Monday, February 28, 2005
Deadlines and DEADlinesGradually getting some tunes written. Having an undergraduate degree in Journalism must make me a deadline-thriving creature. I hated stuff like Latin and History. I never memorized enough of them on time. But writing assignments... I got them in on time, every time. It must have been an escape from stuff I hated to do. Still is. If I were a serial criminal of any kind, I'd be very into writing about it and mailing it into the papers. Probably demand syndication rights too.
So I'm shooing Cathy away as she tries to get me to compile tax data but I'm making good progress on these new songs. My goal is to have at least five done and ready to go for my New York gigs on April 22 and 23. I worked on one with my guitar student Jim Salhoff and I'll include that, if not more. I'll also do at least one of his.
The second collection of songs will not fit onto a concept album. Unless you consider sophmorism a concept. Also, I don't think I have a novel in me. I can write my ass off but my attention span rarely reaches the length of a short story. The Blogosphere just heaved a sign of relief that a Bud Buckley rock opera is not likely to emerge any time soon.
This portion of my life is a cruel deadline, if you think about it. Do all the stuff I didn't do when I was a young working stiff before I die. I won't know if I missed the deadline until it's too late, however. I hope they don't dock my pay for that.
posted by Bud @ 6:12 AM
Sunday, February 27, 2005
Weird RequestsLast night at Bella Luna, right at the end of my last set, an older Italian guy with a thick accent, came right up next to me and waited for me to finish. He asked me several times before I understood him if I would do "It's Now or Never." I told him I didn't know it. He said, "It starts on Doe." I played an A and said, "Okay what's next?" He gave up and walked away disgustedly. When people come up and ask you to do stuff that isn't even close to what you've been doing, that pretty much means they don't get you. Like if I went up to juggling, fire-eating, comic Andy Martello and asked him to sing an aria. It is amusing. Some people don't get out much, I guess. I'd love to hear from other performers who get these kinds of off the wall requests. Does Jimmy Buffett get requests for Sarah McLachlan tunes? Does Sarah get asked to cover Snoop Dog? I have seen people ask a country singing friend of mine to do Alice In Chains. That was an amusing interchange of ideas. I don't do much country because even the tunes I like, I think I just feel stupid doing the accent which most country fans feel is essential to the song. I know there are a lot of crossover performers who do just fine but there are some things that should be avoided, resisted, ruled out and laughed at. Have any to share with me?
posted by Bud @ 9:48 AM
Saturday, February 26, 2005
A Slightly Flatulent UniverseAndy Martello, welcomed a bit of hate e-mail in his Blog today. I think he should ignore cheap shots. The reasons are numerous. But besides having the ability, at least, to make you feel like unscooped doggie poop on the sidewalk of life, it's just not very useful. I welcome constructive criticism. I want to know who doesn't like my performance or my writing but I want to know why and I want to know who. I want to know the center of my audience and not worry at all about the fringes which may or may not include deaf subway dwellers and Mongolian rappers.
I wrote last month about my annoyance with a pair of septuagenarians who requested forties songs from me for an hour. They told me I couldn't cut it with them and left without a tip. They advised me to play nothing but that stuff if I wanted to draw that crowd. It was only the non-tipping that annoyed me. Not that I needed the fifty cents they might have separated themselves from at gun point, but at the rudeness. I even tip a bad waitress, for instance. I was grateful to them for helping me realize that I didn't want to appeal to that crowd. That's not who I am. That's not what I do. There are a lot of old folks who stumble into my dinner gig at Althea's and like my usual stuff. They sometimes even buy my CD if the Social Security check is freshly cashed and swelling in their handbags. So it taught me not to waste my time learning material for what for me would be a fringe group.
I get lots of requests that I can't or don't want to do. If I learn all that stuff, my song list will approach five hundred. I can't remember all that. I have to read a lot of what I do now when it comes to cover tunes. I'm moving closer and closer to just doing my own material with a few covers I really like in between. That's my goal for some places I play, like Bella Luna Cafe tonight. My dinner gig at Althea's is fun for other reasons and oldies covers are fine. I toss in my own stuff if it fits. I love it when they ask me who wrote that. Then later when I do a cover that they don't recognize they ask if I wrote it. That's welcome confusion and good feedback. Drive-by one-liner critics are just the universe farting.
posted by Bud @ 7:48 AM
Thursday, February 24, 2005
Dark Galaxies and Bread MoldDark galaxies. Galaxies completely devoid of stars. Scientists are using this word we think of to mean "many stars" to describe a void. You try to write a song with that particular information and you'll sound like that Star Trek songwriting duo, Spock and Data. Not even Shatner would perform that stuff, even in jest.
But there are concepts to be explored here. Using words to describe something that is the opposite. Apply that to love and relationships. Maybe you'll go where "no man has gone before." Here's a worksheet of starters that I'll tinker with after I finish the songs I started to finish today. But this much goes into my notes. Maybe you'll be quicker than me. Post it in the comments with your name and e-mail address. I'll send the best one a free CD. Don't trust Haloscan or Blogger to give it to me automatically. They don't.
You call yourself a lover, you don't love at all.
