Nugget of Goodness

Finally, something that I listen to and go, “aw yeah”. And this after a number of snafus tonight, including a bunch of tracks going missing. I had to throw away another piece earlier that held such great promise in helping to close the gap between what I hear in my head and what comes out in the recording.

Fortunately, the muse smiles upon the dutiful creator, and I was rewarded for continuing to work with a little gem that comes closer to the quality that I’m yearning to create.

The Spring Training Sessions continue with this little piece of mouth-music. I’m a step or two away from saying “#$%^ it” and setting my laptop up as a looping station and playing that live from now on, with the guitar-song thing as a bonus.

It’s My (Vagabond) Birthday!

I have been a vagabond since April 1, 2010.

On that date, I moved all of my possessions out of the room I was renting in Cedar Park, just north of Austin, Texas, and began living full time in my 1986 Chevy G30 diesel box truck, affectionately known as Big Red.

Big Red

Big Red was originally a “hotshot buggy”, a US Forestry Service vehicle that transported men and equipment to fires wherever they happened to be; the vehicle record showed that it served mostly in Arkansas, then Mississippi. I traded my car for it with a district fire chief in San Antonio who needed to get it out of his driveway “before my wife divorces me.”

For the first 23 months, I lived as an urban nomad in and around Austin, with the exception of a late-summer 6-week journey to Maine and back; Austin is a fantastic place to be an urban nomad, as there are places to shower for free, the police are generally pretty chill about such things – as are Austin’s residents – and wifi connections everywhere.

I very much enjoyed this time, and even though Big Red had many problems, including a failed transmission, the adventure of every day life was absolutely worth the headaches.

When motor mounts go bad...

When motor mounts go bad…

In March of 2012, I launched myself onto a greater adventure, setting up Sunday morning services as route-markers throughout the southwestern United States, and accepting every invitation that came my way to gather with folks and share music with them. I did 100 gatherings in 100 days, making my way through Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, California, Colorado, and even Kansas and Alaska by the time the 100 days were up.

Big Red died on Day 75 just south of Pueblo, Colorado. I put out a distress call to my online “audience”, who rallied to make sure I could finish the tour. I did so, and when it was over, I released Big Red and 99% of my belongings – including 18 years’ worth of journals – allowing myself to become a vagabond with no home and no vehicle, free of anchors and free to serve those who desire to receive my gifts at close quarter through being a Host.

Since then, I have lived and eaten and rested and played with dozens of gracious and generous Hosts, many of whom I am certain will tell you that having me in their space was an extraordinary experience. There are a few who wouldn’t tell you that as well, I’m sure, as not everyone is really ready to receive my gifts in such a direct way, and I’ve also had to learn the finer points in the art of being a great house-guest.

One such Host had this to say recently in a discussion on Facebook:

I had the privilege of sharing a house with Shawn for several months, it was one of the best most generative times, I have experienced. If you can get him to live with you, Do it, you’d be blessed. He has carried me back from battle, figuratively speaking. He has inspired, me challenged me, catalyzed my growth, etc. We will dance around the same fires forever. Most Respect & Most Gratitude mutually given and received

He’s referring to a six-week period during the summer of 2013 when I stayed in his home with he and his family; his wife was recovering from cancer treatments, and while recovering from a nasty stomach bug I picked up in Mexico, I helped usher in a new era of creativity and harmoniousness within his family structure. Such a joyful assignment!

Here’s a fun little video I made with the girls one day – a homemade production of “Annie”-ish:

Other examples have perhaps been not quite so dramatic, but beneficial nonetheless; I haven’t asked for testimonials as of yet, but I am sure there are others who have been similarly affected by my presence in their homes. Perhaps this post will generate a few!

Meanwhile, I’m sharing all of this for a few reasons:

1. Four years as a vagabond feels like something to celebrate!

2. I’m always looking for ways to share “my story” – and because my story seems to be so dense and rich with experiences, taking a little piece of it like this and focusing in on it helps to further hone the main points.

