First Year… All Wrapped-UP

It’s been a great first year for Twelvefirst yearMinute Muse! We posted 39 episodes and explored the creative process with some incredibly gifted folks.  All 39 episodes are available on iTunes for FREE.

We would love to hear from you, so be sure to leave a comment on iTunes or reach out to us with your suggestions for future guests.

Look for more episodes in 2015. Thanks for tuning in!

Episode 39: A Chat with Over the Rhine

over the rhine

Over the Rhine is the moniker for husband and wife duo Linford Detweiler and Karin Berqwist. They have been writing and recording as OtR for more than twenty years, and Linford joined me  to explore the creative process  and talk about their latest release Blood Oranges in the Snow.

Blood Oranges in the Snow is the third full-length Christmas album in the band’s catalog, but don’t expect the typical commercial standards here. This is more of an effort to “peel back some of the layers of the holiday season” and explore the themes that lie beneath the surface. This process includes mostly original compositions, but also a cover of Merle Haggard’s “If We Make it Through December,” and a couple of worthy contribututions by friends of OtR.

In the interview, Linford discussed their rule of thumb for writing songs for this type of record. He also shared the importance of inspiration and language for the songwriter, citing a couple of instances on the new album. Finally, he announced some exciting plans for 2015.

In the Bonus Feature, Linford elaborated on the earlier Christmas records and talked about the musical influences for the new album. I also asked if he has considered publishing a collection of his writing. Sign up for the Bonus Feature to hear his response.

Over the Rhine website

Blood Oranges in the Snow at iTunes Store


Liner Notes, Technology & Steve Lillywhite

It’s a gross understatement to say that the internet has changed our world, but I’ll say it anyway. The internet has changed our world. Furthermore, social media has altered not only our activities, but also our vocabulary.  For instance, if ten years ago I had commented that I friended someone, I would have received a strange look. Or, at least, someone would have corrected me, insisting that I meant to say “befriended.” But no more. Times have changed and sometimes it’s for the better, and sometimes not.

I consider myself a networker in the sense that my brain remembers names and even categorizes them into mental structures and associations that make sense to me.  My wife often scratches her head at this little quirk of mine.

So, being an appreciator of creative arts (music, literature, art, etc.) combined with my networking tendencies,  I’m  left with a mind full of networks: names and relationships—mostly of people I’ve never met.  This catalogue of information was compiled through hours of reading the back covers of records and cds in stores, reading the credits at the end of the movie, and paying too much attention to the radio and MTV for a couple of decades. Some would argue that this leaves me with a head full of useless trivia.  I beg to differ.

Anyway, when I think back to a younger me (let’s say circa 1990), I can picture myself sitting in the floor of my room, listening to music and reading the liner notes of a cd—reading every name from producer, mixer, songwriters, session musicians, all the way through the And the band would like to thank…  At times I would even scramble between two sets of liner notes to confirm similarities.

Geek Award.  I’ll admit it.

So in 1990, I could read the names and pretend like I knew them because I enjoyed their work, but that was the end of it, unless I struck up a conversation with other geeks in the record store or standing in line for a concert (which was always super fun!).

But not today. The world is smaller, and social media has ushered in a virtual persona that is two parts anonymity and one part boldness, and BINGO! I decide to tweet to one of my favorite record producers, Steve Lillywhite. Do you recognize his name? Maybe not, but you would certainly recognize his work. He’s been credited on 874 songs or albums, and strategic in helping establish the signature sounds of U2 and the Dave Matthews Band.  So is tweeting him an obnoxious thing to do?  Sure, but apparently Steve didn’t mind too much.  Take a look at my first tweet:

steve lillywhite

Steve responded in good humor.

steve lillywhite

And while we didn’t even limit out on our twitter-allowed characters, I was actually having something close to a conversation with Steve Lillywhite!steve lillywhite I’m amazed by how much technology has developed in 22 years.

Do you have any similar contrasts between then and now?

Do you read cd liner notes when no one’s looking?

What’s your favorite Lillywhite-produced record?

Episode 38: A Chat with Dayne Sherman

dayne shermanDayne Sherman was my guest for the first episode of Twelve Minute Muse. I was glad to welcome him back on the occasion of his latest novel– Zion: A Novel, which will be available October 30, 2014.

Dayne spent seven years working on this novel, and in the process, he also started a publishing company called Accendo Books, LLC.  In the interview, we discuss the story that inspired the novel, and some of the surprises that occurred during the writing of it. Dayne explains the important role that folklore played in Zion.  He also reads an excerpt from this southern mystery.

We also talked about his decision to dive into publishing and how technology allowed him to do something that would have been impossible ten years ago when his first novel was published.

In the Bonus Feature, Dayne elaborates on the publishing venture, sharing advice for authors who are considering that route and citing six different authors who inspired him to pursue self-publishing.  (Sign-Up in the upper right of this page to receive the free Bonus Feature.)

