Tag Archives: Brad Paisley

Bring One Of These To Your Next Cowrite (Or You’ll Be Sorry)

Let me tell you a tale of two cowrites, both from my early “pro” days. First… the bad cowrite.  It was a nightmare…

I was signed with Major Bob Music at the time, and “Monday Morning Church” had recently been a top 5 country hit for Alan Jackson.  But in spite of having a publishing deal and a hit under my belt, I was still pretty much a newbie trying to figure things out.  (I still feel that way to be honest.)  Anyway, Major Bob hooked me up to cowrite with a legit hit songwriter.  This guy had many cuts and hits to his credit, and I was honored to get in a room with him.

We met at his publishing company on Music Row.  After a little chit chat, he got that familiar look on his face.

“So… got any ideas?”  No.  Not really.

I mean, I had a bunch of hooks and some ideas, but nothing great.  Nothing I was busting a gut to write.  And I apparently didn’t have anything that impressed him, either.  After I threw out several “shoulder-shruggers,” he said, “Man, we need an idea like ‘Monday Morning Church.'”  Too bad.  I must have left my stack of “Monday Morning Church” ideas at home that morning.

We chatted some more, eventually moving out to the porch where he smoked a cigarette and I watched my hopes of making a good impression going up in smoke.  We called it a day.  I call it a failure of preparation on my part.  We’ve never written again.  For me, I was embarrassed and in no hurry to risk wasting his time again.

Now for the good cowrite.

________________________________

To BE a pro, you need to THINK like a pro, and this FREE ebook will help transform your thinking, your songwriting, and your success.  Get it today!

Click Here For The Book _________________________________

I met Byron Hill at Chad Green’s ASCAP Country Workshop.  And, if I remember correctly, Carla Wallace at Big Yellow Dog Music also helped connect us.  We got a cowrite on the books, and I was pumped.  Byron has written a bunch of hits including, “Fool Hearted Memory” for George Strait, “Born Country” for Alabama, “Politics Religion & Her” for Sammy Kershaw and many, many more.

This time, I did my homework.  I pulled together several ideas and lyrics that I thought he’d like.  I really wanted to make a good impression on him. When Byron asked, “So… got any ideas?” I was ready.  He loved a lyric sketch I brought in called, “Ring On The Bar,” and we were off to the races.

This first cowrite led to some success and more opportunity.  While “Ring On The Bar” hasn’t been a big hit yet, it’s been recorded by John Pierce (RCA), James Dupre’ (The Voice), and has been on hold by several artists, including Brad Paisley.

But the big thing is that Byron and I went on to write several more songs together, including the 2014 Canadian Country Music Awards Single Of The Year (and my first #1) “When Your Lips Are So Close” with artist, Gord Bamford.

Good thing I showed up with a good idea on that first day, huh?

And that brings me to the point of these two stories.  I believe that a strong idea is the most valuable thing you can bring to a cowrite (other than Tom Douglas).  “Well,” you might say, “how come these big-time songwriters didn’t throw out any of THEIR ideas?”  Here’s why:

A great idea is sometimes the only thing a newer songwriter has to offer a seasoned pro.

Let’s face it, if you get to write with an established pro songwriter, what do THEY need from YOU?

new songwriter offer pro

They have a more valuable name in the business.  They have more connections.  They most likely bring a higher level of songwriting skill.  The only thing they need is a fresh, cool idea or melody.  Unless you’re swinging around a big fat record deal, your job is to bring in the idea or the start of a song.

If the pro has a great idea, he surely has several proven, established cowriters or artists who could write it with him.  Why risk giving 50% of HIS idea to a songwriter who might not contribute very much?

Let me tell you, it’s more fun (and profitable) when you have a strong answer for “got any ideas?” – and I want you to be prepared when that question comes your way.  And that question doesn’t need a good answer ONLY if you get a pro cowrite.  That question comes up in EVERY cowrite.  Every time you step into the writing room, you have the opportunity to blow away your cowriter with a great nugget or idea.

