The Land of Lincoln

So I remembered that I have a blog… :-p

I figured in honor of re-launching my website and new things to come, I would dive back into blogging, and a great starting point seemed like it would be a re-cap of last weekend’s mini-tour to Illinois.


First up was a stop in my college-days hometown of DECATUR, IL for a show at Timbuktu Saloon. My good friend Chance Phebus and I played a show together and had a great time playing country covers and originals for an AWESOME crowd of fans and friends. I brought my guitar player Tony Merz with me this time around to spice things up a little bit on stage, and we definitely had our fair share of adventures. We made a pre-show stop at one of my favorite little restaurants, La Gondola, for a Torpedo sandwich… I had forgotten that these things are like 18 INCHES long! I wish I had remembered to take a picture of the monstrosity before we devoured it, but it was definitely a delicious trip down memory lane from the ol’ Millikin days.

Here are a few pictures from that performance:


The next day we drove up to the Chicago area and played at an Irish Pub in Villa Park, close to where I grew up. This was probably my favorite performance because I got to see SO many family members and old friends, including friends I hadn’t since high school and elementary school! It was amazing to feel so much support in my home city, and I had a great time playing some new songs and old favorites. I even got Tony to play a song that we wrote together, and he rocked the house. You can check that song out here:

“If Things Were Different” by Tony Merz


Image MusiImagendentImage

Our last stop to end the weekend was back in the Decatur area, opening for my good friends Day 40 at their EP Release Concert at the Mt. Zion Convention Center. It was great to get to warm up the crowd for this talented band as they premiered songs from their brand new release “Enemies.” It was pretty great to get to play in a bigger venue with lights, big sound, and even some fog effects! Thanks again to Jim and all the guys in Day 40 for inviting us, we had a great time.


It was a short trip, but definitely a great experience. It felt so good to be back on the road and playing for fans in my home state. Can’t wait to get back out again soon!

As I mentioned up top, I’ve just re-launcehd my website! Check it out at From there you can link to all my other social media to keep up with the latest news, music, and tour dates!



The View From Today

The view from today (ok, technically it was yesterday! )


Ashley Monroe had her cd release show at 3rd and lindsley last night. It was an amazing show! She’s one of my favorite writers and artists, and a great new group Striking Matches opened the show. This pic is Ashley and her Pistol Annies band mate Angelina Presley. Great night of inspiration!

The View From Today

I played one of my favorite writers’ nights tonight. My friend John Nemeth hosts this one at Back Alley Diner. Tonight I sang my original song “Ain’t Caught Nothin’ Yet” with Tony Merz on guitar and Nick Diomedes on cajon! Thanks to my guys for helping bring this song to life.

The view from today


The view from today: playing at Honky Tonk central in Nashville. A couple requested a slow song and said they came all the way from Ohio to dance together, so we had to oblige!

Check out my Saturday partner in crime at !

On the road again…

Well, it’s been a busy, exciting, and extremely fulfilling month, to say the least. I went on a solo tour from Nashville to Washington, D.C., met some amazing people, wrote some new songs, played some cool shows… and then caught up on my sleep 🙂

I wanted to do a quick recap of my tour, along with some lessons learned along the way, because 6 days on the road taught me as much as I’ve learned in the last year!

Day 1:

Packing. Advice for any future trips I or anyone reading this may take: Pack the day before. I mean, I had the whole day to pack and I still felt like I was forgetting things. Luckily, I am a compulsive list maker so I think I have everything I need!

I’m also pretty sure I should win an award for my  mad car-packing skills. I drive a little 2-door Chevy Cavalier with a trunk that, although it is bigger than it appears, is still pretty small. However, I managed to fit into my car an entire PA system, including 2 speakers, stands, mic stand, mics, cables, and mixing board; boxes of CDs, a suitcase, a travel bag, a guitar, blanket, pillow, cooler, and bag full of snacks… and still managed to fit me! I may be exaggerating a little as it really wasn’t that hard once I did a little rearranging… but still. Advice: take up puzzle-putting-together if you have a small car and plan to travel with a lot of stuff 🙂

I got to the venue in Knoxville, The Well, which I have to say is owned and staffed by some of the friendliest, coolest people I’ve encountered at a new venue in a long time! I had arrived pretty early because I wasn’t sure what to expect from the traffic in Knoxville, and had planned to wander around town a little bit, but I ended up just hanging out at the venue until the show. If you are a band with any kind of following in that area, you should definitely check this place out. Great sound, great food, and great service!

