Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 - A decade of guitar!


What is UP, yo?! Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Super Solstice, Krazy Kwanzaa, and you know the drill.....I hope y'all had a great holiday, whatever one you celebrated.

Wow, hard to believe the decade's almost gone. The last ten years have been definitive for me. I started playing guitar in 1999, so everything you know me for has happened in the first decade of the second millennium since ol' JC did away with the whole BC, know what I'm sayin'?

I have two things to say. 1. Thank you. 2. Rock on!

I, for one, am super duper excited about 2010. How 'bout you? What are you gonna do? Make some big plans! Hey, if you want accountability, comment on this post with 'em, so the whole world can see 'em. Make 2010 the year you hit the big time. The year you decide to really get good. The year you decide to step into that spotlight, in whatever field you're in, and say "Hey New York City, MAKE SOME NOISE!"

So, this of course calls for some New Year's resolutions! If you don't have any, use some of mine!

- Get the Career rockin'!
- Get scary good as a musician!
- Become a great singer!
- Don't stop at making music - make a brand.
- Always preach the true music of your soul!
- Release a CD.
- Play some rockin' shows!
- Get a buncha new fans!

That's what I'm gonna try to do. If that's not enough, you could always add "install an pellet stove", "Don't eat spaghetti every single day", and "keep Camaro super duper shiny." (And thanks to some clients, I now have an awesome carwash kit! Thanks, Penny and Kelly!)

2010 is also gonna bring some cool stuff, musically and blog-ally speaking. My CD Northbound should be out (hopefully) by March - line up, ladies an' gents, and get your copy! I'll be blogging a lot more, and a podcast and a book are both being moved up from the back burners, to the middle burners...and before ya know it, to the front burners!

I'm gonna need some serious help networking on Facebook and Myspace (stay tuned for a FB fan page), so if you're interested in joining the team, let me know!

Blah blah blah, enough about me! I said at the beginning of The Doghouse that I wouldn't do this with a blog, so here's a few things...First off, rockers, please be smart, and don't be a boozin' and a cruisin'. Hand a friend the keys, or better yet, stick to the root beer. That's what I'll be doin'. We need ya around to make music, and buy CD's, and the like.

Secondly, here's a random poem that I randomly wrote just now for the New Year...

The Cold Slate

he wind creeps out of the woods
like a cat
who means business
and shakes hands with the chimes
that stand patiently to greet it
smacks the smoke around as it cringes out of the chimney
seeming to say "get back in line!"

Blasts in my face, and blows off the dust from a year spent
at a chalkboard
furiously scribbling and plotting and planning to get ahead
but never quite able to

it pushes the clouds across the sky
shooing the old year out
"thank you for your service, now go"
and sweeps the street from all the debris and fatigue of the season

and then it's gone, howling off to other rooftops
to remind people
that the slate has been cleared

And it turns around and scuttles a few leaves across the porch
as if to ask me
what do I plan to do with the time
ready, set, GO
here's your cold slate
feel it rob your hands of warmth and doubt
it's all clean and ready for drawing

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Write your own darn "Smoke on the Water!"

Save for the time she cussed out a bully on the CCD bus in 1974, my mom is notoriously clean spoken. I grew up wondering who Hector was, and what I could do to be hotter than him.

This will all make sense in a minute.

I came across a lesson in a guitar magazine recently that got me thinking, and really crystallized an idea that had been floating around for some time.

Some cat had re-harmonized Smoke on the Water to sound all jazzy. Sure, it was slick, but if ya ask me, it was taking pizza and freezing it into ice cream.

There's a skill that I've been chasing lately - the ability to write the epic rock riff. Or the catchy chord progression. Or anything really cool. All the stuff I've learned previously has given me the ability to express feelings through music, but the art of songwriting isn't popular with most rock guitarists. Look through a guitar magazine, and you'll be astounded at how we box ourselves in as sidemen at best, and wannabe emulators at worst. "Sound like Stevie!" "Reharmonize Giant Steps better than John Coltrane!" "Learn Eddie's tricks for blazing riffs!" But very rarely "Be the next guitar hero by sounding like yourself!"

So, instead of reinventing Smoke on the Water, I'd like to paraphrase my mother by saying....

Write your own darn Smoke on the Water!

Of course, this applies to anyone, not just musicians. We all can be epic, copied, and fantastic. We just gotta believe, and most importantly, we just gotta start.

Rock on!

- Josh