A Desk, a Beer, and the Non-Popularity Contest

Video

When Jonathan found out that NPR’s tiny desk concerts and Lagunitas Brewing Company were holding their first annual contest for indie artists I was soooooo excited.

I know that what I’m about to say will sound like a complete fabrication in order to be all teacher’s pet-y, but I LOVE both NPR and Lagunitas. Little secret, my bucket list includes the entry “be interviewed by Terry Gross on Fresh Air.” And if the bar serves Lagunitas IPA, that’s what I’m ordering every time – no joke.

While I pinky swear that my professed love is tried and true, I’m also pretty sure that the amount I enjoy informative radio and delicious alcoholic beverages has no bearing on the contest results. It does, however, have a complete effect on how much I enjoyed this project!

Enter Chad McClarnon. Chad is very tall, has a dapper mustache, and possesses the uncanny ability to make a kickin’ professional video in a matter of hours. The rules of the video were to play live music – behind a desk. With Jonathan playing bass and Duane on drums, we came up with something pretty cool and had fun doing it, too!

Shenanigans behind a desk!

Shenanigans behind a desk!

But now let me express the REAL reason why I think this contest was worth the effort – because it was not based on how many VOTES or VIEWS or LIKES I corral from my friends or other poor souls that gets accosted by my persistent yet overly cheerful requests to “check out my page!!!”

Most contests that musicians enter nowadays make me feel like I’m in high school again – right back to the old popularity game. But has anyone ever noticed that the harder you try to get people to like you, the more they seem to not care?? 

Running after votes, views and likes, especially from my personal friends, is like whitening my teeth. Sure, a Crest-white smile looks nice, but does it really mean my teeth are healthier for it? In other words, if all my friends vote for my contest entry, am I really any closer to where I want to be in my music career?

I don’t think any musician should have to beg or nag people to publicly vouch from them. I think if our art is effective and accessible, people who feel moved to follow our careers will emerge. They will watch our videos, leave their comments and like our pages. This will grow into a happy byproduct called popularity.

Unlike the high school prom queen’s 15min of fame, however, this kind of popularity is the kind that sticks. It will stick if we respect our audience enough to let them decide when they want their voices heard and how they want to be fans.

So thank you, tiny desk concert contest, for giving us the space to following our Creative Light instead of a popularity gimmick. Hope you find an artist that shines like a torch in the night.

Habitual Inhibition

Has anyone ever told you to let go of your inhibitions?  When are you actually able to do this?  Or are you?  It’s a nice thing to say or think about doing – but can we every fully let go?

These are the thoughts running through my mind after my co-write this weekend with my friend Robert LaSalle.  We finished a song about a wealthy man whose spirit is getting crushed by his lifestyle.  He drives a long distance to the ocean and leaves everything behind as he transforms into a Beach Bum (ever wonder where beach bums come from? well, now you know.)

Admittedly, it’s an extreme example of letting go of inhibition, so much so that this character gives up possessions, social norms and loved ones.  But I think the idea is something we can all relate to.

“Beach Bum”

Chorus:
Falling from grace
Falling out from the Great Unknown
(The Great Unknown is calling me.)

After writing this song, the presence of my own inhibition is clearer than ever.  I feel it in my own songwriting.  You see, I love collaborating, but it’s as if I mentally block myself from the flow of inspiration when I’m sitting next to a co-writer.  I feel the most comfortable coming up with lyrics curled up by my lonesome where I can crawl into the caverns of my mind.  

But I long to be open with others with my thoughts and creativity – I just don’t know how to get there yet.  How do we work ourselves out of these unconscious patterns?  Robert says drink more alcohol – ha, I’m not buying into that solution yet.  For now, my uninhibitor is a strong cocktail of therapy and acupuncture with one of those umbrella thingys for good measure.

I’ll be posting the finished song soon!

 

Showcase at The Hight Watt was the Jam!

 

Just had a killer Monday night playing at The High Watt for their weekly “8 off 8th” event (interpretation: the venue is off 8th Ave. and 8 bands play 3 songs each – it’s a marathon night, but a lot of fun, too.)  And WOW! I’m so blown away by the talent in Nashville!  The bands playing represented a very diverse picture of Nashville, from a progressive rock/metal/jazz group to a catchy southern pop act to an energetic
bluegrass/folk ensemble
to a steel drum-fronted funk/fusion band.

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A Crooning Accordion Collaboration! – “Pace” by Handsome Dan

 

I love collaborating!  This video is of Nashville songwriter Handsome Dan singing his song “Pace” and me accompanying him on accordion.  Apparently (as Dan tells me) he’s wanted me to play accordion on this song since waaay back in 2007 when we first met!

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Navigator/Aviator – I Finished the Song!

 

A couple of months ago I posted a song in progress and now I’d like to share the finished piece!  One of my most favorite feelings in the whole wide world is to call a song done, and “Navigator/Aviator” has been an idea laying dormant in my head for 8 years now – so the “done” feeling is REALLY a great one in this case!

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The Most Happenin’ Night I’ve Had Since…When? (Part 2/3)

Organic Hi-Fi

 

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The Most Happenin’ Night I’ve Had Since…When?? (Part 1/3)

My Home Entertainment System

Once in awhile, an experience comes along that knocks you back into being.  You didn’t event know you were sleepwalking until you find yourself holding an accordion in the middle of an intellectual bohemian jam session next to a harpist and a twelve string bass player (check these musicians out – they’re doing cool stuff).

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