Valentine's Day brings out the realness in people, I think. If you're coupled, perhaps you celebrate it with a romantic evening with your partner. Or maybe you're anti-establishment-anti-Hallmark and you scoff at the idea. For those of us who are single, it can be a little lonely and even depressing...
My 2014 started off with a bang. Photo shoot with Jeff Fasano. Makeup: Amanda Lippert, Stylist:Tara Aquilina.
I took some time to list out my accomplishments for the year--specific to my record label, Vipaka Records. I was feeling a little down and thought that focusing on gratitude would be a good pick-me-up. And it totally worked! There are too many to list here, so I'll share some of the highlights...
I was recently invited to attend a men's potluck in San Francisco, hosted by friends Kirk Prine and Donny Lobree. Kirk and Donny are wonderful guys and are the founders of The Missing Thread.
The theme was "Queer Men Talking About Peacemaking," and six of us gathered around a meal to chat...
At a Ryokan in Hakone trying RAW FISH for the first time.
Just got back from my first trip to Japan. I had the pleasure of visiting Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Hakone, and although the main purpose of the trip was to take in the music scene and meet with music promoters in advance of a future tour, I took time to see the sights as well. Friend and Vipaka Records team member Seiji Iwata was with me, and he helped immensely with logistics on the trip. And boy, did I eat! Fortunately…
There are a lot of talented songwriters and composers out there who want to get their music to major pop stars and placements on TV shows and films. The industry has generally worked with publishers and music libraries in a tight circle, making it difficult for folks to break in.
In 1992, that all changed. TAXI was born, "giving artists, bands, and songwriters real access to the people in the music business who have the power to sign deals."
TAXI creates listings for various opportunities from music supervisors and producers, and members (for an annual fee and submission fees) submit material they think will be a good fit. TAXI screeners then review the submissions and forward or return appropriate submissions. If material is forwarded, it has a chance of getting a placement. There are a good number of TAXI members who are getting forwards and placements which provide a supplemental income, and for some folks, a primary income.
At this year's TAXI Road Rally...
I've been told by a number of people who believe my music has qualities that resonate with Japanese listeners. My initial polling of some Japanese friends and experiments with Facebook ads found this to be true. In discussing ideas with my friend Seiji, we started to come up with some creative DIY marketing ideas. Seiji has shown a genuine interest in seeing my music get out to the people of Japan.
Welcome Seiji Iwata, Manager of Japanese Relations.
I've known Seiji for a few years now, and I'm pleased as punch that he has stepped into this role. So who is this guy, and what is he working on?
Author Megan Boyle, in her book, Selected Unpublished Blog Posts of a Mexican Panda Express Employee, states that “being sick feels like you're wearing someone else's glasses.”
I wholeheartedly agree. About a week ago, I caught a cold, and to date, I’ve been on the mend. Of course, I blame it all on…
Some have stated that every single cell in our body is replaced every 7 years. While that’s probably anoversimplification,it’s true that our body’s cells are continually reproducing and replacing themselves.
I’ve been thinking about this lately, as I’ve started a new workout routine. For the last few years, I haven’t been working out at all. Sure, walking counts, but it won’t get the heart rate up and help develop lean muscle tone like a dedicated training program will. Not so much.
Following my recent move to West Hollywood, I thought to myself…
When I wrote the song, The One (featured on my album Change Coming), I was reflecting on the aspect of finding a solid relationship. Here's a deep dive into the song.
After the introduction (which uses the chords from the upcoming chorus), established with piano as the lead instrument along with guitar, electric bass and drums, the first verse starts out from a deeply sad place:
Never planned to be alone at this point in my life
Lost track of all the times I've blown it
Thinking I could have it better by moving on
Instead of stepping up to own it
Do you notice there's a pause after each line? I could have left the pause out, but I wanted a few seconds to keep focus there, give a sense of space to...
I grew up in the suburban town of Sunnyvale, about 50 miles south of San Francisco. Sunnyvale was a nice place for a kid to grow up. We played in the street, running around without very little supervision. So fun! I, along with my 3 brothers, all went to public schools. Like many families, my parents couldn’t afford to put us through private institutions.
