Billy Glading was a standout lacrosse player for Virginia, winning a national title in 2003, and a pro lacrosse player for the MLL’s Boston Cannons and Chesapeake Bayhawks. But for the last 15 years he’s also honed one of his other passions: songwriting.
This Saturday, Glading and his songwriting partner Sean Gaiser have a summer concert they’re calling Long Road To Boone, a nod to recording the latest album they released that was tracked in Boone, NC. The concert will be held on Saturday, June 1 in Kensington, Md. from 6 to 10 p.m.
It’s the fourth album Glading and Gaiser have worked on together, but the first one they are heavily promoting. Gaiser and Glading have collaborated for 12 years now, Glading as a songwriter and Gaiser as a singer and musician.
Glading’s songwriting started back in college, often before or after lacrosse practice, where he would find a quiet place to sit and write lyrics. For him, it was a way to indulge in his creative side while dealing with some of the complexities in the world.
“Sports always seemed so straight forward to me,” he said. “It was simple. Not simple that it was easy but simple in the sense that: you show up to the field, you have a job to do, you know what you have to do in order to do the job well and you either win or lose.”
“There wasn’t a whole lot outside of that. And that’s not really the way that life goes sometimes,” he continued. “And often times there aren’t easy answers to complicated questions. So I think writing has been a little bit of a release for me to be able to process and make sense of different aspects of life, but more than anything else to share how I feel when it might be hard to say.”
Glading continued to write songs after college and developed a whole book of lyrics. Several years after college Glading was playing pickup basketball at Georgetown Preparatory School one Monday night and Gaiser was there. Gaiser had some success with a band called Kenin that played locally in the Washington, D.C. area. The two were close in age and went to high schools in similar social circles yet never really crossed paths: Glading at Gonzaga in Washington, D.C. and Gaiser at Georgetown Prep in Bethesda, Md.
So Glading approached Gaiser after the basketball game.
“Hey man, I know who you are … I know you have a recording studio,” Glading recalls saying. “My name is Billy and I’ve written some songs over the years that I’d love to show you.”
Gaiser told Glading to come to the studio the next day to see what he had.
“It was really scary showing him what I had written, Glading said, “Not knowing if he was just going to be like, ‘Get lost. This is terrible. Not Interested.’”
Fortunately, that didn’t happen. Glading and Gaiser have been close friends ever since.
Some of the songs they went through that first session ended up getting recorded. One deeply personal song Glading wrote about his grandfather was called Chicago. Gasier liked the song and the two polished it a bit more and recorded it.
Over the years, Glading and Gaiser worked in a pretty consistent process: Glading comes to the table with lyrics and a melody, the way he’d like the melody to go and how the song would be sung. Then Sean typically starts playing the guitar along with the song and they will go from there: tweaks to words here and there, rearranging a bridge or a chorus, and then moving on to working it out on guitar or piano and coming away with a finished product.
“I think it’s a real life record and we want people to feel optimistic after listening to it … it’s a bit of a nod to resiliency and strength and we hope people will be able to find some common ground with these songs.”
For Glading, the most personal and powerful song on the new album is Brave, a song about Gaiser’s youngest daughter Dolly, who is just over two years old and dealing with Canavan, a progressive neurological genetic disorder. Gaiser asked Glading to take a stab at writing a song that would honor Dolly and somehow encapsulate the family’s experience.
“I tried to put myself in his shoes, and as well as I know him, I can’t even imagine how hard it’s been for him and his family,” said Glading. ”And so it was special. First, to have him trust me enough to ask, and then to come back with something that he thought enough of to have it end up on the record. Dolly is incredible, and the way Sean’s entire family has stepped up is unbelievably inspiring. I think that song is very special to the both of us.”
The summer concert will feature Brave and all songs from the latest album, as well as some others they’ve written and various covers. Their collaboration has progressed to the point where Glading and Gaiser want to put more effort behind promoting this album with the hopes of getting it to a wider audience.
“We’re really proud of this record and we hope that other people like it and maybe it opens up some doors for Sean to start performing more or for someone to grab a hold of the songs and do something with them,” said Glading.
The concert is on June 1 6-10 p.m. at Kensington Antique Row in Kensington, Md. You can purchase tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/long-road-to-boone-tickets-60552895340