Feeling like I have a stack of strong ideas allows me to walk into any cowrite with confidence.  We might not always write my idea, but I came prepared… and my cowriter knows it and appreciates it.

I want YOU to have that confidence – and those results, too.  I want your cowriters to be glad they showed up to write with you.  But I DON’T want you to have to go through years of trial, error and the occasional embarrassing cowrite like I did!

That’s why, in the month of January, I’m hosting a transformative online songwriting event called, “Building A Hit: From Blank Page To Finished Lyric.” In this powerful 4-week online workshop, I reveal: How to find great song ideas. Kill writers block and fill up that blank page again and again.  Always have an answer for, “So… got any ideas?” How to focus your ideas for maximum impact. Don’t waste any more great ideas by leaving them under-developed or confusing. How to frame your ideas for maximum commercial appeal. Having a great, compelling idea isn’t enough. You have to build your song in a way that an artist will want to sing it and an audience will want to hear it. How to finish your song. Stop leaving your best ideas unfinished! Nobody loves a song they never hear, and a song that’s only 99% finished will never get recorded, get on the radio, or change your life.  Stop leaving your success to gather dust, unfinished, in some old notebook. If you want to join me on a journey that will help you think and write like a pro songwriter, click on the link below. Spots are limited for this event, and I only host it twice a year. Miss out, and it’s gone for another 6 months. Don’t delay- THE DEADLINE TO RESERVE YOUR SPOT IS THIS SATURDAY!

DON’T MISS OUT- CLICK HERE TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS GREAT OPPORTUNITY.  THE DEADLINE TO RESERVE YOUR SPOT IS SATURDAY, DECEMBER 30!

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US, a #1 in Canada & a top 10 in Texas… so far. SWP 4

Hey, I Remember That!

SWP 2

It’s not about you.  It’s about the listener.  What’s in it for the listener?

As we began discussing a few weeks ago (READ IT HERE), successful songwriters know it’s not about us- it’s about the listener.  When it comes to your song, what’s in it for the listener?  What’s going to make them stick around till the end and hit “repeat?”

If your song doesn’t have something in it for the listener, there’s no money in it for you.

Yep.  I’ve said that over the past few weeks, and I’m gonna keep saying it till I finally run out of this series!

So I’ve been pointing out some things you can build into your songs that can connect with your listeners.  So far, we’ve discussed “It’s What I Want To Hear” and “It’s What I Want To Say.” and “That’s Who I Am.” and Give The Listener Great Advice!”    This week, let’s talk about…

all about the listener

“Hey, I remember that!”

A powerful way to connect with a listener is to push the nostalgia button.  Take the listener back to a point in their past that they recall fondly.  Use your song like a time machine.

When you do this effectively, your listener isn’t so much connecting to your song as connecting to their own past THROUGH your song.  This can be very powerful.  Let’s look at a few examples.

“Boys Of Fall”

by Kenny Chesney (written by Casey Beathard, Dave Turnbull).  This song takes me back to playing high school football.  It takes me back to running through a banner, the taste of grass in my mouthpiece, all of it.  It makes me miss those days.  Love that song.  It makes me think of my teammates like Steve Caughron, Willy Kuykendall, and Brian Krug.  Good times.

“19 Something”

by Mark Wills (written by David Lee, Chris DuBois).  This song describes a lot of my formative years.  Big hair, parachute pants and Stretch Armstrong all conjure up childhood memories.  It’s fun to remember when getting a microwave was a big deal.  The Challenger disaster is definitely NOT a feel-good reference, but it takes me back to intermediate school, watching it on a big TV rolled into the classroom on a big cart.

“Every Head Bowed”

I dug into my own history and nostalgia for a song I had recorded by Randy Travis, “Every Head Bowed” on Randy’s “Around The Bend” album.

Randy Travis- Every Head Bowed

Twinkies, corduroy coats, clip-on ties and “I Surrender All” each make me recall growing up going to Calvary Baptist Church back in Batesville, Arkansas.  And I know my cowriter, Brandon Kinney, had a lot of the same experiences at his home church back in Texas.  Mining our nostalgia made the song more real, which helped it connect to Randy- and hopefully to a lot of other people, too.

