Like many singer/songwriters from my generation, my earliest songwriting influences included the Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel, followed closely by the likes of James Taylor, Jim Croce, Carole King and others. Prior to those artists, music listeners were accustomed to hearing a singer interpret someone else's music and rarely did the songwriter receive public recognition for their work. In the mid-60s and moving forward, this began to change.
Not long after that, I moved to Austin, Texas to pursue my higher education just as the Texas songwriting boom was really taking off. Boy, did I get an education! Most any night, I could go to a local venue and hear Steve Fromholz, Michael Martin Murphy, BW Stevenson and other writers of that caliber. Not long after that, Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt began dominating the scene, followed later by Lyle Lovett, Nanci Griffith and Robert Earl Keen.
The common thread among those writers is that they were all magnificent storytellers. In the space of about three minutes, they could create a "novel" in song. Their words evoked vivid images and kindled the imagination. For me, listening to...and eventually writing... original music evolved from a casual pastime to a passion and my life's work.
Very few of us possess the genius of a James Taylor, a Carole King or a Guy Clark. However, I believe that if we have the "spark"...the inspiration and motivation to tell stories...there are skills that we can acquire and polish if we're willing to put in the work.
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum:
2022 Western Heritage Wrangler Award for Outstanding Original Western Composition - "Old Horses and Old Men" (Jim Jones, Deanna McCall, Dave McCall)
2017 Western Heritage Wrangler Award Traditional Western Album of the Year 2017 - "The Cowboy Way"
2019 Western Heritage Wrangler Award for Production- "I'll Ride Through It", Horizon Award for Deanna McCall
Western Writers of America:
2013 Spur for Best Western Song- "Texas is Burnin"
2017 Spur Award for Best Western Song - "Halfway Down the Devil's Road," (Jim Jones, Allan Chapman)
2021 Spur Award for Best Western Song - "Don't Say Goodbye to the Cowboy Way," (Jim Jones, Randy Huston)
International Western Music Association: 2019 Song of the Year - "It's a Cowboy I Will Be."
International Western Music Association: 2019 Traditional Album of the Year, "Go West"
International Western Music Association: Songwriting Workshop 2018, 2019
Albuquerque Folk Festival: Songwriting Workshop 2018
Academy of Western Artists: 2016 Western Song of the Year - "The Fires of Goliad"
Kerrville Folk Festival: New Folk Songwriting Competition - Two-time Finalist
New Mexico Music Awards: 2009 Western Song of the Year - "The Cowboys of New Mexico"
Growing up in the 60's in Germany, I found myself listening mostly to the BBC station on AM radio which played a broad variety of British and American music styles. I discovered the fascinating sounds of Rockabilly (Bill Hailey, Chuck Berry, Elvis), Country (Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard, Chet Atkins, Willy Nelson), Rock and Blues (The Stones, Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, B.B. King), Soul, R&B and so much more. The often quirky song-crafting of the Beatles had an enormous impact on me and so had the fine vocal groups of the "West Coast Sound" (Mama's and Papa's, Beach Boys, CSN&Y and The Eagles). Singer/Songwriters like Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Kris Kristofferson, James Taylor, Carole King and Paul Simon rounded out my early musical influences and made me appreciate the art of well-crafted, story-telling songs of many and all genres.
As a young, aspiring musician, trying to make a living as bandleader of a cover band, I had to learn to dissect and analyze song arrangements in order to teach my fellow bandmates their individual parts. Subsequently, as an arranger, I became a studier of "the music behind the lyrics" of great songs. I noticed how much the use of strong melodies and clever arrangements (form, instrumentation, tempo, keys and modulations) was helping well-written lyrics to really being heard.
After years of studio work as an arranger and session musician, while taking a sabbatical, I found, and fell in love with, my new home New Mexico. The beauty and the wide-open spaces of the Desert Southwest inspired me to write a series of spacious instrumental compositions which were released on my Santa Fe based record label, MTI Music, which also featured several other Northern NM based singer/songwriter artists.
Today my strength as a co-writer lies in the musical contributions I bring to the song-writing process. Like a lyricist tries to find the best possible words for telling the story, I seek the best possible musical tone to support the story and to make the audience want to listen.
Recently, as a member of the multiple award-winning Western Trio "The Cowboy Way", I had the opportunity to do just that while arranging, producing and engineering the group's three albums "The Cowboy Way", "Go West" and "Doin' What We Do".
New Mexico Music Awards:
Best Western Song 2017 "A Cowboy Like Me" (Doug Figgs & Mariam Funke)
International Western Music Association Awards:
2022 Instrumentalist of the Year
Group of the Year Award for 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022 (with "The Cowboy Way")
Nominee for Instrumentalist of the Year for 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021
Nominee for 2021 Song of the Year "A Cowboy 'Til I Die" (Doug Figgs & Mariam Funke)
Nominee for 2019 Song of the Year "Go West" (J. Jones, D. Figgs & Mariam Funke)
2019 Western Album of the Year Award for "Go West" ("The Cowboy Way")
2015 Song of the Year Award for "Socios" (Doug Figgs & Mariam Funke)
Western Heritage Wrangler Awards:
Western Song of the Year 2021 "El Caballo del Fuego"
(Doug Figgs, Floyd Beard & Mariam Funke).
Traditional Western Album of the Year 2017 "The Cowboy Way"
Singer/Songwriter Eliza Gilkyson ("Redemption Road" 1997)
Taos Pueblo Flutist Robert Mirabal ("Warrior Magician" 1996, "Song Carrier" 1995)
Singer/Songwriter Darby DeVon ("Highlands" 1995)