Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Memories

I thought it might be appropriate to spend a moment or two reminiscing about the ghosts of new year's past. I could, I suppose, instead reflect on 2008 specifically, but what's one year among many? Here are some details of some memorable New Year's Eves.

Musical New Years
As a musician, there have been a number of years that I end up performing on the last day of the year. A few stand out in my memories. There was the time that my high school-era band played at the huge party of our now dearly departed friend Tim Kerrigan, which was in 1988. That was perhaps the biggest backyard party I ever played... there had to be close to 300 kids there, and it was one of the first times I actually had a small taste of the rock star life. Back then, I was much less hesitant to play while intoxicated than I am now, and one indication of that was waking up on January 1, 1989 and having no idea where my guitar and amp were (they were fortunately safe, as I found out the next day when I went back to the house to retrieve them).

Years later, on 12/31/02, I played a private party with my band at the time, Liquid. We were set up in a garage (classy!), and our audience milled around in the driveway. It started off pretty dull, but as the evening progressed, the female friends of the hostess began getting progressively more and more drunk. Ultimately, while we played our cover tunes, the gals began doing amateur strip teases in front of us. By the time midnight rolled around, I'd seen more intimate body parts of strangers than I had in the last porno I saw.

Last year, I spent New Year's Eve 2007 performing live in SL. Since the evening fell on the night when I had my regular weekly show, I was asked to play. Having nothing else to do that night (I'd long since stopped going out on that evening), I accepted the gig, and ended up having one of my biggest audiences ever in SL (I've had larger ones since, but it was pretty cool at the time). I got to countdown the new year for the East Coast folks (being three hours behind them was advantageous for this), and it turned out to be a really fun night.

Rocking Crystal Sands, 12/31/07.

Non-Musical New Years
Some of my earliest New Years memories are pretty great. When you're ten and you have a legitimate excuse to stay up until midnight, you cherish it. My mom used to make something she called "Children's Champagne". It was rainbow sorbet with 7-Up poured over it. I've made it for my own kid in more recent times. I might make it tonight, actually. Sounds kinda yummy.

As I got older, I started doing adult-style New Years, well before I was legally (or mentally) an adult. Honestly, I really used to enjoy going out on New Year's Eve. I did. I don't now, but I did once. I definitely recall having a great time on 12/31/85. I was a senior in high school, and my friend Joe Arseneault had a huge party every year, since it was both his birthday and New Years rolled into one. Joe had a keg of beer, or perhaps several of them, and we knew in some aspects things would be changing quickly as we got toward the end high school and moved out into the world. So, with all of our good friends around, we drank and smoked and laughed and danced and sang. Good times, for sure.

Two years later, in 1987, was the beginning of my current trend toward disliking the New Year's "go out and party" experience. My band did go and play at a party in Redondo Beach, but we were ridiculously loud and the cops shut as down relatively quickly. We ended up hanging out in a depressing environment comprised of a few guys who were passing around a cocaine-lined mirror in their dingy apartment, talking about "the good old days" even though we weren't yet 20 years old. Bleh. That entire point in my life was an immense bummer; my folks had divorced, I had no permanent place I called home, and I was neither fully committed to work or school. Not a good time, really.

Two years ago, I was convinced to go hang out with some old friends for New Year's, but the problem of being spread around the greater Los Angeles area can be a bummer. We started out at a friend's party in Orange County, and then relocated to another pal's house closer to home, in Lomita. But all in all, I found myself yawning throughout the evening, and since I also don't really enjoy drinking anymore, I found myself at several points wishing I was back in my own home. Often, you assume it's the people or the situations that have changed, but ultimately it's a better bet that you're the one who has changed. I think that was the case with me.

So, for the most part, I've abandoned the idea of New Year's being an excuse to go out and drink, and all the rest of it. However, ending on a bright note, for the past three New Year's Eves, I've greatly enjoyed being on the phone with my darling Kat at midnight, to start the new year by wishing her a happy one. And this year, for the first time, I get to have her next to me when the ball drops at midnight. For that, I am thankful.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

My debut at Molaskey's Pub (12.28.08)




Well, the year is winding down, and I'm happy to have just played my last show of 2008, making this one of the last blog posts of the year as well. What a terrific year it's been, by the way, in my musical life. I've spent more time playing and recording this year than perhaps every before in my life, and I managed to do almost exactly 100 shows in SL over the course of the year. In my opinion, that's a Goldilocks number of gigs in SL (not too much, not too little, just right), meaning I averaged right around two per week all year.

In addition to being an ending of 2008, today was also a nice beginning to playing at Molaskey's Pub. I did my first show there today, performing at their cute ice skating rink. We didn't get a giant crowd going -- I don't like to make excuses, but there were a ton of shows happening simultaneously -- but we did have fun, and I can see pulling larger crowds if I was to play there more often. Speaking of which, if I'm able to work it out with vene owner Katydid Something, I do hope to be playing at Molaskey's again in the near future.

But I digress. It was a fun show, and like I usually try and do, I pulled out a new song to commemorate playing at a new place.

Here's my set list...
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
*Starman (David Bowie)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
Tempted (Squeeze)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Crazy Little Thing Called Love (Queen)
Alabama (Neil Young)
Sour Girl (Stone Temple Pilots)
Help Me (Joni Mitchell)
Little Wing (Jimi Hendrix)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
You’re Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
Tribute (Tenacious D)

Many thanks to the people who helped support my show!
Wildstar Beaumont, Spence Wilder, Horizon Darkstone, Rey Tardis, Triana Caldera, Kat Claxton, Leyah Renegade, Mia Kitchensink, Sona Destiny, and especially Katydid Something!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Good times, good friends at San Diego in SL (12.21.08)


Dancing and having fun at the Zak Show.


My crowd was small but happy, like a dwarf on weed.

I think that this weekend was so packed with shows, celebrations, and various benefits that it was amazing I got anyone to come out to San Diego in SL at all. But we slowly pulled together a nice little group of folks who really seemed to enjoy the show. After all, I'd just played at the "Christmas All Year Through" celebration earlier in the day, so a number of people who might have come out to see me probably had already done so that day. In any case, we did manage to scare up some folks and had a great time, as I always tend to do at SD in SL.

By the way: once again, other than my main five original tunes, I created a list of covers that I hadn't performed in the last several weeks. It's really one of the nice things about having a big repertoire... it keeps me fresh, not performing the same covers over and over again, and I think my audience enjoys the aspect of not knowing what to expect at each show. It had been more than a year since I performed a couple of the tunes I played at SD this day. Good times.

Here was my set list...

This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
You've Got To Hide Your Love Away (Beatles)
Fire & Rain (James Taylor)
You’re Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
Heart of Gold (Neil Young)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
Accidents Will Happen (Elvis Costello)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Wild Horses (Rolling Stones)
Under Pressure (Queen/David Bowie)
I Am The Walrus (Beatles)

Big thanks to the folks who helped support my show!
Triana Caldera, dakota7z7 Pluto, Nate Easterwood, Quinton Diavolo, Fraccy Rebus, Padula Bing, Kat Claxton, and my terrific hostess, Cher Harrington!

Christmas All Year Through at Nitida Ridge (12.21.08)

In March 2008, a number of people from the community of Second Life musicians got together and created a song to help raise awareness of the live music scene in SL. That song was called "Get It Together", and was a project spearheaded by a couple of good guys: Djai Skjellerup and Toby Lancaster.

Well, they decided that if one song was good, two songs would be even better. Besides, they needed a good reason to freshen people's interest in the topic of live music in SL, so Djai wrote a holiday song called "Christmas All Year Through", and once again, the SL music community came together to create the tune. Yesterday, in a similar manner to what we did last March, there was a celebration at Bree Birke's beautiful venue Nitida Ridge to help promote its debut. Several of the people who contributed to the song performed live, self included.

