WWSP's Shadow of th Marigold

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Keeping the Faith

Yes, well, the year is winding down, or winding up, or petering out, or slipping away.  Whatever.  I know it's all kind of an arbitrary thing we do, keeping track of the years.  Hard to believe we are in the last throes of 2011.

And a new year is peeking at us from around the corner.  Tonight we will probably celebrate with some of our favorite films and a cold bottle of Sake.  The films?  Not sure but I'm thinking maybe "Boogie Nights," (the ultimate family film), "24 Hour Party People" (Steve Coogan's brilliant portrayal of Tony Wilson completely embodies the transformative power of idealism in the face of the inertia and boredom), and "Jackie Brown" (Quentin Tarantino's cool and funky tribute to Foxy Brown).

There is a phrase ringing in my head this morning, spoken by a good friend regarding a creative project we've all been involved in, and the phrase is: "restored my faith..."


"Keeping the faith" is my motto for the new year.  Faith in what?  The creative process, creative ambition, the transformative power of the creative arts, the power of collaboration, the inspiring process of getting a group of people working together to create something bigger than themselves.


It's sort of like having faith in something invisible, having faith in a cloud, or a whisper of a ghost of a mirage.  Or... something.

Anyway, keep it.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Another Fine Mess...

If I were a better writer I might be able to describe the supreme weirdness of the Telepaths show last night at the Ultra Lounge.  We have excelled at playing in weird places: we were birthed on the high streets of the Edinburgh Fringe Fest; and we've performed in funky art galleries, at the Abbie Fest Bitch for Rich show at 5:30 a.m. at the Green Party's 2010 soiree, at an Asian Techno bar; but this latest show pretty much set an impossibly high bar for strange, weird, funny and odd.


We ended up the 3rd act on a multi-act bill.  A funky little hole in the wall space.  Good sound, cool lighting, friendly wait-staff.  All the elements in place for a Telepathic rock and roll extravaganza.  And for sure it was extravagant.


Hard to explain what actually transpired from sets by the bands before and after us, the Pentatonic Snails and Shallow Grave (Satanic Symphony). Suffice to say, you should have been there.  They say pictures are worth a thousand words, so maybe this helps, but really the pictures don't tell the whole story, not by a long shot.

Here's Shallow Grave (a trio from a trailer court in Iowa, truly Children of the Corn)...
And here are the Telepaths... we were kind like on the white-bread, Andy Williams side of the weirdness spectrum last night!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

We will be there...

I walked through the neighborhood and put up posters for an upcoming show.  It's nitty-gritty street-level work.  I have my usual places:  record store, favorite Thai restaurant, very cool hair salon, my home-base coffee-shop.  The poster looks good.  Big and colorful and very "art-full."  And it's the debut of our whitewolfsonicprincess character.

We are trying to "brand the band" as this one thing.   

It seems like the good work; promoting a show.  Still, you wonder if it does any good? How many people will actually see the poster?  How many will actually come to a show?  It sort of seems like putting a message in a bottle and tossing it in the ocean.  It's kind of Don Quixote-ish.  Seems I'm always out there hanging with the windmills.  

But it's also a way of drawing a mark in the sand and saying: "We were here!"  And we will be there! 


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Talent

John Lennon once famously said: "I don't believe in talent."  Maybe he was being clever.  But I think I know what he meant.  Everyone has talent.  Everyone is creative.  Everyone is unique.  Everyone has an amazing potential just waiting to be tapped.


As Dirk Diggler reminds us, we all have at least one special thing we are good at! And we're probably good at things we don't even know we're good at.  I think sometimes it just comes down to passion.


When someone says they don't have talent for something, I think what they really mean is they don't want to fully commit, they aren't fully aligned, or confident in their abilities.  It's sort of an excuse or cop-out. 

"I'd really like to sing, (or play the piano, or master chess, or whatever...), but I just don't have a talent for it."

I think what we mean when we say we don't have a particular talent is that it doesn't come easy, and we're not gonna try, or if we try, we not gonna be serious about it, or really commit to it, if it isn't easy, we're not gonna make an effort, and it's not really aligned with how we see ourselves.


