5. Becoming a fan of, advertiser in, then contributor to podcasts.
tumblr_static_a9j8gudrvhssoggowsg8o84c8I use the site absolutepunk.net more than anything else on the world wide web. More than Google. Naturally, I checked out the AbsolutePunk Podcast when it debuted. I didn’t yet have a podcast-listening-lifestyle though, so I listened to episodes sporadically and hardly ever finished them. That changed somewhere in 2014 when I was sitting down at a desk for long enough periods of time to actually listen to entire episodes. Then came the deal-sealers that really solidified my commitment to the podcast, (which has sense been rebranded as Encore Podcast): namely, when hosts Jason and Thomas discussed comments I’d made or questions I’d asked in the website forums. (As I’ll discuss in Memorable Moment #3, I also had paid ads in two episodes of Encore, which was lovely and totally worth it. Oh, and other highly memorable moments of the year include all of Thomas’s Tom DeLonge jokes.) Throughout 2015, I’ve become an avid fan of other podcasts, such as The Reformed Pubcast, The Briefing with Albert Mohler, and Ask Pastor John. (Biking + podcasts = happiness.) Another important podcast was actually first recommended to me via Encore: Off the Record, hosted by Zack Zarillo and Jesse Cannon. However, when Zack had to quit, Jesse began looking for contributors to the podcast. I applied…and I made the cut! I joined a group of six or so music-lovers from across the states to help put together expansive new episodes. One episode covering van robberies, which I contributed two interviews to, became one of Off the Record’s most listened to episodes ever! It’s been a joy to be a part of and I hope I can continue finding the time to contribute more in the future.

4. Hicksville, Weekend #3.
Screen Shot 2016-01-16 at 1.30.32 AMMy three consecutive weekends traveling out to Hicksville, (the plot of land owned by the Hicks family in Ector, TX) included many things: driving a tractor for the first time in 8 years and a golf cart for my first time ever, learning to mow with a zero turn (which was as fun as most roller coasters), paint-balling for the first and probably the last time, re-watching American Hustle, learning how to properly shoot a pistol, collecting wood with which I’d later attempt to build a bonfire, and even more. However, all of this simply led up to the main event of seeing one of my best friends get married. This was also my first time to ever be in a wedding party, in which I enjoyed the faux-position of Assistant to the Best Man (along with being a regular Groomsmen). I had another responsibility as well: wedding DJ. So even though I had to forgo my love of dancing, I had the pleasure of preparing a playlist for the new bride and groom and helping turn their reception into a grand ole party. I was also contagiously sick during the wedding, so it worked out splendidly that I spent the reception in isolation from the other guests, with a prime directive of not getting the newlyweds sick before their honeymoon. The evening was topped off with a ride home from an old friend (who sings on track 4 of my album) where we had the pleasure of catching up throughout the hour-and-a-half late night drive home.

3. Starting the Ours By Accident Song Shop.
cover for bandcampIf you’ve ever read my blog and wondered, “Why in the world is this blog titled Ours By Accident Song Shop?”, allow me to give you a brief history lesson. In January, as I foresaw my job situation coming to a close, I began scheming my next business plan. Taking the idea of Max Bemis’ song shop up a notch, I came of with the idea of writing personalized songs for people. Do you want a song for your wife that’s about your wife in the style of her favorite artist? Gotcha. Do you want an uplifting tune to help get you through a dry spot? I’d be honored! That’s basically how it went, and I got my first wave of customers thanks to an advertisement in an episode of the AbsolutePunk Podcast. With a client base from that website, I was fulfilling requests in the styles of The Wonder Years, Motion City Soundtrack, The Ghost Inside, and so on. Since then, styles have expanded to Ryan Adams, Frank Sinatra, Coldplay, and even Ice Cube/N.W.A. I’ve said this before, but writing these songs for such a specific purpose has really revitalized my love for songwriting, reminding me of the power of music and why doing this can be so important. Some of these songs have been all-time favorites of mine, and I’ve even managed to maintain friendships with some of these “customers,” specifically an awesome girl named Chloe with whom I have frequent Twitter-blasting conversations. If you’re interested in hearing portions of songs I’ve made and reading people’s responses, click here.

