Jul 042013
 

Hey I’m on tour – Why not make a tour poster!!! – Cut it out and share with your friends! Oh wait this isn’t the back of a cereal box!

I hope to see you at a gig this summer!!!

~ DG

DG-Tour-Poster-2013-web

Jun 302011
 

I attended a talk about crowd-funding recently with a songwriter’s group. I noticed that except for the presenter and the host, I was the only one that knew what crowd-funding was. I was also the only one in the audience that raised a hand when asked if they might be using crowd-funding in the near future. I was one of the few who asked the presenter any in-depth questions about the nature of crowd-funding (I even asked some leading questions because the presenter was leaving important facts out of his presentation). What was going on here? This was a relevant and interesting topic. Why weren’t more of the attendees participating and asking questions?

As I was driving home from the event I was mulling over some of the ideas that were discussed and I kept coming back to the fact that I was really the only person in the room (besides the host and presenter) that knew about crowd-funding and that had a background of information to draw upon in order to ask pertinent questions. This bugged me. Here we have a roomful of songwriters who could benefit from the information that is being presented, yet because the topic is so far removed from their level of information and experience, they sat there with a blank stare. It’s like these people were students in a 600 level course and they needed the 101 level introduction – everyone was lost in the info-overload.

But this blog post isn’t about crowd-funding. What I realized in thinking about the issue at hand was that most artists I meet are not well informed. They may know their craft and they may know a little about their discipline’s community, but they are not well informed about what’s really going on in the world that affects their community. They are not well informed about how they, as artists, can grow beyond their little hometown and out into the larger world. If you are an artist/singer-songwriter/performer, you need to be plugged in and informed.

So what is needed to consider oneself “informed”? How much of an artists’ day is taken up with getting the news on what’s happening in the world of indie music? I say not a lot and not too much. But just like practicing, it needs to be consistent and high quality. In this part of my blog post, I’m just going to talk about the ‘what’ and not the ‘how’.

Here is how I stay informed. And please feel free to add to this in any way because no one knows it all.

The Essentials:

Books -

Internet -

I still get two print magazines in the mail: Wired and Electronic Musician, but I read them online. I think I get them in the print form so I can get them online for free or as part of the package. For the most part my info comes from the Internet and radio sources and while it looks like a lot of reading, it really isn’t. But just like practicing, being informed needs to be consistent and high quality, so choose your sources well.

Please feel free to add to this in any way because no one knows it all and the list is ever-evolving.

In Part II, I will outline how I use these sources and how easy it is to schedule it into an artist’s day and how I use these sources to keep informed.

Feb 132011
 

Set Lists

I’m about to play a house concert and I’m starting to think about which songs I would like to play. This concert will be for some people that I already have played for and also for some people that I’ve never played for. It will probably be a group of people that are my age (mid 40s and up) so I need to choose my songs carefully so as not to alienate anybody. I want the evening to start off fast, have a smooth part and end up with some fun songs so I can need them happy and wanting more.

What I’m talking about here is creating a set list. This is the guiding list that musicians use so they know which songs they are going to play and in what order. A set list comes in handy when preparing for a show because then you know what to practice. It’s also good to know the audience that you’re going to be playing for so that you can construct a set list that will make the audience more engaged in your show.

I find that the more songs I have to choose from, the easier it is to create an effective set list. But also when you have a large grab bag of songs to choose from, it’s hard to choose which ones you want to play. You say to yourself I want to play them all – I want to play this one, I want to play that one, but in the end you have to choose and that makes it hard.

When I’m playing a venue that affords me the time to play, like two hours or more, then I might go in without a set list. I may have an idea of what songs I’d like to play, but because I have such a large amount of time and the audience may turnover, I tend to pick and choose in the moment.

Whatever the case it’s always good to have a set list – at least to know which songs you might be playing. So here’s my set list for my upcoming house concert. Now all you have to do is just show up to the concert and see how it works.

What do you do – just show up and play? or do you plan ahead?

Set List for House Concert – 2/19/2011

  1. Drivin’ In – uptempo
  2. Halfmoon Road – backbeat
  3. Aunt Jean’s Piano – med tempo
  4. A Southern Man – ballad
  5. Hold On To Her Heart – peppy love song
  6. Too Many Kids In This House! – humorous blues
  7. Steel Mill Town – ballad
  8. Count On You – cute & short
  9. If You Could Read My Mind – ballad – cover song
  10. These Days – uptempo semi-humorous
  11. I Want To Fall In Love Again – novelty, uke
  12. Where You’re Supposed to Be -
  13. One – cover song
  14. My Blue Sky – up tempo – serious
  15. Hillbilly Backyard – humorous blues
  16. Red Haired Woman – rocker
May 092010
 

Someone asked me recently whether I have ever cried because of a musical performance. I said yes and on two occasions. The second time was at a Cleveland Orchestra performance of Mahler’s 2nd Symphony. I went with a friend from grad school and we sat way up in the nose bleed section with the other poor students, but Severance Hall has great acoustics and those seats are actually very good for listening.

