Archive for December, 2009

Congratulations on a Life Well-Lived… So Far

December 28, 2009
It was a good year

Looking back on this year fills me with a deep sense of satisfaction for having lived out so many dreams and seeing so many people and places all over America. For the first time in forever I am living up to my potential and doing what I love with integrity and honesty. As usual, a lot of disappointments occured, but all hurdles were overcome and led to better things eventually. Ever since I was a kid I dreamed of travelling throughout America with people that I considered to be great friends as well as awesome musicians and artists. Now I can say I’ve done that. While we unfortunately are not playing together today, my experiences in Strangefeather inspired me to continue on another path with new friends and expand the family that is such a vital part of why I make music. For all of these things I am so grateful to the fans, supporters, musicians, club owners and staff, who all play a vital role in keeping live music alive all over America. If I was ever without hope before, it is now completely restored.

 
Weddings are fun…

Just listing the accomplishments of this past year makes my head spin: Played 100 shows in 25 states accross America on three seperate tours, with as many as 52 gigs in one 65-day period, reaching thousands of people’s ears along the way. Released “Interstellar Lounge Music” and played on albums by Monsters are Not Myths and TV Mike & the Scarecrowes. I’ve also written about 60 new songs and cut some new tracks in LA with Jenni Alpert and Eric Boulanger. I held down a steady job during all of this, too, which wouldn’t be possible without my awesome, accomodating bosses. I’ve been places and seen things that I never even thought existed, and met hundreds of wonderful new people along the way. I’ve learned things about my self that I never knew before and pushed both my physical and mental limits beyond their capacities. I’m glad to say that I’m still crazy after all of this.

A lot of people admit that they would never be able to do what I do. To get things done I’ve had to rough it a time or two. Lots of sleeping on floors and in the backs of cars, waking up cold and going days without a shower. Living off of only the most basic of gas station fast food for weeks at a time. Being constantly broke for days on end and staying in sketchy situations with questionable people. Getting ripped off by bars and fixing broken buses and bass amps, playing at puppet shows and chinese food buffets, drinking other people’s beer, being asked to play “Free Bird” again, and lifting lots of heavy stuff are all part of the job description, and none of it really bothers me in the least. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve learned a lot of what not to do, and I feel like I am ready to start being wise now. Because there are no financial rewards for surviving all of these hardships, there is a sense of adventure in everything I do, and it’s ultimately more satisfying than making a heap of money. Of course, I am now learning how to do both at once. I must admit that there were moments in the past year when I wanted to give up on everything and just be normal, but it was from these darkest moments that I gathered the perspective to continue onward, and am stronger because of it. For a long time I’ve thought I have what it takes to be a musician. Now I know it’s true.

 

Still rockin’ in the free world

My goals for next year are simple. Instead of playing so many shows, I want to play better venues with better sound and for more people. I want to perform and write with as many successful and talented musicians as possible and make better records. I want you to be able to turn on the television or radio and hear my songs playing. I want to tour with different bands and see what works. I want to take more airplane flights and I want more guitars and recording gear (maybe even unlimited studio time?). Most of all, I want to make a name for myself as a solo artist and continue to express how much I enjoy what I do. Again, I have all of the wonderful people in my life to thank for such a priviledge. For now, I am content with sitting back and reflecting on my accomplishments and taking it easy for a little while. Happy New Year!

 

Goodbye 2009, Hello 2010!

Now is the Not the Time for a New Blog Post

December 23, 2009
 
Against All Odds!

I’m busy, my boss has asked me to do a million things that can’t possibly be done on time. I’ve been on hold with AT&T for the past half hour with their tech support trying to get the fax to work again, and someone just piled a bunch of holiday cards onto my desk. Everyone is taking off somewhere on vacation and is also rushing to finish whatever they are doing, too. Yet, amongst all this chaos I am still able to squeeze out a quick blog.

I feel like Anderson Cooper at the scene of some giant hurricane as it mercilessly blows his silver mane into a frenzy and he clings tightly to his microphone, continuing to mutter useless drivel against all odds… against all odds! It’s more the point that he’s bringing the news to you, rather than whether or not you need to know that news. So as the hurricane at my office job continues in the background, I sneak quick sentences into this blog without checking for punctuation and spellng errors. The plants go unwatered and the fax line remains inoperable, Christmas cards remain unsent and I can hear the sound of people having mental breakdowns behind me, but I still continue forward with my blog, against all odds. AGAINST ALL ODDS!!

I couldn’t find a big Anderson Cooper shot, so here’s some Dan Rather look-alike instead

I just spent the past 20 minutes looking for pictures of Anderson Cooper online instead of writing those important checks that have to go out today. I found out a lot about this creepy bastard, none of which was the slight bit interesting or helpful in writing this blog. And it certainly wasn’t helpful in getting all the work done that I have to do today. I also learned that Anderson Cooper must have several interns scouring the web for images of him, because there are simply no unflattering pictures of him available anywhere. I even searched “Anderson Cooper + The Artist Formerly Known as ‘Prince'” to see if maybe they have some kind of affair going on, but all I found was this really creepy website of a Japanese girl who is obsessed with “The Silver Fox” and posts thousands of screenshots of him from each of his broadcasts, peppered with some videos of her playing piano. I think I’m going to be sick…

And yet, still no work has been accomplished. I must stop this now, it’s even getting too much for me.

