Ramblings: A Music City Joke's Punchline

Why did I call this album Music City Joke, you ask? 

It’s a fair question. 

Let’s step back in time about a decade. I was playing the low country bar band circuit, dodging alcohol-soaked song requests & a spilled drink or two, scraping by a hundred dollars at a time along with the occasional free meal at a bar where I was playing. One day, driving around Charleston, I turned to the country station, listened to a few songs and chuckled to myself, thinking, “Hell, I could do that.” So, I packed up my stuff and made my way to Music City USA, Nashville, TN.   

I spent the next five years in and out of writing rooms and the kind of apartments & houses where the residents haven’t quite said yes to responsibility–you know, thrift store couches and rock & roll posters tacked into dirty walls. I was trying to write the kind of songs I thought mainstream country artists would want to cut. And I started thinking that if it was a piece of cake to write smash country songs, there’d probably be a few less insurance salesmen in the world. 

I realized the joke was on me. I took a deep breath, pulled the “kick me sign” off my back, and I just kept writing. 

In 2018 I was a New Folk winner at the Kerrville Folk Festival (past winners include Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, Hal Ketchum, James McMurtry)–it gave me a jumpstart, and I decided to ramp up my writing and make a run toward creating the best album I’ve made so far. 

The last time I took significant effort to hammer out songs, I didn’t have a son. This time, as a father, I really had to work to get the time in tp create. It was months of late nights and early mornings, whenever I could find peace & quiet. Also writing songs in my head while I was running around with a toddler in the yard. I told my neighbors if they ever heard me talking to myself, I wasn’t crazy, I was just working out a song. 

Eventually, I got 10-20 tunes I really liked, and I booked as many writers’ rounds as I could, testing them out, seeing what worked and what didn’t–making changes on some, dumping others, and moving forward. I reached out to a few producers, chose Brad Jones (Hayes Carll, Josh Rouse, Bruce Robinson & Kelly Willis), and we set about making this new album. 

And now it’s here: ‘Music City Joke.’  

This picture here is gonna be the back of the album. I came up with the perfect set-up: “A priest, a rabbi, and a songwriter walk into a bar…” 


I don’t have a punchline. I was thinking maybe y’all could help me out with that. 

Something like, “A priest, a rabbi, & a songwriter walk into a bar. Bartender says, ‘Hm. I guess the penguins are bowling.’” Wow. That doesn’t make much sense, and it’s also not funny.  

So, all you Monday morning stand-up comics, gimme something good! Swing by Facebook or Instagram and leave your best punchline in the comments there. Come on now, this is your chance to make us all laugh. Go!