Click here for a free MP3 download of "Christmas All Year Through"!


A great crowd for Zak's short show at the "Christmas All Year Through" party.


Zak performing onstage to a packed house at Nitida Ridge.

Here was the lineup of the festive day...

12:00 - Jean Munro
12:20 - Franciskus Paine
12:40 - Babblegrabble Swindlehurst
1:00 - Zak Claxton
1:20 - Carah Nitely
1:40 - OhMy Kidd
2:00 - Kiaranne Flanagan
2:20 - Tpenta Vanalten
2:40 - Lonnie Nightfire
3:00 - Djai Skjellerup

After Djai did his short set, we had the premiere of the song, which went very nicely despite a griefer unsuccessfully trying to ruin the moment. Since I had just 20 minutes to do my thing, I stuck to originals only. By keeping the banter to a minimum, I actually squeezed in all five of the original tunes I play regularly in world. Kat and I had a fun day, and ended up staying for about three hours of very good music.

Here's what I played...

You’re Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)

Many thanks to the people who supported my set of original tunes!
Reginald Beck, Cher Harrington, Koks Homewood, BabbleGrabble Swindlehurst, OhMy Kidd, Crap Mariner, seissab Zarf, JanKRO Kubrick, Djai Skjellerup, Kat Claxton, Sally Silvera, Ursula Cinquetti, HomeLess Martian, Bree Birke, and Nils Apfelbaum!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Another fun one: Bay Vista Dragon's Pearl (12.16.08)

Upon arrival, I watch the Born Again Pagans from the side of the stage.

There are more people there, but you can't see them behind my silly hat.

As we're getting into the home stretch of the year, I'm enjoying the slight pick up in frequency of shows that I tend to do in the holiday season. It's strange, because at least for one reason, performing when it's cold gives you a couple of challenges you don't get in warmer times of year. Well, it's unseasonably chilly in Southern California at the moment; I believe when I started my show today at Bay Vista's Dragon's Pearl stage, the temps outside hadn't quite scratched 50, and I generally don't use any heat in the house at all. That'll probably change tonight.

Anyway, it's harder to do things like sing and use your hands when you're cold, but I still managed to work up a sweat playing what I thought was a good show. We started with a pretty small crowd, but as the show went on we had quite a few people filtering in. I think when I got offstage, there were about 22 people there -- and I'm not going to acknowledge that a number of them were there for Blindboy Gumbo's upcoming show. :)

As has been my pattern lately, I am mostly alternating between my original tunes and covers. However, since I am doing so many less covers than before, I am making a point to circulate them each week so that people who come see me won't get the same set show to show. I think it's working well.

Here was today's set list...

This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Nobody Home/Vera (Pink Floyd)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
The Man Who Sold the World (David Bowie)
You’re Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
*Little Wing (Jimi Hendrix)
Ashes to Ashes (David Bowie)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Lola (The Kinks)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
A Day in the Life (Beatles)

*Indicates song I've never before performed in SL

Thanks to everyone who helped support my show!
Jayson Luminos, luna32 Allen, Gretchen Capalini, Roni Navarathna, Paisley Dawes, HomeLess Martian, and hexx Triskaidekaphobia!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Tearing it up at San Diego in SL (12.14.08)

Zak onstage at SD in SL, with new hair and everything. Photo courtesy of Triana Caldera.

Sometime before my show today at the California Building at San Diego in SL I said to Kat, "Ya know, I think it'll be a pretty good show, but I'm not feeling like my voice is gonna be too spectacular today."

And of course, just to spite me, my voice was really in great shape, and I think it was one of my best shows of 2008 in terms of the performance. As you know, I'm far too humble to tout my own abilities (insert rolling eyes and huge smirk here), but for whatever reason, I was rocking San Diego today like it was the last gig on Earth. Really, really fun, with a nice sized crowd that stayed about 25 strong throughout most of the show, by my estimate.

I did play a new cover, as I've done lately at San Diego, and though I performed the entire group of original Zak Claxton tunes, I did not play a single cover this week that I'd done last week... I'm trying to keep it fresh for my repeat fans at this fun show.

So, sounded good, with a good crowd, and I never ask for more than that... except I got more! I had a bunch of friends show up, including Grace McDunnough (whose birthday is today), Doubledown Tandino, Djai Skjellerup, Tommy Cult, and others (in additional to my hostess Cher and my Greatest Fan, Triana). So it was just really fun and great to see folks, and I wish every one of my shows could be like today's!

Song Sample: "Falling Down" (Zak Claxton)

Here's what I played...

This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Summer Breeze (Seals & Crofts)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
Court & Spark (Joni Mitchell)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
*Breaking Us in Two (Joe Jackson)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
Any Major Dude (Steely Dan)
You’re Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
What I Got (Sublime)
Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie)
Save It For Later (English Beat)

*Indicates first time I've performed this song in SL

Thanks to all who supported my show today at San Diego in SL!
Grace McDunnough, Smitty Boyau, Haruka Harris, Anutte Frankfurter, Triana Caldera, Tommy Cult, Djai Skjellerup, Doubledown Tandino, Esser Source, Roni Navarathna, HomeLess Martian, Senjata Witt, and of course the ever-gracious and fun Cher Harrington!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Zak's 2009 Promo Video

Every year, I update my little promo video for my SL shows, and I got a jump on it this year (usually it's like February... okay, April, when I do it). So, without further hype (other than to say this is the greatest piece of filmmaking in the history of cinema), here it is!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Demo preview: Lines on Your Eyes

When I'm working on a new song and feel I have it pretty much ready to go and in the structure that I'll end up recording it when I get into the studio, I like doing a quick live demo to capture the vibe.

So, that's what I did tonight with my song "Lines on Your Eyes", which is a case of a tune that was pretty close to done but needed some sprucing up. Well, I spruced, I liked, and here's the result.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Bringing the rock to San Diego (12.07.08)

Today was the first of my weekly scheduled events at San Diego in SL, where I'll be for three consecutive Sundays. We had a fun and enthusiastic crowd, and as usual, Cher Harrington did a terrific job as the hostess. If I had to give my vote for "Best at running great shows in SL", Cher would get it hands down (though her pal Ursula Cinquetti would be a strong second place).

Anyway, the show... first of all, I did an encore, and I never do encores at SL shows. Seriously, look through my blogs back to the beginning. Tell me if you see any encores in there. But I'd literally taken off my guitar and had ended my stream broadcast, and got cheered back onstage for another tune at the end. It was great. I ended up doing the most songs I've ever done in a "one hour" show -- 14. Wow.

At the beginning of the day, we started with a pretty small crowd, but by the halfway point of the show we had over 20 people and all seemed to be having a great time. I debuted a song, and did something kind of cool where I ran the end of it straight into the next song in my set. Worked very nicely.

Song Sample: "Sour Girl/Old Man" (Stone Temple Pilots/Neil Young)

And here is the set list...

This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Nowhere Man (Beatles)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
*Sour Girl (Stone Temple Pilots)
Old Man (Neil Young)
You’re Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
California (Joni Mitchell)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
If You Could Only See (Tonic)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
Tribute (Tenacious D)
Just Like Starting Over (John Lennon)
Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (Neil Young)
Rikki Don't Lose That Number (Steely Dan)

*Indicates first time I've performed this song in SL.

Thanks so much to all who helped support my show!
Jonty Smit, Paisley Dawes, Susanna Jansma, Jeyff Shippe, Iriskaye Siamendes, Ursula Cinquetti, and espcially Cher Harrington!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Introducing Frothy Music


With my album plodding along its long journey toward completion, I realized somewhat belatedly that although I plan on releasing the album independently, it would be nice to have a company to act as my record label as well as handle any future publishing possibilities of my songs.

So, together with Kat, I made one! We're happy to introduce Frothy Music, our small indie label and music publishing company! For the time being, we aren't accepting artists other than myself; we'd like to make sure we know how to do this before doing it to anyone else. But who knows? It could be fun.

We'll be putting together a little plan for Frothy as we get closer to the completion of the Zak Claxton album, but I'm confident that along with my smart and sexy COO, we can do just fine as our own label. More news to come as it develops.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Everywhere and Nowhere: Places I've Played in SL

After a recent flurry of performing at venues I've never played before, I started wondering how many different live music venues in Second Life there were where I'd performed scheduled events. Luckily, since I'm so anal retentive about documenting all this silly crap, I was able to not only put together a list of the venues, but the date of my debut there. Some places I've only played once, and others I've played 50+ times since then. Many venues are still active, while others have gone to the great pixel graveyard. But here's the big list, in order of when I made my debut there! Feel free to recommend other places where I should have played by now, if you want.

Coyote (4/12/07)
The Shelter (5/3/07)
Hanging Gardens of Babylon (8/31/07)
Artisan Gallarias (9/14/07)
Neil Young Archives (09/29/07)
Crystal Sands (10/12/07)
Bubblegum Music Factory (10/24/07)
Merry Prankster (10/22/07)
Cuddlers Cove (10/30/07)
Space Odessy (11/5/07)
Encore Design Group (11/17/07)
La Scala Opera House (11/26/07)
The Warehouse, Ir Shalom (12/5/07)
Rocky Shores (12/8/07)
Tabitha’s Hard Rock Cafe (12/13/07)
Woodstock (12/14/07)
Stonehenge (1/12/08)
Pink Ice Club (2/7/08)
The Zone! (2/12/08)
Relay for Life I (2/17/08)
New Berlin (2/19/08)
Triana’s Music Trivia (2/24/08)
Artisan Square (3/2/08)
Summertime Blues Club (3/8/08)
DD Party (3/9/08)
Nitida Ridge (3/22/08)
DarkStar (4/2/08)
Sunshine Daydream (4/6/08)
TCH Yacht Club (4/10/08)
NYA Stage (4/18/08)
Relay for Life II (5/14/08)
SL5B Hippie Bus (6/27/08)
SL5B Main Stage (6/27/08)
Inspiration Cove (7/6/08)
Triumph Cove (7/12/08)
Fibber McGee’s (7/24/08)
The Notes Shack (8/6/08)
The Galleria (8/11/08)
The Falls (8/28/08)
Rastafairy Beach (8/30/08)
San Diego in SL (8/30/08)
Belford Beach Bums (10/19/08)
Blarney Stone (11/11/08)
Bay Vista Dragon’s Pearl (12/2/08)

... and many more to come! I have two places that are new for me (Ashlea's Music Loft and Molaskey's Pub) on my schedule before the end of 2008 alone.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Debut at Bay Vista Dragon's Pearl (12.02.08)

What a fun and cool-looking venue the Dragon's Pearl stage at Bay Vista is! It was a great mid-day break for me, and my audience seemed pretty happy as well. Cutting to the chase...

People having fun and stuff.

Nice shot from the Dragon's Pearl stage.

Here's what I played...

This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Ramble On (Led Zeppelin)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
If You Could Only See (Tonic)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Rikki Don't Lose That Number (Steely Dan)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
Court & Spark (Joni Mitchell)
You’re Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
Old Man (Neil Young)
Tribute (Tenacious D)
Redemption Song (Bob Marley)

Thanks to everyone at Bay Vista, especially the ones who helped support my show!
creola Deledda, Gretchen Capalini, Kanja Sands, hexx Triskaidekaphobia, jsmn Yao, Winston Ackland, TyeDyeFlyGuy Jonson, Katzy Rigaud, and Silas Scarborough!

Monday, December 1, 2008

5 Reasons This Time of Year can Suck

A lot of people find themselves in a less-than-optimal mood during this time of year. Some of the reasons are pretty obvious and affect a pretty wide percentage of people in general, and others are custom-tailored for lucky individuals.

I'm lucky... despite all the reasons not to, I still love the concept of Christmas. Look past the crass commercialism, the issue of not being able to afford all the things you'd like to get for your loved ones and so on, and I still feel Christmas (and the other winter holidays) give humans a once-a-year reminder to give a shit about their fellow man. A more pessimistic person would probably find it depressing that people can't be that way for more than one out of twelve months, but screw it; I'm a "glass half full" person.

Still, I'd be a fool to completely refuse to acknowledge that December's arrival can bring in an off-putting element to many lives. Here are a few aspects of December that I, personally, could probably live without.

1. December 8.
I am not... repeat, NOT... a superstitious person. I don't believe in nearly anything that's not explainable by science. But over the course of my life, I've had a number of years where something odd seems to happen on December 8. Self-fulfilling prophesy? Perhaps, but if so, I promise it's within the depths of my subconscious. And it's not always a BAD thing, per se. On December 8, 1980, I performed at my very first public recital as a musician, and did very well. Then, on my way home in my parents' car, I found out that John Lennon had been killed while I was performing onstage. It's not always something that dramatic or memorable, but it seems that I've had an inordinate amount of relationship breakups, injuries/illnesses, career changes, car accidents, and other strange things happen on this date. I should also mention that there have been a good number of years that this date comes and goes and despite my awareness of it, nothing out of the ordinary happens. So, we're a week out from my Odd Day, and I'll let you know how it goes.

2. The NAMM Show.
The NAMM Show is my industry's Super Bowl, or perhaps its World Series, or some other analogy that explains the most important single event of a year in a particular business. in real life, I work in the music and audio products industry, and Winter NAMM is a giant trade show where all the manufacturers introduce their new wares. A good NAMM show can significantly impact the entire year of business for a company in my industry, and a bad NAMM show can really have an adverse effect. A few things about it: first, I really, really, REALLY dislike trade shows. I just do. Second, although NAMM is in January, it's the culmination of weeks and weeks of heavy work for people like me, who help create all the signs, brochures, video presentations, sponsorships, web updates, and other marketing elements that go into a show like this. So every December for the past 16 years, much of my time is eaten by getting ready for NAMM. I recall during one pre-internet year having to go into the office on Christmas Day to get some stuff done. It's not fun, and it doesn't get any easier with passing time. The one saving grace over the past five+ years that I've owned my own business is that I do prefer being able to set my own schedule, as opposed to being at the beck and call of some other person. But in any case, it's a lot of freakin' work, and at this very moment, in fact, I am procrastinating some essential NAMM-related work while writing this blog entry. Bleh.

3. Weather.
Don't laugh at me. Just don't. I live in Southern California, and it can be absolutely beautiful in December. But this morning, I awoke to an incredibly dense blanket of fog and a very surreal feeling of foreboding that came along with it. So, while we get no snow here, and the temperature rarely drops even into the 40s, and it almost never even rains, I still find the winter weather a little bit of a downer. I'll shut up now. Hey, I never claimed these reasons to be bitchy were legitimate to anyone but me.

4. People.
So, here I am, trying to find some goodness within the gloom of December. But let me tell you; the news is no place to turn for happiness and good times. Over the last week, we had a massive terror assault in Mumbai, a crowd of shoppers at a Wal-Mart in Long Island that stampled a poor worker to death, two guys that shot each other to death in a Toys R Us here in California, and more. What the fuck is wrong with people? Every time I start to think that we're making even the slightest amount of progress as a species, all I need to do is hit CNN.com and I'm reminded that we're as bad, or perhaps worse, than ever. And those are just the people whose shitty behavior makes the news. There's a reason why I do all my holiday shopping online, and it's not for the great prices. It's that I don't have any love for circling parking lots for hours, being elbowed while getting on escalators, or dealing with surly seasonal employees at the mall. Anyway, people tend to be at their worst this time of year. Ironic, eh?

5. Money.
Not my money. I don't mind spending my money. In fact, I'd much rather spend my money giving gifts to people I love than limiting its use for mundane crap like paying my utility bills... where's the fun in that? But the problem I'm seeing is that more and more folks I know are out of work, or just not making ends meet, or are finding themselves so far in debt that there looks to be no path to climb out of their hole they've dug. But I'm not in a position to help everyone I know that needs help, and in the bigger picture, I don't know that handing money to everyone I know who needs it really DOES help them. It's just a bummer, even if it's not my personal bummer of the moment.

So, there are five things that seem to suck right now. And I'm really not going out of my way to dwell on those things. in fact, I'm happy and thankful for a lot of absolutely GREAT things that are going on in my life right now, and I never want to appear ungrateful for those things. I'm really not. Perhaps sometime later this month, when I find myself completely infused with the Spirit of Christmas, I'll make an equally nauseating blog post about happiness, love, the kindness of strangers, and goodwill toward men. But for now? Meh. And bah.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

For the Dogs: Weekend for Lucas (11.29.08)

LIke I mentioned before, I had back-to-back shows on Saturday. I never schedule back-to-backs without a very good reason, but this was worthwhile, since it allowed me to perform at "A Weekend for Lucas", the fundraising benefit concert festival to support Smiling Dog Farms. This organization is a last resort for dogs that otherwise have no place else to go. From their web site...

Our dogs come from shelters and rescues all across America. They may be “unadoptable” because they have bitten someone, have medical issues, or have other behavior challenges. Smiling Dog Farms accepts all unadoptable dogs, regardless of age, breed,behavioral or medical issues. If a dog is breathing, he qualifies to come live here!

Grateful Stryker, a friend and fellow musician in Second Life, started this fundraiser last year after his experience with Smiling Dog Farms and one doggie named Lucas who ended up there. He was introduced to dog in a shelter that was scheduled for execution since no one wanted him, and he found Smiling Dog Farms who helped save Lucas's life. Lucas (who was an older dog) lived out the rest of his days with happiness and dignity. Perhaps the bigger result of Grateful's friendship with Lucas was that Grate got the idea to put together a benefit show in SL to support Smiling Dog Farms. In 2007, I performed at the first show, which was a huge success, and this year was terrific as well. They haven't tallied the total yet (the show is a two-day event that's continuing today), but it should represent a sizable chunk of the annual operating costs of the farm.

Zak onstage at the Lucas show. Note that the lower half of my body is Ruthed... nice capri pants.

All that having been said, I'm very glad I chose to look past the hassles of doing two shows in a row and performed there. After my show at Triumph Cove, I teleported immediately over to Sunshine Daydream, where the Lucas event was taking place, and got right down to the business of a) rocking and b) telling people to donate money to this cause. Despite the fact that I was guilting and haranguing people the entire time, I think it was still fun for everyone. And, of course, it was nice to see some of the old Sunshine Daydream gang again.

I also wrote a tune specifically for the event, which you'll find below, as well as performing two other songs I'd never before done in SL.

Here's what I played...

*Every Dog Should Have It’s Day (Zak Claxton)
One (U2)
*Ramble On (Led Zeppelin)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
The Worst (Rolling Stones)
You’re Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (Neil Young)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
Walking The Dog (Aerosmith)
*Here Comes The Sun (Beatles)
Thank You (Led Zeppelin)

*Indicates first time I've performed this song in SL
Grateful Stryker watches the festivities.

TO GET MORE INFORMATION OR TO DONATE DIRECTLY TO SMILING DOG FARMS (a 501(c)3 charitable corporation), VISIT www.smilingdogfarms.org!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Zak gets back to Triumph Cove (11.29.08)

Zak has a fun crowd at Triumph Cove.

I had only performed at Triumph Cove once before, but had been wanting to get back there. It's a spectacular venue, and I tend to draw audiences there of people who haven't seen me before, which I do enjoy. Ursula Cinquetti is a terrific hostess, and my thanks go out to Blaze Columbia for sponsoring such a great venue.

Here's the set list...
Crazy Little Thing Called Love (Queen)
You’re Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
Accidents Will Happen (Elvis Costello)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
California (Joni Mitchell)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
If You Could Only See (Tonic)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
Drive (Incubus)
Heart of Gold (Neil Young)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
Behind Blue Eyes (The Who)

Zak rocks, Ursula boogies.

Thanks to the following people for having supported my show!
Graciela Shelman, Bevan Whitfield, Triana Caldera, Anaid Daviau, Kritz Etzel, Thadicus Caligari, SeanMcPherson Senior, Maxymouse Piek, Charles Coleman, Hiker Tigerpaw, Torben Asp, and most of all Ursula Cinquetti!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Two Zak Shows on Sat.11/29!!!

Hey all! A quick heads-up. You're not seeing double... there are indeed two, count them, two Zak shows tomorrow, back-to-back, on Saturday November 29.

First up at 5:00PM will be a very fun show at Triumph Cove, the terrific venue sponsored by Blaze Columbia. I'll be playing in between the Born Again Pagans and Charles Coleman, so it'll be a great hang with fun tunes.

Then, at 6:00PM, I head immediately over to Sunshine Daydream where I'm appearing at a benefit concert called A Weekend for Lucas. This benefit aids a dog rescue organization called Smiling Dog Farms, and they aid abused and neglected animals. This is a great cause, and I'm sure I can count on my friends/fans to come by and support this charity-driven event.

That's it for now! See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving to you from Zak

"Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, among other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed upon our governor, and upon the captain, and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."

- Edward Winslow from A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, 1621

Monday, November 24, 2008

All quiet on the turkey front

Since I'm in a little lull between shows (I start picking up my show schedule again this coming Saturday and throughout December), I thought I'd drop you a little off-topic blog. No need to thank me.

I am faced with a conundrum. Haven't done a show since last Sunday, but I don't like feeling rusty. What I think I'll do is put on a little surprise Zak Show at one of my own places (Coyote, Neil Young Archives, or NYA Stage, or even Kat's Inspiration Cove island), perhaps sometime on Wednesday. The way I figure it is that a lot of people will have very little to do on that day, and may want to hop into world for some entertainment that doesn't involve family, football, or turkey. So, that's filed in the "maybe" folder for now.

Speaking of turkey, I have volunteered to be the host of Thanksgiving this year. I have a nice new place that I moved into in September, so I invited Gramps, my sister, and her daughter over to join me, Kat, and my son (and his mother, unfortunately) for feasting. It was after I extended the invite that I realized I was desperately short on things like dining room chairs, serving trays, and even enough silverware for seven people. That's why on Saturday, despite my grumblings and intense whining, I went with my son and Kat to that loveliest of luxury retailers, Target, and bought a bunch of crap. Actually, it wasn't all crap at all. I got some chairs, some new flatware, new sets of dishes, new glasses, and various random things that would fit in my cart on the way to the checkout line.

Then yesterday, on Sunday, it was time to tackle the food portion of the feast. Got my bird, which will very likely fit into my tiny oven (I'll make that sucker fit, no worries), and all the trimmings. Of course, I forgot the cranberry sauce, bread rolls, and whipped cream, so there's at least one more grocery run involved before T-Day. And I don't have any wine glasses, so I suppose I'll need to get those too. But all in all, it should turn out to be a good holiday. And above and beyond all of that crap, I'll awaken on Friday morning -- the best food day of the year -- and be wallowing in turkey sandwich fixin's.

Oh man. I look forward to that more than anything.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Facebook: I was wr... wr... wro... mistaken

Well, I feel like a doofus. There's nothing new about that, but the particular reason for my doofusness of the moment is that I'd assumed that Facebook was pretty much just another version of MySpace. This is what happens when you form an opinion about something before you actually look into it. Like, "All hip hop sucks," or "Second Life is for losers who don't have a first life," and so on.

Anyway, my friend Jace had been up my ass for a long time trying to get me to join Facebook. I'd told him in no uncertain terms that the last thing I wanted to do was add yet another social network tool, and that I was already being notoriously poor about the upkeep of my MySpace page, and so on. Jace very patiently told me how Facebook actually provided a lot of Web 2.0 tools that actually saved time, as opposed to wasting it. I was still very unconvinced, and basically started a Facebook page to spite him.

And, of course, as I started looking into it, I become intrigued. "Hey, it can automatically pull in my blog posts. That's neat. hey, it sees my YouTube activity. Cool. Hey, I can export my SL events to my Google Calendar. Sweet." And so on and so forth.

So, here I am to freely admit that I was way wrong about Facebook. It's actually very cool. There. I was wrong. Mark your calendars. And by the way... feel free to send me a friend request if we're friends, or acquaintances, or if you kinda know me, or even if you don't!

And thanks again to Jace who, by the way, become my first Facebook friend shortly thereafter.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Another video from the studio (11.15.08)

After looking through the footage Kat filmed at Sound Sanctuary last Saturday, I found some stuff that was neither silly, goofy, nor full of screw-ups. Here's another short video from the latest Zak Claxton session, and I believe the first and third sections (rhythm electric guitar on "The Sands of Redondo" and the bass line from the same song) are the takes that will end up on the album.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Rocking Triana's Music Trivia (11.16.08)

Have I ever mentioned how great Triana Caldera is? Well let me tell ya, if there was a "Coolest Chick in SL that Isn't My Girlfriend" award, she'd be a shoo-in.

As I may have mentioned before, Kat and I try to spend every Sunday night at 7:00PM at Triana's Music Trivia, which happens to be SL's longest-running trivia game. The weekly event is a really fun social gathering, and Kat and I have been attending for over two years now. Usually TMT is DJed by Samantha Poindexter, but every so often, usually only on special occasions, Triana has a live performer there. I've played TMT a few times now, and Kaklick Martin has a couple of times as well.

Sunday night, even though I was still a little mentally and physically burned out from my recording session the day before, I was really looking forward to doing my show at TMT. I think it was probably my favorite show I've done there, since I was slightly punchy and was therefore in extreme silly mode.

The zany crew at TMT dances while I rock them.

Playing "Triana" for Triana!

So, it was a fun show, and since I'd been doing nothing but playing guitar and singing for the 24 hours previous, I was at least nice and warmed up when I got onstage. Since I was with friends, I threw out a couple of tunes I'd never done before in SL, and they were more fun than I'd thought they would be.

Song Sample #1: "Triana (Mellow Version)" (Zak Claxton)

Song Sample #2: "Tribute" (Tenacious D)


And here's what I played...

This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Triana (Zak Claxton)
*Boyz in the Hood (Dynamite Hack)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Mother's Little Helper (Rolling Stones)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
Six Underground (Sneaker Pimps)
*We Are The Champions (Queen)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
Tribute (Tenacious D)
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
Thank You (Led Zeppelin)
Old Man (Neil Young)

*Indicates the first time I've played this song in SL.

Thanks to the people who supported my show, and all my friends at TMT!
Alchemy Epstein, Nakira Tennen, Samantha Poindexter, Tommy Cult, Kaklick Martin, Catz Mora, Hef Hifeng, MrNoCal Honey, Bosco Constantine, Rey Tardis, and of course, Kat's and my Second Life girlfriend, Triana Caldera

Zak in the Studio (11.15.08)

I had one of the most fun and productive recording sessions of my life on Saturday. Kat and I drove out to Riverside, the home of Sound Sanctuary Recording Studios where I've done all the recording for the Zak Claxton album thus far.

The two songs we planned on doing were "The Sands of Redondo" and "Always Tomorrow". Both songs have a medium-slow 6/8 tempo, so I figured we could stay in the groove getting both down in one day. Kat and I arrived in Riverside at noon as planned, and hung out with studio owner/operator Phil O'Keefe and our pal Ken Lee for awhile until Bunny arrived. Bunny's lateness, by the way, was well justified this time; there were several freeway closures due to the myriad of fires rampaging around Southern California on the day I recorded.

But I digress. We brought Bunny's drums into the studio and got ready to rock. All photos by Kat Claxton, except noted.





We got all the drums and mics set up...



And then went back into the lounge and mapped out our game plan. But first, we took time to do silly poses, as is required by the musician's union.



Finally, we got into recording the two new songs. We started with "The Sands of Redondo" since a) it's the more complex of the two and b) both Bunny and Ken couldn't stay at the studio all day/night, and we had to get their parts down so they could take off in the early evening. My plan had all four of us doing a guitar solo on the tune, so after we got the basic tracks down (drums, rhythm guitar, and bass), we set up to do the solofest.

We tracked the players in order so we'd have some semblance of continuity on the track, and Ken led the effort. This somewhat random choice turned out to be an excellent plan, since Ken laid down this unbelievable solo with his E-Bow and SG, resembling whale calls and really setting the tone for the rest of the song. Phil went next, getting a little grittier than Ken but staying pretty smooth within the D minor motif on the Epiphone Casino. Then Bunny who is so much more than a drummer, took a Strat into the tracking room and laid down this awesome Arabic-themed set of crunchy notes that I just loved. For the final solo, I used a Les Paul and tried to bring the solo section to a peak level of frantic frenzy. I'm really looking forward to hearing this mix!

Before doing anything else on that track, it was time to lay down the basic stuff for the second song, "Always Tomorrow". I kid you not: Bunny got the drums down in one pass. There's only one take, and that's it, and I love it.

Ken had split at about 5:00, and after Bunny did his drums on the second song and grabbed a slice of pizza, he was out of there at 7:00. So, for the next 5-6 hours after that, Phil and I did layer upon layer of overdubs, adding all the vocals, background vocals, additional guitars, piano, and percussion to both tunes. Kat and I rolled out of there close to 1:00AM, and got some much-needed sleep at the luxurious Motel 6 down the street.

One more thing to note: we all had a great time, and soon after we arrived home on Sunday afternoon, I put together a little blooper reel of video footage that Kat had captured while we recorded (below). Enjoy the outtakes and screw-ups and so on. For the time being, it's all you have to hear, since it'll be a little while before we listen to these mixes.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Amazing! Great show at the Blarney Stone (11.11.08)

I had what must have been one of my top-ten all-time SL shows last night at the Blarney Stone in Dublin. One thing I really like about playing places like the Blarney Stone is that they have a built-in crowd of regulars. At a lot of places, if I arrive 20 minutes before showtime, I'm the only person there, often getting there before the venue owner/manager. But not last night! It's a great feeling looking at the map before you teleport to the club and seeing 20 green dots waiting for you!

So, a few funny notes... first, I started the evening with a naked guy who decided to wiggle his nude ass on my stage moments before I started my show. According to Cher Harrington, there were a total of four nekkie people that had to be dealt with during my show, so apparently I bring out the freak brigade, which is fine with me as long as there's someone there to deal with them.

Getting ready to rock, with a nice poster behind me.

A happy crowd makes for a happy Zak.

One of the several times I got an uninvited guest on stage with me that night.

Second funny (kind of) moment: at 4:59, one minute before I was going to do my first tune, I crashed SL! It's been a long time since I've had any SL crashes at all, but this one wasn't so bad... I did a fast restart of the MacBook Pro, popped back into world at my last location, and jumped into my first tune. Contrasting that, my audio/streaming computer went through the entire show without even a hiccup, which was a welcome change.

But all that is pretty normal, in SL anyway. The other things that made this show awesome...

• First, I'm VERY happy these days with any 40+ crowd. I think we peaked at 47 or so. That means we had a good 60+ people who saw the show, counting some who came late or left early with crowd turnover. Love that!

• My voice and guitar decided to behave to a satisfactory degree, with no severe screwups. I have no complaints.

• I love having my good friends like Cher, DD, Silas, and Triana in the crowd. I get all happied-up as soon as I see their names pop in.

• The Blarney Stone has a great vibe. After playing so many RL Irish pubs here in the LA area (Hennessey's, Killian's, Keegan's and so on), I felt right at home there.

• Cher Harrington must be the best hostess in SL, bar none. She was on top of everything and seemed to be having a great time (and made sure everyone else was having fun too), and I don't ask for more than that.

In any case, the end result was a great show, with quite a few folks signing up to join my Zak Claxton group right after the show, which is one of my big goals at the moment (building my crowd).

Song Sample: "One" (U2)

Here's what I played!

If You Could Only See (Tonic)
What I Got (Sublime)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Heart of Gold (Neil Young)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Help Me (Joni Mitchell)
*One (U2)
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
Wonderwall (Oasis)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
All-Star (Smash Mouth)
A Day in the Life (Beatles)

*Indicates first time I've ever performed this song in SL

Thanks to everyone who was at the Blarney Stone, along with these folks who helped support my show!
Triana Caldera, Felix Valeeva, Otawan Fouquet, Noelle Pobieski, GentlemanKev Bookmite, Laelae Nubalo, Padula Bing, Silas Scarborough, bobo Foxtrot, Milan Martynov, Eowyn Atlass, and most of all, the hostess with the mostess, Cher Harrington!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Studio session coming this weekend!

I am FINALLY getting back into the studio this weekend, and I can't wait!

This recording session was originally scheduled for the beginning of September, but due to difficulties with Team Zak's schedule, we couldn't get it together for a couple of months beyond the original plan. But there's no better time than the present, so off we go to Sound Sanctuary Recording out in lovely Riverside, CA.

The plan is to record two ZakTunes: "Always Tomorrow" and the rarely-performed "Sands of Redondo". Kat will be accompanying me to the studio, and will be capturing some photos and video. My usual compatriots, Phil O'Keefe (engineering, co-producing, additional vocals/instruments) and Bunny Knutson (drums, creative inspiration), will be joined by a special guest this time... my pal Ken Lee! We're not quite sure what contribution the Giant Asian Guy will make, but it's bound to be good.

Next week here on the Zak Blog, we'll post some stuff from the session.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

"This Afternoon" video!

Well, here is a tasty treat for all three or so of you Zak Claxton fans out there. And it's a double-dipped delight that's a veritable feast for the senses.

Below, please find the YouTube video for my song "This Afternoon". Not only is it a Zak Claxton video, mind you, but this is the real, actual recording off my upcoming album, Zak Claxton. So you get to listen to the world premiere of a track off my as-yet-unreleased solo album, and you get to see our silly ideas for putting together a home-made video for the tune! So, check out the vid, and then I'll tell you more about it...



Hope you enjoyed it. Here's the "making of" story: Kat and I found ourselves with a little free time one day, and kind of spontaneously went out and started shooting some footage, with me directing and Kat being a steady-handed camera operator. I edited a bit of what we captured and found that it was workable, so a few weeks later we spent another hour or so shooting. Grabbed everything we needed, edited the rest of the video in another hour or so, and bang-zoom! Video is ready. Should I ever get an actual budget to do real videos, I will still fondly remember our time running around the streets of Redondo Beach with my camera.

In any case, if you haven't been following along, "This Afternoon" will be available as a single and as a track off my upcoming album, in stores in Spring 2009. Followers of this blog will be the first to know when the music is ready to rock.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Fun at The Notes Shack (11.06.08)

Seriously, I've had a blast every time I play at Krakov Letov's club The Notes Shack. The crowd is fun, and they really do appreciate good music there. Also, I do enjoy the opportunity to play to a mostly European audience... it's very cool.

Nothing special to note about today... I was in a good mood, still in euphoria over the election of Barack Obama, and I think I picked some good tunes, many of which I haven't whipped out in quite awhile.

The Set List...

This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Court & Spark (Joni Mitchell)
Lovely Rita (Beatles)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
Like a Rolling Stone (Bob Dylan)
Space Oddity (David Bowie)
Old Man (Neil Young)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd)
Free Man in Paris (Joni Mitchell)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Tribute (Tenacious D)

Big thanks to all the people who supported my show!
Billy Mikoyan, Angelina Rhode, Marcella Mornington, Toby Lancaster, Jeremy Barracuda, Jaggpro McCann, Artefax Jericho, Obeloinkment Wrigglesworth, Rainne Kiranov, Harrie Skjellerup, and most of all, Krakov Letov!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Rockin' the SD: San Diego in SL (11/2/08)

I don't know how many of you know this, but shows in Second Life aren't necessarily the casual, thrown-together events that they may appear on the surface. Well-run, popular venues often book their shows more than a month ahead of time, and busy artists are often booked for at least a month out. So, it was quite a long time ago that I set up Sunday's show at San Diego in SL, through a great supporter of SL's music scene Cher Harrington (more on Cher in a bit).

We pulled together a decent-sized crowd, but my favorite part was that with the exception of a few, most of the people who were there had never heard me play before. If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know that I most enjoy the opportunity to play for new folks, perchance to gain some new fans. I'd say that Sunday's show at SD in SL was really great in that aspect. I also had a great time, and fortunately my voice and guitar decided to cooperate with me, so I feel the performance went well too.

Another note: in addition to running SL Live Radio, Cher Harrington (who's become a good friend over the last year or so) is the booking agent and manager for several SL venues, including San Diego. After my show, Cher let me know that due to my San Diego connections (I've lived in Southern California nearly my entire life, and went to San Diego State U. for a year back in the '80s) and the fact that they liked my performance, the owners would like me to start playing there on a regular basis! I couldn't be happier, especially considering that I'd recently lost my other weekly gig. So, next month, I'll be back at San Diego in SL on 12/7, 12/14, and 12/21 (all Sundays, all at 3:00PM). I'm very excited, and there are a lot of opportunities associated with these shows, so try and attend and wish me luck in any case.

Song Sample: "Plush" (Stone Temple Pilots)

Here's my set list from Sunday 11/2...

This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Plush (Stone Temple Pilots)
What I Got (Sublime)
Help Me (Joni Mitchell)
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
*Mother's Little Helper (Rolling Stones)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
If You Could Only See (Tonic)
Old Man (Neil Young)
Drive (Incubus)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Behind Blue Eyes (The Who)

*Indicates the first time I've performed this song in SL

Thanks to the folks who helped support my show at San Diego in SL!
Studly Nightfire, Emmie Fairymeadow, Triana Caldera, Sally Silvera, Otawan Fouquet, Jonty Smit, Merlin Gray, Starflower Orbit, and the lovely Cher Harrington!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The End of an Era

Sorry to be all dramatic in my post title, but it's true.

After a full year of performing every Monday night at Crystal Sands, it's unfortunately been decided that the owners can't afford to continue doing as many nights of hosting shows as they have been. The result is that you will no longer be able to catch me at what was my one remaining regular show in SL: Monday evenings at Crystal Sands.

I certainly don't blame the owners at Crystal Sands for this; they can only do what they can afford to do, and the last thing in the world I want to be is a financial hardship on any of the venues in SL. However, as usual, I'm looking on the bright side of this setback. It's high time I retooled my plan of SL rock stardom, and playing at the same place every week isn't really beneficial for anyone.

So, while I have plenty of shows scheduled for now (see the left column on this page for specifics), I am currently putting together some meetings with some people who might be able to help me take my SL music career in some new and exciting directions. that, combined with my album inching closer and closer to completion (and the press coverage I'm anticipating when it's done) should be a great 1-2 punch to kick start my virtual rocking.

Anyway, back to the point: no more Monday nights at Crystal Sands, which used to include me, Ictus Belford, and Patrick LaSalle. Ah well. Nothing lasts forever, as they say, so I'm making some lemonades out of these lemons and moving on. Stay tuned!

Opening for BAP at COYOTE (10.26.08)

Well, to get the negative stuff out of the way, we couldn't get a crowd going at COYOTE for the life of us on Sunday afternoon. But ignoring the fact that we only had a few folks in attendance, we actually had a really fun time when I opened the show for the Born Again Pagans on Sunday, and then (of course) during the Pagans' set as well.

I decided to stay in non-standard tunings during my short half-hour set, and it was fun. It also led me (sorry for the weak-ass pun) to do a song I'd never played before: Zeppelin's classic, "Kashmir". Yup, all seven+ minutes of it. Hey, you gotta be adventurous sometimes, and the results aren't completely embarrassing (listen below if you want).

High point of the day? Probably when a fan got topless during the BAP set. Yeah, that's me smoking a fatty in my boxers. It was a hippie extravaganza!

Song Sample: "Kashmir" (Led Zeppelin)

My short set list...

Mr. Soul (Neil Young)
For This Moment (Zak Claxton)
Ohio (Neil Young)
*Kashmir (Led Zeppelin)
The Loner (Neil Young)

*Indicates the first time I've performed this song in SL.

Thanks to the folks who were there!
Leyah Renegade, Doubledown Tandino, Kat Claxton, Shannyn Fall, hexx Triskaidekaphobia, and Madame Amoufhaz.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A great day at Crystal Sands (10.20.08)


Doubledown Tandino sets up camp at Crystal Sands, and cooks up some beans. On my foot.


Looking out from my usual view at Crystal Sands.

I had a feeling that it was going to be a good day at Crystal Sands, and sometimes my predictions are 100% wrong, but today it wasn't. I think it was a good combination of crowd and the songs that I happen to pull out, and perhaps it was Doubledown's pup tent and campfire that put me in a good mood. In any case, Crystal Sands was fun today.

Here's what I played...

Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (Neil Young)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
Cinnamon Girl (Neil Young)
Stonehenge (Spinal Tap)
Court & Spark (Joni Mitchell)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
If You Could Only See (Tonic)
Nowhere Man (Beatles)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
California (Joni Mitchell)
Love Hurts (The Everly Brothers)
Heart of Gold (Neil Young)
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)

Thanks to the folks who supported my show today!
Tarina Sewell, Ictus Belford, BuffaloMike Hammerer, Tessa Rhiadra, Etierre Bonde, Carlton Vendetta, Kat Claxton, Cher Harrington, Naga Flow, and of course Sandi Benelli!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ictus/Carrie Rezday (10.19.08)


Kicking back after my set, watching Mimi Carpenter play.

I did a fun short set to kick off Ictus Belford and Carrie Laysan's 2-year rezday party at noon today. Good times. :)

Set List:

Pigs on the Wing - Part 1 (Pink Floyd)
If You Could Only See (Tonic)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
For the Turnstiles (Neil Young)
Our House (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
Love Hurts (Everly Brothers)
Old Man (Neil Young)
Impromptu Happy Rezday Song (Zak Claxton)

Thanks for the tips, folks...
Mimi Carpenter, Carrie Laysan, Kat Claxton, TenneseeJed Freiman, Ictus Belford, and Shannyn Fall!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Good Times at The Notes Shack (10.14.08)

Marking my third day in a row of rocking SL was this semi-rare midday show in the middle of the week. Krakov Letov hit me up a couple of days ago to see if I was available today at 2:00, and I decided that it seemed a fine time to do some ZakTunes™, so I agreed. Taking a break from my work day was rather nice, and having just come back from the chiropractor that morning, I was feeling like a noodle as I eased into a mostly classic rock-themed edition of the Zak Show at The Notes Shack.

Another cool note: I had no idea, but the Born Again Pagans had the slot preceding me, and rocked the house! Madame Amoufhaz and hexx Triskaidekaphobia were terrific, and I was feeling great from the moment I stepped onstage from their awesome sonic extravaganza.

Speaking of which, here's my set list:

Pigs on the Wing - Part 1 (Pink Floyd)
A Day in the Life (Beatles)
Sister Golden Hair (America)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Suite: Judy Blue Eyes (Crosby, Stills and Nash)
Thank You (Led Zeppelin)
Just Like Starting Over (John Lennon)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Love Hurts (Everly Brothers)
If You Could Only See (Tonic)
Won't Get Fooled Again (The Who)

Big thanks to the following folks who helped me rock them!
Sally Silvera, Star Korhonen, Grateful Stryker, Krakov Letov, Lyn Carlberg, Artel Brando, Horizon Darkstone, Eli Schlegal, jsmn Yao, hexx Triskaidekaphobia, and Krakov Letov!

One Year at Crystal Sands (10.13.08)

We didn't make a big whoop-ti-do about it, but this show at Crystal Sands marked a full year of my having the Monday evening slot at that fine venue. What can I say? All the respect to Sandi Benelli for continuing to keep Crystal Sands rocking, and putting all the effort she does into running it and her sister venues as well.

Anyway, it was a fun show, befitting of the comfort level one acquires for playing the same venue at the same time slot for 52 weeks. It was also great to see The Diva Rockin and Hope Clary from the Beat Chicks there! Hope to see them at another show sometime soon. Also, I did bust out one tune I hadn't played in SL before... keeping it fresh, yo.

Here's the set list:

Heart of Gold (Neil Young)
Triana (Zak Claxton)
Accidents Will Happen (Elvis Costello)
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
*If You Could Only See (Tonic)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Ashes to Ashes (David Bowie)
Comes a Time (Neil Young)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
Mother (Pink Floyd)
Fire & Rain (James Taylor)
Old Man (Neil Young)

*Indicates first time I've performed this song in SL, or perhaps anywhere.

Thanks to all the folks who supported my show at Crystal Sands!
Barton Cale, TheDiva Rockin, Ictus Belford, Manx Wharton, Hope Clary, Kala Pixie, Triana Caldera, Cher Harrington, and of course, Sandi Benelli!

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Beat Chicks

Crap Mariner recently pointed me to a Podcast blog that I really like. It's called The Beat Chicks, and like the name implies, it's created by two gals (Hope Clary and TheDiva Rockin) who interview SL musicians and have them perform live on the show.

It was actually in my plans to produce exactly such a Podcast myself, but a) I ran out of "spare" time, and b) these ladies seem to be doing an excellent job of it themselves. Their first four interview shows are live, featuring SL artists such as jueL Resistance and Cylindrian Rutabega, and I definitely recommend it to anyone interested in getting some more in-depth info on great SL musicians.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Happy Rezday Zak & Kat (10.12.08)

Two years! Amazing that we've been in SL and done as much as we have in the past 720 days or so. Kat and I joined SL at the same time on October 12, 2006, and we've never once regretted it.

So, we had a little ZakRock™ at COYOTE today, and put it out as an event, and had a few cool people show up.


Zak rocks Coyote. Kat is there in spirit.


Sunday is Funday!


After the show, I hang out with Doubledown Tandino, jsmn Yao, and hexx Triskaidekaphobia


A smoke two joints before I smoke two joints...

Here's the 2-Year Rezday setlist...

Save it for Later (English Beat)
Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd)
Crazy Little Thing Called Love (Queen)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Comes a Time (Neil Young)
Tribute (Tenacious D)
Court and Spark (Joni Mitchell)
Man of Constant Sorrow (Traditional)
What I Got (Sublime)
Ohio (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
Tea in the Sahara (The Police)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)

Thanks to the folks who came out and supported the show!
Kat Claxton, Harlequin Randt, Arduenn Schwartzman, jsmn Yao, kif Mizin, melzi Amat, and hexx Triskaidekaphobia!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

And back to the present: Crystal Sands (10.06.08)

Ya know, there's truly no rhyme nor reason as to why my guitar playing and singing can sound great sometimes and less than great at others. Monday's show at Crystal Sands is a perfect example. I'd flown home from a business trip late the night before, had gotten less than enough sleep, and hadn't treated my voice very well lately. Despite all that, I felt performance-wise my show was one of the best I've ever done in SL. Yeah, seriously.

