Friday, September 11, 2009

My San Diego Music Awards Re-cap

In January, I contacted Aaron Bowen about recording a new album. It took a few months before we could get everything planned out, but at our first meeting we set goals. Our number 1 goal was to “Win a San Diego Music Award.” Last night, it came true. I wanted to take a sec to talk about the experience for and thank everyone in the Academy for giving me the award.

“RAW” is a collection of songs that I’ve written over the last few years. The idea was to play the album the same way that you’d hear it if you were in my room at my house. It was planned to be simple, not auto-tuned, nothing special, just you and me and maybe a friend or two hanging out. It helps when that friend is Aaron Bowen, (Co-Producer) because he’ll play lap steel or a numerous amount of other instruments. I wanted the stories to come out rather than just blast a bunch of music at my friends/fans who have listened to me these last few years. We started working on the album and continually asked ourselves, “Is this good enough for a SDMA?”

Read more after the jump (click 'keep on reading')

We enlisted the help of a few other musicians. Adam Powell played percussion on Pocket Change, Shawn Mayer sang background vocals on a few songs, and Rob Deez came in and we threw a party and recorded “SUGAR” and “COUGAR”. Everyone added so much, and the vibe of the room was awesome! It was definitely a great experience.

Here’s what we did not do. We did not record in a huge studio with a ton of crazy equipment. Everything was pretty much microphone and real instruments.

The only exception is the “Teaser” track “SHOOTING FOR THE SUN”. I recorded and wrote this song with Jeremy Rubolino, a wicked great producer from L.A. We put it on the album to get everyone excited about what was coming next for my career. Jake Najor played drums at Studio West for us, and we finished the recording after a couple days. It really opened my eyes to the world of “real” recording artists, and it was an experience that I’ll never forget. (If you want to check it out, you can hear it on my Myspace or buy it at or I-tunes.)

But on my drive to the SDMA’s I got nervous. For some reason, I couldn’t get the butterflies out of my stomach. I had been completely content with just being nominated, and am completely grateful to Kevin Hellman, Michael Halloran, Tim Pyles, Bart Mendoza, Seth Combs, and everyone over at CityBeat, FM949, 91X and the other local media outlets involved with the San Diego Music Awards. I really didn’t think I had a chance since many times it always felt to me like the awards favor bands that play “experimental” music at the Casbah rather than my “straight-forward-wannabe-country-but-are-really-pop” ballads. (and Don’t get me wrong. I love the Casbah, and support the music scene. Sure, I’m a crazy fan of national pop acts, but ask Tim Pyles, or Missi at Rock 105.3, or Rowley at 91x, I’m a crazy fan of all of the acts in town.) After a really cruddy day, and showing up to the awards a half hour late, I got to Viejas just in time to hear the end of Burning of Rome’s set. (They’re so good!) They announced my category right after I had found Rosie and she gave me the biggest hug… and when they said my name… I was completely shocked. So many different things went through my head… “Who should I thank? Don’t leave anyone out… Did Tim Pyles really just talk about my spider bite on stage???” (And that was just the first 4 steps…)

I got up on stage and managed to say something that I guess was English, and they walked me backstage, took some pictures, and sent me on my way.

The "high" faded pretty quickly when I realized I was outside the gate, (missing Get Back Loretta’s set… love those guys) and didn’t have my ticket… So I’m standing outside of the front being told by security that I couldn’t get in… while I’m holding the award. THEN a young girl comes up to me and tries to sell me 3 tickets for $20. I had to explain to her that I was holding an award for best local recording. She rolled her eyes and walked away. (This was all hilarious to me.)

I finally got back in, and listened to some amazing performances by Steph Johnson, The Silent Comedy, the San Diego Blues All Stars, Players Inc, and Scarlet Symphony. It was also awesome to see Jason Mraz’s video to accept the award. Super stoked to be mentioned the same night as him. The aftershow with the Styletones was awesome! I want to be in that band so badly...

When all was said and done, it was a great night, and I am so thankful to San Diego, Citybeat,, and all of the other local media that is involved with putting on the event. Definitely the highlight of my year.

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