Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Islands of New England (03.14.16)

The Islands of New England: always a great place for live music in Second Life. Photo by Kat.

It's early on Thursday morning, and since the archaic and useless Daylight Savings Time kicked in this week, it's still pitch black dark outside as I begin writing this at quarter to seven. Usually I would be spending this quiet time in the early AM looking at the news and browsing through Facebook to see what my pals have been up to, but frankly both of those activities have lost their appeal during this insane political era. I find myself using classic avoidance techniques so I don't walk around being angry and/or depressed throughout the day. The news will inevitably catch up to me at some point; I'm not spending life with my head stuck in the sand like the proverbial ostrich. But I also don't go out of my way to start my day with the latest horrifying news from the campaign trail. Frankly, no one should; if you haven't made up your mind as to which candidate most interests (or least disgusts) you at this stage, I can't imagine how you'll make a choice between now and November. All that's happening now is stuff that tears apart friendships and families. I honestly want no part of it. Life is too short to be filled with hate.

Anyway, I'm not here to talk about that. Let's go with something positive instead: my show last night at The Islands of New England in Second Life. As I've mentioned before, I'm performing less and less in Second Life these days, a choice that's both purposeful (due to my limited time) and dictated by the comparative lack of venues who are capable of compensating artists for their time and effort. Is this a bad thing? Perhaps, for some performers and audience members in the SL music scene. All it does for me is makes me focus a lot harder on making sure each show is as good as it can be. I'll put it this way: I had a much higher percentage of crappy shows -- shows where I found I didn't focus well, didn't perform to the best of my abilities, or played at places where my style of performance would never be appreciated -- back when I was playing 4-5 shows each week. Playing a few times per month allows me to make each show a special event, and I treat it as such.

I cover everything from Motörhead to Mr. Rogers, and yet people keep coming back to my shows. Photo by Kat.

Last night at The Islands of New England was a good example. My set list included three songs I'd never done before. We had a really great crowd. And, perhaps most important for my fragile artist's ego, every single person there seemed to truly appreciate what I was doing. They got it. The dessert of this cake was being followed by a guy who is without a doubt one of the most impressive talents in the SL music scene... Jon Larson, aka Mulder Watts. I've had several occasions where I've performed before or after this guy, and I can tell you that he'd be impressive in any musical setting. I rarely am able to hang out for long after my shows, but I stayed for most of Jon's set.

Mr. Rogers and Officer Clemmons
No, I didn't forget what blog I was writing. I wanted to share a little story that pertains to a song I did last night. NPR airs a short segment each Friday morning called "StoryCorps". It's a fascinating collection of stories told by people from all walks of life. Some are admittedly depressing, and some are inspiring. All are interesting. On Friday March 10, as I was driving my son to school, we listened to the following story told by François Clemmons, the singer and actor who used to appear on "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" in the role of Officer Clemmons. Listen to his short tale below.

I've long been of the opinion that Fred Rogers may be the best human that ever existed, and certainly so within my lifetime. When I heard about François Clemmons' story, it reminded me that of all the wonderful music that came from that show, I'd never paid homage to any of it, and I decided that doing the song that François and Fred sang together -- "There Are Many Ways To Say I Love You" -- would be an appropriate tribute to these great people, as well as a song that diffuses all of the anger and hatred that seems so prevalent these days. I should also note that I did another new song off Martin Courtney's great album Many Moons, and finally found a song by Wilco that I felt I could do adequately.

Nowhere but Second Life would my audiences be so accepting of the variety of songs and musical styles I perform. Photo by Kat.

TIONE set list...
Bring On The Night (The Police)
Blew The Dust Away (They Stole My Crayon)
*Bull Black Nova (Wilco)
Northern Sky (Nick Drake)
*Northern Highway (Martin Courtney)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
Shame Chamber (Kurt Vile)
Appetites (Jib Kidder)
Ashes to Ashes (David Bowie)
*There Are Many Ways To Say I Love You (Mr. Rogers)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
After the Gold Rush (Neil Young)
Save It for Later (English Beat)

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

Massive thanks to all who came out to The Islands of New England for my show, especially the following who helped support it!
Trena Levee, Metal Svartur, Jenna Dirval, Bigfoot Hendrassen, ClaraMaeline Resident, Alyss Whitewood, Isabella Beltway, Sheila Morlim, Triana Caldera, Mulder Watts, Richy Nervous, Kat Claxton, Stratus Mactavish, TheaDee Resident, my excellent manager Maali Beck, New England co-host Sesh Kamachi, and (most of all) the lady who keeps New England being one of the most rocking places on the grid, Christine Haiku.

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