Category Archives: Music

Another Idol Season

Well, another Idol season has officially started with the first live show this evening. 36 hopefuls begin season 8. Twelve sang tonight.

I find this show fascinating for several reasons. I love watching how people view themselves in the face of the judges comments. I really like seeing someone bring out aspects of themselves that they’ve never shown before. Those surprising moments are the best. I like how the contestants can surprise the judges, both positively and negatively, in their song choice.

But, the best part of the show for me is watching people follow and pursue their dreams. That’s the stuff that life is all about. Those are the life changing moments.

I can’t wait to see what people are able to bring to the table this year.

Michael

Another Creative Music Session

Think ‘impossible’ and dreams get discarded, projects get abandoned, and hope for wellness is torpedoed. But let someone yell the words ‘It’s possible,’ and resources we hadn’t been aware of come rushing in to assist us in our quest. I believe we are all potentially brilliant and creative — but only if we believe it, only if we have an attitude of positive expectancy toward our ideas, and only if we act on them. – Greg Anderson

The trio I’m currently playing music with met again today for another 4 hour practice session. Each week I’m continually amazed at the progress we make and how well we are blending together. It’s quite exciting and whole lot of fun.

Personally, I’m happy and amazed at the progress I have made with playing guitar over the last two months. Something has changed internally with me and I’m making leaps and bounds with my playing. I think the majority of the change has to do with a different attitude I have about playing the guitar. Previously, I had mental limits. For example: I can’t play that song because it’s too complicated, too advanced, too hard, blah, blah, blah.

Now my attitude is “There is no song I can’t learn.” It’s a much more relaxing way to enjoy playing music. Obviously some songs are harder and take more practice, but there are none I want to play that are impossible. My confidence level has increased and that is showing in my playing.

The great thing is that I feel that we (I) are just at the beginning. I can hardly wait to see what we can do in six months. Regardless, the journey will be fun.

Michael

The Band is Forming

If it sounds/feels good, you must be doing something right. – Unknown

It seems that the better you get, the more you see the importance of fundamentals. – Unknown

No matter how many chords, scales or modes you know. What matters is what you do with those things. – Unknown

Playing music is becoming more and more fun. We got together again today for about 3 1/2 hours. Our duet has now grown to a trio as a drummer has joined us. Very cool! It’s starting to feel like a band. We are currently looking for a bass player and another singer. Hmmm. Maybe it is a band.

After four sessions of playing together, we comfortably play about 16 songs and are working on several more. The goal is to have a good 50 – 60 songs in our repertoire. Our focus has solely been on working out our acoustic sound together. There is something about two acoustic guitars playing together that is quite special. We really are enjoying the blend of sounds. The drummer added an entire dimension that I hadn’t experienced before but now want more.

One of the things I love about playing music with others is how the creative flow works. Many times you get completely in sync with the other player and positive things happen that are unexpected. Today with the addition of a drummer that expanded to three dimensions. Our first session for the three of us was a great success. What’s exciting is that it is only the beginning and that all three of us are playing together because it is so much fun.

It was very fulfilling afternoon! I can’t wait until we get together again next weekend.

Michael

Musicians

Elivis Costello hosts a new show on the Sundance Channel called Spectacle: Elvis Costello with…. Each episode features another musician (Elton John, Lou Reed, James Taylor), with whom Costello performs and discusses that musician’s musical tastes and process.

I’ve just watched the James Taylor episode. I loved James Taylor starting in high school, when a friend of mine introduced me to his music. Every quality that I loved is on display in this televised hour: thoughtfulness, humor, insight, confession, and musicianship.

The show is great fun to watch because Costello, a talented musician with extremely varied musical taste, happily focuses on his guest’s likes and dislikes and shares his admiration with the studio audience.

It’s always a treat for me to listen to successful artists discuss how they create and, in this case, how they perform. Taylor talks about the profound shock of being a singer-songwriter emerging from the introspection of writing into the spotlight of a pop star’s fame. It is what you work for, he says, and then when it gets there, you realize that the product is not so much the music as the self, and you can get a little lost. He says, specifically, “Hang onto your hat.”

He also says that he understands the cult of celebrity as an effort by ordinary people to use celebrities to represent them in the wider world. Fascinating.

Tonight, the intimacy of the music and the connection between the two aging musicians represented for me both my aspirations as an artist (which I have to admit may come to nothing) and my thirst for collaborators.

Watch the show if you are a music lover of a certain age.

Playing Music

If it sounds/feels good, you must be doing something right. – Unknown

All playing requires energy; Good playing requires attention; Great playing requires passion (and maybe some luck too!) – Unknown

Yesterday I played guitar with a friend for over 2 1/2 hours. It was really the first time we had played together for any length of time. We had played for a few minutes together several months ago, but that was it.

It was a lot of fun and I think we were both surprised at how well we played together. It felt like we had been playing guitars with each other for many months. I suspect if we clicked this well on our first session, then in several months it should be quite amazing.

I love playing music, but I really love playing music with others. It makes for a much more exciting time. My new guitar partner knows a lot of music that I don’t and visa versa. Our goal is to eventually build up a small band with a couple of other people. That would be fantastic and a first for me.

There is something to be said about music and the creative process. It gets down into the soul level. That’s the kind of stuff that is important. Making deep connections with others is another. Playing music covers both.

