Monday, June 27, 2011

Jitters in Millersburg

We had a pretty diverse audience. There was a baby in the crowd as well. Fun night.

Photo by Heather McDonough.

Spent our anniversary in Cleveland. This is us. Rings by Kristi Glick. Was the first anniversary we had Eastern European food. Last year we went to a zoo. Philadelphia. What's with anniversaries in midwestern cities?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Screaming Rooster was Loud

Great to be able to open for my friend Joel's band last night (Lo-Watt Radio) at the Screaming Rooster in Cleveland. First time we've played there. Drove around a bit and had Eastern European food at Sokolowski's on University. If you find yourself in Cleveland and like sauerkraut try it.

The venue was good. Lo-Watt played well. It was a rough nights for me and the Brilliant. I broke two strings, couldn't hear myself and couldn't keep my guitars in tune. If it wasn't for Toby it would have been a train wreck. As it was we scraped and leaned our way through it. I know you have nights like that but they still throw me. The audience didn't throw anything though, and a number of people said they liked it. There were a few brilliant moments when everything was hitting hard and loud, though, that were great.

Tonight is the last Ohio show of the Watershed tour -- in Millersburg which is where I spent a good chunk of my elementary school days. Nothing like playing in the small town you grew up in! Never played Jitters before.

We've got the Indiana-Illinois loop yet and then the Watershed tour is over. I'm looking forward to ending strong and then having time to reflect on the project and the tour.

Last Ohio Shows

Well it looks like you have two (or maybe 3) more chances to hear the band before Christa and I disappear into the land of sabbatical (more about that later).These shows are kind of loud and rocky and fun. I hope I get a chance to see you at one of these. (We may add an Akron show yet).

Date/Time:Friday, June 24 at 7:00pm - June 25 at 1:00am
Location: The Screaming Rooster
15527 Madison Avenue
Lakewood, OH
Type of venue: Bar/music venue. Opening for my friend Joel's band.

Date/Time: Friday, June 24 at 7:00pm - June 25 at 1:00am
Location: Jitters Coffeehouse
1545 S. Washington St.
Millersburg, OH, 44654
Type of venue: Christian Coffeehouse "whose goal is to intentionally reach our community with the message that they can know God's voice and relate with him through Jesus Christ."

Saturday, June 18, 2011

With SoS at NH

Show went well. Smaller audience than I expected, but generous and fun. A good evening. Really enjoyed the Surge on Smith set. Kelly did well and I like the stripped down snare and kick with an upright bass set up.

My guitar teacher sat in on a couple tunes -- three actually -- for the Jonathan Reuel and the Brilliant part of the set. This was a lot of fun. A highlight from the evening for me was the end of Where Nothing Remains the Same where we traded guitar leads. While we were both drawing deeply from blues roots, his solo was well-constructed, well-executed and just plain good. Mine was messy, chaotic, and full of noise. I thought they worked together perfectly. We did some improvising at the end and the rhythm section took off and took over which was great. Nothing like not being able to shut your band down. But when they're brilliant that can be a good thing.

I talked to a guy whose musical perspective I value after the show. He said he enjoyed it. Why? (I asked). "Because there is something great about three musicians just making noise together. The audience was wondering part of the time whether those notes and sounds were supposed to be there and I liked that. And the art had some anger in it." (I'm not quoting him well, but it's the essence of what he said.)

Several people talked about questioning my move from acoustic music to this, especially now when there is such a large surge of energy in that area. The iconoclasts like it though. From where I sit I've been waiting to do this for over two decades -- I'm just happy to take this opportunity that opened up by divine kindness -- and damn the torpedoes!(Nod to the general and Tom).

Friday, June 17, 2011

Why Watershed is Different

Here are six reasons:

1. I'm in the early stages. I always love the early stages -- when you're learning like crazy and you don't know what it will become.

2. A band of peers. You can't take away any of these parts and make it work. Many of my past bands were all interchangeable parts with me being the only constant. I like a constant of three at the core instead of one.

3. I'm being honest. I wrote music for Christians, for God,for people outside the church. Then I just wrote whatever I wanted and quit playing live. I got to this album and picked what fit together. They are songs about what matters most to me -- a lot of which has to do with God. We play it wherever -- bars, churches -- and see what happens.

4. It's cool and passionate. Being on stage playing rock and roll -- there is a distance between you and the rest of the band and the audience. This is "coolness." At the same time you throw yourself completely into what you're doing -- and sometimes the audience does too. This is the heat. It's a strange mix of distance and zeal. Great juxtaposition.