I split the show with a new friend, country singer Leon Thomas. He brought quite a crowd with him and we rocked the joint for a couple of hours. I think everyone had a great time, and I really appreciated getting to play for and talk to everyone there!

Line up at the Well in Knoxville!

Day 2:

I left Knoxville this morning and got on the road to Roanoke. I took my time and made a few stops along the way… First stop was Bristol, home of the Bristol Motor Speedway AND the location of Ralph Peer’s historic Bristol Recordings. If you are not a super giant music history nerd like I am (and I suspect most of you are not, lol), the Bristol Sessions were where The Carter family and Jimmie Rodgers had a lot of their songs recorded for the first time. Pretty cool stuff!

Historic Site of the Bristol Recording Sessions

Bristol Motor Speedway

That night I had a really fun show at Froth Coffee Shop in Roanoke. This was a really cool little coffee shop that is still fairly new, and is run by a brother and sister! The food, coffee, and people were all wonderful, and I had a great time playing to fun crowd!

Lesson learned: There are nice people willing to help you out everywhere you go! Case in point- the only part of my PA system that I was nervous about dealing with while on the road by myself was the fact that the speakers are a little heavy, the stands are kind of tall, and I’m pretty short… luckily, one of the owners was nice enough to help me get them set up! I know it sounds simple, but it was just a really nice gesture that I definitely appreciated!

Day 3:

I had planned to spend a little time in downtown Roanoke exploring in the morning, but the universe had other plans for me. In the 5 miles from my hotel to downtown, I ran over a big wooden something in the middle of the road that I couldn’t avoid, and ended up taking my car to get inspected just to make sure nothing was wrong with it as I still had a lot of miles to cover on my trip. While my car was getting checked out, I did get to walk around the square, where they were setting up for a farmer’s market and a lot of restaurants and shops were located. I stopped for lunch at a great little Italian place, and by the time I was done with my pizza, I had a call from the mechanic that my car was done and everything was fine! I absolutely love my little car, and this just made me love here even more 🙂

Lesson learned: Even if things seem like they are about to completely fall apart, there is always a solution. Stay calm, take a breath, and find a solution. Also, smart phones really are great when you need to find a repair shop in a city you’ve never been to before!

Once that debacle was over with, I got back on the road. I think this was my favorite day of driving, and I got to see a lot of beautiful scenery.


I got into Washington DC right around rush hour, and boy was I glad that I was heading into the city and not out- the traffic was insane!! Luckily I didn’t have much to deal with until I got into Alexandria, where the venue was located, and the only challenge there was navigating the street-parking.

There was a great turn-out at St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub in Alexandra, and the barista told me that a lot more people stuck around for this show than usually stuck around for an entire set, which really made me happy! I met some really great people and had some great conversations about music in between sets. I also had an amazing coconut mocha drink… I definitely recommend stopping into this coffee shop if you are ever in the DC Area!

Day 4: 

I took Day 4 off and spent it with one of my closes friends, who lives in Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C.  Yay!

Day 5: 

As sad as I was to leave my bff behind, I was excited to get on the road for the last show of my little mini-tour! I only had a couple of hours to drive today, which was good because this was the worst day weather-wise. The NorEaster blowing through the East coast was causing a lot of rain and really cold weather, so it was a pretty dreary drive. (And I swear I saw some snowflakes! yuck.)

I got to the venue in Harrisonburg, Virginia, the Artful Dodger. This was a very cool little coffee shop lounge. I had a lot of fun playing to a small but enthusiastic crowd with Jeremiah Prophett, the host for the day. After we got a chance to talk and trade stories about life in music and all of the adventures that go with it.

Lesson learned: Even if the crowd is small, play your heart out! The people there were so appreciative to hear the music, and you never know who in the room needed to hear something you had to sing that day!

Day 6: 

I got up and on the road pretty early to get back to Nashville. It was still rainy for the first part of the drive, but as I got closer to Tennessee, the sun came out and it warmed up outside. I had a lot of time to reflect as that day was by far the longest drive yet, and I was so happy with the experiences I’d had on the road! I’d been apprehensive before I left since I wasn’t sure what kind of people I’d meet, how the shows would go, or if I would have fun being on the road by myself. It turns out I had nothing to be worried about though! Big lessons learned: There are great people to meet everywhere you go… yes, you have to be careful and smart and have your wits about you when you are by yourself, but this trip really reaffirmed my faith that people are generally good, and there are friends to meet everywhere you go! I also learned (or re-learned, as I had already known this about myself) that I can definitely do things by myself (although it is definitely nice to have help!).



