Monday, January 31, 2011

Long Saturday

I finally feel mostly recovered from this past Saturday. From 9 AM until 5 PM, I was recording with The City and Restoration Project at the Dragon Room. Then, at 6:30 PM, I packed up my gear for a performance in Elmhurst, IL, at Cuvee Cellars. I arrived back home at 11:45 PM. Long day? I'll say so.

Saturday was a super-productive session, recording cello for two songs, for two different records coming out in the next four months. "Jump" is a song that I wrote, and The City decided to record a down-tempo version of the song - quite obviously different from the version found on my new solo album, "Fundamental." The other song, "O Love Divine" will be on ResProj's upcoming April release. Thank you so much, Jason Young, for your hard work on these parts. You were great!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Luck and the Art of Waiting

Waiting isn't exactly the same thing as trusting in something to happen.

One of my favorite college professors (his name was Jun) once said that luck isn't being in the right place at the right time, it's putting yourself in a position to be in the right place at the right time.

And I believe him. If we're just talking semantics.

I actually don't believe in luck at all, which is why I made my first statement about waiting. I actually think that a better way to describe my professor's idea of luck is to call it "active waiting". You see, it's knowing (or trusting) that something is going to happen if you just keep going for it. You take steps that move you forward, and sometimes, if you're going the right direction, you'll hit opportunities that can push you even higher.

This is in contrast to just plain ol' "waiting", which means that you're sitting on your keister and still expecting something to happen. And you'd be right - something will: you'll get fat, dumb, anti-productive, and altogether zombified by that glowing box you sit in front of.

So as for me, I find myself in a season of active waiting. Actually, I can't remember a time when I haven't been in this sort of a season. I expect big things to happen and I am actively engaged in trying to make them happen. But I don't think they'll happen because of what I do. Does that make sense? Ultimately, I think they'll happen because they were destined to. (And yes, I do believe in destiny; but not the kind that is most common today, in our culture.)

It's a really uncomfortable place to be, but isn't all of life really uncomfortable anyways? Isn't it better to actually be able to identify the discomfort and just deal with what you believe to be going on through it all? I think so.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

Thanks to everyone who came out to my record release show just this past Friday night. We packed the place and rocked the house. If you didn't have a chance to make it up to the merch table, you can still purchase Fundamental online, from my web store. You can get the regular CD, the Limited Edition, hand-printed CD, or the digital download.

A couple of hours before the concert, I was extremely nervous about how the performance would come off. I definitely felt tense as I performed my first song. I was told, though, that none of that came across. So the night went off without a hitch [mostly], and I was happy to see that I can still draw a crowd in my home town. What's more, I actually have friends who are willing to support my music by coming out to see me play.

A fairly recent goal of mine has been to regularly draw crowds of 100+ in DuPage County, and I think I'm moving in that direction - with your help. Please continue to demonstrate your support for what I do by coming out to concerts and buying my records.

Thank you for keeping this dream alive.

Photo by: Ashley Hodges //

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Reeling, The Fizz Bubbles Over

I just spent the last 15 minutes listening to the recorded audio from tonight's record release concert. Wow. I'm tired. Exhausted. My mind is reeling. I am thankful.

Thank you, everyone, who made tonight a special night for me. Had the room been empty, I confess, I would have been more likely than ever to find another line of work. But as it stands, this night has spared me from that fate - this night. Tomorrow is a new day and yet there is hope.

To those of you who made it out to the concert: you give me great joy. It means that you have considered my music worth a listen. You have validated my work as a songwriter.

This was an interesting night. A bittersweet night. Tonight I also saw that I am physically incapable of exceeding my own expectations in so many ways - but particularly as it relates to being an excellent father, husband, and performing songwriter, all at once. I need grace.

Before this evening, I described the feeling I had as of a soda pop, closed, but shaken - a lot. I had a lot riding on tonight's show - for better or worse. And the last four months have mostly culminated in tonight's performance. I had a fear of what would come after...

