Redd Knight

Redd Knight Texas singer/guitar-slinger. Music that hits you like a shot of Waylon whiskey with a smooth Keith Urban chaser!

Visit With Townes Van Zandt

Today is my birthday and, as in other years, I tried to think of something different to do.  I had read a couple of years back that Townes Van Zandt’s final resting place was somewhere in Fort Worth.  If you’re a songwriter or from Texas you probably know that his work and life had a major impact on other songwriters and Texas music.

So I made a mental note back then to see if I could visit his gravesite someday, but I figured the cemetery was probably located in some far corner of the metroplex.  I was partly right: it IS in a remote corner of Fort Worth, but it turns out to be MY corner.  He is buried in a little “town” called Dido a few miles away from where I live!  Needless to say I had to check it out.

So I went there today to pay my respects.  True to his life, his tombstone is humble but has a stellar epitaph: “TO LIVES TO FLY”.

Other people had left momentos, and I left one of my favorite custom Broussard picks (made from cow horn).

One last note: Dido is apparently classified as a ghost town.  I may have just found my different thing to do next year.

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Acoustic video of my new song (work in progress) “Two Six Packs”. Enjoy!

Behind The Song: Sexy Texas Woman

Image courtesy of Tina Phillips / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This song has some special significance for me, because it is one of the first songs I completed after taking up songwriting again, and the first song I actually published with the US copyright office.

It is also one of the few songs I wrote starting from a chord riff.  I usually start with lyrics, even if I have some sense of the rhythm.  The riff actually threw me for a while because I could hear it plain as day in my head but I had trouble matching it to 4/4 measures.

As you might imagine, “Sexy Texas Woman” is not terribly deep—it is literally about what I find sexy about women from Texas.  The same applies to other fine Southern and country women outside the Lone Star state.  So not just Texas women, but I will use them as the example.

In short, I love how a Texas woman can effortlessly switch between working in the red dirt or otherwise taking care of business one moment, to being glamorous and feminine the next.  She can be bow hunting for deer and then switch to Victoria’s Secret mode without giving it a second thought. Maybe even at the same time—I often suspect there is VS under that denim, camo or flannel. 

Not so much with other women. Some are trying to live a fantasy version of life as seen on TV and literally refuse to get their hands dirty.  Or they may occasionally dabble in something “outdoorsy” in an awkward attempt to prove they can, and generally confirming otherwise.  Others are down-to-earth and hard-working but have trouble breaking out of that mold and forget what it’s like to be feminine. Or believe that showing that side of themselves compromises their strength. 

A Texas girl is connected to, and proud of, her country origins—not trying to escape them. And although she is not defined by them, she loves her (some) fashion, hairstyle and nail color, and makes no apologies for any of it.

In summary, she knows how to naturally balance strength and femininity.  And that, to me, is the definition of sexy.

PS: I love, love how you rock the boots all year long.

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Behind The Song #: It’s A Good Time For A Good Time

I’ve heard it said that you are the worst person to pick out your popular songs.  

Based on feedback from friends and my many, many fans (at least 11), the song It’s A Good Time For A Good Time is a clear favorite from my EP.  The inspiration was simple enough: it represents the times when I feel the need to kick back, have some fun, and take a break from the rat race.  Also referred to as “that margarita song”, it resonates with others who not only feel the same way (i.e. everyone) but also appreciate a good song about booze.

So naturally it’s the song I almost didn’t include on the album.  Sure, it had all the appealing elements of good times, icy drinks and senoritas, but I thought it was too simple and maybe too cliche.  And it was less finished than my other songs.

But for probably some of the same reasons that people enjoy the song, it just felt right, and I was able to pick it up again and make the chord progressions and lead work start flowing out. As a further testament to the power of simplicity, I actually cut out some guitar overdub tracks and some lead work.

In the end it’s not really that surprising.  The true value of a song is usually not how complex or deep it is, but how it makes you feel.  Especially if it makes you feel like the photo below:

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Behind The Song 2: The Wind Blows Toward Austin

The first song off my EP Redd, The Wind Blows Toward Austin is probably my favorite for a couple of reasons.  First, it comes closest to capturing the kind of sound I like with reverb and delay in the mix that invokes a sense of open space and hints of desolate or lonely places.  It could be a quiet side street of modern Americana or a windy plain from years gone by.  If I knew any coyotes I would have hired one to howl in the distance.

The second thing that I like with this song is that I captured a bit of my deep sense of connection with places.  I imagine everyone has a sense of emotional reaction or connection to places they’ve been but for me it’s a really primal thing.  I get an immediate emotional feel for many places, whether it’s attraction, revulsion or melancholy, even if I’m just passing through.  It’s like I can feel the history of the place—not just what I can see now.  The closest way I can think to describe it’s like the way you feel when you recall an old memory, except it’s only just happening right now.

Austin, with its rich culture and history is like one of those places.  On steroids.  It was the perfect town to represent those places and times in my life that I’m drawn to. Or back to.

rk

Gear Addiction: Pedalboard Changes

My beloved pedalboard currently has an empty spot:

What used to be in that spot was my TC Helicon Voicetone Harmony-G XT.  I decided to sell it—not because its name was way too long—but because I wasn’t using it much and I recently decided to downsize my pedal setup (do what?).  That’s the opposite of what guitarists usually say but on the other hand hauling a lot of hardware around to practices and gigs gets old after a while.

As a replacement, I just ordered this little beauty:

This is the Freedom One from Intellitouch which is a wireless link AND a tuner in one pedal.  So it combines the footprint of two pedals into one spot on my pedalboard.  I saw this product at the Dallas Guitar Show and was immediately impressed but they only recently started shipping.  I will post more about this once I get my hands on it.

What I’m listening to: Vince Gill Guitar Slinger
Vince’s music has long been warm and inviting like a crackling fireplace and a glass of wine, but on Guitar Slinger Vince also shows he’s still got the guitar playing (slingin’) chops he was known for.
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What I’m listening to: Vince Gill Guitar Slinger

Vince’s music has long been warm and inviting like a crackling fireplace and a glass of wine, but on Guitar Slinger Vince also shows he’s still got the guitar playing (slingin’) chops he was known for.

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What I’d rather be doing (Taken with Instagram)

What I’d rather be doing (Taken with Instagram)

Enjoying some coffee and CMT videos before I fire up the smoker. #laborday (Taken with Instagram)

Enjoying some coffee and CMT videos before I fire up the smoker. #laborday (Taken with Instagram)

Behind The Song 1: In The Quiet Times

In The Quiet Times is the last song on my CD and the first one that I actually wrote for it.  It was about, and dedicated to, my mom, Joan, who passed away a few years ago.  And yes, as the song says, it was a fatal rare disease.  One named Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD).

My mother’s passing was a shock and wakeup call for me in a couple of ways.  No-one is prepared for a parent to die, but this was a shock because Mom was so healthy and, under other circumstances, might have outlived us all.

The other thing it did was make me realize how precious life is.  I know that sounds cliche, but it made me see in my own life how the years have flown by and I shouldn’t take tomorrow for granted.  No, I don’t wake up every day and go out and smell the flowers.  I get up, make coffee, do my work, and take care of my family like I always have.  But it did give me the motivation to pick up the guitar that sat all lonely in the corner and stop putting off, for even one more day, making the music I always wanted to.

This was a song I had to get out, both to honor my mom and for my own catharsis.  It still bring a tear to my eye so I have mixed feelings about performing it.

The photo above shows Mom in the only way I remember her: active and full of life.

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