Monday, December 14, 2015

A Benefit for Brandy (12.13.15)

One of the best aspects of the SL music scene is how willing we are to help out one of our own when needed. Photo by Kat.

One of the downsides of not having as much time as I'd like to perform in Second Life is the relative lack of blog posts I've been doing as a result. Instead of just telling you about yesterday's successful fundraising show for my friend Brandy Maltas, I should probably fill you in on some other goings on.

1. It's The Most Stressful Time Of The Year
I suppose most people get stressed out around the holidays for reasons that are different than mine. As I'm sure I've mentioned plenty of times before, I work in the musical instrument and professional audio industry, and our biggest event of the year is called the NAMM Show. It's every January, and for people like me, it requires a whole lot of work to prepare for. It's almost laughable how much I have to work in November, December, and early January to make sure my clients are prepared for the show. Like, 14-hour workdays are very normal. If you're in my industry and looking for sympathy about being insane in December, you're in the wrong place.

2. And The Band Played On
Time and tide, they say, wait for no man. Well, neither does music. It keeps going on whether you choose to remain involved or not. In that regard, my band They Stole My Crayon has a few things happening. Our music is being mixed by our Canadian godlike engineer Spencer Crewe. Meanwhile, last week, we started on a cover recording of a song by Eagles of Death Metal. No, we're usually not a cover band, but this is for a good reason. EODM requested for people to cover their song "I Love You All The Time" so that any sales of the cover could go toward the victims of the Paris terrorist attacks. You might already be aware that EODM was onstage at the Bataclan when the horrible event happened. Anyway, in true Crayon fashion, we weren't about to do a faithful rendition of their original tune. It started with Bunny analyzing the song and turning it into a slower, minor key version. After that, I went to town on an arrangement of the song which came out about a million times better than I would have expected. We're still making additions and tweaks, but by the end of next weekend, we'd like to have it wrapped up. More to come on this topic.

3. Down With The Sickness
It's been a rough couple of weeks among those near and dear to me. Kat had been dealing with a very bad tooth for quite some time, and finally went to get it checked out... way too late to save the tooth. So, she had to have it pulled, which is never fun. Immediately thereafter, she came down with the same cold that seems like 85% of Los Angeles has had recently. And then, it being the season of giving, she gave it to my son and I. There's nothing more lovely than working from 7AM to 11PM for days on end while not being able to breathe and generally feeling like shit. Anyway, the cold is on its way out, but in the meantime, I have that terrible leftover cough. Up until Sunday morning, in fact, I wasn't at all sure I'd be able to perform for the benefit show that had been scheduled for that afternoon. And that brings us to...

A Benefit for Brandy
Brandy Maltas -- also known as Kalli Birman in SL -- is a cool lady. I didn't know her very well until around 2010, when the San Diego SL Jam was being put together. At the time, she was managing a popular SL performer, and I had concerns that the jam was going to become some showcase for that artist, which was not something I was interested in attending. I actually called her at the time and we spoke, and I found that she seemed like a very straightforward and honest person... something I always appreciate. She reassured me that my fears were unfounded, and the Jam -- the first I attended -- turned out to be really fun. Since that time, we've gotten to know each other better, and I think it's safe to say that our respect for each other goes both ways. I'm a no-bullshit kinda guy myself, after all.

It bummed me out when I first found out that Brandy had been diagnosed with cancer. She's a single mom and doesn't have all the resources that some other folks might have in that dire situation. But I was extremely happy and relieved to find out that after her various radiation and chemo and surgical treatments, her cancer seemed to be in remission. Then, not very long ago, she got the news that no one wants: her cancer had spread to other parts of her body. Without going into detail, it's a serious situation, and I was wanting to try and do something to help her. When I found out that her friend Ayesha Lytton was arranging a series of benefit shows to help her out, I was ready to jump in immediately.

A very pretty location for the show, courtesy of Ayesha Lytton. Photo by Kat.

Brandy with her... ferret? Photo by Kat.

We didn't get a huge crowd, but those who came were supportive and helpful to the cause. Photo by Kat.

Of course, life being what it is, I was barely able to croak a sound with my cold-ravaged voice even the day before the show. It was a legitimate concern that I wouldn't be able to sing at all, and that led me to start thinking through how I might be able to do some kind of all-instrumental show. I'm a good guitarist who could indeed pull that off if required, but SL audiences aren't generally known for appreciating live music shows without singing. But then, for whatever series of random circumstances and luck, I got up on Sunday and found that I was at least capable of getting some sounds out of my larynx. It wasn't the best singing performance I'd ever done by a long shot, but I was at least able to do a show that would work under the circumstances.

We had a decent crowd... not as big as I'd have liked, but it still served the purpose of the event, and I'm pretty sure we did pretty well in terms of raising funds for Brandy, which was the only reason we were there. So, that worked out, and I felt good that it did.

Brandy Benefit set list...
Shame Shamber (Kurt Vile)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Blew The Dust Away (They Stole My Crayon)
California (Joni Mitchell)
Cat's In The Cradle (Harry Chapin)
Friday I'm In Love (The Cure)
The Waiting Boy (Zak Claxton)
Our Lips Are Sealed (Go-Go's)
Pink Moon (Nick Drake)
Do They Know It's Christmastime? (Band Aid)
Walk On the Wild Side (Lou Reed)

Many thanks to everyone who is helping Brandy through this difficult time, especially all who came to see/hear me perform yesterday!

No comments: