God Bless Tommy Womack, side-man gigs, FrugaLent

I know what you're thinking...."Wow, Jonathan, that's quite a beard you've got going!" Yes, I suppose this photo could be me, but really it's a picture of one of my musical role models Tommy Womack. Tommy's got a brand new album out (which I have yet to buy...it came out 3 days ago and I checked the local stores and none of 'em have it...I'll have to order it online I suppose). I've been a big fan of Tommy for about a decade now, and I've tried (to no avail, I'm afraid) to spread the Gospel of Tommy to as many of my music-lovin' friends as I can. In addition to writing some of the most garage-twangin', butt-kickin', Telecaster-bendin' rock & roll songs I've ever heard, he's also living and writing about a very interesting and inspiring journey of vocation, faith, and family life. His songs are insightful, brilliant, hysterical, profound, scary, attentive, and random and I hope that some of his uber-cool and fearless songwriting vibe is rubbing off on me. In fact, I've been known to play Tommy's song "The Highway's Comin'" at my own shows, especially during Advent. The reason I'm posting all this is, in addition to the hope that you'll buy his music, that I want you to read this fascinating story about Tommy in the new issue of Nashville Scene. That'll fill you in. For a 35-year-old stay-home-Dad on the indie-rock career path like myself, Tommy's is a very important story.

Tommy Womack has been busy these last few years as a side-man in Todd Snider's band, and I, too, have been enjoying the life as a supportive band member. Here's a photo of Matt Patrick (dobro), Micah Taylor (guitar), and me (mandolin) performing a couple months ago at Concordia College in St. Paul for Micah's CD release show. Micah and I will be gigging together again in a few days, this time playing in Todd Miller's band. We'll be doing a few songs at the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis before the premiere of a new documentary film called Shadows of Virtue directed by filmmaker Chad Amour, and with soundtrack music by Mr. Miller himself. I also anticipate another fun gig this coming Tuesday night at the 400 Bar playing bass for the talented Michael Morris.

Finally, we're a few days into my favorite season of the church year, Lent. Our family went to Ash Wednesday services, but it was tough to get into the groove of seriousness and introspection since Paavo was pretty squirmy...we had the ashes imposed, and immediately I took Paavo back to the Fellowship Hall so I could still hear the sermon as we raced toy cars back and forth underneath the tables and chairs. Very reverent, I must say.

I've felt like I've needed a bit of a butt-kicking in my own life lately, so I'm joining my wife in what she's brilliantly calling FrugaLent. The discipline is: no spending money on anything except necessities. That's not too tough for me, EXCEPT my frequent recreational restaurant-patronizing. I LOVE eating out, so to stop that is gonna be a huge chore...especially as I drive Paavo around the city to attend pre-schools, etc. Am I supposed to make myself a ham sandwich at home, pack it in a lunch bag, and eat it in the hospital parking lot in downtown Minneapolis while sitting the car with the heater on? Not my idea of a soul-reviving lunch while Paavo goes to school. I already violated the FrugaLent rules...got a drive-thru cheeseburger and giant iced tea for myself today while Paavo and Svea napped in the back seat of the car. It was weak and lame of me I know, but man the food was good, I truly loved the caffeine-boost, and it was blissful to sit there with sleeping children, with time to myself as I listened to the Michael Medved show on AM talk radio. Yup, it took 36 hours for me to cheat on my spiritual discipline. Bah! I'm back on the wagon once again. I'm too much of a cheap-gracer to commit to all this self-imposed discipline. Good thing I don't smoke crack. Britney, I'm with you, girl. To quote myself, "I will follow out of love, 'cause there is nothing I can earn."

Speaking of my song "Ashes," I want to thank all the folks who've emailed me about the song during this past Ash Wednesday week, those people who are using it as their MySpace profile music (yes, "Ashes" is up on my MySpace site if you want to play the song on your page this season), and those folks at many churches around the country who are playing it in classes, sermons, devotions, etc. I really appreciate it! Read how Zion Lutheran in Des Moines is using it, and check out how "Faithfully Subversive" radio station WDBX in Illinois is playing the song next to Indigo Girls and Natalie Merchant.

Tommy, if you read this, have a great Lent, and thanks for the great songs. And to all, let us face our mortality.


nate said…
i echo your love of lent - i too spent about a third of ash wednesday service with lydia in the narthex - it definately changes the vibe. As for tommy, i've tried loving him, but i've never found his cd's at retail - so maybe I'll go ahead and order one on line. how does frugalent affect your cd purchasing?
Dean said…
Jonathan....how do you apologize to someone on whose nose you dripped "ashes"....had to do that as person who prepared ashes put too much oil in the mix and the stuff looked like tar slurry. I don't know if your frugal Lent is tougher than a "no smoke" lent since it was one year ago on Ash Wed. that I gave up the smokes for the gum....me and Obama
Clint said…
Yeah, can you buy Tommy's CD during FrugaLent? :)

I just decided to order it through iTunes. I'm often disatisfied with not having the actual CD in hand, but that just proves I'm 34 years old and strangely Old School.
I should've given some Tommy-neophyte suggestions. I'm sure the new album is awesome, so it's probably a fine place to start, but I might suggest starting with his live CD "Washington D.C." just 'cause it's a good introduction to all his best tunes, played with a rocking band (with no audience by the way...it's live in a radio studio...so it sounds more like a studio album). I'd also suggest his more recent solo records like "Circus Town"...and maybe my all-time favorite one "Stubborn." If you get into it, you can work your way back to his solo debut, or his work in the Bis-quits, or with Daddy. Lutherans would be particularily interested in Tommy's brilliant song "Martin Luther" recorded on the Daddy CD.

Regarding FrugaLent...no, I can't buy CDs. But I have some gift certificates for Borders, so that doesn't really count I suppose.

And yes, as my Father-in-law mentioned above: any of us who are annoyed by our own Lenten discipline can be thankful that we're not trying to quit smoking! Great work, Dean, on a year with no cigs!
steves said…
Frugalent is brilliant. My church doesn't do lent, but I am thinking of trying FrugaMarch. My biggest temptation is coffee. Mr. Coffee just doesn't do the same thing for me as a coffee house, or even McDonalds.
Virginia said…
One of the Faithfully Subversive hosts here. Thanks for your song! It was a great find for that show. Just a point of clarification. Faithfully Subversive is the name of a weekly show on WDBX which is a community radio station that hosts many different shows, not just Faithfully Subversive. Thanks again!

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