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Life, Fictional Characters, & Inspiration

Posted by on 5:21 AM in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Being a musician, a writer, a painter, an artist – hell, being a PERSON – has its ups and downs. This I can attest to. Life is a rollercoaster of The Good, The Bad, and the WTF?… This is Life as I know it. Oh well…It is this Life, the Life I’ve lived, the things I’ve seen and done, dreamed and chased, worried about and feared, failed and succeeded, taken pride or shame in – all these are the basic building blocks of not only who I am today, but of the music I create. Is it really that simple?No. Not even close. Example: Who the hell is Mr. Tom, and what did he ever do to me?Who is this Charlie character that is working his way into numerous songs that I’m writing?Who am I referring to in the song In My Mind? Well… The short answer is… They are all fictional characters. Yes. Fictional Characters. Mr. Tom came to me as an idea; someone who stood for all the evil, greed, and bad in the world – from Wall Street to Cancer.Charlie is someone that started off in short stories I wrote years ago – he is to me what Frank was to Tom Waits, what Tyler Durden was to Himself, what Harvey was to Elwood P. Dowd. He isn’t who I am, or what I want to be necessarily… He is just someone who goes on adventures, gets into trouble, and doesn’t understand that there is a filter between the brain and the mouth.As for the person I’m singing to in the song In My Mind…Her name is Jaenelle Angelline, and – you may have guessed – she is a fictional character. The song is, for me, from the point of view of one of the men who adored her – her adoptive father ~ Saetan Daemon SaDiablo.By the way, if you haven’t read the Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop, and have a strong stomach, go read them. They are quite the journey, and they touch every aspect of Life – music, dancing, sex, violence, regret, revenge, beauty, power, love, hatred, food, and so on. In my Life I have spent a lot of time with my nose in a book – and books have, of course, made an impression on me. I love writing songs for/about/with fictional characters. Why shouldn’t they have lives, too?Same could be said for movies.But, I’m getting off track. I was talking about Life. Life. Life. Life.If you’re looking for some kind of inspiration, just look at Life.But, as I said, it does have its ups and downs…                     I don’t know about any of you, but I’m not a big fan of the downs.Anxiety, worry, depression, mistakes, regret, stupid decisions, trauma… And all that before my morning coffee! No, really, this is a part of what I call my Life. I’m not happy about it, and I’m not proud of it (especially the bad decisions and regrets) – but they are there. These are all in my past, and (much to my chagrin) most of them are in my present in some way or another. For me, music helps me to work past it. To learn from my mistakes, to forgive myself or others, to not worry about thing that I have no control over, to help get me out of whatever has...

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New Strings (and a guest)

Posted by on 4:15 AM in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I bought new strings today. Sounds pretty boring, right? Normally I would agree with you, but today was different. Today, I bought strings for my guitars with the proceeds from my music sales. Still not impressed? I am. I am able to buy something from selling my music. THAT is f***ing HUGE for me! I know, it’s just strings, but that is a major part of a guitar! Without the strings, a guitar can’t be played (well, it could like a drum or something – but, you know what I mean). I can buy myself strings. When I clicked Purchase (yeah, I bought them online, I like to try out different strings and gauges and such), I was about as giddy as a kid who had been accepted to college! Really! Ask my Lady, I was going on about these damn strings forever! Now, let me make this clear, I am not saying any of this to make people feel guilty about not purchasing music – be it from me or any other musician – you have free will! If you don’t want to buy something, don’t! I am simply saying that this is a major first step, and I am SO damn happy about it – I think I might do a jig! Now, let me say this again. I bought new strings today! I bought new strings for all of my guitars. All four of them. There’s my new Fender Strat that I bought myself for my birthday – all white with a hige headstock, my dream guitar.  There’s the Martin that my Lady got for me as a Thank You For Existing gift – from the moment I picked this guitar up, it felt like magic to me. The Taylor was a gift from the family of my friend Pedro. I probably have as many memories with this guitar as I do with the man who used to play it.Then, there’s my oldie – a knockoff guitar covered in stickers I bought when I was just a teenager from my local music shop (Anyone in San Diego, go to Moze!). This guitar has been through hell and back with me, and for years it was the only instrument I had.Then, there’s my banjo. Doesn’t get new strings (yet), but still an awesome instrument. Still, what makes it greater, I got to buy strings for all of them – and when they get here, I am going to restring and play all of them. Not at once, but probably over the course of a day. I have stories and memories and different feelings I get when I play any of these guitars – even the Strat (who is the newbie in the bunch). I love my instruments. They give me more than I could ever say. I got to buy new strings today. It’s a good day. And then, there’s my new friend – I call him Rags (short for Ragamuffin). He likes to help me with mixing & mastering, too. He made my day a little better, too. Thanks, Rags, for being a guest in my photos for my blog ~ and photo credits go to my Lady. She also makes my days good...