“Old Alabama” “Doin’ It To Country Songs”

by Brad Paisley (written by Brad Paisley, Dave Turnbull, Chris DuBois, Randy Owen) and “Doing It To Country Songs” by Blake Shelton (written by Marty Dodson, Jacob Lyda, Paul Overstreet) each use nostalgic artists to bring an extra “smile” to the songs.  Paisley, of course, builds his song around classic Alabama hits.  Blake doesn’t reference The Oak Ridge Boys in his song, but they add their distinctive sound to the record.

Most longtime country fans probably don’t hear Alabama or Oak Ridge Boys music that often these days, so these newer songs remind us of hits like “Mountain Music,” “Elvira” and others.

So one way to make your song more “cut/able” is to have your lyric connect the listener to his or her own past.

So here’s your homework.  Turn on the radio or your favorite playlist- or dig through your stack of favorite albums.  Find a song or two that answers the question, “What’s in it for the listener?” with “Hey, I remember that!”  Please leave a comment and let me know what you discovered!

If you want your songs to be more “cut/able” – able to be cut – then you should definitely check out my new, expanded and upgraded version of “Cut/able: Lessons In Market Smart Songwriting.” It’s five powerful lessons will help you write songs that artists want to sing, radio wants to play, and listeners want to hear! CLICK HERE TO WRITE CUT/ABLE SONGS.

cutable-2-3d-cover-large

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent

Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.

SWP 4

You’ll Probably Regret Not Bringing This To Your Next Cowrite

This is an encore edition of a recent blog post.  I’m re-releasing it for two reasons: 1) it’s a really important topic and 2) I have a great opportunity for you at the end of it.  Thanks! -Brent

cropped-SWP-2.jpg

Let me tell you a tale of two cowrites, both from my early “pro” days. First… the bad cowrite.

I was signed with Major Bob Music at the time, and “Monday Morning Church” had recently been a top 5 country hit for Alan Jackson.  But in spite of having a publishing deal and a hit under my belt, I was still pretty much a newbie trying to figure things out.  (I still feel that way to be honest.)  Anyway, Major Bob hooked me up to cowrite with a legit hit songwriter.  This guy had many cuts and hits to his credit, and I was honored to get in a room with him.

We met at his publishing company on Music Row.  After a little chit chat, he got that familiar look on his face.

“So… got any ideas?”  No.  Not really.

I mean, I had a bunch of hooks and some ideas, but nothing great.  Nothing I was busting a gut to write.  And I apparently didn’t have anything that impressed him, either.  After I threw out several “shoulder-shruggers,” he said, “Man, we need an idea like ‘Monday Morning Church.'”  Too bad.  I must have left my stack of “Monday Morning Church” ideas at home that morning.

We chatted some more, eventually moving out to the porch where he smoked a cigarette and I watched my hopes of making a good impression going up in smoke.  We called it a day.  I call it a failure of preparation on my part.  We’ve never written again.  For me, I was embarrassed and in no hurry to risk wasting his time again.

Now for the good cowrite.

cropped-SWP-2.jpg

I met Byron Hill at Chad Green’s ASCAP Country Workshop.  And, if I remember correctly, Carla Wallace at Big Yellow Dog Music also helped connect us.  We got a cowrite on the books, and I was pumped.  Byron has written a bunch of hits including, “Fool Hearted Memory” for George Strait, “Born Country” for Alabama, “Politics Religion & Her” for Sammy Kershaw and many, many more.

I did my homework.  I pulled together several ideas and lyrics that I thought he’d like.  I really wanted to make a good impression on him. When Byron asked, “So… got any ideas?” I was ready.  He loved a lyric sketch I brought in called, “Ring On The Bar,” and we were off to the races.

This first cowrite led to some success and more opportunity.  While “Ring On The Bar” hasn’t been a big hit yet, it’s been recorded by John Pierce (RCA), James Dupre’ (The Voice), and has been on hold by several artists, including Brad Paisley.

