Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I'm Back

Hello. Did you miss me? If you're like most people, you didn't realize I was gone, but that's okay. I didn't miss me much either.

Every year for the past 21 years (yes, since 1993), I've spent four days in January working at the West Coast's largest trade convention, the NAMM Show. It's a gathering for all the people in the musical instrument and professional audio industries, which is where I've earned my living for my entire professional career so far. My job is most simply described as a "marketing guy". For my various clients, I write and distribute press releases, make print ads and online banner campaigns, create web sites, make all manner of content, administer sales software, design graphics, and all that kind of stuff. At the show itself, I often act as a spokesperson for the companies I represent, and assist them in the efforts to get the media to pay attention to their products and their message.

It's much more than four days in January; it's actually months of preparation, and the period of 5-6 weeks leading into the NAMM Show is my busiest time of year by far. Also, just because the show is over now doesn't mean the insanity ends right away; people like me have tons of follow-up to make sure the efforts spent at the show were worthwhile. So while I can't exactly relax and bask in the fruits of my labor, it is a huge relief that the show itself is done, and I can start to refocus my energies on things that are a little more personally fulfilling, like my music.

Here are some silly pics I took of myself (except the second to last one, which was taken by the amazing Ken Lee), often looking every bit as frazzled as I feel throughout a trade show. I'd put in some captions, but they'd all be pretty damn similar (except for the last one, when I've wrapped up the show and have stopped at Denny's on my way home with my lovely Kat, where I look genuinely more relaxed).

Friday, January 17, 2014

Crystal Gardens City (01.16.14)

Do you have the time to listen to me whine?

Well, I'm going to regardless. I'm getting ready for a huge business event (yeah, the NAMM Show, which most musicians understand is a Big Thing), and I've literally been working 16-hour days for weeks on end. So, I have an excuse as to why my brain seemed to take a little vacation during my show last night at Crystal Gardens City.

Don't get me wrong; it was an entirely fun show, and though our crowd was small, they made up for it in the cool factor. One particular moment that I'd like to document was my haunted harmonica. Here's what happened: I'd played my harmonica while warming up, and all was well. However, while practicing, I decided to try out a different harmonica on another song than the one I ended up doing. Fast forward to me a little while later, playing the opening of Neil Young's "Heart of Gold". You guessed it; I'd left the wrong harp in the holder, and boy, was that a weird moment when I began playing and every note that came out was wrong in a big way. I almost never, ever stop a song once I start, but I put the brakes on that shit so fast that my metaphorical tires were smoking.

Anyway, that, along with some moments of forgetting my own lyrics and then laughing through half a song, made it a memorable night, and a good way to wrap up my shows before my annual business-forced hiatus. I'll be back performing in SL on January 30, once again at Crystal Gardens. We'll see if I can do 13 songs without losing my shit next time.

Some of my most fun shows aren't necessarily my most musically impressive ones. Photo and top photo by Kat.

Crystal Gardens set list...
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
*I Feel The Earth Move (Carole King)
Norwegian Wood (Beatles)
Birds (Neil Young)
Heart of Gold (Neil Young)
Pulling Mussels from a Shell (Squeeze)
Behind Blue Eyes (The Who)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Fade Away (Zak Claxton)
De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da (The Police)
After the Goldrush (Neil Young)
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
Tea for the Tillerman (Cat Stevens)

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

Many thans to all who supported my show. You rule!
Scarlette Vendetta, TheaDee, Triana Caldera, Cicadetta Stillwater, Aurelie Chenaux, Kiki Szetey, Kat Claxton, and Crystal Gardens owners Sandi and Mikal Beaumont!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Molaskey's Pub (01.09.14)

I gotta get used to writing "14" on the dates of things. C'mon, it's been almost a week and a half. A little understanding of my discombobulation might be in order here; it's my very busiest time of year in my job... the job that doesn't entail strumming a guitar and singing at people. As I've written about many times in the past, my actual career is doing marketing communications for the musical instrument and professional audio industries, and we're less than two weeks out from the biggest event of the year, something called the NAMM Show. Therefore, and I'm not exaggerating, I haven't had a complete day off work since New Year's Day, and put in 15-16 hour workdays this entire week.

As I mentioned at the start of my show last night at Molaskey's Pub, it was therefore a great feeling to finally get away from my work duties for a short while, and pick up the guitar (which I hadn't touched since the weekend... a long time for me) to play some live music for a crowd of cool people. This show was at the ice rink area of Molaskey's, where I've performed every year since they first put it up, perhaps in 2008 (I could check the archives of this very blog to confirm, but I'm still in busy mode at the moment). It was a fun show; good crowd, and both my guitar and voice were mostly cooperating. I certainly felt better afterwards than I did beforehand! Hopefully the folks listening/watching did as well.

People slip and slide on Molaskey's ice while I slither through a bunch of tunes. Photo and top photo by Kat.

