Singer/songwriters Kenny Loggins, Georgia Middleman and Gary Burr have created the new band Blue Sky Riders, and were profiled by Huff/Post50 in February. The band will release their debut self-titled album Blue Sky Riders on January 22, 2013 and are chronicling their experiences as a band in this blog.
I spent most of my life living hand to mouth when it came to money. Pursuing this dream of music required my taking the kinds of jobs that would allow me to take gigs at night and co-writing appointments during the day. That meant having NO job security. There were bouts in my life when I said SCREW THAT and took a job with benefits but I only gained weight and felt very unhappy because it locked me into a schedule that made me too tired to spend the time necessary to be a good songwriter. Those jobs never lasted long. Since I never married or had children, I figured if I wanted to live life the hard way, that was my prerogative.
I was an accounts receivable clerk, substitute teacher, data-entry clerk, secretary, waitress, you name it. And while some of those could have turned into full-time jobs, like the Steve Earle song says "I Ain't Ever Satisfied"...so I chose the road less traveled, the one I'd hoped would bring me the aforementioned SATISFACTION.
When I finally got the call from a music publishing company officially offering to sign me as a staff writer, I was 29 years old and waiting tables at a restaurant in Nashville called The Green Hills Grill. I couldn't believe it. I had worked so hard and getting this news was everything I had wanted coming true right then and there. My new songwriting job wouldn't come with benefits but it would guarantee me two full years of a monthly paycheck while I worked my way up the ladder of the music business. While it was wonderful to be under contract, you only STAY under contract if you deliver hit songs or at least songs that go on albums that bring in some dough to the company. Like any other business, if your work isn't adding to the bottom line, you're not needed there. So my job was to figure out how to make myself indispensable.
I remember the day I quit waitressing. I loved that restaurant because it was run by management who cared about their employees. They didn't manage by fear but by empowerment. For example, if I screwed up, they didn't make me pay for my mistake. They just said "Go make it right. Tell the table you'll buy their dinner and give them a coupon for a free dinner next time they come back." And people always came back. It was the kind of place where people knew that they mattered.
So the day I quit, I told Steven, my boss, "I'm really excited about being a professional songwriter but I want you to know that I'm holding on to my waitress uniform, just in case things don't work out."
And what he said, I'll never forget:
It's hard living a life with no safety net. But if the risk pays off, it could be everything you've ever wanted.
Blue Sky Riders used to be a terrifying prospect for me... as amazing as it was to be in a band with Kenny Loggins and Gary Burr, we decided we would be equal partners from the start. That meant that whatever it cost to get this project off the ground would have to come out of all three of our pockets. Just like any new business, it costs quite a bit of money to get a new venture going. I used to panic when we would pay for some kind of marketing we thought we needed and then it didn't work out. I once told our manager, "I can't afford to make these kinds of mistakes!" To which he replied, "Then you shouldn't be starting your own business. You're gonna HAVE to."
At the time we started this band, I had just scored my first big hit song. Which meant for the first time in my life, I finally had some money in the bank. Seeing the potential to lose everything I had been working for my whole life, Kenny found the perfect solution: "We'll work for it. From every Blue Sky Riders show we do, we'll put every dollar we earn into this project. That way, it doesn't come directly out of our pockets... kind of like we'll never see it. Okay?"
Okay. I could live with that.
So we have. We've worked our rear-ends off and for the last two years, we have been supporting this project with our very own Blue Sky Riders money. Because of that, we now have a team of incredibly talented people we have assembled who are working just as hard as we are. Sometimes our expenses exceed our income, but just like my whole life before this band, every time I was at the point when I didn't know where the next dollar was going to come from, suddenly a new opportunity appeared. I guess that has to do with having faith.
Faith has kept me going my whole life... no reason to give up on it now.