This is most of an email I sent out to my close friends and family a couple months ago to let them know about my new big plan. I realized I’ve been alluding to it here on this blog for a while now but haven’t explained in full, so here’s hoping this will fill in some pieces if anyone has been wondering. My Rubicon Year starts May 9th, 2011!
I’d love to call or write each of you individually to share some big news, but so much is moving so fast and I want to make sure you hear it from me first, so I’m going for efficiency with a group email!
I think you all know what a big role music has played in my life for a long time, and that especially in these last few of years I’ve really started to take my own songwriting more seriously. Between my radio show and blog, going to the Song School camp in Colorado, taking online classes through Berklee School of Music, hosting house concerts and participating in fun online songwriting contests, I’ve learned so much about the craft of songwriting and the realities of the lifestyle of an independent folk artist.
The other thing that’s been happening in the past few years is a little voice getting louder and louder saying “I want to do that! I want to touch hearts and change lives and spread joy the same way I see my idols and heroes doing!” Through a lot of self-examination, I’ve been peeling back the layers of critical self-judgement that muffle that desire, to the point that I’m not only able to admit to having the dream, but ask it questions like, “Is this something you could be happy doing just here in Fairfield for family and friends?” The answer came through loud and clear, “No. You need to be doing this for hundreds of people.” I don’t know if that means hundreds at a time every time, but it’s unmistakable that I’m being called to step up my game.
Which brings me to this artist development program in Austin, TX called The Rubicon Year. The short version description is you spend a very personalized year working on the craft of being a songwriter, the final piece of which is creating a 5-song EP album of your own songs. This is the description from the website, I think it says it better than I could paraphrase:
In 49 B.C., Caesar and his troops determinedly broke the Roman Law forbidding any general to cross the Rubicon River; it was an act of war and left no one in the Roman Republic with any question as to Caesar’s intentions.
Rubicon Recording and Artist Development. The place an artist comes when the game is finally on. Many people play music as a pastime, as a distraction, or as a hobby. Certain people feel a persistent calling to do more with their musical path. It might be a quiet voice consistently nagging them in their brain to pursue music. It might be a passion and yearning so intense that it comes out as frustration and even manifests as physical illness or stress.
Rubicon is for musicians and aspiring musicians who need to cross over onto a dedicated path because they have no choice; their lives will be incomplete without this move. This decision might manifest as a deep study into a musical genre, as in-depth practice on the technical aspects of an instrument, as a promise to express oneself through songwriting, or as the commitment to pursue the career of a performing musician with the level of skill, craft, and artistry demanded of aconsummate professional. Rubicon helps you cross the mental divide into full dedication to your musical path.
I’ve definitely been feeling the calling even bigger and more urgently and to really do this program right, I’d have to move down to Austin for a year. It’s not something I take lightly, it’s hard to imagine being away from Gilberto and family, friends & Fairfield, but I know all of that will still be here in a year, and if I don’t do this, if I don’t try, I don’t know where *I* will be in a year, in terms of my happiness and mental/emotional health.
Amazing, synchronistic little things keep lining up and pointing the way. The day after I sent an email asking for more information about the program, I went to pick up something for work, walked out of the building and saw the word RUBICON right in front of my face - it’s the model name for a Jeep! I didn’t know about them before. My friend who lives down there and has done the program already, lives about a 15 minute walk away from the Rubicon studio. Her roommate (also a musician) is going on tour for the summer and looking for someone to sublet her apartment for about three months (possibly more) right about when the program starts. Gilberto happened to have a business trip a couple weeks ago down to Dallas to install some Sky Factory windows, so I tagged along and we went down to Austin to check out the program and the studio, and meet with the program director, Daniel Barrett.
Dan is a pretty amazing, centered and well rounded person who walks his talk from what I can tell. I look forward to having him as a mentor and role model. His point is not to crank out commercial cookie-cutter artists but to work at a very personal, customized, whole-being level with just a few artists at time, helping them achieve what they define as success. He makes sure to include time in his life and schedule to continue writing his own music and tour with his band Porterdavis, the logic there being that he is always growing and remains connected to his own personal creative and artistic processes so he doesn’t mistake, confuse or use the people he is coaching as that outlet. He has already hit multiple benchmarks of success with his band and keeps looking for ways to raise the bar in his life and it just seems to keep happening for him!
When we met with him in Austin, Dan was really impressed with how Gilberto is on board and supportive of this idea. He said, “I’m taking notes man! I’m getting married in August and I want to show up for my wife the way you are showing up for your wife!” It was great for Gilberto and I to have the long drive back and forth from Texas to talk a lot about how to do this, though both of us know it’s not going to be easy being apart. It’s a 3 months on, 1 month break schedule, but if I get a part-time job down there, which I think I’ll need to do, and have rent to pay, it will probably not be all that easy to just go home for a whole month at a time. Still, I feel very solid in our ten-year connection and I’m confident we’ll find ways to make it work. Many couples have gone through extended time apart, whether for work, schooling or war, and have made it through. I guess we had a taste of it back when I spent two months in Colombia studying Spanish! At least we will be in the same time-zone, and we could get to each other in less than 24 hours by plane if something came up that called for that. Thank goodness for modern technology and video chat, which helps a whole lot!
This is all very new and tender and exciting and scary and wonderful stuff! So many times in the past month I’ve asked, “how is this piece of it going to happen?” and the answer shows up, so I can’t imagine the answers not showing up for the questions I don’t know about yet.
Please send your good thoughts, vibes, intentions, and let me know if you have any Austin connections or recommendations, or ideas for manifesting money for this big adventure! I love you all so much! Thank you for being such an important, supportive and wonderful part of my life so far! I hope this news doesn’t catch you too much by surprise, but rather makes you think, “It’s about time! Go for it!” That’s what the universe seems to be telling me at the moment!