Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Art of Asking

I have recently finished reading Amanda Palmer, The Art of Asking . Wow. I am inspired by her book, by her TED talk above, by her insistence that art is truly communication between the artist and the audience in a truly personal manner.

I identify with her street performances, and, although busking is not 'Performance Art' per se, it shares much in common with it. The most striking is the interaction, generally one-on-one with the people who are listening. As I have mentioned in this blog many times, children dance, woman tell us that we made their day, men throw a $5 or $10 into the bucket for a song or two before moving on.

People want to identify with others. They want to know that someone 'gets it'. And although many people walk by without the slightest sign that they even know you are there, you sometimes see them down the street, straining to get a good look at you without your notice....

Now, I am aware that she wrote the book about building your relationship with your audience, but what I took away from the book was thoughts about the spiritual side of art. The communication, the fact that people are willing, very willing, to give and take with the artist, to make an connection. Reflecting life back to the audience, maybe for comfort, maybe for clarification, but always for connection.

Monday, February 2, 2015


Every single winter I think that I am going to spend great quantities of time, learning more about Music. It does seem that I do that, but often not as planned, and I have many many things that I know I have to learn to progress as a musician.

This winter, I have a written plan (yep, it works). I have several DVDs or online learning opportunities lined up to (hopefully) better my ability to play guitar, add fills to my rhythms, play a little lead during jamming sessions, develop my ear, learn theory and read books on music and music-making. I am most using Homespun and True Fire, but there are many many free sites online also, including Guitar Noise.

Amanda Palmers, the Art of Asking  was the first book I read. I also have in the queue: Kenny Werner's Effortless Mastery (download a free pdf file here) and Victor Wooten's The Music Lesson (again, apparently free pdf here). There are others that I will write about as I get to them.

I am also studying Developing Your Musicianship online through Coursera, a free online service that offers college level material for FREE. Amazing.

This along with repertoire work, scale work and FINALLY learning the fret board. It really helps for keeping on track to have it all laid out for me in writing at the beginning of the week, and although I am working 60-90 minutes an evening, because I do a little bit of each item every evening, I am not bored and it does not feel like work.


OK, enough here. I better get to the work  :)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Making Music at the Vic


That is what was palpable in the room last night between the musicians and listeners at The Victorian Sessions.

This kind of joy of sound that flowed and ebbed and made everyone present smile because of this feeling that permeated the room.  Sort of like our souls made love in this ocean of sound that, while not perfect, was full of the love of being in love.... the love of making a noise that harmonizes with the other sounds in the room and coalesces to make something more than its pieces..... a musical sound.

I think we all knew about it. I think everyone participating knew how special it was. The energy rising as we sang song after song, voices harmonizing, guitars keeping the beat and moving the sound forward.... this is the essence of making music. It is what music is, a human connection between souls based on allowing music to come through the heart and out the throat and fingers and into the ears and back into the heart and soul.... Music is divine. It is holy. Music is spirit.

To make music like that, the ego is not important. Only the sound, not who is making it. Just the melding of voice and instrument with other voices and instruments to produce what I can only describe as JOY. Ego gets in the way. The music, as a being, has to be given full credit for the creation of the sound. One can feel the energy suck away if a player starts to play with ego. Only in the cooperative production of sound, can there be the sort of spiritual experience we had last night.

I am so very very thankful to have been introduced to folks who host and make music and provide the atmosphere where music can grow and give us faith. Faith in each other and in that very magical sound.

Thank you.

Saturday, January 24, 2015


It sure is beautiful out there. Makes me not want to go out, just stay here and write and read and play and sing. I intend on doing that every day, but I just don't get around to it. I have been better lately, writing out on Sunday what I intend to practice all week, including opportunities to write. It has been a really good tool for me to focus on learning and getting better on my instrument.

And I don't think I am all that unusual with the good intentions that fall by the wayside due to procrastination. I think that overall, I get a great deal done, but it is still not enough for me. I want to do more, to learn more, to do at home what I do at work!!!

So, I guess I better just get to it. Stop sitting behind this computer and go work on.... something. A song, a video, practice. Instead, I seem to sit here and just type and read Facebook and search things on google. Wasting time.

Like time is unlimited. But it is not, not at all. My time could suddenly end without warning, with all those songs not finished. And so could yours. I think I better just go get to work.......

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Artists, Musicians and other Bohemians....

Yesterday, life told me to SLOW DOWN. I woke up AGAIN- congested, headachy, killer sore throat (i have NEVER had a sore throat for so long, and no, it is not strep). I went out for a dump run and maybe some shopping early afternoon, but the snow chased me home (it was SLIPPERY!!!). I declined both a party I was looking forward to, and then a last minute jam at a friends, all because of the throat and the weather.

Sigh. Feeling bummed, you know??

And then, at the recommendation of a Rustie, I watched a movie on Netflix (i don't do that too often) called Greenwich Village, about the music scene in the village during the folk revival. Wow, what an uplifting movie! Highly recommended..... Things like Pete Seeger discussing how he believes music can change the world. Bits of politics (we are still fighting many of the same battles). The Folk Process in action. Lots of interviews with people known and unknown.

And then I started wishing I had been around then, old enough to experience it. One of the interviewees said something like, 'If you didn't fit in where you were, you tried to get to Greenwich Village'. The artists and musicians and bohemians, those folks congregated in this little spot in NYC in the late 50's and 60's. One of the beliefs expressed is that the singer songwriter movement started there (before moving to the west coast.....). Ok, I had previously wished to be in Laurel Canyon in the late 60s, early 70's, but Greenwich would have been OK too!! What a lot of creativity all around!!! People making music, gathering on the streets, in the clubs, listening to each other.

Yep. Envy. Green, green envy.

(Give me credit, I was sick and feeling lonely..... :)  )

And THEN I started to think about my own life. The writers, photographers, musicians, artists, poets that I know. All these people who gather to share their STUFF with the rest of us. Their ideas. Their creations. At anytime, I can head into Hudson or a number of other local towns and view some really cool art in any of a number of galleries. In the evening on a weekend, within a short drive, there are lots of places to catch a local or national act. There are readings and signings and book parties.

And the biggest thing for ME.... I am blessed to know so many folks who like to sit around and jam, in pubic spaces, in private homes, on the street..... and they welcome me. My voice, my guitar, my songs.... and I welcome and appreciate theirs. We have a creative, welcoming, growing community right here in my backyard.

Thank you for being part of that community.