Molaskey's Pub Ice Rink set list...
Pigs on the Wing -- Parts I & II (Pink Floyd)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Free Man in Paris (Joni Mitchell)
Learning to Fly (Pink Floyd)
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
Mad World (Tears for Fears)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Eleanor Rigby (Beatles)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd)
Into the Mystic (Van Morrison)
Things Behind the Sun (Nick Drake)
Tea for the Tillerman (Cat Stavens)

Massive thanks to all who supported my show!
KevinMThomas Carpool, Leyah Renegade, Sassy Nitely, Precious Rallier, Maurice Mistwallow, Kat Claxton, Aurelie Chenaux, Joonie Jatho, Triana Caldera, Cicadetta Stillwater, BlurryLines, my great manager Maali Beck, and Molaskey's GM Mia Kitchensink!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Key West (01.03.14)

On Friday afternoon, I was having a typical kind of day, doing some work and be-bopping around various social networks (which, I should add, is also part of my work). I knew that later in the day, I'd be performing at the completely redesigned Key West in Second Life. However, I didn't know any other details until Liz Harley put up a Facebook post about the evening's lineup. I was starting the night off at 5PM, but next up were Max Kleene, Bat Masters, and Voodoo Shilton. In addition to being friends, those guys are among the most respected performers in SL, and all of a sudden I knew that it was going to be a really special night of live music.

Before I say anything else, I want to say that the new Key West looks fucking amazing. I mean, I've seen plenty of great SL builds, but the vast improvement over the former marina is jaw dropping, even though the old place was just fine. The textures, the lighting, the overall vibe is incredible. Hats off to Liz and the designers/builders with whom she worked to create the new place, because it's probably the most impressive-looking live venue I've seen to date.

How's this for great scenery while you experience live music? Photo and top photo by Kat.

As usual at Key West, we had a pretty good crowd right from the get-go. Photo by Kat.

The entire vibe of the new Key West is fantastic. Photo by Kat.

Plenty of space for seating or dancing, but not so huge that everything is spaced too far apart. Love it. Photo by Kat.

A view from the top, through the trellis over the stage. Photo by Kat.

I usually don't post shots of me, but I do seem to be enjoying myself here. Photo by Kat.

The show was fantastic. Despite being on at the 5PM time slot (notoriously packed with shows, and therefore sometimes difficult to draw a good-sized crowd), in typical Key West fashion my show pulled in a really good-sized audience almost from the start. Then, when Max's crowd began filling the place during the last half of my set, it felt great to be doing tunes for close to 50 folks on a Friday evening. All in all, it really couldn't have gone better.

Key West set list...
All I Want (Joni Mitchell)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
Frigid Spring (Chairlift)
Swing Lo Magellan (Dirty Projectors)
Ashes to Ashes (David Bowie)
Northern Sky (Nick Drake)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
*Birds (Neil Young)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
*The Humans Are Dead (Flight of the Conchords)
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
How Soon Is Now? (The Smiths)
Carolina In My Mind (James Taylor)
Tea for the Tillerman (Cat Stevens)

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

Congrats to Liz Harley on the fantastic new Key West build, and thanks to everyone who helped support my show!
Solange Cliassi, Maximillion Kleene, Lyn Carlberg, Vante Cascarino, TheaDee, aramanca, Alexis Fairlady, NeCole Chiantelle, Clem Yates, Rusty Seisenbacher, Aurelie Chenaux, Kat Claxton, Soulsykk Summers, Richy Nervous, Diana Renoir, my wonderful manager Maali Beck, and Key West owner Liz Harley!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Crystal Gardens City (01.02.14)

For my very first show of 2014, it didn't seem like the gods of technology were going to be smiling on me for the new year. I was seeing lots of reports on Facebook about people not being able to get into Second Life, or having it function properly for those who did make it in. Lovely! But as anyone who knows me is fully aware, I do not let that stuff bother me in the slightest. Granted, I'd prefer that Second Life work all the time, but no one who's been there for seven-plus years as I have has any reasonable expectation of top-notch performance from SL. It's life, or at least Second Life; sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad, and it's less often in your control as you'd like to believe.

My view from the new stage at Crystal Gardens City. Photo and top photo by Kat.

Anyway, the show at Crystal Gardens City turned out just fine. Great, in fact. I couldn't rez things or make my guitar animation work properly, but no one seemed to give a shit (least of all me). I didn't have any other musical support for my show either, but despite all the reasons it should have bombed, we ended up with a nice crowd and people seemed to be having a really good time (as was I). I performed on a new stage that Sandi, Mikal, and Rina had just put up, and the overall vibe was very cool. I have to say, I really find that I enjoy performing there every time. The look and feel of a virtual venue shouldn't impact my performance at all, but I swear, it really does. That sounds crazy to folks outside of SL, but that's really how it is.

Crystal Gardens City set list...

On A Plain (Nirvana)
Is She Really Going Out with Him (Joe Jackson)
Go Easy on Me (Zak Claxton)
Things Under Trees (They Stole My Crayon)
What I've Got (Sublime)
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
Mexican Radio (Wall of Voodoo)
Every Breath You Take (The Police)
Lost Cause (Beck)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
Shock the Monkey (Peter Gabriel)
A Case of You (Joni Mitchell)
Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (Neil Young)

Big thanks to all who somehow made it into SL and helped support my show!
Triana Caldera, Marina Sharpshire, Richy Nervous, Cicadetta Stillwater, Aurelie Chenaux, Rina Miles, Diana Renoir, Kat Claxton, Allegra Genira, my great manager Maali Beck, and Crystal Gardens owners Sandi and Mikal Beaumont!