But the big thing is that Byron and I went on to write several more songs together, including the 2014 Canadian Country Music Awards Single Of The Year (and my first #1) “When Your Lips Are So Close” with Gord Bamford.

Good thing I showed up with a good idea on that first day, huh?

And that brings me to the point of these two stories.  I believe that a strong idea is the most valuable thing you can bring to a cowrite (other than Kris Kristofferson).  “Well,” you might say, “how come these big-time songwriters didn’t throw out any of THEIR ideas?”  Here’s why:

A great idea is really the only thing a newer songwriter has to offer a seasoned pro.

Let’s face it, if you get to write with an established pro songwriter, what do THEY need from YOU?

new songwriter offer pro

They have a more valuable name in the business.  They have more connections.  They most likely bring a higher level of songwriting skill.  The only thing they need is a fresh, cool idea or melody.  Unless you’re swinging around a big fat record deal, your job is to bring in the idea or the start of a song.

If the pro has a great idea, he surely has several proven, established cowriters who could write it with him.  Why risk giving 50% of HIS idea to a songwriter who might not contribute very much?

Let me tell you, it’s more fun (and profitable) when you have a strong answer for “got any ideas?” – and I want you to be prepared when that question comes your way.  And that question doesn’t need a good answer ONLY if you get a pro cowrite.  That question comes up in EVERY cowrite.  Every time you step into the writing room, you have the opportunity to blow away your cowriter with a great nugget or idea.

Feeling like I have a stack of strong ideas allows me to walk into any cowrite with confidence.  We might not always write my idea, but I came prepared… and my cowriter knows it and appreciates it.

I want YOU to have that confidence – and those results, too.  I want your cowriters to be glad they showed up to write with you.  But I DON’T want you to have to go through years of trial, error and the occasional embarrassing cowrite like I did!  That’s why I dive deeply into the topic in my upcoming web-workshop series in August called “Song Ideas: From Blank Page To Finished Lyric.”

Blank 2 Finished

This course is designed to take you from a blank page to a new song idea to a fully developed concept to a finished lyric. You’ll learn a repeatable process you can use to discover and develop strong song ideas again and again. And you’ll also learn how to frame and focus those ideas for maximum commercial impact and appeal.

This course is INTERACTIVE! You won’t sit back and just stare at me talking for an hour-and-a-half. You won’t be some number on my dashboard. No. We’ll be face-to-face. You’ll have exercises to practice outside of our sessions. I’ll ask you questions. You can ask me questions. We’re in this thing together. That’s why I keep the workshops small- I want to get to know YOU!

Tickets for this event are on sale NOW. There are only 11 spots open, and I expect them to go fast- so don’t wait too long and miss your chance to take your songwriting to the next level!

I look forward to seeing you in August- CLICK HERE or on the image below to learn more and reserve your spot now!

Blank 2 Finished

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent

Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.

SWP 4

The Most Valuable Thing You Can Bring To A Cowrite

Man vs. PRO

Let me tell you a tale of two cowrites, both from my early “pro” days. First… the bad cowrite.

I was signed with Major Bob Music at the time, and “Monday Morning Church” had recently been a top 5 country hit for Alan Jackson.  But in spite of having a publishing deal and a hit under my belt, I was still pretty much a newbie trying to figure things out.  (I still feel that way to be honest.)  Anyway, Major Bob hooked me up to cowrite with a legit hit songwriter.  This guy had many cuts and hits to his credit, and I was honored to get in a room with him.

We met at his publishing company on Music Row.  After a little chit chat, he got that familiar look on his face.

“So… got any ideas?”  No.  Not really.

I mean, I had a bunch of hooks and some ideas, but nothing great.  Nothing I was busting a gut to write.  And I apparently didn’t have anything that impressed him, either.  After I threw out several “shoulder-shruggers,” he said, “Man, we need an idea like ‘Monday Morning Church.'”  Too bad.  I must have left my stack of “Monday Morning Church” ideas at home that morning.