On a side note, we really need to get Kat back into SL, with a new computer or whatever it takes. I love having her sit next to me here in RL while I play, but everyone at my shows has a great time with her in world. We'll get it fixed.

Anyway, good show, nice crowd throughout most of it, including new listeners and old friends as well. Good times.

Here's the set list.

Crazy Little Thing Called Love (Queen)
You Can't Always Get What You Want (Rolling Stones)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
I Am The Walrus (Beatles)
Rikki Don't Lose That Number (Steely Dan)
California (Joni Mitchell)
Redemption Song (Bob Marley)
Fire & Rain (James Taylor)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Powderfinger (Neil Young)
She's Always a Woman (Billy Joel)
Love Hurts (The Everly Brothers)

And thank you, thank you, thank you to the people who supported my show!
Blood Klotzel, dragonfly Olsen, Feather Osterham, Sharn Parker, Tooobi Jarvinen, Basil Brooks, Ictus Belford, Carrie Laysan, Talos Fabre, Elle Metty, Anje Figueroa, and as usual, Sandi Benelli!

Back in time: Crystal Sands (09.29.08)

Well, you need to forgive me: I had a trip to prepare for last week, and never got around to delivering a blog for last week's show at Crystal Sands. And now, after spending a week or so out of town, I can hardly remember it! See why I try to write these blogs immediately after playing?

But upon some investigation and self-hypnosis routines, I was able to dredge the following artifacts from the depths of my mind:

1. It was fun.
2. I played music.
3. Sandi Benelli was moving and couldn't attend, so Dragonfly Olsen hostessed the show.
3. It was a small crowd but I didn't mind... the ones who were there were cool.

I do, however, know the set list!

I Am a Child (Neil Young)
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
Last Dance with Mary Jane (Tom Petty)
Love Hurts (The Everly Brothers)
Accidents Will Happen (Elvis Costello)
Free Man in Paris (Joni Mitchell)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Sister Golden Hair (America)
Jack Straw (Grateful Dead)
Ashes to Ashes (David Bowie)
Old Man (Neil Young)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)

Thanks to the folks who supported my show!
Atara Ember, Torch Weinstein, Ictus Belford, Triana Caldera, Aurelie Chenaux, Tessa Rhiadra, dragonfly Olsen, and Sandi Benelli!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sitting in San Francisco

My real life self is in San Francisco at the moment. I've got some time to kill... it's too early to head to the airport (my flight's not for another three hours) and too late to do anything else. So, I thought I'd drop a blog in for my faithful followers. Do I have followers? I don't know. It's lonely in here. Hello? Hello?

Anyway, I'm in the lobby of the Hilton Union Square, her on O'Farrell Street, in the heart of downtown. I was here in the City for the past few days, attending a trade show for my silly industry of professional audio. I really do love San Francisco, but like most great cities of the world, it's a lot easier to appreciate when you're with someone. This being a business trip, I was traveling alone, and while I like myself well enough, it's quite possible to get sick of yourself as it is with any other person who you've spent way too much time with. So, myself and I are anxious to get back to LA, where we can have other people to talk to.

More on topic for this blog, I have my weekly show at Crystal Sands tomorrow, and it's a strange world where performing in a virtual world has become my definition of "normal". But it's true. I am definitely looking forward to getting back home, and playing some guitar for my avatar fans tomorrow evening.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Coyote on peyote (09.27.08)

Just kidding I wasn't on peyote or any other mind-altering substance while performing at my and Kat's club today. It felt that way from time to time, due to a combination of a minor head injury before my shoe and foggy weather throughout the day. But despite a smallish crowd, it was a good time and I'm glad we scheduled the show!

My set list, chosen by Kat!

Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie)
Wonderwall (Oasis)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
A Man Needs a Maid (Neil Young)
The Man Who Sold The World (David Bowie)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
Any Major Dude (Steely Dan)
Drive (Incubus)
Day After Day (Badfinger)
Coyote (Joni Mitchell)
Just Like This Train (Joni Mitchell)

Thanks to the terrific folks who came by and supported my show!
Eric Coiffard, Triana Caldera, mikial Bazno, nowayout4u Loon, and my darling Kat Claxton.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Come hang at our place! Zak at Coyote (Sat 9.27)

Hey, if you're in world Saturday at noon, drop into my and Kat's place. I'm going to play a show there... something I tend to do only a few times a year. Should be fun! Come one, come all. :)

Map to show

SL Event Listing

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Homecoming: Crystal Sands (09.22.08)

A wise man once said, "It's good to be back," and he was right; it is a good feeling to return to a place you've missed. Over the last year, I've spent nearly every Monday evening doing my show at Crystal Sands. In terms of music performance, it's definitely become my home base in SL. After my show there on August 25, I knew I'd be missing the following week due to my RL move to a new home, as well as Labor Day. I thought I'd be back there on 9/8, but my former ISP (EarthLink) let me down in a big way. By the time I decided to abandon them and move over to Verizon FiOS, it was still another week before I could get scheduled for installation, which killed my 9/15 show there as well.

So, by the time I got onstage there on Monday 9/22, it had been three weeks, which is the longest I've been away from Crystal Sands since I started playing in SL. I really missed it! To commemorate my return, I pulled out three songs I'd never done before in SL, including a couple I learned just for the occasion. As usual at Crystal Sands, it was a fun show, with a fun crowd. Now all we need to do is get Kat's Internet connection rocking, and life will be perfect!

One musical note (ha ha! sorry)... not that this was planned, but with the song selection and the mood I was in, this was a very countryfied show! If you'd told me I would have anything to do with country music awhile ago, I'd have laughed in your face. You never know what kind of music will float your boat at any given time, but this is what came together yesterday, and it worked out fine. Yee haw!

Song Sample:"Love Hurts" (Everly Brothers)

The Set List:

*Crazy Little Thing Called Love (Queen)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
The Weight (The Band)
For the Turnstiles (Neil Young)
*Love Hurts (The Everly Brothers)
Triana (Zak Claxton)
Court & Spark (Joni Mitchell)
Summer Breeze (Seals & Crofts)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
*Man of Constant Sorrow (Traditional)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (neil Young)
Tribute (Tenacious D)

*Indicates the first time I've performed this song in SL

Thanks to all the cool people who helped support my show!
Elizabeth Antonelli, EvaMoon Ember, Triana Caldera, Rykk Ferraris, Robie Bloch, and the lovely Sandi Benelli!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Triumphant return to SL: Stonehenge (09.20.08)


I really did not think I was going to make it back to SL and play a show until Monday, when I'll be at Crystal Sands. However, my FiOS installer did a good job and everything was up and running about an hour before I was scheduled to play at Stonehenge. So, after a quick test to make sure my stuff was actually working, I played my first SL show in three weeks! Whew, feels great to be back.

So, as your probably know if you've read earlier blogs here, I've just moved to a new home and this was my first SL show form the new place. Another cool thing about today's show: my darling Kat has just made her move down to my hometown, and she was able to sit here in the room with me while I played my show, something she's only done once before. So I was having a great time, and I think my crowd at Stonehenge enjoyed it as well.

Song Sample: "Falling Down" (Zak Claxton)

The Set List:

California (Joni Mitchell)
Drive (Incubus)
Wonderwall (Oasis)
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
Nobody Home (Pink Floyd)
Old Man (Neil Young)
Stonehenge (Spinal Tap)
While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Beatles)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Help me (Joni Mitchell)
Rikki Don't Lose That Number (Steely Dan)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
Behind Blue Eyes (The Who)

Thanks to the following folks who helped support my show!
Sandy Beachey, Sally Silvera, Doubledown Tandino, Flowerdew Zagoskin, Elphaba Broome, and most of all Lyn Carlberg and Tessira Soderstrom!