This week our guest is Shawn Amos.
He’s had an interesting career, both on the business side of music and as an entrepreneur and content creator. Kitchen Table Blues is a really cool web series that he’s been cranking out over the past couple of years that’s climbing close to 100 episodes at this point.
We spoke with Shawn to talk about his interesting career path as well as his latest album, The Reverend Shawn Amos Loves You, which is his first blues album.
”The only prerequisite for the blues is just playing from a place of authenticity and playing from a place of your heart vs. your head,” Amos shared with us, as we dug deep into the topic of playing the blues. ”It’s a [type of music] where you’ve got to be willing to make yourself vulnerable. I think you’ve got to make yourself vulnerable and you’ve got to be able to in real time, reveal a part of yourself musically that is honest and not filled with pre-choreographed focus group tested riffs or moves or looks. And that kind of spontaneity is a lot of what’s lacking in life in general. I think that’s sort of the groove and it doesn’t matter where you come from beyond that.”
Projects like Kitchen Table Blues are a good example of how Amos has been able to use a variety of platforms to get the word out about his music. He started Kitchen Table Blues at a time when he was not touring and playing shows, as a way to be able to share the visual aspect of the music he was creating. With the current state of the music and entertainment industry, he recognizes the importance of taking advantage of the many different tools of communication that are at his fingertips.
”We all need to marshal all of our talents and resources together in service of ourselves and others. I do feel that I’m at a moment in my life where I’m able to sort of pull together all of these different life experiences that I’ve had,” Amos explains. ”It’s nice to be able to pull upon all of those resources to help move things along. I think that’s sort of the plight of the artist in the 21st century. We’ve got this democratization of platforms. There’s no gatekeepers — there’s not five record labels who control everything and there’s not like five record store chains that sell all of the music and there’s not five TV channels who control all of the music videos. Everything’s been democratized and there’s more outlets than ever and that’s great.”
So what’s the downside?
”The downside is that there’s less money and it’s hard to make money and everybody needs to multi-task more than ever,” he says. ”Everyone I meet, whether they’re a singer or a filmmaker or a lawyer or whatever, everyone’s got a bunch of jobs. Because it’s just the way the world is now. We live in a world where we’ve got to be able to do lots of different things in order to make ends meet and in order to move our lives forward. For artists, you know, it’s always tricky, because a lot of artists just want to make music and do nothing else. That’s fair, but it’s sort of impractical in this day and age, I think. Not many people have that luxury — it’s probably a handful of people who can just show up at the show and that’s all that they do. For most of us, we have to figure out how we become our own advocates and our own managers and our own booking agents and photographers and our own social media people, etc. I’m just sort of rolling up my sleeves and doing the work. Because if I’m committed to doing it, then it’s on me to pull every lever I can to make it happen.”
Part of that involves taking the show on the road, something that Amos has been able to do a lot in the past couple of years, playing nearly 200 shows all over the world. He’s currently in the midst of a European tour and tells us that if you like what you’re hearing on the album, you’ve got to come out and see it live.
”You know, I think people have read interviews with me and they’ve heard the recordings and they’ve watched Kitchen Table Blues, but it seems that all of the lights don’t get turned on until they see the show,” he says. ”The show is really quite something and I feel like we’ve put something together that’s really celebratory and really engaging in a way that doesn’t exist particularly in that blues space. So I want play as many gigs as I can possibly play for as many people as I can play them for.”
That’s a quick peek at just a few of the things we discussed during our conversation.
As an intro to today’s podcast, check out Cookies and Milk, a four part article that Shawn wrote for the Huffington Post about his childhood, growing up in Los Angeles in the 70s. It’s a bit of helpful context for some of the things we’ll end up discussing during the interview.
For more information on Shawn’s music and the latest tour information, visit his website.
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Lost Together with Matt Wardlaw, Episode 24: Shawn Amos