Thursday, May 29, 2014

The awesomeness of Maureen Murphy...

In a perfect world, Maureen Murphy would be a household name, but as we all know the world isn't perfect. Fortunately for me, I was browsing a few music sites one night and clicked play on a Maureen Murphy link. That single click had brought so much joy into my life.

Maureen is as bluesy and soulful as any artist in the world. She manages to grab your attention from the very first note. I recently asked Maureen about her first time singing in public.

 "It was my Freshman year of high school. I was 14. We had a talent show for all the students, parents and teachers called "Freshman Night Live". We were able to pick our talent, so I decided to sing. The very first song I performed was a song called "All In Your Mind" originally recorded by Mariah Carey. I remember being very still on the stage, not sure what to expect and moments before the performance having butterflies. As the instrumental track played through the PA and mic in my hand, I started singing and remember it being a transforming moment. I was never the same. I felt a rush. I loved everything about that moment. I felt whole. It was powerful. After the performance the audience went wild."

I'm sure that was a transforming moment for the audience as well. I know the times I have heard Maureen sing, I left transformed. She sings from the Soul. That is the only way to put it. Maureen spoke of that first performance.

"I didn't expect the emotional connection exchange between me and the audience. I've been singing from that honest place every since", she said. In my opinion, that is what separates Maureen from the other singers in the world. When you go to hear her sing, it is like she is singing just for you. It is so intimate, passionate, fearless and honest. I knew I would have a hard time picking the right words to describe a Maureen Murphy performance, but at least I tried.

Her voice has allowed her to sing background vocals with Phish on their forthcoming album Fuego due Summer 2014. She has sang with Will Hoge at the Ryman and with the Zac Brown Band and Gregg Allman for the CMA Awards November 2011. These are highlights in her career according to Maureen.

One of the highlights in my life was having her perform at Phil's Jam for FSHD in February. I felt honored to have her be a part of it all. After she sang, the only thing I could say was, I love you! I think she thought I was crazy, but at that moment, after that performance...that's all I felt was love and joy. Maureen will also be performing at Phil's Jam for FSHD on July 13th. I will try to be more composed next time.

Maureen's current venture is an experience called SEYGO. I wrote about SEYGO in an earlier post after being blown away by the experience. I must recommend you go experience this as well.

I asked Maureen what her musical influences were and she gave me the best answer. She said, "Truth, love & life." Another reason I just love Maureen. She has really enriched my world. Thank you!!!

Until we meet again,


Monday, May 26, 2014

I'll remember you...

When I wrote this song, I was still mourning the loss of my Father. I post it every Memorial Day in hopes that someone finds comfort in the lyrics. It is a simple song and at the time it summed up exactly what I was feeling.

"And if by Gods' amazing grace, as I go to leave this place and I finally see your face...I'll remember you."

Bless you all and happy Memorial Day.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Anna Johnson Band has something special.

I was surfing Facebook one afternoon and came across a link featuring the Anna Johnson Band. I clicked on the link and immediately started to be drawn in. I found myself being pulled in by her wonderful vocals, lyrics and the harmony of the band.

As with anything that grabs my attention, I started searching to learn anything I could about Anna and her band. Since then I have become friends with Anna and her husband David. How inspiring to find a young couple following their dreams in Nashville while raising their little girl.

We recently attended Anna's CD release event here in Nashville. Her new CD "Here" is such a great example of music that is written well and composed in a way that keeps you interested. "Thief" is one of the songs on the album that really shows Anna's talent for telling a story without spelling it out word for word. She has an indescribable way of pulling you into the story. As a fellow songwriter, I appreciate this skill very much.

I recently spoke with Anna and asked her about her musical journey. She said her first guitar was her Dad's as she was raised up in a musical family. Her first song was written at a young age. After finally mustering the courage to play her new song for her parents she told me, " I was really shy about music at that point, but was really encouraged and reassured when they reacted positively to my writing. It was the start of something special, and I really had no idea."

She still has a shyness about her music, but it speaks for itself really. After they performed at my fundraiser, Phil's Jam for FSHD, I had so many people come up to me and say how flawless and wonderful their set was. I too was blown away at how perfect their sound was.

Out of High School, she won a full scholarship to McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul, MN where she continued to hone her songwriting craft. The band Queen selected her as the winning recipient of the Queen Songwriting Scholarship after they heard her original song "Flowers on Monday." I included a link of her song, "Someday" with lyrics that sums up what Anna is all about. "Someday her dreams will come true, someday she'll sing them for you, someday you'll want to go too."

I believe in your dreams Anna. Keep up the good work.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Living with FSHD. Twenty-something and changing.

After years of denial or hoping FSHD would simply go away, I feel it is important to share my story now. I started by telling you my experiences of living with FSHD during my teen years. Now I want to share the next decade with you.

I read stories all the time from people who are in their twenties and are really starting to notice changes in their muscles. For me, my twenties were fairly normal. I was noticing some weakness in my shoulder muscles, but I was able to function as a normal adult. I was more concerned with making a living and supporting my new family than worrying about FSHD.

I was lucky that my maternal Uncle and Grandfather both were affected by FSHD (even though we didn't know what it was called back then). I did spend a lot of time going to Doctors to find out what I actually had. I figured if we can find out what was causing this, we can fix it...right? Wrong! After going to many Doctors and Chiropractors, I finally was sent to the MDA clinic for several rounds of neurological tests. It was not a good feeling to have Doctors call other Doctors in to look at you because they had never seen anything like this. I was obviously a freak of nature, or at least I felt like one.

