2014 - The Highlights

Please allow me to introduce myself. 

Photo by Megan McCoy

In March, I was honored to help Bill Crook (Crook Custom Guitars) at the Nashville vintage guitar show! This was a great opportunity to hang out with my favorite guitar/bass builder - and soak up some of his knowledge (or try to anyway). I was fortunate to meet a lot of wonderful people that day... and I came home with a beautiful new Crook bass! I am an avid supporter of Bill and his wonderful instruments. I can't say enough great things about him! In this New Year, please look forward to seeing some demo videos of my two beautiful Crook bass guitars. They are just outstanding - and I am so proud to play a Crook! 

Here are some shots from the show. But first - check out my new Crook bass. So beautiful! 

The lineup. 

Recognize the guitar? T played it first (well, to be honest... Roger Hoard did). Ha!

I can't forget about this beauty! At the 2013 Nashville guitar show, I brought home my first Crook!

Here it is in all of its glory, right before a Black Shag show. Vintage 100W Marshall? Check! 

Hanging with Tristen and Bill after the show! 

I'll leave you with a special picture - this was taken in Bill's shop in WV.

Here I am with the creator of these two beautiful bass guitars. I am so grateful for this guy - and his ability to create the best bass guitars that I have ever played! 

Thank you, Bill! You are a star, my friend.

My School of Rock students did a tribute to KISS - and it was amazing! We worked up classic KISS material, and presented a show at the Hard Rock. I was so proud of these kids! 

Seriously. They nailed it! All of these kids are 16 and under. Awesome!


In April, the very talented Zoe Collaros, came to Nashville to shadow me for her school project. First of all, I am still so honored that she wanted to shadow me... it was really special! We spent four days together, and it was such a memorable experience for me. She is such a talented young lady, with a very bright future ahead of her! So exciting. AND - she's a beautiful spirit! 

Here are a few highlights from her trip! 

Zoe hanging at a Black Shag rehearsal. 

Amanda, Manuel, Zoe

Waiting for Vince Gill at the Ryman. 

Zoe & Tristen

This year was a busy one for Black Shag!

We played a lot of dates, wrote a lot of songs, and also did a lot of recording!

Check out some highlights. 

Late spring and summer brought a ton of guitar performances! Here are a few of my favorite memories. 

This was taken in my hotel room in Shreveport, LA.

In the moment with a vintage goldtop... mmmm! Thanks, Pan! BIG SMILE! 

This year was wildly successful for Tristen Smith! I feel so privileged to share the stage with T and the boys - what a great band! I love those guys. This year we really had a chance to get out and tour - and it was just fantastic. We had the honor of performing at Jamboree In the Hills again this year! We always look forward to that! It's home for T. He basically grew up on that stage... so, it's always crazy to experience that with him! 

Here are some of my favorite memories from the road!

Yep, that's blood! 

The day that I received my weenie whistle. Score! A special day indeed. 

Starting a new record! 

A must have in any Tristen Smith session.

Posing with our Crooks - thanks, Bill!

T is quite the bassist! Put some stank on it. 

Hanging with our friend, Bill Crook! This was taken during our Jamboree trip. 

2015 is going to be a huge year for Tristen!

Check out his most recent photo.

Photographer: Nathan Cox

Stylist: Payton Kemp

Click on the photo to visit Tristen's new website. 

When August rolled around, I turned the infamous 27. 

One of my birthday presents (thanks to my sweet Momma) was a ticket to see the incredible Tori Amos. It was just outstanding! So inspiring! 

I took my little sister, Megan - best date ever. 

Seriously, this woman is something special! 

Check out this amazing cover of "Jolene," live at the Ryman. So privileged to have witnessed this live! Very fitting.

In September, I had the opportunity to be a part of a guitar workshop lead by Robbie Calvo. It was just the best!

To share the stage with Robbie is always a pleasure... and the other incredible musicians in the workshop band (Keith Landry, and Ron Krasinski) were out of this world. I was so privileged to be a part of this!

Here's a photo from the evening. I can't wait to do it again! 

Check out Robbie's website HERE

On October 24 and 25 - Black Shag backed up Cowboy Troy on a few road dates! That was great fun.

We really enjoyed it! 

Throughout the fall/winter months - I always seem to be in high creativity mode! The Muses always visit during this time, very heavily. 2014 was a heavy, heavy year, full of inspiration... every kind that you can imagine. The Muses felt all of this - and delivered, as usual. On November 29, I went into the studio with Pandel Collaros (my amazing producer) and Brandon Barnes (drummer extraordinaire) and started working/focusing on a new album. As of now, I am calling it III. I'll know if that title is correct as time moves forward. We had such a great, great session that day! Many songs were brought to life. They are alive, they are breathing.

I am so excited to share this material with you. 

I think the songs off of this particular album are the most personal - they are my everything. My life source! 

Here's a video from that day. 

AND - some photos.

Artist & Producer


Right before Christmas, I had the honor to perform in Minneapolis, MN with Nechochwen - at Winterblot (Metal Fest).

Pandel and I enjoyed a nice, long road trip together to wrap up the year! I can easily speak for both of us when I say... we were completely blown away by the audience and overall response! It was an awesome, awesome experience. I am so looking forward to sharing the stage with these guys again. We will be doing more dates together in 2015. Keep an eye out! 

Here's a video from that evening!

Aaron and Andrew, thank you both so much for having me!

Love these guys!

That brings us full circle. 

This photo was taken on New Years Eve right before the ball dropped! It was so fitting to spend the last day of 2014 with my sweet friend, and her beautiful, little baby boy, Arrow! 

As I look forward, I am ready for this New Year... there is something so beautiful about a fresh start! Isn't there? As you look forward, remember to be thankful for all of your experiences during 2014. Don't ever be afraid to recap your year... your life. Learn from your lessons, success, trials, errors... be thankful to have had every experience. 

If you are reading this, you are alive - you are breathing... you are lucky enough to be experiencing life on this beautiful planet. Embrace it!

Take a deep breath, look in the mirror, look ahead - look forward... and take one step at a time! I wish everyone a successful 2015. I hope you enjoyed these special moments that I have shared with you... because let me tell you, I really enjoyed making these memories!

Cheers, friends! Thanks for reading!