The Triggs Boys

Dale Earnhardt Sr. died on February 18, 2001.  I was heart broken.  I had seen Alan Jackson playing beautiful acoustic guitars for years before that.  I called Alan’s management company and begged to get the name of the guitar builder’s and a phone number.  They gave me the name Jim Triggs. 

I called him a day later, when I mustered up the courage.  He answered the phone out in Kansas, and we I told him who I was, hoping to impress him, nope…  anyway, we had so much in common, he loved the fact that I saw his guitars being played by Alan.  I asked about him and his son Ryan building me a guitar. 

I wanted a dreadnought, with a cutaway, somewhat beat up, with Dale’s #3 carved into the upper bout.  Done!  I picked it up at NAMM in June of 2001 and it hasn’t been far from my side ever since.  This guitar is so full of life, Jim and Ryan made it look, feel, and sound like the best 50 year old guitar you’ve ever played.  I could go on about it all day. 

Since then these 2 amazing craftsmen and built me 4 more guitars.  I got a couple friends to play them who then ordered guitars like Randy Houser, Lee Brice, and a couple more.  I even sold Luke Bryan one of mine that he used in his first video, “All My Friends Say”.

I wrote both on my #1’s on it, and I’ve written a couple songs with Ryan, who is a great writer and singer.  I am so thankful for these 2 guys, genuine friends. This is just one of the relationships that music is responsible for, thanks music. You can check out their guitars here.


The Day Tammy Wynette kissed me

When I was getting my feet wet within the music biz I would do anything for anyone it seemed.  I was lucky enough to work for the record division of Acuff-Rose called 16th Avenue records. 

Well I let it be known that I was interested in recording and producing.  Jerry Bradley, the president of this whole operation was also a record producer & Nashville legend.  I was asked if I wanted to be the second engineer on a Tammy Wynette session.  YES!!  What do I do?  Turn the 2 inch tape around, move mics, make and get coffee, that’s about it.  COOL!! 

Tammy and her (shall I say) eccentric husband George Richey came to the studio one summer day, 1000 degrees Nashville hot. Tammy was looking beautiful and graceful, perfectly dressed, and George in a full length fur coat…. 

Anyway, hugs, handshakes and intro’s all around and we went to work.  Tammy sang 2-3 songs, usually 1 take of each, and George said that’s enough for today and they left.  When Tammy sung she took her gigantic hanging earings off and put them on her music stand. Well she forgot them and as she left and I noticed.  I asked Bill the engineer what should I do, he said ‘go get ‘em and chase ‘em down.’  So I grabbed her earrings and chased them down. 

‘Excuse me Ms Wynette, you forgot your earrings,’ I said.  ‘Oh thank you sweetie’ she said, and kissed me on the cheek.  I really don’t think we have such country music royalty anymore.  She really left an impression on me to say the least…  

Jeffrey Steele, Airplanes & Grape Nehi

In 2002 or 2003 I was working at Monument Records and I got introduced to our new artist, Jeffrey Steele. I didn’t know who he was but we immediately hit it off and we’re laughing and having a great time.

Anyway, he had recorded a record and hit the road. We used to do things called Promo Tours, where we went to a couple hundred radio stations playing the same 3 songs a couple hundred times. It was planes, trains and automobiles to say the least.

We laughed so much that we would have to go to separate ends of our bus because we both had sore throats. Well, planes were the worst and the best. We would sit across the aisle and wait for the drink cart. The flight attendant would politely ask “would you like something to drink?” I would say, Grape Nehi? “We don’t have that sir.” Diet Mountain Dew? “We don’t have that sir.” Shasta Root Beer? “We don’t have that sir.” This went on until I could hear Jeff laughing on the other side then I’d cut loose. I would play, crying like a little baby. As loud as I could.

Soon enough people were spinning their heads around and staring then laughing. I just love how kids cry like it’s the end of the world, so I did it too! I’ve had more fun with that guy and probably written 30-40 songs with him. Thanks Jeffrey…

Bart & Jeff-1.jpg

Holy Crap, that's Zakk F'ing Wylde!

My old friend Tommy had been sober for a year or so at the behest of his wife. Oz-fest was coming and she asked me to take him, and let him drink again. So I watched him all night through Black Label Society, Slayer, Judas Priest, the first tour with Rob back, and Black Sabbath.

Well Tommy had had too much to drink and I told him we need to get an egg in you before I take you home or we’re both gonna be in trouble. Between the venue and his home was a Waffle House. Bingo.

As we’re pulling in we see a tour bus, odd, we go in and sit down and holy crap, that f-ing Zakk Wylde was behind the counter, paper hat and all…flipping burgers!!! Well we knew Zakk’s tour manager and he was there so we asked him what’s up? He said Zakk misses cooking for his kids and Waffle Houses will let him cook and he loves it. Zakk comes over and growls ‘what do you want’ to Tommy and myself. I say patty melt medium rare and a diet coke please, Tommy stumbles through ‘me too’ as his order. Zakk liked Tommy’s Pantera shirt by the way.