2. Road-tripping to Nashville and making the decision to move there.
Screen Shot 2016-01-16 at 1.44.28 AMFrom November 1-4, my brother and I took off from work to spend two days and three nights in Nashville, Tennessee, a dream-location for our musical aspirations. We’d been spitballing for years about potentially moving there, but I’d never even seen the place before. That road trip ended up being some of the most magical few days of the year, getting to see the town that, in a few days from writing this, will be my new home. You can read my extensive discourse about our time in Nashville here.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Okay, so these honorable mentions aren’t really spots #16 or #17, they’re just two great memories that slipped my mind and completely missed the opportunity to be considered for this list. My memory’s not that great anyway, so there are other awesome things that happened in 2015 I’m surely forgetting.
  • The Ours By Accident concert and my Starbucks friends. Across the street, a mere 4-minute walk from my apartment, there’s a Starbucks. I forewent having internet for a few months of living in this apartment, so I regularly visited Starbucks for its wifi. Becoming a regular, I soon befriended all the baristas and managers there, and I continued to maintain relationships with the store’s revolving door of employees over the course of the year. One of those friends was Samuel, previously of the band Good Boy (now performing with the band Daisy), and back in June he told me about a 3-hour concert set Good Boy was booked for. Yet seeing as they only had two hours of material, Samuel asked me to open up the first hour. I gladly accepted, which turned out to be the only Ours By Accident concert all year. It was an absolute blast. I played a 12-song set, made some new fans, had a lot of friends show up, and sold more copies of my album than I had ever done before in a single night. Best of all, I got paid in pizza!
  • Devoted. The church I attend hosts a Thursday night service for young adults called Devoted. It used to be a pretty big deal, with a large weekly attendance and high production value. It has since become smaller, less showy and more intimate, naturally losing numbers during that transition. I think the change has been for the better, but there was a season back in March/April when Devoted had lost most of its regular worship leaders. I noticed that the music coordinator had begun scrambling for help, sometimes asking me to lead with only 10 hours notice. I decided to volunteer to take over his duties as music coordinator, which led to a time-consuming yet ultimately highly rewarding eight months of preparing the music for every Thursday service: choosing and ordering songs, gathering together musicians, practicing beforehand, etc. This gave me the joy of playing with my good friends Michael and Kade nearly every week, giving new friends and church members opportunities to serve and sometimes helping new singers overcome their stage fright. There was no better way I could have spent all my Thursday evenings throughout the year.

1. Planning a perfectly romantic first kiss.
imageI like to consider myself a romantic. My mom did an admirable job raising me on chick flicks. Much like the son from Crazy, Stupid, Love. (which was the final film I watched in 2015), I believe in embarrassingly large public gestures of love. (And I’m not referring to PDA.) And for once in my life, I feel like I actually did a pretty good job at pulling one of these gestures off. You see, there’s this girl. I met her in June through a cosmically unlikely series of events, and we’ve stayed in touch since July after another series of unlikely events led to me befriending her brother (before I even realized they were related). When I began falling for her, I had to make it clear up front that the chance of me moving out of the state was looming on the horizon. We agreed not to date any further or commit to a relationship unless we were both ready and willing to go long-distance with it. We decided we were ready, so while out exploring downtown Fort Worth on September 19, while I twirled her around in a music-less dance atop an old fountain that had presumably been shut off for years, I asked her to be my girlfriend. Nearly two months later, while roaming through downtown Fort Worth once again, I led her around buildings she’d never seen before on a very strange and out-of-the-way path. She couldn’t tell I was leading us around to come upon the fountain from the opposite direction; thus she didn’t realize we were back at that same fountain until we were just a few feet away. Having received her approval, about a week or two prior, to kiss her whenever I felt the time was right, I spun her around and slowly bent down for a quick peck on the lips: our first kiss. It was a glimpse of perfection in an otherwise imperfect world, and one of many beautiful moments that makes me happily excited for what’s to come in 2016.

Enjoying the blog? I’ll be taking a break from writing for the rest of January, which means I’ll be living in Nashville when you hear from me again. If you want to keep up, use the buttons in the footer to subscribe!