So, I’m not an album reviewer. (As some of you know, I’m not really a reporter either, I just kind of... talk). When I heard that Kingfield resident Scott Zosel had another album coming out, I just thought I’d talk to him.
“I give myself a deadline,” he says, when I remark that he’s producing a lot of art for a guy who also has a regular job, grandkids and everything.
“I write a lot of poems, and I publish on a site called Medium. You should try it,” he says, helpfully, after I bemoan the fact that even though I write every day, my novel still isn’t finished. (Again, Minnesotans can’t help but be helpful.)
“I give myself a few months, write some tunes, some lyrics, and then I go into the studio with some some pros and bring it all to life.”
“Saturday’s Child” is Zosel’s latest LP – his fourth since “retiring” from a life of coaching baseball 10 years ago and then going back to music. “This is the time of our lives for doing cool things that we love,” he says, echoing what has been almost a mantra of my own. (Lately, in my own music life, I often end my set with Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” – and my rap that it’s not too late to learn how to paint, or to write poems, or to... live your heart’s desire.)
One of the songs you will encounter in the SOUTHWEST CONNECTOR PLAYLIST (see sidebar) is the evocative tale and tune titled “George Jones,” from Zosel’s “Cold Black Curls” (2020) album. “It’s the story of my childhood growing up in southwestern Minnesota, in a strange kind of way,” he says, after I hear him play it at Sociable CiderWerks.
Another of my favorite songs from “Saturday’s Child” is “I Saw the Buddha,” and while it’s the title that first drew me in, its haunting melody and circular imagery is what led me to listen to it three times in a row.
We talked of how most artists have to wear a lot of hats and be capable in the “producer” role of each musical endeavor. It requires skills beyond writing and playing music, and, in fact, you can be accomplished at writing compelling music, but if you’re not a “producer,” you won’t “exist” beyond your friend group. A inventive artist in full control of their craft may blossom internally without an audience, but to get an audience, you need to “produce.”
Media skills, technical skills, computer skills, “communication skills” – whether you’re trying to sell cds or play live, you must also be capable of promoting your work, scheduling shows, coordinating musicians, etc. It never ends.
Throughout history, married couples have often fulfilled both roles in their business. The model I most recognize is the male director/female producer teams.
I remember talking about this a lot with my son when he was in high school, and it was becoming clear that he was aspiring to have a career as an actor. I told him that if he is able to “produce,” if he develops those skills, too, he will be able to get work in times he isn’t getting cast. I helped him see that you can get hired on projects you want to be a part of... (and in fact, this was a great reason to be on stage crew when he was not cast in the high school play). With producing skills, you can create your own opportunities. Producing skills are always necessary everywhere. Getting work in open casting is not reliable, and I think the same is true for musicians. Hitting it big is really a crap shoot. Having a life in the arts is something you can plan.
“I took on music later in life,” Scott says. “Not sure I’ll ever catch up. Hitting it big, that’s not really important. Being true to myself, staying engaged with my musical vision every day, creating fresh new music for people to enjoy – that’s what it’s all about for me. I’m not done yet. I have things to say. And I’m not going to get there sitting on the couch eating potato chips. Publishing and performing is everything to me. And when people watch me perform, I think they get that. Just because retirement is just around the corner doesn’t mean it’s time to coast. It’s time to pour it on.”
I loved that. My friend JL says it to me. This is the time of your life to do art.
Check out three of Scott’s songs on our Playlist, along with three favorites from The Belfast Cowboys, and a couple classics from the Jayhawks.
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