Goin Back To Callie

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"Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake" -Henry David Thoreau

At a TV taping with an artist I work with today, I heard him say something to the host of the show that I’ve heard and said myself many times. He was talking about his life before he finally made the crazy decision to pursue his dream of becoming a singer-songwriter in Nashville. He talked of playing the bar scene in South Georgia for a while before he moved to Hawaii to live in a tent on the beach and surf every day; never really making music his sole focus because he didn’t think that music was an option. Like it was too good to be true. How could someone who loves to write and play music, make a healthy living doing just that? Crazy, right?!

 How many times have you said you wanted to do something or be somebody only to follow it up with the thought of it not being an option? I might be crazy or just plain naive, but to me, if it exists, it’s an option. These dreams of yours are not planted in your mind simply to fantasize about. There’s got to be a reason for them…They’re there to drive you. To give you a vision of what life might look like to achieve the goals you want to achieve. I like that word: “goal”. I associate that word with other positive words like “accomplish” and “attain”. You work towards a goal…you might not always work towards a dream. But I think you should…because sometimes they come true. 

 I was recently encouraged to make a list of life goals and I am super excited to have started it. For the rest of my life I will have this list, that I can always add to, of things that I want to experience or accomplish during my life. And from now on, I will make a point to ALWAYS be working towards at least one thing I noted. Like an extremely drawn out to-do list, but an unusually exhilarating one. I encourage you to do the same. It can help you find out what you love, what you’re scared of, who you want to become or even who you don’t want to become.

 So… right now, I’m working on learning an instrument. What are you working on? What’s on your list? You might surprise yourself…and that’s always fun and it’s never too late.

What’s In A Song

One of my favorite things in the world is a writers’ round. It’s what I love about the music industry and Nashville the most. For those of you who don’t know, a writers’ round is basically where a handful of songwriters sit together and play the songs that they’ve written. At a good one, these songs will be ones that have been cut by artists that you know and love even though you may have never heard of the songwriter.

 They tell a story about how or why they wrote the song and then they play it…usually blowing the radio version out of the water. One of the coolest things in the world is to hear a story about a song then have that ah ha moment when you hear the first couple of chords and realize it’s one that you’ve known every word to for years, but you were completely wrong about the meaning. That’s one of the wonders of music though…that people can relate in their own way to songs, regardless of the ideas behind it when it was written. And any songwriter I know will tell you that they’d rather have people interpret their songs how they want to and feel something genuine about it as opposed to have them understand what it was written about, but not be able to relate.

 The cream of the crop when it comes to writers’ rounds is found right here in Music City. There’s a little place called the Bluebird Café nestled in a strip mall here and it is one of the greatest places on earth. In any given night, you can walk into this packed-out dive and hear songs made famous by anyone from Garth Brooks to Kelly Clarkson…sung a bit differently but straight from the creative soul that brought that song to life. You often wonder why these songwriters never made it on the radio themselves…but that just has to do with the politics of the music industry, which is a whole other blog. But let’s not feel too sorry for these guys… a good songwriter can be set for life with just one cut by another artist. And they deserve it because a great song lasts longer than a lifetime.

 I had a chance to work on a charity event that was held at the Bluebird last week. It was for Music For The Soul, an organization dedicated to making music for people who are experiencing any sort of grief. Music For The Soul recognizes the power of music and wants to help people cope with their pain, be it from the loss of a loved one, fighting anorexia or anything in between. If you’d like to learn more about the organization or donate to their cause, please visit www.musicforthesoul.org.

 At our event, we had three of the best songwriters in Nashville come play a few of their massive hits. Brett James told a story about how a “friend” of his asked him to go down to the islands with him to write some songs and after a big night out at the beach bars, “We Went Out Last Night” by Kenny Chesney was born. And yes the “friend” was Kenny.  Jonathan Singleton started off by telling his story of coming to Nashville and the first song that he ever got cut was “Watchin Airplanes” by Gary Allan…not a bad start to his songwriting career!