It's after now, and I can say that I'm just plain tired. The fizz in the bottle is gone, and what's left is a man ready for bed. Goodnight, and thank you.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Live Show Almost Ready

Those of you who have seen me perform live over the last six months know that I've been working on perfecting some crazy live show stuff. I'm almost there. And I think I'll be ready by the record release concert this Friday night. Yes, in two days. Guitar. Voice. Keyboard. GiO. iMac.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Release Show on Friday!

I can't believe that the release concert for my new album, Fundamental, is this coming Friday! Unbelievable. I've been working my butt off promoting it, and I'm starting to get some positive feedback, which is really encouraging. And, responses are starting to roll in on the concert's Facebook event page. That's even more encouraging! My goal is to pack the place with 75 people or more, and I think we'll be close. Will you be there? I hope!

And I'll tell you what, if you show up (and because you've read this blog post), I'll give you a $5 discount on purchasing Fundamental at the concert! Just go to the merch table and tell the girl behind the table the secret password to get your discount. What is the password, you ask? Just say the words "Fine Lines". She'll take care of you.

Oh, yeah. Details for the show:

FRIDAY, JANUARY 21ST, 2011 9:00 PM
Fundamental Record Release Show
Muldoon's Restaurant and Pub
133 W. Front St.
Wheaton, IL 60187
Price: FREE
Description: Come and hang out with Jay for a night of live music from his new record, "Fundamental." CD give-aways, good drinks and music. Also catch a special viewing of Jay's "The Making of Fundamental" documentary between the first and second set. You must be 21 or over to sit at the bar. Minors may request a seat with a view from the dining area.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Top 25 Albums of All Time - #2

Remember, these aren't ranked in any sort of order. I haven't gotten that particular about this list yet. But maybe once I get a top 25 I can move in that direction...

The second album to make my list is Sister Hazel's 2000 release, "Fortress". It's just another one of those albums that I could never put down - and still now I don't get sick of listening to it. The production on the album is some of the best that I've ever heard, and the harmonies are just tight - in an era that was only just beginning to learn what auto-tune was. The main producer, by the way, was Paul Ebersold.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Top 25 Albums of All Time

Okay, so I don't claim to know everything about pop music... Actually, I'm pretty quick to say that I have never heard the music of a lot of artists out there. But I do know what I like, and I also think that I'm a pretty good judge as to what other people should like, too. Pompous? No, I don't think so. I think that I have been given the honored privilege and ability to critique music well - both on aesthetic and technical levels.

About a week ago, I watched a ten-minute clip of an interview with Josh Ritter, published by some magazine (the video was a part of a series titled something about eating with artists...). In the video, Ritter mentioned that music, like movies and other art, should be judged 15 or 20 years after it has been released (obviously, that's no help to the actual artist living it out in real-time). His point was that a good song is still a good song 20, 50, or 300 years after it is written.

The goal of music criticism is to assess a song or album in a cultural vacuum (outside of current pop trends or stylistic leanings), allowing the music to stand on its own, judging it against nothing but its ability to relate to the human experience across space and time.

I have been thinking a lot about my favorite art of all time - primarily books, movies, and music; and I think I'm going to try to compile a list of my top 25 albums of all time. The difficulty with this is that I have been told that there are some *unbelievable* records out there - ones that people can actually name by name - that I haven't even heard for myself yet, and so I'm going to be taking this slowly, making sure to leave some room in the top 25 for records that I'll have to listen to between now and before I finish my list. (If you have any suggestions, please comment on them on this post.)

So, without further delay, I would like to announce the first (not number one, but just "one of") of my top 25 picks of all time:

And that, of course, is what I am listening to right now.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Are You Kidding Apple!?!?!