Zakk had bottles Heineken on some his cabinets and also cans of Coors light. I asked why he took a swig of Heineken and then chucked a can of Coors light into the crowd. He looked at me like a moron and said, ‘you ever been hit in the head with a bottle? It hurts!!’ We kind of stare at each other in silence for a bit.

Tommy’s hammered so he’s not sure what he’s seeing… Zakk comes by once to get us more diet coke, then he brings us our meals. He sets down 2 plates, he says to Tommy ‘I did yours normal but (to me) I did yours Black Label Style. Two slices of wheat bread, slathered both sides of them with butter like my kids like and then I gave you three sauces, ketchup, mustard and Heinz 57 sauce.’ I whisper thank you and he waddles off.

I pick up my fork and start cutting into it, he looks down and hollers PICK IT UP!! I say its hot!. He rolls his eyes and heads my way. He picks it up, says ‘eat it Black Label style, swirl it in all three sauces and chomp,’ he took a bite. I started laughing so hard and when he handed me my patty melt back I swirled in the 3 sauces and took a big bite. He smiled and walked off.

By the way, this guy is famous for going 77 days without taking a shower or brushing his teeth so I had no freaking idea what I was getting into. The Black Label style patty melt was delish btw, not as good as the story however…

Me & Tommy…sadly I don’t have a photo of us with our Waffle House cook, Zakk Wylde.

Me & Tommy…sadly I don’t have a photo of us with our Waffle House cook, Zakk Wylde.

Two Degrees of Willie's willie

I won my second BMI award in 2007 for “Brand New Girlfriend” which I wrote with Shane Minor and Jeffrey Steele. This was especially cool because Jeff won BMI Songwriter Of The Year that year.

After the Awards show, we were getting ready to leave to go to Jeffrey’s after party. Well I had to go to the restroom before getting our car. That same evening, Willie Nelson had been given The BMI Icon Award. As I approach the men’s room I see and rather burly gent standing by the door. I flash my BMI award, declaring my legitimacy, he nods at me and I go in.

Well I go in and see Willie at the urinal. Weird. He zips up, turns toward me, looks at my BMI medallion, looks up at me, sticks out his hand and says, congratulations! In the time it takes to form a thought I balance between shaking his hand knowing where it has just been OR snubbing Willie Nelsons hand shake.

Of course I shook his hand……..then washed my hand I came out of the rest room to tell my wife that story and we laughed, it still makes me laugh. Thanks Willie!

Receiving my BMI Award for "Brand New Girlfriend." Not pictured, Willie (ha)!

Receiving my BMI Award for "Brand New Girlfriend." Not pictured, Willie (ha)!

Nickels on the Record Player

When my brother Brad and myself were growing up, we took up instruments. My Dad and Mom uncle and cousin all played something so this was no big deal. Until, we wanted to really get good.

Well taking lessons, which we both did is one thing but what we wanted to learn was not theory or rudiments but Eddie and Alex Van Halen licks!! This was waaay before YouTube so we didn’t have these video lessons nor when growing up in rural Nebraska did we have those sort of teachers, we had great teachers, just no that kind of teachers.

Well as we all know Eddie plays fast. To slow it down to try to learn these songs we use to stack nickels on the head of the tone arm of the turntable. It took just the right amount of coins to get it down an octave, Any more or less and it was too fast or too slow. I didn’t have the patience to to tune my guitar every time I wanted to learn a lick. Now there’s 8 year olds learning all this stuff in their bedroom…..Ahhhhhh, good times

How I met Bob DiPiero (I think)

When I left Monument Records (not my choice) I had no idea what I was going to do.  Jeffrey Steele said he’d never met anyone who loved playing guitar and talking about music and playing music more than me, he said he was starting a pub co and if Ii could wait till the company was set up, he wanted to sign me.  WOWZA!!!  Ok, so now what…  I started writing a bit with Jeff, which was great but a bit scary, he’s really good, but who else? 

Well, I went to a bar called the Tin Roof one afternoon and ran into a great friend from my record days, Jaime Austen. She had just moved to town to work at Big Machine Records, a great move for her!  She asked what I was doing and I told her I was going to try to be a writer.  She asked if there was anyone I wanted to write with and said I was already writing with Jeff so I guess the only other guy I wanted to write with was Bob DiPiero.  She just smiled and proceeded to introduce me to her blonde friend with the million dollar smile and a heart to go with it, Rachel Adkins. Rachel said “I think I can make that happen.” 

WHAT?  Oh yeah, she was Bobs assistant at the time!  I’m so thankful God told me to say Bob’s name!!  I met him at his office a week or two later and we wrote our first song which was “You Can’t Take The Honky Tonk Out Of The Girl,” which became my first demo, first cut and first single. Not bad for a first write huh?!?         

Me & Bob at the 2004 BMI Awards

Me & Bob at the 2004 BMI Awards