Skitchin’ a ride with the fireflies in August


Chasing fireflies and skitching a ride one summer night. Photo by Harvey Robinson

The photo is by my friend Harvey Robinson. He wanted to try out some low light camera tricks in his neighborhood, and I’d always wanted to skitch a ride on the back of a pick up truck, so we put the two together. The result: Chasing fireflies on a cool summer night. Feels like a fitting, goodbye postcard for summer. And I’m looking forward to the shows this month, going east to west and back again, playing music in some new and soon to be favorite venues.

Songwriter’s showcase in revitalized downtown Cary
8 pm Friday August 11

Tickets available online

Pre-ballgame party in the grass at the BB&T Ballpark in Winston Salem, NC
Thursday August 17

Tickets available online

A benefit concert for Minerva Garcia at LeBauer Park in Greensboro, NC
6 pm Sunday, August 20

Follow Minerva’s story in Triad City Beat

The Carolina Ramble Revue Valle Crucis Community Park in Banner Elk, NC
6:30 to 9 pm Friday, August 25

Information online

Kayak Concerts. Floating around on a lake in a boat with a guitar and Laurelyn Dossett. This event is already sold out! But follow GetOutdoors:Paddlesports on Facebook for news and updates on this new concert series.
Sunday August 27

Follow GetOutdoors:Paddlesports on Facebook

Back in my home kitchen with Wurlitzer Prize at Lucky 32 in Greensboro, NC
6 to 9 pm Tuesday August 29

Live music every Tuesday

The Worry & The Joy: How a sleepless night became a song



I am an early riser. Usually awake, eyes closed, before the sun comes up. I’ll stay in bed and listen for the first bird to sing. It’s my favorite thing. I’ll picture a bird standing in a tree, chest out, singing, beaming, and I’ll send it a high five (a high wing?). The first bird to sing in the morning is the bravest bird, I think.

There was a string of days last summer when I wasn’t sleeping at all. Nothing worked. I’d just lay in bed, saying rosaries, listing all the things I was grateful for in alphabetical order. One night I just got up, opened a notebook and started writing things down.

A few days later I was talking about it with musician and songwriter Dave Willis, wondering if there was a song in there.

Days later he texted a phone recording he’d made. I could barely hear the thing, so I pressed the phone hard against to my ear to make it out. As I listened, I smiled. That was it. It was a song, but we’d need to hurry it up to get it on the the record we were making for our band, Wurlitzer Prize.

On a hot July day, on the last day of recording, I was driving I-40 from Greensboro to Winston, singing, working out the harmony and writing the second verse. I walked into the studio and Willis, Jared Church and Brent Buckner and I literally put the song together as engineer Doug Williams at Electromagnetic Radiation Recorders wrangled the board.

When I hear that recording now, I can hear my own hesitation, second-guessing the melody, the lyrics I’d written on the car ride over. And that’s what I love about it. You can hear the worry and the joy.

I hope you can hear it, too.

Come celebrate with us “The Worry & The Joy” CD release
Friday April 28 at Doodad Farm in Greensboro, NC
Mama Molasses opens
with special guests from The Piedmont Land Conservancy


Thursday, April 13
Trunky (Transgender Junky), author reading with Sam Peterson
Music with Sam Frazier
LGBTQ Center of Durham, Durham, NC
6:30 to 7:30 pm

Friday, April 21
Wurlitzer Prize
Brews & Bubbles event supports the conservation efforts at the Greensboro Science Center
Greensboro Science Center, Greensboro, NC
7 to 9 pm

Tuesday, April 25
Wurlitzer Prize on Bull City Cosmic Hoedown
WXDU Durham 88.7
7 to 8 pm
Listen in

Friday, April 28
Wurlitzer Prize CD release
Doodad Farm, Greensboro
6:30 to 10 pm

New tune: Slatey Day


Over the last few months, several friends have lost loved ones. Myself included. Heart break inspired this song. At the time, I was struggling to breathe when I wrote it. Posting the lyrics here, hoping you, too, can float for a moment if grief is rocking your boat. Thanks to On Pop of the World Studios and Sam Frazier for helping me put the song out there.

Slatey Day

“How’d you get so high?”
I asked the sky,
“So high and blue.

“Even when the day
goes slatey gray
you’re still blue as the jay.

“And do the clouds
get you down when they start
rumbling around,

“and the storms try
to push you away.

“What makes you stay
so high and blue
on a slatey day?”


And she said, “I’ll tell you

I’ve got a job to do.
When the storms get rough
I’ve got to hold the stars up.

“But I can only be
as strong as what’s holding me.
So if strong’s what you need
go ask the sea.”

So I asked the sea
if it could be
strong enough to hold me.

She said, “I bet you’d float
so give it a go.
Just hold on to me.

“Cause if I hold the sky
and if you’re holding me
that makes you strong as the sea.

