You, Me, and Your Living Room: How You Can Be a Hit With Your Friends (and help me)


Do you like throwing events and parties at your home?

Do you like being the envy of your friends?

Are you a fan of live music and love supporting artists?

You are?!  Well brother/sister, do I have the opportunity for you!


Announcing the Winter ’14/’15 “Manteo to Murphy” Living Room Tour!

PicMonkey Collage2

Over the next 60 days, I will be performing a series of FREE* concerts in the homes and living rooms of friends, family, and fans across the beautiful state of North Carolina. And these aren’t just random homes — these are your homes. I want to bring my music to you and help you give a great concert for your friends, especially during the holiday season!

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Announcing a New Record and a Winter Tour — In Your House!


I have a couple big announcements coming up!

A lot has happened the last couple months. So much so that I’ve had a little trouble keeping my bearings and figuring out what’s next. If you’ve been following my progress or you’re new to this site and me, here’s a quick recap:

  1. Decided that after years of not playing music that I was going to start writing and performing again.
  2. Called a bunch of my friends up and we recorded some acoustic versions of some of my songs.
  3. Turned those songs into a live EP that you can listen to and download for FREE here.

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New Video for “County Line”

New video for my song “County Line” by my brother Aaron Varnam. Live footage from the recording of my new EP, “Ghosts of the Past,” shot at Five Star Tavern in Wilmington, NC. Archive photos from my family’s collection, provided by my cousin Blaine Cully and the family of Dorothy Clemmons Steinbauer.


Shane Lippard: mandolin
John Fonvielle: upright bass
Ted Crenshaw: guitars, vocals
Jason Merritt: sound engineer

Download this song and the rest of “Ghosts of the Past” for free at

Ghosts of the Past EP Now Available

I’m so excited to share “Ghosts of the Past,” my first new recorded music in over 10 years. Captured live at Five Star Tavern in Wilmington, NC, this EP was made to share with you all as a thank you and to launch a new chapter in my life.

If you will, please do two things:

1. Don’t just listen to the tracks. If you like them, please download the album. It’s totally free and I’d love for you to have a copy of the songs and artwork wherever you go.

2. Please share the album.

More to come, including a video, live performances, and a full studio record. But for now, please enjoy our new music and know how much I appreciate your encouragement and support.


Phoenix Rising: the First Day of the Rest of My Life

Three weeks ago I had a mid-life crisis. At 37.

It wasn’t pretty. It was a total breakdown of sorts — full of emotions, self-doubt, and painful reflection.

What am I doing with my life and how did I get here?


I still can’t play piano.

That’s me playing the piano that I got for Christmas. I think the following year (maybe the next, I don’t know), I got a sweet KISS guitar. I didn’t really learn to play either of them at the time, but when I was 5, my parents started me with violin lessons. Those stuck. 32 years later I’m still playing, and learned along the way how to play guitar too (although the KISS edition is long gone).

In college I started my first band. I wrote and sang, and ran around the stage like an idiot, playing Mumford & Sons-like music long before Mumford & Sons (and way worse). But it was me, and authentic, and the happiest I’d been up to that point.

A few years after that I moved to New York City, chasing an idea of what I was supposed to do with my life. I returned a couple years later, broke and broken, chewed up and spit out.

And I’ve been chasing careers ever since.

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Creativity is Love

A Course In Miracles says that there are only two emotions: fear and love.  In the absence of one, there exists the other.  They’re opposites, antagonists, adversaries.

In a previous post I wrote about a similar relationship between fear and creativity.  In the absence of one, there exists the other.  They’re opposites, antagonists, adversaries.

Now, I’m sure I’m breaking every philosophical rule in the book, but since I’m a writer and never claimed to be smart I’m going to take this relationship one step further.  If fear is the exact opposite of creativity AND love, the two must be related.  In fact, creativity is love.

Creativity means different things for different people.  It could be more obvious things like playing music, painting, inventing, dancing, or writing.  But for me, I define creativity as just a physical manifestation of a thought or idea.  It doesn’t have to be something hanging in a gallery.  It’s about thinking, and dreaming, and then doing.  And that act of doing brings something amazing to this world that didn’t exist before it.  Every single time.  And we’re all better because of it.

When you’re being creative something truly awesome happens.  You get inspired (or in-Spirit, as Dr. Wayne Dyer likes to say), you get enthusiastic, you tap into whatever it is that makes us uniquely who we are.  You lose track of the time, you tend to forget about the bills or what’s for dinner, and almost always you give birth to the beginnings of some really cool stuff that comes from — guess where — a place of love.

But there’s another part to this whole creating thing.  When you’re creative, you’re giving something to the rest of us.  Something artistic, or thoughtful, or inspiring.  It’s always a gift, no matter how small.  And giving, completely and wholly and unselfishly, is an act of love.  Ask any mother.  There’s no doubt in my mind.

Creativity is love, both of ourselves and of each other.  It’s the absence of fear, coming from the purest parts of ourselves, and then sharing it with the world.

Every day we face a crossroads.  Which direction do we chose?  Do we start that novel, or violin lesson, or act on that new business idea. . . or do we find some excuse why we can’t?  We always, always have a choice.

Choose love.