So Apple just launched their new App Store application for OSX. It's pretty cool, I must say - not because the store itself is that innovative of an idea (Apple has been selling people stuff on iTunes for years). But the way Apple is delivering and bundling the products and managing their distribution and installation is. For the first time ever, buy iPhoto '11 without iLife '11. And, for a lower price. And, you can install the software on ALL Mac computers you use. Here's the quote about that from the App Store's Help guide:

"After you purchase an application, you can install it free of charge on every Mac you use."

Pretty impressive - especially when Apple just blasts away their delivery and shipping costs, shelf space, and breaks down nearly all possible limits on accessibility (not being near a store, not wanted to drive to a store, not having the time) - and all slashing their software's cost to consumers... Now we're talking some serious revenue generating.

So I'm not one to typically complain about Apple... for two reasons: 1) there is hardly ever anything to complain about and 2) I own stock in the company. But in this case, I found a technical snag that is exceedingly irritating...

I just purchased Aperture 3 from the App Store for $79 (regularly $199 out of the box from a physical Apple Store). Great price on some really excellent software. One, big glitch.

Apparently, iPhoto event descriptions do not convert in to Aperture project descriptions. Where do they go? Into the air. Gone. Zappo. If you want your iPhoto event descriptions in your shiny, brand new, Aperture software, you best sit down with a warm cup of tea on a cold winter's day, cuz cut and paste key commands are going to be your new best friends.

So here it is: Apple, this Aperture problem really sucks. Fix it. Yeah, that's right. I read the message boards. This has been an issue since at least April 2010. If you want people to migrate from iPhoto to Aperture, this has to be fixed. Fix it. Seriously.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Rihanna's "Umbrella" Uses Garageband Loop

Old news, but new to me. I just found this out today.

Rihanna's song, "Umbrella" - yeah, you know it's a hit with many a fella, ella, ella, eh - uses a *free*, Apple-made loop named "Vintage Funk Kit 03", included in Apple's Garageband software. Even Wikipedia says so.

So I guess nobody has to feel bad about using the stock loops that come with these types of software programs any more.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

It Comes from Somewhere Deeper

In the exact opposite way that the dwarves of Middle Earth awoke something from the deep, driven by their greed for mithril, in these past 48 hours, I have found something deep within that has allowed me to work late in to the night promoting my art. I actually can't say what it is at all, or that I've even found it. Maybe it would be best to simply say that when I needed the grace to continue, it was there. It never failed.

Good night, Chicago.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Always Behind, Never Ahead

One problem that I always seem to have is feeling like I am behind, off-schedule, running late, or otherwise incapable of completing a task sufficiently by the deadline that has been set. In my case, the official record release concert for Fundamental is less than three weeks away and the official drop date is exactly three weeks away. Promoting the release show is just one aspect of promoting the record, and promoting the record doesn't just end after the release date.

That said, part of my day today will be spent figuring out what promotion is essential to complete prior to the release show and what can wait. And even more than that, what promotion will be more effective if it is staggered over time, as a part of a larger strategy to build a larger fan base?

These are the questions that an independent artist has to ask - in addition to all of the other, more creative ones: does the chorus on this recording need another guitar part? do those lyrics fit the theme of the rest of the song? what chord am I missing in there?

The trick for the next three weeks will be balancing my desire to be creative and my necessity to do all of the business-y things like handing out flyers, hanging posters, writing press releases, contacting the local media, etc.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year Resolutions

Many of you know that I really take new year resolutions quite seriously. This year, I have kept my resolutions quite simple - mainly so that I can keep them:

1. Read a minimum of four, excellent books.

On the list this year are one classic, one novel, and two philosophy/theology books:
  • Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (in English, unfortunately)
  • The Reason for God by Tim Keller
  • The Forty Days of Musa Dagh by Franz Werfel
  • The City of God by Saint Augustine of Hippo
2. Pray for my family every day.

Contrary to popular belief, I actually do think that prayer can change things. If I actually believe it works, then I should actually do it; and who better to pray for than the people with whom I share most of life?

3. Climb 5.11a.

For those of you who are familiar with the world of climbing, you already know what this means and how difficult it is. I currently climb a weak 5.10b.