She calls you her lover but you never loved her
He was blind to see his lover never loved him
Sorry, I mistook you for my lover
None of these lines strike me as openers. They're more like parts of the story or punch lines or lead-ins to punch lines. When I get stuff like this that doesn't immediately inspire me, I put it in a dark place and it often germinates and makes an appearance at a much later date as something else. Kind of the bread mold school of songwriting.
posted by Bud @ 5:54 AM
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Pickin' in PoughkeepsiePlaying Poughkeepsie sounds like a joke, I know, I know. It's the sound of the name, I'm sure because people get tired of making fun of names like Hoboken, Oshkosh and Podunk. Well, the list is quite endless and there are lots of dopier sounding names than this one. Poughkeepsie is actually where I first lived when I got out of college and started teaching. My daughter, Bree, lives on the same street and teaches there now. Lots of cool bands play there to try out new material or tune up before hitting the road for the big tour. I'm playing The Cubbyhole Coffee House, right next to Vassar College. That's an association most people don't make. I've played their open mic many times when I was still teaching in Hyde Park. And now the Budman returns. This time I'll do a few hours on my own to give my former students an alcohol free place to see me and to raise some money for the music scholarship I'm setting up in Hyde Park at their Roosevelt High School.
This also means I'm forced to finish some songs. The gig is April 23 from 7 to 9. Or longer if the demands for encore go on and on. Teenagers on caffeine, ya know.
posted by Bud @ 6:14 AM
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
Songs About MomI've been performing that slow acoustic version of "3 AM" by Matchbox Twenty. I was told later that Rob Thomas wrote it about his mother so I looked it up on Songfacts.com. I have no idea what the credibility rating of this site is as there are numerous comments by seemingly post adolescent crazies making harsh judgments or giving shallow praise. It's still useful to shed a little light on a lyric when I like the sound but I'm not sure how to interpret it. Good to know what the hell your singing about or at least think you know. When I'm not sure I keep certain images of my own interpretation in my head.
But "3 AM" is supposed to be about Rob Thomas's mother when she was fighting cancer. That resonates powerfully for me. More so since I got the news last night that my mom broke her hip and after her surgery will be confined to a rehab for many more weeks than I know she can put up with. If a song comes out of this it will not be a My-Dear-Old-Mom, kind of thing. I like Thomas's approach much better. It is ever more personal if you're not so out front about the who and why of your story. I'll only talk about my the origins or meanings in my lyrics up to a point. Sometimes not at all. That used to annoy the hell out of me when songwriters were coy or refused to discuss their lyrics. It did create interest, however. There's something to be said for that but I think the reasons are deeper and more complicated than just wanting to create a buzz.
If I write a Mom song, nobody is gonna recognize it as such. It's way too personal. I'd want to perform it with a smile and a tear and hope others feel that way when they hear it without knowing who or why.
posted by Bud @ 7:31 AM
Monday, February 21, 2005
Gold Mining in MerdeThe wine tasting was unassuming, brilliant and unpretentious. I didn't hear too many snobby wine tasting terms that made me snicker. I had to look for those on line and was amused to find that it's complementary to refer to certain Burgundies as merde. There was even a favorable description chronicled by Mad Dog describing a wine as having a cat piss aroma. Try using descriptors like that about your mother's cooking!
When I'm trolling for ideas in different scenes like this, I have it in my mind to take away a feeling and try to apply it to a parallel but different situation. I thought I'd mine some rich talk regarding my non-drinking. Can't say that happened. The only comment was, "Did you ever drink?" I was hoping to come up with a suitable parallel to "But I didn't inhale." But the truth is I got pretty loaded for my first semester in college. I learned that throwing up was always the result and not a fair price to pay for becoming loud, making an ass of myself and forgetting most of what I said or did. I'm not at all judgmental about it. It just wasn't for me.
So a theme for a lyric might be in finding myself singly out of place without many people knowing it. The trick, in this situation, is to not let your discomfort show so that the crowd gets on to you. The trick to writing it is do it without getting too specific.
I love the way John Mayer does just that in his "My Stupid Mouth." He lets us know he said idiotic things that destroyed any chance of starting a relationship. He doesn't tell us what it was. The lyric succeeds brilliantly, I feel. He focuses on the reaction not what was said. And he manages not to create an intense sense of mystery about it. I never felt like I had to know what he said to upset his date. Damn clever writing in my opinion.
Here's a quick first run try at what I'm talking about with the Bud-goes-to-a-wine-tasting situation:
Hiding among believers, my indifference concealed in smile
Nodding, humming approval sounds, I hope in the right places
No visible escape, have to deal for a while
It wears you out, Mister Mirror for all those bright faces
I'll try to mine some gold from this merde. I mean that in a Burgundy wine kind of way.
posted by Bud @ 6:37 AM
Sunday, February 20, 2005
The Non-Drinking Yogi's Guide to Singing and SongwritingI'm not exactly pretzel man. I'm not exactly loose as a piece of spaghetti. But I've been to yoga class six days this week. My bones and muscles are just getting to know each other after all these years. "Hello, femur, we're the quads. Lets spiral in a bit so Buckley's tailbone can ride without getting all twisted up again. He looks like Quasimodo when he does that." My singing breath control kept me from losing my voice and sounding like a trachea patient after that night on the street, screaming to be heard over the rock band next door. I'm singing from my heart more than my throat. I find it much easier to smile. People react to that. You should see my tip jar.
One of my students, Jim, keeps coming up with terrific songs. He explores the music part by tinkering. Inventing chords that I'm hard pressed to name. D sus 2 flat 5, to a D sus 2/G for instance. I'm not even sure that's an accepted name but it describes it accurately enough. We looked up a song that he says inspired that chord change and found that his mind's ear remembered it accurately but he approached it as walk down within one chord instead of a change to a new chord. I love it when I can learn from a student. I used to learn more basic things from 10-year-olds. This is stimulating in a different way. I relearned every year that kids can teach each other way better than Sr. Mary Confusing or I can.