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The Dreaded Day job, Charleston Chew, and Taking Time Away

Posted by on 6:47 AM in Uncategorized | 0 comments

So, I’m a musician (obviously). And that’s just great. Really! I love it, I love playing music, writing music, production, even listening to music really gets me jazzed (get it?). But, what about the other stuff?Sure, I write one (crappy) novel a year, and I love writing – I think I do better at reading books than I do writing them, though. But… What about the dreaded Day Job? Does anyone really care?  I do, but that’s because I have to do the job! If I were reading this, it wouldn’t matter all that much to me. So, let’s skip it. But, not entirely. Sometimes, with other musicians, or artists, or writers, or just people – we start talking about the Day Job versus our Passion, and how to not let the former get in the way of the latter. For me, sometimes it does. And that sucks. I have to try hard to not only keep my work at work, and my mind on what I love when I am enjoying music – but I have to constantly reset my boundaries! With people I work with/for, customers & clients, bosses, even with myself! I have to stop sometimes and say, “Dude, you’re not at work. Put that shit down, grab your guitar and just play!” Sometimes it is friggin’ hard to do, too. There are times when all my mind has room for is work this and work that – and I can’t remember how to play the chords to Something In The Way by Nirvana. Other times, though, it helps me push through whatever worker’s block or writer’s block I have and I come up with some new ideas! NEW IDEAS ARE AWESOME! They lead to new songs!Or, at least a few moments where I don’t have to think about everything else in the world… That’s nice, too… Like having a Charleston Chew…Mmmmmm….  Charleston Chew….But, even when it comes to music I need to take step back, get it off my mind, and do something else. Sometimes I have to force myself to take a break from music.  Sometimes I can get so into writing a song, or recording and mixing, or just coming up with sounds that I think are strange and fun, and then… Boom… Fatigue.I need to just rest, have a bite to eat, spend time with my animals and my lady, just veg out like a madman. It’s not a bad thing.I like vegging out.I’ll bet you were thinking there was a point to all this, weren’t ya? Nope. Just letting you know how some things go. I want nachos. Yeah… That’s what I’m talkin’...

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Small Town Musicians & A Tortie

Posted by on 1:56 AM in Uncategorized | 3 comments

I live in a small town. Seriously. It makes South Park look like a thriving metropolis of doom!In my town, we’re in the mountains, and about 45 minutes drive away from anywhere else. Sure, the views are nice, the air is clean, and it’s impossible to get a burrito after 9 pm… The venues for music are surprisingly plentiful, but they all have their niche. One place loves jazz, and sometimes blue-grass. Another, all about the usual bar cover-songs (i.e. Brown-Eyed Girl…. Yeah…. No…), and others love classical music, or The Eagles. My venue is a little different. It was home to my old rock n’ roll cover band, and has let a fair share of musicians come in and play. My venue is The Coffee House. And, again, small town – only one coffee house. It’s kinda a big deal. It is the central hub of most of the town and its visitors. What makes it even more special… I play a mix of originals and covers. And, I have had people request both kinds of songs BY NAME! How bloody cool is that! Sure, I have some friends (John) that think it’s funny (John) to call out things like Taylor Swift (John). In a small town, you get to know a lot of people, and they get to know you. I laugh, he laughs, the crowd secretly judges him for asking for such a thing – a good time is had by some. What’s nice, though, is that in a small town, in a small community, I can support my friends who play music. I’ll admit, I don’t go out much to shows (introvert) – but, I buy their albums (Juls, hurry up and release yours! Been waiting YEARS!) – and I try and show them as much support as I can. Even the amazing musicians I used to play with still amaze me, and I can’t wait to see what they do! Joe, our drummer, is growing and becoming in so many incredible ways – Musically and in life, he just blows my mind. Shawn, our keyboardist & Doors enthusiast is back in Philly, and while he works on both political campaigns and the local four-legged folks, I know in his soul music still comes to him. He is also an amazing producer, song-writer, composer, and all around cool cat. When someone plays in town, no matter if it’s a weekly gig at the local pub, or the once-in-a-while-Summer-in-the-Gazebo gig, I try and send people their way and send good vibes to them. I have to admit, there are a lot of musicians in my town. Sure, Radiohead says “Anyone can play guitar” – but there are a lot of amazing, fantastic musicians in my town! What makes it even better is that it never feels like a competition to me. It just feels good that when I’m setting up for my gig at the coffee shop, and the guys in the multi-vocal, awesome-harmony oldies band are setting up in the wine bar, we wish each other the best of luck (and fun) at our shows. And, we genuinely mean it! And, ya know what? IT FEELS GOOD! I dig their tunes, and we even have a few that overlap – Neil Young, in particular – but, we both have very different...