 I don’t know if everyone is as enamored by the songwriting process as me. I don’t know if anyone will understand the feeling I have listening to songwriters talk about their art and how songs come to life. But if you’ve never really thought about it… let me tell you that not every song was an experience the singer had. It could have been from someone else’s life or it could have been made up altogether. I am not trying to undermine singers though…the delivery of songs is equally as important as the song itself. I just want to give some credit where credit is due. Regardless, the artists behind the songs are incredible people. They are sincere, fearless, hilarious people who put their life experience out for everyone to hear so that other people can have something to relate to. And I don’t know about you…but I’d be completely and utterly lost in this world without them. 

Inspiration From A Basement

Last night, I went to view the finished product of an interior design project that my roommate/talented friend Chelsea Frazer has been working on for the past several months. She transformed an otherwise uneventful basement into a full out stay-cation spot and man-cave for a fellow Nashville couple. I’ve been over to the basement a few times to see stages of the project, but seeing it all come to life last night was absolutely amazing. I realized the difference between an interior decorator and an interior designer, and Chelsea is certainly the latter. What she has done with this space (among others) is truly an art. She doesn’t just find cool chairs and lamps to place into a room, she designs custom pieces from furniture to lighting fixtures to make a space truly unique and special. That is a gift for sure. It is seriously incredible and seeing the happiness it brought to the couple who have the pleasure of living with this in their home was extremely inspiring. Chels- you did such an amazing job. I am so proud of you!! PS- I’m selfishly hoping that this little shout out will give me a discount sometime in the future…

And I Now Pronounce You…

This weekend, I had an experience that I had never had before and might never have again: I was the Maid of Honor in a very special wedding. Frances, the bride, is one of my very best friends who just happens to double as my cousin. Both of us grew up with only brothers so it worked out perfectly for us to become each other’s pseudo sister. We were inseparable as children. We are only a year apart, so we were able to experience growing up and high school together; and although we went to different colleges, we were able to stay close through those years as well. I have always looked up to her and followed in her footsteps. We have so many similarities along with a ton of differences, but our bond is something that is extremely unique and dear to me.

 Frances met her now husband, Kelly, when she came to visit me in Nashville in May of last year and he was visiting his twin brother, Patrick, who also lived here at the time. Both of them were on vacation in the same city at the same time and ran into each other amongst thousands of people a tailgate/horserace. To me, that is a perfect example of fate taking the reigns.

 They were engaged the following February and Frances immediately called me afterwards to ask me to be her Maid of Honor. I had to sprint to a Nashville honky-tonk bathroom to hear the story while of course planning the bachelorette party in my mind.

 The wedding day could not have been more perfect. All the bridesmaids met at her house a mile from the chapel for a champagne toast to start off the festivities. Frances looked stunning. Her dress perfect, her hair flawless; but the accessory that made her look so beautiful was the happiness that shined from within.

 

The ceremony was performed in a chapel on the bay in Fairhope, AL by Kelly’s childhood priest, Father Curly. The services wrapped with a church choir belting “Joyful, Joyful” while everyone tapped, clapped and sang along. It was definitely the most fun ceremony I’ve ever been to. After the vows were vowed and the kiss was kissed, everyone strolled down a lantern-lit pathway to the sparkling reception on the bay. One thing I can brag about being from Mobile, AL is that we know how to throw a party.

 As the sun set on their first night as bride and groom, Frances and Kelly danced their first dance and swapped bites of cake before everyone hit the dance floor to show off their best moves for the next 4-5 hours. It was such a blast. Bring a group of high-school friends together that are since scattered across the country at a wedding in Alabama—bulletproof plan for an amazing night.

 I made a speech on Friday night about how much I grew up admiring Frances. When I was young, I wanted to be just like her in every way possible and came pretty close to it! Since then, I’ve grown into my own person with my own qualities and my own personality, but one thing remains the same - I love her like a sister and hope to find what she’s found one day.


