One of the byproducts of being stuck at home during lockdown is coming face to face with my own restlessness. I always have to keep myself busy. We’re not taking about anxiousness and it’s certainly not A.D.D., so there is no need to go there. A mere observation, not a complaint. My mental wanderlust is a good thing that I depend on every day as i get up to so my work. Restlessness begets motion, motion turns the wheels and starts the synapses. Movement is alert experience of the senses, it my mind working at its best, firing on all cylinders.
I’ve Noticed a Few Things…
Books that have been collecting dust for years have now become daily reference materials. I’m writing as fast as my fingers can type or as fast as the graphite lasts in my mechanical pencils. Different sounding guitars are in a constant cycle, strings are wearing out, not accumulating dust and rust due to inactivity. Music & jazz theory are both part of my daily regimen. Painting, design, art, are all in strong rotation.
It’s somehow like I am hungry again. Once again starved for knowledge, which I must admit is both inspiring and terrifying at once. Have I been dead or checked out for a decade? What’s the cause of this new urgency? In admitting I dont know shit, lies the greatest challenge & advantage.
Just because I’m over a half-century old, it doesn’t mean I can’t continually improve myself. Familiarizing myself with the new productivity tools available is extremely important in this day and age, remaining in the dark, is not, and should not be an option in life. I need to learn more than I ever have in my life, from contemporary tech, from the classics, from history, from literature, and from art. One look with open eyes will see that creatives are living in a Renaissance right now. There is also a dark underbelly. Disinformation is real and the con is on in the age of information. On every corner virtual petty thieves invade our privacy and king makers push their ideologies down our throats, and honestly as for the latter, I want none of it.
It’s nothing short of inspiring. As for the part that sounds difficult and dangerous, it doesn’t need to be as long as we actively educate ourselves. Given the tools we have at our disposal, today, there is no compelling reason to sit back as a quiet observer. Making art and music not only means mastering the instrumentation and the craft of songwriting, it means understanding how to build a brand, a business, a marketing and distribution machine. If one does take on the Do It Yourself (D.I.Y.) mentality, essentially you are entrusting others to do the work for you. That will never work.
I’m Going to Lean Live Streaming, Learn a New DAW, & Release a Solo Album
Enter live streaming, within a few days it can me demystified with the right tools. It’s not rocket science. I, by no means at all, have any business being in front of or behind the camera. I probably should not have ever picked up a guitar now that I mention it. Thats the first thought of anyone in the learning process, and it is the very reason that makes it important to continue in their pursuits. If I don’t, or you don’t, then who will? I think it’s safe to say that at first, everyone feels like a putz when hearing their voice in a recording or seeing themselves in film and photographs. I don’t like having my imperfections right there for view under a microscope. Nobody does. Understanding this is a great equalizer. Anyone can do this. Anyone can write a badass novel (read Keith Richard’s Life immediately), anyone can perform a song that will touch another heart. You just have to work your ass off and refuse to let any obstacle get in your way. I’ve always been a live and let live person. I’ve always respected those who dare to shut up and lead by example. One’s actions speak volumes. One small action can help others immeasurably.
My old man used to tell me, “Skip a few beers, and get that thing down. Nail it down. Then you can go back to business as normal.” He was all about mathematics, calculation, an engineer, a workaholic. God, I miss that sonofabitch and his brother. My heroes, even to this day. When I failed, bloody knees and all, they picked me up. They believed I could do anything. They are the first thing that comes to my mind when facing any challenge.
Getting webcams to work, coding for browsers, and understanding audio and video recording is not rocket science. Realize that to learn, you need to start with a small project, complete it. Learn and repeat until you get it right. That’s it. Start with a smartphone, a single streaming platform, and next thing you know you will be broadcasting like the networks of old. The technology literally is right in front of you.
Looking back at 2019, last spring I shot my first music video.
Yes, it’s bad, but I challenge you now to go back and look at some of the videos from the 80s on MTV. We loved it and it was campy AF. The Keep Warm video was not so bad that I need to burry it. More importantly, it’s me, it’s a real unfiltered snapshot into my life. It tells my story. The beard and bandanna is a look I’ll probably never return to, but you never know with this quarantine. There was a version that I buried, but that is another story.
Forward to the last music video from the album “To Love a Wild Fire”, I think its badass.
My point is that by the end of the year, with a bit of persistence, 7 of the 10 songs from my album had music videos. Each video was completely D.I.Y. and quality and progress can be seen across the collective timeline. Make a commitment, and follow through with it. Streaming is no different. Crashing computers is part of the fun. Having a feed so pixelated that it looks like Super Mario is singing is a hard-earned badge. If the audio is good I am good.
Here is the “Support Local Music & Art” project I kicked off this week to help promote locals in North County San Diego.
Here is my latest “Quarantine Stream Episode”, three weeks in I finally got a handle on the system crashes.
So if you’re trying to stream to share with your loved ones. You can do it. Dont take no for an answer. Dont throw your laptop of phone out the window after the first failed attempt. If I can do it, you can.
Communication is the most important name of the game now, it will keep our hearts in the right place. Take it from me. This old dog can learn new tricks. For now, I’m going to learn to do something that I don’t know how to do. Work on it until it looks like a professional’s work. The old insult, “Jack of All Trades, Master of None” is nothing more than a cop-out if you take the time to think about it. Just stream.
Introducing LUNA, Time to Learn a New DAW
As for the DAW I’m learning, it’s a system called LUNA that was just released this week by a company named Universal Audio. In January, I was able to see some demos around the system at NAMM in Anaheim, CA. I left feeling like I had just seen Steve Jobs unveil the first iPhone. Invoking the spirit of Steve Jobs, may sounds a bit over stated or over-hyped, but what I’ve seen thus far was impressive, and recording interfaces were due for a quantum leap and I think UA is just the company to succeed.
I have a series of articles I am beginning to write so there is no need to linger on this topic, it will be discussed in detail shortly in several articles starting with the installation.
Im going to use this as an opportunity to play and compose in the singer-songwriter format. With LUNA, I hope to complete a new set of songs I have written for an album that I just dubbed Canadian Tuxedo. We’ll see how it goes, it’s all about the creative process. Here is the album cover, cheers until later. I know, its a shameless nod to Nathanial Rateliff’s album, but I dont give AF. I love that album and his work as an artist, his latest album is on constant rotation here at the house.