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Sometimes, The Back Burner Can't Be Avoided.

I knew I didn't have enough money to finish the whole album. In fact, I was crushed when I looked at my finances and realized Hook, Line & Sinker wouldn't get completed in one fell swoop. Not knowing what else to do, I decided to cut the album in half. Do half now, and half later.


I started to work with Stacy Hogan because Mike Rozon was tied up touring with Jerry Cantrell (Alice In Chains) and producing music with Ministry. [You can see Mike on the left side of the stage playing lap steel guitar on the video.]


I needed get something down on a recording. And Stacy made himself available. Granted, you can tell that Nashville flavor is in the production of the extended play record, and that wasn't a deal breaker, Stacy delivered. Still, I missed Mike Rozon, and he's an awesome guy. I hope to work with him again one day.


Here's the lesson I learned the hard way: The sad part about the business is you have to pay producers in advance whether you like what you get or not. Not fair at all. I certainly didn't really like what Epps did with "I'm Going Down" and that cost me plenty. Rozon fixed all my problems and came in at a reasonable price. And of course, paying Stacy in Nashville, also came in at a price.


I didn't know who I could really trust. I was floundering. I asked Dirk to play drums on the title track, but Stacy asked me to scrub them and start over. It broke my heart that we did all this work and it came to nothing. I still have copies of the original recordings and hope to one day finish the album as I envisioned it. The differences in what is on the CD and what is in the vault are signficant.


I was so heart broken at the end of all the compromises I had to make, I pretty much stopped recording. Even after I promised Dirk I'd work on some of his experimental tunes, I only finished one. My heart just wasn't in it anymore. All the relationships that made my first batches of recordings awesome were gone.


Plus, getting a new job in Maryland, moving all our household goods up here, and leaving all my friends behind was reason enough to just stop. Then Billy died.


Seeing the writing on the wall, I had to untether the new band I was just starting and tell Marty and Ed the bad news. Marty and I had just started putting down some new grooves [click here to listen to one]. Armando told me he couldn't play bass because he couldn't make the time commitment. So, I picked up bass. I wasn't good at it. I was losing my grip on what I wanted to do.


The only thing I could really do was focus on the 20 feet in front of me. I told myself, "Go head, get the job. Go to Billy's funeral. Get new house. Sell the old one. Make new friends up here in Maryland. See if there was a group of musicians who'd want me to get on board with them (and who were open to playing originals one day)."


And I did all of those things. The old house in Pensacola is still up for sale, meaning we must carry two mortgages until the property is sold. Or until the beach house is rented. All this must be decided in January. Until then, there is no money left over to even think of finishing Hook, Line & Sinker.


There were times I wondered why I bothered even doing this stuff. Not that my records were flying off the shelves anywhere. I couldn't afford to buy vinyl pressings and just sit on them with no fanbase.


But, luckily enough, I met these super nice guys at Dirtyworx. And we're gaining more momentum lately. We actually have a second gig booked.


I know my material is getting better. But I haven't written since June when I had to stop writing to get my new job. You can hear when I starting making a transition somewhere between The Beatles and Led Zeppelin.


And some of these new guys have shown some interest in recording with me. Mike's thought perhaps a new take on Hook, Line & Sinker's title track would be an interesting thing to do up here. And the drummer, Dave, just got an interface to record his drums. All that is great news.


It was obvious that 2023 was going to be a year of setbacks. My tastes were expanding, things were falling apart and I needed to regroup. I even wrote a country tune.


All of that's just what happened. With a few exceptions, much of the music I've worked on has been a solo effort. But maybe with these new guys some new stuff can come out of our band. Who knows?


Here's the deal: the back burner can't be avoided. And when it comes, you have to be emotionally ready for it. All the plans you make, all the dreams you have mean nothing if you lose your sanity worrying about your life's work getting stuck. You just have to roll with the punches.


"Life is what happens when you're busy making plans," is what the great John Lennon once said. I think he was right. And right now, things are beginning anew.


I thank God for back burners. Helps you get clear about what's important. And now that my music is coming off of simmer, I think it's time to start completing the second half of my album.


If you want to be part of it, go here, and get a copy of part 1. It'll help fund part 2.


And thanks, dear reader, for hanging in there with me through all of the ups and downs. Means a lot.


Love & Rockets,

Russ



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