Bill Abernathy is a singe-songwriter based out of Kansas City, Missouri. He wrtes songs that stem from his personal experiences, events that occur in his life and the lives of those close to him. Bill is know as a dynamic and imaginative storyteller and the subjects and themes of his songs are lyrically and musically diverse.
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
Great question! Thinking back on the first songs I wrote, much like many it started with trying to impress a girl. Big surprise. Ha ha. I always have always been impressed by writers who can take their current thoughts and emotions and translate them into lyrics and music, and enjoy interpreting those songs and playing them live. I was playing a very pretty John Denver love song in a talent show in Jr High, and the girl I was interested in at the time asked me if I could write a song just for her. I remember thinking, "how hard can it be". Ahh the ignorance of youth. I did actually write that song for her, and started this journey I have traveled my my whole life. I suppose I should thank her for that. In my tune Can't Go Back I reference those days and the beginning of this journey.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
I was on stage in a big outdoor event with several thousand people in the audience playing a fully acoustic set. Just me and my guitars. It was a very warm day, and I was playing in the absolute hottest part of the afternoon, sweating all over my guitars. About halfway through the last tune, where I was bangin on my guitar pretty hard, the mains on my left side clipped. In those days, staying hydrated for a show did not involve much water if you know what I mean. Ha Ha. I was pretty "hydrated" and when the mains clipped and with the combination of the "hydration" and the heat, I thought I might be having a stroke or something. It kinda freaked me out to a couple seconds until the mains came back on. I still laugh when I think of that show and how much fun we had talking about it later with the production team.
What has been the high point of your music path?
I have been quite fortunate to have played some really cool places. I know that would be really special for lots of folks ane were really cool for me as well. I have also been blessed to have my tunes chart across the world, and have a #1 single in the Folk category. Those are really cool things. That said, I am absolutely confident the highlight of my music career is a meeting that occured after a show. As I was packing up, a young couple approached me and wanted an autograph. We started a conversation that ended up lasting over an hour. It seems one of my songs, "Changes" had met them at a place in their lives and helped them through a tough time. Over the course of the conversation, I realized that something I had written about a turbulent time in my life had helped them through some life challenges they were having. That moment really touched me. I think those moments, and there have been several, are the reason I do what I do musically. I hope that as my career continues, those moments continue to happen. That's really what it's all about.
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
Honestly it's a bit of a mess. In my normal life, I consider myself to be pretty organized. I like structure and I like having everything in its place. When a song idea pops in my mind, all that organization and structure go completely out the window. I write little notes of lyrics all over the place, may have a voice memo to myself, text message to myself, and pieces of paper all over the various rooms of my place. I actually wrote the bridge of a song in the shower with soap on glass one day. That said, once I have all these ideas together, then it's really a pretty structured process of combining the thoughts, building the structure of the tune, harmonizing the lyric with the correct musical voicings, and then playing it over and over until I get it where it needs to be.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
Indie artists are really the life blood of the industry in my opinion. The folks playing in coffee shops and smaller venues are keeping live music a part of our lifestyle choices. I personally like shows where great songs are played well. I think the big production music world may have lost their way regarding the artists and what they have to say. With all the production, lights, dancers etc.. they lose me and I think many others. In a perfect world the big music industry would support more intimate type shows and artists in a way to help bring this style of music back into the mainstream. Of course monetizing that is the real challenge. Fans would need to understand and appreciate these type shows, and be willing to pay the price to keep these shows viable. I think as artists, we have a requirement to understand our audience and give them all we have to give musically and personally. Maybe I am a dreamer, but I believe there are audiences that want the more personal style show, and to develop a relationship with the artist.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
Wow the list is long. To pick one, I would have to say Dan Fogelberg. His music has had a huge impact on my life and my music. I have always been fascinated by the way he marries his lyric with his music. His artistry and musicianship are really special. To share the stage and be a small part of that would be a very special moment for me. Of course Dan was very good at the intimate solo concerts, telling back stories of the songs, and interpreting them musically as they were written. I really enjoy that, and I think he was a master of that craft.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
I am a bit of a practice freak. I play all the time, several hours a day when I can. I believe that there must be a connection between your brain and your hands that just happens. During a show the last thing I need to worry about is playing the guitar. My focus is delivering the songs lyrics in a way to get my point across. If I have not practiced enough to get to the point that my hands just do what they need to do without me having to think about it, then I cannot deliver the song as it should be delivered. This is an injustice to the audience and something I work hard to avoid.
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
I really don't co write too often, but I received some lyrics from another writer that I took and turned into a song. I think it's easier to express your own feelings than trying to interpret other folks thoughts and turn them to music. On that particular song, I spent several weeks working on the musical voicings on the guitar to get them to marry with the lyric and the melody. The song, This I Know, turned out great, and is on my FIND A WAY album, but it was a bit of a beast to work through.
What's coming up in the future?
We are currently pushing the Crossing Willow Creek album. I am having a great time working with MTS Management Group and Michael Stover. I am really proud of this album, and am happy to see it is getting some love from our fans as well. We have some live shows planned to support the album, but as with many writers I have some new songs in the works. I am really looking forward to watching Crossing Willow Creek play across the country and the world and see what our fans have to say.
Tell us where fans can access your music?
My music is available just about anywhere you want to shop for downloads. For hard copies, if you contact me through my website I will personalize your CD and mail it direct to you. I am also on iTunes.