Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Happy Birthday, Bach!


First off, I'd like to wish a very happy 327th birthday to Comrade JS Bach! It brings up the question - will people be playing "Stairway to Heaven" in the year 2340? Probably not. I bet they'll be jammin' on Justin Bieber tunes, 'cause, well, you know how people are. Send 'em to Siberia!

I'm pumped! I've got not one, but two gigs this weekend, plus a radio show! I hope you can tune in! I'll be on the air from 3-5 pm EST.

If you're in the DC area on Friday, stop by the free gig up on U street. Here's the vital stats:

If you're in Richmond, VA, I'll be playing a funky little coffeehouse. This gig is also free admission: I'm playing an unplugged set, something a bit unusual for me. Hey, Three Little Pigs is Three Little Pigs, no matter what you play it on, though!

Which brings me to the next story: I was playing at a marathon this St. Patrick's day. The stage was at mile 17, and the runners were amazing - AND wearing green! I asked one girl if her green tutu helped with aerodynamics, and when I offered to yell encouragement at her, she said quite seriously that she'd hit me. I promptly backed off, and stressed that, above all else, I'd prefer not to be kicked.

Well, there I was, playing Three Little Pigs, and, at mile marker 17, mind you, a runner joins in the chorus when I yell in a falsetto "not by the hair of my chinny chin chin!" It made my day! Remember, that takes a lotta air anyways, and this dude had just run seventeen miles!

I'm off to go fix my acoustic guitar. It keeps eating strings. Popped an elixir-brand string right in the middle of playing Ain't no rest for the wicked at the Marathon. Bummer. I'll have more stories from the road soon!

Remember, tune in to this Saturday, 3/24, and stop by a show if you're in town! And happy birthday, Johann!


- Josh

Friday, March 2, 2012

Images and Reasons


Well, this sure is a funny time for a musician to be writing a blog, but as my comrade Miche just pointed out, artists are hardly...what is that word? Oh yes, predictable.

It's a quiet, rainy night here in Maryland, and surprisingly, I'm not out running around town making fun of Pat Buchanan, introducing unsuspecting people to The Annoying Orange video series, or otherwise making a nuisance of myself. "Apple! Apple! Hey! Hey! Hey Apple!"

I was driving home after watching a few movies with my folks, and I got to listening to one of my new favorite songs, War by Poets of the Fall.

I've been thinking a lot lately about why I'm playing music. Perhaps you've thought the same thing.

Now, it's not really a question of it being my passion, or a connection to my home galaxy of M82 or anything like that. No, it's a train of thought of who I'm doing it for.

I played a gig in Richmond last week, mostly as an emcee, but I got to share a few tunes. This picture was taken at the show.

I'll sound silly, but I'm really a fan of this shot. I look like Eddie Van Halen's little brother, for cryin' out loud!

And, for once, my good-natured vanity will prove useful in the illustration of a point...I hope! (The funny thing is, too, there weren't even that many people at the show, even though it looks like I'm on a mega-stage.)

It took me a long time to get to this shot. Countless hours of guitar practice, vocal lessons where I was so uptight I was literally sweating, thousands of miles driven, and even a bit of time at the gym - AND extra small shirts. Ha! (It's my new brilliant strategy. For some reason, it's not working as well as I though it would.) And this is just the beginning of my musical journey. Now, let me tell you, it's been so much fun in addition to the work.

But - if I could have portrayed any image that evening, this would have been it. Boom, I got it, even though the audio component wasn't in my top ten or even fifty performances. I was in another city playing music, and I even had a hotel room to go back to.

Then, the strangest thing happened. I got off the stage, finished putting tables and chairs back a bit later, and then went to my hotel. I woke up the next day with exactly the same hopes and fears, problems, aspirations, and quirks that comprise a Josh.

That image I presented to the world the previous evening didn't change a darn thing.

Now, the trip was a blast, I got to wander around Richmond, chase trains, meet new people, have way too much caffeine, and sing along to songs on the car stereo. I wasn't, however, any different than before my projection of the image. And strangest of all - The whole sorority didn't turn out and bow to my music. Good thing, too, 'cause they kept staggering by in the strangest assortment of hunting camo shirts and neon shorts. I'm guessing it was a Ted Nugent 80's throwback theme party. I blame it on the alcohol they were obviously consuming. (It does funny things when it mixes with the extra oxygen contained in their skulls.) Maybe if I wear my blaze orange turkey suit next time?

The whole thing made me realize that I've drifted into the ambition of projecting an image, rather than painting a picture, and of talking at, and not with, the audience. Additionally, I was rattled at how dependent I am on other people's opinion of me. This wouldn't be a problem if I was playing music to give my inner self a voice.

Sitting in my car this evening, listening to War, I was pulled back into the soul-stirring reasons that we're all practically compelled to express ourselves. There's just so much inside all of us, and regardless of how we let it out, be it music, sports, nurturing, art, spirituality, or whatever else moves you, it simply must be heard.

So, I'm going to start asking myself why a lot more. Sure, sure, I love entertaining, the comedy bug is biting me (watch out, there's going to be an annoying time when I'm learning the ropes), and it's fun to make rock the venue. But why am I using up my short time on Earth in this particular way? And why are you?

You can tell you're on to something when your soul wants to raise a lighter as you sing along to the music - even if you're not in key.

Rock on, brave souls!

- Josh