Archive for the ‘Videos’ Category:

Speak to Me, Vol 9 is here!!

This year is the 25th anniversary of Peter Gabriel’s influential album “So”.  I can’t believe it was 25 years ago that I blared “In Your Eyes” through my car stereo, dove into Anne Sexton’s poetry because of “Mercy Street”, and simultaneously tapped my feet and crinkled my forehead in wonder at the strangeness of “Excellent Birds”.   The duet with Kate Bush “Don’t Give Up” spoke to me then, but only in a whisper.  And now 25 years later, the song calls out to me in a way I can’t ignore.

At the Sisters Song Academy a couple years ago, my friend Chris Kokesh and I had the idea to perform this song with the great Peter Mulvey singing the Kate Bush part.  He sang it low and his gravelly voice gave us chills.  The final awesome touch was Patrick Pearsall playing bad-ass bass.  We performed the song at the Sunday morning community celebration and it felt like a giant wave rushing over me.

I have played it many times now since that day.   Sometimes by myself, sometimes enlisting the help of friends.   It speaks to me now because of these tough times when all are struggling.  It speaks to me now as I struggle to survive and maintain the artist’s life.  Every time I sing it, the song acts like a balm, a pep-talk, and a dose of adrenalin straight to my heart.  “Don’t give up, don’t give up, don’t give up”, and I almost believe we can make it good, that there’s a place where we belong.

Thank you Nathan Brown, Dirje Smith & Uncle Calvin’s Coffeehouse!

Check out the funny feet video my buddy Dennis McGregor made!

Everybody’s always asking me why I play barefoot.  The easy answer is that I can’t help it!   My buddy Dennis took this footage when I wasn’t looking… he calls it Wish I Was Your Shoes.  🙂

Speak to Me, Vol 8 is here!

Speak to Me, Vol 8 was nothing short of epic!!  I chose Paul McCartney’s “Let It Be” for the grand finale at the Sisters Folk Festival Community Celebration…It was absolutely magical to share the stage with all those fine folks!

I chose this song for the simple reason that it has been speaking to me lately.  Its message is timeless, as is its melody.  Which leads me to wonder… what makes a song timeless?

I guess if we knew the answer to that, we would all be writing timeless songs.

Thank you, Sir Paul for the simple, humble song that has been ringing in our ears for over forty years.

New BW promo video for Troubadour TX tv show!!

Hey there, peeps — the excitement is building!!  Check out this new promo video for BW put together by the folks at the Troubadour TX tv show!  The show begins Sept 24 on the CW network, an BW is one of many singer-songwriters with Texas roots to be featured on the show!

Watch the video here!

The Troubadour TX facebook fanpage is here. More details coming soon!

Speak to Me, Volume 7 is here!

For Speak to Me, Volume 7, I chose a well-known song — “Message in a Bottle” by Sting.   Sting, you are not alone in being alone.  🙂

I have always loved this song for the same reason that I love Paul Simon’s “Slip Slidin’ Away”:  the sad subtext of the song is hidden beneath a shiny, upbeat pop surface.   This song teaches us that you don’t always have to match the mood of the music to the meaning of the words.  Setting up a contrast can make for a powerful transmission of ideas and emotion.

Structurally I love this song for its simplicity.  Verse/Chorus, Verse/Chorus, Verse/Chorus.  I know this is third-hand hearsay, but my friend Chuck Pickeral told me that he heard Sting speak about writing this song.  He said Sting was a stickler for form, and he tried really hard to make a bridge to fit into this song.  But as everything he was feeling forced, he realized that he had already said what he needed to say.  This is a very important lesson!!  There is no need to force something into a song just because form dictates it.  Brevity is king in the three and a half minute pop song.

Speaking of three and a half minutes, I’m sure you noticed that my version of this song is really damn long.  I hope you don’t mind going with me on a slightly longer journey!  I was really tuning in to the loneliness and isolation here and remembering the times I have felt like that in my life.  It’s quite a hypnotic and meditative when slowed down like this.