The only emberassing picture available of Anderson Cooper

Lil’ Ol’ Record Release Party @ Make-Out Room SF 11/29

December 7, 2009

Interstellar Lounge Music   

The Lil’ Old Record Release Party for “Interstellar Lounge Music” turned out to be a success, and I have all of my faithful friends and fans to thank for it. It was amazing to see so many people from so many places in the past mixed with new ones, reminding me of that Kinks song, “All of My Friends Were There”. I have many people to thank for their support. First off, Loretta Lynch and The Bang are both awesome bands that I have played a few shows with before, and their music just plain rocks! Not only that, but everyone was wonderful to work with, and brought such a positive attitude to the table. I wish more bands could learn to be friendly with one another, it really does make everything more pleasant and meaningful for everyone involved. I love working with people who get that shows are about entertaining everyone by having a good time.

I also must thank Bunny Whiskers for her amazing album artwork and support at the show, and my roommate Mike for his conceptual contributions towards creating the gift bags with all the fun crap inside, and running the merch table with amazing persistence. He helped bring a fresh perspective to the stale concept of a record release party, and added to the fun. The plastic saphires were an especially big hit! Then I have to thank Charlie and Brian for working so hard to make the music the best it could be and support me, despite the fact that I am a little scatterbrained. Charlie has given me the courage to try new material and always has great ideas on the drums that add something extra to the song. Brian really came through on his first gig with me, and it’s been a long time since I’ve played with a new bassist since parting ways with Bill Cramer. He also fixed my dad’s guitars and is just a really great person to work with.

Next up is all the musicians who came to support that night with their presence. Eric and Paul from the Careless Hearts, TV Mike from the Scarecrowes, Evan from Monsters Are Not Myths, and Rusty from Jackpot were all doing what so many musicians don’t do often enough (myself included) by coming out and supporting their friends with smiles on their faces. I couldn’t want or ask for anything more.I’d also like to throw a shout-out to the newlyweds. Gerry and Carla Thomas tied the knot in October. Strangefeather played its final gig at their wedding (it was at Bimbo’s!). Ryan and Stephanie Vaughan have been great supporters of me for a long time, and I had the privilege of performing with Ryan at their wedding as well, also in October. In this crazy world it is great to see such wonderful people teaming up together, and it’s great to have them in my life. Now, how about some grandchildren already!I want to thank all of the people who worked that night – Chris did an amazing job on sound, and the people at the Make-Out are always easy to deal with, that’s why I love playing there! Thanks to James and Deb and La Bartendress Extraordanaire. And finally, I want to thank all the people who just came out to enjoy the show and got a CD. It’s always wonderful to see so many friendly faces in the crowd, and it’s such a great feeling to feed off the energy of the audience and give it back. For the musician, it’s like being spun on a gyroscope that exponentially goes faster and faster, and then – BLAST OFF! Into the realm of the Interstellar we go. I hope you all enjoyed the lounge music. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much;)A couple of other things. One, I am leaving to play a few shows in the Pacific Northwest next week with my friends Rives and Jesse, and I can’t wait to get back to that cool mountain air. Second, I wanted to let you know that the recordings I’m working on in LA are coming along nicely, and it won’t be long before we are in the mixing stage. Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving, it was awesome to see so many old friends during this special holiday. See ya soon!

   

Interstellar Lounge Music 

Interstellar Lounge Music

NOW is the Craziest Time of Year

December 1, 2009

Sometimes when dreams come true, it's not a good thing

Now is always the craziest time of year for me. I even have the numbers to prove it. My website stats are through the roof, my email box is full of frantic interactions, and now my blog is getting more action than ever. In the past, I have barely survived the mayhem, only to become ill afterwards and burn out for the rest of the year and months afterword. Last November was a great example. I was working 2 jobs, playing in 4 bands, releasing a record (which involved flying people into town and many rehearsals), and playing way too many shows back-to-back. I remember sometimes hopping from one gig to the next, calling people to ask them to turn on my amp for me. 

I’ve gotten pretty tired of overburdening myself and not sleeping right for weeks. It seems every time I burn out it takes 3 months just to get back on my feet. I could see how being a musician working for a record label that keeps pushing them when they’re burned out probably contributed to the demise of many a great talent (and Britney Spears). This year was no exception in the busy department. I released yet another album and had a great record release party at the Make-Out Room. All the cd’s and their packaging was hand-constructed, and I had to organize the entire night of 3 bands (it’s hard enough to organize one band!). Now I find myself embarking on a short 1-week tour (my third of the year), only to be faced with the daunting task of booking a longer one in March (tours book 2-3 months in advance). Meanwhile, I’ve been bouncing back and forth between SF and LA in what spare time I have to record new material and am still in the process of moving all my stuff next door, getting two new roommates, and dealing with the insanity of the remaining roomie.

But this year I made myself a promise:  I Shall Not Burn Out. I know it’s like saying that I won’t get old and die, but I’ve prepared as much as possible to avoid the inevitable. After having gone through this routine a few times, I’m able to anticipate the onslaught of insanity and avoid stress by eliminating things that aren’t important. I have taken as much time to get good rest and lay off the booze a little. I’ve taken on less work for money in exchange for the things I really love, and spent time socializing with good people and eating good food. I walk at least a couple of miles every day, and I try to focus on the most overwhelming tasks first and deal with the less important details later because most things come together at the last minute in my life anyway.

So far I am doing ok, although I can already sense the inevitable overwhelming sensation that follows accomplishing so many tasks and makes me wonder if I’ll want to do anything else ever again after surviving the experience. Accomplishing so many goals in such a short time is a wonderful feeling. It’s as if the entire year has built up to one maelstrom of events, and it’s all very climatic. I’ve had some great moments recently that I will remember for the rest of my life. But with the feeling of accomplishment comes a vacancy of inspiration, and it always takes time to realize new dreams and think them through enough to gain the confidence to enact them and following through. I plan on taking some time off in the second half of December to recover, but not for very long. I hope I make it through to the other side this time with a positive attitude and desire to keep moving forward. I don’t want to take another step back like I have so many times before. I’ll see you on the other side and let you know how it goes.