Good People, Cool Things
Good People, Cool Things

Episode 38 · 2 years ago

38: 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, a musician whose album ghost town just dropped earlier this month, so we're going to be talking all about that. Susie is enjoying some chips and salts and a Margarita at one of her favorite Mexican places while we are recording this, and that'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 their lives. The key elements you need to have a good song and the worst Gig let's Susie has ever played. Lots of good stuff all around. If you like to support good people cool things, head over to the merch shop good people, cool thingscom shop by yourself, something comfortable and stylish, or get a Mug to pour all of your perhaps Margarita into, or whatever your drink of choices works great for coffee. Looks great for pretending it's coffee and you have something else in you just do you can also always get in touch at GPCT podcast on facebook, twitter and instagram. For now, let's hop on 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've already got like a box of EP CDs to send to my friends and stuff, but the official release date is tomorrow. Very cool. Do you have a celebration plan? Do you have like a typical album launch day process that you go through? Well, last time I released a couple of VPS together like to six so on things for a twelve song package. I went all 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 and for piece band and myself on the keyboard, and there were more people on stage than in the audience actually at the basement and Nashville, which is like it'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 in the country. I've got six and a half acres. This sent Ay was supposed to be my EP release party bonfire and in the TP. But now Hurricane Delta, I think it's Delta,... going to come through. It's going 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 that I think it's like unwise to hold the party. So I postponed it because everybody's scared, you know, as they should be, and they want to wear masks and then want to be outside and I don't want to ask twenty five or forty people to come into my house for a party and and not be protected like they would be outside. So I'm moving the party to I think fritty the sixteen, maybe Sunday the eighteen. Say, yeah, it's not too much of a delay. Yeah, you know, but it's just it's such a drag that the whole world has changed so dramatically and so drastically that we can't just carry on. We can't. Yeah, I think that's it's any musician I've taught to, I think, has had to adapt in some 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 and I think it's it's like cool to see how people are recovering from all of that and I've got so many wonderful musicians on this record that played on it and some of them are, like you know, in there s and beyond, and they aren't. They are in the best health. So even more careful. 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's had some issues with health and he's like the greatest steel player in the world ever. But I want them all to be able to come and and enjoy and if it's a dangerous thing with virus, contagion stuff, then I'll just postpone the party. I'm having a really good time online, like with you right now, just to be able to celebrate the music. We don't have to all touch each other. It's okay. I hope it ends soon, but I would like to touch somebody. It's one point. So with the recording process, then you have all these musicians on. Did you still get out 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 and then kind of sending it to you and... would listen to it that way and 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 get my producers, Sam Frank, he came from he was moving his family from New Zealand to England back to London, WHO's whole family is, and he wanted to stop over and produce this record with me. So he showed up in my house February fourteen, which nobody knew about Covid, and it was 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 out to go back to his daughter and his wife on the very last flight that Nashville would allow to London and at the time. So yeah, so we got like the for pandemic those first two or three weeks before we knew to be 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 Presswood on the Bay's Pat McGrath and everybody just came to my house and sat there and put their parts on, kind of one at a time, and then we went up to Dan Dugmore to his farm about an hour north and by heart, by car and our own, and got him to do all his parts. And he's been kind of poor health a little bit so so he's not going anywhere outside of his house. But by the time we knew that it was dangerous to get together, everyone was had done their parts. Now when 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 along to the the record that they had played on and we put it together like a zoom thing and it worked really good. It really worked out well if you've seen it. But yeah, I think I think that's a cool way to adapt to it and it's interesting. I even wrote an article on how fun it is to just see inside of people's living rooms and backyard rards and things like that when they're playing at helping. You really get like a sense of personality that maybe doesn't come across in a standard music video. So I think 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 like who whoever's on TV doing whatever thing, music or just reporting the news or being on Good Morning America. It's like...'s what I chose to put in my background, or it's like you get to know and people should be careful to what they show, because I think there've been a couple of naked people walking around in the backroom. Shouldn't have been naked. Yeah, or like confidential documents shown in the background where people can zoom in and get social security numbers and things like that. It's like, let's be let's be a little bit more 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 going on. So I yeah, yeah, so I'm trying to try to stick to like minimal I white wall backgrounds. I think it is always a good way 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 do have a photograph. I bought, a Elvis Costello that I bought in London back in the nine. He's and it's really cool. He's like making a face. You know, there's always Costello, so you can see that. That's it. Yeah, that sounds like a good a good background to have for sure. So I I like to ask this with musicians when they're releasing a new album because obviously all the songs are like children and that you love all 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 only six on this ep so it's a short album and out of the sixth I've made three videos of songs. So when the videos are being made and I'm listening over and over again, that's my favorite song. Right. But I think after all of a sudden done and with input from my friends who are really great song critics, like intelligent people I trust. I think my favorite song 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. I like it. I like it. It so he's always a good way to 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 for the 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 the s when me and Verlin Thompson where a duo and and I hadn't performed very often on a big stage, and... me twelve and porter in Nashville was a big stage. They had these paper machete angels hanging on either side of the big stage and and my heroes had always played there, like pet McLaughlin and David Olney and telling high and, you know, great writers and I'm like, well, this stage, my God, and I had just written this song. Pay Attention. Was the song and I wrote it on the piano and I knew how to play it, but I was so nervous at being at twelve and porter playing it that I totally fumbled the chord progression with my hands and instead of, as I do now, carrying on and just covering up to where no one can still, I went and I quit. I quit, and the whole crowd was like, oh no, and my 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 so rose but they yeah, sure, you can just like feel the tension within the crowd too, but I'm glad you persevere. That's a good a good tale of getting over the hun the thing that every performer needs to remember is probably 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 them and they want you to be well and do well and they're going to forgive you and they're going to love you for your mistakes, and the other five percent should just go home. You know, I mean people. People are usually good and loving and kind and support mortive, and so if you know that, your stage product needs to go away a little bit, because everybody's on 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 maybe you play a couple wrong notes or hit the wrong quart or something, but just 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 typical sound that you'd get from the album. This is a live show, so I'm going to mix it up a little bit and I think played off usly and that works so well when you've got some experience. But that day back thirty years ago, I was so fucking scared I was like no, I messed up my entire line. Sorry,...