I think that "talented people" are really just people who have found something they love to do and have fully committed to it.  Maybe they have the right physical attributes, or particular personality traits that give them a leg up on others, but it's not just natural ability, it's a full immersion into the process of "doing it."

This isn't to deny that there are extra-ordinary people who have extra-ordinary skills, or extra-ordinary physical attributes.  For these people certain things will come easily and naturally.  Mozart had something special going for him.  Shaquille O'Neal was gifted with a perfect basketball frame.  Jeff Buckley or Roy Orbison had freaky cool vocal ranges.


But when it comes to the creative arts, we all pretty much have the tools necessary to do our thing.  We all have to work with our biological limits, but creative imagination can transcend all difficulties.  I think it comes down to fully aligning yourself heart/head/spirit!  

And tuning out those voices telling you you just aren't "talented enough." The club of talent is a soul-destroying myth!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Moments Zipping By

Time speeds up and slows down.  I think it's true.  The physicists tell us time bends; that it's a flexible dimension.

And we experience that flexibility too.  Time will drag, or zip by in a flash.  Sometimes meditating messes with time, it seems to to slow it down and speed it up simultaneously.

We are born into this time-realm.  And the tempo of life seems to speed up as you get older.  As Charles Bukowski once put it:  "Days run away like wild horses over the hills."

When you were smaller, and your head was softer, the days could slow down and spread out like a welcoming bed of flowers.

Now that you are bigger, and your head is harder, the days speed up like a careening car out of control.  Everything is blur and flash.  And you hang on, and try to savor the moments as they zip by.

Monday, December 26, 2011

How to Be Happy

A quick how-to guide...

Remember happiness is not a permanent state.  It comes and goes like a little cloud.  Can descend upon you unbidden.  And can evaporate in a blink.

Yesterday was bliss.  Listened to some great music:  Wye Oak, The National, Tindersticks.

Had a wonderful meal at Tank Noodle.  A bright, bustling place.  The food and the floor show was just superb!

Visited the lakefront.  Watched the waves crash into the shore.  I do think our job is to observe the world.  And the closer we are to nature, the more elemental, the easier it is to find the bliss in a primal state of observation.

Tuned out the noise.  Sometimes you just need to pull your horns in and just ignore the white-noise craziness of the global noise machine.  There is beauty and love in the silence.  Less is more.  

A smaller, more intimate mental geography can be a universe of personal bliss.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

People in the Room

You have a reputation for being a "smart ass."  It's probably deserved.  But you aren't always a smart ass, sometimes you actually speak from the heart.  But you have a long and winding history with the People in the Room.

So you're talking.  This is not unusual, you are known to be a "talker."  And often you talk from the "top of your head;" you don't refrain, don't bite your tongue, no, you are an expert rambler, the words spill out like warm beer, and sometimes you can go into a dizzying hyper-drive where you build whole cities and towns with your words.


Not every word counts.  Sometimes you speak just to speak, and you run with the stream of words just for the hell of it.  But this time, in this room with these people, it wasn't like that, no, you had had a recent "insight," a moment of clarity, and it had seemed to you to be profound and enlightening, it  had lit up the dark recesses of your own little existence, and you were speaking to the People in the Room and trying to convey something of this clarity and to get them to see an important and life-changing insight that they could use too.


And as you spoke you could see the doors and windows in their heads closing.  The People in the Room figured you were just talking, and what you had to say was just one of those smart ass rambles, and they pretended to listen, but they were checking out, sinking into their own thought-chambers and letting your words fall like dead leaves, they just fell to the floor useless, lifeless, and unheard.


Your "insight" was not coming across at all, it was just a feeble little thing, a little pile of useless and crumbling dead leaves, sitting there on the floor.  And everyone in the room, looked away and pretended that they weren't there.  Finally even you had to kind of brush them into a tidy pile.  This particular insight was not to live in that room.  It was a shiny little gift that just would have to fend for itself.  Untouched.  Un-given.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Could Be Problematic

They say "the road to hell is paved with good intentions."  And that may be the case.   

I also think if you hear this line reverberating in your head it could be  a mite problematic:

"I know it's not good for me, but oh man, it will be so damn satisfying!"

Friday, December 23, 2011

Telepaths in the Trenches

I'm in a band of brothers called the Telepaths.  As Terry Flamm once put it, we are a "cutting-edge" outfit, although maybe just "cutting" is closer to the mark!


