A Place in the Farm Life

There’s a certain haunting feeling when I roam through an old town in rural NC. The fading signs of a once-booming tobacco market always conjure up images of times when farmers were optimistic, and saw perhaps some of the most prosperous days known to that lifestyle.

Candidly, my experience of working with conventional farm operations showed me how staggering it can be for a young person to attempt to enter farming, especially if not born into it.  And those who are born into it are likely to leave the family farm, even sell the land, just to escape the hard lifestyle.  And who could fault them?  Modern day farming can mean having the stress of government & environmental regulations, contracting with corporations, inaccurate public perceptions, and of course dodging that age-old adversary: weather. Maybe it was growing up in a culture around folks who stuck to farm life despite these circumstances that made me want to try my hand; to see what made it all worth doing.  But there seemed no feasible way for me to step into this direction.  The more time passed, the more mouths to feed I became responsible for, the less likely it seemed I’d ever really have my own farm life experience.  Were the hopes of first generation, wannabe farmers like me, fading like the old tobacco warehouses in those old towns I roamed?  And why did I always have this feeling there was a better way to get more harvest off of small acreage? 

I was not born into a farming family and for a large part of life, wanted nothing to do with farming.  But fortunately, things do change as we live, grow, and experience life.  I know my mind changed somewhere in there. Must have been my twenties, after I’d  worked several different jobs with local farmers, both conventional and not-so-conventional. The work, the land, the people, and the unique moments, changed my perspective indelibly.  In this same time period I met and married my (amazing) wife, April, who does come from a farming family.  I couldn’t have known how this would impact us.   Eventually, through a winding path, it brought us to a point in life where we now find ourselves excited about beginning our own farm lifestyle.


Causing a little controversy, Joel took his family farm, Polyface Farms, and  experimented with a permaculture approach and found ways to get so much more than average out of a piece of land.  Now before I type and delete a dozen lines in attempts to sound like I know what I’m talking about, let me just recommend you visit polyfacefarms.com. Also, taking a tour of their farm is worth anyone’s time whose interested in ag, the environment, whole foods, business and marketing, science, history, and….well anything worth thinking about.

Bottom line: Joel’s work made my dreams of a profitable farming life suddenly seem within reach.

So while I have to keep my main focus on my music where it belongs, I look forward to breaking this new ground with my family.  We intend to try, fail, and try some more to work with our few acres to develop more of an “asset mindset”.  To be folks who know what it takes to get food from the field to the table.  With conventional farmers making up less than 10% of our population, maybe the best thing we can do is shoulder some of the load. And I think most of us have seen the importance of knowing where our food comes from in recent times.  Some will call this Homesteading; I call it taking responsibility.  

To Record or not to Record?

Recording music has become an accepted practice since the early 1900’s.  There was once a rather eccentric man in the 1940’s who sought to derail the whole recording industry while it was still in it’s infancy. James Petrillo was a wealthy man who tried using his pool of resources to knock the business of recording music right off it’s tracks. He held the position that music and the pursuits of, would be ruined by a recording industry. I will let the reader form their own opinion as to whether Mr. Petrillo was a lunatic or prescient.

I can however, offer my perspective.  Recording does have a significant influence on who, what, when, where, and why an artist makes music.  So many questions pop up about every little detail of any given song when the record button is hit.  It can be a bit maddening (The post-mixing is the part that really gets to me!).

Nevertheless, I have squeaked out a few recordings over the past few years.  It has taken some real trial and error finding the right fit for each project.  I have to mention here my sincere appreciation to the studio guys who have helped me make my songs into finished product.  I have worked with Chris Bellamy, Cliff Swanhart, Robert Ahrens, Richard Lawton, and most recently Mike Rose, to make my originals into recordings I can be proud of. These guys are some really talented, and patient music-minds.  They not only have to have the technical know-how, but also need to be able to interpret the music in order to record and mix it without losing the “feel”.  I have been fortunate in finding people like this to help bring my songs to new listeners through these recordings. 

