Celebrating the music that sparks your soul
Builing stronger connections between fans, and the music they love

When you have a passion for music, the songs and artists you love become a defining part of your life. You don't just listen to music you feel it. And because you've experienced music on an emotional level you want the rest of the world to feel it in the same way.

The Stories

Why Rock and Roll

During the Spring semester in my fourth year of college I got to study abroad in Italy, which was awesome.  There were about 20 of us from the architecture program packed into two apartments.  Boys on one side, girls on the other. Even though we were really close to each other in this confined space, I felt alone. I guess just because you’re around a bunch of people, doesn’t necessarily mean you feel connected. The whole time I was there I had this sort of melancholic feeling hanging over my head.  I wasn’t one to be homesick, so I didn’t think that was it.  I just wasn’t sure where this feeling was coming from.

One crisp April afternoon I was alone, sitting in Vondelpark. It’s sort of a kin to Central Park in NYC, this giant park in the middle of Amsterdam.  I can remember every detail so vividly.  Sitting on the deck of this café, with a stream flowing in front of me, and the filtered sunlight illuminating the bubbles as they floated to the top of my glass of Heineken.  When over my headphones this song started that I had never heard before.  I could tell right away it was Ozzy Osbourne.   Then he sang that one line, “Mamma, I’m coming home”.  And in that moment, I felt a flood of emotion and this strong pull to come home.

At that time I had known about my mom struggling with her health for a while.  But what I didn’t know, until a few days later was that our family rock, my grandfather, who had been caring for my bedridden grandmother had unexpectedly fallen ill as well.  It was a heart attack.  Was this sense of loneliness and melancholy a foreboding feeling? Was the song a sign?  Turns out, it was. My grandfather – my mom’s dad – passed away within one week of his heart attack, and I instantly knew I did have to come home. My mom needed me, so I went home. Thankfully, my teachers allowed me to finish the semester by submitting my work online and I returned home to be with my family for a time where we truly needed each other’s support.

[Sarah is the creator of a unique project she’s dubbed “Why Rock n’ Roll?”.  Her interest in rock music was sparked when she was in middle school by her mom and brother, “I have this vivid memory of them in deep conversation in the dining room with CD’s sprawled out across the table.  My brother was saying something about it being a seven minute song.  That really caught my interest, and I was like Whoa! I want to hear that.” That song turned out to be “Stairway to Heaven”, not a bad intro to rock and roll.  Throughout high school and into college her fascination for rock music broadened and grew.  “I went to college in LA and I was always trying to find who amongst my friends liked rock music enough for me to drag them down to the sunset strip. Because back then, that’s where you could find this feeling of community around rock and metal music.  It was the first time I was completely on my own, and I was trying to find my identity, you know? Trying to find where I belong in the world.  I didn’t really feel connected to the people around me, and music became that bridge for me.  I found connection with people who felt through music the same way I did.  We just seem to understand things on some level that can’t necessarily be put into words. And that’s what “Why Rock and Roll?” is all about, trying to put into words, that which you can’t really put into words, it’s all feeling and emotion.”]

Follow Why Rock and Roll on instagram – https://www.instagram.com/whyrockandroll/

Ben Rector fans

When I was 20 years old I was lucky enough to study for a semester in Florence ,Italy. This would be the biggest adventure of my life. I was looking forward to spending time with 25 other students, traveling on weekends & learning about cultures half a world away from my home in Tennessee. But I quickly realized that this wasn’t going to be what I expected. Being so far away from home, in a country I didn’t know, where they speak a language I didn’t speak made it a really difficult adjustment for me. The group of students that I thought would all support one another. Well, they just didn’t get along. We were all so different.  We had different ideas about what we wanted out of our time there, different personalities & different beliefs about life that just didn’t line up. We were all stuck together in the same living quarters & classroom all day long. There was a lot of tension and stress. For me, it was emotional for sure, a lot more isolating than I expected it to feel.  

I had stumbled across Ben Rector when I was in high school a few years earlier. I was drawn to his songs because he has a way of writing that’s really poetic. Not necessarily sad, but thought provoking.  His album “Brand New” had just come out & I listened to it constantly on that trip. It was something I could hold on to whenever I was feeling lonely, or homesick, or out of my element. Something that was comforting to me when I didn’t feel nearly in my comfort zone. There were happy, upbeat songs that would pick me up when I felt overwhelmed socially. But also songs that were more introspective & made me feel like I could still find things to be thankful for even if this experience wasn’t what I expected.  30,000 Feet is the song I related to most. It was a reminder that day to day life can be frustrating because we tend to focus on all the negative things. But when you take another look, from a distance, with a different perspective, like from 30,000 feet, life is pretty good. And although I was grateful for that experience,  I’ll always remember, sitting on the plane, listening to that song & thinking. The next time I disembark, I will be with my family again, back to a place I’m used to.

