Thursday, October 20th, 2016
Hello Everyone! Kevin here!
I've always wanted to start a blog and now, I think I will! Welcome to Adventures of a Midwest Crazy! Let's see what trouble we can get into! It's almost Halloween, I hope everyone has fun costume plans laid out. I want to share with you my journey of writing the album, "Danger". I think the story behind the songs can be quite interesting. This is my journey across South Dakota and I hope you find some of it intriguing. I sure was intrigued! I mean, I wrote an album. Or rather, the album forced itself out of me!
I have always considered myself a little off. Quirky, perhaps? I remember quite early on having a love for music. I was about five. I had bright, bright blonde hair. My lips were always a little too red. I used to get embarrassed because people used to ask if I wore lip stick. I honestly just had really red lips. I was pale, and shy. I discovered at 5, that I loved to sing. My dad had got me a little red, and blue cassette player. The first tape I remember having was Patsy Cline's Greatest Hits! I remember really loving her cover of Bill Monroe's Blue Moon of Kentucky. I knew then, that I wanted to be a singer. My dad was a mechanic, a hard working man. He worked hard to provide for his family. He used to take me to these out of the way junkyards to search for whatever part he was looking for and then he would make me sing to the greasy guys who worked there! It was horrifying, but honestly, looking back, it was great practice. I knew I had to sing someday.That voice inside me, has never left. I lost my dad when I was 15, and something inside me urges me to keep going! My dad keeps me going. I won't stop. I want to make him proud.
Last fall, I was working for a wonderful children's theatre company called Dakota Players in South Dakota. I got to travel with my great friend Megan and together we taught hundreds of kids a new play every week. Each Monday, we would have auditions for the play, and by Friday, we were performing alongside 50 students who we had taught throughout the week. It was always a mad dash to the finish line. I always had a coffee and sweet tea in hand. Megan had a green tea! We liked the job so much, we decided to tour together a second year. On that Sunday, we would travel to a new town. We liked the job so much, we decided to tour together a second year. The first year was quite smooth, and beautiful. The 2nd year, like any good sequel, was more complicated. The job was fine, but personally, I really changed a lot as a person. It's almost a year to the day actually that I had this story I'm about to tell you happen.
Megan and I were in Hoven, South Dakota. The people of Hoven are truly, truly lovely. If you're ever in South Dakota, stop in Hoven. That week, we got to stay in a cute little house. I loved it because it had a little porch out front. I love writing on the porch, it just feels like home. The weather was really starting to have that autumn chill in the air. 2 weeks before we got to Hoven I had a pretty rough breakup. It was one of those break ups that really forced me to stop and just reflect. When I really am reflective, I write, A LOT. Pages and pages.
There is something about break ups in the fall! The cold air, the weather changing. It just adds to the change that is happening in your life. On Thursday, October 8th, 2015, I quickly and desperately wrote a song called Blue Eyes, in honor of the person that broke my heart a few days before. I really just wanted to say goodbye and this song was my way. I had no idea at the time that this breakup would propel me to write a whole album of songs. The relationship itself wasn't that significant, but for me, I stopped and really looked in the mirror on what I wanted in a partner and what I wanted in myself really. Blue Eyes is a love song that is about an unexpected relationship, losing that person, and gaining their love back. It's about realizing what you had. 2 weeks later, by the time Megan and I got to Hoven, I had a completely new melody in my head. This time, the song painted the other side of "Blue Eyes", the wild side. The dangerous side. The not so pretty side.
The song was called Danger. 9 months later, I was deciding to call my new album of songs, Danger. It's funny because I totally almost abandoned this song. I have a few funny stories about when I was writing the song.
The students Megan and I taught were truly a highlight in our days. They were so funny, and honest. Megan and I loved spending time with them. There was a particular student who played Pluto in one of our shows. He was SO talented and funny. Him and his buddies were like right out of The Sandlot or Stranger Things. He came up to me during one of our breaks and asked,
"So, where are you and Megan staying this year?" Pluto asked. It's more fun referring to him as Pluto.
