime- where do you find your inspiration? Drop a comment or hit me up on the platform of your choice. I’d love to hear about it.Follow me wherever you are!