Today's songwriting assignment to myself: attend a wine tasting this evening and observe how people react to the fact that I'm a nondrinker. I predict reactions will vary from, "Oh, he must be AA" to "What a superior AH." The in-between reactions are the hardest to spot and thus the most interesting. And for the record, I have the equal talent to most humans to be an AH but I'm not AA. I'll be grateful to get a few lines out of tonight's observation. Deep sense diving tonight.
posted by Bud @ 7:58 AM
Friday, February 18, 2005
Street LessonsI think more professions should have times when they have to do their jobs on the street. Think of that. I actually have taught on the street during field trips. And then there was last night's Venice Third Thursday Stroll. I do that monthly just for good will and education. How'd you like to have to do your job on the street? A little sidewalk dermatology, curbside computer repair, pedestrian insurance sales?
"Your Honor, I'd like to call my next witness as soon as that fire truck has passed and we can HEAR OURSELVES THINK!"
"Open wide, that's it. OOPs, let me get that pigeon feather out of your mouth."
Just like real estate or any business, location is key. It's never advantageous, for instance, to perform a solo acoustic act fifty feet from a rock band. The spots were assigned. Moving was not an option. This monthly event is thoughtfully disorganized by volunteer group of merchants who really have to examine carefully how much money they save by not hiring somebody to keep them organized. It's as effective at times as I would be if I relied on the good will of neighbors or passersby to cut my lawn, pick up my garbage, spray for bugs, provide electricity and cable and do my shopping.
This is the same group of merchants, God bless them really, who see no advantage in staying open past 5pm except for this one event each third Thursday. Small town charm stops being charming when you have to drive 20 minutes to buy something you ran out of just before your dinner at 7. But I love Venice, I really do. It's a town of many charms. The call-in anonymous newspaper gripe column, for instance, provides enough comic material to write a sitcom. If only I were so inclined. If only I even looked at sitcoms. But the weather here is unbeatable compared to anyplace I've ever been. Location, location, etc.
If I believed in preaching of any sort, I'd preach that there is something to be learned from everything you encounter. Especially the bad stuff. So while I bristled during my sets where I couldn't hear myself but heard the rock band just fine, I didn't have all the info. I thank my own wisdom in not going ballistic and copping and attitude because I was a lot better than I thought. The folks inside the store were extremely enthusiastic I learned afterward. The band that drowned me out was very nice and felt that they could hear me fine. They, apparently could hear me better than I could. They even mentioned my set list. How bad is my hearing? All of this could have been a bit more relaxing for me if I had somebody with me to check my sound. That was practical learning number two. The internal lessons go much farther. Be cool, smile even when you're pissed. Wink at children, make precious expressions at pets. Don't watch babes too long as they stride past. That takes a type of multitasking I'm really not equipped for. And you could lean right into your mic and knock it down. Not that it actually happened to me. Honest.
posted by Bud @ 6:52 AM
Thursday, February 17, 2005
No Grammy HereI'm not gonna discuss the Grammy Awards. Just not going there. This is not the place to come to if you want to read a dis on some other performer. I mention a performance I like from time to time. Critics have to make a living too but I don't think many of them are performers. Certainly not successful ones. You've read enough opinion about the Grammys already. Awards are terrific for those who get them. It is no less an accomplishment no matter who disagrees with the choice.
posted by Bud @ 9:00 AM
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
It's In The SmileI live in a circus town. No, I'm not likely to race my bike with unicyclist in clown makeup on my morning workout jaunts. None of the acts I've run into in local entertainment venues feature fire-eating comic jugglers so Andy Martello would find no competition here anymore. Leash and pooper scooper laws are in effect so if people have trained their dogs to walk a wire or climb a ladder, it's behind closed hurricane shutters.
The John Ringling Home and Museum is a very popular tourist attraction here in Sarasota County, Florida. He built it when his circus wintered right here in Venice. Venice is a town conceived and built by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers. So the trainload of circus talent and their animals would get off here at least once a year and have a huge parade. When the railroad bellied up, the circus moved out. What's left is a restored train station where I took my publicity shots and a trapeze school. I see no sign of circus genetics among my neighbors and patrons in the joints I sing in. It's not like Newcastle, England, the headquarters of British horse racing. On my short stay there I noticed a heavy tilt toward short thin people who could easily make racing weight. I felt like a giant at five foot five. But here in Venice, the genetics moved north too.
But Sarasota still considers itself the Circus Capital of the World. And Circus Sarasota puts together a small but impressive show once a year for about a week, drawing international acts. Last year the Flying Walendas were here. Last night we saw lesser known but highly professional acts. I saw a cuban contortionist who could kiss his own ass, should he be so inclined. I saw an adorable Austrian juggler who could cover a misjuggled ten gallon top hat with a smile that lit up the big top. I saw a Latino clown who used nothing but a whistle and a pair of highly expressive and acrobatic eyes to direct audience members to do outrageous stuff in the ring. He got uproarious laughter. I saw a guy tango and do flips on a wire. I saw dog pound refugees doing aerial acts that were even more astounding given their natural fear of such places and four legs to stumble over. There was more and it was amazing.
