Strangers become friends: Daniel Layus

During 2013, I was just starting to write songs with other people. On our way through Nashville to play a private show with Jamestown Revival in Chattanooga, I stopped into Warner Chappell to write with a gentleman named Daniel Layus. We'd never met, and I was definitely into what he was doing after finding out he was the lead singer of the band Augustana. Remember that song "Going down to Boston". That's Daniel...and four other guys.

We shook hands, sized each other up, then he lead me through a few halls, kitchen, conference room, and finally found one of these mini small rooms that lined the hall where there was a piano, candle (I think?), window, guitar stand and a chair. 

We talked for a few minutes, then he said, "I think I've got an idea", and the beginnings of "Let me Lose You" started. Literally one of my favorite songs I've co-written with someone. That was the first time I'd written with someone in Nashville, to my recollection. It might have been the beginning of my love affair with Nashville. All the great music and delicious BBQ that comes out of that town, I'm convinced some of my songwriting and songs have happened there.     

Daniel just released the track we wrote along with his new record "Dangerous Things". I love that he stripped things down and really found the heart of the song on this album. 

While the song really stuck out in our session, at one point, we walked outside to take a smoke break and clear our heads before going back on to finish up the track. Then we basically got locked out. Breaking into Warner Chapel, while it wasn't the highlight of the night, just made for a more memorable experience. If you reply below, I'll tell you how we got back in.

It's easy for me to stick to what I'm comfortable with, but this session was a reminder of that I need to keep pushing to do things that scare me. Writing a song with someone else, letting someone in to what I was thinking and feeling, knowing it could be a total failure. Ugh, it's hard. But, It led to a happy ending and a helluva song... and figuring out a creative way to break into Warner Chappell.


"Something's Missing" on Grey's Anatomy Tonight!

I love this guy. Aron Wright is one of the gifted songwriters in Nashville that is creating music both solo and with other artist for TV, Film, and other artists. He's one of the recent features on my Covers & Remixes album. His cover of the song we wrote with Nashville gem, Jason Lehning, is featured on Grey's Anatomy tonight.

Stars & Thorns

It's hard to view this election as progress, but I think it is. While wrought with racism, sexism and a great divide in opinions and judgments about what should and shouldn't be -- it has illuminated issues that I didn't realize were as prevalent and widespread.

As a white male, I admit my ignorance in thinking that we had made more progress as a country on equality. I still love this country and can see its greatness. I hope we use this election as a conversation piece for why we need change, trying to change the negative instead of fighting about it.

I was listening through a song I co-wrote with Alain Whyte of Morrissey, and the words felt more relevant than ever. The song originated from a phrase I read in a poem by Syvlia Plath -- "Stars and Thorns". This the cover Alain created from the original, with my buddy Andrew Joslyn playing some strings.


When I was young, I pledged every morning
Freedom was mine, such a simple glory
To live how I wanted, to dream or speak my mind
My privilege has come, at a price
This land is ours, from the rivers to the plains
I must evolve to let my liberties remain
Like weeds in a garden, or thorns left overgrown
We won’t survive if left alone
We were born, into this war
We must earn our stripes, not stars and thorns
My flag was born, from a room united
Where there were walls, but we could stand divided
There’s so much promise when these differences unite
But it takes more than thoughts to move the line
We were born, into this war
We must earn our stripes, not stars and thorns
We must earn our stripes
We must earn our stripes, not stars and thorns

I'm Engaged! And on the road again...

It’s been an exciting summer with a new album out, running a songwriting camp in July, playing some really memorable shows in the NW, but getting engaged on Friday evening definitely took the cake.

It’s a surreal feeling to propose to someone – to ask them to spend the rest of their life with you. It’s even more surreal when they say yes. There’s a little doubt that grows, hoping they don’t get fed up with your snoring, limited cooking skills and constantly messy office desk. It’s exciting to have a partner in crime. A person I can travel the world with, someone who balances me out and someone I can share both big occasions and in between moments with.