Finally, I love what Sting has done with chords transitioning from verse to chorus.  Many times in pop songs we will see the verse anchored in a minor  key, then the switch to the relative major at the chorus.  Sting treats us to some different ear candy  by beginning on the 3 minor:  E minor, C, D, A minor  is the pattern of the verse.  We think we are in the key of E minor.  But then when the chorus comes in on C major, it opens everything up and  illustrates the hope he is daring to feel.  Yummy.

Speak To Me, Vol. 6 is here!

“Fake Plastic Trees” by Radiohead is a song that grows on me with each deeper listening. Why does it speak to me?

Firstly, I love the melody.

Secondly, it’s got plenty of vocal yumminess. Any opportunity to flip from head voice into falsetto is golden if you ask me, and it’s an especially powerful move in the male voice. (Think of Shawn Mullins’s hit song “Lullaby” when he sings “ev-er-y-thing is gonna be alright”…that technique is what I call “the flip” and has been used to great effect by tons of male singers from Chris Martin of Coldplay to Chris Isaac). So it’s fun when I get a chance to use it (makes me ponder why I don’t use it more)!

Most of all this song packs a lyrical punch that is just deadly. For me, Radiohead songs are all about emotion and dynamic tension, but many times the lyrics are so cerebral that he makes me think while I’m in the middle of feeling what he is feeling. My favorite thing about the lyrics of this song is that all of the emotion, frustration, and weariness of the song are distilled down into one small line that I just can’t stop thinking about… “Gravity always wins.”

Dammit, Thom Yorke, that’s brilliant.

The chorus does two things to highlight the emotion it is addressing: to great effect, the choruses are much softer than the verses. Also, the chorus is just one line repeated over and over again.. ‘it wears her out’ or ‘it wears him out’. By the fourth time you hear that line, you feel the weariness of her being worn out.

I won’t post all of the lyrics here, but if you lay them all out, it reads like a poem. It raises an important question about all the fakeness, all the plasticness of modern life and our society’s tendency to value style over substance. For me, he has hit the nail right on the head, because that shit just wears me out.

Speak To Me, Volume 5

Speak To Me, Volume 5 is here!  I had the privilege of playing with Shireen Amini and Jason Jackson at Harmony House in Sisters, OR.  I thought it would be fun to get them in on my shenanigans.  🙂  Volume 5 is Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You”.

The idea to sing this song came from Shireen, whom I had the good fortune of meeting at the Sisters Song Academy a few years ago.  Shireen told me one day that she had had a dream that we sang this song together and that she thought we should do it.  So i thought, why not??  We spent a good hour down by the lake that day singing our hearts out!

Both of us remembered the song from the power-ballad version done by Whitney Houston.  What a perfect vehicle this song was for her amazing pipes.  But when I learned back then that it was a Dolly Parton song, I went back and listened to Dolly’s version.  It is heart-breakingly sweet and and soft, and stop-you-in-your-tracks sad to hear her voice tremble when she whispers “I wish you joy and happiness”….

The most obvious lesson from this song is the power of simplicity.  Occasionally songwriters (myself included!) get carried away with trying to be clever or surprise our listeners’ ears.   Dolly reminds me here that sometimes the most powerful thing you can do is take a raw emotion and distill it down to its purest, clearest form.  There is no doubt from the first line of the song what she is feeling.

There is certainly a place for complexity in creativity, but sometimes simplicity is a gift you can give yourself and your song.   Thanks, Dolly for the reminder.

Beth is interviewed by Catherine Garvin of the Portland Examiner

Check out this backyard interview with BW before her Doverlaff House Concert in Portland!  You can’t even tell her toes are freezing!

Check out the Blue Rock BW Montage Video

The good folks at Blue Rock Studio strike again!  Here’s a cool montage video featuring live footage of “Church of Melody”, “Funeral Day”, and “Little Hands”…

Blue Rock Video for “The Weather Inside”

Check out this cool video, y’all!   The folks at Blue Rock Studio in Wimberley, TX know how to do things right.  They created this awesome video from interview and concert footage…love it! Concert footage features Billy Crockett on mandolin and guitar, Gentle Thunder on Native American flute, Roger Friend on percussion and Drew Womack on vocals!