SXSW March 2023

Spring is springing in Austin, SXSW is near. Music is in the air. You can practically smell it this time of year. Here at Kevin Carroll International Headquarters, I marvel at the thousands of visitors coming here to seek that record deal, play in front of promoters and music industry types who talk loudly  during their set, or just crank up the Deluxe Reverb on a flatbed trailer in their cul-de-sac until the cops shut them down. Their hopes and dreams remind me of my own at age 27 or so. That was many years ago. Let me tell you, folks, it's a tough road for a young musician. I feel for these hungry youngsters.

My path has had its ups and downs. At the risk of toxic positivity, here are a few of the ups: playing 14 straight years of SXSW shows; signing a humble record deal as a singer-songwriter with a small Italian record label; getting hired as a guitarist for local legends Jimmy LaFave, Charlie Robison, the Flatlanders (Joe Ely/Butch Hancock/Jimmie Dale Gilmore); playing the iconic Austin City Limits 2x. Plenty of other ups, too. There's a lot to be thankful for in the larger cosmic music sense. My passion for music is still in tact, for instance.

In the opposite corner, let's just say there were plenty of downs: being a six-foot tall man and weighing 138 lbs as a result of living on free happy hour snacks and the occasional meal included with gig pay; chronic shoulder issues exacerbated by hours of daily guitar work; the stuporous boredom of spending all day in a parking lot outside a club in, let's say Amarillo or Durant, OK; and many other slings and arrows of life as a musician-for-hire. The true issue for me was that I only got to spend 90 mins a day playing music. What to do with that other 22.5 hrs/day? Therein lies the dilemma. If only there were a way for me to spend an honest 8hrs/day 5 days /week playing, absorbing, and immersed in music?

Enter teaching and ukulele. Boom! The rigors of the road were traded for learning to read music. 12 years of teaching ukulele has opened me up to what life long learning looks like! I have been changed by learners like you. Thanks! I'm committed to paying that gift forward as a teacher, content creator and artist.

It feels great to return to some light guitar gigging after bathing in the purifying waters of the ukulele world.

In retrospect, I'd probably make most of the same mistakes, but, on purpose this time if I had it to do over. A hungry, wise young songwriter once wrote: "I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now..." Seems about right. These young musicians will do just fine, I'm sure.

     -March 2023

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