It started in elementary school. I was called “Eastridge,” after a local shopping mall. Then it turned into “Ostrich,” for my tallness. Other kids then asked if I was related to teacher, Dr. Weiss, because he was tall--and had a receding hairline. And of course...
Last Thursday, my friends, Michael and Seiji, joined me on a little trip down to San Jose to tour the Winchester Mystery House. We had such a blast checking out this old mansion. Mrs. Winchester was convinced by a medium that continuous building would appease the evil spirits of those killed by the famous "Gun that Won the West" and help her attain eternal life. There are staircases leading to nowhere, doors that open onto blank walls, upside down posts, and a seance room. I was intrigued to learn that some of the trees on the estate were imported from Iraq. Later we joined...
This is a long one. If you have the courage to make it all the way through, that’s super awesome!
I was very used to going to church every Sunday, singing in the Congregational Community Church choir my mother directed and father sang in, and reading along with the scripture readings. I got bored, and at age 16, I found my friend’s independent bible church to be much more entertaining, happening. It was also my first exposure to bible verse by verse teaching.
I still remember the day they taught on Romans 1. I knew I was gay, but I couldn’t quite admit it.
“I feel a change coming / A new chapter into my life / Feel a change coming / Coming on me.”
That’s the chorus from the title track of my album, Change Coming. It’s been a major theme song for me, a reflection on my departure from the software biz and fully embracing my place as songwriter and musician.
I usually share a bit of my story at my concerts, and I always get a wonderful feeling of support from my audiences. People tell me afterward how they...
Wow, what a roller coaster of a month here in the U.S. of A. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled DOMA to be unconstitutional. Prop 8 ruled unconstitutional. Good, fine, makes sense. Party time! Then, they struck down a major part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 enabling nine states (mostly in the south) to change voting rules without federal approval. Already, Texas has announced that a voter identification law that was previously blocked would go into effect immediately, and that TX redistricting maps would no longer need federal approval. Changes in voting procedures in the places that had been covered by the law, including restrictions on early voting, will now be subject only to after-the-fact litigation. If you didn't already know, many people of color participate in early voting. Does that not qualify as voter disenfranchisement? See what’s going on?
And most recently, a jury acquitted George Zimmerman of killing 17 year old Trayvon Martin--not guilty on all counts.
Sometime this month, the US Supreme Court will rule on two items. If your head hasn’t been under a rock, you know they are Proposition 8, California's same-sex marriage ban that was struck down on narrow grounds by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to entertain people. Playing piano and Fender Rhodes for school choirs was a fun deviation from group singing (not that there’s anything wrong with that), and it helped to validate that what I enjoyed was working for the music directors. They gave me feedback, but mostly let me do my thing. Pretty cool.
As a professional musician, I get questions from fans about what my first instrument was and about the gear I use, especially keyboards I play. I thought I’d take a moment to share about that.
I've played and owned a bunch of different keyboards over the years. I started with piano at age 5. My mom had this turn-of-the-century Ivers and Pond upright piano just off the kitchen at home.
“THEY did it.” “THEY convinced the California voting public to vote against equal marriage rights with Proposition 8.” It’s so easy to get into a blame game against the hateful right-wing preachers, conservative news anchors and the like, seeing them as the enemy and source of all evil. Isn’t it? I’ve certainly had the perspective. But isn’t that hatred also?
I look at non-mainstream news sites periodically, such as happynews.com. @HNheadlines ... I find it to be a nice break from the mostly negative stories that the typical media shares. I suppose in a way, maybe the negativity boosts their ratings, but it's unlikely to boost my spirit!
Anyhoo, I ran across an article about this all-volunteer rescue service in Israel called United Hatzalah. The founder, Eli Beer, recently spoke at the annual TEDMED conference in Washington.
Beers asks, "How can we save 40,000 lives in under three minutes?" He answered the question this way, "The average response time of a traditional ambulance is 12 to 15 minutes -- we reduce it to less than three minutes. Our response is the fastest in the world. We call our approach a lifesaving flash mob. On motorcycles, traffic doesn't stop us. Nothing does."
Such a fabulous idea, program and community, willing to care for one another to that degree.
