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Happy New Year from rushmore beekeepers!

Happy New Year! I don’t really make resolutions, but here are some musical things you can expect from rushmore beekeepers in 2014:

  • New album, at some point. Most of it has yet to be written and recorded, but I like a good adventure.
  • Another songwriting project (in addition to the album).
  • E-newsletter with the latest rushmore beekeepers news, thoughts, experiences, and the occasional paparazzi shot. (Sign up for the email list below!)
  • More shows and live streaming performances!
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Hey, Austin. rushmore beekeepers is coming to you at some point in the near future. That is, moving there next week.

Being in transition is rarely easy, even when the change is good. I’ll probably always feel somewhat restless; maybe that’s just one of those things that goes along with being a songwriter. It’s probably my neurotic and borderline OCD nature, but I like feeling settled. I like having my musical instruments out and ready to play; I like being able to make plans a month in advance, although I’d usually rather just stay home. (This could transition to amazing music overload really fast, especially in a place like Austin.)

I’m ready for a change. Las Vegas is a great place in a lot of ways, but I’ve been ready to leave for the better part of the last few years. Musically speaking, my favorite thing about Vegas is its proximity to San Diego, CA and Cedar City, UT (although I do not take advantage of that nearly as much as I should). I have some amazingly loyal and fantastic supporters here, some who have become great friends, but I can’t honestly say rushmore beekeepers has ever fit in with the local music scene. Some of my friends/fans are excited about my upcoming move – not because they want to get rid of me (at least I hope they don’t), but because they sincerely believe it will be great for my music.

How do people find a place they call home? How do you decide where you are going to live? Are these dumb questions? It seems like such a monumental decision, and some people just seem to know. There are so many fantastic places in this country, in the world. There was a point in my life I wasn’t sure I’d ever live anywhere outside of Las Cruces, NM, but now I feel like I’m on a quest for the perfect place or a way to be constantly exploring.

Back when Carrie and I were trying to decide whether to move to Austin, knowing that it meant leaving a fairly comfortable and secure life for an uncertain future, I stood precariously balanced on our couch and gave some (probably crazy-sounding) speech about how you can’t be afraid of the unknown or stay somewhere just because it’s comfortable, secure, and familiar. (I’m paraphrasing myself; I was being spontaneous.) I was telling this to myself just as much as to her.

As much work as it is for me to mentally prepare for meeting new people, doing new things, driving in an unfamiliar place, and the rest of the changes that come with relocation, I am constantly and painfully aware that I could get stuck in a rut and easily stay there for the rest of my life.

Don’t get me wrong. If I find the right porch to sit on, I will sit on that porch for a thousand years.

Here’s a song I wrote in Austin, about Austin, possibly over-romanticizing Austin:

A little over one year ago, Carrie and I went to Joshua Tree to stay at the Joshua Tree Inn and see the place that Gram Parsons found so inspirational. While visiting Pioneertown, we met Eric Bevel, who, as it turns out, does some amazing woodworking. Somehow we started talking about musical instruments, and he showed me a really nice bass he had made. I casually talked to him about having him make me an instrument and got a business card, but it took me awhile to email him about making me something.

I’d been wanting to start playing octave mandolin; I’ve always enjoyed the sound, and I often found myself wishing my mandolin had a lower range. Having a fairly uncommon instrument I’d never played custom-made seemed like a great fit, so I contacted Eric about the project. He was excited and willing to take it on, even never having built an octave mandolin before. Since I’d been impressed by his work, I wanted to give him as much freedom with the design as possible. I gave him my feedback on body style, color, some of those things, and even those elements came out strikingly original.

We were in communication throughout the whole project (I got to see a lot of neat in-progress pictures, and since then have seen a bunch more), and we met at Kelso Depot in California for the exchange, in the middle of the desert, old time Vegas style. It was so exciting to play this instrument for the first time. Even being outside it sounded amazing (better than the fancy acoustic rooms in certain bigtime music retailers), and even after seeing all of the pictures I wasn’t prepared for the beauty of the instrument, and I’m still marvelling over all of the unique handmade touches. I just can’t believe people can do such amazing things with their hands. Most of my other instruments are factory made, and they still sound nice, but meeting the person who made this instrument, seeing all of this hand-crafted detail, hearing the difference in the sound of the wood, and knowing where pretty much every piece of it came from is something entirely different.

I plan on incorporating a good amount of octave mandolin into my new songs, so stay tuned! (Pun definitely intended.) For now, here is a little song I wrote on the octave mandolin. At different points, this song includes guitar and regular mandolin; I wanted to play around and see how it sounded with these instruments. Expect some more elaborate arrangements in the future. It’s going to be like a hootenanny up in here.

Also, if you think Eric Bevel’s work is absolutely amazing, unique, and beautifully crafted (which you should) and you want to talk to him about making you something, I bet he’d love it if you email him.

Two happy campers.

It’s time to get all excited! bee a bear is now available for download and streaming at the rushmore beekeepers bandcamp! The digital version includes a PDF of the awesome lyric booklet designed by Amanda of Ahhh-Design, and the Compact Disc comes in a unique hand-made booklet and also includes an immediate digital download to tide you over. Either way, you get twelve rb songs full of joy, sadness, silliness, animals, and other things.

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