No constraints

I grew up in a warm, loving and slightly off-beat family in South Alabama. My parents, though outwardly traditional, actually encouraged my siblings and me to express our individuality. Laughing as we staged fake wrestling matches in our Fruit of the Loom briefs on the slick cork living room floor. Or listening patiently as we stood atop the Civil War embankment in our backyard and sang show tunes at the top of our lungs. We felt few constraints. So, when I started writing songs, well, you can imagine how "no constraints" informed them. Frank Zappa meets Leslie Gore. Crazy amalgams in that vein. I sallied forth bravely, unfettered by expectations and had a few songs under my belt when I was asked to open for a young songwriter named John Prine at the University of Alabama. I was in grad school there at the time. This will be my moment, I thought. And it was. Though not the kind of moment I'd hoped for. As I sat in the audience watching this guy I'd just opened for, I was crestfallen. His songs were everything mine were not. Beautiful melodies. Engaging lyrics. Just wonderful stories. I was so depressed I stopped writing songs altogether. Screech. Just like that. For the next decade or so, I busied myself raising a family and copywriting for ad agencies - TV spots super markets, radio spots for banks, print ads for power companies. You know, everything. Family, work, all was very gratifying. And after a while, my confidence came creeping back. Slowly, I started writing songs again. And man, did it feel good. Almost as good as (see picture at right) camping with my wife in the Sipsey Wilderness of North Alabama and discovering shortly afterwards she was pregnant with our first child. So here I am with my third album of songs born of a life I've loved. (Full disclosure- the first had only four songs and I don't even think I have any copies left.) I hope you enjoy listening to Hot Tea & Tears as much I enjoyed recording it.