Dayne is hosting a book release party in Hammond, LA Thursday, October 30th.  Check out the following links to learn more about Dayne and his work:

Dayne’s website

Accendo Books

Episode 37: A Chat with Seven Handle Circus

Seven Handle CircusSeven Handle Circus is a 6-man folk band from Atlanta, Georgia. I had the opportunity to talk with their lead-singer/songwriter, Shawn Spencer. Seven Handle Circus draws from a broad range of influences, covering various genre and spanning several decades. The diverse influences make for a unique, blended sound that is not easily tagged as rock or bluegrass. Shawn said folk is probably the best way to describe their sound. We discussed the creative process of writing songs for the band, the name of the band, and touring.

In this week’s Bonus Feature, Shawn shares about one of the songs on the new album that surprised him by just showing up during a walk.  (Sign up in the upper right portion of this page to receive the story.)

Their new album “Shadows on the Wall” will be available on October 20th. 

Check out their great cover of A-ha’s “Take on Me” filmed in New Orleans. To learn more about the band, click on the following links:

Seven Handle Circus website

SHC on twitter

SHC on facebook


The 4 Things I Gained from Starting a Podcast

Why did you start a podcast?  Now that’s a question I’ve been asked  a few times. And to be honest, I can’t say that I ever imagined doing it, until I was inspired.  You know how creativity works, right? Inspiration and then… perspiration.

Just over a year ago, my wife handed me the kindle and said, “Here, read this.” She had downloaded Dan Miller’s 48 Days to the Work You Love.  At that point, I was a year and a half out from an unexpected layoff, and looking for any suggestions I coul48 daysd get. Dan’s book was informative and extremely encouraging, but at the same time…challenging. To be sure, my formal education had short-changed me when it came to entrepreneurship, and this was the beginning of my new non-degree program.

Within a matter of days after finishing the 48 Days book, I noticed a friend—well, really an acquaintance I had just met a couple of months earlier—had posted something about the book on facebook. I immediately messaged him to see if he wanted to meet for lunch.

I was a little intimidated to meet with Devin Dabney for lunch that day, not so much because of what I didn’t know about him, but more so because of what I did.  3 things: he was an excellent piano player, his family home-schooled, and he worked in IT.  Shame on me for stereotyping, but I was afraid we wouldn’t have much to talk about.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I don’t remember if we spent time on extended introductions or just jumped into the idea frenzy, but the lunch was over and we barely had time to eat our sandwiches.  Devin had so many creative ideas and what seemed like an unending list of resources and networks. I learned about the 48 Days Idea Networking site, fiverr, and so many others.

Devin also began to describe a podcast he had started just a few weeks earlier.  His podcast, called Connected Homeschooling, was geared toward encouraging and informing home-school families. Devin  mentioned some of the guests he had interviewed and the topics they addressed.  But mostly, I remember him talking about Depositphotos_27100947_xsthe steep learning curve of putting together a podcast, from connecting with guests, to developing questions, recording, editing and posting. I listened sympathetically, but I had no idea about all the technology. After all, Devin worked in IT, right?

A strange thing happened over the next couple of days. As I went about the job I was doing, I kept thinking about podcasting.  The recurring thought was this: I love meeting new people, asking questions, and I have a curious mind. I think I would enjoy doing that. But what topic would I address?  Hmm.  Within a couple of days, I had landed on the creative arts–more specifically, exploring the process of developing the arts.  And instead of longer interviews, I decided to keep them short in hopes of being more accessible to an already busy world.  Just like that the name came to me: Twelve Minute Muse.

Sometime in November, I began working on a logo, a website, andstarting a podcast began utilizing the web for tutorials on podcasting.  I also started namestorming a list of potential guests. Then I had to set a launch date because I knew without a deadline, I would never take the plunge.  So the first Tuesday of the new year was it!

Here we are a year later, and Twelve Minute Muse has posted 36 episodes with an incredibly gifted group of diverse guests. My family has been tremendously patient and encouraging along the way, and I’ve made some great friends around the country as a result of it.

So if you ask me today what I’ve gained from starting a podcast, I’d share these four biggest benefits:

  • The challenge to grow in the area of technology and media production.
  • The opportunity to meet and interact with dozens of kind, brilliant people.
  • The privilege of introducing excellent creative work to at least a few new fans.
  • Best of all, each week I’ve learned something new about the creative process.

Many of the lessons are similar, but each one has renewed my sense of wonder and mystery about the human mind’s capacity to chase a spark of inspiration until it becomes a completed work of art. Can you imagine what life would be like without music, stories, art, films, or humor? It’s a truly magnificent gift from the God of the universe. So if you’re new to the Muse, check out some of the episodes and leave a comment. And by the way…

What spark of inspiration are you chasing?starting a podcast

Episode 36: A Chat with Max Zoghbi

Max ZoghbiMax Zoghbi describes himself as an outside-the-box-thinker and sometimes a little over-the-top. If you’ve seen his short film Wildflower, you would probably agree. If you haven’t seen it, you’re in for a treat.