We have an amazing camaraderie, we all love to play together, we bring lots of energy to our quirky originals. We all have nicknames: the drummer is Big Bang, the bass player is The Professor, I'm Jammer and the lead singer is Uber-Critic!  You know you have a pretty cool band if everyone has a nickname!


This video is from a show at a little hole in the wall bar called Dukes from awhile back. We're playing our signature tune "Area 51." "Find the truth in your underwear!"


The sound isn't the best. As usual the guitar and drums kind of overwhelm the space, and our exuberant lead singer, the Uber-Critic, is singing through a decidedly under-powered P.A.  But I love the lighting and the background on this video, our friend Sergio recorded it on an iPhone, and it nicely captures some of that Telepathic thing.  I'm pretty happy with my guitar sound too. That white guitar is my prize possession a John Suhr Classic Strat! 


 Rock On!

 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

You've Lost that Loving Feeling

This is probably my last post on Phil Spector for awhile.  This is Spector at his best, The Righteous Brothers (two white guys) singing "You've Lost that Loving Feeling."  

It is Spector's biggest single of all time, one of the most played songs in history.  A little masterpiece of pop, and a great example of Spector's unique "wall of sound."


I love this video.  Watch the needle spin on the little 45 rpm platter. It is mesmerizing! That's how it was done in the old days kids!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Spector and the Beatles

Finished the Spector book (see two previous posts). The last quarter is a slog of madness. Hard for the reader to wade through, probably harder for Spector himself to wade through. You get the idea that the twisted little dude just had way too much time on his hands. No need to work. No capacity to sleep. Haunted by demons at every turn.  Lots of guns and meds and booze.  Not a good combo.


Still, if you think about this guy, the music still stands. Spector made his reputation with "girl groups" and his "wall of sound." But for me, it was his work with John Lennon and George Harrison that  resonates to this day. According to the book, the only artist Spector really "took a back-seat" to was Lennon. You can hear Spector's influence on "Instant Karma" - it was recorded with multiple keyboards, multiple bass guitars, no cymbals, and a big, muffled, punchy drum sound. Lennon's voice never sounded better bathed in Spector's trademark echo and reverb. One of the great post-Beatles tracks.


We all shine on!



Supposedly, Spector was an obsessive perfectionist, but he met his match when he worked with George Harrison on "All Things Must Pass." When it came to his vocals and guitar parts, Harrison was even a more obsessive perfectionist than Spector. Harrison's perfectionism supposedly drove Spector to drink. Later Harrison revealed that he didn't exactly love the full Spector wall of sound treatment (an army of guitars, an army of drummers, an army of bass players, lots of reverb and echo), but the album was a huge hit, and it sounds glorious today. Certainly Harrison's masterpiece and Spector's too.


My Sweet Lord!



As for Sir Paul, he supposedly wanted nothing to do with Spector, and hated his additions of choirs and strings and the the mixes to the Beatles "Let it Be" album. Spector turned one of McCartney's tunes, "The Long and Winding Road," a sappy song to begin with, into an even sappier song. Much later McCartney helped oversee a new version of the album called "Let it Be Naked." I side with McCartney.  I like the "naked" version much better too.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Citizen Spector

So yes, the Spector book, (see previous post) has triggered all kinds of thought-trains.  I guess that means it's a good read.


1. Boy Wonder Spector lamenting his lost innocence sits all alone in a castle-like mansion watching "Citizen Kane" over and over.  The movie is about  Boy Wonder Kane, a lonely man who ends up in a castle-like mansion lamenting his lost "innocence."


2. Why is it that all that "Sunshine Pop" and exuberant rock & roll was created by such unhappy and tortured personalities?  Think Spector, Brian Wilson, John Lennon.  All very sensitive people, all very much haunted by loss and pain.  All of them were able to become rich and famous by channeling their angst into joyous 3 minute pop masterpieces devoted to love, surfing and cars.  Pop myths all.


3. David Lynch already tackled the Spector character.  See Lynch's Mulholland Drive.  Remember the Small Man (Midget? Dwarf? Little Person?) in a room, calling the shots, issuing orders?  That's the essence of Spector.  A small man, all alone in the control room, calling the shots.  A little man, pretending to be a big man.


