Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Purpose -- A tribute to the songs of Daniel Bull

I moved to Austin because I wanted to play music for a living. There was just one little snag -- I had no idea what I was doing.

Sure, I had been a singer for as long as I could sing, and had been in bands throughout college and high school. But in true chick singer form, I had left the heavy lifting to other people (Hey Jeff!). When I moved to Austin, I didn't know how to wrap a mic cord, much less put a band together and book a show.

All I had was a dream. And an vague, ill-formed one at that.

I started trying to get gigs. Mostly I called booking agents and left messages, very few of which were ever returned. And if I did get somone on the other end? They asked me to send them a promo packet so they could review it.

When I called to follow up, I was met with even more land line silence.

It was disheartening.

Ad then one day I walked into a little bar called the Carousel Lounge. I was determined to put my press packet in the hands of a living, breathing human being rather than mail it off into the abyss.

That was the day I met Daniel Bull.

To a suburban raised young 'un like me, Daniel looked kind of tough, like a biker maybe. Or a magician. Or a musician. I'd find out he was all three.

I was intimidated. And it strengthened my intention to execute my original plan. Get in. Drop off the packet. Get out.

But Daniel didn't let me follow through. He didn't take my envelope from my shaky hands with a grunt and tell me to call in two weeks. Instead, he started asking me about myself. Where I was from, and what I played. I answered him, trying sound nonchalant and confident which was of course the very opposite of how I felt.

And then he blindsided me.

"Go ahead then. Sing me a song."

What? Excuse me? What was this, some American Idol audition? Okay, this was years before that horrid show started, but still, I had visions of him wanting me to bust out some accapella version of "I Will Always Love You."

Oh no, I um...I mean, I don't have my guitar

"Well you can use mine. Go ahead."

And he handed me a guitar and then looked at me and waited expectantly for me to perform.

So I did. Shakily, never once looking up from my hands, which were still learning how to play the song I was singing to him. But I got through it.

And then he gave me a gig.

The regular Friday night Happy Hour at the Carousel Lounge was my home for years. It's where I really learned what playing music meant. It's where I learned the beginnings of bandleading. It's where I met an amazing crewe of people with whom I spent nearly every weekend. It's where my sister met her husband.

It's where I learned to be a performer.

And it was all because I was lucky enough to walk in on a day that Daniel Bull was working.

Daniel had an amazing story. He found out he had leukemia when he was in college and had a bone marrow transplant, which had given him graft vs. host disease, which had led to a myriad other problems and which, by all accounts, he should not have survived. By the time he was thirty, the government gave him a break and let him take retirement.

But he wasn't really the retiring type.

Daniel Bull was a magic making, hell raising, music playing, one man show writing, Indian motorcycle riding, sweetest guy you ever met kind of type. And when he left Austin for North Carolina, we were all sad to see him go.

And when we found out he had passed away, well, we were just plain heartbroken.

A couple of years ago his girlfriend Lauren asked me if I would record one of his songs for a tribute record she was putting together. And of course, I said yes.

The record is out, and you can get information about it here

It's called "Purpose -- a tribute to the songs of Daniel
Bull" because Daniel's whole trip was about helping people find their purpose, to encourage them to accept and nuture that which just came naturally to them.

He definitely helped me find mine.


Joanna said...

Beautiful. Thank God for Daniel Bull. RIP.

Jeff B said...

Very cool....Thanks for sharing Daniel and your story...I learned something new today!