This vacation was quite different from others I had taken.  It was just me and my very best friend.  We rented a van, threw a mattress in the back, and drove through Sweden and Norway for three and a half weeks.  During our other trips we’d backpack, stay in hostels, and go into different cities spending time with all kinds of people.  But this time it was basically just us, So we had a lot of time to think and reflect on life. “Summer Storms” by Jake Etheridge popped up on the beautiful playlist we had selected to fill the silence as we drove through the mountains of Norway. I absolutely loved the vibe of the music and the lyrics were absolutely brilliant.  It’s quite a sad song about a guy who was just left by his girlfriend. She felt trapped in a small town and dreamt of bigger things so she finally decides to leave it all behind.  I completely identified with that girl because I grew up in a really rural, farming village in Belgium where everyone knows each other and no one ever leaves.  All my parents wanted was to keep me close, in that village. They thought I should go to school, get a good job, get married, have kids and live an ordinary life. Stability is everything to them and their generation.  

We listened to “Summer Storms” so many times on that trip, over and over again on repeat.  The more I listened to it, the more I imagined I was that girl in the song who decided to leave everything behind. We’d usually end up in really deserted places, mountaintops miles from anywhere, no people, no internet, no nothing. It was in that space and time, with no distractions, listening to that song, that it became clear to me. Oh my god, I’m so sick of that village and the life I’m living, I have to get out. I have to start living my own life. I had felt suffocated in that village for so long and I knew that there had to be more for me out in the world.

When I returned home I couldn’t shake that feeling.  I knew what I had to do, but it was way too big of a step to just pack up and leave.  I didn’t even know where to start. The feelings inside of me continued to grow until one day my boss was being horrible to me.  I couldn’t take it anymore and I sort of got fired.  When I stopped, took a step back and looked at everything, I realized that this was the time to drastically change my life. I wanted to travel, I wanted to tell my own story through music. So I explained to my family and friends that I had to go for at least a year. I didn’t want to look back and regret never trying.  It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. I had no idea if I was strong enough to adapt to new places, if I would be lonely. This would be the first time I was completely on my own. What if I run out of money, what if I realize after a few weeks that it’s not what I want and I have nothing to come back to? But I knew from experience that great things come every time I get out of my comfort zone. So yeah, it was the scariest thing I’ve ever done, but so far it’s been great!

[Elly Wild is a singer songwriter who found her voice in her early teens as she enjoyed being part of choirs and taking classical singing classes. She began performing in musicals such as Oliver! and The Sound of Music in her early twenties before joining the symphonic metalband Gallia in 2015.  “I used to be a really sensitive kid. So I put up this really tough exterior, I was always the tough girl. Which is why I think I went with a hardcore band like Gallia.” But more recently she has been concentrating on a different sound in her solo work. “The last couple of years I started finding my own path. I tapped into my feminine energy. And I think that’s when the possibility of Indie music started to open up for me.” When Elly made the choice to follow her path she left everything she had known her whole life to experience the lifestyle of a digital nomad, traveling around the world while writing her own songs. “With every phase of my travel, like, every couple of months, I take my experiences, put them into song and release it along with a video from wherever I am in the world ” Her music can be described as powerful indie music with inspiring lyrics. “Sister of My Soul” is the first song of the project “The song was written to my friend and soulmate who left to live on another continent, as I was about to go on my own adventure,  I wanted to tell her how much she means to me, and that even though it breaks my heart, all I want is for her to find happiness and peace.” Elly’s travels had to be put on hold because of Covid-19, and she’s anxiously awaiting to get back on the road.]

https://www.instagram.com/ellywildmusic/

www.ellywild.com

Elly Wild on Spotify

Our relationship had been bad for a long time. No matter what I tried, she just wouldn’t respond. So I decided to draw a line in the sand. I suggested that we separate while we figure this out. I had made a promise and intended to keep it, but she decided that we needed to get divorced. The hardest part was watching my two kids try to make sense of it at ages 8 and 4. I knew it was going to be difficult, but I had no idea just how bad things would get.

