I hosted a house concert on January 29th. Maybe you saw it on my tour page? You were invited … Did you come? Were you there? Were you the one that brought the director from Spain with you? Were you the one who came from a meeting with an NFL-er? Or were you the one who brought your saxophone and absolutely killed us with your snakey, gorgeous, breathy lines? Maybe you were the one sitting in a chair basking in the glow of the candles and the surprise puppet show?
Yeah … that’s it. That was you! You! You get it!
You came because you’re starting to figure out how I operate, something I like to call “radical vulnerability.” That’s the thing I am working on. Thank you, Sonya, for getting radically vulnerable with me -- both at the Redstack show in December and at the house concert last week. Thank you for getting radically vulnerable with your writing and reviewing the house concert. I’ll see you at the next one -- from the stage, singing, winging-it, shoulder to shoulder. Hell yes!
This year ... that's my plan, that's my jam.
2015 -- The year of consistent awesomeness.
I'll be posting new tunes here and on my Soundcloud (where there is already a lot of goodness going on).
This means I am writing ...
No Matter What.
Through thick, through thin: foot surgery, travel, Mom's cancer stirs up trouble, RedStack blows up and becomes the hottest new band in NYC, lots of other things I cannot even fathom right now, etc.
Gulp! Here we go ...
What are you saying HELL YES to? Let me know, down below.
(Awesome image courtesy of the Bringing Awesome Back blog.)
Another image from my journal. Read the journal FAQ here.
I like this description of music as a series of questions of questions of questions ... It somehow seemed right to me when I read it. The quotation came from the book The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan.
What are you reading? Do capture any thoughts, lines, words when you read them? If so, how? What's your way of keeping these shards of words and phrases? Tell me. Tell me more.
'cause I want you to sing with me ... at the REDSTACK gig, Thursday, December 11 at 9:30pm sharp! at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 3.
I've got a little song in mind I want to arrange for two or three or fifty voices. But I am only one little person and Jules doesn't know the song (yet) and still that would only be two little people.
So if you are coming to the gig and you want to sing with me, send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org
And if you're not coming to the gig and you want to sing with me, send me an email.
And if you want to come to the gig and sing with me but you forgot to get a ticket or didn't have the internet or 10$ to get a ticket and it's now sold out, send me an email.
How sweet it is to be loved by you. It's true.
The best thing I've done all week is play drums and guitar along with the album "Coltrane Plays the Blues." The first two tunes "Blues for Elvin" and "Blues for Bechet" have totally lit me up!!! I am playing along with them multiple times a day! Seriously! It is like some kind of musical crack.
Rick Considine, my drum teacher, told me to play along with that first track and once again I understand why he is the man and why I travel to Bushwick and sit in a tiny, dimly lit, freezing cold, grungy little practice closet to study with him. Thanks, Rick. Seriously. Thank you for once again blowing my mind.
What makes playing along with these two tunes so great?
- Because playing along with real music is the next best thing to playing real music. Ha! What I mean is, it is the next best thing to playing a gig with your heroes ... and I love playing gigs and love playing gigs with my heroes even more.
- Because the tempos of these songs are MY JAM. These slow tempos speak to my soul. I get so pumped to find music that exists in this slow, spacious land of time. Ben Webster plays a lot at this tempo and he is one of my touchstones. Gillian Welch plays at this tempo. Damn. So much good and soulful music at these slow tempos. It is a kind of soul food for my ears. Delicious. Sweet. Lingering.
Check out the entire Coltrane album here. And you tell me -- What was the best thing you did all week?
The awesome gals at Kind Aesthetic wrote this great little wrap-up about a house concert I had in my apartment in NYC last summer.
In the post, they write about how the night CREATED community. How it made community and connection happen. The night was full of great people, all of whom I wanted to introduce to each other. Sure the music was great (especially because I was playing with the King of Newfoundland gypsy jazz guitar, Mr. Duane Andrews and the King of the Beaches in Toronto, the bluesman, Mr. Paul Reddick), sure the vibe was killing, but the best part of all ... getting all of my cool peeps together in one room and seeing what happened!
Here is what happened: Boom! Ideas flying back and forth! Sparks! Collaborations! Laughs! New friendships! New workout partners! Hilarious, revealing convos! I think there was even a late night trek to the 55 Bar to see Julian play?? (Can someone who was there confirm?)
How do you make community happen? Talk to me.
“Magic is just someone spending more time on something than anyone else might reasonably (or even unreasonably) expect.”
— Teller (of Penn & Teller)
Multi-instrumentalist Augusto Monk is one of my oldest musical friends. He's been in the trenches with me since we first met at Berklee College of Music way back when. We would meet in the school's shitty little practice rooms with the broken-down pianos at midnight almost every night of the semester to practice ear training together. We'd stay until they kicked us out at 2am.
Originally from Argentina, he's lived in Boston, London, and now Toronto. His music is equally as nomadic. At any given time, I have no clue what instrument he is playing, what kind of music he is making, or if he is even making music at all -- sometimes he paints, draws cartoons, or makes films.
(PS: watch the entire film; the password is Brass)
We go a long time without seeing or talking to each other, but when we do, we always fall into deep discussions about the nature of making music. Invariably, we wonder: did those endless nights of ear training teach us anything? Anything at all? Or were they just an exercise in stamina? Or was that the point?
(This interview is part of the TENACITY series. Read the FAQ here.)
I'm working away on new songs this month.
Often, writing songs includes a lot of research: looking up words in the dictionary, checking out synonyms and antonyms, using a thesaurus, reading up on the etymology of a word, seeing how else it's been used, etc. Sometimes, I end up down the rabbit hole.
It happened to me today, working on a new tune that is kind of a "list" song. It made me think of other great list songs (someday, I'll make a list of list songs ... there are some great ones out there).
I wanted to remind myself of the lyrics to my hero Cole Porter's "I Get A Kick Out of You," so ... I googled it. After reading the lyrics and listening to a bunch of different versions, I came upon this wonderful rendition / spoof.
It made me smile! Hope it makes you smile too ...
Do you know other equally as inspired takes on popular songs? I'm talking Weird Al and beyond? Clue me in, will you? Leave a comment below! Share the wealth!
NOs are how you become a player (or band or singer or songwriter or producer) who has something to say.
Nobody remembers the players who can do EVERYthing, who do ANYthing that comes their way.
We remember and love and get absolutely rabid about the players, singers, and bands who are unabashedly good at, basically, one thing. That's why we love them! They do one thing to the maximum! They don't give a sh*t about all the other things they could do or should do.
You can think of a bunch of examples, can't you? Some that come immediately to my mind: Tina Turner (fiery vocals, legs), Mick Jagger (energy, lips), Stevie Ray Vaughn (blistering guitar, that black hat), etc. I'm not even gonna start listing jazzers who kill one thing, one sound, one emotion.
HELL NO, I'm not spending 1000 hours learning how to play Cherokee backwards in all 12 keys at quarter note = 248! Screw that!? (Unless, of course, that is exactly the thing you want to say HELL YES to!)
How do you become able to respond in-the-moment to whatever comes your way ... in music, or in whatever it is you are doing?
What the heck am I talking about?
A little back story might be in order here.
When I came to NYC to play music, things got real. Meaning: being able to play my guitar at a certain level got real, being able to put on a great performance got real. Real meant having to do those things with no rehearsal ... or very little rehearsal. Or maybe, if I was lucky, an hour of rehearsal. Which meant all the responsibility was on me. (Of course, the responsibility was ALWAYS on me ... but when you know you have a few rehearsals to work the kinks out -- aka slack off -- you don't prepare as well.)
So how do you man-up and get real?