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Page 17 of 17 pages ‹ First  < 15 16 17

Blog is done?


I have everything working on the blog now, including having all the old backfilled content in there, I think. The RSS feed should be working, so go ahead and subscribe, get the posts automatically.

The only thing now is to get latinforunemployed.com pointed here, but I'm waiting on my host to fix something before I do. Once that is done, you'll be able to visit using just that URL.

Wed, 2008 04 16 at 12:45 PM |Permalink for this entry

All In The Family?

I'm afraid to start a "family business" but we will see what happens...

My niece told my sister Kathy about my career change. While my niece plays guitar, sings, and writes some lyrics apparently, my sister is learning piano and says she has "lyrics literally everywhere because I write literally everywhere." So we are now talking about doing things together, possibly with various combinations of the three of us. I'm interested in what kind of lyrics Kathy writes. I actually have no idea. Kathy and I are 12 years apart and we are very similar in some ways, and very different in others. It could be an interesting combination.

What's funny is that I seem to be getting way more response to being a musician/songwriter than I ever did to being a web developer. I really thought there would be a lot of interest in me being a web developer, that I would get a lot of people asking me about it and working with them. OTOH, I was kind of expecting a lot of "are you crazy???" reactions when I told people about the music choice, and I seem to be getting the opposite reaction. There are two possible things I could be missing though. The first is that maybe I did get a lot of response to the web stuff, but it's my enthusiasm for the music that is making me see what reaction I'm getting to the music career. The other is that maybe my lack of enthusiasm for the web stuff might not have sold it to people like my enthusiasm for the music is doing.

Wed, 2008 04 16 at 8:11 AM |Permalink for this entry

blUGHing and More on Lyric Writing

Things don't always go as planned

I spent way more time than I had planned getting the blog layout working, and there are still things I would like to do. This reminds me of why I'm giving up on web development. It's like pushing a rope. Uphill. Back and forth, back and forth, trying to get some stupid little thing working. Ugh.

I heard back from Keri. "I liked the first one, it fits the song well and I think hold and control are a good fit, sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees and all that..thanks!" That's cool, and hopefully a start for more collaborating, but really I only wrote one line. Still, I'm thinking about seeing if she's interested in the song I wrote for Beth Black, "Because." This song of Keri's reminded me of "Because." OTOH, I'd like to see if Beth herself wants it first, for obvious reasons.

Tue, 2008 04 15 at 12:02 PM |Permalink for this entry

Lyric Writing and Blogging

Wrote lyric with Keri, worked on this blog, other news

This is actually the first entry in this blog. The "previous" entries are backfilled, but there's some stuff there that is just too good to ignore!

This morning I saw a message from Keri Richardson that she was looking for help with her song, "Up To No Good," kind of a light soul song, like india arie, as she described it. I've sent her two ideas I had for the verse, I am excited to see what she thinks of it.

I told my niece Nicole about this Big Adventure, and she's excited. She actually writes some, plays guitar and sings. I don't know if it's more than a hobby for her, but maybe we can work together sometime.

I heard from Connie, Jeff's wife, and she says it's 100% sure they are moving back to Houston. They don't expect Jeff to come back to the band, but we've already talked about collaborating on songwriting, as he hopes to have some free time once he starts his new job. We could also do stuff like the Houston Musician's Meetup, where Blue Funk could play our three songs as Blue Funk, and then we could "back" Jeff on his songs, even if Rebecca sings them.

Tue, 2008 04 15 at 9:34 AM |Permalink for this entry

Jimmy Webb’s Tunesmith

Familiar Ground?

I bought Tunesmith: Inside the Art of Songwriting around ten years ago, and got pretty far into it IIRC, but I never finished it. So, I've started reading it over again. I'm amazed to find that, in the first two chapters, the stuff he talks about doing, how it works, how it doesn't work, what blows it, is exactly the process I go through writing songs.

So I'm wondering, was he spot on, or did I get more from the book the first time around than I realized, or both?

It's a great read if you're interested in the process of songwriting. He's a bit opinionated at times, but he has the credentials to back that up, so I guess I'll give him a pass. 😉 The funny thing is, I'm not terribly familiar with his songs. I know I've heard some of them such as "Up, Up and Away," but I don't know them well enough to really analyze them or anything. I'm sure I haven't heard any of the songs in years.

Mon, 2008 04 14 at 10:47 AM |Permalink for this entry

Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement Speech 2005

Absolutely inspiring

I just watched this speech this AM. I can't recall if I watched it when I first downloaded the podcast video version, but it hits me a ton right now. I love this speech, and right now, he nails exactly what I'm doing (or trying to do, anyway). I have the podcast on my iPod touch so I can watch and listen to it whenever, too. 😊

Fri, 2008 04 11 at 8:24 AM |Permalink for this entry

Doyle Bramhall?!

