Well, I thought about putting (aka- Pops) in the title for this entry, but I figured I’d leave a little suspense. For those who don’t know already, Mike McKaskle is my Dad, and probably the greatest reason I play music at all right now. I grew up listening to him finger-picking his 76′ Martin guitar- which he paid $600 for new, btw- and he and my mother would sing together in the kitchen after dinner, and at coffee shops and county fair sort of events in West Tennessee. When I was really small I’d sing with them, but mostly I got to soak up the influences of the greats like Doc Watson, Merle Haggard, Jimmy Rogers, John Prine, and Greg Brown, as played by my father.
I began singing with him again when I was about 17, and for my 18th birthday/ high school graduation, he got me my first guitar! He tried teaching me a few chords, but it wouldn’t be until the end of my first (and only) semester away at college that I’d start to really be interested in learning. One of the greatest joys I have is the gift of getting to share music with him, and it has been a connection that has carried us through difficult periods in our relationship.
He played in bands growing up, and most recently has formed a band with his fancy-fingered friend John Zajdel, under the moniker, “The Grindstone Plowboys”. Have a listen!
I Love you, Daddy! Thank you for the gift of you=]
The first place I sang, tried to play guitar in front of people, and debuted my first attempts at songwriting were in the back bar at Cafe Coco’s open mic, which used to happen every Thursday night. Maurice Barrett ran sound for all the music there, and honestly I was pretty intimidated by him. I could tell he was really cool, and that he knew what he was talking about, and I knew my friends all shared a friendly but great respect for him. I would find out later, that Maurice (also known under the moniker 24/7) was a brilliant musician/creative person in his own right. He would never tell you that though- he’s incredibly humble. You have to do a little research or talk to people who’ve known him a while to hear any reports of his work. Lately the creative endeavor that has become more his focus requires him being behind the lens and capturing the art or experience of other artists and people. He’s got a really neat series going called “Dave’s Place” during which he spends time with artists (musicians, engineers, painters) interviewing and displaying their craft in a very cool way. I got to work with Maurice for one of these installments and let me just say- not only am I SO grateful to have that well-done interview/take-away show to send to people, but he just makes you feel so comfortable and at home in talking to him. He allows for a very easy, natural vibe, and just does such great work.
So. The summer between my 4th and 5th grade years(1999), my dear ol’ dad decided to finally get a pick-up put in his 1976 Martin, (which, I might add, he bought new for 600 bucks.. lucky) so we made the 3 hour trek to Nashville to have it installed. I remember it was raining, I remember going down a one way street near Hillsboro Village, I remember being bossy with directions to the movie theatre, and I remember the man fixing up my dad’s guitar was named Andrew.
I also remember being pretty intimidated by this gruff luthier, only to find out 12 years later that he’s actually one of the sweetest, most tender-hearted people you may have the pleasure to meet. I have come to find this out since I began taking guitar lessons with John Mock (who you’ll meet soon) at Cotten Music last summer.
Cotten Music has become a second home to me, and thankfully Andrew, Kim, and Darcy have allowed for that. I can come in that place having exactly the kind of day I’m having, and Andrew will pick me out a guitar to play and listen to me talk through some of it, as well as doing some of the talking. His presence, encouragement, and sense of humor have become invaluable pieces of my weekly life for which I could not be more grateful.
Andrew is one of so many people who have loved and encouraged me until I could do it myself, and even still.
I first had the pleasure of meeting KG towards the end of last summer, on a lovely afternoon at Centennial Park. I’d seen her around, as our circles overlap a bit, but had not actually connected. Once we did, I immediately wanted to befriend her. What you’ll notice first (or what I did, probably because I envied it so) is how grounded, and steady this woman is. After a few minutes of conversation you’ll notice she is very honest, matter-of-fact, and hilarious. She is a beautiful, talented, and empowered spirit and lovingly makes its her job to see that other people know of their own light. Plus, she’s just so much dang fun to be around.
She is an incredible writer, musician, poet, and I am honored to consider her one of my closest friends.
Last summer, Chris Hayzlett, Ian Lincoln, and I went on an insane road trip from here, to Denver, CO, to Portland, OR, and Seattle, WA in 10 days- driving 20-24 hours at a time to make the plans we had. Our final stop was Seattle/ Olympia, to play a house show put on for us by our Nashville friend Christiana Odum. After the other three house show/parties we played, we weren’t really sure what to expect.. making it SO MUCH fun and so sweet when we saw how hard Christiana worked to put this all together. So about 40 people or so gathered in a finished detached garage in Olympia, and this is where we first met Graydon Holden. Graydon’s band, Lower Lights Burning, also played the show, and amazed us all with beautiful music, incredible heartfelt and genuine lyrics, and killer harmonies (courtesy of Miss Amanda Sue Winterhalter). We got to all briefly hang out after the show, but Graydon had to turn in earlier than the rest of us cause he had to work the next day. Fast forward a couple of months to October, and Amanda and Graydon are gearing up for their long awaited album release, which was just the excuse i needed to return to the great state of Washington.