Being a DIY musician involves more than just writing or performing. There's the side most people don't see, the business behind the scenes. It's a necessary element for independent artists to include in their daily routines if they want to keep it all going. I'm taking some time to repaint the big picture for myself, to dig deeper, improve the way I spend my time on biz tasks, and improve my systems & automating more of the behind-the-scenes tasks--all driven by goals for where I see myself going.
I often hear people looking at he business aspect of things as being un-fun, a bore, a necessary evil, and unromantic. I'm choosing to look at it differently, and instead, I'm putting my whole creative self into it.
For those of you cheering me on, THANK YOU! Know that these improvements will mean I'll have more time to write and produce awesome new music for you, and in a sustainable way. Over the next few months you will notice some changes on my website, newsletter, social networks and more. I'm committed to my music and I'm stepping it up.
How about you? Do you have goals set to enable you to live the life of your dreams?
Hey there! I just returned from a week of rest and relaxation in the mountains. I took time to soak in natural hot springs, meditate, get a massage, read, and eat better. I also took a break from the computer, cell phone, meat and alcohol, and went deep with veggies. The meat vacation continues. :-) When I had the idea to take the time off, I kind of felt guilty about it. All these excuses came to mind--especially "there's too much work to do, I can't afford to take the time." I'm so glad I fought off those excuses!
As I relaxed and let go, I started to notice things like the color of the leaves on the trees, reflections of light on the water, the gentleness of the deer passing through camp. I saw the past and the future dissolve away, leaving only the present moment. It was awesome!
I'm back in the mode of planning and songwriting again, and feelin' fresh!
I've settled for a bit at a friend's place and getting back into my groove. I have a minimal setup with keyboard and computer so I can keep the music flowing. Good progress made on a new single, which I'll say more about soon. This was the first move for my cat, Buddy, and it took him a few days to relax in a new environment. He's doing well now, which makes it all better for me too. It's been fun to explore neighborhood coffee joints, restaurants and bars and experience a more gritty part of San Francisco.
Have you ever looked at moving as a positive experience? What have you liked about moving to a new place?
What a busy week! I made a decision to downsize and move out of my home in the historic Castro area of San Francisco. It's all connected to the life changes I've made to enable my music career. My property goes on the market tomorrow (Friday, March 15) and I've temporarily moved into a friend's place until the sale closes.
Inventorying. Sorting. Sidewalk selling. Donating. Packing. Moving. That's been my life and full-time job for the last week. Amazing the amount of THINGS I had collected. I think the more space you have, the more you fill it up. Right? It was all pretty exhausting and at times stressful, but with fairly good planning, professional help, and help from good friends, everything got done on schedule. Yay!
Living in the Castro, the "gayborhood," for the last 7 years, has been a lot of fun. Now, it's time to let go of more as I embrace change and get ready for touring. As the lyric from my song Change Coming goes, "I'm ready to switch it up."
My big SF concert on March 2 was a blast. The band rocked, the backing vocalists kept it smooth and silky, and the audience was warm and appreciative. Tom Politzer knocked it out of the park with some blistering sax solos. Here's a photo taken by Seiji Iwata. Thanks to all who came out!
I just read in Raw Story that music sales rose 0.3 percent to $16.5 billion in 2012, the first rise in the industry since 1999.
That's good news, considering the enormous struggle the music industry has had with online piracy. It's also a boon to independents like myself, who rely on music sales to make a living.
Now, I don't like to get all preachy about buying music legally, but I will say that when you buy your music legally, you are making a difference for the better. You are enabling an artist to continue making their art. And it feels good!
For those of you who buy my music legally, thank you!
This isn't really a musical post. But, it's something that's been on my mind that I've been wanting to share.
Here's the deal- Every time I consume a bag of Hershey's Reese's Pieces before I go to bed, I have the most strangest and vivid dreams. It's always some big, exciting (and non-sexual) adventure. Most of the time, the dream is not a scary one, though once this was not true.
Now, don't get the idea that I'm a junk food junky. It's actually pretty rare that I'll go for candy. Perhaps once every few weeks.
I SO wish I had written down what the dreams were about. I think I'll start keeping a notepad near my bed so I can do a better job of documentation. More to come on the subject.
Sometimes I have to pinch myself. I still can't believe I had the chance to work with vocalist Jeanie Tracy in the studio doing backing vocals on some of the tracks on my album Change Coming...