If you're like me, you don't live in a fancy house, or own a fancy car. You keep things simple. Why I keep things simple may be different than why you keep things simple, but speaking plainly, I find flashy stuff attracts too much attention. And that's precisely why I love Pensacola and Pensacola Beach.
Pensacola Beach is never really on anyone's radar. It's not riddled with hotspots, like Miami or Fort Lauderdale (or Orlando). It's a beach where generation after generation of people come with their kids to get away from life's complexities.
And that's why many generations of vacationers, who've been here many times, begin discovering live music in out of the way places around Pensacola.
In town, these places aren't fancy, either. And they run at a slower pace. In them, you can find songwriters from across the United States working what we musicians call, "The Chitlin Circuit." Pensacola's Abe's 506 Club was a stop between Birmingham and Tallahassee and was visited regularly by Billie Holiday, Cab Callaway, Ike & Tina, and many more.
The 506 West Belmont street address still stands even as many entrepreneurs, such as Chizuko, have tried and failed to capture the historic success Abe had. In my mind, celebrating Rock 'n' Roll's spirit which developed in the Belmont-De Villiers neighborhood is part of our national heritage. I often wonder if we stripped the building down to the floor, if we'd find some old vinyl recording under the floorboards.
But, that's what I think needs to happen. It's not that we shouldn't celebrate new artists. It's just in my bones, I think today's music is missing the part that hits you in the heart and soul. Something simple. Less produced. Less fancy. More organic. Where the story of the song means more than how many hooks there are, or how many vocal runs a singer can pull off. Or how many fancy rhymes a writer can use.
All of this stuff, in my mind, is flashy and attracts a lot of attention. But if you go back and listen to the roots of Rock 'n' Roll, I think you'll see the music still holds up. Much of it is better than the fancy computer aided grid work that many writers do today. It just lands better for me if the only textures you hear are the pops and hiss of the record player.
And that brings me to the end of this blog, my friend: musically keeping things simple.
Last week, I called Lucky Kelson, of Pensacola's Lucky K Studio, to get his thoughts on my album, Bait & Switch. He said, he loved the CD for its simple approach. He said, nobody is taking this approach today, and the work is unique. He said he loved what I was doing. This is "Lucky Kelson", the same man who worked with Larry Butler, also of Pensacola (who made Kenny Rogers famous). Lucky Kelson is an enduring asset to our community. He's simply a great guy who loves the craft. I resonate with him. So we made a simple agreement to start with my easier tunes and work our way up together.
Sometimes keeping things simple means going back to the way music used to be written: by a small team of like minded people. Working with Lucky was an easy choice.
We agreed to begin working together last week. Fantastic! We're going to remix and remaster Bait & Switch for re-release this Fall. That means the original Bait & Switch CD is now a collector's item. No longer in production. I have 10 copies left. Go to my website and get your copy before they are gone forever, or don't. I don't mind if they never sell.