The biggest learning for me was how these acts handled mistakes. Not that they made many at all. Ingredient one is a smile. Nearly all these performers smiled through their entire act. Except the clown, ironically. Okay the horses didn't smile but the dogs did. When you smile you can get away with a lot. You feel a hell of a lot better too and so do the people you meet. I know this from yoga but still find it difficult to smile while I'm trying to bend my body into impossible prestselesque positions.
The second ingredient is to have a plan for the cover up. Turn the mistake into part of the act. The audience mostly knows it's a screw up but they love it because of the smile and the admission and the cover-up. They are extremely forgiving and supportive and applaud with enthusiasm. The juggler chicka would grab a mistossed hat and put it on her head and smile brightly. Everybody in the place wanted to give her a hug. The tango wire act smiled brightly and turned his missed flip on the wire with a graceful giant spin and dismount. When he hit the flip on his third try, the crowd went nuts. The horse trainer pretended not to notice a misbehaving horse at first and then, hands on hips with an exaggerated reaction, he cajoled the horse to get back in line.
It occurred to me, leaving the tent last night that we all need to follow our dreams and run away with the circus. Smile our way through life and forgive ourselves for our screw ups. Then everybody else will too. Or at least 51 percent of the people will.
posted by Bud @ 7:30 AM
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Wasn't Getting Mail From This SiteIf you tried to use my Contact Link on the left and sent me a message there, I didn't get it. I saw hits there but nothing came through. Now it's fixed. So if you want to contact me again, please do!
posted by Bud @ 7:55 AM
Monday, February 14, 2005
You Know Something's Happening But You Don't Know What it Is...Apparently, Fark reports, there exists a scientific phenomenon that is predicting the future. Except nobody knows what future it is predicting. Kind of an "Oh, so that's what that meant-- this nuclear holocaust!" type of realization. I'm taking no position on this as I skipped Physics by claiming an allergy to magnetism and avoided Math by majoring in Journalism. The idea is intriguing enough to let me consider all sorts of scenarios.
That's always an invitation for a lyric. This one may have to be accompanied by techno dance club music, however. How do you get those concepts into song? Time is curved, the future is actually the past, the present is very unstable because of this and therefore highly illusionary. And we know this because these little black random number generators keep spitting out unlikely sequences just before major world events. Some songs are best unsung. But if you could envision a Sci-Fi story, something on the order of The Matrix, and then try to write music for it, you might get some milage out of it. As always, love and relationships are the center, especially on Valentine's Day. The rest is the setting.
If we knew what our love would bring us in the future, we'd avoid a lot of relationships. That's the major theme in my To Be Alone. That could be mostly good but think of the fun we'd miss. If we could see the future, could we change it? I think as long as we have instant gratification, we'll never know. Give me a choice between a cheese steak and knowledge of my death and which do you think I'll choose? Or more to the point, give me the choice between an orgasm and knowledge that I'll wind up in a series of unlasting relationships and, well, the choice is easy.
These concepts are designed for the intellectually daring and those who find commercialism, or even scant acceptance in music, repugnant. But I think I've made it plain that mental gymnastics of any kind is a very good thing. Don't be surprised if I come up with a lyric here. But I'm not gonna lose sleep over it. And I'm not skipping any meals.In fact one of my Google ads offers to Fed Ex a Cheese Steak direct from Philly.
posted by Bud @ 5:26 AM
Sunday, February 13, 2005
Songs From the EdgeAll the big money for polling is in marketing and politics. Corporations will spend millions to find out what demographic group will buy dental insurance for pets. What I'd like to know is what percentage of the population has the kinds of secrets revealed in these postcards from the edge that Writergrll revealed in her Blog today.
It would certainly be commercially important to know, for instance, if a high percentage of twins wish they were the other twin. That could be a song. Or even a psychological thriller. If I knew for certain that there are enormous numbers of girls who think about all their ex-boyfriends and want them all back I wouldn't be afraid to devote time to that lyric. I wouldn't worry about being waaaay out on the edge. I can't imagine a song featuring a bitter roommate dousing his roomie's toothbrush in fecal matter but it does speak to a whole other level of revenge that has possibilities. You have to look at this stuff. You'll either feel very creeped out or relieved that other people have those thoughts besides you.
posted by Bud @ 11:51 AM
Saturday, February 12, 2005
Cold Night for Parrot HeadsOne of those cold nights in Florida last night. "Cold" being defined as below 70 degrees. So I knew while I was setting up in my enclosed tent-like room with the fire logs and the propane heater that I wouldn't be seeing any natives. My tip income would depend on out-of-towners who celebrate 50 degrees by wearing shorts. Even if they don't match anything else they're wearing. It was in the sixties last night so we saw some skimpy outfits with midwestern accents. It was a profitable evening despite the light crowd. A musician on vacation sat in with me a bit and that was fun. I played later than usual for a couple from Tennessee who were actually relieved when I told them I didn't know any Nashville tunes. But I spared them from New York State of Mind. I did The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down. The seemed appreciative. I sang it like I meant it, remembering that the South is still fighting the Civil War. Honest.
It was actually a great gig compared to the one my fellow blogger Pimme, described on Wednesday. Livingston Taylor really brings sanity to this whole bleak subject. He says over and over that the audience is the only reason you are there. It all starts with the audience, no matter who they are or how many. He says that when asked his favorite place to play his answer is always truthfully, "THIS is my favorite place to play," no matter where he is. I remember seeing him open for Linda Ronstadt in the seventies at Saratoga. She was at her hottest, performing in a teddy, I believe. Livingston was up against a lot as the "lesser brother" of James Taylor and opening for a rock sex star. I don't remember his songs but I remember his demeanor. He played to a totally indifferent audience as if the room belonged to him. He focused on those who were listening or else he imagined that they were. I still don't know his music but his book is indispensable for the aspiring performer. I also know that Livingston would not be too upset at reading this because I am his reading audience and that's good enough for him. An audience is an audience and he's grateful for it.