4. Another American Weirdo.  What is it about wealth and fame?  And isolation?  Think Michael Jackson, Howard Hughes, Elvis Presley.  Spector too.  Disturbed, creative individuals who were able to turn their eccentricities into a way of life.  Maybe what drives these people to succeed is also their fatal flaw. Supremely unhappy people, inflating their egos to mammoth proportions, but ultimately lonely, insecure and paranoid.  They live in a false world distorted by their own ego worship.


5. Guns and alcohol - they don't mix.  Spector's fascination with guns spanned decades.  He strapped on a gun to make himself bigger, more powerful, intimidating.  It was his sense of powerlessness, his insecurity, his powerlessness that drove him to a false and fatal bravado.


6. It's always easier to see someone else's flaws and problems.  Much clearer from a distance.  Maybe it's instructive and cathartic.  And you do recognize some of your own character issues in the lives of others.  Maybe that's one of the joys of reading biographies.


7.  Spector did finally become a cartoon character.  Ridiculous, absurd.  Tragic too.  What an American story.  You wouldn't believe it if it was fiction.


8. Spector did produce some amazing records.  My favorite post-Beatles, ex-Beatles records in this order:
John Lennon's Plasitc Ono Band, George Harrison's All Things Must Pass, John Lennon's Imagine.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Strange Thing

I'm reading this book about Phil Spector, convicted murderer and "boy genius" record producer.  I got the book mainly to read up on Spector's production techniques and his work on some of the great rock & roll albums and singles during his recording career.  And the book is very rewarding on that front.


But I think I need to go back to my Freud and Jung books.  Sheesh.  Spector is a case.  David Lynch should do a movie. It's not surprising Spector ended up in prison, I suppose the real surprise is that he was a visionary and perfectionist in the studio.  It was the one realm where he could channel all his fear, madness and unhappiness, and where he did his best to elevate pop music to a high artistic form.


Another example of a supremely and deeply flawed human being  somehow transcending the madness, or maybe using his madness to create beautiful and powerful music.  


Spector was a visionary in the studio and a complete train-wreck in life.  What a strange thing is a human being.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Maybe that's our purpose...

We are in nature, and of nature, and so, also, we are nature.

And we are conscious of nature, so through us, nature is conscious of itself.  Nature observes and absorbs itself through us.

We are the vehicle, or one of the vehicles, for this self-reflecting consciousness.  Maybe that's our purpose.  We all have a job, a big job, and it is to consciously reflect nature back to itself; and we can't help but do it, just by being alive and conscious.

It kind of gives a whole new meaning to our lives. And anything we do that gets in the way of being awake and alert to this all-consuming consciousness would be off-purpose.

So be conscious.  I mean, stick to it!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Grand Lie

2003 - 2011 -  Bush's Iraq War.  The first "preemptive" war initiated under false premises.  Bush's grand lie.  Bush's Debacle.


He destroyed a country over there.  And he destroyed a country over here.  We were all implicated in his lie and in his morally bankrupt adventure.  Killed many, many people.  Imprisoned people.  Tortured people, humiliated people, displaced people.  It was a sordid, corrupt, horribly misguided war.  A war that disfigured a generation of Iraqis, and a generation of Americans too.


If America is teetering, and I think it is, Bush and his War are major reasons why.  It cost money and lives and a reputation.  It cost a belief in ourselves.  We saw America's lie. We saw America wallow in the filth, we saw America torture, we saw America debase itself.  We saw America fall from any sense of grace.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Vote for the Carnival

You are left with your obsessions, your quirks, and all the personality traits that either you inherited from your genetic entity, or were somehow imprinted upon you in your formative years.


You interpret the world through this instrument.  So your flaws, and your features help construct your perception of the world.  So what you see and think about the world is also what you see and think about yourself.


If you judge the world harshly, you are also judging yourself harshly.  If you give the world "a break" you are giving yourself a break.


If you think the world is just a rollicking carnival you are that carnival too.  If you think it's a bleak and forbidding place, you are a bleak and forbidding place too.


I vote for the carnival.  It's got it's fun side of light and thunder, and cheap thrills and cotton candy, and got it's dark side too, of the false show, the con, and the coldness behind the curtain.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

... something else?

