Thursday, May 29, 2014

Trending now...

This has been one incredibly busy week, and it ain't over yet.

Most of my time has been committed to producing the first EP for a pretty incredible Lexington band called Trending Now, featuring Colin Michael on guitar, Knox McConnell on bass, Miller Owens on drums and their newest member, Ryan Greenwell singing lead vocals.

These guys are the real deal, man. We have been tracking for three days and tomorrow is all mixing with Jason Groves at Sneak Attack Studios. This is my last studio project in Lexington for the foreseeable future, and I couldn't feel more privileged to work with a group of amazing young musicians and J. Groves engineering the session. Each of the four songs we laid down are really something to be proud of and I can't wait to share them as they are released.

Many thanks to all of them for asking me to be a part of their childhood dreams come true (and to J for putting up with me!)

So, on to the news about the move...

I started the crowd funding campaign to fund the start-up of the new school a little less than a week ago. With a goal of $2,500, in only six days we have crossed the halfway mark and raised over $1,400! I am in shock and completely humbled by the outpouring of support and generosity I've received from all you guys. I'll never forget this as long as I live.

Most of you reading this already know about the crowd funding project, but just in case you'd like to toss me a couple bones and/or share the project with anyone who might like to get involved, here it is: Send me to Chicago to start a Guitar School!

I'm still teaching through the end of June, and it's a lot harder than I thought it would be to wrap my head around the fact that I am leaving all my students. I love what I do so much and I love teaching every one of them. Part of me really does feel like a traitor, which I know is silly but I still feel really bad. I wish I could take them all with me.

So now the next objective is to nail down the teaching location up in Chicago, finalize contracts, buy insurance and advertising, get supplies and organize thousands of pages of teaching material that will need to be lined up with teaching group classes. I can be a little disorganized with private lessons because there is so much variance, but with group classes it's a lot more stream lined and chronological, so I gotta get my ducks in a row!

Susan and Mallory have been busy talking to venues to get us bookings throughout the summer, and I am SO anxious to start working with her again. Miss my Mallory and I couldn't be more excited about getting to participate in her amazing work and sharing in her talent! :)

Okay, I've been going for about sixteen hours now, time to crash. More soon!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Well. There's no turning back now.

What the hell am I doing?

Yesterday at the SDML Guitar Student recital, Dave McLean (founder, head instructor, and my personal mentor) announced that I will be leaving Kentucky at the end of June for a two-year mission to Chicago, with the goal of starting a new branch of the SDML Academy of Guitar.

Over the last 8 or 9 years, I've built a large and successful teaching program here in Lexington under Dave's guidance and using his model, with some modifications of my own. About six years ago, I walked away from my 10-year stint at a Fortune 500 company where I was making an absurd amount of money for being a non-college graduate. But I wanted to play music for a living, so I left.

So I've done "crazy" before.

But crazy, as you might imagine, comes with a whole host of wild complications. For one, there's a sense of isolation that I certainly didn't expect. I'm a pretty social creature, and while there are a lot of people involved in music around here, there are a scant few who actually do what I do. Abandoning a steady paycheck with medical benefits is a terrifying move and I don't blame anyone for avoiding that plunge.

For a guy like me who likes to be surrounded by lots of interesting people, it's tough when they all go off to work without me.

Crazy also comes with benefits, though, things that I now consider indispensable. Probably the greatest change from living in the corporate world to being self-employed is this: If it seems stupid, I don't have to do it. If it seems smart, I get to try it. I don't have to beg for relief from inanity or permission for wisdom. I could never live without that freedom again.

There's just so much to DO. Funding is the first and biggest issue to tackle, and I need to launch the Kickstarter campaign to try and cover the start-up costs of deposits, insurance, and rental of the teaching space for the group classes, supplies for students, advertising campaigns etc. etc. On top of that I have to keep my live performances moving, joining Mallory Lennon ( as her guitar player and learning her catalog, and finding places to do solo gigs when she's not available. And of course packing up things here and stripping down my already meager possessions to the absolute bare essentials... it's a lot of work and tough decisions.

What's so exciting about this Chicago mission is that I have absolutely no clue if it's a good idea or a bad idea. Weighing pros and cons on something of this magnitude can drive a man out of his mind, so I just try to stay high-level on my thoughts. At the end of the day, at the rate the network is expanding and with the power of what we do, this has to happen.

Once again, I'm walking away from something that is working quite well. I'm leaving family, friends, my home town, everything that is familiar to me, and pursuing something simply because I believe in it. Because I know it's the right thing for me. It seems like a good idea, so I'm gonna try it.

And it's just crazy enough to work.