There are parts of some nights where my audience consists of two parrots and a busboy. None of them can sing backup on key. And they are lousy tippers but I sing my heart out to them anyway. Thanks, Livingston. I'm getting ready for the big one.
posted by Bud @ 9:36 AM
Friday, February 11, 2005
Not Too Strictly BallroomBallroom Dancing. Highly amusing to take lessons even if I'm totally out of my element. The inverse comparison might be Rudolf Nureyev in a limbo contest. But I go because seeing Cathy smile that much is better than any sunrise. I only grumble when she tries to lead. If we're gonna look idiotic, let it be my fault, not the wrestling for control by spousal units. We have it worked out now, though. Various hand signals not involving the bird.
Once long ago we took Texas Two Step lessons. It was humbling to realize I couldn't count to two and dance at the same time. It was nearly my last dance and my last foray into higher Math.
I'm doing much better now but it's hard for me because the instructor doesn't teach it by counting in traditional musical beats but things like "quick-quick-slow." Not at all like drummers calling off the beat at the intro. It's like New Math for me. But then I sucked at the Old Math so what's the diff? But learning new things or old things in new ways keeps the brain from turning into bread pudding. It also aids the creative process because, in this case, you have to figure out ways to avoid looking like a spinal injury on roller skates.
Dylan goes on about it at some length in his Chronicles Part 1. He couldn't stand to listen to himself perform during the first part of the Tom Petty Tour in 1988. It was a side trip with the Grateful Dead that awakened him to counting out his rhythm in threes and playing that way to change his approach to old lyrics. Then on his next studio album he applied it and Oh Mercy was the result.
There's no telling what these dance lessons are gonna do to my music. It's a safe bet I won't be writing any rumbas, fox-trots or swing tunes. But I'll be exploring the beats between the beats. I can't promise it'll be danceable by humans. But who knows what would have happened if Elvis hadn't met Forrest Gump?
posted by Bud @ 6:19 AM
Thursday, February 10, 2005
Trolling for Ideas and Musicians Who Want to WorkI continue to find fascinating Bloggers. Those I've listed, and the list will be growing, are all terrific writers. I don't necessarily list them because I agree with them although often I do. I'm trolling for ideas, feelings and attitudes that will fuel my lyrics and give punch to my music. The three hardest kinds of Blogs to read are the bored housewife, the totally self absorbed but vacant teenager and the rabid illogical pundit. It's a bit painful but it can be like panning for gold. If I slog through that stream long enough I'll sieve out some usable dust. But click on my Blogrolled list at the right and you'll find nuggets and gems. Hmmm, any inference to male and female in that last statement is yours.
Organizing local musicians is also a bit like panning for precious metal. I've been trying to do this for months on Meetup.com. Last night was my third attempt to actually meet with musicians who RSVPed and didn't show up. Where do we get our reputation as undependable laggards? Guys who work a lot of gigs have no need or time for this. I understand, except I work a lot of gigs and recognize that we could do better at more places even through the off season if we got organized.
Many who don't get gigs live on negative energy. "This music scene sucks," being their mantra and their excuse for doing nothing. And they do that well. Even swagger and stage snarl and air guitar it while chanting it. There may be some salvageable psyches or some curable psychos in that crowd and I'll give it another try. I'm the EMT of damaged musicians. I've attended enough elementary school recitals and concerts and held enough backstage ten year old hands to qualify as the chief friggin' resident of Music ER. Musicians are often just like ten year olds who can drive.
There are a bunch who feel that sharing any info is a threat to their bookings. Totally understandable. It's very hard feel secure in this business. One night recently my best tip was two tickets to the lounge at the dog track. WTF does that say? It's even harder to feel secure when there are a minimum of venues to play that aren't out on the street. We don't even have subways in Florida. They would be underwater and gator infested if we did. But there are uncountable potential venues for the musicians who want to do some legwork and talk some of these owners into trying out live music as a business practice. I work at three of those places for owners that took a shot and are making it now on live music. If a troop of us went out and found owners like that, we'd all be busy and gigging from place to place. This is a formula I'm certain can work with the right personalities. I encourage musicians everywhere to try it. And let me know how it goes, how it doesn't go and what you suggest to make it work. Vernon Grope, I sure could use some Latin here; Semper something-or-other.
posted by Bud @ 7:47 AM
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
Blogs I Love for InspirationGot my Blogroll act half organized. Click the links at the right to see just some of the bloggers I read every day. Yeah, I know I have some cosmetics to do here. Marjo Moore definitely inspired me. She also turned me on to some other entertaining bloggers including Bitchitude who writes about her adventures going back to college in her thirties in Hawaii. Love her 'tude. Gotta get some song ideas here. FSS or for F*ck Sake, is an other high attitude lady who never fails to crack me up. When I'm looking to express feelings that give a lot of lip, these two bloggers are where I'm looking first.
Then there is plenty of testosterone type 'tude with Tales From Andy Land or the same with a Brit accent from Vernon Grope's Diary of a Rock Star. My other favorite music professional's Blog is QueenEster's This Rock n' Roll Grrl's High Life. She's a terrific singer and an actress and she tells us all about her life in NYC pursuing gigs and practicing her craft. Joshua McGinnis is another gifted writer and performer and can be found at le blog de goodespeler. He is often a fun read when he's not tearing my heart out.