I said I thing, but it's okay, 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 like just 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 be a really funny word to it's not necessarily a bad thing exactly. It all depends how you use it. What it actually means is is kind of a good thing. You know, who doesn't want, you know, to have sex at some point? Whatever. Let's now a question that I like to ask is a question that you wish you were asked more frequently, and you you mentioned that you kind of had some trouble with this one, which I think is common for a lot of people, because you do get asked similar questions like what comes first, the music or the lyrics? I've been here in that question for everything. A lot of people care about that look inside the 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 songwriter musician. But I did like what you were kind of leaning towards of how how you can give your time and music to causes that you believe in and kind of use your platform, your music for good, and would love to hear 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 zoom with you, I can do things. So why couldn't someone ask me as a question, Hey, would you come over here and play music or teach a song running class or or teach some children how to play the piano or whatever? 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's from my dog, my bulldog text. What's a therapy dog? And I got 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've really 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 have me just come and play music with children...

...or seeing to I don't know what is anyone want? I just would like to be more helpful and less selfish. Yeah, and I the therapy dog with text coming in. I think that'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 think just seeing a dog like like brightens up your day so much and just how happy 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 leaps off the porch every time he goes outside to use the bathroom and it's just like the most carefree, joyous thing in the world and I'm like, I could watch this whole morning. This is great, like come on back and then 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 would even argue more so now, of how something like music can brighten up people'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 them make them more joyful. Yeah, I would like for someone to ask me a question more often. would be like how can? How can I help you? Is My question, and their question would be will you come and help us in this way or the other? Will you come and sing, play, bring your dogs? Whenever? Can you possibly help us? And I'd be like yes, I thought I have time. Yeah, fantastic. And Yeah, I think there are a lot of people out there that want to and may not know how to ask those questions. So that's that's good that you're willing to be asked that and hopefully a lot of other people are too, because again, like, music can be so helpful and and you know, there's so many times you've heard someone say, like the song saved my life, or like I was feeling so down, I listened to the song. Now I'm feeling better, and I think that's that's a great a great thing and a great gift that now everyone has. Yeah, yeah, I get messages on facebook and stuff, like people who have heard telling me that they felt better because they heard this or that Song of mine, and that's that's beautiful and wonderful and I'll just I want to ramp that up and give whatever I can give. You know for sure, and I think that segues nicely into our top three, which I'd love to hear your top three elements 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 honest and 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 words to say what you could say in eight words. So honestly and simplicity and and clarity, just to be sure if what you mean to say. And it's not just all about fun, right, even like the most fun songs in the world like shake it off, Taylor Swift, brilliant. I think she'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 it be. Right. You don't need to say a lot of stuff to get the point across. Is like as like I've got a message and I'm going to make it fun to hear and I'm going to make it beautiful to hear and if you agree with it, you're going to listen to it. If you disagree with it, then go listen to somebody else. What if you know what I mean absolutely absolutely good deal. Well, Susie, you are officially off the hook. If people want to hear ghost town, want to learn more about you, want to get in touch work, can they find you? Well, there's Susie Ragsdalecom, and that's the main one where you can totally get everything I've ever done, and I think that that most of it is on Itunes to be downloaded and I'm pretty sure it's on spotify and stuff. I don't know, so old. I'm not technical at all, but you can totally get me on www dotdalecom, spelled s Uza risdale. Wonderful. Well, Susie, thank you so much for taking the time to chat. This is great. It was fun to talk to Youtube. I mean, we're going to hang up, but but hang on and talk to me 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 my favorite music one, but I can't remember which ones I've told, so I know I haven't told this one. Middle Ce flat and gee walk into a bar. The bartender says I'm sorry, we don't serve minors here good after today. People.

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