Thanks for reliving my journey with me on this blog, I know it was longer than I usually write! Stay tuned for lots of exciting things coming up. First, a showcase at the Listening Room here in Nashville this Friday at 5:30 PM! If you are in the area, I’d love to see you there 🙂

The art of co-writing, OR first co-writes are a lot like first dates…

One of the things that I have learned a lot about since moving to Nashville is the art of the co-write. It’s a simple premise: 2 or more writers get together and combine creative forces to write the next #1 country song… or so we all hope. Not only is this a great way to step outside of your own comfort zone, but it’s also a great way to network and move up the ranks in Music City.

One of the other things I’ve learned a lot about since moving to Nashville is being single and living on your own in your 20s… which inevitably includes some adventures in dating. Surprisingly, I’ve found a lot of similarities between the two! So, here we go: the good, the bad, and the sometimes depressingly hilarious (or is it hilariously depressing?) lessons I’ve learned through 3 years of co-writes and dating.

1. Background checks/ facebook stalking does not always make you a creep. 

Seriously! Just like going on a first date, sometimes it’s good to do just a little bit of homework before your first meet up. I’m all for giving people chances and forming my own opinions, however, if a potential co-writer has a track record of stealing song ideas or trying to force unfair song contracts on a co-writer, it might be best to avoid the situation altogether.

2. Don’t judge a book by its cover. 

Sometimes, the best co-writes can happen by surprise. I’ve found that I’ve had some of my most creative and successful writing sessions with writers who I didn’t necessarily click with at first. Like I mentioned before, co-writes can be great for breaking you out of your own creative box, and opening yourself up to different writing styles.

3. Sometimes, a good relationship takes time to blossom. 

Just like awkward first dates can sometimes turn into great relationships, awkward first co-writes can turn into great creative relationships! You have to think of a first co-write, especially with another writer who you may not have a long personal relationship with, as a getting-to-know you session… getting to know each other’s style, language, and writing preferences is key. You have to learn to communicate with each other to communicate anything of meaning through a song, and depending on the personalities in the writing room, this can take longer to develop for some pairs, or couples!

4. And then sometimes, the chemistry just isn’t there. 

You gave it your best shot; you really tried to open up and communicate, and you put your heart into it 100%, but sometimes, the chemistry just isn’t there. Some co-writing teams just simply aren’t meant to be, and that’s ok! Just like when some relationships aren’t supposed to work out, you have to know yourself as a writer to know when that “something,” that je ne sais quoi just isn’t present in the writing room.

5. When the chemistry is there, magic can happen!

Sometimes it’s just about being in the right place at the right time with the right person, and the magic of writing a great song just seems to happen. I feel like this is more rare than not, so when it happens, just enjoy the ride!

6. The best relationships are founded on respect. 

Writing with somebody new can sometimes be a very sensitive situation, especially if the two writers don’t see eye-to-eye on every line, note, and chord being put on paper (and just like in life, you will be hard pressed to find anybody who agrees with you 100% of the time!). It’s best to treat each other with respect, and be truthful but not hurtful in working through the challenges that come with putting multiple creative personalities together in a room. I like to go in with the opinion that just because something isn’t right for the song, doesn’t mean that it’s bad.

7. Above all, be true to yourself. 

Be open to new ideas and experiences, but know who you are and stay true to it. It makes for a richer writing experience (and a richer life, too!)

A day in the life…

So, a lot of people wonder what happens on an average day  for an up and coming songwriter… so here is a day in my life during a typical week! Be warned… some days are not that interesting, and it is sometimes repetitive… but a little routine never hurt anyone 🙂


Day job, practice, workout, play at a writers’ night. What’s a writer’s night, you ask? Well, a bunch of songwriters get booked to play short sets at a venue. You play your set, you hang out with writers you’ve met before, and do a little networking. Sometimes, you meet new co-writers, sometimes you meet publishers, sometimes you just meet new friends.


Day job,  send booking emails, practice and write.


Day job, co-writing session, send more booking emails. Oh, and on Wednesdays I usually write my blog! (Yes, I know today is Thursday… sometimes I like to break the routine!)


Day job, workout, send booking emails, just relax!


Day job, workout, write, try and have a social life!


Co-write or go to a workshop, do normal catch-up things like cleaning and grocery shopping.


Practice, write, possibly co-write… and usually do 15 loads of laundry that have been neglected the rest of the week!

So there you go… a typical week for one up coming singer/songwriter. In an ideal world, I would have a lot more time for writing and co-wiriting… but those are good things yet to come!

By the way, keep an eye on my website for new tour dates… I’ve got some exciting shows coming up in the next few months!