In a nutshell, the film is the story of an epic marriage proposal that Max put together and pulled off in January, 2014. Well, it wasn’t only Max. In fact,  dozens of people were involved in making it happen.

NBC’s Today Show featured the story and film last week. Shortly after that, The American Conservative and Huffington Post both ran articles about it. Beyond being an outrageously complex plan, the story features an earnest attempt at dealing with a tragedy from the past.

Might I suggest that you watch the film before you catch the behind the scenes glimpse from the interview.  I really enjoyed hearing how Max described the challenges and surprises he encountered along the way.

In the Bonus Feature, Max shared about Loupe Theory Studios and the thing that most surprised him about the making of Wildflower. You can receive the Bonus Feature by requesting it at the top right of this page.

To find out more about Max’s work, click on the following links:

Loupe Theory Studios

Max on Facebook

Max on Twitter

Episode 35: A Chat with Will Braden- Henri the Cat

Henri the CatHenri the Cat is the way we pathetic Americans often refer to  the internet sensation Henri, le Chat Noir— the feline video series that has revitalized French Existentialism. I had the opportunity to speak with filmmaker and author William Braden for an insightful glimpse behind the scenes.

You will notice a theme that runs throughout the interview: procrastination. Braden actually credits procrastination with the origination of the Henri persona and the video series. He tells the story of the last minute film project that eventually went “viral.”

Will walks us through the consistent process of making an Henri video and talks about the somewhat different task of writing his first Henri book.

What about philosophy? Is Will an Existentialist? Does he even speak French? Find out the answers to these questions and the latest projects that Will is involved in as we explore the creative process!

In this week’s Bonus Feature, Will Braden shares about a time when the muse caught him by surprise. He tells the story behind his favorite Henri line, and how it just kinda “showed up” on a visit to the vet.

Be sure to visit the following links to learn more about Henri and Will’s work

 Henri’s Website        Henri on facebook           Henri on Twitter  Henri’s YouTube Page

Episode 34: A Chat with Colony House

colony houseColony House is a three-man band from Nashville. I had the opportunity to visit with Caleb Chapman, the lead singer and songwriter for the band. We talked about the things that inspire his creativity in songwriting.

He shared a few songwriters who have influenced and inspired him, and at the top of the list is his father, singer/songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman.

Colony House is currently on the road in support of their album When I Was Younger. Caleb explained how track 7 (“Waiting For My Time to Come”**) surprised them and found its way onto the new record at the very last minute.

If you’ve heard the album, you may have noticed a vibe that sounds like it belongs on an 80s retro channel. I had to ask Caleb if that was something they were trying to capture.

If you haven’t heard the record, here’s your chance to check it out. It’s available on iTunes and Amazon. Give it a listen!

You can also learn more about Colony House at the following:

Colony House Website

Colony House on facebook

Colony House on twitter

Colony House on Instagram

** excerpt at the end of the interview is Track 7: “Waiting for My Time to Come”

Did You Have a Record Player Like This?

record playerWhen I was a kid, I had one of those really cool record players that came in its own case with a built-in speaker. I remember plopping old Disney records, like Jungle Book, onto the turntable and applying the scratchy needle. The sound was not as fascinating to me as the motion of the record spinning.  Yeah, I’ll admit even placing toy cowboys or Indians on the record while it was playing just out of curiosity. The record player was indeed a toy to me until…

At age 9 or 10, I saw a made-for-tv movie about four lads from Liverpool.  My interest was piqued, and as it would be, my father mentioned that he thought he had one of their records. After looking through his stack of wax, he handed me a bare slab of vinyl (no dust jacket, no cover) that would change the way I heard music.

“I’ve Just Seen A Face” met me at the door of Rubber Soul and welcomed me in; my young ears were hooked.  “You Won’t See Me,“Run for Your Life,” “The Word,” “Wait”… these and all the others would be played repeatedly on my little phonograph.  And now, I was being careful to apply the needle without a scratch.

record playerI remember that the record player had a channel dial.  With a turn of this control, Rubber Soul would instantly be only music or vocals. I didn’t yet understand the difference between mono and stereo, but I was thrilled to hear the different layers of the songs.

Well, those were the good ole days, and those days are gone, right?  Sort of, but not completely.  With the vinyl revival that’s well underway, records are still being made. And just the other day, I came across this treasure chest for Beatles fans:  The Beatles in Mono Vinyl Box Set (Limited Edition).

If you enjoyed the old records like I did, you might want to grab this set while you can.

What Beatles albums did you have on vinyl?

exploring the creative process