The Jabez Country Opry

Robbie Fulks is one of those names you can't help but hear about if you are a songwriter living in Chicago. Apart from his Monday night residency at the Hideout, (which just ended this past Monday) his name would pop up in conversation with other musicians and actors that I knew. I had heard nothing but positive things. In fact, a few weeks ago his name popped up again after he played a duet with Lori McKenna, another favorite songwriter of mine.


So when the opportunity came to audition for new theatre project he was working on with Mike and Molly creator Mark Roberts, I was excited. 

Fast forward a few weeks and I'm happy to announce I will be playing a role in that project. It's called the Jabez Country Opry. Here's a bit about it:

The Jabez Country Opry tells the story of the last night of a small Kentucky honky-tonk and the performers, past and present, who gather for one final show.

Robbie is writing the music for the show and Mark Roberts, the words. Mark will also be directing.

Jabez will be performed concert style, with Robbie on stage with a full band, as part of Steppenwolf Theatre's Lookout Series on March 30th and 31st. Tickets can be found here

In the mean time, if you haven't already, click the album below and give Robbie Fulks' latest grammy nominated record a listen. You won't be disappointed.





I signed up for the RPM Challenge again this year. Here's a good description of what RPM is via their website :

This is The Challenge - Record an album in 28 days, just because you can.
That’s 10 songs or 35 minutes of original material recorded during the month of February. Go ahead… put it to tape.

It’s a little like National Novel Writing Month, ( where writers challenge each other to write 1,700 words a day for 30 days, or the great folks over at February Album Writing Month (, who encourage artists to write 14 new songs in February. Maybe they don’t have “Grapes of Wrath” or “Abbey Road” at the end of the month, or maybe they do—but that’s not the point. The point is they get busy and stop waiting around for the muse to appear. Get the gears moving. Do something. You can’t write 1,700 words a day and not get better.

Don't wait for inspiration - taking action puts you in a position to get inspired. You'll stumble across ideas you would have never come up with otherwise, and maybe only because you were trying to meet a day’s quota of (song)writing. Show up and get something done, and invest in yourself and each other.

The first time I participated in RPM was back in 2009. The result was a record called Our Earthquake Dreams. What started as a solo project, became much more. I gathered a few musicians together and we ended up recording the album, live, in a church up on the north side that a friend of mine was taking care of. We would load our stuff in at night into this rickety old elevator take it up to the sanctuary, set up and play. It was the first time I played with a band. 

I was hooked.

I called the band, Silvergirl, after a Paul Simon lyric from Bridge Over Troubled Water. 

Silvergirl's first show at Mahoney's. w/ Allison Hendrix, Matthew Sitz and Adam Melberth

Silvergirl's first show at Mahoney's. w/ Allison Hendrix, Matthew Sitz and Adam Melberth

March 2009 came and we played a few shows. Two, to be exact. Both at Mahoney's here in Chicago. I had no idea had to book shows. Still don't really. But It was a goal of mine to stand up in front of a crowd and play music I had written, with a full band. Check it off the list!

Two month later I had my first child. I got a job working at a bar and I my acting career in Chicago started to take shape. Music got pushed to the back burner, but I was fine with it.  Maybe I wouldn't have a "band", but I had accomplished something. And that in itself was significant.

I got some CD's pressed and packaged. Not sure what the full count was. Maybe 400? I've sold quite a few, but I still probably have more than 200 left. Maybe my next goal should be to sell the rest. If I don't, it will be a fun moment for my grandkids when they discover a box of CDs! (how ancient will those be in 30 years) in the attic.

Maybe it won't be so strange though, because even though I don't have a band and I'm not regularly playing shows, I don't plan on stopping. I will always write music. It's been apart of my life for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I used to make up songs to get myself to sleep at night. So maybe it will be the opposite. Maybe my grandkids will know my music quite well. Maybe they will even like it! 

Album cover. That's a picture my wife, Megan, on our wedding day

Album cover. That's a picture my wife, Megan, on our wedding day

Silvergirl has changed over the years... the evolution of that project is for another post. But as I think about starting another RPM, I can't help but think of that time: newly married, new to Chicago. 

Today I will work on a few new songs and get ready to start recording them for RPM. This year I will be releasing the record under my own name. Not exactly sure why, but it just feels right. It's hard to put yourself out there, and in a way releasing music as Silvergirl these last few years has protected me from that. Being a actor, I'm used to rejection but when it's your own music, your own words... I don't know. It's different. I'm excited about this collection of songs though and am looking toward to sharing them.