2016, the Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Hi folks, this post went out as a newsletter a couple weeks back, and it seems like a good blog entry as well.

I typically try to avoid end-of-the-year recaps, because I like to look towards tomorrow, rather than dwell on the past. I’m a firm believer in making things happen today and planning for the future.  But sometimes it is good for the soul to look back and see if I actually got anything done recently. So I’m going with the flow, and doing a little recap of the year for me, and in general. I’m breaking it into three sections, as implied in the title.

First, the Good: 2016 was a year that produced a lot of musical ideas for me, and offered me some really cool new opportunities. One of these was being asked to write the music for a short form movie, using lyrics written as a prayer by my wife’s best friend. There’s way more to the story, which I’ll share on another day, but I do want to say that the result exceeded my own expectations. In a large part, this is due to the magnificent interpretation of my melody by the awesome Melissa Ridgeway. She set the melody soaring & imbued every note with pure emotion, and I am very excited about sharing this with you all in 2017. And get this – the recording features no guitars! I played piano, & added viola, violin, cello & double bass (kind of a giant cello) via some studio magic. Way outside of my normal wheelhouse, but so much fun to do.

I also renewed some old friendships, expanded some new ones, and had many offers for collaboration. I saw some of my favorite guitarists & bands on tour; saw some great musicals; visited some great cities; and spent time with my family. I added some cool new stuff to my guitar rig and studio setup. I got a new van, which has been a huge help in both my musical life and my home life. My wife and kids are all healthy and happy, and that’s the best thing of all.

Lots of good things happened in the world, too, if we just take the time to see them. There is now a vaccine for Ebola that is 100% effective; pandas and manatees and green sea turtles have been removed from the endangered species list; Cubs fans think the Cubs winning the World Series is a pretty good thing; renewable energy is providing more energy than ever; a solar powered plane flew around the world; malaria is down 60% globally; too many medical technology leaps to list; and charitable donations are up dramatically. There’s more, lots more, but you get the idea.

Now for the Bad:  2016 threw me some curve balls. I had some life-altering health scares. (I’m okay, but it took some work.) Bookings were way down due to so many different reasons I don’t know where to start. Changes in the personal lives of everyone in the band created roadblocks; some venues closed, & others changed their formats and stopped booking original bands. Agents that had told us they could put together small tours would suddenly change their stories about dates and compensation, forcing us to turn down shows because we would end up losing too much money. In the end we only played a handful of shows, some of which were pretty cool, and some were not. On the recording front, the new album didn’t get recorded. Many of the same roadblocks that occurred for bookings interfered with getting anything done in the studio. We got demo versions of two songs done before things crashed completely. And speaking of crashing, the hard drive that contained those demos (and a bunch of other stuff) crashed, taking hundreds of hours of work with it. “What about your backup?” you ask. Well, the backups are all corrupted. Unusable. As I write this a data recovery service is trying to pull what they can from the crashed drive. Some hard lessons learned there.

In the world, of course, celebrity deaths were rampant; the election campaigning was a nightmare; and exploding phones and other strange things made for a very tough year. But let us not dwell on any of it – go back and reread the good stuff. March into 2017 with a positive mindset that you are going to help make the world a better place. Support local musicians, give to charities, volunteer, and commit random acts of kindness. Do it.

Now for the Ugly. This is just some strange things from the past year that I can’t really say are bad, but they definitely aren’t good. Like the “promoter” that contacted me, set up a gig, and never promoted it! He didn’t say he was a “booker,” he specifically called himself a promoter. He never posted a thing on Facebook, Twitter, his website, or anywhere else. How is he a “promoter” then? Next is the “live sound engineer” that did not know what a stage plot is. In case he sees this, here’s an explanation: a stage plot is a chart that shows the sound engineer how many microphones are needed and where they should be placed on the stage. It’s so simple. But he threw it on the ground saying “I don’t know what that is. I’ll figure it out.” But he didn’t! We ended up short one vocal mic, because he “never heard of a singing drummer.” Sigh…  Other Ugly stuff: I used to be in a band called Cheater. I’ve been told we were kind of a big deal for a while, and I thought it might be nice to put out some kind of material for any of our old fans that were interested: demo recordings, live recordings, a book with photos & posters & stories of those days from former members. Well, that drive that crashed also contained most of my digitized files related to this project. Ugh. Close to a hundred hours of work, gone in an instant. Luckily, all the source material is still in my possession, so if the data recovery service can’t save it, I can just start over. But that will be ugly.

Enough of the Bad and the Ugly! Let’s talk about the Good some more. I also updated my web site and web store; released a hand-made, solid oak box set with all four of my CDs; lost weight; and had my master bath completely remodeled! (I now have a shower big enough for me, yay!) I’m certain there are a bunch of other Good things I’m neglecting to mention, but that just means it was a good year. I’m going to look at many of the allegedly bad things as opportunities, and this coming year will see the release of “Obscurotica” as my fourth full-length album, along with the release of “Ramona’s Prayer” and other collaborations in both live and studio settings.

I hope you all have an awesome 2017! Thank you all for your support and interest in what I do. You truly rock!

Until next time, live well and rock hard,