Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Serenity Gardens (05.07.18)

Ah, lovely Serenity Gardens. Hope the video of my show comes out good! Photo by Kat.

I got some good advice once from Neil Young.

No, he didn't tell it to me directly, though that would have been really cool. It was something he mentioned in a biography. Someone who was creating music with him -- it might have been Nils Lofgren, but I can't remember for certain -- mentioned that he'd be feeling good and playing well, but as soon as they little red light went on that indicted he was recording, he would freeze up. Neil's answer was simple. He said to record all the time. Literally, record everything. After awhile, the red light would be meaningless. It was said that when Neil was working with Crazy Horse, they recorded so much that they never even knew for certain when they were making an album. They'd play and play and play, and at some point Neil would tell them they'd finished a record, and they'd be like, "Really? What's on it?"

In one small aspect, that same process is true of each of my Second Life live music shows. Some of you don't know this, but my broadcasting software has an option to archive the show, and every single show does get automatically recorded. Side note: I really never listen to those recordings, and usually end up trashing them from time to time after seeing that I have gigabyte after gigabyte of audio files piling up on my computer. But they are there, and if I did something I thought was noteworthy, I could go back and check it out and/or share it with people. In any case, I never think about or worry about being recorded; I'm always being recorded, so it doesn't matter to me at all.

So when you smile for the camera, I know they're going to love you. Photo by Kat.

Why am I talking about this, you ask? Well, a few days before my show last night at Serenity Gardens, owner Ilsa Flannigan sent me a message to ask my permission to be filmed for my next performance at her lovely venue. She said that she'd hired Sher Salmson, another SL person with whom I'm acquainted, to film some of the artists who played at Serenity Gardens, and wanted to be sure I was okay with that. It was nice of her to ask; most of them time I've been filmed or otherwise recorded in SL, I'm not aware of it until after the fact. It's never been a problem for me, but I can definitely see how in some cases, it might be for other artists for any of several valid reasons.

Anyway, I told Ilsa that it would be fine. There was a moment, while I was just arriving at the venue and getting set up, that I remembered I'd be being filmed, and wondered if I needed to do anything different to better accommodate the virtual "camera" that would be on me. I immediately quashed that thought; my reason for being there was to make good music for the audience who had come to the show. Anything beyond that was someone else's challenge, and I decided to trust that they'd be able to do what they were doing and capture my show without my having to modify anything. I hope it comes out good, and I'm looking forward to seeing Sher's video work whenever it gets done.

This Is America
Sorry to randomly shift gears on you, but on Saturday night, a new video was released by Childish Gambino, which is the musical name of the incredibly talented actor/writer/director Donald Glover. Normally, I wouldn't be super interested in a new hip hop video, or any music video for that matter. But I was astounded by the deeply profound imagery and messaging in this video, which was directed by Hiro Murai, who is almost certainly the best music video creator in the world today. He did "Never Catch Me" by Flying Lotus and "Smooth Sailing" by Queens of the Stone Age, two of my favorite music vids from this century. "This is America" might be his crowning achievement, though.

Over the past couple of days, many people have detailed their interpretations of the video and the song. I won't rehash their analysis, but I will urge you to watch it closely, and especially to keep your eye on what's happening in the background. Amazing.

Don't Eat Yourself
One other inconsequential note about the show. As I mentioned while performing, on Sunday night I was eating an ice cream bar, and I managed to do something I hadn't done in awhile, thankfully; I sank my tooth right into my own lip as I ravenously consumed the tasty treat, deep enough that I had to staunch the bleeding with a napkin. As a result, the entire time I was singing, I was scraping that same tooth over that same injured area of my mouth. Good times! Let it be said that like all good artists, I suffer for my art. That shit still hurts today. I will live.

Oh, and a final note. As I mention frequently, I try as often as possible to bring in new songs to my set ("new" as in songs I've never done before; they can be from any time period). Last night, I did a rather deep underground alternative rock song by a band that few would be aware of... "Big Deal Party" by Jackal Onasis. It's not a song that most people would try on solo acoustic guitar and vocals, and -- not wanting to change the key, which works well for the tune -- I had to sing it in the register of the original female performer. I'd originally planned on trying out the song last fall, but it happened to be right around when my father passed away and I wasn't up for it then, so I put it aside at the time. I'm glad I brought it back out and gave it a shot. I should mention that one completely awesome thing about doing the music of indie artists is the relative ease in which one can make personal contact with them. I had some difficulty determining the lyrics of "Big Deal Party", so I reached out to Jackal Onasis singer/drummer Jordyn Blakely, and she filled me in on the proper words, which was totally cool of her. You can hear the original version here on their Bandcamp page.

Another great show at Serenity. It's become one of my favorite places to perform in all of SL. Photo by Kat.

Serenity Gardens set list...
Northern Sky (Nick Drake)
Blew the Dust Away (They Stole My Crayon)
The Crystal Ship (The Doors)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Desire Lines (Deerhunter)
*Big Deal Party (Jackal Onasis)
Bull Black Nova (Wilco)
Carolina In My Mind (James Taylor)
Call Me Al (Paul Simon)
Any Major Dude (Steely Dan)
#9 Dream (John Lennon)
Half Moon Bay (Sun Kil Moon)

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

I send my huge thanks to everyone who came to the show at Serenity Gardens last night, with super special thanks to the following people who helped support it!
Idesine Habilis, AaronCabottJones Resident, Helios Seetan, Sher Salmson, Aurelie Chenaux, Sesh Kamachi, sedonajane Silverpath, Asimia Heron, Kat Claxton, TheaDee Resident, my great manager Maali Beck, and the fabulous team at Serenity Gardens, Tilly Rose and Ilsa Wilde.

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