We chatted some more, eventually moving out to the porch where he smoked a cigarette and I watched my hopes of making a good impression going up in smoke.  We called it a day.  I call it a failure of preparation on my part.  We’ve never written again.  For me, I was embarrassed and in no hurry to risk wasting his time again.

Now for the good cowrite.

cropped-SWP-2.jpg

I met Byron Hill at Chad Green’s ASCAP Country Workshop.  And, if I remember correctly, Carla Wallace at Big Yellow Dog Music also helped connect us.  We got a cowrite on the books, and I was pumped.  Byron has written a bunch of hits including, “Fool Hearted Memory” for George Strait, “Born Country” for Alabama, “Politics Religion & Her” for Sammy Kershaw and many, many more.

I did my homework.  I pulled together several ideas and lyrics that I thought he’d like.  I really wanted to make a good impression on him. When Byron asked, “So… got any ideas?” I was ready.  He loved a lyric sketch I brought in called, “Ring On The Bar,” and we were off to the races.

This first cowrite led to some success and more opportunity.  While “Ring On The Bar” hasn’t been a big hit yet, it’s been recorded by John Pierce (RCA), James Dupre’ (The Voice), and has been on hold by several artists, including Brad Paisley.

But the big thing is that Byron and I went on to write several more songs together, including the 2014 Canadian Country Music Awards Single Of The Year (and my first #1) “When Your Lips Are So Close” with Gord Bamford.

Good thing I showed up with a good idea on that first day, huh?

And that brings me to the point of these two stories.  I believe that a strong idea is the most valuable thing you can bring to a cowrite (other than Kris Kristofferson).  “Well,” you might say, “how come these big-time songwriters didn’t throw out any of THEIR ideas?”  Here’s why:

A great idea is really the only thing a newer songwriter has to offer a seasoned pro.

Let’s face it, if you get to write with an established pro songwriter, what do THEY need from YOU?

They have a more valuable name in the business.  They have more connections.  They most likely bring a higher level of songwriting skill.  The only thing they need is a fresh, cool idea or melody.  Unless you’re swinging around a big fat record deal, your job is to bring in the idea or the start of a song.

If the pro has a great idea, he surely has several proven, established cowriters who could write it with him.  Why risk giving 50% of HIS idea to a songwriter who might not contribute very much?

Let me tell you, it’s more fun (and profitable) when you have a strong answer for “got any ideas?” – and I want you to be prepared when that question comes your way.  And that question doesn’t need a good answer ONLY if you get a pro cowrite.  That question comes up in EVERY cowrite.  Every time you step into the writing room, you have the opportunity to blow away your cowriter with a great nugget or idea.

Feeling like I have a stack of strong ideas allows me to walk into any cowrite with confidence.  We might not always write my idea, but I came prepared… and my cowriter knows it and appreciates it.

I want YOU to have that confidence – and those results, too.  I want your cowriters to be glad they showed up to write with you.  But I DON’T want you to have to go through years of trial, error and the occasional embarrassing cowrite like I did!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.  Have you had similar success or failures?  Please leave a comment!

If you want to become a songwriting pro (in how you think, write songs or do business), then a great place to start is RIGHT HERE.  I want to help you on your songwriting journey.  I’ve been in the music business for years, and I’m here to help you get the cuts – and avoid the bruises.  CLICK HERE TO START HERE.

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent

Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.

SWP 4

Songwriters, Take Your Listeners To The Movies

Man vs Row

Brent is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ray Stevens, and more.  He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.

Imagine yourself in a darkened movie theater. The movie starts to play, but there is just sound… no picture. You’d be upset, right? Well, then, why do we sometimes write songs that way?

I think the movie analogy is an appropriate one for songwriting.

After all, don’t we basically write 3-minute movies?

Our job is to entertain, to move, or to make the listener think. Just like a movie. But because songs are an audio format, we sometimes forget about the pictures. But they are terribly important!