There will be a noticeable difference in the overall vibe of each recording and I think that will add flavor to the whole catalog of my original music.  My latest ventures with Mike Rose, at his Audio Farm studio, included a little bonus; he brought in, none other than, Clyde Mattocks, legendary steel guitarist and all around top notch musician from NC.  Clyde was good enough to sprinkle in some tasteful dobro playing and also put on his Producer Hat during mixing.  Always good to have “a little extry” input from a seasoned picker like Mr. Mattocks. 

So now, please sample the downloads available here on my site and enjoy some of my home-grown music! And let’s try not to worry much about Mr. Petrillo’s theory, shall we?

Click here for MUSIC DOWNLOADS.

The Honest Offering

So many of us are looking at this Spring of ’21, hoping for a better future.  For me, I want to be more committed to sharing my original songs.  Although I have put some of my songs on the market, I was only putting a lukewarm effort into that process.  But this year I have resolved to be more bold in my musical pursuits, and so here we are.  I know my music can’t be everybody’s favorite but I hope everybody will enjoy the process of trying something new as much as I am.

The path up to this point has been much like Emerson wrote of the ship that tacks back and forth. It seems to be wandering but seen from a distance, it has a definite direction.

I love a song.  Always have.  In time I began to search for the more pure and raw forms of music.  This would eventually draw me to the Singer-Songwriter community, especially the Texas music scene.  Hearing a song in it’s original context, and the original emotion infused into the lyrics, somehow brought me deeper and closer to music (check out legendary songwriter Tony Arata doing “The Dance” made famous by Garth Brooks).  Being in the music biz already (I wrote in another blog about my experiences teaching music), I began looking for ways to get involved with helping to promote these songs and their writers.  I was thrilled to find my own home state of North Carolina was also home to a plethera of rootsy, genuine, dedicated songwriters.  I poured my energy into hosting radio and TV shows, seminars, and live showcases, all in hopes of spotlighting songwriters and their music. And I loved every minute of it. But somehow I turned all of this work into justification for not sharing my own songs, at least not whole-heartedly.  And that nagging truth never left me.  I was holding back in a cowardly way and I knew it. Music is something to be shared and our offering don’t have to be perfect, just honest.

I hope now in this amazing chapter that is what I offer to life; an honest love for music. 



It’s hard to describe what songwriting feels like. It’s a mysterious balance of imagery, musicianship, and vibe.

It is this very mystery that has drawn me to the idea of songwriting workshops for a while now. Often we can find a little more light being shed on a topic by hearing others simply talk about the same issues we have. Workshops are ideal for this experience. This was reiterated to me recently when I did a workshop in Nashville with legendary songwriter, Verlon Thompson. But we didn’t simply talk about songs, we dissected them and gained nuggets of wisdom on what makes a great song tick.

If I had a desire to do workshops before I went to Verlon’s classes, I was tenfold fired up about the idea afterwards.

So, here in Jacksonville, NC we will have our first Songwriter Showcase and Workshop. This will be ideal for North Carolina Songwriters whether experienced, novice, or even if you’re simply a music enthusiast intrigued by the inner workings of a song.


The events of the day will include:

  • Singer Songwriter Showcase featuring a performance by Chris Bellamy who has had eight #1 hits on Internet radio, as well as being in Artist Development with Silver Buckle Records in Fort Worth, TX.
  • Catered meal and mixer hour to mingle with music industry professionals as well other songwriters.
  • Songwriting exercises with award winning singer songwriter, John Jones.
  • A Songwriter Circle where everyone is encouraged to share their music and get feedback and direction for honing their craft.

Portions of the day’s performances will be recorded for TV and aired on The Earl Jones Music Revue.

I probably don’t have to tell you this kind of event is rare around eastern NC so don’t miss out on this!

In doing a live music segment on FM radio the past few years, I have found there are some very talented singer-songwriters in my home state, NC, and I have a passion for bringing their new music to an audience. So come to this event and let’s all learn together about the art, as well as the business side, of this amazing journey called Songwriting.