Bill Abernathy -Artist Interview
Written by Matt Zin on September 13, 2020
BTD Radio Welcomes Bill Abernathy to the studio!
Hello Bill, welcome to the studio,
BTD – I am eager to get started on this interview. I would like to start off with you telling our viewers a little something about your music, so my first question is, how would you describe your music in ten words or less?
BA – Stories examining life, love, the pursuit of truth and happiness.
BTD – I am sure you had some musical influences growing up, who were they?
BA – I’ve always been drawn to acoustic music where artists use music to tell a story. Artists like Jim Croce, Kenny Loggins, Dan Fogelberg, Jackson Brown, the Eagles, have all been influential and continue to be today.
BTD – At what age did you discover you wanted to be involved in music?
BA – My earliest memories are wrapped around music. Playing guitar and piano started when I was very young, probably around 8 or so. I really don’t remember a time when music was not a big part of my life. If you listen to the tune “Willow Creek”, this time in my life is pretty well described.
BTD – I was reading in your bio that you are a storyteller. When did this desire to write start?
BA – My family was full of personalities. As the baby of the family I would hear so many stories about their life events and their hopes and dreams. My father was quite a storyteller. He would spend hours telling me about his youth growing up during the great depression, his service time in WWII, as well as hunting and fishing stories. I have always thought my love of storytelling started with him and his fascinating tales of his life.
BTD -Do you remember your first song that you wrote?
BA – “The sun is rising, beaming into limpid pools of perfect light, and I myself absorb that light with awe and wonder, awe and wonder and light”. I have no idea what any of that means and didn’t then either but I though it sounded cool. LOL. This is the first “song” I wrote. Maybe this is why I now tell stories.. lol
BTD – Let’s talk about your album, “Crossing Willow Creek” Take us through how the title of this album got its name.
BA – The title has a twofold meaning. The song “Willow Creek” is the first song I put out that had some success. It got some airplay and won some songwriting awards. The tune documents a bit of my musical journey and looks back at when it all started. All that was really cool for me and made me think I just might be able to so this singer songwriter thing. I think crossing through that original success and moving forward is one element of the Crossing Willow Creek title.
Also, it speaks to moving from a comfort zone of pure acoustic style music and into bigger production of my tunes. “Willow Creek” is an acoustic tune, and will always stay that way, but many of the other tunes on Crossing Willow Creek are more electric and incorporate far more production. Crossing Willow Creek is a statement about moving away from that acoustic comfort zone into bigger things, bigger ideas and bigger sounds.
BTD – How long did the album take to complete?
BA – We completed Crossing Willow Creek in about 10 months from start to finish. I know that seems a long time, but I don’t rush the process. I really enjoy working in the studio and working with the other musicians. That said, I see recording a new project as a fun and exciting time for me so I want to take my time and enjoy it.
BTD – What song off the album would you say was the most difficult to write?
BA- Great question with an easy answer. The song “Any Port in a Storm” is about some close friends of mine who’s marriage broke up due to infidelity. The impact on each of their lives, their kids, family and circle of friends was quite dramatic and emotional. It really came out of the blue, completely unexpected and happened very fast. I still feel those emotions of pain and loss I saw in their children’s faces when I play the tune.
BTD – What is the song “Cry Wolf” about on this album?
BA – When you look at our society, the divisiveness and polarization of thought coupled with our seeming inability to have a reasonable adult discussion about important issues is frustrating to me. The amount of miss information that is spread through the various media outlets and then blown up viral on social media with no real fact validation is a bit nuts in my opinion. I think our “leaders” (and I use that term loosely and in a fully bi-partisan way), need to just shut up, get off media and do what they were elected to do. That does not include using tax or donation dollars selling books and using your position to build your personal brand. My frustration with folks who have a job to do, and spend time talking about each other instead of just going to work irritates me. My continued frustration with talking heads that only discuss what they think will get them votes, sell more advertising, make them money or fill more seats to their performances, speeches and sermons runs quite deep.
BTD – You have eleven songs on this album, is there a listening order to how these songs are placed on this album?
BA – We put the songs in an order that I think tells a story. Crossing Willow Creek starts off with our “Can’t Go Back” tune that talks about how memories of “the good old days” are just that. Trying to go back and recreate or relive those moments in time is not a good idea and can be a bit dangerous. We close Crossing Willow Creek with our cover of a Dan Fogelberg song Icarus Ascending. “There’s a reason your flying this fast and this far. Let your faith be your strength and you love be your guiding star”. That is a song that means a lot to me as I continue on the journey to Cross Willow Creek.
BTD – You have an album before “Crossing Willow Creek” which is called ” Find A Way.” Can you tell our listeners about this album? Is there a favorite song from this album?
BA – “If you want something bad enough and are willing to put in the blood sweat tears and toil, you can always Find A Way to make it happen” That is the title song on Find A Way, and a quote from my father. This is one of my favorite songs as it talks about him, and some of the lessons he taught me along life’s journey. The song is also my way to say goodbye to my dad and talks about the day he passed. I tell the full story during a live performance recorded on YouTube. Check it out. He was a very interesting man and it’s a really interesting story.
BTD – When you are writing your lyrics, how does it come about? Do you lock yourself in the studio and start writing until you are finished? Do you write bits at a time? Tell us about your writing process.
BA – The answer is yes. The writing process for me incorporates all of those. There are times a song may just write itself. Everything just comes together, and the song becomes what it’s meant to be. I don’t know where it comes from, but it just flows out and I am just the guy it chose to play along with. This is what I tend to call magic. Other times you have to power through and work hard to get the song to be what it wants to be. I have notebooks full of thoughts that drop by randomly and sometimes there are post-it notes spread out all over the desk or all over the house until it all starts to come together. Other times I write just to practice writing. I start with an idea and let my imagination take over and see what happens. Each process is different and some more challenging than others, but all are fun.
BTD – Where do you see your music career in five years?
BA – As long as there are stories to tell I will continue to tell them LOL. I’m pretty sure there will always be interesting things to write about, and hopefully people who are willing to listen. Music is a part of who I am, and not just something I do. I will continue to write and play as long as I can. As I say in the song Can’t Go Back,
“I still play these songs and write a tune or two
That’s a part of me I’d like to hold on to”
BTD – We are coming to a close of this interview. It was wonderful getting to know you through your music. You have a wonderful musical journey. Do you have any new music coming soon? How about projects or events? Also, please share with us where our listeners can buy your music.
BA – I continue to write and play music and plan to continue for a long long time. We are working hard with Michael Stover and the MTS team to get Crossing Willow Creek out there for folks to enjoy, and they are doing a great job.
We are now discussing the next project and are thinking of doing some YouTube work called The Acoustic Sessions. This would be all done in the studio, with the concept of playing both originals and some selected cover tunes what I call studio live. I would bring in some very talented folks and just play some tunes live and see what comes out. I think this could be a great time and just may create some pretty cool music.
Thank you for the great interview. It’s always fun to talk about music and tell a story or two.
You can find my music at all the popular sites. I really appreciate hearing from fans so please drop by my web site and leave me a note.
T Dawn and BTD Radio