Take, for instance, “The Thunder Rolls” written by Garth Brooks and Pat Alger. Yes, it’s an oldie, but it’s a classic. This lyric is a movie all by itself. Let’s look at the first verse:

3:30 in the morning / not a soul in sight / the city’s looking like a ghost town / on a moonless summer night / raindrops on the windshield / there’s a storm moving in / he’s heading back from somewhere / that he never should have been / and the thunder rolls

You can SEE that verse. The ghost town, the dark night, the raindrops. Not only that, but you can HEAR it. The thunder rolls. While this lesson will focus on visuals, don’t forget that you have FIVE senses, and you should use as many of them in a song as possible. Let’s look at the second verse:

Every light is burning / in a house across town / she’s pacing by the telephone / in her faded flannel gown / askin’ for a miracle / hopin’ she’s not right / praying it’s the weather / that’s kept him out all night / and the thunder rolls

Again, you can SEE and HEAR that verse. Lights burning, pacing by the phone, the faded flannel gown, the thunder rolls. And the third verse is just as visual as the first two.

It is no accident that some writers refer to sensory details as “furniture.” An empty room is not very inviting. It doesn’t hold your attention very long. However, a room with a great big couch and great art on the walls INVITES you in for a while. It gives you something to look at.

I got this feedback from an old publisher when I didn’t have strong visuals in a song. He said it left him, as he called it, “floating around in space with nothing to hang on to. You’re just telling me how you FEEL.”

There’s a songwriting adage that says, “Don’t TELL me, SHOW me.” Visuals give you something to latch on to. A strong visual or other sensory image at the front end of a song really draws a listener in. It gives you a picture right off the bat.

Take these following first lines from some recent hit songs:

Doublewide Quick Stop midnight T-top Jack in her Cherry Coke town – “American Kids” sung by Kenny Chesney

Quarter in the payphone, clothes drying on the line – “Automatic” sung by Miranda Lambert

Those high heels with that sun dress, turquoise heart hanging ‘round your neck – “My Eyes” sung by Blake Shelton

Summer comin’ through a rolled down window, tearin’ down an almost two lane back road – “We Are Tonight” sung by Billy Currington

And now a few hits that are a couple years back…

Sun shines, clouds rain, train whistles blow and guitars play – “It Just Comes Natural” sung by George Strait

I’ve packed a cooler and a change of clothes – “Want To” by Sugarland

Driving through town, just my boy and me. With a happy meal on his booster seat– “Watching You” by Rodney Atkins

I can take the rain on the roof of this empty house– “What Hurts The Most” Rascal Flatts

She’s a yellow pair of running shoes, a holey pair of jeans– “She’s Everything” Brad Paisley

I could do this for days. Now, I know there are examples out there of purely emotional songs that do well. But if you look at the songs that are not written by the artist or by the producer or by an established hit songwriter, I think you’ll see a trend.

So good luck with your songwriting. Use lots of visuals, and keep at it.

What about you?  Do you tend to write with or without a lot of imagery?  Are there lines from some other songs you think have great imagery that you’d like to share?  I’d love to hear from you!

God Bless,

Brent

ARE YOU READY TO JOIN MvR IN THE TOP 10 THIS WEEK?

The listener’s reaction to your song is only as real as the character in your song. The W.I.L.L.power workshop will teach you tips & techniques to make the characters in your songs come alive and jump out of the radio and into your listeners’ hearts. There are only a handful of tickets available for this intimate get-together, AND THE WORKSHOP IS THIS WEEK! Click on the image below to find out more!

MvR Top 10 2

 

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The Next Brad Paisley

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Right now, the next Brad Paisley and Miranda Lambert aren’t famous yet.  They don’t have gatekeepers, and they still write with unknown writers.  But that will probably change in three years when they get a record deal.  You might want to find them and write with them starting… now.

-Brent

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If you like this blog, don’t miss a single post!  Subscribe by putting your email in the “Follow Man vs. Row via E-mail” section on this page.  It’s either in the upper righthand corner or down below.   Also, please share this blog with anyone you think would benefit from it.  I appreciate it when you share it on Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else.  Thanks!

Brent’s Twitter: @Razorbaxter

Brent Baxter Music:  http://www.brentbaxtermusic.com