Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Serenity Gardens (06.18.18)

I can't think of a better way to spend my Monday night than rocking at Serenity Gardens. Photo by Triana Caldera.

I'm sure we've all been through those time frames where everything seems to be happening at once, and it's difficult (if not impossible) to give as much attention as we'd like to each important event. That's sort of where I'm at right at the moment, and yet somehow it's okay. My son graduates from high school tomorrow, which is incredibly exciting. There is a ton of very urgent events happening in our country and around the world, and while those things don't necessarily require my personal focus, I'd be remiss without noting them. I'm simultaneously at a point of transition business-wise, taking on new clients and handling an even heavier than usual workload. And, in the midst of it all, my live music performance schedule suddenly filled up with shows at Serenity Gardens, the Second Life Music Fest at SL15B, Triana's Music Trivia, and The Islands of New England happening in little more than a week. Whew! It's actually a kind of luxury, on this overcast and quiet early Tuesday morning, to be writing this blog post. Feels like a rest stop in the midst of a marathon.

The Border Children
Yeah, I know... you're already saturated with news about the children of detained immigrants being separated from their parents at the US/Mexico border. Well, I hate to tell ya, but this isn't something that's going to go away overnight, and my concern is that the short attention span of most people and the speed of the news cycle will have this story sinking under without being resolved in any way. I won't dwell on it much here. I made a Facebook post yesterday to say that I couldn't, in good conscience, remain acquainted with any person who supported Trump's policy in this regard, and I meant it. I had three people chime in on that post to try and defend this policy, or to deflect the blame. In as much as I'd have preferred not having to do this, and I'd warned them all specifically of my intentions, all three were immediately unfriended and blocked. I have exactly zero tolerance on this matter.

Just about every news source right now is focusing on the family separation crisis at the border, and I am thankful that the story isn't being buried or ignored.

While most people would agree that I am open to listening to folks of different views and having meaningful discussions with them, there's no room in my heart for anyone who can support cruelty and inhumanity. My life can only be better with those people not being a part of it, and frankly, I don't want to even be associated in any way with any person such as that. End of story.

SL15B and Second Life Music Fest... Same Place, Same Time, Two Different (But Related) Things
I'm seeing some mild levels of confusion again this year popping up on social media about the annual Second Life birthday celebration that started a couple of days ago and runs for the next couple of weeks. I can clear it up quickly and easily.

Since its beginnings, the community of Second Life residents has celebrated the anniversary of this online 3D world each June on the anniversary of its founding in 2003. The events have included big displays of the amazing art and technology that goes into SL, along with various types of entertainment, mostly of the music variety. For most of those years, this series of events has been produced completely by the residents of SL themselves (with some assistance from Second Life's creator, Linden Lab, in the form of places to host the events and promotion), and the folks who do it put in a huge amount of effort in coordinating everything. They are an amazing team who include some terrific friends I've known for many years now... people like Diana Renoir, Doctor Gascoigne, and many others.

I believe I did my first performance at an SLxB event (the "x" being the anniversary year) in 2008, at SL5B. Since then, I've done this event many more times. It's always exciting and sometimes a little crazy, and often produces a massive crowd of people who may not ordinarily seek out live music in Second Life. Again, the majority of these shows have been fully coordinated by the residents of SL themselves.

In 2015, Linden Lab did something new, which I thought was very cool. For the first time, they got directly involved in the event by running a "Second Life Music Fest". This didn't replace the series of events that the residents continued putting on; the SL Music Fest was held on the same stages as the rest of the shows, in its own time block. Linden Lab held auditions for their Fest, which is understandable. The time slots were limited and I believe they wanted to be sure to have a variety of musical performances that reflected the diverse and international nature of Second Life as a whole. I passed their audition and performed at the first annual Music Fest.

The Second Life Music Fest is now in its fourth year, while the SL Community Celebration is in its 15th.

They've continued to do this each year since, with SL Music Fest happening concurrently with the rest of the SL15B events and performances. It's not a matter of one being better or worse than the other, I promise. I will be performing for Music Fest on Friday June 22 at 2PM -- a rare afternoon show for me -- and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to introduce a whole lot of SL residents to the vibe and sounds of a Zak Show.

To fully clarify things, here's the schedule for Second Life Music Fest, and here's the full master schedule of the SL15B community celebration. Try and see some shows!

Fun at Serenity
Last night's show at Serenity Gardens could have gone badly. Christina once again returned from a trip to Seattle with a bunch of germs that her toddler-aged nieces and nephew shared with her, and she shared them with me. She's a sharing kind of person. Anyway, I started getting a sore throat on Sunday, and for a little while, I wasn't entirely sure I'd be able to sing to the best of my ability (though I never seriously considered canceling the show; it wasn't that bad).

The crowd at Serenity Gardens seems to be having fun. Photo by Triana Caldera.

I needn't have worried. While I had a little pain going, I just drank a whole lot of cold water before and during the show, and everything worked out fine. It probably wasn't my best singing of the year, but it wasn't bad, and everyone seemed to have a good time, myself included. I will say that my crowd of regular fans slowly continues to grow on my bi-weekly Monday night shows at Serenity, and I'm really enjoying each and every show there. It's been just over a year since my first time playing there, and I'd be fine if that was the first of many years to come.

Serenity Gardens set list...
De Do Do Do De Da Da Da (The Police)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
*Ripple (Grateful Dead)
Alison (Elvis Costello)
Old Man (Neil Young)
I Am a Child (Neil Young)
Teach Your Children (Crosby, Stills & Nash)
Say Goodbye (Beck)
Fall In (Pixx)
Sleeper in the Valley (Laura Veirs)
Landslide (Fleetwood Mac)
Wildflowers (Tom Petty)
*At Serenity - Improv (Zak Claxton)

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

Super big thanks to all who came out to Serenity Gardens for last night's show, with special mondo thanks to the following people who helped support it!
AaronCabottJones Resident, Rainya Foresight, Diana Renoir, Sydney Verlaine, Kat Chauveau, go2smoky Resident, Tyche Szondi, Asimia Heron, Sinful Xubersnak, Alex Zelin, Triana Caldera, Helios Seetan, Aurelie Chenaux, my lovely manager Maali Beck, and the fabulous team at Serenity Gardens, Tilly Rose and Ilsa Wilde.

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