Saturday, May 28, 2011


When, Where, Why, And How Much?

I think that all us musicians have to find our right relationship with music: the "business", gigs, practice, jamming for fun, recording, writing, going "pro", when and at what level and how much to do all of the above, and how to balance all that with our "other lives: family, making a living, and what we need as a total person.

I believe, if we are honest, that this is an on-going process. Even if we happen on an arrangement that feels perfect and even if that arrangement rolls for years, I think it's still wise to check in and see if anything has changed on a regular basis.

I can't tell you how many times I've had to search my soul and come up with yet another new way to hold music in my life. I've been a gung-ho careerist and I've quit completely, sometimes for years at a time, more than once. I've played tons of gigs and none at all, just the cherry gigs and anything I could get, loved it, hated it, and everything in between. And I've been doing this since 1975!

Maybe for those whose careers take off big time while they are young, this whole thing is easier. I don't know. But for those of us who have lives outside of music and whose music is not setting the whole world on fire, this is an ongoing subject of interest. In fact, one of the major subjects I talk about with my musician friends is when, where, why, and how much do we or should we play music.

I'm as happy as I've ever been with my current relationship with music and how I do music in my life. And it's stayed pretty much the same for over 5 years now. But I do regularly check in with myself to see if anything has changed...because being a musician is like being married: you change, she changes, and unless you keep talking and checking in, you grow apart, and that's not good.

I've struggled with my relationship with music for many years, and I'm hoping my current approach will hold me for the rest of my life, but you never know...

I play any and everywhere I can, anywhere that feels right, without regard to money or status or "over-saturating" my market. I just like making my sound and seeing what comes back. Tips? Indifference? CD Sales? More gigs? Nice comments? Smiles? Whatever.

I don't feel entitled to anyone's attention and if someone does listen, and likes what I do, I'm sincerely grateful. In today's music saturated world, it's a minor miracle!

I approach recordings the same way. I record and post everything I write on my site where it's available for downloading free or with a donation. And again, I just keep doing this and seeing what comes back. I'm not courting attention or trying to figure out what "the people" want to hear. I'm focused on what I feel like singing about, making my sound, and doing it my way. Then I see what comes back. I list all my stuff with CD Baby too, so it is available for sale at places like iTunes, etc. but that's mostly to help people find my site...So far so good!

I think the nicest thing about doing it this way is that my attention is free to focus on the most enjoyable aspects of being a musician: writing and playing music, and not on the least enjoyable aspects of being a musician: marketing, status, how successful I am, do people like me?, politics, etc. I just said, "Fuck it." to all that stuff. I hardly think about it. I'm 90% focused on the work which really improves the quality of my life and time, which has always been my main interest in life anyway. In a little while it won't matter whether I even lived at all, let alone wrote songs, or did it better than someone else. I want to enjoy my life while I'm living it...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bob Dylan's Birthday Bash

All Dylan All Night!

One of my very favorite Ashland music events is happening on Monday, May 23rd, 2011 at The Wild Goose (2365 Ashland Street, Ashland, OR). It's the 10th annual Bob Dylan's Birthday Bash Open Mike.

That's right we celebrate Bob's birthday, in this case his 70th, by singing nothing but his songs all night long. Starts around 8pm and goes until late. All manner of fans, freaks and devotees come out of the woodwork for this one! The funny thing is that after singing nothing but Bob's songs for 4 hours or more, you have the sense that you've only scratched the surface of his material!

It's also really nice to spend a night celebrating someone else. Most of us musicians are self-involved enough! This year I'm planning to sing all 12 verses of "Up To Me", a song that was dropped from "Blood On The Tracks" and one of my very favorite Dylan songs. Stop by if you're in the area.

We usually do this on the Monday closest to his birthday (May 24th) each year. Hosted by my good friend George Clark, who actually wears a Dylan wig and costume. We also have a house band well versed in Dylan-ology if anyone wants backup.

Themed Open Mike

Songs About Animals

Starting in April of 2011, I started hosting a monthly Themed Open Mike at local bar here in Ashland. The bar, one of my favorites, is called The Wild Goose. If you're ever in Ashland, OR, it's at 2365 Ashland Street. Lot's of live music, karaoke, and fun stuff going on all the time.

I play there on the Second Wednesday of every month, but this Themed Open Mike is on the First Wednesday of every month. Each month we limit the songs people can play to a different theme. The first one was "Songs About The Weather" and the following month was "Road Songs".

The next one, which will be June 1rst 2011 will be "Songs About Animals". Sign-up is at 7:30pm and the show starts around 8pm. So far these events have been a blast, really fun. It's been great to see what people come up with when they have a somewhat limiting theme. I'm not super picky about what people can play. Any song that mentioned roads or highways or cars or travel was fine for "Road Songs" night. The main thing is just to get people thinking and seeing what they can come up with. Spoken word artists, covers and original songs are all welcome.

Myself, I have many, many songs, so a limiting theme is actually welcome to help me figure out what to play. I have a list of many ideas for future themes that I bring to these events. At some point in the evening I read from the list and we all decide what the next month's theme will be. Here's what the list looks like right now:

Wild Goose Themed Open Mike Ideas

Break-up Songs

Bad Songs That You Love

Neil Young Night

Funny Songs

Songs About Losing

Political Songs

Songs About Songs/Singing/Music

Songs About Illegal Drugs

Drinking Songs

Sad Songs

Love Songs (We'll probably save this one for February...)

Favorite Songs That You Didn't Write

Songs About Food

Songs About The Ocean

Songs Of Regret

Songs About Work

Songs About Natural Disasters

Songs About The Seasons

Songs About Trains

Songs About Cities and States

And the ones we've used already:

Songs About The Weather (April 6th, 2011)

Road Songs (May 4th, 2011)

Songs About Animals (June 1rst, 2011)

If you're ever in Ashland and want to see if this event is still happening, please go to my site: where you can not only find all of my music available for downloading free or with a donation, but there's a "Workshop and Performance Schedule" link at the top of every page.

And here's a link to an older post here about Open Mikes and why I love them:

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Favorite Posts~Part Two

Here are some of my favorite facebook posts. Some are comments on other people's posts, some Wall posts of my own:

Everything is so relative...I check my youtube channel often, just to see how things are going view-wise. When the video for "Jump You Fuckers" gets less than 100 a day, I think, "Hmmmmm slowing down..." But many of my videos have less than 100 views total. If any of them went up 100 a day, I'd be thinking "Wow! This thing is taking off!"

Fight for Universal Health Care if that's what you want, but don't wait for it. Start right now and take the best care of yourself that you can. And make friends. Connect with people. The best insurance I know is: Don't get sick and have a bunch of real friends.

Finally got around to watch "Smiley Face" on Netflix recently. It's now on my short list of all time great stoner movies. That Anna Faris is just fantastic. If you like this sort of thing, this is the kind of thing you like.

And what are the others on my all time great stoner movie list? I like: Up In Smoke, Half-Baked, Harold And Kumar Go To White Castle, Friday, Idle Hands. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Big Lebowski and Reefer Madness. I now add Smiley Face. And I'm sure I forgot one or two...

I have a new song called "I'm So Married". I was saying to Samarra that it seemed to be really popular with women. She said, "Yeah. You're a wet dream on paper." I said, "Yeah, so are you..."
We've have been laughing about this ever since.

Here's how to quit smoking: Just do a huge bong rip every time you want a cigarette. Soon you won't be able to find them.

Hey all you women out there, if you want me to talk to you, ASK. The next woman, drunk or sober, who grabs me by the arm in a bar and won't let go, gets an Aikido wrist lock applied to them. Men never do this. It's always women and rarely young ones. And I really, really, don't like it. Anyone out there like it when a woman does this to you?

I once looked at a can of "Potted Meat Food Product" which is basically dog food for people. The first ingredient, the first mind you, was "Partially de-fatted beef fatty tissue". I'm generally an opportunistic omnivore, kinda like a raccoon....but I've never actually eaten any PMFP.

14 word poem starting with the word "Whether".

Whether God is God
or God is not
is not for God
To know.

Give me one back (14 words, starting with "whether") and then I'll do one for you, but you know, nothing crazy, give me a short poem simple challenge, no intricate classical forms here. As long as it doesn't get crazy, I'll do this on and off for the rest of the evening. I'm multi-tasking...

I think "Shit Storm" would be an excellent band name, action movie title, or action movie hero nickname. Feel free to steal it, but if you make a lot of money...I do have a tip jar at my web site.

I think maybe two, possibly three superlatives in the first sentence of a facebook post or email is the most I can take without losing interest. Piles of these words seem to have the opposite effect on me than the writer intends. They are so overused that rather than intensify the communication, they de-intensify it, and become like white noise to my mental ear.

