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Runaway Sun (Solo)  

Runaway Sun (Solo) Cover Art
In our early days of parenthood, Melanie and I loved singing lullabies to our daughter at bedtime. Most nights involved me playing guitar and picking my way through some song that we had deemed important for her little ears to hear. Sometimes they would be bedtime classics, but more often than not it was something from artists we loved or our own songs that we would adapt for bedtime.

It was around this same time that I started playing shows without Melanie, which was difficult at first. I wasn't finding much inspiration playing solo and I needed to switch things up. So I started leaving my acoustic behind and playing electric instead, which required me to rethink how I played several songs.

It was the mixture of those lullabies and my search for solo inspiration that birthed this version of Runaway Sun.

 

Production Notes:

I kept this one really simple, just like I would play it live at those solo shows. Just a single vocal take, no bgvs. I put an SM57 on my Fender Excelsior and cranked it up just enough to get the amp to break up a little. I even had some radio interference sneaking into the recording, adding to that live feel.

The bulk of the guitar sound comes from one of my favorite pedals, The Retro Sky made by Greenhouse Effects. It's a beautifully sounding delay with a switchable phase effect built-in that only affects the repeats while keeping the attack clean.

Unfortunately, I don't think they make the Retro Sky any longer, but when they did, they actually put up a link to a live version of this song on their website. When Roy, the owner, emailed me to ask if he could use it, I geeked out like a fanboy. I love the way he approaches the design of his pedals and was super honored to be used as an example of what the pedal could do. I highly encourage you to go check out Greenhouse Effects and see what kind of magic Roy has up his sleeves these days.

Lastly, this isn't so much a production note, just a cute photo. My youngest daughter was with me as I recorded the guitar and the amp was pretty loud, so I put some ear protection on her. The sound in the room was so trance-like that she ended up falling asleep on the couch - making the lullaby origins come full circle.

We Are Easy  

We Are Easy Album CoverIn most situations, I'm an incredibly practical person. I believe that anything can be figured out, broken down into steps, and conquered. My first instinct is rarely emotional, it's mathematical.

I wrote We Are Easy only a few months ago, in the midst of the pandemic, surrounded by sadness and questions. It was a time when emotion was welling up inside and the math went away. I needed to remind myself that hope is always on the horizon.

At its core, this is a song about relationships. It's about making the easy choice to go through the most difficult things with those you love. In reality, it's more than that.

I've heard it said before that every song has two stories, one told by the writer and the second by the listener. It's for that reason, I'm often hesitant to say exactly what some of my songs are about. I always hope that some of them can become just as much yours as they are mine.

Let me know in the comments if We Are Easy sparks your own story.

 

Production Notes for We Are Easy:

A side goal of mine when it comes to this "monthly song" thing is to get better at home recording. I've always considered myself a vocalist and songwriter, not an instrumentalist or recording engineer. So I recorded this song completely at home and played all the instruments myself (minus the drums, which were done by my good friend, Artificial Intelligence). If you're interested in gear that I used, reach out, I'll be glad to geek out on gear with you.

As a result of my deficiencies, this is most definitely categorized as a "demo." I'm trying to learn, so feel free to email or call me if you've got mix suggestions or anything of the like.  

Lastly, I just want to say thank you to Paul and Umber Darilek for letting me use a photo of their backyard labyrinth as the cover art. I wanted to use a labyrinth because I thought it was such a great metaphor for something being incredibly easy on its surface, just walk the path, but the spiritual goal is a lifelong practice that, to me, is one of the most difficult.

 

Galveston  

Two years ago, I joined a blues cover band. Three years ago, I “retired” from music. I’ve said it before, I’m really bad at commitment. 

In late 2017, I realized that I had unconsciously not done anything musical in a couple of months. No guitar, no songwriting, nothing. Then, instead of picking up my guitar, I wondered how long I could go. I went another month, then another after that before an idea hit me. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll never pick up my guitar again. Maybe I’ll never write another song. Maybe I’m done playing shows. Yeah, I think I’m done. 

All in all, I went almost a full year with no intention of ever playing again. Then I fell victim to the only thing I have a harder time with than commitment, saying no. 

Long story short, a friend convinced me to play a show and I was hooked again. It wasn’t very long after that I joined the blues band, looking for a way to ease back into playing music without worrying too much about the stuff that made me want to quit in the first place. 

As a band, we’ve had a rough go of it so far. We spent the first year of my time with them cycling through bass players and learning how to vibe with each other musically. And year two...well, thanks Covid. 

Still, we’re having a lot of fun playing music together and slowly morphing, from a blues cover act, into some sort of psouledelic blues monstrosity. 

In October, we went into the studio to cut a couple of songs, one of which is a song that I wrote called Galveston. I’m super proud of the way it turned out. Willy Gibbs, the band leader, produced the song and played guitar. His son, Chris Gibbs, played drums and percussion. And Jimmy Flynn played bass. 

