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Zach Fountain performing on acoustic guitar at Iron Cactus Austin, 2015

After a relatively quiet 2015 (as far as music goes), I played my first songwriter showcase of 2016 at Iron Cactus North in Austin. Amy Zamarripa (awesome host and great songwriter who has put together open mics and shows at Whip In, Fair Bean Coffee, and other venues) hosted a songs-in-the-round showcase, where a few of us shared the stage and took turns playing songs. I shared a set with Amy Zamarripa and Amy Seguno (two very talented Amys) and took the opportunity to play a couple cold weather songs, “the time that passes” from like they do in movies and “your pretty black bow” from 52 of 28.

Zach Fountain (rushmore beekeepers) at Couch by Couchwest 2015

I know you’re thinking, what did he mean by “Couch By Couchwest 2015 (indoors)”? Did he mean there was an “outdoors” session? Well, if that’s what you thought, you thought right.

Watch rushmore beekeepers play “breathe easy,” “just passing by,” and “what it’s like to be sad” at CXCW 2015 and keep a lookout for several guest appearances (and some backing vocals) from Kyla the dog.

Zach Fountain (rushmore beekeepers) at Couch by Couchwest 2015

For this year’s Couch By Couchwest music festival – in its fifth year! – I moved some instruments into the living room to record an electrified, drum-looped version of “your pretty black bow.” Carrie, the wearer of the pretty black bow, staged the couch very nicely. Unlike last year, Kyla doesn’t make an appearance (in this video, anyway).

Watch rushmore beekeepers play “your pretty black bow” at CXCW 2015, and spend the rest of your week couch-surfing (or working, or doing whatever you need to) with some good tunes from musicians all over the world.

On October 25 I played a show at Cherrywood Coffeehouse, a delightful spot that features (in addition to great coffee, of course) food, beer and a neighborly, welcoming atmosphere. I’m playing there again on November 15 and already looking forward to it.

rushmore beekeepers - live music at Cherrywood Coffeehouse in Austin, TX

The stage at Cherrywood Coffeehouse is outside on the patio (also dog-friendly; if only my dogs were more social), and though the weather wasn’t as fall-like as I would’ve hoped it was still nice, and got nicer and cooler into the evening.

Although it may have been a little risky for my first show at the venue, I decided to try some new tricks; not magic tricks, sadly, but performing with a loop pedal for the first time. I practiced the heck out of five songs: “lost in the lack of a moment,” “the alien,” “a good impression,” “where our smiles belong,” and “more of the world,” eager to get the loops right and anxious about doing something that involved so much coordination. I don’t get nervous about playing shows, but I do tend to forget my words (part of the rushmore beekeepers charm, right?) and/or goof up a little here and there. So, yeah, the idea of playing with a drum beat and other instruments got me into practice mode. This is also the biggest change to my live set-up in a long time, so I’ve been feeling the pressure.

Carrie took a couple videos with her phone (one clip and one full song, including a false start and some funny faces), and I think overall the loop experiment was a success. I’m excited to try it with more instruments, more songs and some electric guitar. After all, my Danelectro Hodad is back and ready to rock.

As a solo and mostly acoustic musician I’ve never been very comfortable with a strictly folk/singer-songwriter label, so I’m excited to bring some of my electric and more developed material back into my live sets. Having to pack, set-up and tear down the equipment for a full band? Well, that’s something I’ll have to get used to.

P.S.: Those birds you hear are not in the band. The rushmore beekeepers band, anyway.

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