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What is Disjointed Folk?

Posted by on 1:38 AM in Uncategorized | 0 comments

  Disjointed Folk…    Just kind of rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?    Nope. Not really.     So, what is Disjointed Folk?    Short answer: That’s my genre.    Long answer: ….        Well, the long answer is that Disjointed Folk is how I describe not only the music & lyrics I write, but the stories that go with them, the characters that they involve, and – to a certain point – my point of view of all of the above. Disjointed Folk isn’t just a genre, it’s a mass collective; it’s a mindset & a way of life, it’s almost a path – a winding one to be sure. No, we’re no lost tribe of Israel, and I don’t even know who the We in this is… I can only speak for myself, but I can play music for all the displaced, discontent, disturbed, disowned, discarded, disconnected, discouraged, disenchanted, disparaged, and even the disjointed.     I suppose my genre includes ranting…    Disjointed Folk music became the name when I was first putting the songs together for The Storyteller’s Impasse. I was talking about getting the songs mastered by different people (as I’ve written about in other posts), a friend of mine – a folk musicians & songwriter – suggested that I rethink that idea. “The whole album might seem really… Disjointed.” She said.  BINGO!   In one word she had solved a few problems for me. I had no idea what to consider my genre of music, and I had no clue how to tie these songs together – they had all come from different parts of my mind, my life, and my interpretation of what had transpired. Thus, Disjointed Folk was truly born.    So, Disjointed Folk it is.    So, I give a call to these people: if you are an introvert who longs to travel all the quiet roads, if you are struggling with a mixture of wanderlust but hate to break away from routine, if you are uncomfortable in your own skin but loathe the idea of being anyone else, if you are discontent but have no real reason why, if your Storyteller has ruled you for too long & you are ready to revolt…                                   Get Disjointed, my...

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Instrumentals: The Sound & The Meaning

Posted by on 1:49 AM in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I’ve had a few people ask me about the meaning of my instrumentals, what the story is, how they should feel about them, and so on… So, let me speak both as a musician who writes instrumentals, and as a listener who loves instrumentals… When it comes to movie scores, symphonies, or operas there is usually a story going along with the music. Instrumental music, be it one track, an album, or a full collection, aren’t much different. There is still a story behind what makes the composer/musician and the sounds that they want to make. There might be an overarching theme. There may even be a story behind it all. The major difference is that we, the listeners, have no idea of that is without more input from the musician. We can only guess, assume, or – what I like best – make up our own story to go with it. I would like to share some of my favorite instrumentals… Buckethead is one of the artists that I look up to, that I listen to for inspiration, and that just wows me with his sounds. The stories that I make up for his songs have gone on to be short stories I’ve written, characters that have made it into other songs, or just amuse the hell out of me.    And, absolutely amazing live….  Sure, some of my own don’t have stories, they are just musical ideas that tickled my brain. Then there are others – the three instrumentals I have released so far (Ode, Man With P_________ Chasing A H____ Named S____, Lacking Hubris) all do, in fact, have stories to them. But, with more on the way, the titles will become more unusual and the music will tell tales of its own. So, I’ll leave with a few more instrumentals that I love… CHEESY VIDEO!!! And, awesome piece of music… Where would I be without SURF MUSIC! The Ventures were one of my first major influences and musical loves. I still dig them – and torture people by breaking out their tunes at disgusting volumes…. Ennio Morricone…. Genius. Last, but certainly not least, is one of my favorite songs ever (this one might surprise you). Jeff Beck takes a classic, a beautiful song that originally had words and makes it an instrumental that is haunting and...