You come to this blog wondering if this is gonna be one of those posts where you just don't know what the hell the blogger is talking about, or is this gonna be one of those posts where the blogger just doesn't know what the hell he's talking about, or is it one where you know, but he doesn't, or he does, but you don't, or, well... something else?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Did I?

Voices...  did I really get up at 4:00 a.m. flip on the radio and hear a man say... "Why waste a breath on sleep?"  Did I really immediately snap off the radio and make a pot of coffee?  Did I?  Really?


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Going out on a Limb...

Political thought for the day...


If Newt Gingrich somehow wins the Republican Presidential nomination,  Barack Obama will go down in history as one of the luckiest men who ever walked this planet.


Gingrich single-handedly embodies everything that is grossly wrong with America and it's Politics, and he is an exquisite example of just how bankrupt and reactionary the GOP has become.  Newt is one tiresome, supremely toxic human cesspool of a being.


No way Obama loses to that self-satisfied, noxious gas-bag. No way.  Can't.  Won't.  I'd stake my life on it.


UPDATE:  If I'm wrong, an escape to another land far, far away will be the order of the day!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Things Aren't What They Seem

I suppose that's why I consider myself a mystic...  I hear a scientist say that the more science explains, the stranger, more unexplainable and mysterious the universe becomes...


I dabble in the mystic arts - music, writing, energy...  I try to conjure other realities, and sometimes I even succeed.  And there are funny lessons to learn along the way...


1. If you are one of the "untouchables" you find there is strength in untouchability.


2. If you are the "lowest of the low" you find there is power in being low.


3. If you have nothing, you have less fear of losing anything.


4. If you hit the bottom, you bounce and start rising!


5. If you surrender, you find you are unbeatable and unbreakable.


You realize you are more than your body and your body is more than you know.  Just like the universe...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Photo Shoot

It was very, very cold yesterday.  But the light was good.  And we had an outdoor photo shoot to try to get a group portrait of our band.  We are working on the packaging for our new album of recorded music and we met this amazing photographer, and it just seemed like we found a kindred soul who could help us re-visualize our group energy in a black and white picture.  We want to capture the spirit of the band; kind of like trying to capture lightening in a bottle.


And well, it's always cool to collaborate with other artists, and this particular photographer is an artist of the first caliber, he just blew us away with his some of his surreal and haunting work, and well, everyone was available and up for it, so what the hell.  


So we all dressed up and decamped to a church courtyard for the shoot.  It was sort of insane, because it was insanely cold.  We stood out in the blazingly bright cold and the photographer snapped away.  For one shot the photographer teetered on a ladder and shot down on us.  We looked up expectant and hopeful that the ladder and photographer weren't going to come crashing down to the ground.


It was all light and shadow and it was all over in a flash.  We were all cold and shivering.  Not sure what we got, it was such of blur of activity.  But I'm hopeful we captured something really cool.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Like Dragon's Breath

The sun edges over the lake, a glorious orange burst of light.  And the light washes over the rippling waves and the still land.  The light is immense and over-whelming.  The sun sits low in the sky on these winter-like mornings and the light cuts through everything like a sharp silver blade.


You think the light can warm you, but it's cold, stark, a bright light with no warmth at all.  Everything is brittle.  The ground is dusted with snow.  The trees are bare; long-reaching branches like gnarled fingers and arms extending out into the brightness.


You can't make it out here without a pair of thick gloves, and a ridiculous hat, and big clomping boots.  But if you are well-armed, it's fine, you can live in it, you breathe in the cold air and expel it, and you watch as your breath rises like vapor clouds before you. It's like "dragons" breath.  A breath that is visible, it let's you know that you are still alive.  And it's good.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Do You Believe in Magic?!

Just finished reading Michael Specter's article about "Placebos" in the New Yorker.  My take: if you believe that those little sugar pills are healing you, you may be healed.  If you believe that "Doctor" is a healer, you may be healed.  Maybe the pill, the doctor are just vehicles for "self-healing?!"


That sugar pill, that doctor can actually help trigger a change of your brain chemistry.  Sometimes it comes down to what you "believe!"  You believe you will be healed and Ipso Facto - Shaazzammm - you are healed, baby!


