Getting a Leg Up on 2019

Well there, happy new year!

In the weeks to come as we clean up, gear up and get going on the builds for 2019, we have a few things to talk about here on the news page. Changes for 2019 (and 2020), what I did over this Holiday break (2600 miles in the housetruck Moondancer), “the leg” (what slowed me down as last year progressed), Spanish cedar supply (no worries – I have enough for what’s on order), forthcoming book (final editing finished this week between doctor visits)… so much. Let’s get going into 2019! Thanks for being here.

First I need to touch on the leg… I keep personal stuff where it belongs, but as many of you are the folks I work (or will be working) for, I owe you a basic update on my ability to fulfill our business. As symptoms gave more problems, it slowed me down - I powered through fall into winter getting as much done as I could and taking the trip I needed, but it reached a point it had to be re-assessed and addressed. Final diagnosis came yesterday and, thankfully, it’s just a bone bruise by a mildly arthritic knee I’m already keeping an eye on at 50, aggravated a bit by long hours, running around like a 12 year old, and treating my parts as if they were 25 just because most of the time that’s what I feel like. I know many of you go-getters will relate when I say I was running it like I was still climbing the mountain. But I’m not; I’m established. I’m lucky to have that and blessed that the effort I put in the past 20 years has granted me that. And among the warning shots one could take that, just maybe, it’s OK to take the intensity level down a notch… this is a pretty mild one. I’ll tell you about the trip next week – I had a blast and recharged, though I left with a limp and came back barely walking with a cane. Yeah, I know. But I have friends who don’t walk at all, so I just don’t complain. This leg’s walked an amazing journey – if it fell completely right the hell off tomorrow, don’t mourn it. It got spent. Thankfully, it’s nothing permanent this time.

I knew I had claimed January as part of the Holiday break; I did not quite expect to take it like this. But to be back firing up the shop on Feb. 1st like I had my eye on doing, I cut my trip short and headed back to face whatever this was going to prove to be, and gave myself January to “deal and heal”… or just deal. I might need a week or two past that to ease into it, but I’m on it. I’m walking a bit, and now that I know I’m not doing permanent damage I’ll be on it a bit more. I appreciate your patience and believe me, that shop door is rolling up on the first and you WILL see basses coming together… but I have to pace myself and work smart, not just hard. Because if my “new normal” is where I was the beginning of January, this whole thing is over. And I have a long way to go, more basses to build, some fancy guitars to make, and a bunch more creative stuff to finish. So bear with me – I’m doing the best work of my life, I’m just not taking it in 2017-sized bites or 2018-sized promises. That brings up the future, plan Bs, getting a little more help, all kinds of things to be talked about another time. I’ll fill you in and we’ll talk more about those come the summer.

For now it’s back to building tools of creation, and getting on with getting on. SPEAKING OF such talismans-as-tools, I came home to a very cool gift from a woodworker friend, a pen crafted from some very special local wood! Let’s back up a little… I came back out to this little Texas town once more and went all-in “back to the land” in 2000. I planted myself in the earth to re-germinate and renamed my guitars after the sounds of the morning. The bar in town was attached to the Cypress Creek Café, and I showed up at an open mic night there to see what was happening. There I met a woodworking mentor who upped my craft game, taught me to build buildings, and more – I refined my guitar ideas from the builds of the past few years and built the first Birdsong branded instruments (pre-company) in his workshop, we made music and ended up with a music shop I then handed off to him when Birdsong got busy around 2005. After he passed I took his workshop apart, brought it to the land… and that’s where Birdsongs come to life.

I met Eliza Gilkyson at that bar, introducing my now-wife and Birdsong co-founder Jamie as my “girlfriend” for the first time to her, right there in front of the stage. I met and played with many folks and had many moments in and related to that bar, have some wild stories for another time… and this pen is from the wood of the dance floor in front of that stage. It was there for all of it, and its pieces were saved during a remodel a couple of years before it burned down. Like any tool with meaning this pen is as much a talisman, and I’m using it on writings and songs looking forward that will be part of chapters to come. Brother James, thank you so much. email:

OK – next week I’ll fill you in on the trip and the truck that made it possible (this might blow your mind), and looking forward – the menu changes and workshop schedule. The week after, I’ll show another gift from another woodworking friend that has been very helpful over the past month (coolest thing ever) AND start talking about all the progress happening in the workshop! I hope your Holidays and Holy Days were warm and safe and your 2019 got off to a great start. I’ve got a leg up on things, but not in the way I had anticipated! No worries, though. This train rolls.

Listening to: Essential road trip music like Bob Seger and blues from the Delta. Kirtans from India. Some awesome guitar fusion from Shawn Needham – his “50” album is epic. Miles Davis in headphones mixed in with an MRI machine. Variety is indeed the spice, and life sure isn’t boring…