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National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo)

Posted by on 5:31 PM in Uncategorized | 0 comments

November is a magical month, when a Page’s thoughts turn to the number of words he can cram into a novel in just thirty days. Every November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Participants, like myself, have just the thirty days of the month to write a novel of at least 50,000 words. Sound easy? It’s not. Sure, there is an entire year to prepare, work through outlines, do character sketches. But, what do I do? I usually wait until the last minute and fly by the seat of my keyboard. The first year I completed NaNoWriMo was 2012. I wrote a novel, a terrible thing (I can admit it, and with pride, it is terrible – like a highschool freshman trying to write like Bukowski or Palahniuk) called A Toothsome Crooked Grin. Really, it was bad. I knew it when I wrote it, but I thought I would still pursue it – albeit, in a very lazy & uneventful way. I entered a contest through Amazon.com to win a publishing deal. All participants had to come up with their Back of the Book Blurb. Here’s mine. Mommy is a whore, Grandma has dementia and the stuffed hedgehog says the way to healing is through self-mutilation.     Joseph begins his story here, and he’s just a child. Walking through this open window he tells his life story – of scarring violence, empty relations and two-faced morals. Everyone in his life is affected from Sarah the school nurse to Thomas the awkward cohort, and even The Tooth Faery. This is not a story about revenge or redemption. This is simply the story of someone who has been broken.     The slums of California are the backdrop for this Coming of Rage story and full of vile sex, sin and extremes where no one is innocent. This is Joseph’s disturbing and sordid life, driven through his point of view and leaving very little to the imagination. This is a study of human nature that no one wants to admit to seeing, the downside of the coin on the bottom of the world.    Laughably bad, right? Well, the novel isn’t any better. The following year I began a new story – one that, unknown to me, would become a trilogy. But, I am no Martin, Tolkien, or Asimov. I began with the idea of the prompted journal entries of a madman in an asylum. And so, I began my second book and met Charlie. He is the opening voice of Dime Store Sycophant. The first book goes through a series of weird changes, points of view, and even crosses genres (terribly). It went on through two sequels – Dime Store Revisited and Dime Store Closing. Where the first novel changed from one genre to another, the following books took on lives of their own. Unfortunately for them, the first book isn’t as good as they are, – and, unfortunately for me, none of the three are worth the work of editing, re-drafting, and working towards publishing. So, why do it? Honestly? Because it is fun. It is a month where my entire focus is on creating something purely for fun! The part of me that focuses on this or that with music is set aside. This is the part of it that some of my friends find a bit out...

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Where Does The Time Go?

Posted by on 2:15 PM in Uncategorized | 0 comments

       Having a place at home to record is both good and bad… Sure, I don’t have to pay a ton of money for studio time – which is great when I’m having a day of bad takes, but I still won’t get that Studio Sound that many musicians think of…. But, there is one upside/downside than not many people think about…        When I sit at my little at-home studio, there are times when I come up with song ideas back to back (my all-time record is something like twelve ideas in one day). I don’t mean full songs or instrumentals, I mean little pieces – riffs, chord progressions, verses – that I think are too cool to lose! So, I record them. And, honestly, they usually sit there in the recording bank for a long, long, long, long, long time before I give them a listen. And, to make it worse, I usually have to be pretty desperate in my writer’s block to listen to them! Just think, hours – maybe even days – of puzzle pieces of songs! Sounds great, right?     Well, what about the time I spent recording those things that I could have been working on a song that is already written? A song that is almost there, it just needs a bass groove and some mixing done to it?       Six hours later…         What happened? I thought I had a full day to work on music… I have an entire list of things to do: recordings, overdubs, second takes, fiftieth takes, mixing, production work, vacuuming, dishes, dogs & cats to pet…      This is where my time...