This late summer and early fall seems to hold real promise for some of the most memorable shows of my adult life. The band is playing our debut set at Marymoor Park as part of 107.7 The End’s Summer Camp opening for some national heavy weights Mike Snow and Young the Giant this weekend. Then things really take off as I travel solo with a group of artist from Canada to the Mexican border, performing Nashville Round style acoustic sets in beautiful, historic west coast structures. A collective of photographers and videographers will capture the live performances and everything in between. Want to be a part of the documentary? Come hang with us on the west coast ghost tour.

I'm also headed out this Fall with one of my favorite Seattle songwriters, Erik Walters of Silver Torches. We’ve got a few shows scheduled in the NW and out east, playing in Connecticut and New York. We’ve decided to open it up to fans to host us and still have a few dates open if you are interested in having us at your house. WHAT!?


It's inspiring to learn more about what other people are doing. I'm excited to share the road with some brilliant people this summer/fall. Check out what they are up to:

  • Silver Torches – Talented Seattle songwriter, past lead singer of The Globes and currently touring with Perfume Genius.
  • Tyson Motsenbocker – San Diego songwriter on Tooth & Nail Records and creator of West Coast Ghost tour.
  • Zealyn – A new project by LA pop songwriter Angie Miller. She will be on the full West Coast Ghost (WCG) tour.
  • Judah Akers // Linday Akers – Lead singer of Judah and the Lion + singer from the band Rylo. They are joining the California part of the WCG tour.
  • Matt Wright - Nashville songwriter joining the NW part of the WCG tour.
  • Gregory Woodman – Storyteller and Photographer capturing moments on the WCG tour.
  • Kyle Meck – Storyteller and Photographer from Bend, capturing moments on the WCG tour.
  • Cole Slinker – Cinematographer documenting the WCG tour.
  • Chris Hershman – Cinematographer documenting the WCG tour.


Here’s a list of shows that are coming up:

8/14 – Marymoor Park, WA – Summer Camp


8/24 - Portland, OR – Old Church
8/25 - Seattle, WA – Fremont Abbey
8/26 - Victoria, BC – The Anian Yard
8/27 - Seattle, WA – Tower Session (SOLD OUT)
8/29 - San Francisco, CA – Four Barrel
8/30 - San Luis Obispo, CA – Madonna Inn
8/31 - Los Angeles, CA – Hotel Cafe
9/1 - San Diego, CA – The Bird Shed


9/8 – Spokane, WA – The Bartlett
9/9 – Missoula, MT – Plus One Music Fest
9/14 – Spokane, WA – Gonzaga University
9/16 – Portland, OR – University of Portland
10/3 – New York, NY – Rockwood Music Hall
10/7 – Southbury, CT – House Show


Momentarily Remembering

As I was reading the daily province in Richmond, BC, I leafed by the obituaries. It was an opportunity to remember, not the people on the pages I had no ties to, but that this a part of what remains when I "depart". How do I want to be remembered?

It was interesting reading about people through the lens of others and their biases about the person "they loved there family" "they always stopped to pet dogs" "they were always kind". Some generic, some telling me very little about who the person -- beyond it being someone I wouldn't mind sharing a reading table with at a cafe.

Always with "great sadness" "you are forever in our hearts" -- we get attached. We hold on to things. We are nostalgic about the good times, forgetting about the bad times. As a struggling optimist, I do appreciate the focus on the positive sentiments of person now passed.

It's hard not to get trapped in the allure of what could have been, the glow of idealistic intentions. While we all fall short in one way because we can't be everything to everyone,  I love the intention of these short write ups. Too often we dwell on the what ifs, how we should have done things, where we are headed. These "remembering's" in the classifieds remind me to shift my focus. Life is fleeting. Don't get caught up in what you can't control. Remember what I am living for. Maybe I won't be remembered for what I really loved, contributed or maybe I will. But at least I can enjoy the time I do have left.

Now, to find the Olympic highlights in this daily paper....