Stolen Figgs

Pleasant Grove, a community in the southeast outskirts of Dallas, Texas, was not a nice neighborhood when keyboardist Elliot Figg was growing up in the eighties and nineties. He and his big family lived there for much of his childhood, neighbors with a diverse, blue-collar bunch. Petty crime was a normalcy and thefts were common in Pleasant Grove, according to Figg. He now performs, conducts and writes music in New York.

This isn’t to say Figg’s youth was totally saturated with the crimes of Pleasant Grove. There were tranquil refuges in nature and in music. Woods behind his home were often explored, fond details of them remembered decades later. At a cafe on the Upper West Side in New York city he and I go back and forth sharing cherished memories of our respective childhood forest romps—forts, good climbing trees, enchanting hollowed stumps.

Continue reading

Ryan McLaughlin: Perfectionist

This is the first of many ‘Starving Artists‘ profile pieces. If you’re an artist that wants to be interviewed by the COA team and get your craft promoted for free, drop us a note through the Contact form with ‘Artist Profile’ and your name in the subject line, and provide us some detail on why you’re the perfect fit for this concept. 

Today’s artist fixes stringed instruments, but maybe we profile a master muskie fisherman next! Whatever YOUR unique passion might be, we want to help promote it! Without further ado, we present our first profile in this series.


Be demanding his business card commands of you, right at the top.

The way Ryan McLaughlin talks about being a luthier makes you think it’s for life. It’s almost as though the word patience has a hidden definition underneath our lay definition. Ryan reeks of the kind of calm that people coming to peace with a long prison sentence can understand. A calendar that only displays years. Patience without a push notification.

For Ryan, there’s something inherently joie de vivre in the delayed gratification aspect of his craft. A true artist, withholding from the self to the benefit of strangers who won’t die just because you die. Continue reading