And just like that, it's August! And I haven't blogged since December. Holy crap, where does the time go?
It's been an interesting summer, to say the least! If I've been largely silent, it's mainly been because things have just been so damn unpredictable and busy. Within the last week, I've had an acoustic show in Andes, NY with the lovely Valorie Nichols, band practice, and a Sacred Ash gig in New York City opening for Nekrogoblikon--and that's aside from the day that was spent at the New York State Renaissance Faire and any other job related stuff during the week. It really has been a crazy one!
But then again, that's kind of been my theme for the summer. Sacred Ash has two more shows this month, and things seem to be picking up as we get closer to the fall. This past show was probably one of the most ridiculous that I've ever been a part of. Playing with Rainbowdragoneye (a chip musician. If you don't know what that is, here's one of his songs to give you an idea), Swashbuckle (yes... they are just as piratey as the name implies), and Nekrogoblikon was truly an experience like no other. If you're not familiar with Nekrogoblikon, they're a heavy metal band that has a dude in a goblin suit dance around on stage with them for their entire show. To be precise, this goblin suit:
Needless to say, the show was a blast. It was also the first time that we've played out with our new second guitarist. Hearing the songs live with two guitars is worlds away from anything that we've done in the past. Hopefully we'll have some live videos up soon, but if you want to catch us out and about we'll be in Stormville, NY on the 16th and Kingston, NY on the 23rd. A busy month indeed!
And on that note, I have some song arranging to do before bed! I've finally got some recording software up and running again, which means that the time is drawing nigh to get some new songs up. And just in time too, because I am way over due :).
The point of blogging, for me, has always been posting a more intimate type of message. Sharing stories, updating news that has left a personal impact on me, etc. However, that being said, I have to be honest for a moment. Normally, when I (and many others, I suspect) blog, there is still some small layer of separation. Perhaps there are thoughts just too personal to put in a blog post. Perhaps we're afraid of truly opening up.
I'd like to remove that barrier, right now.
Over the past year and a half I haven't blogged much. I haven't updated this site much either, for that matter. Since I moved into my van in June 2012, life has been an insane roller coaster ride. I went from living near Albany, to moving around, to living in Westchester. I went from living in a basement in a house I was renovating with one of my best friends, to living at my girlfriend's mother's house, to now living in my own apartment with said girlfriend. I went from being single to meeting someone incredible who totally swept me off my feet when I least expected it, and most needed it. I have gone from being a contracted author by a small publishing press, to learning some of the harsher truths of the publishing world and completely losing my motivation to write after a falling out with that publisher, to finally finding my hunger to write again. I've taught music and edited documentaries. I've gone from being a solo musician to being in a band that I love (though, of course, I'll never stop playing acoustic!).
I could continue this list for pages--as I'm sure that any of you could with your own experiences. So much can change in a year and a half. Sometimes it takes a really big shock to your system to realize just how much you've been through. A catalyst, to invite you to look back at your life and be grateful for where you are now.
On November 24th, 2013--481 days after I moved into my van--I moved into an apartment with my girlfriend. Every day since, I've felt like a different person. More aware, more patient, more motivated. It has been a wake up call. Sometimes it's hard to see the effects that things have on you until they are in your past.
My 481 days of vagrancy and, I suppose we can say, "semi-vagrancy" had a profound effect. I can't say that all of it was positive, but I wouldn't change one single day of that time. It has made me the person I am, and I had many wonderful experience and met people who have changed my life.
Right now I'm sitting at my computer, in my own place, and felt compelled to write this, because I need to tell you something.
I need to tell you how immeasurably thankful I am for you.
Whether you are one of my best friends, someone I love dearly, a member of my family, a fan of my music, someone who I saw yesterday or someone who I haven't seen in years, someone who I've spent uncountable hours with or crossed paths with for only a few minutes; whether you are someone who I've expressed gratitude for regularly, or someone who I don't express gratitude for nearly as often as I should, I want to take this moment, right now, to thank you.
Thank you for being a part of my life. I hope that your journey has been, and always is, a fulfilling one. Life will not always be easy, but there is always something to be learned from every experience. It's how we react to those lessons that make us the people we are.
May your roads always be calm, and may you always write your tomorrows today.
This is an awesome video that a band I'm a fan of posted to Facebook today. Really felt that this is a must watch for anyone interested in education and the arts.
Ken Robinson pitches an interesting idea in this lecture: public school systems did not really become prevalent until the early 19th century, during an industrial boom. As such, the set of skills that are emphasized in school systems around the world are designed to harvest an optimal skill set from children--the next generation of workers. Nowhere in the world, he argues, are the arts placed as high as mathematics or language. On the contrary, if children are too antsy, they are labeled as having a disorder, rather than embracing the fact that they have a different type of energy. In addition, he pitches the idea that children are not afraid to make mistakes, and that that lack of fear inspires creativity. To be truly creative, you have to embrace the fact that you WILL make mistakes.
This is something that any artist can vouch for. After all, how many mistakes are made during practice?
However, Ken carries on to state that in many of the standard school systems, making mistakes is something that is considered bad. You are teaching children not to make mistakes, weaning them away from that natural lack of fear. Rather than encouraging children to make mistakes and learn from them, they are encouraged not to make them. After all, if they're making mistakes, their grades--and standing in their class--will suffer.
The conclusion: that schooling, and education, needs to cater more to allowing students to grow. They all grow differently. To force them in to a mold is to destroy the diversity of human creativity.
He then continues on to give a really great example of a dancer following an untraditional path. This dancer went on to choreograph Cats and Phantom of the Opera. What would have happened had she followed a traditional learning path, and her parents allowed her to be cookie cuttered away from her creativity?
