As Thanksgiving is approaching I’ve been reflecting on the true meaning of this holiday. With that in mind, I thought I would use this month’s blog post to thank some different people who have played a positive role on my life. I’ve got to be 100% honest, this has been somewhat difficult for me to write. As in everyone’s life I’ve had many people pass through it, several of which had an effect on me in some way. I thought long and hard about who all I would want to talk about. Personally, I’d love to be able to mention every single person who went through my mind as I was brainstorming for this month’s post, but if I did that I would probably have an entire book written. I’m not ready to do that yet, but one day it will happen. With that being said, I’ll start giving my thanks!
First and foremost I would like to thank my mother, Michelle Hammock. She has been my strongest advocate from day one. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times she had to fight to get me certain medical needs as well as educational accomodations when I was in public school. I also appreciate the fact that she made sure to show me what my full potential was and that she always held me to the same standards as everyone else in our household. It was something that I unfortunately took for granted as a child, but now as a young adult man greatly appreciate. It’s made me a stronger human being and has allowed me to look at things through the lense of an able bodied person rather than a disabled person. I also appreciate the support she’s had for me and my love of music. She’s been with me to many festivals, concerts and other events over the years even though it’s not her interest. Because of this support, I felt confident in making Music Business my full time career. Thank you Mom. I hope I’ve made you proud.
Secondly, I’d like to thank my Dad, Robby Paul and my grandpa, Bobby Paul. As I’ve mentioned before these two men are the reason that I got into music to start with. From an early age, I can remember hearing the sounds of my Dad’s banjo ringing through our house as well as recordings by artists such as The Johnson Mountain Boys, Del McCoury, Hot Rize and many others. It was the same way with my Grandpa except rather than hearing a banjo, I was hearing a fiddle being played. He played a pivotal role by exposing me to many of the first generation Bluegrass artists such as Bill Monroe, Jimmy Martin, The Stanley Brothers and the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers to name a few.There was also a second generation mandolin player he introduced me to that I would really come to admire by the name of Doyle Lawson. These are the influences that shaped my musical identity and would later inspire me to form Braeden Paul & Wheel Hoss. I’m thankful for the role both men have played in my musical development and I’m glad that I get to share the stage with my Dad on a regular basis.
I’d also like to thank the rest of my family for their love and support. Although there’s too many people to specifically talk about in this category they’ve all been a big part of my life and I appreciate everything they’ve done for me. I would however, like to mention my sister Lindsay. In recent years her and I have grown closer, in part because I’m at her apartment almost every weekend. I enjoy having someone to watch movies with, run errands, eat a nice meal, go to church and also make jokes about my disability that would probably leave most people unsure about whether they should laugh or not (if you’re around me you should)! I’m not sure how much longer she’ll be around geographically speaking, but I will enjoy every moment of our time together while I have it.
When you’re dealing with a physical disability like mine, you deal with your fair share of doctors, nurses, surgeons, therapists, case managers, medical attendants etc. I couldn’t tell you every person who has ever taken care of me and I doubt any of them will ever read this, but to all those who have thank you. You certainly don’t have the easiest job in the world, but I greatly appreciate everything you’ve done for me and many others out there. Your work has not gone unnoticed.
When thinking about who all I’d like to thank in the local music community, I narrowed it down to several different people. I should start off by thanking Jim Rozell for giving me my first gig at the age of 17 playing mandolin and singing baritone harmony in his band, Blackland Grass. I’d also like to thank Buzz Busby & Pamela Dahl for mentoring me during this time frame. I would especially like to thank Philip Ferguson. The weekend before I graduated high school, I filled in with his band Texas True at a Bluegrass band contest in Dallas. A few weeks later I was offered the mandolin slot in the group, a position I proudly held for 3 1/2 years. There’s so many things I could say about my time in Texas True. To put it simply, Philip taught me many lessons that I would later carry with me as I was starting my own group. He showed me by example how to be a democratic band leader, always allowing his wife June, my Dad or I to insert ideas that we thought would fit the overall group sound. He also taught me the importance of writing original music and how it would set you apart as an artist. Philip has a natural gift of writing strong lyrics that tell a story. A fine example of this is the song “Both Barrels” which we recorded just two months after I joined the band. Out of everything we played together, that is still my favorite song in the Texas True repertoire. You can hear our recording of it by clicking this link if you’re interested. I appreciate both him and June’s continued friendship. I would also like to thank all the guys in Wheel Hoss for their contribution to my musical journey. You can read what all I have to say about them in my July blog post.
I would like to thank Anji Pearl for allowing me to represent Pearl & the Polka Dots as their booking agent right after I graduated from a college certificate program in Music Business. She literally called me the day I got my certificate! I learned a great deal in the short time I represented them. I’m grateful to Anji, Rachel Bates and Charlie Day for having faith in a young guy who was just learning how to make business dealings in the music world. I also need to thank Karl Shiflett for giving me the opportunity to represent him as well. I had kind of accepted the fact that I would probably never be able to get a job on the national Bluegrass scene due to traveling being difficult for me, but he’s shown me that I can still be very much apart of it without doing that. He’s also taught me a whole lot about the Music Business that I’ve applied to my own band. Having been a fan of Karl and his music since the age of 13, I’m honored that he trusts me enough to represent The Karl Shiflett & Big Country Show brand and help them continue to spread their unique Traditional Bluegrass & Classic Country sound to different audiences.
I’ve had a lot of friends come and go throughout my life, but there is one in particular who is still my best friend to this day. His name is Mitchell Mayer. Him and I became friends in first grade shortly after he and his family moved to the area and we’ve been that way ever since! Though we don’t see each other as much, our friendship is still very much alive today through text messages and social media. I specifically wanted to mention him because he was there for me when the reality of my Cerebral Palsy hit me like a ton of bricks. During that time he listened and always showed me support even when I was at my worst emotionally. More than anything, our friendship gave me that sense of normalcy I and many others with physical disabilities crave. He’s got a fantastic sense of humor and him and I have had many laughs together over the years. This is long overdue in my opinion, but I’d like to thank Mitch for being the great person and friend he always has been.
Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to thank God for always being there and guiding me along the way. I’ve faced many challenges and had many victories. I personally believe that God has used all those things to make me the person I am today. I’m still not exactly sure what his purpose for me is, but I feel certain he’ll reveal it to me whenever he feels the time is right. One thing I do know for sure is he has helped me find and develop abilities that have allowed me to reach people in different ways. Whether it be through my mandolin playing, a blog post I’ve written or a business deal I’ve made, I hope that I’ve entertained, motivated or inspired people in some way. I’m thankful that God has continually blessed me over the years.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Eat a lot of turkey, spend some time with family and tell them how thankful you are for them.