Pedigree (Time to get over yourself)

Pedigree

The first word that comes to my mind, when I hear the word Pedigree is breeding…
The act of selectively choosing the best mate for an animal to get the most “pure” breed from that specific bloodline…

Seems kind of messed up when you think about it… Although, Royalty doesn’t seem to work too differently sometimes… Taking natural selection out of the equation to keep a bloodline ‘pure’

For the rest of us, what does this word mean?  Nothing really… our parents have their own individual story that includes the birth of a child. By random chance you ended up here.. (Note, I am not devaluing divine concepts, or the miracle of birth.. as both are important to me.) BUT, here you are. You didn’t choose to be born here… and depending on your parents you were dealt a specific set of genes at birth, that make you who you are… Almost like a poker game. Whether you were dealt a pair of 2s or a Royal Flush at birth, you still have challenges you have to face throughout your life… Fortunately, our decisions in life are all our own. You may get dealt random occurrences, be it positive or negative, but the way you respond to those things is what matters.

I had a random thought this morning that I tweeted: “It’s so much simpler to find the positive side of a situation, than to twist any occurrence into a story where you are the victim.”  Which I followed with: “But, I guess some people are just too hell-bent on receiving unjust sympathy.”

In other words, instead of letting anything negative effect you negatively, find the best possible thing about the situation and hold onto it.

I’ve been going through a really rough time the last two weeks, and though I feel like I’m grasping at straws, I feel like I’ve turned a leaf with my ability to see the positive in a bad situation, and it’s pretty much been the only thing keeping me sane lately…

I am so sick of people blaming the world for their situation. If you’re not happy with something about your life, fix it. If you grew up poor and uneducated… read a book, go to the library, get online and educate yourself on something.  Education is the most important gift that we can give ourselves.

I personally never went to college… BUT, I know how to do a plethora of things.. I am a self taught musician, mechanic, wood worker, I can solder and fix guitars/pedals/amplifiers, I have my own recording studio that I learned how to use by experience and reading, I can use photoshop, and just learned by trial and error!

You wouldn’t believe how much happier you could be if you just teach yourself a skill. There is nothing more liberating than being able to do something, looking back on it in a few years, and being proud of where you’ve come!

So, in a cliche nutshell.. you choose your own path. Don’t be a victim of your circumstance… Take a few minutes out of your day, get your nose out of Facebook, and teach yourself something!

Thanks for reading, and I am again sorry that I have been away for so long. Life has been insane lately… but it’s been nice to get some things off of my chest in blog-form.

 

Take Care!

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Impressive impressions

Impression

 

What does it mean to leave an impression? This is important to me, as I try to carry myself in a professional light, as a musician and entertainer.  I know so many musicians who are just… slobs. They dress poorly, show up late, act like children, and honestly just make me want to make an impression on their face… with my fist.

That being said, the bar is set pretty low, in my area, as far as musicians go.  In fact, when my wife met me, she was leery because I was a ‘musician.’ Most musicians she knew, before me were pompous, arrogant, unprofessional, dirty, and most of all impolite.

I’m not saying I’m the most gentlemanly person on the planet, but if you’re going to do what I do, and be somewhat successful, you need to get your shit together and act like an adult.

What does that mean?

Show up to your gigs early:  Trust me, you look like a total tool, when you’re trying to rush around and set things up.. That’s when you make mistakes.  Nothing turns a crowd away from a band faster, then having microphones squeal and there being a large ruckus where the band/solo artist is setting up.

Dress the part: I’m not saying you have to be in full rockstar garb all the time, but try to look presentable. You’re holey Led Zepplin Tshirt from 1981 is not impressive. Wearing a nice button down shirt, jeans that aren’t falling off of you, and looking relatively well kept are not hard things to do.  Now, If you’re in a 90’s grunge band, and you’re playing at a venue, go ahead, wear ripped jeans and flannel..  I’m focusing more on the acoustic aspect of things. I’m pretty sure Dave Grohl isn’t reading this blog, so real rock-stars need not apply.

Be respectable: Walk into the place, without a chip on your shoulder, find the nearest bartender/server/whoever is in charge, and figure out where you are to set up. Say please and thank you. Order a drink, pay for that drink, and worry about what’s free later on.  REMEMBER, they are a business just as much as you are. You’re not doing any favors by drinking and eating all of their food for free.