“I’ll hold on to you
all you have to do
is hold on to me.


“Because I’ll tell you
I’ve got a job to do
when the storms get rough
I’ve got to hold the sky up.

“But I can only be
as strong as what’s holding me
So I guess that means
You’re strong as the sea.”


Because I’ll tell you
I’ve got a job to do.
When the storms get rough
I’ve got to hold the sea up.

But I can only be
as strong as what’s holding me
So I’ll hold on to the sky
the stars, and the sea.

How to kick up new content ideas

Photo by Edu Lauton

Photo by Edu Lauton

Speakers at the Internet Summit 2016 in Raleigh, NC delivered some fresh idea-starters on the quick.

There’s nothing I love more than a fresh idea. Really. It’s my favorite thing. At its best, a new idea has never been done before. There’s nothing to check, or grade it against. It’s the risky newness that I love.

But sometimes when the daily grind is turning its wheel, you just need something fresh that works. So when I scanned the program at #ISUM16 this year, I went looking for ways to get new content ideas on the quick. A common theme at these things, always, is: “You need great content to rank.” A common thing I hear at work, is: “We need more ideas. Now.”

But nobody really tells you how to do that. Over the two-day conference I heard more than a few things that changed the way I’ll ideate forever, and I packaged them up, just for you.

Google it. Seriously.

Some of the best content ideas show up in the search box with “Google’s People Also Ask” feature, said Arnie Kuenn, CEO of Vertical Measures, a Content Marketing agency. Think of a few keywords related to the topic, product, or idea. Then put your cursor in the box, play with a few words, and see what Google suggests.


google screenshot suggest

Try the Google suggest feature.

Try it out

  • What other words would a Googler use to find the content you’re trying to create?


Do a quick video

You can go from idea to publish really quickly with Facebook’s video tools. The Mannequin Challenge is a video trend that anyone with a camera can pull off. You just need a smartphone and everybody in the office to chill for a while.

This one from the Grand Ole Opry, I love. Facebook’s Industry Manager for Global Marketing solutions, Chris Sanders, says you’ve got about 3 seconds to get someone’s attention. So don’t waste those first three seconds on a “fade in.”

  • How many different ways could you use Instagram’s Boomerang to animate a product for your client?
  • Setting up for a photo shoot? Use Instagram’s Hyperlapse.


Look at something that performed really well and duplicate it

It’s really that simple. You don’t always need to go all Rick Rubin on it and meditate for days. Review the article or idea that performed really well and make it happen for something else.

  • Get a report on the five top performing articles for your client. Was it a “How To?” A cool profile on a trending topic, like tiny houses, or a short profile on a thought leader? How would you do something similar for story ideas you’ve been tasked with?


Start with “What if?”

Hassan Ali has a super rad job. The Creative Marketing Director for Onion Inc. shared a piece of native advertising his group did for Scott’s lawn care. Fertilizer for your lawn doesn’t exactly scream “hipster” or “millennial,” so Ali said they started with “What do millenial’s love? They love Airbnb.” The brainstorm that started with “What if?” ended with a spoof on Airbnb called Lawnbnb.



  • Think about ideas or questions, that you’d actually see yourself posting on Facebook. Ali suggested posting a few vague queries on your own personal page, to gauge interest, but not give away the idea.
  • Think about how your idea might appear if it was published on another publisher, like Buzzfeed, The Onion, or a free publisher, like Medium. What would the headline be?


 Start with the most ridiculous idea you can think of and back down

 Mike Albanese is a comedian, writer, a big buy, and a big thinker, who believes you need to risk everything to get that next big idea. He uses a ladder approach for ideas.

Picture a ladder, leaned up against a wall. If you started climbing up that ladder, you’d start at the bottom and slowly, tentatively climb your way up.

Now try something different. Start at the top of that idea ladder. Start with the most ridiculous thing you can think of and back your way down to the ground. Chances are you’ll end up somewhere completely new.

Albanese showed KMART’s “Ship My Pants” spot, which was so well equally loved and hated the spot was banned. Brookside’s #talkaboutdelicious showed a spokesperson reading snarky tweets in the spot, and responded. Both were risky and effective.

  • What’s the riskiest idea you can think of? Where does it end up when you talk that idea down off the top of the ladder?

Got it? Then get up from your desk. Go for a walk. Get some fresh air. You won’t need a sugar boost from the vending machine to get cranking from here.

I get to do this for a living at Pace Communications. Need some ideas yourself? I’d love to help. Email me at


Fly Unto Thee


The Memorare

O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known that any one who fled to thy protection,
implored thy help or sought thy intercession,
was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence,
I fly unto thee,
O Virgin of virgins my Mother;
to thee do I come,
before thee I stand,
sinful and sorrowful;
O Mother of thy Word Incarnate,
despise not my petitions,
but in thy clemency hear and answer me.