3. I am currently challenged to find a way to communicate that I am something of a unique phenomenon, and that my work does NOT begin and end with the time that I spend onstage – that I am actually a provider of value everywhere I go, including (and perhaps especially) for the folks who invite me into their homes and provide a spare bedroom or apartment so I can rest and write and work on recordings and videos and whatever else I’m working on. The perception seems to be that I am taking more than I give – while I am always striving for, and more often than not achieving, the opposite.

4. I would like to grow this aspect of my offering to the world; to make Hosting Troubadour Shawn a sought-after experience, where you know that when I’m coming to town and I stay with you, you’re going to have fun, you’re going to have conversations that rock your world and open up vast new realms of inspiration and motivation to go after the things that you want in life, and you’re going to feel great knowing that you provided a clean, comfortable, welcoming landing place where Great Work has been done.

I am truly grateful for the generosity of my Hosts – past, present, and future – and for the opportunity to make my presence be a boon to all who take me in, and I look forward to continuing to provide inspiration and fellowship to those who choose to embrace my presence as a wandering troubadour in their space.

What about you? Are you down for Hosting Troubadour Shawn in your space? What kinds of things would you want to talk about and/or do? How would you like me to contribute to your immediate environment? And WHEN?

You can either share privately by email or in the comments below.

Bridging the Gap between Live and Online, Good and Great

There’s such an element of radical surrender to being a performing artist and public figure. Graciousness, gratitude, generosity – these are the currencies of the 21st century, and they require faith in the ultimate perfection of the universe.

There’s a gap there, right? The gap between the feeling of the live experience and the feeling of being cared for in the same way online – not to mention the gap between the quality of what I hear in my head and the quality of the content I create.

In this case, perfecting the art of blending real-world participation with online action calls for being generative in a way that is new and fresh, exciting and challenging. Putting it all out there for folks to receive, enjoy, and appreciate on one end of the spectrum – and ignore, judge, and dismiss on the other.

This past weekend I performed for the first time ever in a public venue within 15 miles of my hometown. I’ve done this all over the US, in Mexico, Australia, and Canada so far, and so breaking the ice in spitting distance of where I grew up felt like a big deal – both to me and to those from the area who know me and love what I’m doing, a handful of whom came out and participated in a joyful evening of song, story, and sweet connection.

I recorded the whole thing, and am wondering how much of it to release publicly, as I’m never really clear whether or not it’s “good enough” to be put out there for public consumption. Maybe you can help me bridge this gap between keeping it all to myself for fear that it’s repulsive as opposed to attractive?

I don’t know, really; all I know is that I’m in Spring Training for this year’s touring, performing, and producing online content, and the signs point toward putting it out there regardless and having faith that it’s all perfect. So here’s a little snippet of the show; let me know how you like it – or not – in the comments below!

Spring Training

I’ve always loved baseball.

When I was a kid growing up in southern California, oftentimes Sundays were spent traveling to either LA or Anaheim to watch the Dodgers or the Angels; my heroes were guys like Steve Garvey, Steve Sax, Fernando Valenzuela, Reggie Jackson, Mike Scioscia – and even Tommy Lasorda was one of the dudes I watched with rapt attention when we’d make our way to the games.

And as fun as the actual season games were, sometimes the really fun games were the ones that happened during spring training – real games with a real score, but really just a warm-up for the regular season. The freshness of the games in those early months were always so great to be a part of; intimate in a way, and sweet.

Well, I’m in my own version of spring training right now; this blog, this website, and the desire that burns within to deliver fresh content that informs, inspires, and entertains is driving the action – all while simply enjoying the process of learning to make good videos that sound good and look good and truly represent the quality that I’m aiming for.

Here’s the first Spring Training Video, created in response to a prompt from a friend on Facebook who asked for the tune after I posted the lyrics to the last verse on the Troubadour Shawn Facebook fan page.

Enjoy!

