Goodbye, Rhinestone Cowboy.

Glen Campbell has been one of my favorite artists for quite some time (thanks to a CD my brother gave me nearly 20 years ago!).  He was truly an inspiration to me and so many others... such an incredible vocalist, musician, and a masterful interpreter of songs.  I had the chance to see Glen for the first (and last) time at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN on January 3rd, 2012.  The concert was part of "The Goodbye Tour" and was originally slated for December 5th, 2011,  but had to be rescheduled because Glen lost his voice from laryngitis.  I obviously felt for him, but I also felt for my brother who'd flown in just for the concert (and unfortunately wasn't able to attend the make-up date).  We were steps away from entering the venue when they broke the news so you can imagine our disappointment.  Nonetheless, I promised to take a lot of photos at the January concert (see below).   

I had a seat in the very first row... we're talking a folding chair not in a pew (if you've ever been to the Ryman you know what I mean!).  Normally, I would say that's too close; I could reach out and touch the monitor wedges on stage... but in this particular instance it was the perfect seat.  Glen's backing band included three of his children, all very accomplished musicians in their own right.  Being so close, I was privy to the intricacies of communication, direction, and encouragement between Glen and his children.  And there were a lot.  Like glue, the band leader and the Campbell kids kept the show together.  At times it was unpredictable, but Glen's vocal prowess and virtuoso guitar playing never suffered.  He may have stumbled over some lyrics but he hit all the right notes. His guitar solos were mesmerizing.  Whenever Glen did get a little off track or confused his children were right there ready and willing to offer a smile, a nod, remind him of the key, or to simply start the song over again (or tell him, "we already played that one, Dad").  I can't imagine the raw emotions they felt up there... knowing the door was closing on not just the music, but also on the relationship they'd had with their father for so long.  One word that comes to mind is courageous. 

Despite the obstacles and everything that could (and occasionally did) go wrong on stage, Glen and his children, along with the other musicians, embraced the spotlight.  They did everything they could to keep the music at the forefront, the energy flowing, and the crowd entertained.  And we were thoroughly entertained.  At one point in the show during "Rhinestone Cowboy" Glen lowered his mic right in front of me, and you better believe I sang that chorus loud and proud!  What a vivid moment.  I'll always remember that night... the night I sang with my musical hero, Mr. Glen Campbell, at the Mother Church of Country Music.

Without a doubt, Glen's story and his vast catalog of music will live on forever.  As a tribute to his legacy, I'd like to share with you my version of "Gentle On My Mind" penned by the great John Hartford.  It's a true classic, just like Glen.  If you'd like to join in the fight against Alzheimer's, you can donate to the Glen Campbell Memorial Fund

"Son of a gun we'll have big fun on the bayou" -Hank Williams

Last week, I was honored to perform for attendees of the Claims Education Conference, held at the picturesque Hilton New Orleans Riverside Hotel.  Although I’ve played in front of beautiful backdrops before, never have I sung in full view of the mighty Mississippi River!  A very special thank you goes out to Carl Van of International Insurance Institute for having me, and for providing each guest with a signed copy of my latest album, Broken In.  For those of you who may not know, Carl and I go back about fifteen years.  I was his personal assistant when I first moved to Nashville back in 2002 (shortly before his business relocated to New Orleans).  And believe it or not, years later we would team up to make some very exciting music together.  

Over his 30+ years in the insurance industry, Carl jotted down every funny work-inspired story, whimsical idea, and satirical song title he could think of.  And in 2012, he decided he had enough material for a full-length album, which he wanted to call I’m a Claims Man.  He just needed some "music people" to bring his vision to life.  That’s where I (and another former employee/musician) came in.  As part of the “Awesome Adjuster Band,” we collaborated with Carl; I co-produced five of the eleven songs, set them to music, and even sang lead vocals on four of them.  With full instrumentation and some of Nashville’s finest musicians playing on the tracks, I’m a Claims Man is definitely worth a listen… especially if you’re a claims professional or know someone who works in the field (it makes a great stocking stuffer!).  In all seriousness, Carl’s songs are creative, humorous, and without a doubt, entertaining... as if you couldn’t tell by some of these song titles:  “Behind on Diary Blues,” “The Performance Review,” and “All I Want is the Sex Life of a Pre-Injured Claimant,”… I still laugh at that last one.  If you’re wondering… no, I didn’t play it at the conference.  I did, however, work up a little “Jambalaya (on the Bayou)” by Hank Williams just for the occasion.  The gig was a blast, and to top it off, the banana cream pie at Chef Emeril Lagasse’s world-renowned restaurant was deee-licious.  Bam!  