I love reading Eka's Snazzykat because she takes me back to my early days of teaching and discovering what that world is all about. She writes probing descriptions of her day in a high school classroom with very difficult kids. We all wish we had her for a teacher. I was mostly stuck with various Sr. Mary Confusings. And some very revealing writing comes from the student point of view in the stories of Promiscuities. She reminds me of the kids I wrote More Than I Want to Know about. She assures me I'll write more in that vein.
I'm still reviewing tons of terrific bloggers and I'll tell you about them regularly and why they inspire me.
posted by Bud @ 6:20 AM
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
Winter SongHow much do I hate winter? I've been hearing from folks back north about it since I moved to Florida two and a half years ago. Makes my skin want to shatter and fall off just thinking about it. Also I've been reading Dylan's Chronicles, Part I. So this is what happens when I put those things together and wake up with nothing topical to write about. Totally first draft. A work in progress. I'll fix it up with more sensuous verbs on the next go 'round.
Copyright 2005 by Bud Buckley
Deep winter bruises after all the games, no flames distract me from my fears
No warm passion and delicious hopes have simply disappeared
Crunch of frozen mud under my boots, tires spraying salty sand
You're too far gone to come on home, frozen shadows cross the land
Frozen shadows invade my soul
Frozen shadows make harsh demand
Frozen shadows rot my heart so old
Frozen shadows cross the land
You don't even remember where home is, not even on your map
You're off hunting loathsome alien game, I'm bloody and dying in your trap
You could thrash and stumble right over me, step right on my hand
Not even know I'm suffering so, under your frozen shadow 'cross the land
Frozen shadows invade my soul
Frozen shadows make harsh demand
Frozen shadows rot my heart so old
Frozen shadows cross the land
How much longer can this last, before the sun gives me mercy?
How much cold and loneliness is considered perverse and heresy?
Isn't everything on earth supposed to come again to every man?
It's just so damn hard to smile and love with your frozen shadow 'cross the land
Frozen shadows invade my soul
Frozen shadows make harsh demand
Frozen shadows rot my heart so old
Frozen shadows cross the land
posted by Bud @ 8:38 AM
Monday, February 07, 2005
Super Bowl of PolitenessWell that was interesting. I'm still sorting it out. There were a handful of Eagles fans at the party of about 60 people. Multiple rooms and TV's. Mega ways to raise your cholesterol. I was the only one advertising with an Eagles jersey, however. It was a little like after the presidential election when everybody was very polite to me and nobody had the bad taste to mention the outcome. I think I would have had better people watching without the green jersey. But the topic of how people act around you when they don't want to offend you to your face is a pretty good one for a song. Their universal silence after the election tells me they talk about the fact that I'm not a Bushie, here in the land of Bushies. I'm not sure people would have figured out my favorite team last night since I'm known to be from New York. Going incognito would have been more fun, I think.
One interesting observation is that the New Yorkers in the house were very much opposed to the Eagles. NY Giants fans tend to be NY Yankees fans and I thought they'd go against a Boston team. But no, they really HATE Philly. Can't even get them interested in a cheese steak. Scrapple? Don't even go there.
The deep hatred of your rivals, I think, reveals an insecurity. If you're confident in your number oneness, you don't need to personify and demonize a sports team or an entire city. Lyrics about such hidden insecurities are lurking in my subconscious this morning. This pretty much demands that I use Pat Pattison's worksheets to find something here. I have an AppleWorks document I designed that goes with his outstanding lyric writing book. I can send it to you as a text file if you ask. I think it's much more valuable if you have his book but also useful even without it. Please include your e-mail address in the comments if you want it. I've never figured out why Haloscan won't let me e-mail people.
I keep trying to get answers about certain internet/blog snafus I'm getting. One day soon we'll discuss coded language that people use to talk about that tech stuff. Damn, that is SO annoying. There ought to be a set of initials to describe them. Something with an AH in it.
posted by Bud @ 7:32 AM
Sunday, February 06, 2005
Not Another Song About Cheese SteaksThis is NOT a sports Blog. I do have a point related to music here. But...
Born and raised in the greater Philadelphia area with an ex-jock father, I naturally became an Eagles fan. I'm more amused than rabid or frantic about this Super Bowl Game this evening. I do hope Sir Paul McCartney doesn't give the media anything idiotic to spout over for another year. Another wardrobe malfunction would be so gross. If he dropped an F-bomb I don't think I can bear the overly pious and patently hypocritical avalanche that will come from the right. I'm mostly entertained by people's perceptions of Philly. I know they call Chicago the second city but on the East coast Philadelphians always behaved like they were in the shadow of New York and thus secretly considered themselves the second city. I have to ask my fellow blogger Marjo what she thinks of that notion.
I remember writing a column in college (in New York) about Philly's inferiority complex when they are compared to or ignored by New Yorkers. And I feel certain that people in Boston feel pretty much the same way, having endured the Red Sox for so long. I'm not positive that being winners now changes it all that much. I think when you're used to being below the top and scrambling, you always have that mentality.
So this relates to that trying-too-hard-in-relatinships thing, I was blogging about a few days ago. I believe my fellow blogger Pimme was getting into this when he talked about the book He's Just Not Into You. Haven't read that but I think I have to since I steadfastly believe that successful commercial lyric writing is about relationships.