This comes after a conversation in the kitchen last night about "magic."  If someone decides that magic doesn't really exist in the universe, that everything is just a random collection of events, well, guess what?   The universe is just a random, unconnected, collection of events.


Alternatively if you decide that there is magic in the universe, that everything is somehow connected, well, guess what?  Magical shit (Loosely defined as unexplainable phenomena, or how about even if it's explained, it's spooky and non-rational and weird?) happens all the time, you see connections everywhere.


Is it all really that simple?  Yeah, probably.  I mean, is there some "objective" truth out there?  Not really, it's only "subjects" who are searching for that truth, so everything comes through that subjective filter.  So do I believe in magic?  Yeah, I guess so, because I can and do believe!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Just What Happens

You'd like to live your life with no guilt, no regrets.  You think maybe it's a simple as not doing things that make you feel guilty, or not doing things that you will regret.  But of course, none of us have enough "foresight" to know how some of our choices, decisions or actions will pan out.


You sometimes think what happens is just what happens.  And maybe what actually happens is the only thing that "could have" happened.  Life works out as it works out.  But you just don't know.


Is there a hand of destiny?  Is there "free will?"  Can you hold yourself to account for actions that were "yours" but were clouded by the moment of unknowing?  Are you just looking for a way to skate?  Should you hold yourself to account for every last action?  Can you claim stupidity, or insanity?  Or just plain unconsciousness?  Do you just conveniently forget the uncomfortable stuff?  Forget the mistakes?


Does that help or explain yourself, to yourself?  What do you include in your narrative history.  What do you exclude?  Is it all imprinted in your brain and on your body anyway? 

So if you choose not to feel guilty, and to have no regrets, are you just hustling yourself?

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Two Realms

We all probably get to experience this, but it was brought home to me yesterday like a ton of bricks...

You are low, the lowest of the low.  You are the low man on a very large totem pole.  And those above you exist to remind you that you are basically at the bottom.  And you haven't always been at the bottom, you have worked your way up the pole a few times in your life journey, but it just so happens that right now you are at a very low ebb.

And in this particular matter you are powerless.  There is nothing for you except an honest surrender.  A genial humbleness.  And this is distressing and a little humiliating.  But finally you are left with surrender.  Complete surrender.  So you surrender.  Completely.  And in that act you find an incredible sense of ease.  A quiet ease that actually blossoms into a strange euphoria.


Turns out if you are low man on the totem pole, you really don't have far to fall.  So when you do fall, when you hit the pavement, it doesn't really hurt, and you are quick to rise, and dust yourself off, and you are surprised to find that you don't feel so bad.  No, you've hit bottom, and at this particular moment you can't fall any farther.  And this is encouraging.


And then later in the day, you find yourself in another place, with other people, your creative brethren, where you are recognized as "one of them" and you are admired for all the wonderful things you do.  And with these people you conjure up a completely different order.  A place where there are no totem poles.  A place of creativity and collaboration.  A place where the lowly of one realm, can be the "gifted ones" in another realm.  This place is a circle, and there is no hierarchy, there are just people who love to do good work together.

And in this place you don't forget the totem pole, you don't forget the humbleness or surrender, they are just more raw material you can use to create another thing.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

AND THEN...

NASA tells us that the Kepler space "probe" has discovered a habitable planet out there in the distance.  Was that the plan all along?  We over-stuff this planet with billions of copies of ourselves, we trash the place, suck all the natural elements out of the earth, foul the air, destroy the plant and animal life and completely pollute ourselves in the quest for little paper bills, AND THEN, just up and leave?  Obviously transporting everyone will be quite the logistical conundrum.  Who goes, who stays?  Can we vote?

Monday, December 05, 2011

Measuring a Show

Yes, but what about our Toys for Tots show last Saturday?  How did it all go?  Was it a success?

Well, just how do you measure a show?  

Lots of people came to the show, some of whom we knew, and lots of whom we didn't.  We ended up with an enormous pile of toys for needy kids.  And the Marines landed and collected the toys. And all the bottles of beer, and the bottles of fine liquor, were dutifully emptied into the party-goers. And all the bands showed up and did their songs.  And the overall quality of the performances was very good throughout.  And the sonic spectrum was wide.  There was some head-banging, and dancing, and people sang along with the tunes that they knew. And there were good vibes, and laughs and lots of interesting post-show scuttle-butt too.  And everyone wanted to do it all again.  

