Thursday, October 25, 2012

Letter to Myself


  An honor of the gig is being asked questions like this from a younger musician named Anthony, posted on my World Domination Guitar Academy Facebook page:

I consider myself a guitarist but i know i can improve far more than I am. I am asking if you could give me tips, music, anything to further my guitar skills. I want to be a great guitarist. I wanna be known. I have started a small band that isn't coming together well. No drummer and members are at each others throats. Any tips, info, or words of advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time if you read this.

Anthony!  Thank you for the question!  I'm sorry it's taken me a minute to get back to you.  

OK, first bit of advice - never take advice too seriously.  Even when I'm playing the arena circuit (and I'm not exactly there yet, but working hard at it!) my opinion should be taken with many grains of salt.  However, I do love talking about this stuff, and it sounds like your situation is very similar to the way mine was.  So, here's a few ideas for you.  I hope they prove helpful!

One of the coolest ideas that I've come across for musicians actually comes from the investing book Rich Dad, Poor Dad.  In it, the author states "Mind your own business."  

This doesn't mean "go away, dude."  Nope, it means develop your own business, brand, and sound that's truly yours, and not dependent on anyone else.  Bands are totally awesome, but I think it's a great idea to always have your brand, too.  

For me, if I could write a letter to myself at a younger age, I would have done these things:

Dear Josh,

  Believe it or not, someday you're gonna cut your hair.  In the meantime, enjoy the wolfman look.  However, short hair can rock, too.  As an older version of yourself, here's a few things I could recommend.  

1.  Learn to sing ASAP!  It's a ton of fun, and this way, solo gigs are much easier! 

2.  Start writing songs right away.  It's a skill that's great to practice, just like alternate picking.

3.  Build a side project, complete with a Facebook page, SoundCloud account, etc, that's either just you, or the Josh Urban band.  That way, you'll always have something that you're moving forward, regardless of what band you're in.  

4.  Practice what you're interested in.  Listen to your teachers, but if you'd rather shred than play jazz, do that.  

5.  Get really good at people skills and salesmanship.  Not only are they fun, but very helpful with the business side of music.  Speaking of the business side...

6.  Jump into the business side!  Learn how to book gigs, start building connections with everyone you can (providing they're cool people), and do cool stuff with your music that's a bit out of the ordinary.  

7.  Record all the time!

8.  When you meet music people, do radio interviews, etc, make sure you develop a personal connection with the people, and don't rely on your manager or band leader.  You want to know them yourself.  

9.  Have a blast.  It's music.  You're living the dream, buddy!  

By the way, remember not to fry your hearing, young Josh, and watch out, there's lots of cops in Front Royal, VA.  Your Camaro is awesome, but slow down, son.

Yours truly,
Your older self Josh  

Anthony, best of luck to you, comrade!  Please let me know if I can be of any assistance to what is sure to be a brilliant career.  

Rock on!
- Josh

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Getting on the map


  Boy, oh boy!  There's a LOT to talk about!  I completed my first tour!  THAT was so much fun, and I haven't gotten tired of walking around saying "Oh, that must have been while I was on tour."

So, here's a video recap of the northern half of the excursion (Alexandria, VA, Philadelphia, PA, and New York City.)

Now, for the most recent story - How I got on the map - literally!

I've been stalking around grumpy-like today.  On my way to my teaching studio, I stopped by my mom's house to say hello and eat some food.  It's been pointed out to me recently that I'm like Kramer, always walking in and opening the fridge (usually one that doesn't belong to me.)  As I was finishing up my meal, a funny looking car drove down the street.  "HEY!  THAT'S THE GOOGLE STREET VIEW CAR!" I yelled.  Bolting out the door with a hurried goodbye, I tore off down the street to catch it.

Then - a big yellow school bus lumbers to a halt RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME!  AHHHH!  And the kids - the kids.  The kids know the law  is on their side.  I think we should Mitt Romney the whole thing, and make stopping for a bus dependent on the free market.  Then we'll see how fast those little terrors decide to cross the street.

Meanwhile, the Google Street View car, and my sure shot at immortality, is driving away.

So, I did what any stressed, morose, Type A east coast resident would do.

I honked at the stopped bus.

A little girl sitting in the last seat turns around and just starts staring icily at me.  Now, no matter how stressed out a morose, Type A east coast resident is, one can't take the conventional measures in a situation like this.  I was at a loss, and she just kept staring at me.  The bus started off real slow, and was intent on repaying my courtesy.

THEN - I saw the car zoom on to a side street behind me.  BOOM!  I flipped around, and passed the car in a neighborhood.

I waved like an idiot, and held a Revolution sticker up for the cameras to see.  The driver smiled and waved back.  BOOM!  Now I'm literally on the map!  I'm so excited.

I just got to thinking, though...That little girl will continue to grow up, harboring a deep resentment of me.  I'll continue to grow old, and she'll probably end up as my nurse when I'm in an old folk's home.

Then I'll do what any old, stressed, morose, Type A east coast resident would do...and ring the call button repeatedly.

- Josh