5. You don't have to talk. Part of why I like writing music is that I get to experience and communicate something that goes beyond words (although it includes words it uses them in a different way -- creating images, textures, emotions, a space -- rather than just saying something directly). As a singer songwriter your personality and your words a big part of why people listen to you, or how they listen to you. You can be an inarticulate rock star -- or poet.

6. Dancing on the cliff -- occasionally.
I'm finding I can express things with electric guitar that I couldn't on the acoustic. On solos I want to tread the edge of what works -- the edge of melody, rhythm/timing, etc -- I love it when it feels like it is almost falling apart but it isn't. I want these moments surrounded by the solid, steady, powerful, loud unity of the rest of the songs.

7. I didn't do it all by myself.I love to create and work with others. It was bigger than I could handle from the beginning and I got the help I needed as I went. Once the producer and I discovered the focus for the project, he was responsible to keep us on track. That freed me up to focus on my individual parts. We created something together that surpassed my ideas or my vision, something that I really like. Many times my collaborations have created something less stunning than what I could do myself. Not this time. We were all surprised by what we created, we are all thankful to be a part of it.

The Final Watershed Artwork

Prints available. Unfortunately small, but great nonetheless. Total length - over 30 feet.

Texas Brilliant live

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Prints of Watershed Artwork

We ordered prints of the Watershed Artwork -- all 40 feet or so of it compressed down to a foot and a half or something. Should be getting them in time for Friday's show. Can't wait to see them. Pretty amazing to see all this stuff coming together.

Also -- almost got some radio promotion in the Dallas area this week. It fell through at the last minute. Sad.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Last 2 Chances to See Surge on Smith and Me

Friday. June 17th. 7:30 pm.
Venue: NHCC.
1100 W Brown St
Wylie, TX 75098
Suggested $5 donation

Saturday. June 18th. 8:00 pm.
Venue: Epoch Theater, 201 Legacy Drive, Plano, 75023
Cost: $5 at the door

Last chance to catch us on this tour in Texas. Come see us!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Watershed is Different

After five live shows of the new material and innumerable hours spent recording, I still love this stuff. It gets time in the car cd player. This is different than all but one of my past recordings.

Playing the stuff live is really fun. It's scary too -- stretches me to the edge of what I can pull off, but it's great. It's loud, it's good. Christa says it's the tightest (most together for you non-music folks) I've ever sounded. In 23 years of making music. It's strange.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Sons of Hermann Hall

The show last night was very, very good. Amazing venue, great crowd and one of the best debut concerts (Surge On Smith) I've ever been a part of. TX Brilliant lived up to their name. I love playing these tunes. Pics or video coming.

Friday, June 10, 2011

30 Feet of Art

We're working on getting prints made of the 30 foot-long piece of art Christa made for the Watershed Project. But there's this last little thing she wants to try. I guess 30 feet of art is not enough...

Texas Brilliant Truly Brilliant

Over a month ago I had my first practice with the TX Brilliant. Tonight we had our second. We play tomorrow night. I was very scared. Now I am only a little scared.

Hooray for hardworking gigging musicians! I got to the practice tonight and not only do the guys know the songs, the bass player has everything charted including bpms for each tune.

At the end of practice tonight we improvised. At some point I started doing atmospheric washes and Joel (TX Joel the bass guru, not OH Joel*) and Greg went off into outer space switching into strange time signatures and playing in some eastern European scale I've never heard of. Glorious. I feel so wealthy. Privileged. This is how I've felt every time I get to play this music live with either Brilliant.

* Also known as "the-drummer-who-learned-on-cardboard-boxes-with-paint-stirring-sticks."

Friday, June 3, 2011

Just say no

I remember hearing the virtues of saying no extolled when I was in school. No to drugs. No to premarital sex. While the methodology of the message was often pretty effective, the message itself is one that I'm realizing needs to be heard -- at least by busy people who are used to saying "yes" to worthwhile opportunities.

Which includes me. My current attempt to work at it is this: unless I have a clear sense that it's important, confirmed by my wife, I'm saying "no" to new opportunities that pop up between now and the first week of July when we start our sabbatical.

I just said no to an interesting gig opportunity that would have given me a great growth opportunity and an excuse to get a pedal I've been looking at for months now...

And even so it feels good to...