I don’t think I could ever fully explain my love for music. It is my one true passion in life, even surpassing writing. Maybe it’s my love for writing that actually spurred my love for music – something about being able to create sounds and write lyrics that express so much emotion and tell stories in a concise space and time just fascinates me. I don’t know. What I do know is that music makes me feel alive. Whether it’s just listening to a song in the quiet of my apartment, for energy when I’m running, for entertaining myself while I’m driving (singing at the top of my lungs and playing air drums on the steering wheel), or watching magic unfold on stage at a live show, music just stirs my soul in ways that nothing else can. Not even love – one of the reasons that I rarely date is because just about every guy I’ve ever dated can’t grasp my love for music, and can’t fathom that it’s more than just some idle hobby for me. People often tell me that I “light up” when I talk about music. I know I do. I can’t help it. I believe music can change someone’s life, can help heal wounds both emotional and physical, can comfort you when you’re sad or lost, can make your most memorable moments in life even more powerful…I believe it because music has done every one of these things for me and more.
Back in the fall of 2004, I met this girl named Christy. We’d both gone on The Rock Boat and she happened to be coming to Charlotte for a music festival (back when Charlotte did cool festivals). I think I had posted something on the Rock Boat message board asking if anyone was coming into town for it, and Christy responded that she was and why didn’t we meet up. We did, became fast friends, and seven years later, she is not only my soul and best friend, but also the person I laughingly call my “music dealer.” If Christy says that I should listen to an artist, it’s a pretty automatic bet that I will immediately love that artist.
What the hell does all this have to do with “Krissie Mix,” you ask? Well, if there had been no Christy, there would be no Krissie Mix. A couple of months after meeting Christy, a bunch of us headed to Atlanta for a Dexter Freebish show. We had a big “pre-party” before the show with a bunch of Rock Boat types, and Christy was there. She gave me a 2-CD mix called “Best Songs You Never Heard 2004.” She explained that she made a mix CD once or twice a year to get the word out about new artists. On that CD were a bunch o’ Rock Boat bands, but also some others that I’d never heard before – a fella named Matt Nathanson, for one, Graham Colton, for another. Then, there was one that confirmed that Christy and I would be friends for a lifetime: The Stereophonics. Ever since going to Wales in 2001, I’d be a huge ‘Phonics fan, and no one in the States seemed to know them. Score one for Memphis Queen! (Side note: a later 2004 Christy mix yielded Gareth Asher, who we all know that I adore, and who Christy was promoting way before anyone in the TRB crowd really knew his name.)
That first Christy mix CD spurred me to make my own mix because I thought it was a great way to get the word out about some of my favorite artists. Upon returning from that trip to Atlanta, I sat down and made my own mix CD. It had a total distribution of 4 people: Annie, Brad, Andrea and my cousin Megan. But the process of making it was so much fun that I thought it might be fun to do it again. So I did. And I swiped another idea from Christy: making “liner notes” about the artists and songs – although Christy’s were always nicely succinct and mine ended up being rambling stories.
So, you get the idea. Since that summer, I have been making a “Krissie Mix” once a season to spread the word about little known artists and music that I think deserves attention. Four times a year, I sit down and whittle down a list of what is usually about 50 songs to 20, revising the order of the songs over and over again until I get it just perfect. I absolutely love doing it.
A lot of artists that appear on the mix are those that I’ve met personally and who have given me permission to use their songs; some of them have actually ended up on the distribution list and get the Krissie Mix every season. I’ve even had two artists, Christopher Jak and Son of a Bad Man, let me debut new songs of theirs on one of my mixes, which has been an absolute thrill! Many are independent artists not on labels. I like to think that the Mix is a way to introduce their music to new audiences and I hope that I have helped with a few record sales and new fans for the artists on the Mix.
From that first intimate list of four people, the distribution list has grown over the years. At first, it grew just a little bit, to other friends in the Rock Boat circle. A couple non-music crowd friends asked if they could get a copy. Then those friends got married and their spouses asked for their own copies. Friends of friends got added to the list. I even have one friend that begged me to start sending it to his brother, who I’ve never met! It’s been growing and growing ever since. The Summer Mix, which made its debut this week, will go to just under 80 people all over the U.S. If one person goes and buys an album because of a Krissie Mix, it has made the effort worth it. To all of you who continue to listen to my Mixes after all these years, thank you for liking them enough to let me keep doing something that I love doing.
A lot of people have offered over the years to help fund the mailing of the Krissie Mix, and while I do appreciate the offers, taking money for it would A) actually be illegal and B) taint it for me somehow. A couple of friends – Rebecca and Gail, to call them out – have actually sent me iTunes gift cards as “thank yous.” But what would make me happiest is if everyone who ever gets a Krissie Mix would just go buy the music of the artists on the mix or contribute to some up and coming musicians’ Kickstarter funds (here and here are good examples).
And if you’re not on the Mix list, I’ve posted a few years worth as playlists/iMixes on iTunes – here’s the Summer Mix to get you started. Go check ’em out and support these wonderful artists!