So yeah, I guess it was a success.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

The Divided Heart of the Matter

Yes, as the wise ones tell us, life is a gift.  And sometimes that gift is exactly what you wanted.  And sometimes it's not.  Sometimes it's like a really loud tie (Does anyone really wear ties anymore; I mean, without irony?) that you will put in the closet.  Or that you will re-gift!


But it's bad form to complain about the gifts you receive.  You just smile and accept them, right?  Or you rage.  Rage away about the gifts you receive, and those you don't.


How about both strategies?  Smile and accept, and Rage away too?  Be humble and be demanding at the same time.  Yeah, maybe that starts to get closer to the heart of the matter?

Saturday, December 03, 2011

The Tale of Two Bands

I play guitar in two bands.  One band really, really, really tries to be good.  And the other band really, really, really tries to be.


Both approaches are valid.  Both bands are playing tonight at our Toys For Tots benefit.  Both bands are doing American Classic Cover Songs.  


In one band I do my best to fit in,  I try not to over-play, not to be too noisy, not to overload the ears with my guitar.  The other band is a band of misfits; I do my best to over-play, to be noisy, and to overload the ears with my guitar.


One band is all about beauty and nuance.  The other is all about chaotic rawness.  Both are a kick.  I love both approaches.  And I need both in my life. Different aspects of me too, I suppose.

Friday, December 02, 2011

A Cornucopia of Tunes!

We are doing a Toys for Tots benefit show tomorrow.  We lined up 7 bands to do Classic American Cover songs.  The song list is quite impressive: Warren Zevon, Grateful Dead, Nirvana, Mountain, Springsteen, The Band, Soundgarden, Lady Gaga, Smashing Pumpkins, Iggy Pop and the Stooges, Dylan, Journey, REM, The Partridge Family, Gnarls Barkley, Creedence Clearwater Revival...


PLUS this Band:  Grand Funk Railroad... our band is playing this one, and I must admit that when I was trying to learn it, this video almost made me want to give up playing electric guitar.  I mean, I know it's only rock and roll, but these guys look so silly, and the whole rock and roll on the road saga is such a cliche, and the spandex and platforms shoes and strutting around is so ridiculous. And the song itself is just such a standard cliche "power-chord"  workout.  My first visceral reaction was to want to put my electric guitar back in it's case.


Anyway, we learned the song, rehearsed it with the band, and it might turn out to be one of the highlights of the night, what with the cowbell and girl backup singers and all.  A very tongue in cheek celebration.  But still, no way we can top this...think real-world Spinal Tap!





We are also doing The Allman Brother's "Whipping Post" and these guys are my rock and roll antidote. These guys made me want to get an electric guitar in the first place. Duane Allman was certainly one of the greatest players of all time and the Brothers were at their peak at this show at the Fillmore East. Breath-takingly awesome!  We're doing this song too.  But frankly our version will be just an "approximation."  Duane was a blues player extra-ordinaire,  and so much more... he loved Jazz and was influenced by John Coltrane and Miles Davis.  The Brothers excelled at real-time improvisation - no flash, no spandex, just supreme musicianship.  Thrilling and totally cool!


Thursday, December 01, 2011

Finished!

We finally finished mastering our new disc of music.  It will be called 10+1. Ten tracks plus a bonus "trance track."


This has been an amazing journey for us.  We recorded, mixed and mastered the set of music in a real deal professional studio over the last year.  Probably about 100 hours of studio time, spread out over 54 weeks or so.


Three Producers, three sets of ears; listening and sculpting every track.


We will be having a listening party for our band in the next couple of weeks.  Still lots of work to do on the packaging and marketing.  We now enter a totally new phase of the project.  We are figuring on a Spring 2012 release.


It's been a real learning experience, and a great creative exploration.  We are very, very pleased with the results.  We worked with some phenomenal musicians.  Very proud of the band and the songs, and the Studio Engineer who captured it all in stereophonic glory.


This is certainly the most fully-realized creative project I've ever had the pleasure of working on.  Now I'm a little excited and a little apprehensive too.  We birthed it, now what?!

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