I think the ability to hold opposing perspectives in one mind is a great evolutionary achievement and just as much a part of Nature as anything else. It may not always be efficient, but it does produce amazing things. I think Nature itself expresses this tension in its constant balancing acts. What it means, or where it's going, or whether this trait will be lasting, helpful, or doomed to a quick extinction, I do not know...But I have it and I enjoy it, even if it's not always pleasant.

I tried to read "Atlas Shrugged" but it just didn't grab me at all. I found "The Fountainhead" a good read though it certainly lacked verisimilitude. It seemed more like an essay designed to prove a forgone conclusion than a living breathing work of fiction. Although her fantasy was engaging and the certainty of her hero enviable, at least to the kid in me, I always felt like nothing in the writing process could ever surprise Ayn Rand. She seems to know exactly how everything will go and how it will all end, because she writes the world she wants to be true and makes it so. But the world in her books is not the mysterious, unexplainable, messy thing that I live in. I enjoyed TF for what it was, a battle of ideals in someone's head, but it never really "lived" for me.

I write at least a little every day. Many song ideas going at once. For many weeks none were ripening, then suddenly 5 were ready for picking, plus one stubborn fragment that I hoped I could use as a very short song. 1-3 were quickly done, #4 came more slowly & then #5 suddenly died! But the short one suddenly came alive & practically finished itself after remaining a fragment for months! These are like my kids.

I'm scared to find out who's blocking me. I just pretend everyone's just too stunned by the power of my words to comment or even hit the "like" button...

I've also heard that "explanation is autopsy", but I beg to differ. Even though explanations are never complete or ultimately accurate, they can be very helpful. You just have to embrace and be OK with their limitations. I don't like the general anti-intellect bias that so many lazy, unthoughtful people have. Just because words can't nail down "the truth" doesn't mean there's no value in trying. Also, complaining is one of the great stress releases and pleasures of life. I would say, Don't get stuck in complaining, give it 20 minutes and move on; and Don't get stuck in explaining, give it your best shot and then move on. The Tao that can be explained may not be the true Tao, but it's the only one we have.

Ideals do not exist in the physical world. If they did they wouldn't be ideals, they would just be life. They are like the stars the ancient mariners steered by, but did not hope to get to. If you want to steer TO your stars, it's going to take a much, much bigger boat and a lot more energy.

If anyone else enjoys or gets benefit from the words I come up with, so much the better, but even just aiming for the right ones is worth the effort for me.

If I play a game, I play to win, and I play like winning the game is truly important. But as soon as I win or's just a game. What's important is what I learned, what I saw, what I took away from the game.

In the Bizarro Universe where everything is reversed, you add "Enemies" to your "Assbook" profile and you don't poke them. You stab them...

Just because everyone's out to get you doesn't mean you're paranoid.

Let him without weird green candied lumps cast the first fruitcake.

Letting my hair grow out is like being given a free high maintenance hat.

In case anyone's heard of anything....I'm living for a new place to look. Preferably not too expensive... ;~)

Nothing personal here, but if I see one more post where someone comes to the Earth shatteringly profound conclusion that "We Are All One" and then shares it like it's the Revelation, I am going to conclude that "We Are All Six". "We are all one" is the ultimate abstraction. The Universe abstracted into 4 words. All junkies do this, reduce all their problems to just one...

One of Shakespeare's characters, a tutor, advises his student: "Study what you most affect." I always liked that advice...although I don't object to Astronomy...

p;lokjhgfdsxzcvbnm,./,mghfdrewrtyuiop67o90=-09765431'...Just cleaning my keyboard...

Robbie posted "Love" tonight, so I had the odd experience of "liking" Love. I wrote a song a while back with the line "I just like being in love with you." My old musical partner Vic said, "That's a very Gene Burnett kind of line. No one else around here would put it that way..."

Safety is vastly over-rated. And we are largely very safe already. Compared to the Middle Ages we living in The White House with a full security detail on red alert. But then, as now, the best insurance is not a bunch of laws, but a bunch of friends. And I'm not saying laws are useless, just let's not rush to them to address what is after all the human condition.

Scheduling some unscheduled time is ironic and maybe a paradox...but do it anyway!

Sometime it's rational to be irrational.

The following is a slight exaggeration: there is no such thing as "off the record" anymore: Note to all public and non-public figures: The mike is always on. If you don't want something heard by the whole world, don't say it.

We type things up, but we write things down, in order to get our point across, and win someone over to our side. We can put up a front, but it's good to watch our backs, and get out from under the tendency to avoid seeing things from top to bottom...OK look, I have a preposition for you....

