Friday, November 22, 2013

Crystal Gardens City (11.21.13)

As many seem to point out around this time of year in every single year that ever was, it's amazing to me that we're nearing the end of 2013. While it's been a good enough year for me, with its usual share of ups and downs, triumphs and tragedies, successes and failures, there's a quote from the Ghost of Christmas Present in "Scrooge" (the musical adaptation of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol") that I tend to dwell on near the end of November:

"There is never enough time to do or say all the things that we would wish. The thing is to try to do as much as you can in the time that you have. Remember Scrooge, time is short, and suddenly, you're not here any more."

So, that's what I do. I'd wanted to have two new albums out in 2013 (a new solo album and the debut of my band They Stole My Crayon); instead, I'm hoping that both might happen in 2014. I'd wanted to grow my RL business this year, but instead found myself so busy with my current clients that it became pretty much impossible. And still, I feel like I made the best of 2013 in many ways. Or at least, as the Ghost said, I did what I could in the time that I had. I took a couple of trips to the desert with Kat. I wrote a number of pretty good songs. I saw some cool concerts. I spent plenty of time being a dad, and doing good work for my little company. And, of course, I performed dozens and dozens of live shows in Second Life, as I've done every year since 2006, which brings us around to the actual point of this post: my show last night at Crystal Gardens City.

How awesome is this SL build? Photo and top photo by Kat.

I've actually performed in RL places that somewhat resembled Crystal Gardens City. Photo by Kat.

Seriously, this place is outstanding. I love this vibe. Photo by Kat.

This SL venue is run by my old friend Sandi Beaumont (aka Sandi Benelli), who has hired me at a number of places she's operated going back to 2007 (a really long time in SL terms). Along with her husband Mikal and others, they really do a great job in creating cool environments that go beyond what many places in Second Life do for live music facilities. Crystal Gardens City is a relatively new build, and this was the second time I played there. I really want to go back and do some exploring when I'm not busy singing and playing music for people. It's got this great urban vibe that for some reason I enjoy a lot. Perhaps it's specifically because so many SL places are idealized utopias, it's cool to see a dirty, grungy place that has some feel to it, and therefore stands out from the rest. My compliments to the designers!

The show itself was great. As happens so often at SL shows, there were only a few people there moments before the show, and by the end of my first song we had a couple of dozen folks in the crowd. Moreover, we had a great crew of Zaksters, and it was fun and lively. Having heard Johnny Marr perform The Smiths' "How Soon Is Now" on KCRW this week, I was inspired to give it a shot. I should also add that this regular show I do there every other Thursday has FrankLee Anatra playing after me each time, and I honestly think he's got one of the best singing voices in all of SL. You can easily tell the musicians who have lots of real life performance hours under their belts, and I'm sure that must be the case with FrankLee. While our material differs a bit (he's generally more traditional pop/rock covers while I lean more toward alternative/art rock and original stuff), it's been a really good combination of talent with many of my fans sticking around for his shows. I like that.

Robert69 Little came by with his video camera and captured my first tune of the night. Thanks Robert!

Crystal Gardens City set list...
1979 (Smashing Pumpkins)
Suite Judy Blue Eyes (Crosby, Stills & Nash)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
On A Plain (Nirvana)
*How Soon Is Now? (The Smiths)
Perfect Day (Lou Reed)
Shine (Zak Claxton)
Save It for Later (English Beat)
Fire & Rain (James Taylor)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie)
Tea for the Tillerman (Cat Stevens)

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

Big thanks to everyone who hit the city and supported my show at Crystal Gardens!
Linnmey, JBird Melodie, Winter Thorn, Aurelie Chenaux, Mankind Tracer, Diana Renoir, Allegra Genira, TheaDee, Kat Claxton, Demolicious Wonder, Alexis Fairlady, Christine Haiku, Rina Miles, Diana Renoir, Sesh Kamachi, and most of all owners Sandi and Mikal Beaumont!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Molaskey's Pub (11.14.13)

As an SL performer, I consider myself very fortunate to not have to deal with many of the things that plague gigging musicians in the fleshy world -- things I dealt with for years as a gigging musician. However, that doesn't mean it's always a walk in the park. Thursday of last week is a great example. I had to leave here early in the morning and drive two hours across Los Angeles to meet with a client of my RL marketing business. I wasn't feeling that great physically, and apparently neither was my son; he came home from school early with the blahs (a minor cold). I also had work deadlines up the ying-yang. And then, before I knew it, it was time for me to get onstage at Molaskey's Pub.

The point is that every musician I've ever known has a ton of things that suck their attention away from their performance, and the good ones have to be able to ignore those issues while they're onstage. It's an acquired skill, and for me it comes along with about 30 years of live music performances under my belt, going back to when I was just a little kid. By now, there's like a switch in my brain that clicks away from "work deadlines parenting traffic spreadsheets meetings" to "guitar tuned stream on mics working" in a millisecond. And that's why Thursday's show at Molaskey's ended up being a great way to decompress after a long day.

Enjoying a fun and relaxed show at Molaskey's. Photo and top photo by Kat.

We didn't have a huge crowd, but we had a good smattering of my Zakster fans in attendance, and I enjoyed being sandwiched between a couple of good SL performers -- Bright Oh and Lyndon Heart. Most importantly, the music went well and was enjoyed by those who were there. I ask for nothing more! I did enjoy doing the debut of a tune by my band They Stole My Crayon, though in the future I hope to have the actual lyricist and singer, Kat Claxton, ready to do the song live along with me.

I've Been Waiting for You (Neil Young)
This Afternoon (Zak Claton)
Man on the Moon (R.E.M.)
Man of Constant Sorrow (Traditional)
Swing Lo Magellan (Dirty Projectors)
*Better Reasons (They Stole My Crayon)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Leggy Blonde (Flight of the Conchords)
I Am The Walrus (Beatles)
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
Starman (David Bowie)
Go Easy On Me (Zak Claxton)
Tea for the Tillerman (Cat Stevens)

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

Many thanks to those who helped support my show!
Bright Oh, Kat Claxton, Aurelie Chenaux, TheaDee, Cicadetta Stillwater, Precious Rallier, My manager Maali Beck, and Molaskey's GM Mia Kitchensink!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Crystal Gardens City (11.07.13)

I have a list of things that I always do previous to my live music shows in Second Life. Some of those things are obvious, like tuning my guitar, warming up my voice, and making sure that my broadcasting software is functioning. But there are other details that help ensure a smooth evening of music. One of those is taking a look at the official event notice in SL, and confirming that the time/place of the show is when and where you think it's going to be. Something as simple as that can obviously make a big impact on the success of your show.

I knew I was scheduled to perform at Crystal Gardens for some time; I am now doing a regular bi-weekly show there every other Thursday night. However, what I didn't know until a couple of days before the show was that Mikal and Sandi (the owners of this fine establishment) had installed an entirely different area on the sim with an urban theme. In doing my usual round of checking the event listing, I noted that the show was scheduled at Crystal Gardens City, and decided to check it out. I'm glad I did! The place looked awesome... dirty, gritty, and at least slightly unsafe, which is precisely how I like to think of my performances.

The new urban-themed venue looks gritty and fun. Photo and top photo by Kat.

Kat watches me rock. Photo by Kat.

I was constantly reminding my audiences to not get stabbed or shot (kind of like a few of my real life gigs). Photo by Kat.

How cool is this build? Loved playing there. Photo by Kat.

It turned out to be a pretty fantastic night. Everyone seemed to dig the urban vibe of the venue. Since it was Joni Mitchell's 70th birthday, I dedicated a portion of the set to her songs, including one that I hadn't done before (and decided to learn about an hour before the show started). All four of the Joni tunes I did were from her album Blue, and it was good to do some homage to one of my biggest musical influences. We had a really good crowd... a big bunch of lively people who were able to shoot back my smart-assed craziness as fast as I could dole it out.

Crystal Gardens City set list...
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
Carolina In my Mind (James Taylor)
Carey (Joni Mitchell)
California (Joni Mitchell)
*All I Want (Joni Mitchell)
Big Yellow Taxi (Joni Mitchell)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
It's Good to be King (Tom Petty)
Let My Love Open the Door (Pete Townshend)
Lost Cause (Beck)
Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd)
Things Behind the Sun (Nick Drake)
Waterloo Sunset (The Kinks)
Tea for the Tillerman (Cat Stevens)

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

Thanks to all who came out to the City and supported my show!
Diana Renoir, Sesh Kamachi, Christine Haiku, Maurice Mistwallow, Sassy Nitely, Kat Claxton, Rina Miles, Cicadetta Stillwater, Alexis Fairlady, Aurelie Chenaux, Xerxes Ninetails, my manager Maali Beck, and Crystal Gardens owners Sandi and Mikal Beaumont!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Diamond Skies (11.01.13)

Happy November, everyone. I'm getting up on Sunday with daylight savings time having thankfully ended, and lazily enjoying the hour that was taken away last spring having been magically returned to me. It seems like a good time to talk about my show Friday night at the grand opening of Diamond Skies in Second Life.

With openings of new venues, you never know what's in store as a performer. It's basically impossible to tell how it will go. Will they be able to pull in a good crowd? Is the venue designed well for live music performance? In the case of Diamond Skies, everything went very well. I arrived while Samm Qendra was serenading the audience, and wasn't sure if my particular style of live rock was going to be received well, but I needn't have worried. First, we got an excellent turnout of my Zakster friends who know what to expect from my insane brain. Second, the folks who were there and the owners of the new establishment (Marina Sharpshire and Hollywood Roar) both seemed to be having as good a time as anyone. All was well.

Fun place, fun people. I ask for nothing else. Photo and top photo by Kat.

You can never tell how Friday nights in SL will go. This one was most excellent. Photo by Kat.

Had a giggle-inspiring moment due to a typo when the venue was kindly helping to promote my tip jar...

[19:28] Kat Claxton: Yep, totally working. All buttons. ;-)
[19:28] Kat Claxton giggles at 'bnuttons'
[19:29] Kat Claxton: it sounds naughty
[19:29] Marina Sharpshire: bnuttons?! its a new thing...Zak said he likes new things
[19:29] Kat Claxton: That's true
[19:29] Kat Claxton: If you love someone, push their bnuttons
[19:29] Christine Haiku: lol
[19:29] Hollywood Roar: lol
[19:30] Kat Claxton: lmao

So that was fun. The whole show was, actually. I'd say that as long as Diamond Skies is successful as a Second Life destination (and I wish them the best in that regard), it's highly likely I'll be back there again with all of my bnuttons.

Diamond Skies set list...
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
What I Got (Sublime)
Free Man In Paris (Joni Mitchell)
*Mexican Radio (Wall of Voodoo)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
Perfect Day (Lou Reed)
Pulling Mussels from a Shell (Squeeze)
*Lost Cause (Beck)
Save Me (Aimee Mann)
Frigid Spring (Chairlift)
Sex & Candy (Marcy Playground)
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)

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

Massive thanks to everyone who came to Diamond Skies' grand opening, especially the following who supported my show!
NeCole Chiantelle, autumnleather, Maurice Mistwallow, Robin Kierstrider, Vannilla Latte, IanChaos, Rusty Seisenbacher, Christine Haiku, Richy Nervous, Alexis Fairlady, Benjalina, Kat Claxton, Pfritz Balogh, Carina Stardust, Diana Renoir, kat Vargas (who also suggested me to perform there, which is very cool), and Diamond Skies owners Marina Sharpshire and Hollywood Roar!