The voices in my head are singing

This morning I was sitting at the dining room table, thinking about this whole crazy music thing. I'm not sure, one thought lead to another, and next thing I know, I can hear Doyle Bramhall in my head, singing "Lightnin' and Thunda"! I could hear it in his voice, plain as day. I thought to myself, if my imagination for this stuff this that good, why am I bothering to do anything else?

It was a pretty good day. 😊

Thu, 2008 04 10 at 12:13 PM |Permalink for this entry

Why I Am Doing This

The big, long-winded explanation of how I got here

My name is Joe, and I'm the keyboard player for Blue Funk. I am or was the President/Owner of termite terrace studios, a web development company.

A little history (skip it if you know already or just don't care)

I've done a few things in my life so far. I guess I was always interested in music, but never really got anywhere with it as a kid. Growing up, I was very interested in computers (geek alert! glaven) and did a bit of programming. As I got into high school, I got into cars, which led me to studying mechanical engineering at the University of Maryland. Go Terps! I had some of the best times of my life there, and enjoyed engineering as well.

My roommate back then, Eric Fogleman played guitar, as did Andy Staff who lived in the room directly above us. They'd get together and jam, and I'd join in on a little Casio that Andy had, after Eric would show me some simple triads on it. That led me to buying my own keyboard (CZ-3000 - at least it had full size keys) and taking some piano lessons from my neighbor back home, Rebecca Dunnell.

After graduation, I got what I thought was my dream job with General Motors. It was in the hell of Flint, MI but I was doing the work I had set out to do. I was lonely and bored, but work was good and I threw myself into that as much as I could. I spent my spare money buying some better gear (Korg SG-1D, Ensoniq EPS-16+, and some other bits) and I wrote a few tunes in the period. But, the job turned bad, so I wanted out. Around that time, I met Lori, and moved to Texas to be with her.

While I looked for a job in Houston, I hooked up with a friend of hers from marching band who played guitar, Joseph Thompson. That was the beginning of what would become Blue Funk. I came up with that name while driving home from the job I finally found (that engineering job was pretty hideous and we will not discuss it further). I was thinking of songs like Red House as done by Jimi Hendrix on Electric Ladyland, and that low-key, trippy sort of groove songs like that, Dazed and Confused, Voodoo Chile (not the Slight Return version also done by SRV) can get you into. I just thought of what that vibe was, a name for it, Blue Funk.

I went to grad school to study Environmental Engineering, but I realized too late that was not what I wanted to do with my life either. While I was in grad school, I rediscovered my interest in computers. I had become a Mac guy by then, and hoped to get into Mac programming. There was really only one place I knew of in town that I could get a job where they programmed Macs, Alsoft. After a false start at another job, I landed what I had described as my second dream job with Alsoft. I did a lot of things there, and discovered a bit of a creative side while I was there. I ended up learning a bit about graphic design as part of my work, and combined with my programming skills, I decided to have a go on my own with web site development. I thought I had a few potential clients lined up when I left Alsoft to do this, but it turned out to be slow going instead.

What, Am I Nuts? The reason you're reading this post

After six years of doing this (I actually filed my DBA on April 30, 2002), I've decided it was time to make a change. The band has been doing pretty well lately, and we really feel like we're making music. For the first time in my life, I feel like I'm a bit more than just the guy sitting behind the keyboards. Don't get me wrong, I don't think I'm all that, but I feel like I'm capable of doing something when it comes to music now. I've written a few songs that the band has played, and the experience of that is just amazing. I cannot describe how cool it is.

So what I was thinking was, what is the difference between the web stuff and the music for me? And then it hit me. The web stuff was never my calling. It was something I was decent at, and at times I could create a cool site, solve some interesting problems, make clients happy. But, I realized that the problem was that these web sites were never mine. I'm not a selfish person, in fact I think and hope quite the opposite, but there are times you have to do things for yourself. If you don't eat, you can't help anyone else, right? Similarly, if whatever is in us needs to be expressed, so be it. Making music, playing writing, makes me happy. Really, really happy.

I realized that my lack of enthusiasm for the web work was an underlying problem all along. I struggled to market my web business, and that's clearly why. I recently bought one of those Guerrilla Marketing books, and found myself thinking about ways to use the techniques to promote the band instead of my business! My good friend Suzn Hilvers, who is a graphic designer and also a musician currently in Kenefick has often suggested ways to promote my web business like breakfast networking meetings, networking happy hours, etc., and I've often thought to myself, "ugh, I don't want to do that." My heart was never in the web business. At first it was a learning experience, both technical stuff and about myself, but I don't find it terribly interesting anymore. There are technologies that have changed that I have not kept up on, and don't have a huge interest to do so now. I can tell the difference when someone would ask what I do and I say, "I'm a web developer" versus what I say now, "I'm a musician."

I figured if I'm not going to be making money, I might as well do what I want to! The web stuff wasn't making me much money and I wasn't terribly happy doing it, so I wasn't getting either. Maybe if it was doing better I might have stuck with it, but at this point I doubt that. At least doing the music stuff the plan is for me to be happy.

The plan well, not really a plan

I don't know where this is going to take me (if anywhere) nor how exactly I'm going to do it and I don't expect to make a dime doing it. I'll keep doing some web stuff, hopefully wrap up a few projects sooner rather than later, and preferably wean myself away from that work. The important thing to me is that any music stuff I do is at least collaborative, because if I have to do it completely for someone else, that's gonna suck the fun and the life out of it for me. Maybe I'd do those kinds of things for other people once in a while, but to me the joy in music is what I create for me so I want to focus mainly on that. If other people like it, great, if not, so long as I like it, that's what matters to me right now.

The worse case scenario

I write songs for my band and we're the only ones who do them.

The worst case scenario

I write songs for my band and they hate them so I'm the only one who likes my stuff.

The dream

My dream, the far out fantasy that I would love to get to, is to become a Doyle Bramhall, a Stephen Bruton, a Charlie Sexton. (I hope this doesn't jinx it!) Each of those guys, as well as a few others, are great songwriters, work with other people all the time, whether it's writing songs for them, co-writing, producing, etc. I'd love to do that. I'd love to write songs with and/or for artists I admire and enjoy and work with them on their projects (so long as it's working with them and not for them. I'll probably explain this in more detail in a later post). I realize I may never get to that point. "The dream" may never happen. But what is cool is there are a lot of places I can go between here and there.

If the dream or something close to it does happen, I'd still plan on keeping Blue Funk around. At the very least, they'd be my band that I take out once in a while when I perform locally or just to jam with. There are a few artists like that who I really dig, and they always do different stuff with people and once in a while, you get to see them do their own stuff. I'd like to be like that. Oh yeah, and if I'm working with someone, and we need something that one of them can do musically, of course I'd ask if they were interested.

Another option for Blue Funk depends completely on them. We all got into this under the auspices of "we all have day jobs." But, if this adventure means that Blue Funk becomes a bigger thing, that is as much up to them as anything. We can take it to whatever level we all are happy with, should the opportunity present itself.

One possibility is that I spend my time working on the band stuff and all they do is show up and play. 😉 If that's what my "job" becomes, that could be cool. Or, if we stay at about the level we're at now, that's fine too. Totally up to them. I'll fill my time with whatever.

This blog is about the whatever. This is a New Adventure for me, and I hope to document it here. I am really excited about what might come of this, and want to share it with y'all. Check back often for updates, and I hope to have the RSS feed up soon too.

P.S. If you don't want me to put something in this blog, please make it explicitly clear to me.

Wed, 2008 04 09 at 9:31 AM |Permalink for this entry

About Me

Revised and Revisable

I used to use this post for the About Me page, but so much has changed it’s not completely pertinent. Still, it’s a good read if you have the time and are interested in my whole story.

With backgrounds in both engineering and computer programming, I have turned my attention to music. My goal is to play as much as I can, develop as a player, write, record, and perform. I also enjoy helping other musicians achieve their goals in whatever ways I can.

My first love in music is piano. Thanks to my big sister Kathy, I own a real grand piano. After that is organ (Hammond B3 style, if you must know. I have a Hammond A-100, which is a B3 in a “home organ” style box), then the Wurlitzer and Rhodes electric pianos (I have the Wurli, but I’ve run out of room to add a Rhodes). I’ll also play clavinet when the funk calls for it. Beyond that are other true keyboard instruments if I get to experiment with them. I don’t dig “faking” instruments such as horns or strings (I once contacted a Rolling Stones tribute band that was looking for a keyboard player. They were recreating one of the Stones’ albums, and they wanted the keyboard player to play the horn parts. I passed).

I also enjoy working on these old instruments. That’s the engineer in me.

I enjoy lots of different kinds of music, and am open to playing many things. That said, blues, jazz, and rock are at my core. Really, anything that swings and has the right groove is what I am about. To me, the best rock has some swing to it, Rolling Stones, Jimmie Vaughan, and others. The straighter it is, the more I’m like, “later for that.”

This blog is about what I’m doing as a musician. It’s a bit of a journal, but I also hope that you find it helpful and that it gives you things to think about in what you’re doing.

Wed, 2008 01 30 at 10:59 AM |Permalink for this entry

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