Mind the Gap

Today someone posted the following video on Facebook, which I’d seen before, but this time it landed in a whole new way. Watch it and then I’ll share more:

Cool, right? Hopeful. Inspiring. And what a RELIEF!!!

See, I’m deep in the gap he’s talking about, and have been now for a few years. Sometimes I get stuck there because I want to be so much better than I am because I know how much better I can be! And that produces a kind of paralysis.

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I can rock any room you put in front of me. Sometimes it takes a little something extra to dissolve folks’ resistance to the joy and exuberance I’m inviting you into, but usually it clicks, mostly because I choose to perform in environments where folks are primed for an inspiring experience.

But recordings? Video? Blogging?  I am deep in the gap in all of these areas, all of which are part and parcel for an artist in this day and age, required skill sets for anyone looking to travel far and wide and reach a vast audience, which of course is my aim.

When I watched that video today, I realized that he’s right – there’s no way to close the gap than with one post at a time, one recording at a time, one video at a time. So here’s today’s contribution to closing it.

You'll mind it with me, won't you?

You’ll mind it with me, won’t you?

IT. Is. ALIVE!

Yes indeed it is.  TroubadourShawn.com is up and open for business – well, at least functionally.

It’s been a long time coming; I’ve complained about how “hard” WordPress is for so long, and finally got tired of hearing it and set out to build a platform I can use to share music, videos, thoughts, news, and invitations to collaborate on future projects. And here it is!

It’s a work in progress, as you’ll see when you poke around, but it’s for real, and I’m stoked that it’s coming together so well in such a short period of time.

Please take a look around and let me know what you think, how it feels, what you’d like to see more of, and if you’ve got suggestions on how to make it mo’ betta, bring it on!

Kevin’s Space: A Home Venue

Deep in the suburban shadow of NASA’s Johnson Space Center lives a man with a passion for music, people, and what happens when you bring them together with empowering intention in a beautiful, vibrant space created for that purpose.

Meet my good friend and long-time collaborator, Kevin Bass.

Mechanical genius, journeyman percussionist, and blooming impresario.

Mechanical genius, percussion apprentice, blooming impresario

Kevin is the owner and proprietor of Kevin’s Space, a house concert and special private gathering space in League City, Texas, where I personally have performed over a dozen times to crowds as intimate as a few and as rockin as sixty or more.

Cooking demonstrations, dance performances and playshops, film debuts, house concerts and meetings of potent and beautiful minds have all occurred there, and we are all transformed in and by and through our participation in the creation and fulfillment of the gatherings we have produced.

And this is only one of the delightful details sprinkled throughout the Space.

One of the delightful details sprinkled throughout the Space

Kevin’s invitation to come and be yourself, enjoy high quality musical and creative offerings, and meet folks who are genuinely and determinedly creating lives of meaning, purpose, and satisfaction creates a unique environment in which to make music, dance, and enjoy inspiring conversation and nutritious food as a practice in cultivating a joyful vibrant aliveness.

Yes, we do dance.

And yes, we do dance.

Sometimes as performance, with focused precision...

Sometimes as performance, with focused precision…

…sometimes with complete abandon.

…sometimes as release, with complete abandon.

These two even met at one of our early events and fell in love over the course of a few more, and are now happily married.

Pirate Lovahs

And yeah, they’re really that adorable.

I love collaborating with Kevin; as a host he is deeply appreciative and generous, making sure that the artists who perform in his space know they rock his world and he loves us for that, and also making sure that we are provided with everything we need to provide an excellent experience for his guests. It’s always an adventure, always a joy, and always top-shelf.

And he's just so handsome, don't you think?

And he’s just so handsome, don’t you think?

On March 1st, we’ll be joining forces again to create an evening and a night to remember, and we want you to join us for the first Kevin’s Space Presents of 2014.  Frankie Hernandez had to pull out, but I’ll be there and we are working on filling out the rest of the night, so stay tuned for details.

All Photos by Kris Kehe