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Being A Nerd & The Ideal Rock Star Life

Posted by on 9:21 PM in Uncategorized | 0 comments

So, let’s get this out of the way… I’m kind of a nerd.I research everything that even vaguely interests me; guitars, amps, effects, authors, movies, mics, and even the cables I use for my instruments. So, in the spirit of research, I looked up different topics to blog about. One of them said to write about “the ideal rock star life you want to live!” Yippee skippee… I’m sure a ton of people want to hear about how someone like me wants a huge pad that would put the Wayne Manor to shame, a lot of cars that are far too expensive to drive, or a lot of random expensive possessions that I shamelessly flaunt with my group of “friends” while on a world tour that costs more than the national budget. Pass. You want to know what my ideal rock star life looks like? You might be surprised… My ideal life is actually pretty quiet. I want to live somewhere close to water – a lake or an ocean. I want time to lay in a hammock and read, time to pet my dogs and cats (of which there will be many, of course), and the freedom to not worry about any bloody day job, and instead focus on my passions: music, writing, reading, learning, teaching, helping people, food – both cooking and eating.The ideal town/city would be small enough to hang out at the coffee shop where everyone knows my drink, but big enough so I could go there and read a book by myself and not have to talk to anyone if I didn’t feel like it. Also, have burritos/nachos, Thai food, Indian food, and sushi close by and open all hours would be great… Independent bookstores and music stores that I could support with my purchases for myself and gifts for friends… A farmer’s market with yummy food and supplies. Geographically, someplace not sweltering hot (I’ve already lived in Phoenix… Twice…), and not cold enough to snow – although a fire on a snow day, a lot of food, funny movies, animals, and my lady (excuse me, partner) are a beautiful thing – but I’m sick of the snow…I want a house that is big enough to offer the people I consider family a place to stay. Maybe not a house, but something like a villa or a hotel. A place that is comfortable for me, but also for the people that I care about. I would love to have a room that is soundproofed and functional as a home studio. Sure, give me lots of instruments, amps, effects, cables, and a fast and amazingly well-behaved computer to record with.I want the ways and means to offer help to people. If I have a friend that wants to go back to school – boom, school. If there are people that would get help by taking care of animals, come help me with mine – I’ll have plenty of them! If some aspiring artist sends me something and I see the talent & passion in them – come record at my studio & let’s see how we can get your music out there! Someone needs a good book recommendation, here I am – The Page at the ready!There has to be a garden, my lady loves gardening, and I love...

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A Short List Of Thanks

Posted by on 3:12 PM in Uncategorized | 1 comment

I would like to take a moment to show my appreciation to some of the people that have helped me along this journey to this first album.Julie – you gave me a guitar, food, pedals, food, love, food, and occasionally, cookies. Thank you for everything.Timm – thanks for always being Timm. You always inspired me. Made me think and made me laugh. Even now, miles away from each other, and with my bad contacting habits – you’re still my friends and brother.Omar – I finally got a banjo!Rick – you gave The Storyteller a name & a title. You also helped me find strange new sounds along the way.Ric – always fun with puns and wordplay, but also thinking of things from new angles.Shawn – You helped me start this. Hopefully we can share a stage again, and work together in a studio. (Pause)Cap’n – Thanks for all the laughs! And for (trying) to keep me on track.John – Thanks for the photos, and the totally geeky music discussions.Don – Always fun, always interesting, always new, and usually with food.Preston – What can I say? I admire ya. And you make me laugh and think.Mr. P. – You introduced me to Tom Waits AND John Milton. You sorry yet?Brian – Thanks for all your work with Mastering, and being a cool cat. Shepherd – Yeah, I went there. Thank you for everything. The Andersons, The Smiths, The Baileys – HI! And… You know… Thank you for everything.Dan – Happy to have you as a friend & a fan. Wish we could have met under better circumstances.Tres & Raj – You were there from the beginning – Noodling on the guitar started to turn into songs and experiments from a mad scientist. Now, this is the beginning all over again. No...

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