Time For Some Originals

I am pleased to tell you that I have a date coming up where I will be doing nothing but my own songs. Well, I might throw in a cover or two; who knows?  On Sunday January 15th, from 3:00-5:00 pm I will be at Stonefield Cellars doing my original music. It will be a laid back atmosphere and you can sample - and buy - the fine wines they have there at the vineyard. There will be a $5.00 cover charge ( I am worth five bucks I think!). It will also be to kick off what will be a quarterly event known as "Song Writer Sunday", which will go through 2017. So, I hope you can make it out. Below is a bit more about me and the song writing process and my experience with it,  if you care to read on.

I have spent all of my music career learning and performing other people's music to stay employed and that has served me well over some 44 years now...yes 44. There have been times during that history that I have had the opportunity to explore song writing and been part of two different bands that played many of my songs. Those times are long passed and unfortunately, most of those songs got lost along the way. As time progressed, I just let staying busy and keeping the bills paid overrule the somewhat self indulgent process of song writing. But, while staying alive consumes most of my energy, songs still find their way to me and so there has been some writing going on when the muse hits me.

My song writing is autobiographical and much like what many of you would do if keeping a journal. In that regard, it becomes a challenge for me to choose which songs I will present, for some are quite personal-too personal perhaps- and speak too directly to my life in ways that I would only want to share anonymously, so for me playing my original music becomes some what of a dilemma. Many song writers chomp at the bit to get people to hear their stuff. Me....I'd rather sell my songs to someone else and let them record or perform them, thus distancing myself from the connection to the lyrics. And you thought it was easy.....

So, I hope you will join me to hear what I select to share with you! I would be honored by your presence...

Catching Up

Time ticks by as we scribble out our lives...

Well...2016 is only days from going into the history books. It has been an uneventful year on the surface, but far from that underneath it all. Life is, for me, seemingly constant course changes and this past year has been no different. Personal hopes for a stable and lasting relationship-finally-turned out to be more a lesson in self deception, trying to make something out of very little or nothing. The sting is slowly going away and I can now begin to think about moving on, though the confidence I once felt about the future in terms of "romance" has taken a decisive blow and I am not sure if it will find its way back. We'll see.

As you can tell, if you still stop by here, I have been far from diligent about "minding the store", so to speak. I know keeping in touch is important in this age of technology but there are times when I either don't have much to say, or am not sure quite how to say what might be going on. Still, every now and then, I feel a little pang of neglect or laziness for not doing a better job of connecting. If blogging is like an online journal, then that is what mine is for I realize again as I am writing this how personal my blogs tend to be, maybe even more than most of you would care to know. But...take it or leave it for that is just who / how I am...for now anyways.

On the music front, I am starting to move toward recording a new CD. The last one was "Private Passion" released in 2008 which means far too much time has passed without another effort, so I will keep you posted on that as it unfolds. Along with that renewed intention, I have begun booking gigs at the coast of North Carolina...Oak Island (at The Lazy Turtle )to be exact and soon Southport (at The Yacht Basin Eatery). This brings things back to the "course changes" I mentioned earlier. My goal is to live at the coast, perhaps as soon as by this time next year with any luck and concerted effort. I was born near the water and spent most of my childhood into high school near the ocean. It is in my blood and is the place where I feel most at home. I have been too far away for too damn long. With my child now in college, I can start to look at the future for myself and I see my feet in the sand. You'll be the first to know how this all works out as well.

So...Happy New Year! I am throwing away the compass and trusting the winds of change to carry me to the people, places, gigs and adventures that will satisfy my soul. Maybe you will do the same? As the now late George Michael said in his song..."You gotta have faith, faith,faith"

The Devaluation Of The Arts

David Byrne-photo by Ron BakerI have been saying for quite a while that live music and more specifically new original music has become passe in this techno world where everything is at our fingertips - literally through the myriad devices that connect us to the world wide web- and most of it for free or very cheap. This is just one man's opinion and as such holds little weight. But, there are those with a larger voice who share this view and one of them is David Byrne. Now if you are under 30 years old that name might be unrecognizable to you, but he's been around the music business long enough to see the trends and understand the consequences of the direction in which things have moving. While no super star himself, he has been a  very successful writer, performer and producer so has had a view from all angles and seen and felt first hand the effects of living in the new digital society. Rather than trying speak for him, it makes more sense for me to allow you to hear what David has to say about all of this in his own words. So, if you have the time and are interested,  read for yourself.

I feel compelled to do something to alter what seems like a course headed for disaster but honestly, I don't even know where to begin. And who's to say that this is not the way it is supposed to be and I would merely be meddling with destiny, fate or the inevitable? A good question no doubt and one I cannot answer, for my feeling is the world cannot lose the gifts of artistic creation without suffering some consequences both seen and unseen. Perhaps it will be a case like that expressed in the lyrics from Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi" which say " Don't it always seem to go, you don't know what you've got till it's gone..." I wonder if Joni could have seen this coming? (and yes, I get the irony of providing you with a song I got for free from youtube)

Have a look.As long as we are happy to consume for free or at severely-discounted prices what others have labored to create not just for our enjoyment, but to support their own livelihood, then we effectively seal the fate of all but a few who manage to stay afloat in such a business structure. The new saying in the music business is " Don't go into it to make money" which means the devaluation reality has already begun to permeate the minds of many who choose to stay in the creative fields despite the trends.  For now we should count ourselves fortunate that there are those still willing to create regardless of the payoff. One day however, it may be very difficult to find many willing to give their heart and soul and time to something that offers little or nothing in return.

It's not all doom and gloom admittedly. If you have a warm cup of coffee and an hour or so of time on your hands, listen to this radio talk show from WHYY on the subject for a closer look by some people who know more than I do about this subject. Despite the positive spin they put on things, I believe locally the perception in the minds of those who create, at least the opinions that I have heard personally, not just from musicians but from those in other art forms is that the odds seem stacked against them and the consumers seem less and less interested in paying what the artists are asking and more apt to find the cheapest way to have what they desire. It may be just another form of survival of the fittest and wiser for me to let it run its course, but I am not ready to sit silently on the sidelines just yet, though as I said earlier, I am still pondering just what kind of effort I can make and what the actual impact might be? Back to pondering... more later maybe.

Music Gurus: the voices of "Musivangelism"

Say what you will about musicians. We can be flaky, flighty, irresponsible, prone to procrastinate, loathe reality, unaware of time, lost in a daydream, in love with fantasy, broke most of the time and always in search of a party. There are easily a thousand  excuses to be found justifying almost all of those traits. That's not my intention. What I want to look at is the phenomenon of what happens to those of us on this planet that experience a genuine passion for what we do and how I believe it connects us to the divine on some deep inner level. As a musician, I can only speak about music and those who write or perform it, but I know without question that the divine connection is there in any passionate pursuit.

To get some fodder for my premise, I googled the top 500 songs according to Rolling Stone Magazine. I will work my way through the list seeking the performer and/or writer of each and then search out quotes made by those individuals to see if their own passion felt words back up what I have theorized. It will be an interesting journey for me and I hope for you as well. You could take the journey all by yourself now that I have given you the idea and I wish you well if you choose to go it on your own.

Kevin Mazur/WireImageRapper Jay-Z introduces the Rolling Stone top 500 song picks and he has some eloquent words that immediately hit me. Here are portions of his essay.

"When I'm writing a song that I know is going to work, it's a feeling of euphoria. It's how a basketball player must feel when he starts hitting every shot, when you're in that zone. As soon as you start, you get that magic feeling, an extra feeling."

"When you hear a great song, you can think of where you were when you first heard it, the sounds, the smells. It takes the emotions of a moment and holds it for years to come. It transcends time."

"A great song doesn't attempt to be anything — it just is."


John LennonThose words tend to make me think of the divine, though he doesn't ever come out and say it. Now... I will start the journey to discovering the "guru" quality in many musicians that I didn't  include in my previous list of descriptors in a purely random way by starting with a profound quote from John Lennon, one of the more prominent musical voices of the 20th Century, though I have no idea where he ranks on the list. For some reason, of all the thought provoking things he had to say, this one has stuck with me over the years...

"Life is what happens while you're busy making plans"

There's plenty said in those few words...think about it.