Remember, this all occurred in the 1980's. The FSH Society was not even founded yet. The MDA clinic was the only resource for people like me. Doctors at that time knew very little about FSHD, its symptoms or its causes. But finally, after many painful tests, they were able to tell me I had a form of muscular dystrophy, sent me home with a bunch of literature and wished me the best. Basically that was all they could do. At least I knew what I had...right? At least I had a family history, so I knew I was not going to shrivel up and die right away. But I was still scared.

So my twenties were spent worrying about other things, once I learned I had muscular dystrophy and there was nothing anyone could do to fix me. I worked, played with my new daughter, enjoyed my twenties and tried not to worry about the future. I played music, started to learn the guitar and was a drummer in a Country band. I had learned how to hide my symptoms from others. At least at this point in my life I could hide the fact that I was a freak of nature. I was finally able to tell my family that what my Grandpa, Uncle and I have is a form of muscular dystrophy. At least I found that out in my twenties.

So like I wrote earlier, my twenties were spent growing up, trying to be a normal adult and learning to be a Father. I was lucky I had an Uncle 12 years older than me so I could at least gauge what I would be dealing with in the future. I knew that sometime down the road, my life would change. But until then, I had a life to live.

I hope you enjoy my writing about my life with FSHD. Feel free to drop me a line sometime at

Love and peace,


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

New vocal group Loving Mary to perform at Phil's Jam for FSHD!

Loving Mary to perform at Phil's Jam for FSHD!

Sunday, July 13th is the date for my next fundraiser, Phil's Jam for FSHD. I am very excited to announce that the new vocal group, Loving Mary, will be sharing their new music with us at the Wild Wing Café in Franklin, TN. More details coming soon. In the meantime, read about this amazing new group.

When you lock four accomplished songwriters in a room magic tends to happen. Born one night out of that magic was the band Loving Mary. Rebecca Lynn Howard, Suzie McNeil, Elisha Hoffman and Marti Frederiksen fuse their talents and experiences together into four-piece harmonies that dip from Americana to Country with a spin of Rock-n-Roll. Loving Mary is the coming together of four respected artists who have paved their way through the music industry, behind the scenes and on stage.
Rebecca Lynn Howard is a two-time Grammy Award winner originally from Kentucky. Rebecca’s songs have been recorded by Maritna McBride, Trisha Yearwood and Juliana Hough. Her voice and lyrics won over critics and fans alike with her smash hit "Forgive." The song garnered Rebecca ACM award nominations for Best New Female Vocalist and Song of the Year. 
Suzie McNeil was the last woman standing on CBS’s Rockstar: INXS competition show. She has since released four albums in Canada, collaborated with Pink, INXS and Steven Tyler, and had the honor of singing at the 2010 Olympics closing ceremonies. Along the way she has won multiple awards and nominations including a Juno Award.
Elisha Hoffman is a songwriter/producer who has worked with everyone from American Bang and Decypher Down to Faith Hill, Dixie Chicks and Shania Twain. Elisha’s song "Race You to the Bottom," performed by New Medicine hit the top #15 Billboard Radio Hit. He has also had the pleasure of watching Leighton Meester and Garrett Hedlund sing his song "Give in to Me" on the big screen in the feature film "Country Strong."
Marti Frederiksen has written and produced some of the major hits of the past two decades including, but not only, "Jaded" by Aerosmith, "Undo It" by Carrie Underwood, "Sorry" by Buckcherry, "Love Remains the Same" by Gavin Rossdale. Marti sang lead vocals for the fictional band, Stillwater in the major motion picture, Almost Famous. He has collaborated with a wide variety of artists like Neil Diamond, Faith Hill, Motley Crue, Pink, Eminem and so many more.

I am so excited that Loving Mary will be performing. I'll have more details soon, but for now...MARK YOUR CALENDARS!
Peace and happiness to all,

Sunday, May 4, 2014

SEYGO cant' be explained, it must be experienced.


What is SEYGO? It is truly hard to describe. It must be experienced. It is a combination of amazing vocals, high-energy music, sound and lights.

My wife and I had the pleasure of being at the opening night event this week and I must give this production a thumbs up. If the night would have consisted of Maureen Murphy singing, that would have been enough to keep us there. Instead Brad Naylor added a stellar light show with a back drop of stunning visuals and film clips that seemed to be choreographed with the music. The lights and film background added so much to the music. It was well executed to say the least.

As a drummer, I can appreciate Brad even more now. His high-energy rhythm section laid the foundation for a thrilling night full of amazing vocals by Maureen Murphy. I watched the crowd during the night. At times I saw people mesmerized. I saw fists pumped in the air in approval of what they were hearing. Very few took their eyes off the stage. It was very captivating.

I have to recommend SEYGO to all my friends. I am so glad we experienced this event. You will not regret it. For tour dates and more information, go to SEYGO.

Have a great Sunday,


My favorite Songwriter Joel Shewmake

Quote of the year...

“Be not the judges of men, but love your brothers and sisters, and find ways to reach out to them in common goals and aspirations. Where there is love in common, the divisions of creed will melt away and reveal the true nature of man’s eternal destiny -- one of unity in purpose, to be perfect as the Father is perfect."

Author Brilliant but Unknown

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