On the Long Road Home

I didn’t have a title for this post, but “On the Long Road Home” happens to be the song I’m listening to at the moment by a band called The End of the Ocean, so I figured I’d use it for this.

The Black Warrior Songwriters Festival was fun! Many thanks to Megan and Jarrod McMillan, Matt and Nikki Ray from Eat My Beats (who, along with being one of the many wonderful sponsors of the festival, also kept me from being homeless for the weekend.) I got to see a lot of old friends and make some new ones. Always a good time.

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Photo by Todd Souvignier of Abusements.

Other quick news:

BARRENS guitarist “J. Slickwood” is releasing a limited number of Gut Munchers DVDs. I play “Vince,” and BARRENS bassist Clay Smith plays “Buck.” Click here to order.

In film news, Stephen Poff’s short film The Song You’ll Never Hear will screen at this year’s Montgomery Film Festival (which is July 20.) That was a fun project to work on. I play “Ralph” the bartender in that one. Congrats to the cast and crew!

Photos from last week’s Guitar Pull at the Cloverdale Playhouse are up on my Facebook page.

My next acoustic shows are coming up July 5 and 6. I’ll be returning to Goat Haus Biergarten in Montgomery both nights.

More announcements coming soon. Thanks for reading! Much love! Subscribe to this blog below:

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Black Warrior Songwriters Festival – this weekend!

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This coming weekend is the 2019 Black Warrior Songwriters Festival in Tuscaloosa!

I’m scheduled for three performances, as seen in the image above. Be sure to check out the list of artists and the full schedule.

Also… I’ve got a cameo in this video that features some footage from last year’s festival:

 

And speaking of songwriter’s events, if you haven’t seen Commit to the Song: The Joe Thomas Jr. Guitar Pull yet, it’s available for rent and purchase on Amazon. Click here to check that out, and leave a review – I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks!

Quick update – June 2019

 

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Hey everyone, just wanted to give some quick updates on things. If you’ve been following my Instagram, you might already know what’s been keeping me busy, but if not, here’s what’s been up:

I’ve worked with a number of talented filmmakers and actors on a few projects, including a public service type of ad, two fake ads that we’re hoping will be part of this year’s Montgomery Film Festival intermission, a short film, and continued work on a documentary project I hope to be able to provide more details on soon.

(Speaking of the Montgomery Film Festival, if you haven’t seen the two fake ads from the past couple of years that I was involved with, check out the “FudgeIt Auto Sales” videos at the bottom of this post… language is NSFW.)

In Barrens news, our album is currently in the mixing stages at Headless Dinosaur Recording. (That was the studio where Hail the Titans recorded Hymns of Mare Nostrum.)

That’s it for now. As always, thanks for reading.

 

May 2019 Guitar Pull photos are up!

Click here to see the full gallery on Facebook.

Film and music updates – April 2019

Since it’s the last day of April, I figured I should post some updates on film and music things that have been happening (and to somewhat lighten the mood from my last few posts…)

I recently got back in front of the camera (yea!) to play the role of “Bobby Joe” in a short film called Secret Weapon. Ol’ Bobby Joe is a backwoods arms dealer. See the trailer below:

 

In other news, a short film I served as Director of Photography on – Riding with the Rabbi – seems to have gotten a little film festival traction and some awards. A new trailer was released that has some laurels on it, so that’s always good news.

 

And Barrens is almost done tracking at Headless Dinosaur Recording. I’m really liking the way it’s coming together. And… while I’m on the subject of Barrens, our next show is scheduled for May 25. Here’s the event info.

Here’s a little snippet of a rough mix of a Barrens song:

Also, there’s a very limited amount of new kitty stickers available. Click here for those.

I think that’s it for now… Be sure to subscribe to get updates, if you haven’t done so already. Thanks! Much love.

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Shadowboxing

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I’m not one to post a bunch of inspirational memes or quotes. Nothing against it – you do you; it’s just not really my personality. But hey, someone might need to see it. That someone might even be me.

You never really know what’s going to inspire someone to think, to evaluate a situation or part of their life. Introspection.

I do a lot of thinking. Almost constantly, it seems. It reminds me of lyrics from the song “Shadowboxing” by Julien Baker:

I know you were trying to help
But you’re only making it worse
Tell me that I shouldn’t blame myself
But you can’t even imagine how badly it hurts
Just to think sometimes
How I think almost all the time

That speaks to me. It’s authentic. It’s real. It’s honest.

Depression is a motherfucker. The racing thoughts, the lack of sleep, the internal voice that just won’t shut the fuck up.

So far, 2019 has been kind of a shit show. And I have to admit my role in it – I ignored my mental and emotional health for at least three years. And I’ve had a lot to deal with and process during that time. Shit catches up to you sometimes.

Of course, there have been bright spots – film projects, music events, art shows, my band hitting the studio, etc. I don’t want to discount any of those. But at other times, it’s like my brain is trying to kill me.

Some things just get old. I’m tired of feeling let down by people. I’m tired of my trust being violated. I’m tired of dishonesty. I’m tired of losing friends.

If you’ve read this far, thank you. This is me being open, honest, and authentic. This is me attempting to talk about things that sometimes feel shunned. This is me trying one small way to fight the stigma around mental illness.

And I don’t want to end on a negative. I know other people who are struggling right now. So check on your people. Be kind to a stranger. Spread some love. Share some music. Continue being the badass person that you are. Find the beauty in the world.

Much love.

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Social media is weird

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From a Quad-City Times article (linked below)

Social media is weird, and I think sometimes it’s weird because each person uses it in a very unique way. Of course, not knowing someone else’s thought processes through open communication makes it even murkier to attempt to understand motives behind actions.

For me, if I take the time to block someone on social media, it’s simply because I don’t want that person in my life anymore. In general, it’s because I’ve been hurt by the person, or sometimes it’s because of a close association with someone who has hurt me. It’s very personal. (And very rare.)

Unfriending is a little easier by comparison, I think. I’ve unfriended people because of their posts. (I don’t tolerate racism, y’all. If I see it, you’re gone. In fact, if you’re racist, go ahead and unfriend me to save me the trouble.)

I’ve also been blocked and unfriended by some people. Some of those people are shitty human beings. Some of them are good people. I’m not perfect, and I sure as hell can’t please everyone. I’ve made mistakes.

I was recently unfriended by someone, but I think that person only added me in the first place to spy. Weird. I didn’t realize that until way after the fact because I was not privy to a certain situation at the time. (Apologies for that sounding so vague, but I’m not here to put other people’s business out there.)

I was also recently blocked by someone. That’s where this whole seemingly-blathering, long-ass intro has been leading to.

The person that blocked me was never on my friends list. We have mutual friends. This person has a reputation for being a good person. I don’t know that we’ve had more than one small interaction ever. I have no idea what this person heard or has been told… but I get it.

I get it.

I’ve had a somewhat similar experience to what this person is going through. That person was done wrong by someone. A couple of people actually. People acting selfishly, with total disregard to how others would be affected by their actions.

Without knowing the specific details of that person’s mindset, I can still understand getting blocked because I’ve done it. I’ve been there. I’ve been hurt, and that pain doesn’t just stop with one person – it gets spread around to acquaintances and strangers and even people we once thought friends who turn their backs.

Social media is weird because emotions are weird and people are weird and this whole planet sometimes seems way-fucking-batshit-out-there.

And a lot of people are hurting and struggling and just trying to make it through the day. Full disclosure: lately I’ve been one of them.

Recently, I’ve seen some billboards around that simply say “just be kind.” (Here’s an article I found about those.)

I try to be kind. I try to make sure that I act in kindness. I make a conscious effort. I still fuck up. But I try.

For that stranger who blocked me, even though they’ll most likely never see this – I’m sorry. The pain sucks. I hope it gets better soon.

