Friday, January 15, 2010

Jamming again

After some dithering, June and I decided to head up to the Whitpain Tavern in Plymouth Meeting, PA for their weekly open mic/jam session. It's often quite fun as usally everyone just sorta piles together in random ways and configurations. As, as it usually happens, we got there *late* and thus only got the last two spots.

This time, of course, I decided to do some solo/front stuff. It's not the best venue for most of my stuff - a bar with a bunch of rowdy-ish musicians. I think many of them would appreciate the writing. But... not the best energy. My songs tend to run just a *bit* too melancholy.

I did some quick calculations and decided to try "Better This Way?", "Dreams" (by Fleetwood Mac), and "Moondance" (by Van Morrison). Well, the last one got dropped off the list as one of the (many) groups ahead of us pulled that tune out. Ah well.

Started off with "Better This Way?" and felt pretty decent about it. Took it a tad too fast though. On the cool-ish side, a percussionist jumped in on it. I really like having percussion on it. But they were bongos and not congos. The higher pitch didn't quite fit in my brain right.

"Dreams"? Was more of a nightmare. I asked a couple guys to hop on and jam with me on it. However, not only did I forget a bunch of lyrics, I do it differently than the original. And there was a bit of a clash. LOL.

Still I'm happy to say I weathered it well. I didn't succumb to my prior bouts of immediate self-loathing. Just took it all in stride as a, "well, this is... interesting!"

And again I got a couple compliments on "Better This Way?"! From a guitarist! Yay!!

Next time I think I will try some other tunes. Perhaps "So Glad..." or "Jesus Year". If I can make the slow songs _groove_ enough, they'll fly. And "Jesus Year" has a certain blues edge to it that I think could go well. Even if it is a slit-your-wrist-er. *heh*

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Flow, river. Flow...

I'm starting to find a new workflow on this machine. It's *NOT* ideal. But... it works.

And I'm at the point where that's good enough. For now.

I had intended to sit down and get some ideas down for a tune I started writing last night. (and by 'last night' I do mean Friday night now. EEEK!) However, as creativity sometimes goes, I started writing something almost *completely* different. I just got this riff in my fingers and was like, "MUST. DO. SOMETHING."

That was at about 4 or 5pm today... AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

I'm grooving on it. I'm flowing with it. It's not caught me like 'trains' did. But... that's okay. I keep wanting to experience that tsunami of creativity that hit me those four days - when 'trains' went from a mere thought to a completed 'demo'.

Nothing is ever the same.

There's technical issues. I *may* clean up some of the sloppy guitar work. I may not. I may re-record some of the parts. I may not. I don't know these days. I may just nudge them into something a little less displeasing to my ear.

I only have so much of my perfectionism I can allow to run amok.

The funny thing is that I'm just kinda... letting it go. The riff I started off with is the primary "verse" riff - that really bluesy thing. After that I think I came up with the chorus next and then the sorta prechorus. I still want to develop that bridge...

But yeah, it's not in the sonic world I started thinking of initially. But... well frankly I just don't care too much. It will be what it will be.

And I know it will be an angry tune. LOL. Expect some rather... graphic metaphors.

P.S. I'm still in the DADGAE tuning!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Writing from this side of the line...

I seem to have a fascination with writing from... either the 'wrong' side of the line ("Far", "Don't") or the grey side of the line ("Better This Way?", "Can You?"). Rarely do I seem to write anything from the sunny side of the guilt/blame fence - where I'm clearly the "good guy".

I guess you could blame it on my growing up in the late 80's and early 90's. There's a sort of enjoyment I get from mining my questionable self-esteem. There's more interest in exploring the darker side of the psyche - especially if I *can* craft it into something that arouses sympathy or empathy - rather than dancing in "sunshine and flowers".

This time around is no exception.

I started writing this a few weeks ago. I don't remember the exact impetus other than just playing around with me DADGAE tuning. But then the first few lines came to me and I started envisioning something about dating someone with commitment issues. (Like me, perhaps? *HAH*) Then a real-life encounter took over and it turned into something... a little darker.

Regardless here I am singing from a vantage where... there's not really anyone on the "right" side.

And I like that.

Evening Gown

one shoe off and one shoe on
and you can't decide which foot is wrong
one shoe on and one shoe off
and you know: one step and you are lost

so please tell me just what you want me to see
and please show me what you would like to believe

one foot in and one foot out
and you like to stir these water about
one foot out and one foot in
and again we watch the games begin

so please tell me just where you want me to go
and please show me what you don't want me to know

'cuz you could lead me on
if I just play along
so spin me round
and take me down
I'll play your evening gown...

dot your i's and cross your t's
but you can't decide which demons to appease
cross your eyes and laugh at me
but inside you drop down to your knees

and you would lead me on
and I'd just play along
'cuz sometimes touch
is just enough
to take the place of love

so go and lead me on
and I'll just play along
these roads are kept
the dust well swept
I know this tune
so when you're through
we'll see who laughs
and who is last
and when you're looking back...

one shoe off and one shoe on
and you ask just where your bed has gone

Saturday, January 2, 2010


Got home a few minutes ago from my first _solo_ gig post Rochester. It's... it's an interesting feeling. Overall I'm satisfied-ish with my performance. Given what's happened in the past, that's actually a good thing.

My voice wasn't *quite* where I wanted it to be. The last few numbers felt rough vocally - I'd over sung myself and my voice just ended. The first couple felt rough confidence-wise. The voice would have been okay (I think) but I just hadn't found my head/music space yet.

I think part of that was just being in a different environment than I'm used to. It was very much a house concert - someone's living room, no sound system, no phallic microphone in front of me... I really had to *think* about how I was performing. If I wasn't singing loud enough or if I was playing guitar too loudly there was no recourse - no one to boost a level.

It was what it was. It was how I did. No aid. No crutches.

That's not a bad thing, of course. For one I really like the environment it put me in. Lord only knows most of my material is on the more melancholy side. And I felt a little more at ease to perform the less-than-perky-and-upbeat stuff. Or rather a little less stress to do that perky-and-upbeat stuff.


Interestingly it seems that "Better This Way?" is really becoming one of my 'signature' tunes. I'm just really finding it emotionally and thus vocally. I really _get_ it every time. I don't know why this strikes me as odd, but it does. I really didn't put a whole lot of emotional effort into writing it. It just sorta happened. In fact I sorta tried to keep it more bland in a manner.

"Jesus Year" also felt pretty good except that, at the end, my voice was definitely starting to lose it. I would have stopped there but it's such a downer of a tune that I didn't really want to leave on that note.

My one kinda frustration is that I had started to put together this whole line in my head of what to do and how to link it all narratively. But then I abandoned that - in part because I just simply forgot.

Oh, it's not entirely bad. You can't always just make a set-list and then stick to it - especially not when it's a new forum for you. But, at the same time, I like having a thread that ties it all together. I don't think the thread I improvised was _bad_, just not as satisfying as what I'd pre-thought.

Ah well. I got several compliments. And, if nothing else, I feel decent about it. I wish I could feel like I totally rocked the house down to its knees but... I guess first steps first.


Set list - as much as I remember it
  • I Want Someone (Dave Montana)
  • Road (the bootLICKERS)
  • Better This Way?
  • Can You?
  • So Glad...
  • Jesus Year
  • Mello Hell
  • Half Moon Bay