I guess I could write a lyric about a girl named Phyllis who was well known but widely misunderstood by most people. Say the word "Philly" anyplace in the US and people think "Cheese Steaks" right away. I think "Cheese Steaks" right away. I was severely addicted to them in my youth. Still have dreams about them. Sample them in different cities and I'm always disappointed, often outraged. So Phyllis is a girl who uninformed people consider cheesy. Change the adjective, of course. I'm hard pressed to find a successful lyric featuring cheese. But to the one who loves her, the narrator of the song, she's a different kind of hoagie altogether. She just tries too hard to come off like a New York strip steak but she's so fine as a local delicacy. See how hard it is to get junk food off your mind once you go down that alley? I'll work on a completely non-food related lyric on this subject. Tonight I'll watch the game with half an eye and watch my midwestern neighbors for any Philly bashing. I'll also watch the reaction of my Philly neighbors. This could be good despite the score.
posted by Bud @ 8:34 AM
Saturday, February 05, 2005
Lifestyle SongsThe City Mouse vs. Country Mouse story line probably runs rampant through country music. The extended idea appears in songs like Billy Joel's Uptown Girl and even his Only the Good Die Young if you extend the differences between "Catholic Girls" who wait too long and others. I used to be a rural kind of guy, living on five acres with a horse in the Mid Hudson Valley of New York. Also did my Philly living, my NYC living, my suburb living and small town living. Exploring the differences and analogizing them seems like fertile ground for some songs. To get too literal here is an open invitation to cliche'
But I loved driving across the bridge from my suburban home early this morning into downtown Venice. Florida, not Cali. Parked in front of my haircutter and walked briskly around the corner to Bella Luna to get a big coffee to go. Had some pleasant conversation with the owners. Let them razz me about getting ALL my hairs cut. Agreed to do a Hospice Benefit there. Got a lead on a guy who builds additions. I took my coffee into the hair cutter and again endured some razzing about, "Is that MY coffee?"
Small towns are fun when you know a few people that well. No, they're not open all night like the City That Never Sleeps. You can't get everything you want. You have to avoid the tourist trap pricey places. But generally, they're clean and free of inner city eyesores, however you define them. People wave each other through intersections more frequently than laying on the horn or cutting each other off. Parking is a bit easier.
Applied to lyric writing, these are all easy things to describe in relationship terms. Good idea to decide on a feeling first. Settle on a groove. This is the challenging part in a song with such contrasts. This isn't one that's gonna spring into my mind too quickly. My fingers aren't likely to instantly dance once across the fretboard with new chord progression. This one is more like a New York Times crossword puzzle. Something I steadfastly avoid. Not because I can't do them but because I don't want to spend the time on that particular activity. So I'll save this particular song writing for a day when I have no musical traffic jams clogging my synapses. One theme I started long ago that might fit here is about people who can only give in their relationships and can't accept acts of love that come their way. "You give and you give and you give, but you just can't take,"
is the line I was working on. So I'll probably start there. Anybody have a lyric fragment along these lines that they want to share?
posted by Bud @ 10:39 AM
Friday, February 04, 2005
Did You Try To Contact Me?I just realized that some people have tried to e-mail me and it has not reached me. If you used my contact form and I can see that some people have but don't know who they are, I didn't get it. If you E-mailed me and have heard nothing back, that is highly unusual and it means I didn't get it. So try that address. It may be another typical AOL foul-up. Try this e-mail address: Bud_Buckley@yahoo.com.
posted by Bud @ 1:14 PM
Illnesses Worse Than Stage frightI've seen performers go on with major toothaches, migraine headaches, nausea, clinical strength stage fright, menstrual cramps. Joe Cocker was known to throw up behind an amp on stage and continue singing. Untold numbers of morons would shoot up in the dressing room or snort coke right on stage between songs. I guess the real show stoppers are broken arms for instrumentalists and colds for vocalists.
Well I already overcame a dislocated middle finger to finish my CD. I rediscovered the use of suspended second chords and triads to do that. Tonight I may get to find out if I can sing with a scratchy throat. Just two gigs this week. A lot of lemony tea and frequent pit stops, a song list that avoids the crooners, an abundance of blues. That should do it. Any advice for me from those of you who have been there? How about sharing a few horror stories with me? Something to rival the I-walked-on-crutches-naked-through-a-sandstorm-to-school stories we're all so familiar with.
posted by Bud @ 6:17 AM
Thursday, February 03, 2005
A Song About RedRed tide stole my voice but I have four days of yoga this week. That's the thing about Florida. It's such a fantastic place to live that it's getting irreparably messed up. It can only get worse as more people my age move here. The water supply is hurting because they don't do reservoirs here but they do a LOT of pollutants. Starting with phosphates from fertilizer plants, sugar plantations, the citrus and other crops and let's not forget the ever present golf courses and all the stuff they spray. Those are the most powerful lobbies in the state next to developers. They have a free reign to crap up the environment any way they like. And they excel at that. THEY ARE REALLY REALLY GOOD AT THAT. Red tide is some mysterious algae that is promoted by all this industrial runoff. It gets airborne and there are periods of the year where I can't go near the Gulf 'cause it chokes me. I sound like Harvey Firestein with a cold. But no lisp.
