Good People, Cool Things
Good People, Cool Things

Episode 38 · 1 year ago

The Worst Gig and Using Music for Good with Suzi Ragsdale


Musician Suzi Ragsdale talks about her new album Ghost Town, what it's like to record music during COVID, and why it's important to use music to lift people up.

Welcome to good people, cool things, the podcast featuring conversations with entrepreneurs, writers, musicians and other creatives.I'm your host, Joey held, and today's guest is Susie Ragsdale, amusician whose album ghost town just dropped earlier this month, so we're going tobe talking all about that. Susie is enjoying some chips and salts and aMargarita at one of her favorite Mexican places while we are recording this, andthat's the truest way to enjoy life. Always get to have a mark nearby. We're also talking about how music can help people and bring light into theirlives. The key elements you need to have a good song and the worstGig let's Susie has ever played. Lots of good stuff all around. Ifyou like to support good people cool things, head over to the merch shop goodpeople, cool thingscom shop by yourself, something comfortable and stylish, or geta Mug to pour all of your perhaps Margarita into, or whatever yourdrink of choices works great for coffee. Looks great for pretending it's coffee andyou have something else in you just do you can also always get in touchat GPCT podcast on facebook, twitter and instagram. For now, let's hopon into the conversation with Susie. Definitely want to talk about your new album, which comes out. It'll already be out once this podcast of drops,but as if now we're talking, it comes out tomorrow. Is that correct? Goes down. Yeah, all right, yeah, yeah. I mean I'vealready got like a box of EP CDs to send to my friends andstuff, but the official release date is tomorrow. Very cool. Do youhave a celebration plan? Do you have like a typical album launch day processthat you go through? Well, last time I released a couple of VPStogether like to six so on things for a twelve song package. I wentall out. It was two thousand and ten. I went all out.I got for string players and two horns and a couple of background singers andfor piece band and myself on the keyboard, and there were more people on stagethan in the audience actually at the basement and Nashville, which is likeit's the coolest place ever, one of one of the coolest places ever,and we had like this huge party. Well, now, of course,everything's different. So I have planned at my house which is out here inthe country. I've got six and a half acres. This sent Ay wassupposed to be my EP release party bonfire and in the TP. But nowHurricane Delta, I think it's Delta,... going to come through. It'sgoing to hit ground in Louisiana and the Gulf coast tomorrow morning, frolly,and it's going to like cycle up and hit Nashville Friday, Saturday Sunday.So it's going to be so horribly rainy on my release party plan day thatI think it's like unwise to hold the party. So I postponed it becauseeverybody's scared, you know, as they should be, and they want towear masks and then want to be outside and I don't want to ask twentyfive or forty people to come into my house for a party and and notbe protected like they would be outside. So I'm moving the party to Ithink fritty the sixteen, maybe Sunday the eighteen. Say, yeah, it'snot too much of a delay. Yeah, you know, but it's just it'ssuch a drag that the whole world has changed so dramatically and so drasticallythat we can't just carry on. We can't. Yeah, I think that'sit's any musician I've taught to, I think, has had to adapt insome way, whether or not they were releasing an album. This year,you know, they had concert dates lined up and it was just I mean, for lack of a better word, I say that's probably every episode,but it required a pivot, channeling Ross from friends. Had to pivot andI think it's it's like cool to see how people are recovering from all ofthat and I've got so many wonderful musicians on this record that played on itand some of them are, like you know, in there s and beyond, and they aren't. They are in the best health. So even morecareful. We are right around this seniors. I mean I'm almost as senior,but for my father, who's in his s and Dan Dougmore, who'shad some issues with health and he's like the greatest steel player in the worldever. But I want them all to be able to come and and enjoyand if it's a dangerous thing with virus, contagion stuff, then I'll just postponethe party. I'm having a really good time online, like with youright now, just to be able to celebrate the music. We don't haveto all touch each other. It's okay. I hope it ends soon, butI would like to touch somebody. It's one point. So with therecording process, then you have all these musicians on. Did you still getout to the studio together? was that kind of all done pre covid,or I was it a lot of like them recording their parts from home andthen kind of sending it to you and... would listen to it that wayand then add on top of it? What was was all of that?Like it was a little bit of both, because thankfully I was able to getmy producers, Sam Frank, he came from he was moving his familyfrom New Zealand to England back to London, WHO's whole family is, and hewanted to stop over and produce this record with me. So he showedup in my house February fourteen, which nobody knew about Covid, and itwas all fine. We were all fine and he stayed for five weeks.In the middle of that all this covid stuff happened and he he got outto go back to his daughter and his wife on the very last flight thatNashville would allow to London and at the time. So yeah, so wegot like the for pandemic those first two or three weeks before we knew tobe careful. The musicians all came to my house out in Kingston Springs,out in the country where you can't get a wife but you can record music, and they all came over like Tammy Rogers on the fiddle and Alison Presswoodon the Bay's Pat McGrath and everybody just came to my house and sat thereand put their parts on, kind of one at a time, and thenwe went up to Dan Dugmore to his farm about an hour north and byheart, by car and our own, and got him to do all hisparts. And he's been kind of poor health a little bit so so he'snot going anywhere outside of his house. But by the time we knew thatit was dangerous to get together, everyone was had done their parts. Nowwhen we made the video for live until you die, it was too dangerous. So I had them all send in there like videos of themselves playing alongto the the record that they had played on and we put it together likea zoom thing and it worked really good. It really worked out well if you'veseen it. But yeah, I think I think that's a cool wayto adapt to it and it's interesting. I even wrote an article on howfun it is to just see inside of people's living rooms and backyard rards andthings like that when they're playing at helping. You really get like a sense ofpersonality that maybe doesn't come across in a standard music video. So Ithink it's a real cool way to adapt to what's going on. Yeah,I agree. I think everybody has has enjoyed watching inside your living room likewho whoever's on TV doing whatever thing, music or just reporting the news orbeing on Good Morning America. It's like...'s what I chose to put inmy background, or it's like you get to know and people should be carefulto what they show, because I think there've been a couple of naked peoplewalking around in the backroom. Shouldn't have been naked. Yeah, or likeconfidential documents shown in the background where people can zoom in and get social securitynumbers and things like that. It's like, let's be let's be a little bitmore careful people. Just because you have yourself as a small thumbnail,that doesn't mean someone else can't blow up your screen and and see what's goingon. So I yeah, yeah, so I'm trying to try to stickto like minimal I white wall backgrounds. I think it is always a goodway to go, even though some people might say it looks more boring,but that's fine. I really have as my background at home, I dohave a photograph. I bought, a Elvis Costello that I bought in Londonback in the nine. He's and it's really cool. He's like making aface. You know, there's always Costello, so you can see that. That'sit. Yeah, that sounds like a good a good background to havefor sure. So I I like to ask this with musicians when they're releasinga new album because obviously all the songs are like children and that you loveall of them, but do you have a favorite from this album? Well, I've thought about this because I've been asked it and also also there's onlysix on this ep so it's a short album and out of the sixth I'vemade three videos of songs. So when the videos are being made and I'mlistening over and over again, that's my favorite song. Right. But Ithink after all of a sudden done and with input from my friends who arereally great song critics, like intelligent people I trust. I think my favoritesong is the ending, the ending, which is the sixth and last song. I think it's got the most important message to deliver. They're all good, they're all fun. You know are wouldn't have shown them to you,but I think the ending is it ice, ending on a high note. Ilike it. I like it. It so he's always a good wayto go. So we'll go from then, the high of your favorite song,I to probably a more negative time, but I think these obvious make forthe best stories. Do you remember your worst Gig that you've ever played? Oh, yes, I do. It may may not be the worst. Was the worst one that I remember? There was a time back in thes when me and Verlin Thompson where a duo and and I hadn't performedvery often on a big stage, and... me twelve and porter in Nashvillewas a big stage. They had these paper machete angels hanging on either sideof the big stage and and my heroes had always played there, like petMcLaughlin and David Olney and telling high and, you know, great writers and I'mlike, well, this stage, my God, and I had justwritten this song. Pay Attention. Was the song and I wrote it onthe piano and I knew how to play it, but I was so nervousat being at twelve and porter playing it that I totally fumbled the chord progressionwith my hands and instead of, as I do now, carrying on andjust covering up to where no one can still, I went and I quit. I quit, and the whole crowd was like, oh no, andmy husband, Verrl and was like, Oh, Susie, just start over. So I was like, okay, I'm going to start this song over, and so I played it from it's only a two minute song anyway,but I started it over and succeeded and I got like a standing ovation.So, but still, that was the worst, the worst. Love sorose but they yeah, sure, you can just like feel the tension withinthe crowd too, but I'm glad you persevere. That's a good a goodtale of getting over the hun the thing that every performer needs to remember isprobably ninety five percent of the audience is on your side. You know,they love you. They're there for you to do good, to entertain themand they want you to be well and do well and they're going to forgiveyou and they're going to love you for your mistakes, and the other fivepercent should just go home. You know, I mean people. People are usuallygood and loving and kind and support mortive, and so if you knowthat, your stage product needs to go away a little bit, because everybody'son your side and I think you can always try and play it off,at least a little bit off, if you do mess up, like maybeyou play a couple wrong notes or hit the wrong quart or something, butjust kind of play it off. It's like, Hey, you know what, I'm experimenting a Little Bit, like I this is not this the typicalsound that you'd get from the album. This is a live show, soI'm going to mix it up a little bit and I think played off uslyand that works so well when you've got some experience. But that day backthirty years ago, I was so fucking scared I was like no, Imessed up my entire line. Sorry,...

I said I thing, but it'sokay, I've heard. I've heard worse things. It's fine. Oh,I thought I was the worst, worst one. I mean if it's likejust the word by itself, but I feel like I've heard other you know, like a string of words and things like that, but I don't bea really funny word to it's not necessarily a bad thing exactly. It alldepends how you use it. What it actually means is is kind of agood thing. You know, who doesn't want, you know, to havesex at some point? Whatever. Let's now a question that I like toask is a question that you wish you were asked more frequently, and youyou mentioned that you kind of had some trouble with this one, which Ithink is common for a lot of people, because you do get asked similar questionslike what comes first, the music or the lyrics? I've been herein that question for everything. A lot of people care about that look insidethe process. I guess I don't know. I think it can be interesting,but I agree it's probably maybe the most over asked question for any songwritermusician. But I did like what you were kind of leaning towards of howhow you can give your time and music to causes that you believe in andkind of use your platform, your music for good, and would love tohear your thoughts around that and if you can expand on that a little.Well, you know, I'm sitting over here in paradise, in the country, with time on my hands. I can write songs, I can zoomwith you, I can do things. So why couldn't someone ask me asa question, Hey, would you come over here and play music or teacha song running class or or teach some children how to play the piano orwhatever? Why don't you ask me to help you? I want to help. And the last thing I did that I felt was really helpful. What'sfrom my dog, my bulldog text. What's a therapy dog? And Igot to bring him to the hospital and and let him make people happy.He was so good at it. But after that I don't feel like I'vereally been generous enough, for giving enough to this world that needs so much, so much. I would really like to see anyone cares to like haveme just come and play music with children...