 To Fran and Kelly: I couldn’t be happier for you. I love you both and know that you will have a long and happy life together as husband and wife. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your very special day. Congratulations. 

I Heart Nashville Because…

It’s a Monday night in Nashville and I’m a bit under the weather. All I want to do is go home, feel sorry for myself and watch bad TV. After work, I forcefully drag myself to the gym for 30 minutes and head home for my bulletproof plan of gluing myself to the bed until Tuesday sneaks in on me.  Just as I start to get comfy in my pjs (and yes, this was around 7:30pm) I get a text from a drummer friend of mine telling me that The Fray is doing a secret show at a local bar. Ok I’m up!! I get dressed speedier than ever and head to Winners in Midtown.

Every Monday night, Winners hosts “Whiskey Jam”, a show put on by local singer/songwriters which is basically Nashville’s version of an open-mic night…meaning anyone from Lady Antebellum to OneRepublic has shown up to take the stage for a song or two. And I used to be an avid goer of the Whiskey Jam…but to be honest, it kinda peaked a while back and I hadn’t been in a couple of months. Then this happened.

This is what we Nashvillians live for.  The Fray was in town for a show at the Ryman a few days later and they just decided to grace us with their biggest hits atop a tiny stage on a Monday night. Ah-mazing. Where else do you get this intimate type of performance from a Grammy award-winning band who has sold millions of albums?! Nowhere. So I shall add this to my long list of reasons why I do, in fact, heart Nashville. 

A Night At The Opry

I have lived in Nashville, TN for over 2 years now and I’ve worked in the country music industry since I began my life here. That being said, it is crazy to think that until last month, I had never been to The Grand Ole Opry…but I wouldn’t change anything about my first experience there.

 

Many of you know that I have the privilege of working with some very well-known artists (one of which I grew up idolizing almost to an embarrassing degree) but what you might not know is that my favorite artist to work with is an up and coming singer-songwriter named Kip Moore. He is one of the most talented songwriters I have ever come in contact with and he has such a cool and unique sound that is all his own. Watching him grow over the past couple of years has been amazing for me and this is still just the beginning of something incredible for him. So, about a month ago, I was assigned by his manager to be with Kip while he performed at the Grand Ole Opry. He was doing an acoustic set of three songs with his 2 guitar players and my job was simple: get him there on time and make sure everything ran smoothly for him on stage and off. I was also on duty the morning of the event while he participated in an on-air interview for a local radio station.

 

This gave me a bit of inspiration that I needed. Sometimes, working in the music industry, we can forget that we actually love music. We listen to it all day every day, go to events galore and see live shows almost daily.  With the plethora of talent at our fingertips, we can often times let it slip our minds that we are living a dream. Until we have moments like I had with Kip at the Opry. Watching him stand in that legendary circle, taking in the atmosphere around him and watching him take it in as well was something I will never forget. I was watching him as his dreams were coming true and at the same time, so were mine. I was sitting with an artist I 100 percent believe in (that can be hard to find) at a place where country music history is made and I wasn’t just watching him, I was here for “work”.


 

Sometimes we need to take a step back from the hustle and bustle of life and realize that what we want and love is right here in front of us. It may not be the perfect job for you, but I guarantee there is something in your life that you tend to take for granted some days or forget how great your life actually is. I know for me, I can dwell on negative things a lot and forget about all the positives…luckily there’s little things we catch (like Kip standing in a bare auditorium) to remind us of the good things in life.

Nice Day For A White-Trash Wedding

I have the great pleasure of being the Maid of Honor for my best friend/pseudo sister, Frances Mosteller on October 22 of this year. Like most MOHs, I decided to throw the happy couple an engagement party to celebrate! Unlike most MOHs, I decided to make it  a white trash themed shindig. Initially, when the idea about a party came about, my first thought was to go the classy, cocktail party route. But anyone who knows Frances and Kelly (and all of their friends for that matter) knows that a white-trash throwdown is way more suitable And if I don’t say so myself, it was the most fun and laid back engagement party I’ve been to. Everyone came decked out in their best white-trash attires complete with Hooters tanks, neon undergarments and jorts galore. With the help of the other bridesmaids (special thanks to all who hosted and especially Blakely for all your help!) we donned the house with faux flowers, denim table cloths and Budwiser and PBR centerpieces. The food also went along with the theme of course. We had home-made Krystal burgers, pizza bites and nachos along with a cake stand filled with twinkies and little debbies.

 (Sidenote: Anne Morrow did the food for us and it was absolutely incredible!! If anyone needs some party grub, she’s your gal..feel free to contact me for her info if you need it.)

I don’t know about you, but it seems that any dress up party instantly makes people let loose a little more and have more fun. I don’t know any other engagement party where people have been seen shotgunning beers and playing flip cup…but I think everyone had a blast and that was the main goal at hand. Oh, and to celenbrate Fran and Kelly..congrats guys!!

I cannot end this blog without a little “Best Dressed” Award. Third place for the award goes to my father, Russ Cunningham. He looked absolutely stunning in his Wal-Mart, kinda too long jean shorts, Tom Thumb polo shirt and skanky glasses. He fit the part and he seemed to be all too comfortable in the look…

Second place goes to my aunt, Cathy Mosteller. She surprised the party with her get-up as she told Frances she would not be taking part in the dressing-up element of the party. But she did„„and she did it well. She came with a Dolly-esque HUGE blonde wig, some big shades and best of all, leopard print booties. These shoes had my heart from the moment she strutted through the door. I had to pick my jaw up off the ground. Amazing.

Although the parentals seem to have a one-up on the kids in the award category, the winner has got to go to the groom-to-be, Kelly Sadler. His commitment alone is reason enough for him to win this award. He wore a plaid shirt completely unbuttoned, cut off jean shorts and a trucker hat. But best of all…he had a killer goatee accompanied by some extra long and incredible side-burns AND the man shaved “Marry Me” in his chest. Actually, correction, his mother shaved “Marry Me” in his chest. If that doesn’t scream white-trash, please enlighten me on what might. Congrats Kelly, you win the award for Best Dressed!

Overall, I’d say the party was a total success. We ended the night at Bourbon Street in Birmingham (a karaoke joint in an old Pizza Hut building) where people continued the theme with their renditions of Reba’s greatest hits. Thanks to everyone who came and helped and congrats to Fran and Kelly!! I cannot wait for the special day and I’m so excited to be a part of it. Love you!

Cheers

First Frist Friday

A few weeks ago, some friends and I went to Frist Friday-  an event held each 1st Friday of the month at a local art museum in downtown Nashville. Embarrassingly enough, this was my first time to go to one of these events…and now I want to become a member. They had bars, a DJ, dance floor, ..and best of all, you get to walk through the exhibit, which happened to be Warhol at the time. It was incredible. Warhol mixed with disco music and wine..what else could you ask for?!

I am pretty familiar with Warhol’s works but had never really been to an exhibit or studied it in great depth (or any depth really…). So seeing all of his epic styles, his pop art, reading quotes from him…it was eye opening. Learning about Studio 54..I wanted to be a part of that era so bad. He described the club as “a dictatorship at the door, a democracy on the floor”.  I can just picture the scene now…disco divas lined up at this exclusive joint flirting with the bouncer and praying to get in and when they finally did, once in a blue moon, they’d leave it all out on the dance floor (actually, I feel like I did live that scene a few times when I was under age in college…minus the disco diva part).

One part of the collection that he is probably most famous for is the series of pop icons he photographed. Seeing all of these true idols: Prince, Michael Jackson, Dolly Parton, Mick Jagger (who Warhol was known to have a slight obsession with) displayed in various states and always vibrant colors was the epitome of cool. We don’t really think anything of it now, but back then, those bright canvases were truly revolutionary.

If I could say I took one thing away from the exhibit (which obviously I don’t have to just talk about just one thing..that’s the beauty of a blog..duh), it was the art Warhol captured and created through patience. There was a series called “watching” which was literally photographs of different bystanders experiencing different things. You may not know exactly what they are seeing, but their reactions tell stories. And although one of those pictures could be an affective piece of art in itself, it was the combination of all of them together that made the collection so interesting. Patience. There was another collection of videos of people simply sitting, lounging, doing a whole lot of nothing. Sounds boring..but seeing different people’s habits, ticks, people in a state of relaxation..all together was a really cool sight to see. And again, one of those videos might have actually been boring, but the group of them all together was what made them great. That’s patience…something we don’t see a lot of these days. I wish I had an ounce of his patience in me.

10 phones and 3 babies later…

Last weekend, I had a blast from the past grace me in my city. My high school basketball coach came to Nashville and I got to spend some time with her and her husband. I showed her around the city I now call home, swapped stories about how our lives had changed and reminisced about the great and not so great times back in the day… a lot! (Sidenote: Sorry David for all the old bball stories) It was a miracle that I still had her number even though I hadn’t seen her in about 8 years and as she put it she “had 10 new phones and 3 new kids” since we had last seen each other.  There was a moment at dinner on Thursday night when I had an extraordinary realization. This person, who I had put so much trust in and looked up to so incredibly much was the age that I am now when she was my coach. It’s so crazy because she was so much more than a basketball coach to me. I cannot fathom having that much pressure of mentoring dramatic teenage girls and teaching us plays while trying to talk us into horrific long, baggy shorts and what looked like men’s black basketball shoes (yes, Lindsey, I still hate those shoes). And although it had been almost a decade since we had spent time together, all those feelings that I had as a 12th grader came rushing back.

 When she accepted the job at my school, I came back to the team after having a year hiatus from the sport and I returned upon her arrival as the lone senior on the team. This wasn’t the easiest thing for me…I didn’t really have any friends on the team (and we all know that is a huge part of high school…and high school sports) and I also had lost some credibility as a leader because of missing a year with the other girls. But Lindsey (Coach Weems as I called her) helped me so much to realize what I had to do in order to regain the team members’ trust again and she brought that heart and soul back to the sport that I was missing before. She showed me and the rest of the team that it’s ok to care. Dare I even say that it’s kinda…cool to care? There! I said it! It’s cool to care! It doesn’t matter what it is that you care about or have faith in or are passionate about or however you want to spin it…but it’s cool to have any and all of those things in your life. And Lindsey was the first person to show me that. She is probably one of the most passionate people I have ever met and I truly believe she made me a better person for it. She was definitely an attribute to me finding out that I can do what I love to do, taking risks, and being on this path in the music industry. So for that Lindsey, I thank you and I owe you!

I had such a great time catching up with her and her husband, David, and I’m not gonna lie…it was really fun to meet up with them at The Stage in downtown Nashville! Come back and visit any time…and hey soccer coach Sally…you’re next!

Idol Pics

Wanted to share some pics from my the tour that I have—

This is Jacob and he is INCREDIBLE. You cannot help but smile when this man is on stage..truly captivating

Casey Abrams-I know it’s kinda far away..but this was his number with the upright bass. So talented and quirky and interesting—

This is Casey and Hayley’s duet..they would do a little “scat battle” if you will..which was hilarious and the epitome of cool.

Now here are just some pics I took from around Portland— I bought a used Beatles vinyl in this store. A memento of my short and sweet Portland visit

I walked a few blocks down from our hotel and stumbled upon this boardwalk on the water… gorgeous.

just a cute little buggy I found—