“My dad died a year and a month ago. It has been a painful year. So much of who I was has been ripped away and I am redefining myself. I am moving to Houston to work with podcasts for the Houston Chronicle and begin the dream I never thought would happen. My wife, Fish, and I are uprooting our lives and saying goodbye to a city and people we love and don’t want to leave. It is scary, but there is excitement about what could be. I was inspired watching Abe Partridge quit his job to be a full-time musician. He was a completely different person as soon as he cut the safety net. Right now I am on the diving board. My knees are shaking and it is time for me to jump.
I worked in convenience stories with my family all of my life. After my dad died, I didn’t know what I was going to do. It was also time for Fish to follow her lifelong dream of becoming a veterinarian. There is no vet school in Mobile, so we couldn’t stay. I looked at convenience stores jobs where she would be, but she said try for a few weeks to find a job doing what I love instead. I typed in podcaster and the Houston Chronicle, the country’s third-largest newspaper, had a job opening. I had just released the Kristy Lee episode of my podcast ‘Unhand the Monster,’ and it was passed around to several editors at the paper. They listened to more episodes and were blown away by Mobile’s music scene, becoming fans of Will Kimbrough, Mollie Thomas, and Ross Newell. I was hired. I never dreamed ‘Unhand the Monster’ would lead to a job like this or expose Houston to Mobile’s music and people.
I love the conversations in ‘Unhand the Monster’ that show the truth of what it takes to be a working musician. It is devastating what most go through for even the smallest levels of success. If you find a niche in original music it has come from trial and error, failure and fear. I learned from these interviews to quit hiding from my own music and get out and play and meet people and make new friends because that is the reward of making music. Being a traveling folk singer is not what it used to be. There are no album sales. It is going from house concert to house concert. Thank God for those. The supporters of Mobile’s music scene are fiercely loyal. This is their team that they have supported for years and they know the words to every song. They are traveling across the country to Colorado this summer to support local musicians playing there.
Mobile has spunk and spirit and is different than any place I have been to. It has come so far since I watched Slow Moses years ago. There is not a better group of advocates for this city than musicians who come out of here. They only have good things to say for the city that rejuvenates them. Dauphin Street Sound is the best recording studio anywhere and Jim Pennington’s Listening Room is a dream to play. Both are a big part of where Mobile music can go. Having recorded and played in places like that with friends who are amazing at what they do, I go to Houston less afraid. Music, writing, and creative work, you do these because you love them and expect nothing in return. I hope I can make a living doing these things in Houston, but I will always a foot in Mobile.”