...or seeing to I don't know whatis anyone want? I just would like to be more helpful and less selfish. Yeah, and I the therapy dog with text coming in. I thinkthat's it's such a seemingly simple thing but, like I mean, I do know, I do know people who don't like dogs, but generally I thinkjust seeing a dog like like brightens up your day so much and just howhappy and loving they are and it's it's that's really cool. Yeah, yeah, I was. I have two dogs and one of them, I leapsoff the porch every time he goes outside to use the bathroom and it's justlike the most carefree, joyous thing in the world and I'm like, Icould watch this whole morning. This is great, like come on back andthen go back out in jump. It's it's a great time. Yeah,I think there's there's lots of good ways, and especially, I would I wouldeven argue more so now, of how something like music can brighten uppeople's Day, even if it is virtually even if you can't go and play, you can still play at home. Share that with people and make themmake them more joyful. Yeah, I would like for someone to ask mea question more often. would be like how can? How can I helpyou? Is My question, and their question would be will you come andhelp us in this way or the other? Will you come and sing, play, bring your dogs? Whenever? Can you possibly help us? AndI'd be like yes, I thought I have time. Yeah, fantastic.And Yeah, I think there are a lot of people out there that wantto and may not know how to ask those questions. So that's that's goodthat you're willing to be asked that and hopefully a lot of other people aretoo, because again, like, music can be so helpful and and youknow, there's so many times you've heard someone say, like the song savedmy life, or like I was feeling so down, I listened to thesong. Now I'm feeling better, and I think that's that's a great agreat thing and a great gift that now everyone has. Yeah, yeah,I get messages on facebook and stuff, like people who have heard telling methat they felt better because they heard this or that Song of mine, andthat's that's beautiful and wonderful and I'll just I want to ramp that up andgive whatever I can give. You know for sure, and I think thatsegues nicely into our top three, which I'd love to hear your top threeelements that make a song great. Honesty is is number one, probably.So, whether you're telling your own story...

...or some some stories that you've created, some fantasy some fictional thing or someone that you know, to be honestand in how you relay it right, and then and then to be really, really simple, simplicity, to be so one complicated that it's like hey, ABC, okay, right, you don't need one thousand eight hundred wordsto say what you could say in eight words. So honestly and simplicity andand clarity, just to be sure if what you mean to say. Andit's not just all about fun, right, even like the most fun songs inthe world like shake it off, Taylor Swift, brilliant. I thinkshe's brilliant, you know, but I don't want that came to mind.There's so many more renowned songs like let it be, let it be,let it be, let it be, whisper words of wisdom, let itbe. Right. You don't need to say a lot of stuff to getthe point across. Is like as like I've got a message and I'm goingto make it fun to hear and I'm going to make it beautiful to hearand if you agree with it, you're going to listen to it. Ifyou disagree with it, then go listen to somebody else. What if youknow what I mean absolutely absolutely good deal. Well, Susie, you are officiallyoff the hook. If people want to hear ghost town, want tolearn more about you, want to get in touch work, can they findyou? Well, there's Susie Ragsdalecom, and that's the main one where youcan totally get everything I've ever done, and I think that that most ofit is on Itunes to be downloaded and I'm pretty sure it's on spotify andstuff. I don't know, so old. I'm not technical at all, butyou can totally get me on www dotdalecom, spelled s Uza risdale.Wonderful. Well, Susie, thank you so much for taking the time tochat. This is great. It was fun to talk to Youtube. Imean, we're going to hang up, but but hang on and talk tome after we hang up so I can say good a good good bye.Okay, we'll do and of course we always end with a Corny joke.So I've got a music, musically themed one. This is probably not myfavorite music one, but I can't remember which ones I've told, so Iknow I haven't told this one. Middle Ce flat and gee walk into abar. The bartender says I'm sorry, we don't serve minors here good aftertoday. People.

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