I feel like I just got a great gift.

Michael

Perceived Obstacles

For quite some time I have had the desire to learn two Neil Young songs that I really love. The first is called “Look Out for My Love“; specifically the version performed by Neil on his Neil Young – MTV Unplugged CD. The second is called “Love to Burn“. I like the live electric version of this song played on the CD Neil Young – Weld with Crazy Horse. But, I had a perception or belief that they were too advanced for me. So, I put off even trying to learn them.

That is, until today. I downloaded the music and lyrics for these two songs and sat down with my guitar and started learning them while playing along with Neil on my CD player. I find that you learn a lot when playing with someone who is a lot better than you.

I was quite surprised by myself. In about an hour I had learned two thirds of Look Out for My Love and half of Love to Burn. Wow! What a great feeling. It felt like breaking through a mental barrier. I now have a different belief about learning new music. Plus, and this is the big bonus, it was a lot of fun.

It’s a simple lesson. Until you sit down and try something you’ll never know what you can do. I thought I had learned that lesson, but apparently I need to repeat it on a regular basis. It was a great way to open up my eyes to other possibilities unrelated to playing a song on the guitar.

Michael

Jamming at Lyndhusrt

Over the weekend I was in Tarrytown, NY with Erica helping out at the crafts show that takes place twice a year at Lyndhurst. Be sure to look at the Lyndhurst site as I’m not going to be talking about that today. 🙂

Across from Erica’s booth, Bob McNally had a booth showcasing his instrument, the Strumstick. It is similar to a guitar but with only 3 strings. The frets are spaced such that the only notes that can be played are in a major key. For the non-musician, this means that no note sounds bad. The tagline for this instrument is “For the musically disinclined.”

It’s true. I watched many people play this instrument who had no musical experience at all. They were amazaed at how well it sounded. Watch and listen to Bob demonstrating the grand strumstick (key of D). The smaller, standard strumstick has a higher sound (key of G).

I had a great time playing with the lady working the booth and other times just playing by myself. I met several really nice people from England, the Ukraine and multiple states. Music is a great way to relate to people. We really enjoyed watching a four year old boy play the electric strumstick for awhile. He was quite entertaining.

Bob also invented an electric version of the strumstick. It has a great sound. If you have 6 minutes, check out this cool little video of him playing the electric strumstick.

If you have always been intimidated by the guitar, try the strumstick. Many people have successfully moved from the strumstick to the guitar after several months of playing the strumstick.

Playing music is fun, a great way to relax, brings people together and allows your creativity another outlet.

Michael

Thursdays on Thames

Lead Guitar Player

Lead Guitar Player

Since I’ve been off from work since the August 15th, I needed a relaxing evening to unwind. 🙂

So, I drove down to Newport, RI this afternoon to meet Erica for the “Thursday on Thames” evening. This is a fun packed evening with a variety of free music, food and discounts in many retail stores. The Lower Thames Business Association puts on this event for several Thursdays in a row during the summer.

I particularly liked the band called The Buddy Roach Trio. The guitar player was very good and I liked their generally fast paced jazz music. There were three other bands down the street all playing different types of music. It was a lot of fun to check out each venue. Plus we got to taste some good food as we moved along the street.

The Rest of the Band

The Rest of the Band

The streets were filled with a decent number of people. I always enjoying going to these kinds of events. They help take the mind off the normal day to day activities and help to get to a happier place.

I especially like the local events of cities and towns. There usually is a much more intimate feel to them and the people seem to be a bit closer.

A real bonus was that the weather was almost perfect. Partly cloudy, cool air, low humidity and a lovely sunset. You can’t go wrong there.

Michael

Blood, Sweat and Tears

I was up in Northampton, Massachusetts this weekend with Erica. She was at a show and I was there to play. Of course I helped out a little bit in the booth.

Right next to Erica’s booth was a lady selling ceramics. Her husband was Steve Katz, one of the original members of the 1960’s band Blood, Sweat and Tears. How cool is that. If you were listening to music back then, you may have remembered the hits “Spinning Wheel” and “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy.”

We chatted for a bit, not about music that much, but about the new Amazon Kindle. It’s like an iPod for books. I was amazed as I could literally have hundreds of books, newspapers, blogs and etc. at my fingertips on one device. It is a first generation machine and expensive but I think it will change the way we do things, just like the iPod.

Steve was a good guy and very into the Kindle. I wish him luck on his current tour schedule with the band.

Michael

Evening of Music

Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. – Berthold Auerbach

Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life. – Ludwig van Beethoven

A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence. – Leopold Stokowski

Erica and I went out to enjoy some music tonight. My guitar teacher and his band, The Blackstone Jazz Project, were playing at a local venue in Providence, RI. They actually play a wide variety including mellow jazz, rock, little latin, tango and polka. Their original songs are really hard to categorize. It was quite enjoyable especially their second set which had a number of originals.

Music has an amazing ability to relax, inspire, increase our happiness and give us energy. Music can touch all levels of emotions. I really love listening to people who take traditional forms of music and mix them all together to come up with something new. It’s very refreshing and inspiring.

I can’t imagine my life without music, whether listening or playing a little bit myself. Music has always been an integral part of my life and always will.

I think I’ll go listen to some of my favorite songs right now.

Have a great day!

Michael