What's my sign? I used to be "Deer Crossing" but now under the new adjusted Astrology I'm "Yield"

What's so bad about living a creative, kind and decent life and then melting back into the cosmic soup and letting some other form of life take a ride on my carbon? What's so bad about doing this just for the joy, adventure, and satisfaction of pulling it off? Is believing in some kind of personal immortal soul really necessary? Does life need any more meaning than this?

When someone's condescending to me...I just feel too sorry for them to call them on it...

Which do you think is closer to your idea of true love, accepting and embracing people as they are, without trying to change or improve them, or, by using the carrot or the stick, encouraging them to be the best or most successful person they can be.

Wow. You know how it feels when someone rejects you? Just looks you in the eye and says, "It's over." What if it happened near the very end of your life, and it wasn't just one person but your whole frickin' country? Gee, I hope Hosni is feeling OK. Maybe one of us should call him.

I realize I'm dipping into Abbot and Costello territory here, but all you have to do is substitute "Who" for "Hu" and you get some pretty funny headlines.. Hu says China not a military threat to any nation (AP)

"Conscious" means "to be aware of", not aware of what you are aware of, and behaving with your priorities in mind. To cover someone with the blanket term "unconscious" just because you don't agree with them is arrogant and a misuse of language IMO. Surely, you can find better words to say what you actually mean than to call someone you don't agree with, "unconscious". I think, Unconscious of what? Everyone is unconscious of something...

I've traded in my benign dictatorship for a more parliamentary system...
I just mean that my head used to be in more direct control of my life and body in more authoritarian forceful kind of way. Now I give all the ministers in my head their say, or song, as it were. The "majority" still forms my internal "government" but everyone gets their say, even "minority" points of view. Whereas I used to banish minority views that were not in alignment with my dominant paradigm at any given moment...

Everything contributes to the downfall of humanity. It's inevitable. Cheerfully yours, GB ;~)

You may saaaaaaay I'm a dreamer....but you'd be wrong. '~)

Book Review

Climbing Mountains and Eating Punches by Adam Chan

Disclaimer: Adam and I recently exchanged books and he's already posted a positive review of mine (T'ai-Chi For Geniuses~A Practice Companion For The Genius In Everyone).

This is a book written by a martial artist for marital artists, but for the imaginative reader, or for people interested in common sense self defense, or for people who are interested in training, regardless of the discipline, there is much here that can be applied to other areas of life besides fighting.

The book is a series of essays, notes and observations documenting Adam Chan's development as a martial artist and his search for pragmatic, real world self defense skills. This is the driving theme of not only this book, but of his practice and teaching as well. No matter what the technique, style or lineage, the questions Adam keeps asking are: Will this work in the real word of unexpected, emotionally or criminally driven, no rules street fighting? Will it work against opponents who really want to harm or kill you and not just practice sparring?

Relentless in his search for real world effectiveness, he is also humble and always learning. This is not a book by an overly confident, strutting, macho, "I can take anyone down.", kind of guy. With equal emphasis on "Martial" as well as "Art", Adam explores the world of training, drills, techniques, styles and principles, trying to distill the essence and true meaning of the words "self defense". Written in an easy going and very conversational style, which might take a few pages to get used to, the reader is quickly welcomed into the author's genuine and sincere desire to penetrate the veils of "the best style" or "the best method" and get to what works. I found this refreshing. So many martial arts books are about what the author has nailed down and not about seeing the "art" part of the picture, the part that's beyond particular forms and styles, the part that's always growing, changing and evolving.

Through his stories about growing up in difficult family and social situations, being drawn to martial arts first as a survival necessity and later as a self-revealing and self-developement art, and finally to his reluctant role as teacher, Adam shares his journey with a sincere desire to help all people avoid becoming victims of not only physical violence, but of dogma and narrow minded-ness as well. This book is about keeping an open and yet critically discerning mind when pursuing any kind of physical training.

In my own practice of T'ai-Chi I like to make a distinction between martial training and combat training, with the former being training in martial principles for personal development and general balance skills, and the latter being about being able to use those principles in real world fighting. While I am firmly on the "martial" side of what I would call the "martial/combat" divide, I like to get as close to that line as I can without risking injury. This means, in part, mentally, and with intention, exploring hypothetical situations and scenarios, to get as much of a feel for real life encounters as I can without crossing that line. Watching videos of real fighting can help inform my mind and body, but so can reading books like "Climbing Mountains And Eating Punches". I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and feeling like I was in the company of a good man, doing his best to do good work.

For more about Adam and his book, please visit: