Monday, October 31, 2011

A Scary Revolution

Happy Halloween, Comrades!

Boy, oh boy, I love this holiday. Well, actually, it's mixed for me. I'm one of the few people walking around that actually had a nice childhood, and let me tell you, Halloween was always something to look forward to.

But then I got too old to go around dressed as a werewolf, or even my coup d' 'etat of Halloween - the whole family dressing up like dad. (I was Working Dad, complete with a dress shirt.) The idea of going as the Jackson Five was even floated a few years, but we figured we'd end up inadvertently offending the neighborhood located in Prince George's county, the most affluent African American in the nation. We'd have shocked neighbors, AND no candy. So, we didn't do that.

So, now, I sit, mope, and try to stay away from candy, as I'll surely try to stifle the tears for a childhood lost with caramel and chocolate.

I wonder what it would be like if the creatures of the night really existed, and imagine the logistical nightmares (daymares?) of the vampire in charge of the Halloween Gala. "Trolls are so uncouth!"

But, I'll snap out of it, because hey, I am dressed pretty cool today. I've got my red and white striped shirt on, and I'm Waldo - the man all you ladies have been looking for!

And, I've got some exciting news!

1- Did I mention Skype lessons? That's right! I'm now officially offering online guitar lessons. Drop me an email or comment on this blog if you'd like to try one for free. Now, the Revolution literally can take over the entire world!

2 - I'll be hosting a radio show this Saturday, November 5th, from 3-5 pm on WDCE 90.1 FM Richmond. Check out to listen in! Drop me an email with a request, check out the Facebook page, and I'll play it for you!

Now, go have a Happy Halloween, and try not to cry in the chocolate.

- Josh

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thanks, Joe!

Hey Comrades!

Wow, it's been a little while! I've been going at a furious pace, but it's paid off...I've got a new car! Well, it's slightly used. The Revolution now has reliable wheels. It's a 2003 Ford Escape, and I LOVE it! Not to worry, though, the blog-inspiring and police-attracting mighty Z-28 is still on the roster, awaiting some TLC and a new fuel pump.

But enough about cars...Today I'd like to thank Joe Walker from Deft Digits for hosting a guest post from me.

Check it out here! It's my story of how I was finally convinced to use a metronome, and how John Petrucci changed my life. Read it, comrade! And thanks, Joe!

Hey, a quick heads up...Looks like I'll be able to get to Richmond now, and hence, host a radio show! If you're not a fan of The Signalman on Facebook, check it out for dates 'n times!

Vive la Revolution!
- Josh

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mr. Simon

Hey hey!

Any of you comrades familiar with Paul Simon? It's his 70th birthday today! I've never met him, but would like to sincerely thank him for all of the music he's brought to this world. I first heard him one bright sunny day. I've probably told the story before, but here it goes again.

See, my dad taught me about classical music. I've had a lifelong appreciation for the art form thanks to my pop.

Now my mom, while always supportive of the classical music, really deserves credit for opening my eyes to the poetry of lyrics. Fitting, as she's a poet herself:
And Paul Simon plays an integral part in this story.

So, back to this bright sunny dad in the 90's. I think I was ten or eleven years old, and mom, with her classic German tendencies, must have said to herself "we must get a CD player now, ja!" The next thing I knew, she walked in the front door with an Aiwa 3-disc stereo system under her arm, and a Simon and Garfunkle greatest hits CD. I think there was only that, and a Beethoven album in the house, so one of the spaces sat empty in the changer. This was before the days of a thousand CD's!

She set up the stereo, and the sounds of Mrs. Robinson soon filled the living room. Those plastic speakers sure seemed magical! I remember sitting around with my brothers, with mom leading the discussion of the symbolism of tracks like The Sounds of Silence. Simon and Garfunkle sure had a way with words, and I was quite impressed. I remember being vaguely inspired to try to learn guitar, but that would happen a few years later when I saw how electric guitars could rock the house. I remember the lyrics most clearly, and sitting around on that bright, sunny day in the living room, talking about what the songs meant.

A few years later, as I've mentioned before, I was listening to the tune Old Friends as a friend of the family lay dying in the hospital. That song defined that experience for me, and one of the lyrics goes "How terribly strange to be 70." It's wild that Paul turns exactly that age today. Check out this cut off the album Bookends:

Notice the album art, too. Here's my photoshop project for the day:

So, thanks mom, for introducing me to lyrics, and thanks, Mr. Simon, for writing them!

Happy Birthday!

- Josh

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Radio W-YOU

Hey Comrades!

When's the last time you've had a cheese sandwich? I'm eating one right now, and man is it good!

I wonder how many people have independently invented such a glorious creation. It must be a very high number, indeed.

Which brings me to the topic of today's conversation.

I'm not sure if I read it somewhere, or just came up with it, but did you ever think that we're all like radios? Let me explain. I'm a huge classical music fan. I've been ever since I was a little kid, when my dad taught me a lot about it. Sometimes I'll be listening to the local station, and send him a text like "Dvorak 9th on now!" I'll get a text back "2nd movement? Is that a flute or English horn?" "Nah, I missed it!"

We both are obviously listening to the same station, and hear what it's broadcasting.

Now, what if each of us had our own "radio station" of sorts, and we were the only receiver in the universe? What if we each had a unique frequency that we could listen to? Some of us are tuned to the jazz station, others the rock show, and man, some days, I feel like I've definitely got a talk show!

Beethoven had one, and it was playing the 9th symphony. Ozzy's broadcasted "Crazy Train."

Here's the funny thing - absolutely no one else can translate the frequency into music. Only the person "tuned in" to their own radio can.

Now here's the scary thing - If nobody else gets that song out there, it dies with the person. For you see, there was nothing inevitable about the Moonlight Sonata, Purple Haze, or Take Five. They never had to be written. A cheese sandwich may be reinvented every day, calculus may be formulated, and the laws of the universe discovered, but it's almost as if they were there to start with, simply waiting to be found. Now, that's not to scoff at Newton, Einstein, or me, Mr. Cheese Sandwich inventor (real man of genius), but an artistic creation is different in the fact that it's not inevitable.

As you see, it's important to listen to your radio.

And it's paramount that you don't let anyone turn it off.

People will try to do this surprisingly often. Why, I'm not sure, but especially with the anonymity of the Internet, they can hide behind avatars and snipe most viciously. With the whole world being wired, it almost seems that people are even starting to confuse the real world for Facebook. As a matter of fact, I caught myself talking as if I was online the other day.

Unsolicited opinions especially seem to jam our signals, but recognize the gravity of a station signing off the air - that music is gone forever. Sometimes we can take things philosophically and in stride. Sometimes we need propaganda. This is just another reason why I'm pleased that the Revolution isn't a democracy! Ha!

This radio example isn't just for musicians. It's for any and every person on the planet. What is your station playing right now?

Turn it up,

Monday, October 3, 2011

Happy Birthday, Stevie!

Hey Comrades!

Guess what! It's Stevie Ray Vaughan's birthday today! Wow, what a cool guitarist.
Man, of all the musicians, he's probably had the most influence on me.

I've been thinking a lot about changing the world. When I was sixteen, I was sure I could if I got mad enough and worked really hard.

When I was eighteen, I trained other people how they might better the planet.

When I was twenty, I gave up.

At twenty five, as you've been reading, I'm really not quite sure which way is up. The world is melting, and I don't know where we, as a species, stand.

And now it's Stevie's birthday. This day causes me to reflect. While, in the past, I've noticed at how little one person can do, today, I see how much one person can. Fifty seven years after his birth, and twenty one after his death, he's still speaking to people through music.

So I guess what we say matters...

On a humorous note, what we type matters, too. I had a new client the other day. My lesson program offers an introductory free first lesson to new students. Well, this guy shows up with a soda as a thank you. Nobody has ever brought me a thank you first lesson gift before! (Comrades, you can still redeem yourselves, though! Haha!) Then he hands be a bag. Remember, I've never met this guy before. "What's this?" I asked. "Your favorites. I've been doing my research." There, in the bag, was a jar of green olives and a can of artichoke hearts. I think I must have jumped! Crazy stuff! Funny, AND tasty! Thanks, _____ ! I had some yummy pasta last week thanks to you!

Happy Birthday, SRV!

- Josh