For as long as I can remember, music has always been a part of my life. I grew up in a household that always had the radio on. The car was always dialed in to a country radio station, and the CMT Countdown and the Crook & Chase Countdown were staples in our watching and listening. We went to concerts as family quite a bit. In fact, one of my first memories is at a concert with Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, and Vince Gill. It wasn’t exclusively country music that was played around our house or in our car, there was the occasional rock, Motown, and every once in a while, Top 40; but for the most part, it was country music.
I played a little and even performed in a few elementary school talent shows….but quickly found out that I had no singing or playing talent at all. I was MUCH better at being a fan and a listener of the genre than being anywhere near a microphone or instrument.
As I grew up, listening to music quickly became one of my favorite pastimes, and I began amassing my collection of cassettes and CD’s. Sure I dabbled in plenty of other genres, but country music was always in there somewhere.
In the summer of 2001 I turned 16 and got a job cooking at a neighborhood restaurant that primarily employed college kids. In the kitchen there was a CD player that was constantly on and given the diverse background of cooks there, it played pretty much anything you can think of through its speakers. In one shift you might hear a Nelly album, followed by a Johnny Cash album, followed by a Tool album, followed by a Tracy Lawrence album. Needless to say, it was crash course in music for me. I was exposed to all kinds of stuff, and was actually where I got my first taste of Texas Country. I’ll never forget hearing this voice one day and seeing some of the cooks sing along to “Merry Christmas from the Family” by Robert Earl Keen. I was hooked. The song was actually on a burned CD that was pretty much half “No. 2 Live Dinner” and half Charlie Robinson’s “Life of the Party” album, so the guy who’s CD it was, burned me a copy, and it was off to the races. From there it was Pat Green’s “Dance Hall Dreamer” & “Here We Go” and Cory Morrow’s “Outside the Lines” and the rest is pretty much history. I began seeking out bands, sharing them with the rest of my high school friends (who also couldn’t get enough), playing them at parties, and going to any concerts I could get in to. This of course, only continued when I got to college and was actually old enough to get in to the concerts.
My best friend, and listening/concert buddy, Micah Sims started his own Texas Country band and played for a few years. I was fully wrapped up in the music. Life was good. Then the unimaginable happened…
Micah died in a freak accident. Needless to say it tore a pretty big hole through my world. When you’re 19 and somebody you’ve seen or talked to pretty much every day since you were in the 8th grade is no longer there, it’s obviously pretty tough to deal with. Through my amazing family, girlfriend Michelle, and friends, I was able to be reminded to focus on his life, not his death, and was starting to see the other side, when another huge blow landed. My girlfriend who was studying abroad in Mexico for a few weeks, was struck by a car and killed while crossing the street. My world was in pieces. Losing your girlfriend and best friend in the same 6 months, sends you in to some pretty dark days, months, and years; and now looking back, if it weren’t for my incredible family and friends, I don’t know what those times would’ve been like. But it wasn’t just friends and family that got me through it….it was also music. Between the songs that would allow me to get lost in the story and take my mind of things, or the excitement of finding a new band, or being out with friends at a concert, music provided such a big comfort and outlet. I literally poured my heart and soul into the music of Randy Rogers, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Stoney Larue and others either alone in my truck in my driveway singing at the top of my lungs, laying in bed with my headphones on, or cranked up while playing washers in the front yard with friends. I needed it and it was there for me.
But where the music, and the passion for music discovery, really helped me through the dark was when two buddies, one of their girlfriends, and I would pile in to one of our vehicles and go hit backroads for hours. We probably did that at least once a week for about year and half straight, right after everything happened; and then occasionally over the next few years. Ipods and FM radio transmitters for them had just come out, so each week I would create a new playlist and we would crank the music up, do the things you do on backroads ;), and sometimes not talk for an hour. Just cruise and listen. Not only were those probably some of the most cathartic hours when I needed them most, but it also gave me something to look forward to each week, and it kept my mind busy with researching new music and composing 3 hour long playlists. We’d be somewhere on a dirt road, with nothing around us for miles, the windows down, and the music up, singing along and just getting lost in the music together. That’s really where I discovered my favorite feeling in the world, finding music that you can get lost in together with other people. Having that light in the midst of the darkness helped me through so many rough weeks.
As with many things, time heals your wounds and you start to find peace. I went on to finish college, found an amazing woman to marry, got my MBA, and found a career that I absolutely loved, but about 4 years ago, I felt like something was missing. Then one day it hit me, it was the lack of sharing music and indulging with others. I mean I still listened to a lot of music and went to shows occasionally, but the discovery and sharing aspect of it, was now very few and far in between. My listening buddies and I would still talk all the time, but everyone was in their late 20’s and early 30’s now with careers and families. The days of backroads and weekday afternoon washers had been long since gone. The passion to discover and share music was definitely still there, and once I realized how much I NEEDED that euphoric feeling back in my life (even though life was great), it was just a matter of figuring how. So along with my dad, Steve, we launched our website in the July of 2014, and haven’t looked back since!
I would’ve never imagined that it would take off the way it has but you can rest assured that I don’t take it for granite. Music, music discovery and sharing it with others who can also get lost in it, or use it to help themselves through a tough time, or just enjoy, holds a very strong place in my heart. You guys have no idea how much it means when we receive a message, email, or comment from someone saying how much they enjoy a band, song, album etc…that they discovered on our website. This music has given me so much and I’m just trying to return the favor. So Cheers! Here’s to continuing to get lost in the music together!
Music addict, a sucker for heartbreak songs, and avid Houston sports fan! I’am also the Editor-in-Chief of Texas Music Pickers.