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moved away from that. Recently I’ve been reac- quainting myself with some of my old favorites.

What do you do when you aren’t record- ing and performing? I’ve been writing a blog called Indie Music Indie Musicians. I’ve also been writing some essays about our boys and the challenges involved in parenting special needs kids as well working on a memoir about being a stay at home dad while pursuing a music career.

Can we talk about your kids? I know you have at least one special needs child. I think it is wonderful the way you include them so much in your work. Also touch on the song “People Like Us,” my favorite. My wife and I have four kids between us. Two boys and two girls. The oldest is 20. His name is Dylan and he has Cerebral Palsy. He’s in a wheel- chair and is nonverbal. Then there’s a set of twins. Madison and Griffin. The twins are 17 and Griffin is Autistic. The youngest daughter Cassidy is 16.

Having the family we have we encourage awareness and inclusion. My wife Pamela Parker has a law practice that specializes in special needs trusts and guardianships as well as Special Education law and advocacy in general. A few years ago I played at a Walk Now For Autism event and was thinking about writing a song for that particular show. I came up with “People Like Us.”

One of my pet frustrations as the parent of two special needs kids is not so much being excluded but more like being omitted. We weren’t ever cut out from anything but we were sometimes just overlooked or regulated to afterthought status. I guess it’s easy to overlook people like us. But you know people like us are just like everybody else. So I wrote that song and then to raise Griffin’s profile we made a video for YouTube with footage from our trip to Disneyland. The response on youtube was pretty good so I made a few more casual videos of me and Griffin playing and singing.

Dylan isn’t the music fan that Griffin is and he balked at having his picture taken so I haven’t yet been able to work him into any feature video

spots. (Laughs)

Maybe soon. I’d like to see all the kids in your music videos! Many of us are really excited about your new album. Tell us all about it, every detail, and how it differs from the Hell Yeah! album. Also, is there a particular song that stands out as your favorite on the album?

I'm going to run all of these answers together. My last record Hell Yeah! came out late in 2010. Our goal for that record was to get on the radio and reintroduce myself after almost fifteen years of being mostly inactive. For Hell Yeah! we got Patrick Conway to pro- duce. Patrick had recently moved to Austin after working in Hawaii and San Francisco. I showed him the songs I had and asked if he thought he could make a record out of them. He was in and he made most of the production decisions. Patrick made a great record and I was thrilled with the reception it got. Hell Yeah! is a big loud, everything including the kitchen sink, record. For the new record The Unexplainable Billy Eli, I wanted to do something different. Hell Yeah! was a honky tonk rocker album. The record before it, Trailer Park Angel was a straight honky tonk country record. I'm really proud of both of those records but I wanted to make one where the songs were the thing, not the band I had put together. I also wanted to bring in some different musical viewpoints. I've always liked all genres of music but I've also been guilty of thinking of things in black and white terms when it came to recording.

For the new record I wanted something broader and a bit more organic that would really put the songs and my voice right out front. I've written what I think is some of my best stuff and I didn't want it to get lost in the arrangements and pro- duction. Also I didn't want to make another stock Honky Tonk record. I wanted to stretch out a lit- tle bit more and take a few chances. I started mentally putting together a list of musicians that I've worked with who covered a wide range of styles and genres. I wanted players who were not just sidemen but fans of the songs themselves. After I had my wish list of musicians I needed a producer. I asked Doug Robinson. Doug played


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