Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wrong or write

Someone* said that the art of writing is actually the art of re-writing. As a composer, I can vouch for this. Once I have an idea for a song, I try to get a sense of where the lyrics (if any) want to go. Then I write on instinct. When I get a piece to the point where I can see it is a complete song, I usually set it aside for a short time: 24 – 48 hours, generally. Then I go back and start the re-write process.

Even in my recordings, I will put in all sorts of instruments, some of which will not make it through the editing. Each part must have its own place in the mix, and no one part can get in the way of another part. This requires some intense listening. The best way I know to accomplish this is to listen as though it was someone else’s song.

In the end, I hope that I create music that musicians will want to perform more than once, and that people will want to listen to more than once. If you haven’t sampled any of my music, you can do so on iTunes or Rhapsody, or any number of music download sites.

*Might have been Kathy Mattea. She said "You have to write badly to write at all. If it`s crappy, I will rewrite it later. But it will be mine. You can hear the resonance of an artist who goes into herself."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Belated tribute to April 15

What do you call a guitarist who breaks up with his girlfriend ?
Homeless ..

Two guys were walking down the street was destitute ...
the other was a guitar player as well ..

What do you call a successful musician?
A guy whose girlfriend has 2 jobs.

How do you improve the aerodynamics of a guitarist's car?
Take the Domino's Pizza sign off the roof.

Know how to make a million dollars playing guitar?
Start with two million.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Playing at the White House

I distinctly remember the day the phone call came in 1998 inviting me and my friend and musical partner Scott B. Adams to play at The White House.

I had been told it would never happen.

A store owner had given the Clintons a gift basket containing (among other things) one of my CDs, and, after that, anything seemed possible, even performing at the White House.

Of course, it took almost 4 ½ years to accomplish it.

I sent at least 4 different demo copies of CDs and multiple letters (sidenote--this persistence has earned me the nickname "Mr. Squeaky", a topic for a future post), until someone from the Music Committee (who even knew there was such a thing?) was compelled to champion us in. We played for the VIP Christmas Tours, when staffers from all over Washington were invited to come and see the decorations. We did not see or meet the First Family, but we performed in the East Room; what a thrill!

In 2002, I went again, this time as a soloist. The experience was about the same; that is, just as exciting. Once again, I did not see or meet the Bush’s, but I performed my Christmas arrangements in the East Room. The White House staff treated me like royalty and (trust me) they know how to do that!

Will I go back? Who knows at this point? Not me. I’m sure I’d like to, but it really is more a matter of time than anything else.

If the call comes again, I will let you all know.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

From the "Life on the Road" Department

One of my favorite guitar arrangements is the Erroll Garner song “Misty”.

One day in the early 1990s, I was playing it as background music for a function at the Morrisville (NY) College campus; when I finished the tune, a little old (blue-rinse) lady appeared at my left elbow.

She said, “That was just beautiful. Could you play “Misty”? I hesitated, looked at her and said, “Sure.” And I played it again. She stood there and listened to the whole thing (again), and when I finished she said, “Thank you; that was lovely” and left.

To this day I have no idea what she thought she was listening to the first time I played it. I still occasionally play “Misty” and every time I do, I think of that lady. It’s a moment to be treasured.

To find out where I’m performing (which is rare), and where you can go to request “Misty”, check out the Schedule page on my web site: