At the Intersection of Art and Music

Magic happens to artists when we cross into other artistic fields.   I got back into painting after my divorce. The pain of divorce left me feeling as though I might not ever be able to make music again.  It was as if there was no strength left in my diaphragm, like I had been kicked in the gut.  I couldn’t even look at my guitar without feeling slightly ill.

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I was sharing my house with a professional artist friend and he had paints and extra canvasses and encouraged me to get back into it.  As soon as I picked up the brush and started working with the colors and mediums I found myself swimming in that same feeling of timelessness I get from making music.  It’s like a field of potential energy watching color fall onto its body.

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“City on a Tree” and “City Kitty”

It took me over a year to be able to pick up my guitar and close to 18 months before I could eek out a tune again. Painting helped make me whole.  It helped me feel the vibrancy and vigor of celebrating life and when I did finally find my way back to my voice, it was there as strong as ever, ready to rock and roll.

Dancing Ladies 1 & 2
Dancing Ladies 1 & 2

My paintings will be installed in Luna’s Cafe and Juice Bar for the months of August and September, 1414 N Street, Sacramento.  I’ll be performing in two separate shows those months, August 22nd and September 12th.  I look forward to meeting you!

P.S.  A Shout Out to the amazing Dr. Huong Bach (UC Davis) for reminding me that the heart heals on it’s own time.

The whole collection
The whole collection

Tips for Musicians Who Work Day Jobs

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Tips for musicians who work day jobs:

1. Return to gratitude as frequently as possible.  Gratitude expands the heart and opens possibilities whereas resentment, frustration and discontent block creative flow.
2. Downplay gossip, it eats the soul and fuels discontent so avoid it at all costs.
3. Find a couple of good friend coworkers who appreciate all of your talents and your super hard working nature.  This is especially important if they make you laugh or bring out your silly side.
4. Try to catalog the funny office moments that may fuel or spark a song (Johnny with the weird gesticulations).  There’s a ton of great relating examples in the workplace.  What can be culled from those lessons and applied towards your craft?
5. Know that you’re setting a powerful example for your child (if you have children) as a responsible parent who remains dedicated to the craft.
6. Know that people in the community respect you.  Most people give up their dream along the way but you have found a way to contribute to and work with society without sacrificing your artistic integrity.
7. Find the aspects of the job you do like and try to grow those areas and minimize the annoyances if possible.
8. Return to number one.
9. Fake it til you make it.
10. Retire as soon as possible.  Focus on your plan for the future and manifesting your personal goals.

I have enormous respect for musicians who continue to do what they’ve got to do to support their families. Ultimately I’d like to see a better balance and monetary infusion for artists, in the form of generous grants.., something! Until then you’re a fierce soldier of your craft!

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Featured image used under a creative commons 2.0 license from Flickr
Photo by Paul Hudson 

My Songwriting and Producing Process

I work in academic medicine during the week and my evenings are packed with workouts and band rehearsals so Saturday and Sunday are ideal for composing and getting deep into my craft.  I’m coming down to the final process of my instrumental CD, 12 songs are mixed and ready to be looked at for line up, transitions and mastering.  I accidentally fell into my 13th composition for that CD last Saturday and I think I’ve decided on a name, Delandia.  Naming instrumentals is much tougher than a lyric based song so I look for a word or group of words that conveys the color/hue/vibe of the piece.

I’ve also started recording the tracks for my next CD, which will include, Sweet Delta Breeze, Fly, Oops I Fell Off the Barstool, Miss Understood, Got my One Good Eye On You and a bunch of other tracks.  As a sound engineer, I am extremely interested in the mix and the tricks, continually asking myself, what can I do to make it better, richer and sonically clear. I see so many folks listening to songs right from the speakers of their phones so I think about that mix as well.

My songs are born from all sorts of methods.  Sometimes I get the music first, sometimes I get the lyrics first.  Sometimes some sort of event occurs in my life that is so vivid, so strong it becomes the catalyst for inspiration.  I often get the song all at once, as if I opened up the front door to discover a beautifully wrapped gift left on the porch.  All I have to do is pick it up and unwrap it.  Sometimes it’s so simple it’s downright silly.   Other times it’s silly but not quite as simple.

Oops I Fell Off the Barstool took a little longer and it belongs in that vivid life event category.  Here’s how it went down: A very nice looking blonde lady was sitting at the bar of One Speed restaurant in East Sacramento and enjoying dinner and beers.  She looked a little tipsy but not drunk.  She was laughing and chatting and having a nice time.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw her hand fly up and then heard a big commotion and looked over and she was on the floor and the barstool was on it’s side.  The servers and busboys came running over to make sure she was okay and she popped right up, red in the face and embarrassed.  She went back to her meal and things settled down.

About 4 days later I was sitting in that same barstool.  I had just finished teaching yoga and was enjoying a nice cold beer or two and don’t quite recall exactly how it happened.  I may have leaned back a hair and not realized it, but the next thing you know, I’m on the floor and the chair is on it’s side and I was like, “What just happened?”  I got up and pulled myself together and did a mental review of the incident but couldn’t quite believe it.

The next morning I was in the shower getting ready for work (I get a lot of songs in the shower) and I heard the melody and the line, “Ooops, I fell off the barstool last night!, Gave the poor bartender a terrible fright…the chair flew out and I fell down, people the restaurant turned around when Oops I fell off the barstool last night.”  The rest of the song came over the next few days and involves a bump on my head, a sore butt cheek and one or two beers too many….  Bright fun harmonies and a nice rowdy feel with humor.

So tell me, have you ever fallen off of a barstool?  Or seen someone else fall off of a barstool?

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