Celebrating the music that sparks your soul

The Stories

“It was the most difficult decision of my life. Change is never easy, but it’s especially painful when you’ve poured your heart and soul into something for so long that it nearly becomes the entirety of who you are.

I had been with the sign language interpreting program at a christian college since it started over 25 years ago. Jenny and Amy, two of my former students joined the staff about 10 years later. and would become my closest colleagues and best friends. We were three like minded women, all of faith, all with a passion for not only training high quality sign language interpreters to serve the deaf community, but preparing our students for life. When they came on board they helped me continue developing the program into something we were extremely proud of. It was a rigorous curriculum, focused on quality teaching and high expectations. But just as importantly, we provided the support our students needed to succeed both inside and outside of the classroom. Our classes were all girls most of the time. They were, at times very emotional. They would confide in us, sharing personal struggles they didn’t feel comfortable telling anyone else. From common problems with self-image and self-esteem, to more serious issues like rape, pregnancy and sexual orientation, we would support them in every possible way. I couldn’t imagine a better, more rewarding life.

But, when troubling issues began to arise, the administration was unwilling to make changes. My concerns and suggestions were ignored. After a couple of years I realized I had to make a heartbreaking choice. Stay, and sacrifice the quality and integrity of the program we had nurtured for so long. Or leave the program I had raised like a child, leave my colleagues who had become my family, leave what was for so long the perfect job. After weeks of reflection and prayer it was clear, I had to start over. Jenny, Amy and I all knew, without saying a word that the program, and our lives would never be the same. In the following weeks the college president and administration made the transition extremely difficult. I couldn’t believe after all the years we had dedicated to this program we were being mistreated and manipulated like this. In the midst of all the strife, heartache and suffering, Jenny sent us ‘Burn the Ships’ by For King and Country, and said, ‘this is now our song’.

The first time I listened, I heard the words, ‘Burn the ships, cut the ties, Send a flare into the night, Say a prayer, turn the tide, Dry your tears and wave goodbye’. I felt the loss, the sadness, the end of this part of my life. And I began to cry thinking about everything I was leaving behind. I’d listen to that song over and over for weeks, just as I’m sure did Jenny and Amy. For me starting over meant taking a job 500 miles away and re-focusing my attention on an important, personal relationship. The first 6 months were difficult. But when I came back to the song, the message had shifted. ‘Step into a new day, We can rise up from the dust and walk away, We can dance upon our heartache’. It became more about hope and possibility. After all I’d been through, I was able to move on, move forward, be happy again. And still today, a year later, when I hear that song it means even more to me, it reminds me that I couldn’t have gotten to this point in my life without the struggles I’ve endured. I feel like it’s a song that will be with me forever, reminding me of the past and evolving with me as I look toward the future.”

You go to Avett Brothers shows to not just see the band and listen to the songs, you go because you’re chasing something. For some people it’s a song or a feeling. But for even more people it’s the connection they make with other fans. You get to hear and share stories about about how the music has changed and shaped so many peoples lives. My story? Well, I was in a relationship for almost three years when I asked my girlfriend to marry me. She said yes! We were so happy and excited. But just a few weeks later she changed her mind and ended up leaving me. That experience really kind of warped my perspective on love, and the world. It hit me hard and for the better part of 2019 I was pretty miserable. But I was blessed to be an Avett Brothers fan and have their music in my life. “I Wish I Was” helped me realize that it didn’t matter how much I loved her, she wanted me to be something different. And you know, I wish I could be different in some parts of my life. But I’m just me, I’m just a man, all I have is my love. And I wish I could have given her more, but I gave all that I had.


Yeah, maybe you have to go to work everyday to take care of your family, pay your mortgage and be responsible. But at least you have the ability a couple times a year to go out and be part of a scene that’s very different from your normal, stress filled life. That’s a really important part of why a lot of people came to Dead shows back in the day and come to see Dead & Co. and Bobby’s shows now. When the music starts, and you’re really into it, and you’re dancin’, and you’re feelin’ it. You’re not thinkin’ about who you owe money to, who owes you money and things like that. You forget all about the stuff in life that gets you down and depressed.

And when we all give ourselves to the show it becomes like this group meditation. There are thousands of people all moving to the same feeling, the same vibrations, the same energy. For a few hours we’re all completely inside of the music. And all our problems? We can worry about them later. It’s a very necessary thing for a lot of people.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been more connected to an album than when I fully dove into ‘Voodoo’ by D’Angelo. I was going through some pretty serious heartbreak and depression at the time. I mean it was the biggest of my life, and that album absolutely came alive for me. It was something I could kind of hide in.

That whole experience gave me cause for some meaningful life changes, a lot of personal growth, a lot of self reflection. The biggest thing I came to realize is the importance of being honest, I mean brutally honest, with your friends, loved ones and yourself. The importance of actually speaking your mind instead of saying what people want to hear. I don’t think it’s a concept we’re born with, it’s something most of us have to learn. It’s a lesson I’m still continuing to work on. That album still brings me comfort and joy, as well as immense pain, just pure emotional rapture. Even to this day, 5 years later, anytime I listen to it, it gets to me.”

Kellen Asebroek of Fruition

U2 Fan

“I can’t really articulate the magnitude of how U2’s music resonates with me. I guess, the best way to put it is that I always identify with something in their songs, I just get so much out of them. One of the most difficult times of my life was when I lost my daughter, she was stillborn. During that intensely emotional time, it was just too painful to listen to some of my favorite music. The most emotional song for me was, and still is ‘In a Little While’. And as agonizing as it is to hear, it’s the one song that has helped me heal the most.