In the middle of this messy divorce is when I met the woman I’m married to now. And I know it happened fast. But I wasn’t looking for a relationship and I would’ve never imagined that I’d fall in love again so quickly. When everyone realized that I was in a new relationship the narrative suddenly changed. Now they were all convinced that I was leaving my wife for another woman, and that just wasn’t the case. I mean, I was even asked to leave my church.

The thing is, when you hear about all these people around you saying this stuff over and over again. At some point it seeps it’s way into your head. And even though you know it’s not true you begin to think, or ask yourself, “am I really an awful person?” That’s where I was when I head Chris Tomlin’s song “Whom Should I Fear (God of Angel Armies)”. It hit me hard and made me realize that even if I had made mistakes, even if I should have handled things differently, “The God of angel armies is always by my side”. Not on my side, but by my side. And even though things aren’t good right now, there is a path for me, and in the end it will work out for the good. That’s a difficult idea to hold onto when you’re in the middle of emotional turmoil. That song continues to take me to a place of peace no matter how bad things seem to get.

Eric Caldwell

It was a sink or swim moment in my life, I felt like this was gonna make me or break me, and I damn sure wasn’t gonna let it break me.

When I was 21 my mom died of cancer. Before she passed away she told me “you gotta keep going, because life goes on”. Those were the three hardest words I’ve ever heard, life goes on. During that time my dad was telling me to keep making music. I think he figured if I focused on music, it would keep me on the right path and probably keep me out of trouble.  He had been focused on caring for my mom for months and never let me or anyone else know that he was in the middle of his own battle with cancer. Exactly two months after I buried my mom I had to bury my dad. It was like he lost his will to live when she died. You hear about that kind of thing happening after a spouse dies. I just didn’t think it would happen that quickly.  

After losing both of them I could feel myself slipping backwards, I remember visiting their gravesites and repeating over and over, life goes on, life goes on.  And I was like, this is it, I refuse to let this break me. I had to start looking to the future, I mean yesterday’s gone and tomorrow’s near, right?  I didn’t have any siblings and my extended family was spread out in different places, so it was just me and my music. Writing and listening to music became a sort of therapy for me. I’ve always listened to a lot of different kinds of music, From Robert Johnson to Nirvana to Jack White and John Prine. 

As much as I loved Nirvana and the deep words Kurt Cobain wrote. It was just too depressing and I didn’t want to find myself getting too trapped in it. I didn’t want to get stuck in my own head and obsess over the situation in a negative way.  With Jack White it was about the expression behind the music. I mean the White Stripes was a two person band. They didn’t go looking for more, they did without, and did a lot with it. And that’s how I related to it, I can do a lot with what I’ve got right here, you know? But, I’d have to say John Prine was the one who really spoke to me. His words don’t get lost in complex musical structure, he keeps it simple and the focus is on the lyrics, the story, the point he’s making. His incredible poetry and expression can be shared and understood today just as much as when it was written 30 or 40 years ago.  When I heard the line “For if heartaches were commercials, we’d all be on TV” after my parents passed away, it really hit me hard and stuck with me.  I mean we all got heartaches, just some commercials are longer than others. One of my biggest heartaches is that my parents never got to see me play, but I’m sure they’re seeing it now, wherever they are.


[Eric Caldwell started playing guitar around age 12. In his early 20’s he turned to playing music as a form of therapy when, first his mom, and then his dad were diagnosed with cancer.  “I was in a little band, and we played a couple of dive shows, house parties and stuff. It really helped while they were ill.”  After losing both of them when he was just 22, he put more of his energy into writing music as a way to keep himself, and his life on track. “I could feel myself slipping backwards, toward a dark place, I knew I had to keep focused on the future.”  The influences of Jack White and John Prine along with his life experiences began finding a way into his songs. During this time of grieving and focused attention on songwriting he found his own unique voice and developed a style that expertly blends and bends musical genres . As his solo act progressed, he booked a small tour taking him to New York, Chicago and Nashville.  Last year Caldwell began assembling a band, The Cruise Control to build on his solo sound. Just as they were gaining traction, Covid-19 hit and essentially stopped them in their tracks.  Since then, they’ve been writing, recording and anxiously awaiting the re-opening of live music venues.  So keep an eye out for Eric Caldwell and The Cruise Control, a band poised for a swift and strong return to live performances.]