"Well, I can't tell you that because I know you will hunt me down and find me!" I replied.
"Pretty much. I bet that I can find where you guys are staying".
"I bet that you can't", I replied, playing along with Pluto's little game.
"I bet you 4 dollars that I can find you", Pluto said.
"Good luck", I said.
So, a few nights later, I was frantically writing in my journal. I decided to get some fresh air and write on the porch. I was fiddling with a little guitar hook that I thought was fun. It was dark. It was dangerous. It was blue eyes, but the other side of the blue.
I scribbled some words onto the page and continued to play this guitar part that was just chilling to me. I put my journal down and looked at the deep blue sky. It was getting dark, and colder. I looked across the street and something I saw made me just stop and smile.
Pluto was standing there with his buddies. He had found me! He won the bet! He put his hand out. He wanted his four dollars. I took some cash out of my pocket and paid my debt. When I think of this song, I will always think of this silly kid who went up and down the blocks of Hoven to find Megan and I.
A few weeks later I was in Sioux Falls, SD. I had recorded Blue Eyes and my friend Devin and I were gearing up to record 5- 6 songs over Thanksgiving Break. Devin was my vocal coach and backup singer on the album. If you are going to record, get Devin there! He's amazing! I needed to get into the studio and get these songs off of my chest. I figured, if anything, I could release a short collection of 5 songs. At that time I was going to record Danger. Dev and I were practicing. The chorus went a little something like this.
Danger, when I looked in your eyes
Danger Danger, I wanted those lies.
"Umm, Kev?" Devin asked. I could tell he didn't like it.
"What's up Dev, do you not like it?"
"Did you just say stranger danger?"
We both laughed until we almost peed. He was right, it did sound like stranger danger! My love for the song immediately stopped and I decided to put the song on hold.
Fast forward to May 2016!
I had recorded the first 5 songs, but something felt incomplete! The point of the album was missing and I knew there was something missing. What was I trying to say?
My contract with Dakota Players ended and quite suddenly I was rushing home to Illinois. My mom had a massive heart attack and we found out she had breast cancer. Today, October 20th, Mom got the call that the cancer is gone! So, everything is good with Mom. She is on the road to recovery. But, in May, we were all scared.
I felt really lost. I felt like I was on the ground. I started to sing a new phrase.
Rise Up, I'm gonna beat you at your game.
Rise up, Yes, I'm gonna rise.
This was the missing piece of Danger! This was what I was trying to say! I had had a rough few months. I felt lost, but I WOULD rise above it. I had faced danger and you know, I liked it, but I like taking the high road more. I still have a journey to complete. I still want to be the performer that my father wanted to be. I still have to rise.
In July, Mom and I returned to South Dakota to record the rest of the album. This time, Danger was going to be recorded! This song honestly reminds me of a 50's and 60's song, it makes me think of a Patsy Cline song with the strong male back up singers and stirring strings. Devin and my friend Eli sing on the song with me and Audrey Graber plays the cello. Audrey was a blast to work with. Her addition to the song really adds another urgency to the song.
Probably the most exciting addition to the album happened pretty last minute. With my mom's health this summer, I made a big request of Mom. I asked her to come to the studio with me and watch me work. She had never seen me be creative like this before. Literally building a song from nothing with my producer! I then asked her to perform on the song "Danger".
"ARE YOU CRAZY?" she asked. My mom is at that glorious age where no f**** are given. She is honest, and abrasive, and witty and I love her.
I wanted her to say the word "Danger" at the beginning of the song. She represents that person that we all have. The voice of reason. Don't do this! This is dangerous! Bad idea! That is why she whispers, "Danger".
My mom is a chatty Kathy. She will TALK YOUR EAR OFF. She literally talked for the whole 9 hour drive to South Dakota. We got her on the microphone and the funniest thing happened. Mom got scared and wouldn't talk! We had to beg her to speak. It took her 3 takes and she was done. Mom, I am so grateful that you are the album. I will always have that!
Please take a second and listen to Danger on my music page!
Talk to you soon!