Hey friends! I’m really excited to announce the debut of the official music video for my song “O Sweet Grace” from All Is Sideways. Here it is!
About the Video
This video would not be possible without the enormous help and generosity of a team of my friends and family. Only through their giving of time, effort, and expertise did this project come together. Below is a little bit about each of them. Thanks, team!
Katie and Scott pause for a serious photo between takes.
This duet song and video features Katie Nelson, a singer/songwriter/recording artist that played on a handful of the songs from my album All Is Sideways. She actually helped me write the song, though she doesn’t take any credit for it. Katie has several albums out and I’m producing her next album about queens throughout history. The music is a bit of departure from what she has done in the past, and I’m really excited for everyone to hear it. I’ll post when it drops.
Dan Madison of High Decibel Media, wearing his Steadicam on the set of the “O Sweet Grace” music video shoot.
Many, many thanks to Dan Madison of High Decibel Media. He first approached me about making a music video and had this song in mind. I too had this song in mind for a music video, so of course, I said yes. Dan and I have worked on a few projects together, but never in this capacity. Dan wore many hats as the producer, camera operator, and editor. If you need a video made, I highly recommend Dan. He has a new recording studio too in the Indianapolis area, so if you’re looking to record in the Midwest, contact him. He has a new website coming later this year.
Christopher Whonsetler taking photographs during a break from lighting the set.
If you’ve followed me on social media and elsewhere, you’ve probably already seen some of Christopher’s work. Chris (or Whonphoto as many know him), is my cousin and the photographer for many of my official promotional photos. He runs his photography business out of Indianapolis, but has and will travel just about anywhere. Chris took some photos on the set and ran the lighting. If you have an adventure and need a photographer, I guarantee Chris is up for it.
Matt, cueing audio while hiding on the floor behind a booth.
On short notice and with about 5 minutes of training, my brother Matt jumped in to help cue audio playback on the set so Katie and I could lip sync to the prerecorded audio. We shot in slow mo, so the audio had to be sped up. Matt cued the audio from his iPhone through a BIG JAMBOX, which worked really well. Matt does a lot of creative work, but not usually in the arts. He co-founded a construction company called Emergent Investments in the Indianapolis area. They do really amazing work, which you can see on their Facebook page and in the featured image of the Angie’s List app.
Since Eric was the “behind the scenes” photographer, so this is the only photo I have of him from the video shoot. In between takes, I caught him chowing down on some biscuits and gravy.
My brother Eric is an artist/graphic designer/developer and amateur photographer. He volunteered to help out on set and shoot some behind the scenes photos and video. He caught a lot of great moments (and some embarrassing ones) over the course of the 2 very long and very late nights we shot the music video. I’ll be posting more of his work later in a behind the scenes post. Eric works at Angie’s List as the lead iOS developer, does some freelance web design, and runs neck and neck with me for frequency of crazy ideas per day.
Tim helping out on set and simultaneously auditioning for rugged male model.
Tim is a good friend and nearly like another brother. He also works in the design/web industry and does amateur photography. Tim volunteered to lend his hands and creative mind on set while shooting behind the scenes. I was really glad to have Tim’s eagle eyes keeping track of the details—especially when late in the game when we were all tired and not thinking straight. If you need someone who can fill any role to round out your creative team, get yourself some Tim. You’ll be glad you did.
Eat any time of day or night in Fountain Square at Peppy Grill.
A special thanks goes out to Peppy Grill in Fountain Square. The fine folks that work there were kind enough to let us shoot part of our music video in their restaurant. Thanks to Betty, Michelle, Joe, and Mike for taking care of us, giving Katie way too much coffee, and helping to make the shoot a great memory!
A Final Note
Thanks to you, the friends and fans that share my music. Here are the links to the video on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, or your network of choice. Let me know what you think of the video!
One of the first lessons in the long, ugly self-education process of teaching yourself to play guitar is how to tune your instrument. When you’re learning something new you’re bound to make mistakes and sometimes those mistakes lead to new discoveries.
My early mistakes while trying to wrangle my guitar into tune accidentally opened the door to exploring alternate or alternative tunings. After realizing that EADGBE or “standard” tuning is not the only way to tune a guitar, I intentionally began playing around with tunings, discovering things like DADGBD (Double Drop D) and EADF♯BE.
Since then, I’ve read about Nick Drake, who some consider to be the godfather of alternate tunings, and learned that you can’t really play Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin tunes faithfully or easily in standard tuning.
Armed with that knowledge and even more curiosity, I’ve added to my repertoire more tunings like DACGAD, CGAGCE, DGDGBD, DADDAD, and even DDDGDD (thanks to Ben Albright). But perhaps the most interesting tuning I’ve discovered is one I made up.
One day I was thinking about how the B string in standard tuning stands alone. Standard tuning is based on intervals of fourths (or 2½ steps), so the pitch for each string can be found by fretting the next lower pitched string at the fifth fret. For example, fretting the low E string at the fifth fret sounds the note A, which is the note of the next higher string. And the A string can be fretted at the fifth fret to give a D. This works for all of the strings on the guitar except the B string. To find the pitch of the B string the G string must be fretted on the fourth fret, which produces a major third.
This break in the pattern bothered me. Sure, standard tuning is a solid, time-tested system with many good reasons for why it is the way it is, but I wondered what would happen if I used the fourth fret to tune all the way across.
What came out of that little experiment is a weird tuning that I often use: FAC♯FAA. I call it my two-step tuning, not because it’s good for songs with a two step feel, but because each string is two steps higher than the previous string.
Feel free to use this tuning, but don’t blame me for broken strings. 😉
Like standard tuning, I allowed one string to be an exception to the rule. If I had continued the pattern across, the high E should have been another C♯, but it proved difficult to make chord shapes this way. I thought I’d drop the string to A instead. This created a nice unison effect, but the string was too loose and easily fell out of tune. So I replaced the high E string with a string of the same gauge as the B string. And taa-daa! A new tuning!
But sadly, I could’t write much of anything with it.
An open strum produced an augmented triad, an interesting, but somewhat unsettling chord (take a major chord and sharp the fifth i.e. C-E-G♯). Plucking each string in succession revealed a tritonic scale of major thirds, which is not a scale Western ears (mine included) are accustomed to hearing in musical contexts. When all the notes of a scale are equidistant to each other, it becomes very difficult to determine the key. The scale is the same no matter where you start. John Coltrane used this peculiar aspect of major thirds to create a disorienting progression of chords now known as Coltrane changes.
None of the familiar chord shapes and scale patterns of standard tuning carried over to this new tuning either. My brain was flummoxed by its’ own invention. Having created something interesting, but not knowing what to do with it, I set it aside.
Sometime later I worked a summer as a truck driver for a fireworks company. I decided to take my guitar on the road with me to see if I could crack this tuning’s code. My truck route took me near where my friend Brian Fetter lived. Instead of sitting in a hotel, I was able to hang out with him for the evening. It was at his apartment that this tuning produced its’ first tune, a song called “If Ever In Doubt.”
For a long time, that was the only song that I could find in that tuning. I often referred to it as my “If Ever In Doubt” tuning. Over time the tuning and I became more comfortable with each other. A handful of songs have come to life through it. My latest album All Is Sideways features several of these songs (including the title track).
Reasons to Try Alternate Tunings
Create unique vibes standard tuning can’t make
Drone-like effects with open strings
Strange chords can be played with easier fingerings
Forces you to think about the sound and not resort the familiarity of what you know and muscle memory
What began ages ago as mere inklings of thought, vague notions of concept, and a few sparse melodies has now — at long last! — become a physical reality. The audio is mastered, the artwork polished, and the replication of my album has begun.
In a few short weeks All Is Sideways will be available in a variety of digital formats from the gamut of major online digital retailers, but those that preorder a CD will receive the album first (and signed too).
If you have followed the progress of this album, you know what a long, troublesome, and strange process it has been. The project began with a chance encounter with Jared Ribble in Nashville years ago while on tour. As time wore on and the tour meandered about the country, more chance encounters with musical friends (new and old) led to the creation of key components of the album. All Is Sideways features dozens of players in as many places playing all sorts of instruments. In as much as America is a melting pot, so too is this album a sonic stone soup. The individual tracks may seem too disparate to make an album, but one thing rings true for these songs:
They are part of me.
Time and again I’ve nearly given up believing that I’d ever finish this project. Attempting to make an album, one with your heart and soul embedded in the ones and zeros, can nearly break an artist. That goal is even more difficult when you’re a lone vagabond. You end up questioning everything — every note, phrase, idea, inclination — and not being sure of any of the answers you come up with. I found myself in a cyclical pattern of creating things, building layers, finding problems, giving up hope, discovering clarity, trying again, learning more than I wanted to know, rethinking my songs and myself, driving long silent hours on the road, questioning my purpose and plans, and eventually coming to terms (I think…) with the process. Album making is like psychotherapy, but the lines of professionalism and privacy get messed up because you’re both the patient and practitioner. It’s a head game and your results get published. Humbling.
So you can imagine why, even after all this time that I’ve had to work on the album, I feel a bit reluctant releasing it into the wild. While I’ve been really eager to get this album out there to you, my friends and family, part of me doesn’t feel ready. But as my friend (and engineer for most of the album) Lynn Graber often says:
“An album is never done. Eventually you just have to let it go.”
He’s right. I’ll never be finished with these songs. Every time I play them, listen to them, or think about them, I discover something new — a note to work on, a finer nuance to express, a deeper meaning of a lyric, a greater understanding of myself. I supposed that’s a place of growth or maturity or something else profound. In that regard, the songs may never be done and that’s probably a good thing.
Finished or not, the perfect moment will never come, so I’m letting the album go. Here it is: the button that lets me know that you want to hear what I’ve made for you. 😉
I have some of the greatest friends anyone could ask for. Seriously. Without telling me ahead of time, my buddy Stevan Sheets decided to offer a free copy of my album Somewhere Between Nicaragua & New York via a Twitter promotional campaign. The promo is only for the next 3 hours, so get in on […]
I have some of the greatest friends anyone could ask for. Seriously. Without telling me ahead of time, my buddy Stevan Sheets decided to offer a free copy of my album Somewhere Between Nicaragua & New York via a Twitter promotional campaign. The promo is only for the next 3 hours, so get in on the action by clicking here: http://bit.ly/scottsEP
To sweeten the deal, I’ve decided that the lucky winner of Stevan’s promotion will also receive a free signed copy of my upcoming album All Is Sideways (release info TBA), along with any other related swag that comes along with the album release. Fun times!