A very interesting video, and very interesting ideas indeed.
I love finding new music. Things have been super hectic on a day-to-day non-music basis lately (though I have been doing a lot with my band--like going into the studio in two weeks to finish recording our debut EP). That being said, I haven't had nearly enough time to paruse YouTube for new music, as any responsible musician should!
That is, until I stumbled upon this video while trying to find some acoustic inspiration.
If you've never seen anything by Jon Gomm, check out some of his other videos as well. The guy is simply awesome, and extremely creative with how he gets different sounds from the acoustic guitar (tuning pegs, hitting different parts, slap harmonics--you name it and he has it in one of his songs somewhere).
Nothing encourages progression like watching a true master of their craft. Now it's time to go practice in a hyperbolic time chamber for the next year :D.
...how time flies. When I think of everything that's happened in the past 6 months, it really feels like it's been one giant dream world. I've gone from living in a van to living Westchester, NY. Teaching music lessons to editing videos. Playing only by myself to being in a band again. So much has changed!
But one thing that hasn't diminished or changed during this span is my love of music. I'm now re-embracing my metal roots as the singer of Sacred Ash (Sacred Ash's Facebook). It feels GREAT to be playing in a band again.
Almost to the point where I've been slacking on acoustic music. Up until recently I had been focusing almost entirely on the band stuff, and because of that my work on promoting Vagrant, booking shows, and working on the next album had slowed colossally. But thankfully I've had some new inspiration in my life lately, and feel like I'm getting back on the horse.
New updates will come soon. And new videos. And new songs.
And new RAWK!!!
Oh, the art of neglecting a website, how easy it becomes when you don't have a home base. So, I realize that it has been a little while since I've posted anything and am WAY overdue. Thankfully though, I'm happy to report that I am in fact still alive and that things are on the upswing!
It's been about a month and a half since Vagrant was released, and I'm glad to finally say that I'm starting to book shows and get things moving. I'm currently living in/renovating a house down in Westchester with some friends, so the acquisition of a home with a bathroom and internet has been a great aid in all this stuff.
Now that I am posting and such, expect a lot more from this space! Including what will be my next post, 10 Things I Learned From Living in a Van... :).
What a past few weeks. After spending the entirety of last week at my parents house in Delaware County, NY, I'm finally back in the swing of things. It was good to get away for a little while. Those parents of mine live in the woods, where things like cell phone service don't exist and the internet moves at a snail's pace. It was a much needed vacation from everything except nature, my acoustic guitar, and family. Oh, and food... much food.
But now that I'm back, I'm hitting the ground running. Vagrant came out today, and it feels awesome to have that checked off the to-do list. Now comes the eternal promotion cycle and booking shows with this new material. I've also started writing material for what will eventually be the follow-up release to Vagrant. It's way, way, way too early to really talk about it yet (after all, Vagrant just came out about an hour ago), but the fact that the wheels are turning of their own accord is a good thing. I'm not trying to write another release already, it's just happening.
That being said, Vagrant is my first studio release in over a year and a half. Feels good to be back on the horse :).
Whew! It's been a wild past few weeks, but things are coming along nicely. The post production on Vagrant has taken a little longer than originally planned due to that crazy thing called "life" getting in the way, but thankfully it is on it's way to release still. After all the issues that led to my previously planned album, 'Compassion', not being released, the process for Vagrant has been a refreshing breath of air.
I don't even know where to start on getting things up-to-date! It's the middle of the afternoon, and I'm hanging out in the library in Clifton Park, NY because my trusty laptop has unfortunately picked the most convenient time in my life to start having some hardware issues. So if updates are not as often as usual, that is a big part of why!
I'm currently living 'on the road', as it were, and trying to play as much as possible. It has been a bit of a challenge getting off the ground thus far (in retrospect a bit more planning BEFOREHAND probably wouldn't have hurt, hahaha!), but every day has been interesting and an adventure.
I also never really delved too deep into how Vagrant all came together so fast and unannounced, so I would like to touch on that briefly. Basically in the week leading up to my apartment lease running out and my decision to go mobile for a while, I got a super stroke of creativity. I wrote the first song of the release, "Broken Glass"--which, if you've seen me play out any time in the past month, you have heard--just before I moved out. The next day I went up to Vermont and began recording that track, not knowing what I was going to do with it, but knowing that it was definitely a song I wanted to share. After recording for the night I came back to New York, and within the next two days had written the other two tracks and imagined the release of this self-contained EP--a musical snapshot of where my creative track was at that point in my life.
I'm very excited about this release, and am going to try and travel as much as possible to promote it. If you want me to come to your town let me know! Nowhere is off-limits so far as I am concerned.
After a few days of recording and shennanigans in Vermont I'm back in New York. As much as it feels good to be relaxing at home, I am reminded every single time I go up to Vermont just how awesome of a place it is. All the people I met out there were super nice, Burlington is a blast, and the drive back was gorgeous.
"Vagrant" is being mixed, and is well on its way to release next week. I'll have some new promo material for it (pictures, artwork, etc) up hopefully sometime this weekend or early next week as well.
Today I finished recording a new EP that will be released next week. All the recordings were done by my good friend Erik Hopwood (www.withak.com), and I can honestly say that I am SUPER psyched for this release. The songs are some of the best that I've created, and Erik is a spectacular producer/studio guy. I'm posting off my phone right now, so I am a little limited in the types of content I can put up, but I can say that this release is the type of stuff that I've been waiting to put out and that there will be more updates once I am back near a computer.
Ps. I suppose I can't really make this post withou at least putting out the name of the EP. Keep your eyes out for the "Vagrant EP" next week!