Over this last week I now have a solo album on all major platforms, I have my own website, hell I am even typing my first blog right now! It has been a whirlwind to say the least in a year full of whirlwinds. The crazy thing is I was expecting all this to happen back in March/April of 2020 but COVID had other plans. I spent a lot of time wrestling with the demons in my head trying to figure out why it seemed every imaginable roadblock to my success in music was being placed before me. Being very honest, I suffer from depression and the ups and downs that come with it. I suffer from anxiety as well. Getting ready to step out into the world with songs, only to have the world hold a giant red stop sign in front of my face was pretty much a surefire way to send my mind straight into the darkness. And boy did it ever.
Before I even go there though I guess I should give some context up to that point. I had been playing in a Jerry Garcia/Grateful Dead based tribute band, Cosmic Jerry Band, for 3 years. The music of Jerry Garcia allowed me to find myself and my voice as a musician. The beauty of those songs is they provided a canvas with the lines of the songs already drawn, but it was up to me to add the colors in whatever way imaginable. You don't get that opportunity when covering most other bands. Jerry always moved me because he never played anything the same way twice, so I was never under any constraints to copy him. He was also a beacon of hope and love for everyone who followed him, and he did that just by being himself. Through his music I was able to find my own tone, my own style, and my own voice. I have so many influences in my musical life such as Warren Haynes, Bob Dylan, Allman Brothers Band, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Trey Anastasio,... the list goes on and on. But Jerry was on an entirely different plane for me and I could never thank him enough times when I meet him someday in that great gig in the sky.
In September of 2019 I finally took the advice of so many #cosmicnauts (cosmicnauts are amazingly supportive and loving human beings that have supported Cosmic without fail) that encouraged me to write songs. I had lost a dear friend, Matty, unexpectedly and far too young, and like a meteor colliding I was completely knocked off my trajectory into a new world that I have no doubt Matty helped orchestrate from the heavens. I suddenly found myself dedicating myself to doing what I love with reckless abandon. I began writing, and the more I wrote the more it opened vaults locked up in my head for years. Pain I never faced. Loss I never mourned properly. All the things I sacrificed in myself to fit being something I was not. All were suddenly full on display for me to wrestle with. I believe songs reside in the universe, floating and waiting for the right open mind to enter in like a seed. When the song grows it pulls a part of the writer out with it. Just like all creation it takes a seed and a lot of love. Before I knew it by March of 2020 I had about 23 fully written and composed songs. I thought I was ready to send them out into the world, but like I said COVID had other ideas so back down that hole of darkness I went.
I mourn for all that was lost to COVID. Lives of loved ones, businesses, jobs, even people's sanity. But what I hadn't realized at the time was COVID sent me back into my head because I was not healed. I still had things to resolve in my head, and I still had so much to write. As of this blog I now have 46 complete songs that I have written and composed. Each one holds so much meaning to me. Each one is like a child to me. Bob Dylan so eloquently sang, "behind every beautiful thing, there's been some kind of pain". In my healing I realized more than ever my purpose is to help heal others, to be an example that those of us who suffer are not alone and we are not helpless. Music is the gift God gave me to channel that purpose. These days I now follow the signs and trust in God to put me where I need to be and so far I have found happiness and success in that journey.
I am so proud to have release Crooked Tree. In a past life I would have been so content with just that, but the truth is I'm already working on the follow up and my goal is to have it completed by the end of the year. On top of that, Cosmic has been transitioning (including removing the "Jerry Band" from our name) from a full on cover band to an original band that also still plays killer covers of Dead/JGB/Phish and whatever else we feel the moment calls for. Part of that transition is the upcoming release of our album as well. I can't give a specific date, but I can tell you it's so close that I can taste it. My brothers in Cosmic have been working so hard to make the dream a reality and I truly can't wait to experience this again with them.
As for the darkness, depression, anxiety.... Trust me, I still suffer from it all. The difference is this journey into songwriting and facing myself has armed me with new "weapons" to fight them when I inevitably head there again. And if you're asking what those weapons are, it's kindness, honesty, and a full on realization that the person you see in the mirror is beautiful inside and out. "Helping people makes me happy"-Chris "ChrisP" Powers. Turns out he had the secret all along. I am sending all the love into the universe to you all for your love and support throughout. Please spread love and be kind, always.