Eric Caldwell and The Cruise Control on Facebook

Check out Eric Caldwell on ReverbNation

Eric Caldwell on Instagram

Band Perry fans

When I first moved to Birmingham one of my friends introduced us. Three months later we were married. 45 years later, my dear husband passed way. You can imagine how difficult it was for me. He was my life, and I felt lost without him.

About a year later I went to a country music festival in Nashville. I didn’t really know that much about country music. I mean I had heard of Hunter Hayes and a couple of others. But that was the first time I had ever seen or heard The Band Perry. The very next day I went out and bought everything I could find by them and instantly fell in love. The one song I really connected to was “If I Die Young”. I was still grieving the loss of the love of my life. That one song made such a difference. It helped me express my sadness, and ultimately helped heal my soul.

If I die young, bury me in satin

Lay me down on a bed of roses

Sink me in the river at dawn

Send me away with the words of a love song

The Band Perry
Avett Brothers fans

One of things I like most about the Avett Brothers is that their lyrics really hit me, hit me in a way that sometimes reveal emotions that I don’t even realize are affecting me. They put into words what I can’t.

They change up the set list for every show so you never know what to expect. At the end of 2018 I saw them in Charlotte. When Scott came out for the encore he began to count it off, “and a two, and a three, and a four”. I instantly felt my emotions take over, fell into my seat and started balling. I guess maybe I realized there had been a problem on a subconscious level, but it wasn’t something I thought much about or analyzed. That entire year had been a particularly lonely one. It wasn’t that I was alone. I had friends, great friends. I had my family. I was just going through a season of growth in my life. Trying to figure out what I really wanted. And when they played “The Perfect Space” it was like a light bulb turned on. I couldn’t believe that in that moment, a song could make me understand what I was going through when I wasn’t even thinking about it.

I wanna have friends that I can trust,
that love me for the man I’ve become not the man I was.
I wanna have friends that will let me be
all alone when being alone is all that I need.
I wanna fit in to the perfect space,
feel natural and safe in a volatile place.

I needed people in my life that could grow with me. And maybe it was time to say goodbye to the ones that don’t get that. It was about to be a new year, a time to look forward not back, a time for a change.

With everything that’s been going on this year; coronavirus, rioting, murder hornets, political divide, and so many people struggling. I keep think of that song by REM, It’s the End of the World as We Know It. But it’s the next line that I really love, “and I feel fine”. I mean there’s always gonna be something… until all of the sudden there’s nothing. But until that time comes, I’m just not gonna worry about it any more than I have to. It’s a matter of your perspective and how you choose to deal with it.

I think the first U2 song I really connected with was the live version of Gloria from Under a Blood Red Sky. I had those thoughts, like so many kids going through that awkward stage in life. No one understands me, I’m different than everyone else. Their music made me fell like, it’s gonna be OK, made me believe that I’m gonna find my way through this, gave me faith that I could figure this out.

But for us it’s more about the whole experience, not just one song. We’ve both been U2 fans since before we met over 30 years ago. And while there is a focal point, something we connect to in each album and each tour. The way we connect evolves over time. The Joshua Tree was our moving into young adulthood album. We were growing up and we could sense that there was more of a purpose behind the songs than some of the other music we were listening to. Then during the Zoo TV tour, we became even more aware about what was going on in the world. That tour made us think more globally and how we fit into this puzzle of affecting change to make it better. And still today, all these years later, they continue to shed a light on social issues and inspire us in so many ways.

For much of my youth I was forbidden to listen to rock music by my stepmom. I was finally allowed to listen to the radio when I was 10 or 11, and that’s when I heard Bruce Springsteen. I immediately connected to his songs because he was singing about getting out, getting away, which is exactly what I wanted to do. I lived in a lot of different places when I was a kid, I went to 22 different schools growing up. I was always really small for my age, but I had a BIG mouth. That combination got me beaten up quite a bit in school. On top of that, when I was at home I was abused by various stepparents. So when I heard “Born to Run” that day on the radio it really spoke to me. As I discovered more of his music I recognized that he wasn’t just singing about getting away, but also about possibility, the possibility that you can be better than your origins.

To me the song “Badlands” is the perfect example of what he does. It’s all about the struggle of working hard but not necessarily getting anything out of it. I mean we all want to do work that rewards us. Then the song explodes into this anthemic chorus that says, hey, I’m gonna do something really special with my life. That has always stuck with me ever since I heard it as a kid. Bruce Springsteen opened my eyes to a whole other kind of music that I didn’t know existed, and for the first time, I found poetry in rock music.

Bill Foster is an award winning photographer best known for concert and music festival imagery.
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