Video: “A Little Magic


Liz Longley, along with Scott Mulvahill and Billy Crockett, will be featured at Christmas at Blue Rock for the final Cool Nights 21 livestreaming concert series—this Thursday and Friday, December 16-17.

Award-winning singer and songwriter Liz Longley has recorded multiple albums, toured extensively and written songs for movies and television. Upon graduation, she won a scholarship to Berklee College of Music (Boston) and studied voice. She also took first place in the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival Songwriter Showcase and was co-winner of the Mountain Stage NewSong Contest. Graduating from Berklee in 2010, Longley won three songwriting competitions: the BMI John Lennon Songwriting Scholarship Competition, the International Acoustic Music Awards and the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest.

For Longley’s latest full-length album, Funeral for My Past, she enlisted five-time Grammy-nominated producer Paul Moak (Mat Kearney, The Weeks, Caitlyn Smith). She launched a wildly successful crowd-funding campaign that placed her as the fourth most-funded solo female musician ever on Kickstarter history. Her deeply devoted fans contributed over $150,000 to help her purchase the rights to, and independently release, Funeral—far surpassing the initial goal of $45,000. The elements of Longley’s demeanor that helped foster such a connection with her fans show up throughout the album. It’s at times cozy and heartwarming, but with a bite that makes each track difficult to forget.

Longley’s most recent EP was released last year, A Little Magic—her first and only Holiday release of songs written in 2020. Her skillful songwriting and the fun, upbeat quality of her songs will get listeners into the holiday spirit and make them want to sing along.

Check out their livestream this Thursday and Friday, December 16-17, at Blue Rock Texas— where innovation, quality and creativity are evidenced in concerts produced with broadcast quality audio-video from their renowned Texas room—streamed straight to you. Tickets are $25. Season Passholders ($105) have a literal seat in the house—they place your headshot on a seat, so you are literally sitting in the room. Go to:

with M Music & Musicians magazine publisher, Merlin David

Tell us about a song you plan to play at Blue Rock’s Cool Nights 21 (Dec 16-17).
Several years ago, a family in California asked me to write a song about their Christmas traditions. I asked for all the details about what made their holiday unique to them, then sat down at the piano and wrote a song called “Feels like Christmas.” It turned out to be a song I was eager to share, so I recorded it on my 2020 Christmas EP A Little Magic.

Is A Little Magic your most recent album?
Yes—it’s my first and only holiday release, with five original Christmas songs and a cover of “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” I wrote most of the songs in 2020, but had started the title track many years prior. While packing for a Christmas trip to Ireland, I wondered what a child might ask about spending the holiday so far from home. “How is Santa ever going to find us?”—and that’s the line that kicked off the song.

Liz Longley’s skillful songwriting and the fun, upbeat quality of her songs will get listeners into the holiday spirit and make them want to sing along.

Which song from Funeral from My Past continues to resonate with your audience?
Lately, people are reacting strongly to “Long Distance.” After a year like 2020, I think a lot of people experienced feeling emotionally distant to the ones they love—for one reason or another. This song touches on that feeling. The idea came from a meme I happened to see on Instagram in 2018: “we’ve all been in a long distance relationship with someone who is standing right next to us.” That struck a chord in me and felt like it needed to be a song.

How did you choose producer Paul Moak?
I’d long admired recordings by five-time Grammy-nominated producer, Paul Moak—so I reached out to him with a few songs. His attention to the songwriting details, and his commitment to capture the heart of what I do, made me feel he was the producer to bring these songs into the world.

How did he help you fully realize the potential of these songs?
What differentiates extraordinary producers from good producers is the ability to capture the truest form of the art they are recording. Paul’s studio, and everyone he invited into it, created an atmosphere where there was no judgement, no pretense, no business or music industry mindset. We were there simply to create art. Paul curated a team of musicians that banded together to serve the songs and the messages. Because of the atmosphere he created and his approach to recording music, I was completely at ease in a way that allowed me to tap into the emotions of the songs we recorded live. For most of this record, you’re hearing the first or second take of a song. That says a whole lot about Paul and how he works.

Did you ever dream that Kickstarter will help you realize this album?
When I made Funeral for My Past, I was making it with the assumption that the label I had been signed to for five years would be releasing it. When that wasn’t going to happen the way I had imagined, I had to buy the record back in order to release it. Simply put, I didn’t have that kind of money. Going the Kickstarter route a second time was humbling, but my following showed up for me in a huge way. They raised three-times the goal in 30 days, and made me the fourth most funded solo female in Kickstarter history. I will forever be grateful for the support I received from those 1,302 backers.

Is there one song you are especially glad made it onto this recording?
“My Muse” is a song that stretched me as a writer. In a musical sense, I stepped into a new territory by playing with chords and a key change that was fresh to my repertoire. In a lyrical sense, I was tapping into a new vein—painting a picture of a person and using his character to talk about humanity as a whole. When I first played the song for my family, it didn’t seem to connect. But when I played it for Paul, he was instantly connected to it. The studio musicians enjoyed playing it more than any other song on the record. Experiencing this song in such a positive way, with musicians I trust, encouraged me to keep stretching and growing both musically and lyrically.

Tell us how the idea of “3 Crow” came to you?
The house I mention in the second verse was actually in my line of sight when the words started pouring in: “I don’t go to your house anymore….” I was quite literally facing my baggage when I was writing that song. Some songs make you work really hard, but that one came easy because it was stream of consciousness.

What songwriting tip would you like to offer?
The best stuff comes about when you get out of your own way. Find ways to escape your mind and tap into something deeper. Meditation helps me get there, but it’s different for everyone. The best songs come when you get out of your head. The first time that happened with me was when I wrote “When You’ve Got Trouble.”

Who originally inspired you to write songs?
Joni Mitchell’s Blue really sparked something in me. At fourteen, I started writing songs but my lyrics were mediocre. Hearing Joni made me realize the importance of writing what is true to me. By hearing her songs, I was getting to know her. Through her, I was getting to know myself. It’s my goal to do that with my songwriting—to give people words for the way they feel.

Which Top 5 Musicians inspired you to become a musician?
My Dad. Joni Mitchell. On my latest tour, my high school band teacher, Mr. Bennett, unexpectedly showed up. I was moved to tears. Ever since, I’ve been thinking about the positive impact my teachers have had on my musical journey. When I wrote my first song at 14, I played it for my choir teacher, Mr. McCloskey. He insisted I perform it at the next choir concert. With his encouragement, I played the song live for the first time and that was when I realized being a singer-songwriter was what I wanted to do with my life. That’s pretty huge. Mr. Bennett encouraged my clarinet playing, jazz singing and becoming a drum major. He always looked for opportunities for me to play my original songs. I was very lucky to have that kind of positive support. Pat Pattison, my professor at Berklee College of Music, inspired me to nerd out on lyric writing like I never knew was possible. His influence changed the way I write and inspired me to “write fearlessly.”

What are your Top 5 favorite albums?
Blue (1971) — Joni Mitchell
Say I Am You (2006) — The Weepies
Wide Open Spaces (1998) — The Chicks
Karla Bonoff (1977) — Karla Bonoff
Songbird (1998) — Eva Cassidy

What instruments can you not live without?
The McPherson guitar has been my main instrument since the day it was so generously given to me by the McPhersons. It has such a beautiful, round and even tone. It sounds rich when it’s being strummed and when it’s used for finger picking. My Collings C-10 is a smaller-bodied guitar with tons of character. I use it specifically for my songs in alternate DADDAD tunings. I’ll often pull it out when I can’t find the sound I’m looking for in standard tuning. I also like a G7th capo, a Hercules guitar stand and a Yamaha or Roland keyboard. When “When You’ve Got Trouble” played on SiriusXM Coffee House, McPherson heard it and invited me to their shop. McPherson guitars are works of art. With the sound hole toward the top of the guitar, and a floating bridge, the sound has more space to resonate. I absolutely love the full and clear, clean sound of my McPherson guitar. I feel incredibly lucky to play it every day. The G7th capo matches the McPherson guitar in its ingenuity and precision. I can’t go to a gig without these.

What song do you always play in your live performances?
“When You’ve Got Trouble.” The idea came when I was dating someone who was struggling with depression. This song was my response to his hard times. Often, parents will tell me the song captures how they feel about their children. It’s pretty special when someone hears their own relationships in your song.

Do you remember the first time you heard one of your songs on the radio?
A moment that has stuck with me was when I heard “When You’ve Got Trouble” on SiriusXM’s Coffee House. At the time, I was sitting on the floor in my manager’s apartment in LA. There was a feeling that this song was going to reach a lot of new listeners. People started emailing me with incredibly heartfelt stories, sharing sentiments of what the lyrics meant in relation to their life. I will never forget that.

What makes playing at Blue Rock so unique?
In the age of online shows, Blue Rock shows stand out. The personal touch of printing out the faces of each of their ticket holders and assigning them to a chair is clever, and much appreciated by us artists. The production value of these concerts is top notch, with beautiful lighting and camera work—matched with impeccable sound quality. I’ve enjoyed watching what they do and can’t wait to be part of it.

What is the best advice someone has given you?
My grandfather (an Army bandleader) always told my Dad to “play pretty for the people”. My Dad passed that on to me, and I often think of it before I go on stage. It’s not about me. It’s about the people.

Best advice for upcoming musicians?
Remember what your purpose is with music. In your hardest moments, you can use your “why” as your compass.

In this unique socio-political climate, how do you remain hopeful?
The root of a lot of our issues lately is based in fear. The way our fears play out is different from person to person. I feel most hopeful when leading with compassion. We might not understand each other’s actions right now, but we might be able to relate to the root feeling that spurs the action. If we can find those commonalities, perhaps we can bridge the divide.

Where can new fans get more info and stay updated?

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