Graydon is an incredible spirit. He is hard-working, and one of the most self-less people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. He cares so much for other people, for his family, for his friends, and shows them so with his actions- making sure to spend time with people. He even drove to pick me up and return me to the airport in Seattle- not the shortest trip! (thankyousomuch) Often this makes for a tired man, but he doesn’t complain. He is someone that inspires me to be a better friend and family member, a harder worker, and a more dedicated musician simply by living his life. I am really grateful for our friendship, and your music, and the gifts you bring to the world!
Love you, Graydon!
ps. check out THIS INCREDIBLE video.
Here is the link to listening and downloading/ordering their Album “Coming Back” http://lowerlightsburning.bandcamp.com/
I first met Ian when I worked at Boscos Brewery and Restaurant in Nashville, TN. My friend April introduced us because they were forming a punk band called Edamame and needed someone to sing. When we got together for our first “practice”, Ian and i just ended up trading our folk songs and we instantly became friends. He is a talented writer and musician, among many other talents… like being HILARIOUS. Two and a half years later and we’ve put together a project called Beards, and recorded and released an album under that name. We also went on a road trip last year- marking the first time either of us had been further west than the Mississippi River. Ian is the brains behind the operation Hot Lullaby, ( http://www.hotlullaby.com ) and is just a real great guy to have around.
I love you, Ian! Thanks for the gift of you!
To listen/ download your own copy of Beards debut release, We Grow Old go ova here:
There are a great many people who influenced and encouraged my decision to come home from college and start making music. Jo’shua Odine is one of the first that comes to mind when I think back to those exciting, early days. I was so hungry for creativity and connection with people who were living theirs, and immediately Jo’shua welcomed me into the Cafe Coco community of eclectic artists and musicians. Before I’d taken guitar lessons, or written a song, I came to my first open mic and nervously sang an a cappella song, and looked up to see him smiling at the back of the room. This man is such a talented, beautiful spirit. So loving and encouraging to the artists and people he encounters, and his music is unlike anything I’ve come across before. He has become a dear friend and love in my life, and I am so grateful for learning and experiencing music and other joys with him.
Thank you, Jo’sh, for the gift of you=]
I love you!
As a creative person, and as I allow more and more attention and intention to my creative side, I am all the time finding new sources of inspiration from all corners of the creative spectrum. Weather, nature, conversation, people-watching, fabrics, paintings, photography, all of it. About a year ago, I stumbled upon the work of Anna Emilia, an artist and illustrator based in Finland, and was instantly taken by the beautiful weather/nature inspired watercolor paintings. A year later, I am nearing the completion of my debut EP. I was on the search for album art that gave me a feeling similar to the ones I’m hoping to convey in my music when I rediscovered her work. Immediately the piece above, “Tree House”, struck a familiar chord with me and I contacted Anna Emilia soon after. She was patient and kind, and very friendly in our e-mail interactions as we worked out the details of getting to use her work. All I am waiting for now are more excuses to place her work everywhere around me! It’s lovely, and inspiring, and I am very grateful to know about it!
There are a seemingly infinite number of amazing human beings who have encouraged and inspired me along this somewhat recent journey of becoming a musician. Each Monday I’ll feature one of these dear people and try to honor (in this little way) the impression they have made and continue to make on my life.
When I first decided to quit school and play music, I really had no clue what shape it would take. I’d never written a song, never taken guitar lessons- I’d only sang out with my parents or in high school chorus. I signed up for guitar lessons January ’09, and our family friend, Kathy Mattea, introduced me to her vocal coach of thirty years, Phoebe Binkley.
This beautiful woman would become so much more than simply a vocal coach -as if that weren’t enough already. She’s listened to me cry, shared in excitement over successes, calmed worry or frustration, but most importantly- she has taught me to hear my own voice, to trust my instrument. I have learned numerous lessons from her-
-to compartmentalize -to think of myself as a musician, even in the beginning stages -to always dress sharply (which I still don’t always adhere to.. yet=]) -to go for it- whether its a show/opportunity i’m nervous about, or a note I’m afraid to hit -to trust myself and my art/voice
The list goes on. I’m still learning, and remembering how invaluable and important this time with her is to me.
Thank you, Phoebe, for the gift of you! I love you!
There are so many wonderful people who have influenced my life and my willingness to be creative over the past 3 years. Each of them have been so dear to me- in small or large part- and I just want to use this blog to show my gratitude for their presence in my life AND link whoever reads this to what will end up being a gallery of talented people.
For most entries, there will be a photo that I’ve taken with my canon canonet, and a little blurb gushing about how much I love them.
If you come across this blog, thanks for stopping by!