So that is definitely a song topic. The red tide angle would be a protest song. I'll save that for some rally someplace, someday. For now I'd go more commercial and deal with the analogy. A red headed girl I loved so much that I crapped up the relationship. That sort of thing. Actually the line in my Feel My Love, deals with that concept, "I tried too hard but she never let me go." In my youth I had a tendency to try too hard. Try annoyingly hard. I didn't get the whole bad-boy-attraction thing. I only get it a little better now and that's where my To Be Alone came from. I do get the idea that if I was a notorious punk in high school two things would have been assured: I'd get kicked out of Catholic high school and I would have had a lot of girls. A trade off made in heaven but my head was firmly stuck elsewhere. A "lot of girls" being defined as more than the one major girl friend I had. And of course I tried too hard and she did let me go. As soon as I "goed" to college.
I'm continuously amazed at how Cathy puts up with me. From my perspective I think I try too hard to compensate for my obsessions. With any other woman, that'd be an award winning recipe for a quick dump.
posted by Bud @ 6:39 AM
Wednesday, February 02, 2005
They Stirred My Soul with SongCharacters I thoroughly enjoyed from the Stir the Soul Birthday party. It was cool to see Rayzor DeArcangelis there and he borrowed my guitar and opened the afternoon when the first guy didn't show up. I enjoy the hell out of him. He's fortyish and just finishing his college courses up to become a teacher. Hell of a folk song singer/songwriter and a very cool short story writer as well. We watched a performance poet named Ray McNiece doing some incredible material about midwest factory workers. I turned to Rayzor and said, "That's why I was a teacher, man. I never had to feel that way about my job."
"That's why I'm becoming a teacher, Bud," he said, "I've already been there," motioning toward Ray and clapping enthusiastically. Rayzor spent a good part of the afternoon inside, "Protecting my Irish ass from the sun," reading Jack Kerouac. For a minute I thought I was in Greenwich Village in the 60's.
Ray McNiece and I chatted and I swapped him a CD for one of his books. His name is Bud too. He signed his book to me "Buddy Ray" and I addressed my CD to him "Ray Bud." Looking forward to seeing him perform again on Thursday.
James Albritton was his bubbly enthusiastic self and he was everywhere. Doing an R&B set with this guitar and amazing voice and backing me and anybody else who wanted it on drums. This kid is nothing but fun and a huge talent. I don't know if he has the ambition to go further than south west Florida but he sure as hell can be the king here. Have to talk to him about that.
Ed Coleman was there to help out and play with his Gunn Runners Band later on but he did a James Taylor set as only he can do it. Rayzor and I talked admiringly about his technique and his voice.
I watched John Howard do a long set of fun upbeat stuff just before I slithered out. He was fun and I made a mental note to catch him again. He also expertly ran the sound all afternoon.
Captain Matt is another very cool guy whose been out of the loop a bit lately. We chatted a bit and lamented missing each other's CD release parties. He plays lefty. I had to leave before he got on.
Ran into Jackie Mosely on the way out. She is just an amazing singer and terrific guitarist as well. I promised to get her demo recorded. There is just no reason why she shouldn't be working every night with those pipes.
The "Incomparable Lenny Sales" MC'd and headlined the event. He's very smooth. Gave me a nice plug about my CD when he introduced me. I was sorry not to stay and hear him. Family stuff was calling me. Hard. Hard and sweet.
posted by Bud @ 6:25 AM
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
Breathing Life Into a New SongStill another flash on Saturday night at Bella Luna. Erin was at the bar all night chatting with James and Deja. Erin is always at Stir the Soul with Lenny Sales but I always thought she was shy and quiet and we never really spoke. She kind of stands out because she's on oxygen, carrying around a small canister in a black shoulder bag. Makes me think of my friend Pam Turner up on Amelia who is supposed to be on the gas all day but won't use it when she plays bass. To Pam's way of thinking, people don't want to come out to a bar and see that. I think her perception is wrong because she is so well loved up there, they'd come to see her play even if she did it from a wheel chair or an iron lung. Iron lung? Man, I'm dating myself. I think there's only a few of them left in operation and the company who maintains them is threatening to abandon them and apparently their occupants. Profit margin is profit margin, man!
But Erin and I had some good conversations after the gig. She's a miracle in blue jeans and if Lenny doesn't write a song about her, I sure as hell will. She has some radical form of asthma and about thirteen months ago, she had a stroke and a heart attack. Was in a coma for three weeks. When that kind of stuff comes down on you, you count the days so she was rather precise about the thirteen months. She's in that place where she's grateful for every minute. Every breath. Every sip of wine. Every last fiber of experience she brushes up against. I understand her quietness better now. She's absorbing. She's bothered that her father is still so bitter about it. He's in a why-my-daughter, life-dealt-us-dirty-one state of being. I recognize it from Davis and Pam. I recall how when my mom, after her radical double mastectomy was presented with that "Why Us" line by another cancer survivor. "Why NOT us?" she retorted. I always loved her for that line. We're all only an accident of birth away from being a victim of tsunami, suicide bombing or holocaust.
Erin is totally upbeat and funny. She talked about crystal healing and I told her I didn't know anything about that. Promised to learn. She said she has crystals in her pillow. I told her that sounded very uncomfortable. She didn't appear to mind me being a wise ass. She drove away saying she was gonna meet up with her AA friends. I asked her if they'd resent her having a buzz on. She said it was much more entertaining when she had a buzz on. So she buzzed off and I felt responsible like I should have followed her to make sure she got their safely. It's my Uncle Dad complex. I was relieved to see her the next afternoon at Stir the Soul.
posted by Bud @ 7:01 AM