This song has not been “officially” released and probably won’t be until we’ve got a few more recorded, but I asked the guys if they were cool with me pre-releasing them on my music blog and they gave the go-ahead.

Comment below and let me know what you think about it. Also, since I've kind of abandoned social media as a growth tool for the moment, I would really appreciate it if you encourage any music-loving friends to check it out and sign up on my mailing list. Thanks so much.

 

Production Notes for Galveston:

Written by Jonathon Dewveall
Produced by Willy Gibbs
Engineered and Mixed by Dave Coleman
Cover Art by Melanie Dewveall

Guitars: Willy Gibbs
Bass: Jimmy Flynn
Drums/Percussion: Chris Gibbs
Vocals: Jonathon Dewveall

 

McConaug-HEY! (What is the Truth?) 

Happy Thanksgiving! It's been a few months since I've put a free song up here, so today feels like a good day to do it. It's 3 am here in Nashville and I've been up all night shooting and editing this video, so I won't say too much right now. I'm sure I'll come back in a day or two and write out a really nice description. In the meantime, enjoy this trippy new tune by my electro-poet of an alter-ego, Rural Juror.

Put Your Love to Shame 

Today's entry into the Socially Distant Song catalog will bring us out of our sobering lament and plant us firmly into the face-melting territory of rock-n-roll tomfoolery. And a bonus, it's a music video! 

I started writing this song with my good friends, Tyrus Morgan and Jay Speight while working on the last Dewveall record, WORD, but we weren't able to nail down a chorus and finish it in time to get it on the album.  

It was sometime later, that Melanie and I picked it back up and she helped me write the chorus and put the finishing touches on everything.  

Put Your Love to Shame was written to be a duet, with Melanie and I trading verses and playful jabs at each other. The perfect husband and wife duo song to match our "Everybody Loves Raymond" vibe. Me being an almost perfect match for Ray Romano's foot-in-mouth character, and Melanie a nicer version of Patricia Heaton's character.  

Unfortunately, this particular recording will not feature Melanie's voice because it's another one of those unfinished songs that I started with Dave Coleman and Jacob Briggs a few years back.  

Still, it's a raucous good time and makes me incredibly happy every time I hear it, even in its unfinished state.  

I love playing this song with Jacob because he brings terrific energy and originality to the drums. And Dave, well let's just put it this way, if you're listening to the track and think, "that's such a cool part," Dave did it. Uncool guitar, me. Cool guitar, Dave. I love those guys so much.  

Please let me know your thoughts on the song and SHARE, SHARE, SHARE with your friends if you like it.  

Thanks for listening and remember to stay positive, stay connected, STAY HOME and love each other.

Years of Famine  

A song about losing everything. 

I wrote this a few years ago, on commission, as a theme song for a video game that has yet to see the light of day.  

I'll fight the urge to talk about the specifics of what the song is about because honestly, I feel like the sentiment of the main character is a feeling we all know too well right now. The song offers little hope, except for a line that closes the chorus, "my pride is crumbling through years of famine."  

Admittedly, that's still not the most hopeful of statements, but I also believe that sometimes the best outcomes of life's most difficult trials are the ones that humble us. As Thomas Merton writes in No Man Is an Island, "...humility adds much to our human dignity...Pride makes us artificial, and humility makes us real."  

As far as the recording goes, this version is more along the lines of my side project, Rural Juror. For those not familiar, Rural Juror is a strange alter-ego of mine that you will no doubt become more familiar with over the next few weeks. I'll apologize now, in advance, to those of you who only wish to hear the singer/songwriter, Americana version of me. However, I believe this song is a palatable introduction to my avant-garde second self.  

I recorded and mixed all of this at home and I am by no means any good at these things. Still, I hope you can find some enjoyment, and perhaps even some solace while sitting with the song, despite the rough edges.  

Please, reach out and let me know your thoughts after listening. And I would really appreciate it if you share the song on facebook, or wherever you connect with others who might enjoy some free songs.

FA-FA-FA-FA-FA (Sad Song)  

The first song I'm putting out into the world during these socially distant times is a cover of an Otis Retting song, written by Otis and Steve Cropper. It's the first track on his Dictionary of Soul record, which is my favorite Otis album. I chose this song because, although it is a Sad Song, it's rather upbeat and fun. It reminds me that we can find joy even in the most somber things. 

This is an unfinished song that I started working on, along with my friends Jacob Briggs and Dave Coleman. Dave and I recorded the vocals, guitars, and bass at Howards Apartment Studio here in Nashville (Dave's studio), drums and horns were cut in Richmond, VA, at River Wash Studio (Jacob's Studio). Horns were provided by Marcus Tenney, who plays in one of my favorite jazz bands right now, Butcher Brown

This recording is rough mixed and the only vocals I cut are scratch vocals, but I think it's still good enough to dance to. There aren't any background vocals either, so feel free to sing along and add your own while you're cutting a rug in your living room. 

Leave a comment. Let me know if you enjoyed it and if it brought a smile to your face. And hit that share button!