Mahler’s 2nd is a long piece and involves lots of musicians and a full chorus plus soloists: a real circus. But it’s an amazing journey that we go on and the finale is… Well I still remember feeling numb for hours afterward and not being able to speak all the way home. And yes, I cried. Not boo-hoo, but tears of connection and resonance with a piece of music and a composer and the audience. The music was the catalyst that set all of those disparate things in motion together and I felt it keenly and on a deep emotional level.

The first time I cried because of a musical performance was when I was on stage playing. It was during a performance of the Holst Suite in E Flat, Op. 28, No. 1. Not familiar with it? Then you’ve probably never played in a wind ensemble because it is a requisite piece of music for all bands of a certain caliber. But I’m sure you know Gustav Holst’s suite entitled The Planets, you know Mars, anyway… I hope…

I was a euphonium and trombone major in college and this piece of music calls for the tuba and euphonium (which is often referred to as a tenor tuba) to play a strikingly beautiful melody in octaves in the opening. The theme is then passed on to the trumpets, etc.

On this occasion we had a guest conductor H. Robert Reynolds who began the piece with out a downbeat. o indication of a beginning from the conductor? Wha? But he just looked at me and the tuba player, smiled and we started – perfectly. It was beyond real. It was beyond magic. It was very spiritual. I don’t quite remember how I continued to play because I felt like I was disappearing into the sound and after the performance I couldn’t speak and was crying. My fellow low brass friends all thought I was nuts, but there was something in the emotion and connection to the sound, the conductor and the moment that was… beyond words. Just as with the Mahler it was about the connection and the resonance with the music as the thing that bound it all together.

So, I recently put the Holst Suites on my iPod and have been listening and trying to remember that Spring concert of 1985. The music is there, but the perfect storm is not present to make me feel the same as I did that day and that time. Perhaps it is why I keep at it, music that is, to experience that feeling again with the audience, the connections, the resonance and the sound.

At a gig I just played in NYC a person in the audience came up to me after and told me that one of my songs made her cry. What is it about this music thing? The connection. The resonance. Very powerful stuff. Very powerful indeed.

Mar 292010
 

I’m tired of conflict. I’m tired of hate spewing voices and aggressive acts of mindless violence, discrimination and lack of compassion. So — I’m gonna pick up my guitar and play, just like yesterday. Thanks Pete!

It should be of no surprise, but let me point it out anyway, that the only communal human activity in which it is impossible to interact negatively is in musical performance. Now, let me clarify that statement before some of you start to point out what you think is wrong with my statement. By performing I mean the people/artists actually playing the music via instrument or voice. They are the ones that I specifically recognize as unable to be at odds with the other performers on stage. Impossible. The listening audience may be moshing around and tearing at the seat cushions, but the performers are in sync and are harmonious in their actions.

Think about it. Have you ever witnessed a band, string quartet, percussion ensemble or kazoo octet not getting along as they played their music? Acting and dancing may come in a close second, but it is not he same – there is no sustained byproduct like the vibrations that fill the air from a musical performance. Conflict may arise from a musical performance but it occurs before or after the music is being made or when something or someone disrupts the performance. The music stops, people address the issue, but while the music plays, there is no conflict between them.

When I go to concerts the musicians are usually smiling. Sometimes they may have a stern face because they are concentrating in order to listen and interact. But there is no prejudice, no animosity, no hatred while the music plays. Even if the musician is performing solo there is an inner peace that allows the music to flow out of them. It’s like  the act of creating music dissolves all hostility and soothes the savage breast.

But what about music that has a message? Music that inspires men to go off to war? Music that inspires love? Well that’ something entirely different from what I’m talking about. Performers have no real control over how the listener interprets the sounds. My focus is the performer. The pure artist that engages in music for the sake of creation. And I say that in that creation there can exist no conflict and no hate. As the Sex Pistols played ‘Anarchy in the UK’, the audience may have been bloody, but the boys in the band were in harmony and not in conflict. Until they stopped the music.

OK, so we have to be playing music constantly in order to stay out of trouble. No. But, as in meditation it’s what we carry away from the practice that sustains our ability to be present. So perhaps through consistent performance of music we can carry away feelings of compassion and empathy. Just a thought.

I’m in the middle of budget cuts once again. The school system in which I teach has been cutting away and we all know what gets trimmed: music, art and home economics. It would seem to me that these should be the last subjects to cut. Home Ec teaches us how to eat. Art teaches us appreciation of life, beauty and creation. And music teaches us how to get along – communal non-aggression. That seems like a recipe for the survival of our species if I ever heard one: eating, creation and co-existence. But the people with their hands on the purse strings say otherwise and choose to diminish the role of the arts in our lives. Sounds like a conspiracy to keep us angry, hungry and silent.

Well it seems my only response is to play my guitar like I did yesterday, will today and plan to do tomorrow and then get on my knees and pray I won’t get fooled again.