Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Berkeley Bob's Performance - 26 Sept, 2015

On the 26th of September, 2015, my daughter and I made the drive to Cullman, Alabama so I could perform my Ambient Soundscape "loopiness" at Berkeley Bob's Coffee House at the invitation of Carlo DeShouten and, of course, "Berkeley" Bob.

Carlo had purchased my CD, "Casting Shadows" via CD Baby (still available by the way) and, as I try to do with anyone who purchases my music, I sent him an e-mail of thanks for the purchase. He responded with an invitation to come to Cullman to perform. As I learned back in my "Heavy Metal" days, never turn down a "gig". So I immediately accepted. Then, I must admit, the thought: "Cullman, Alabama???" crossed my mind.

As much as I've traveled, I've not spent any significant time in Alabama, staying in a couple of towns on my way through the state to other locations. As such, I really only had perceptions from afar as to what life in Alabama was like. And, like many preconceived perceptions, they are clouded by the perceptions of others. Here's the gist of that perception:

  • Civil Rights movement of the 60's
  • Deep "South"
  • Have some pretty good college football teams
  • "Forrest Gump"
  • .....and that's about it...
I really didn't know what to expect. But, as Carlo seemed like a pleasant guy via phone and email communication, I figured his judgment and musical taste was all I needed to load up the gear and hit the road. 

Back in my Heavy Metal days, we would have my buddy Josh be our "roadie/guitar tech" and my band would pretend we were a roving entourage of "Rock Gods". Nowadays.....I talked my 15 year old daughter, Jessica, to come along for the ride for moral support. How times have changed....for the better I might add. 

After 5 hours in the car, we arrived at Berkeley Bob's and immediately saw a flyer with my picture and name on it. My daughter thought this was pretty cool as she immediately got to "snap-chatting" (whatever the heck that is). As we entered, I was warmly greeted by Carlo, Xena (Barista/server) and others. I felt immediately at ease as the coffee house was a pleasant slice of "Bohemia" in a small southern town. 

The performance itself was a structured improvisation. Structured in that I had guide notes on strategy, some pre-recorded beats, etc. Improvised in that.....there were times I didn't have a clue where I was going. But I did have lots of fun and got lost in the music which is really why I do this to begin with. Those moments when I surprise myself and feel like I'm being led and thought is suspended are wonderful. To share this with an audience...even better. 

I did about an hour and 45 minutes of soundscapes and was received very warmly by the audience with some very flattering words and complements. And my daughter was impressed by the kindness shown by all in attendance. 

In summary, a very enjoyable experience. And not just the performance but also getting to spend many hours with my soon-to-be grown up daughter. Its not lost on me that those moments with her are becoming less and less frequent so any opportunity to hang with her is time well spent. 

I'd like to thank Carlo and Bob for inviting me. And thanks to all who attended and treated Jessica and I so kindly. 


Monday, September 07, 2015

Random Thought on Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, and the other social media platforms are a curious, addictive, most-of-the-time useful, sometimes annoying thing. Like many my age (lets just say I pre-date the internet....and remember a time before there was a Star Wars), I use social media to stay connected to friends and family, many geographically distant from where I am. Like most, I will share "memes", videos, articles, etc that interest me. In turn, I will check out the posts of friends (both real and cyber) via my news feed.

One thing I used to do but have vowed to not do any longer is propagate negativity. There are so many items out there that are intentionally provocative, designed to raise the ire of someone. Most of the provocative items are political. Some have religious/anti-religious content. Some are just crude humor, etc.

Now...I have my opinions. And some will and do disagree with those opinions. But there is a difference between expressing an opinion and demonizing or ridiculing an opposing opinion. I do agree that civil discourse and debate is productive and necessary. But, in the context of social media, productive discourse is almost an oxymoron. A "tweet" or a post of limited characters requires brevity. Too often, to convey an opinion with such brevity, most resort to simplistic insults, crude "memes" and the like. What I have found is that such things only agitate and invite retaliation. As brevity and "intellectual laziness" can go hand in hand, the result can be a lot of negativity and pissiness. Take the meme below as an example to illustrate a point:

Now, I'm not going to get into my thoughts on guns and control. I just randomly Googled "gun control meme" and this popped up. Its intended to highlight perceived hypocrisy amongst ant-gun advocates . It simple but as anyone, pro or against, can tell you, the issues about guns in America is far more complex than a simple meme could convey. If I was to share this via FB without any comment or context, I would surely get several angry comments as well as some likes.

Again, I'm not going to debate the issue. But, nor am I going to participate in passing such negative stuff on with the intent of enforcing a negative message (for the record, I'm not a fan of guns and wouldn't send this crap on under any circumstances). In the end, all it does is propagate negativity and little more.

Instead, I'd rather share positive things, reflecting universal truths, spiritual thoughts, etc. I've found that most of the time, such things CAN be conveyed in the brevity required by social media. Case in point:

Both of these memes are taken out of a bigger context but the quote from Merton conveys a message he intended to convey very clearly.  I suppose its easier to express thoughts of hope and love with brevity. And, as such, I'd rather, for my own peace of mind, spread a little positiveness instead of adding to the negativity of the world. God knows there's enough of that out there. If you don't think so, go check your Facebook feed....