Sometimes their songs still catch me off guard. Just the other night, when they played ‘Mothers of the Disappeared’, tears just started running down my face because there was something about it registering with my heart in a way I’d never felt before. There was something happening to me in a spiritual way, I felt so much healing going on.

I don’t know exactly what it is. Sometimes it may be a lyric, or a guitar riff or just Larry’s beat. But when I listen to U2 there’s something that happens in my soul. It takes me to a place of healing. It allows me to unpack things that I’m holding on to emotionally, and helps me let go. It transports me to a place that’s real and connected.”

In a little while

Surely you’ll be mine

In a little while, I’ll be there

In a little while

This hurt will hurt no more

I’ll be home, love

U2 – In a Little While
Third Eye Blind Fans

I grew up as a teenager in the ’90’s. So you might look at this group and think I’m bringing them with me to see Third Eye Blind. But, actually it’s my daughter who spearheaded this whole trip. She and her friends looked up the set list a few weeks ago, and she decided that she wanted to bring her best friends to see this show for her 16th birthday. So aside from getting the tickets and driving them here, it’s all her. She has really eclectic taste in music for her age. I mean, she listens to all kinds of stuff. Her playlist goes from Frank Sinatra to Third Eye Blind and everything in between. As a father I like that she’s not following a crowd, that she’s deciding for herself what direction she takes.

Avett Brothers fans

“We were at odds my whole adult life. My mom didn’t like my lifestyle. She wanted me to stay close to home, but I had big dreams and moved across the country to California. We just couldn’t find a way to get along with each other for so many years. Then she had a serious medical condition that caused me to come back home. It was Alzheimer’s… I decided to stay to help care for her, and during that time she became the mother I had always wanted. She was amazing. She would listen to music with me all the time, especially my favorite, The Avett Brothers. She began to let go of terrible events in her life, like the heartbreaking divorce from my dad that she never got over. She would just talk about the good things, stories about being young, stories I’d never heard in my life.

As her condition continued to get worse she came to live with us. But just a few months later she passed away. She took her last breath as we listened to ‘No Hard Feelings’. That song, at that moment, made me feel like everything was OK. It made me feel that she left in peace, and that I could be in peace. Taking care of my mom in the end was the gift of a lifetime.”

When my body won’t hold me anymore

And it finally lets me free

Will I be ready?

When my feet won’t walk another mile

And my lips give their last kiss goodbye

Will my hands be steady?

The Avett Brothers – No Hard Feelings

Listen to No Hard Feelings by The Avett Brothers

Eric Clapton on Prince

“I’m so sad about the death of Prince, he was a true genius, and a huge inspiration for me, in a very real way…. In the the eighties, I was out on the road in a massive downward spiral with drink and drugs, I saw Purple Rain in a cinema in Canada, I had no idea who he was, it was like a bolt of lightning! In the middle of my depression, and the dreadful state of the music culture at that time it gave me hope, he was like a light in the darkness… I went back to my hotel, and surrounded by empty beer cans, wrote Holy Mother…. I can’t believe he’s gone….”

Eric Clapton April 23, 2016 – Photo used with permission: ©Jerome Brunet

Blake Shelton Fans

“When I first heard ‘Austin’ I fell in love with Blake Shelton. I connected with his songs right away because he’s from small town Oklahoma and I grew up in farm country. In a time when everything was done simple. We didn’t have all of these modern day conveniences. His music has helped me most during difficult, trying times. When I adopted a special needs foster child, my son, I took a job as a special ed. teacher so I would have time off when he was out of school. It’s a tough job. The pay is awful, the hours are long, but it’s very rewarding. There were a lot of challenges working and raising my son every single day. Blakes music inspired me to keep striving to be the best I could be for my son and my students. He motivated me on the days when I just didn’t think I could keep going. My son is 22 now, he’s in college and I’m so proud of him. I feel like I’ve fulfilled my mission for him, with the help of Blake.”

Jimmy Buffett fans

“I graduated high school in 1970, so my high school years were the 60’s. We thought the messages being sung by the Beatles and the Stones; Janice and Jimi were going to change the world. I went to concerts in college and listened to music constantly. Then I got married, got a job and moved into the work-a-day reality. In 1979, my sister-in-law gave me the album, Volcano, by Jimmy Buffett. When I listened it, the lyrics from ‘A Pirate Looks at 40’ grabbed me. I’ve always been around boats, I love the beach lifestyle and the places where bananas and coconuts and limes grow. I’ve sailed long distances on the blue ocean, and approached ports at sunset after long days on the sea. I’ve smelled the perfume of the land, the flowers and bread being baked. I bought and sold grass in college but the money never seemed to last.

Through the years, I’ve dreamt of living the lifestyle Jimmy describes in his songs. I never let that dream go. And now I’m doing it! My wife and I have been driving around Mexico for nearly six months. We leave today for Guatemala and eventually we’re headed to Costa Rica to live our lives in a place like Jimmy describes in ‘One Particular Harbour’.”

But there’s this one particular harbour

So far but yet so near

Where I see the days as they fade away

And finally disappear

Jimmy Buffett – One Particular Harbour

Follow Bill’s adventure at https://sullytravelssouth.com/