Sanibel Sunrise...

We've been enjoying a little R&R down in Florida.  On our last day, we decided to wake up extra early to catch the sunrise.  I'm glad we did.... it was a majestic morning with dolphins jumping and shore birds scurrying about.  Sanibel will always have a special place in my heart.  My grandparents lived on the island, so my family spent many spring breaks down here.  If you get the chance to visit, be sure to check out the Sanibel Historical Museum & Village to learn a little bit of the history of the island.  You can find my late grandfather's Sears Roebuck & Co tin collection on display in the 1927 Old Bailey General Store.  It was the first time I'd seen them up close... pretty neat.  My "gramp" spent many years serving as a docent at the museum (in the General Store), so it is a fitting tribute for someone who so relished the role and concept of volunteering.  He never met a stranger.  Until next time, Sanibel. 

ALS Charity Event - #TSHAWSTRONG

It's a beautiful day for the #TShawStrong Charity Golf Invitational! Best of luck to all the golfers today as they battle it out at Hideaway at Arrington to raise money for ALS.  I'm honored to be a part of such a worthy cause, and am looking forward to sharing some music with everyone tonight.  If you're not familiar with Tim Shaw's story, I encourage you to learn about this incredibly inspring human being and his courageous journey.  #BeatALS


Cubs Win! Cubs Win!

It has been a long time coming, that's for sure.  I was born just outside of Chicago and spent the first six years of my life in Naperville, IL.  As far back as I can recall, I bled "Cubbie blue" even at three years old.  I vividly remember trying to imitate the swing of Ryne Sandberg in the backyard, or wearing my preschool backpack as a chest protector with my cap backwards, just like Cubs catcher, Jody Davis.  As time went by, my brother and I stuck with the Cubs.  We didn't have a choice.  Our grandparents loved the Cubs. Our parents loved the Cubs. We were born into it.  My brother and I pulled for guys like Dwight Smith, Jerome Walton, Andre Dawson and Mark Grace.  As a high school and collegiate pitcher myself, you can bet Kerry Wood would soon become my all-time, favorite Cub (and still is).  In 2003, I got to witness an NL Division Series at "The Friendly Confines," a pitching duel between Mark Prior and future Cub, Greg Maddux. What a game.  That's all I'll say about 2003.  Fast forward to 2016 and a team chock-full of young stars like Rizzo, Bryant, Russell, and Schwarber, combined with a solid pitching staff and some veteran leadership... and "Holy Cow," we got ourselves a World Series Championship.  Congratulations, fellas... and congratulations, Chicago!  You did it!  We did it!  History has been made.  It's about time.  #FlyTheW

Hola from Cabo!

We're having an amazing time soakin' up the sun in Cabo!  Nothing quite like having your morning coffee with the one you love and a view of the Sea of Cortez.  #Honeymoon 

Opening for the Goo Goo Dolls!

We had a blast opening for the Goo Goo Dolls last weekend at the Naperville Jaycee's Last Fling!  Despite the rain earlier in the day, the weather cleared up just in time for sound check.  It was a little muddy, but that didn't stop THOUSANDS of people from coming out and listening to us!  We had a great crowd and got to catch the Delta Saints (also from Nashville) and the Goo Goo Dolls from stage side.  What an awesome night! Thanks to my family and friends for coming out and making this show extra special for me.  It is such a thrill performing with a great band behind you, and a huge crowd in front of you!  Here are some of my favorite photos from the show... thanks again to the Jaycee's for having me!

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