Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Just show up


Boy, am I motivated! I had the honor and the privilege of seeing the one and only Mike Dooley at a motivational workshop last Sunday in DC. Mr. D has been featured in The Secret, and his book Infinite Possibilities recently hit the big time on the New York Times best seller list. He was talking about harnessing the magic of life to create unbelievable awesomeness. There was one point in particular that really affected me, and it was when he said "Just show up."

Yes, Just Show Up. We're always looking for the magic solution, the knock 'em dead one liner, and the right card to play. Well, for me at least, and it was encouraging to hear Mike touch on this theme, life is a series of small steps, actions, and each of our individual Romes are built with a hundred thousand bricks.

He had the great point of just doing a little extra. He told a story about his neighbor who's so practical he's downright zennish. The neighbor told his kids in the corporate world "Look, just get to work five minutes before you need to, and leave just a little later than your coworkers."

What if us musicians complained a little less than our peers about the industry, and wrote a song instead? What if us artists just spent an extra minute picking that perfect color? What if we showed up at our gigs a little extra excited to play music? What if we were constantly and consistently striving towards our dreams with small, mundane, but measured steps?

What if we just showed up?

Luck will certainly have a better chance of finding us. The thought struck me: If God/the Universe were a CEO at the local networking meeting, wouldn't we make a point to make sure we attended those meetings on a very consistent basis in the hopes of catching her eye? Even if we were just the coffee pigs? (See Muppets From Space to get the reference. Ms. Piggy is a coffee pig at a TV show.)

Start networking with luck! And Just Show Up!

Thanks, Mike!

Rock on!

- Josh

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Go Fly a Kite

What's up, good people?

Inspiration is a topic that's integral to a multitude of topics, including, but not limited to,.........zzzzzz...

OK, let's try that again! Most of you reading this blog are artists of some sort, right? And art needs electricity, energy, and inspiration to really go BAM! and rip everyone's face off, metaphorically speaking, right? And many times we go to create our art, and there just ain't no inspiration to be found, right?

What to do, what to do? It's like we're waiting to be zapped by lightning, but the sky is as cloudless as...uh, whatever is usually cloudless. Not a storm cloud anywhere, and certainly no high-voltage inspiration ready to strike us like a divine flyswatter.

I was chatting with a client today, and I asked him how his songwriting was going. "Not too good" he said. "I haven't been inspired lately."

This idea popped into my head, and I shared it with him.

Songwriting (or any other creative pursuit) is a skill, and like any other skill, it improves with practice. I've found that while, sure, it's best if a song just tumbles out of your mind, often times it doesn't. Wrestling with it, sweating to hammer it into a framework, yelling, pulling your hair out, calling your mother and whining about how the song is really lousy, reading books on the craft of it, taking walks and talking to yourself to figure out your sound, checking facebook a dozen times, and then finishing sometimes the way it goes for me.

And you know what I've found? Inspiration actually starts to show up. Of course, I want to have a kernel of something I care about in the song, or a topic that means something to me. Suicide (I lost a cousin to it), war, being zany...All of these things matter, but sometimes that doesn't write the song automatically, or guarantee that it'll be easy.

It seems, though, as I create the tune, commit lyrics to the paper, build the drum tracks, dial in the guitar tones...that slowly, but surely, the inspiration starts to gather and crackle in the air.
It's as though the act of me striking out to write a song starts the process of the storm clouds gathering, and I'm building a platform high in the sky that's a lightning rod for genius. It might be a perfectly clear day when I set out building this platform, but as the structure goes in to place, the sky darkens.

If you want to capture that electricity, sometimes ya gotta be like Ben Franklin, and go fly a kite up in that sky! And then it'll find you.

Rock on!

- Josh

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ten minutes


Wow, does life ever stop? No! And that's a good thing! I mean, people die, but to do lists never, ever vanish.

Wait, don't cry! There's hope! Life is like a gym, and always throwing challenges at us. They make us stronger, if we lift 'em.

With music, or anything for that matter, sometimes it seems impossible to get anything done. Take gardening - ever time I turn around, I need to do hours of yardwork, bro! And it's just discouraging. I'm in the middle of the CD project, bills keep showing up and....You get the picture. I was on the phone with my Mom, and the idea came up that goes like so:

Ten minutes a day hacking away at a project is a great start.

Sure, it would be great if we could practice for ten hours a day every day, but you know what? Most of us can't. So instead of putting off that practice, or that yardwork, or that financial planning, just dedicate ten minutes a day to each challenge. Whittle down those anvils hanging over your head, and watch your skill grow. Ten bucks to a savings account is way better than nothin', and the same with your practicing. As the Samurai would say, "Attack the Corners!"

And as System of a Down would say......


Rock on!

- Josh