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July 2024: Standing in the Gap and Building a Bridge

"You can't make art in the cracks." That's a quote I once heard from an artist friend who had heard it from a mentor of hers. It's about being all in, and not in the manner in which Jerry Jones claims to be all in when creating the 2024 Dallas Cowboys roster. Rather it means being wholeheartedly invested in something you feel so passionate about that you can't help but do anything else.

I've known many songwriters over the years that were conflicted about this due to the financial albatross that can be the music business. One one hand they understand that to make their best art they must burn the boats and be wholly dedicated to the craft and lifestyle. On the reality hand, they have bills to pay. So, bridges are required.

When Galleywinter first started I had recently graduated college and had an office job. It paid well, but sucked the soul. It allowed copious amounts of time to freelance on the internet. I was able to man the forums, write and listen to music pretty much nonstop. I was like the guy in Office Space. I had about 30 minutes of real work to do each day and then 7.5 hours to just veg out. So, Galleywinter became my life. Essentially, my employer paid me to run a music blog and occassionally complete a task. I was single. I had no children. I really had no responsibility other than making sure my bills were paid and my bar tab didn't explode before I took care of it. Thursday night to Sunday night was for seeing live music. Monday morning to Thursday afternoon was for talking about it online. I bridged the gap. I went and experienced it in person. Then I moderated it online.

As the scene evolved and I grew up into an actual adult, I had more responsibilities and the time I had available to music/Galleywinter dwindled. I was offered road manager jobs with bands I loved and believed in during this time period. Yet, I was so far down the path of adulthood that I had to abandon foolish pleasure and "do the right thing". I switched careers away from the office doldrums and entered into something that was invigorating, challenging, rewarding and busy 10 hours per day. I was blessed with two children and other responsibilities. But, the music still called. I bridged the gap. I did music when I could. I collected the benefits and stayed busy when I had to.

My music biz friends were doing the same. Some were all in on music. Some were balancing music and a job. Some abandoned music altogether for a "real job". Throughout this time Greenfest/River Jam was turning from an annual reunion of online friends to more of a traditional music festival. Somehow I was able to spackle it all in place from the cracks and gaps of life. I was making art in the cracks. I learned there was no right or wrong way to make it happen. All in is relative. It comes from what is in your heart. If you're a songwriter and you still have a day job, it does not negate the worth of your music. If you're an office worker and run a music blog, it does not devalue your opinion or impact.

Pulling off a music festival, blog article, tour, album, show or podcast while juggling other commitments is a tall order, but definitely possible with the right vibe and attitude.

Follow your gut. Listen to your heart. It's always right. I've found that my short bursts of creativity and time allotted to music allows me to be hyper focused. You need discipline, balance and passion.

These days our favorite artists, even at the highest levels of success find themselves spread so thin that they too are constantly building bridges. The bulk of their job is no longer driving to the gig and playing, it is content creation. The pressure for them to have a presence on every single social media platform and "build a brand" is immense. I've heard many say that unfortunately at times it takes precedence over the art itself. In a way the online presence is an artform. Some such as Kaitlin Butts, Josh Weathers and Bri Bagwell have mastered this. A TikTok here, a thread there, a post over yonder. It all helps. But it takes passion, dedication, discipline and balance. It takes bridges. They must bridge their music, social media and personal lives into an amalgam that makes sense for them. The craziest part is that more and more just gets added to their plates while nothing really gets taken away.

Which brings me back to River Jam 2024. Each year, despite what is going on, we try to take it back to the basics. A time to connect with folks in person. Forget the social media for a little bit unless it's to post about the shows or set times. A time to focus on the music. A time to stand on the bridge and enjoy the view. A time to create from the cracks in the foundation of life.

I hope you'll join us for one or all three of the days. Waylon and Willie really had it right with "let's get back to the basics of love." We won't be in Luckenbach, but New Braunfels and San Marcos are pretty good stand ins. I'll see you there. Until then, I'm off to create a few more bridges.


-How 'bout Coach Schloss? No comment on the drama, but I do know I met and had a beer with him at the Troubadour Fest in College Station last month and he was a cool dude. Best of luck to both the Aggies and Longhorns moving forward. This will be fun.

-We are over water bottled. I'm pretty sure I didn't drink water from the ages of 5-19 unless it was from a hose during some sort of physical activity.

-I have had lots of fun with Suno AI song creation. More on this to come in another article soon. It's both cool and scary.

-It's officially football season in Texas, my Dave Campbell's magazine hasn't been put down much over the last few days.

-Team Dave Grohl.

-This month's recommended album: Silverada -self titled. The former Moonpies have created another stellar collection of country music on their own terms. The themes and sonics have expanded a tad, but you never don't feel like you're not in a south Austin honky tonk. And that's a good thing. But, know that little honky-tonk band has way more up their sleeves than you ever imagined possible. This isn't just a county record as elements of other genres mingle around Mike Harmeier's best lyrics to date. This isn't just Moonpies 2.0, this is Silverada and it's damn good.

-"Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most." - Mark Twain


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