I am a singer/songwriter and an actor, just feeling my way through the world. I am moved by music, words, love, laughter, family, friends, fresh air, mountains, rivers, bittersweet stories, melancholic memories, good food, and canines of all kinds. If I could create the perfect job title for myself, it would be Emotional Ambassador.
If you received an email notifying you about this post, we count you among Trevor and Sylvie’s original fans! Some of you may even remember when we were calling ourselves “Sawdust Hill!” It’s been a long while since we’ve posted any news via our blog. That’s because we’ve switched over to an email newsletter!
The new set-up makes it easier for friends and fans to sign up for updates at our gigs. We keep them up-to-date with quarterly emails, and we never ever send spam or share their personal info. It’s just news, tour dates, music, videos, philosophy, hilarity, and more, directly from Trevor & Sylvie to your inbox.
When we made the switch, we attempted to bring all you old-school subscribers along with us, so most of you have probably already been on the receiving end of a few newsletters. If you haven’t, and you’ve been wondering, “Hey, whatever happened to Trevor & Sylvie?” click the picture below to sign up and get back in the loop!
This is just a quick note to let you know that Sylvie will be performing live on the Grand Ole Opry this Saturday, January 7th at 7pm Central! She will join songwriter Kristian Bush and the cast of Alliance Theatre’s new musical Troubadour for a group number, and will also have the honor of singing back-ups for singer/songwriter and fellow cast member Radney Foster on one of his original hit songs. As if that weren’t special enough, the show will broadcast live from Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium, “the mother church of country music,” where so many of Sylvie’s heroes have performed. Needless to say, she is thrilled!
There are several ways to listen, including a free Opry app and an AM radio station that reaches 30 states. Click here for more info on how to tune in!
Happy Holidays! It’s hard to believe that 2016 is almost at an end. We’ve been woefully out of touch, and much has happened since our last post.
We got married! September 5th, 2015. It was a weekend full of love, gumbo, and music. We took a honeymoon trip to Scotland where – on our very first night in the country – we managed to join in on some traditional music with a couple of old-timers in a small town pub. It was a wonderful evening that set the tone for the whole trip.
When we returned to the states we went straight to work in the theatre, Sylvie heading to Seattle to reprise the title role in Book-It Repertory Theatre’s production of Jane Austen’s Emma, while Trevor spread Christmas cheer in A Christmas Carol at the Rubicon Theatre in Ventura, CA. From there, we set off together to the Wild West of the 1880’s in the U.S. Premiere of the play The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance at the Rubicon.
Sylvie lived her childhood pioneer dreams as Hallie, a saloon owner, and Trevor composed and performed an original score. The play was very well reviewed, the LA Times stating that the “original music scored and performed live by Trevor Wheetman furthers the impeccable period feel in Jenny Sullivan’s staging, which succeeds as both a nostalgic homage to the rugged individualism of the Wild West and a self-aware reflection on the double-edged civilizing tide that laid its spirit to rest on Boot Hill.”
In the Spring we returned to Nashville, where we spent a few months writing and performing. We were lucky enough to get the chance to accompany our dear friend and fellow songwriter, Jared Hard, to Gatlinburg, TN to play a few shows. We camped in the Smokies and enjoyed the hospitality of several live-music venues, all of which – we are happy to hear – have survived the recent devastating fires. Gatlinburg hosts a songwriter’s festival every year and keeps up a strong relationship with many Nashville-based writers. The songwriting community in Nashville recently hosted a benefit concert for the people and businesses affected by the fires.
Summer found us back in the Pacific Northwest working on a production of Romeo and Juliet with Island Stage Left. We lived in a loft above a woodshop on San Juan Island, spent our days enjoying the beauty of the island via bike and foot and our evenings performing a classic story with a group of talented and delightful folks. At 33, Sylvie feels she just squeaked in the opportunity to play the iconic and star-crossed teenager, and she enjoyed every minute of it! Trevor arranged music for the show and took on several characters as well. Summer also afforded us many musical opportunities, with shows around the Northwest on our days away from Shakespeare.
As the fall rolled around we continued our theatrical travels, Sylvie remaining in Seattle for a production of Pump Boys and Dinettesat the Village Theatre and Trevor heading back to California to music direct and perform in Return to the Forbidden Planet at the Rubicon Theatre. Both shows are music heavy, Pump Boys featuring original country-ish tunes and Forbidden Planet packed with hits from the 1960’s, all performed live by actor/musicians. It’s a niche we’ve found ourselves filling more and more often since our Lonesome Traveler days, as the popularity of music driven and concert-like plays continues to rise. We’re always delighted to get to practice both our crafts at once.
Which brings us to . . .
. . .where we’re going!
Sylvie is gearing up to head to Atlanta for a production of a new musical, Troubadour, at the Tony Award-Winning Alliance Theatre. Written by Janece Shaffer, with music by Kristian Bush of Sugarland, the play is set in 1950’s Nashville and will feature a cast of singer/songwriters and actor/musicians. Sylvie plays Inez, a budding singer/songwriter who catches a bus to Nashville to chase her dreams. Check it out, and get your tickets here!
In the Spring, Trevor will head to Laguna, CA where he’ll join yet another cast of actor/musicians in the premiere of King of the Road: The Roger Miller Story at the Laguna Playhouse. More info and tickets here!
Sylvie will spend the Spring and early Summer in Seattle with Book-It Repertory Theatre working on a production of T. Geronimo Johnson’s unsettling and timely novel Welcome to Braggsville. More info and tickets here!
And, with any luck, come August we will finally get down to the business of recording an album! So many of you have asked us when it’s coming, and we’re excited to finally have recording dates on our calendar. Stay tuned to the website for more news!
That was a whirlwind of an update. We feel very lucky to be staying so busy in the arts, and we’re grateful to all of you who have offered your support and encouragement and patronage. We love what we do, and we love to share it with you! We promise more regular updates in the coming year.
In the meantime we wish you much joy as 2016 draws to a close.
We are back in Nashville and gearing up for an exciting few months! As we approach our wedding we are thinking a lot about our future as husband and wife. As a team, one of our dearest wishes and most important goals is to truly make a living with our art. Though this has been a goal of ours for a long time – we moved to Nashville in order to pursuing songwriting as a career – we are now expanding our sights and getting creative with our talents.
This new drive is reflected in our redesigned website. We’ve drifted away from calling ourselves “Sawdust Hill,” settling instead on what everyone naturally calls us, “Trevor and Sylvie.” Though our web address remains the same for the moment (www.sawdusthill.wordpress.com), you’ll find that the design has been re-imagined with an eye toward promoting not only our songwriting, but our related creative and business endeavors as well. We invite you to visit the site and click through our new menu. There you will find new songs under “Listen,” new videos under “Watch,” a new bio under “Who We Are,” and a new business venture under “Hire Us.”
These changes are exciting for us, particularly as they reflect our deepening commitment to each other. It may not seem like much – it is only a website after all – but it was created with the intention of clarifying our goals and opening ourselves to opportunity. When we get married in September we will be meeting our new chapter with a fresh energy for crafting the life we desire. This website is symbolic of that energy, in its way. We are happy to share it with you!
Hello friends, and sorry for the long silence. We’ve been doing the daily Nashville grind, which is a lot like any other daily grind (working, paying-the-bills, cleaning-the-bathroom) with some gig-playing and song-writing added in to the mix. We’ve had our heads down, at least in terms of our on-line presence, but we’ve had the good fortune of befriending some wonderful fellow writers, and we’ve been happily working away at new songs and new opportunities.
Our most recent opportunity brings us to NYC, where we are currently performing in an off-Broadway production of Lonesome Traveler, the folk music musical that first brought us together back in 2011 in Ventura, CA. We opened on March 17th at 59E59 Theaters,
and have been getting New York audiences to sing along in every show since, which – we’re told by those who know – is quite an accomplishment. Certainly it is a joyful experience, and we are very grateful for the chance to live the NY artist lifestyle for a few months. If you know anyone in NYC, send them our way! Tickets are available at: http://www.59e59.org/moreinfo.php?showid=192.
Being in NYC hasn’t slowed down our creativity at all. In fact, we’re hard at work on planning our latest project . . . our wedding! That’s right! Though it can hardly come as a surprise to any of you, we are officially tying this already trusty knot come September. Long distance wedding planning is difficult, but it seems appropriate that we do our scheming during a run of Lonesome Traveler, since our love story began on the first day of rehearsal back in the spring of 2011. And in the spirit of the folk-music musical that brought us together, our wedding will be a river-side, music-filled celebration of togetherness. Hurray for love!
And speaking of LOVE, we are excited to announce that Sylvie’s song, “Can’t Stop That Train,” was chosen as a Finalist in the 2014 Great American Song Contest. The song was born after a kitchen table conversation with Seraina Wood, Trevor’s mom, song-writer extraordinaire, and ultimate believer in the power of love. You can hear it here on the “Listen” page of our website. Let us know what you think!
Thank you all for your continued interest in our endeavors. Stayed tuned for more exciting projects coming up soon!
A video of Trevor’s original song, Washer Woman, which he wrote in 1890.
We’re headed back to Seattle for the holidays, and we hope to see many of our west coast friends while we’re there! Nashville, don’t forget us; we’ll see you in the New Year!
P.S. If you’ve subscribed to our blog and are viewing this blog post in your email then you may not be able to see or watch the video. Not to worry! Just click on the title, “Washer Woman,” and you’ll be taken to the full version on our website!
Nashville is made of circles. For example, observe this map:
Music City’s streets and highways form a series of “wheels” circling the downtown area, where you’ll find the state capitol, the impressive Bicentennial Park, the famous Ryman Auditorium, and the country music hall of fame, to name a few attractions. These “wheels” are connected by “spokes,” streets that run in toward the heart of the city from the outer edges. To get from one outer-most point to another you have two options. You could stay on the edge of the city and circle around a wheel to your destination, or you could find a spoke and drive straight into heart of the city and back out to the other side. As any native Nashvillian will tell you, those spokes are a more direct way to get wherever you’re going. But just as in life, sometimes you have to circle the edges for a while before plunging in headfirst.
Maybe it’s just me, but the business that gave Music City its name seems to mirror the city’s layout almost exactly. On the outer edges you have the ring of hopeful performers and writers and business folks, all circling and looking for a spoke that will take them in to the next ring. And at the center? Well, there’s fame and fortune, or – for those of us with more modest goals – there’s making a living. Between the two there are a million rings and levels of success, and the spokes that connect them all lead some people straight to the center, while others take more meandering routes.
Having circled the idea of moving to Nashville for a long time, I’d say getting ourselves here was a trip on a spoke. Now that we’re here we’re back on a wheel, circling the scene, studying the map, learning which spokes take you where, meeting our fellow songwriting pilgrims, and slowly, slowly working our way inwards. There’s a whole lot of traffic on this wheel, but we’re learning that when people honk at you, it’s mostly to say hello and welcome.
Just like any good interstate, there are roadside attractions and pit-stops along this songwriters highway we’re traveling, and perhaps the most frequented of these are the writer’s open-mics. These are the gas-stations of the outer-most ring – as plentiful, as necessary, and as wide-ranging in atmosphere. Usually organized into “rounds,” where three or four songwriters take the stage together and take turns playing two or three original songs, these open-mics fill their lists with fifty, sixty, seventy performers on a first-come first-serve basis, and they can last as many as six hours. You might find yourself in a round at 12:30am with a thirteen year old hopeful from Georgia and a sixty year old writer who’s been in Nashville for thirty years, playing your songs to an audience of everyone in between. These are your fellow travelers, and they are the best thing about these pit stops. You make friends, you learn about other venues, you admire someone’s writing and maybe decide to caravan for a while. You build a network. And you get your music heard. There may not be any “big wigs” in the audience, but there are plenty of ears. And if you’re not being heard, you’re not going anywhere. Trevor and I have been frequenting several of these open-mics for about a month now, putting our music out there as diligently as we filled the tank of our moving-truck on our way to Tennessee. We figure, nothing tells the universe you’re ready for the next leg of the journey quite like a full tank.
Where the physical wheels and spokes of Nashville and the figurative wheels and spokes of the music business meet, you’ll find Music Circle.
Music Circle is south west of downtown, not quite in the heart, and the “spoke” that will take you directly there is the aptly named Music Row (otherwise known as 16th Ave if you’re looking for it on the map). Both the circle and the row are densely populated with the publishing companies, recording studios, and performance venues that give Music City its name. Though by no means the only place in the city “where the magic happens,” it’s worth a visit. Trevor and I aimed our borrowed truck in that direction just a few weeks ago, when we were lucky enough to play some songs for a friend in the business who was willing to listen. Here’s a little video peek into our first trip down that legendary lane with our trusty GPS navigator:
Like I said, Nashville is made of circles: the interstates, the songwriter’s rounds, even when you’re lost you’re going in circles! But we don’t feel lost here. We’re circling a goal, and our friends and families have surrounded us with rings of support and love. As we navigate the space in between, we remain connected to that goal and that support, and every turn is worth taking.
P.S. If you subscribe to our blog and received this post via email, you may need to view it on the actual website in order to see the maps and video. To do so, just click the title, “Music Circle,” at the top of the post. And thanks for following our journey!
We’re in Oregon Trail country now, speeding along in our moving truck in the opposite direction of the wagon trains, feeling lucky that we don’t have to dump anything along the way in order to lighten our load. Yesterday, Sylvie started writing a new song in honor of our backtracking the pioneers’ path. Here’s a taste of the first verse:
Driving eighty miles an hour through the land of the wagon trains
Flying fast along their path, going back the way they came
My momentum draws the ghosts of the pioneers
They ride with me while I’m headed east, looking for my frontier.
We’ve got our Martin “Backpacker” guitar in the cab with us, which means there’s been a lot of music-making along the way. We hope the ghosts that are hitching a ride with us are enjoying the tunes.