And a reminder for all of us:

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

― Socrates

‘The cow was an antidepressant’

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Recently, I was having dinner with a few people. We didn’t know each other all that well, in fact one I had just met that day. As we shared a meal and some drinks, at some point the subject of mental health came up.

Even not knowing each other well, we were all being open about our struggles with depression or anxiety, sharing experiences and discussing the stigma around it. It was a very authentic experience, and one that I think doesn’t happen often enough.

It reminded me of a podcast that I had recently listened to. The author Johann Hari had gone on Sam Harris’ “Making Sense” podcast to discuss his books Chasing the Scream, which deals with addiction, and Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions. You can find that podcast here.

Hari shared a story in that podcast, so when I began reading an article on Vox with a similar story, it caught my attention – and then I realized the author of the article was Hari.

He tells of a psychiatrist researching the psychological effects of unexploded land mines on people in Cambodia – around the time antidepressants were first being marketed there – and how the community approached depression after a worker lost a leg in a land mine explosion. (The title of this blog post comes from the story.)

Read “We need new ways of treating depression” on Vox.

Hari discusses studies on antidepressants, “social prescribing,” economics, and much more. It is a very interesting read.

From the article:

I learned there is broad agreement among scientists that there are three kinds of causes of depression and anxiety, and all three play out, to differing degrees, in all depressed and anxious people. The causes are: biological (like your genes), psychological (how you think about yourself), and social (the wider ways in which we live together). Very few people dispute this. But when it comes to communicating with the public, and offering help, psychological solutions have been increasingly neglected, and environmental solutions have been almost totally ignored.

There are a lot of interesting things to examine in that Vox piece. I haven’t read Hari’s books yet, but I plan to get Lost Connections at some point. (I’m way behind on my reading… currently – slowly – going through about three books as I get time.)

One book I did finally finish is related to this post though, and I’ve shared it with a few friends as well – The Upward Spiral by Alex Korb. Korb is a neuroscientist, and the book’s subtitle is “Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time.”

Thanks for reading.

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‘The Way Forward’ + show + updates

Me, C. DeWayne Cunningham, and Tonya Scott Williams, March 28, 2019.

(L to R) Me, C. DeWayne Cunningham, and Tonya Scott Williams, March 28, 2019. (Not pictured: Royce Williams.) Photo from AISJ Facebook page.

Last year, I had the opportunity to begin working on a documentary project telling the story of the Alabama Institute for Social Justice. I served as Director of Photography on the project and worked with C. DeWayne Cunningham and Royce Williams under the direction of Tonya Scott Williams.

Last Thursday, the organization debuted the short film at their Racial Healing and Reconciliation event. You can see it here:

In other news…

Barrens has been in the studio lately. We’re tracking at Headless Dinosaur Recording (the same studio that recorded Hail the Titans’ “Hymns of Mare Nostrum” album.)

To see/hear some pics and teaser clips, be sure to follow our Instagram: @barrensmusic

We’re also playing at Bomber’s Pub in Montgomery this Saturday with V8 Death Car and the McRyatts.

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And yet still in other news…

I hope to be able to announce soon details of another documentary project, and I’ll be acting in a short film soon as well. So more news to come on those fronts.

Thanks for reading. Much love.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

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This Tuesday, March 19, 2019, I’ll be joining Katie Martin and Paul Garner at the Joe Thomas Jr. Guitar Pull at the Cloverdale Playhouse. It starts at 7pm, and the $10 entry includes complimentary beverage. [Facebook event here.]

Normally I’m photographing this event, but every once in a while, I end up on stage. I hope to see you there on Tuesday.

For anyone who may not know, this event and the history behind it inspired me to make the feature documentary Commit to the Song: The Joe Thomas Jr. Guitar Pull, which is currently available for rent and purchase on Amazon.

Also, Robert “Bubba” Hall, who performed at the first event and is in the film, has recently started other songwriter events. For more information on what he’s up to, visit CommitToTheSong.com.

And in other songwriter news, coming up in June, I’ll be returning to Tuscaloosa as part of the 2019 Black Warrior Songwriters Festival.

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