DO NOT HAVE A RIDICULOUS GUEST LIST: Especially, if you are playing with other bands and charging a cover. Pick one: your girl/boy-friend, your favorite roadie, your corgi, I don’t care. Don’t expect to get your whole entourage in to the place for nothing. If there’s no cover, that’s fine, don’t try and get everyone free stuff, while you’re playing. Again, the venue is a business, and needs to be respected as such.

There’s just a few tips on leaving impressions, as a musician. I have so many of stories of groups that have done some seriously asinine things, and I wonder how they even manage to book gigs (most of them don’t anymore.)

Remember, live music and music venues need to work hand-in-hand to be successful.  Don’t expect them to do all of the promoting. I know you’re too busy changing the world with your music, but making a Facebook event and inviting your following only takes about 10 minutes.

Alright, I’ve rambled on long enough. What other tips do you guys have, to leave great impressions?

 

-Joe

Catapult yourself into the pool of ignorance.

We’re not here to talk about weaponry, we’re here to react to the word catapult.. which was a weapon…  I’m sure there’s going to be enough about that.. I’m going to shoot for something else… Pun intended.
I’ve been around for almost 30 years now… I was just about the last generation of children that remembers life without the internet. I spoke in a previous post about “When the last time you bought a full video game was,” and it’s been a long time. I blame that on the internet.. In fact, I blame most things on the internet, in jest, and in a serious manner.

What are people constantly trying to do these days? Make their lives like as important as possible, as to catapult themselves to viral popularity.  I see so many people doing ridiculous things on video, saying rotten things on Twitter, jumping on internet trend bandwagons,… writing blogs… Just to get their 15 minutes seconds of fame.

Why do we do that? Is it because we’ve been put on the same social platforms as famous people? Is it because we were raised to follow our dreams?

Hell if I know.

Growing up in the 90’s, the only time you saw lunacy, at this scale, was during an episode of “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” Now, for those of you who aren’t aware, it was a TV show, hosted by Bob Saget (in its most memorable years), where people would send in cassettes of amateurishly filmed home videos where their child, awkward uncle, dad, or someone would do something funny, and the funniest video won money.

Maybe that was the problem.. They were paying people to accidentally look like a fool..

These days, people do it on purpose (Eyes on you Youtubers) for the sake of fandom. So, before Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and any other instant-video service, you were only exposed to this kind of silliness once a week, around 7:00PM (Eastern Time Zone).
Now you have 24/7 access to an endless ocean of lunatics.
We’ve overexposed ourselves to stupidity and now, the general population craves it, like a drug. 

Don’t believe me? Have you seen this thing that’s out now? It’s called Trailer Park Boys, before that was Jackass, and before too long, it’ll be this gem, from ‘Idiocracy’:

We’re literally spending time that we could be learning things, reading, studying, enjoying our world.. to watch other people delve into the depths of ridiculousness… all to fling themselves to be a marketable piece of data, for some internet company.

I can only speak from my American perspective… but it’s getting out of hand.

To conclude, there’s a song I wrote a while back, called stupid people. It’s my call to the general populous to open their eyes, unite themselves, and not let themselves be dumbed-down so easily.

This was recorded a while ago, and my youngest daughter was sleeping, so I held back on the vocals a bit… haha

As always, have a great day!!!

Catapult

Struggles With Singing (smoking is bad, m’kay?)

Good afternoon (non)followers!

It’s a beaut-.. well.. It’s kind of alright, out side, here in Pennsylvania.
To be honest, it’s cold and windy… and it’s going to rain all damn weekend!

Enough about that , though.

I quit smoking back in November of 2015, best decision I’ve ever made in my life, as far as my health is concerned, but I swear… I used to have a better vocal range.

Either because I’m getting older, or I’ve just done far too much damage to my vocal chords, I can’t sing as high, consistently as I used to… Anyone else ever deal with this? It’s a real pain in the ass…

That being said, I can still recover some of my range for gigs by REGULARLY doing vocal warmups.. I found a fantastic set of classic vocal warmups by an artist named “Pete Faint,” on Spotify.  This has been my pre-show and sometimes even my daily morning ritual on the way to work.

I commute about 20 minutes, each way, for work. During that time I often pop on the vocal warmup album, and at least make it through the first 6 exercises: everything from humming, to vowels noises, sliding up a 5th, sliding up an octave, legato/staccato warmups, and anything you need to warm up them pipes…

I’ve played with far too many musicians who don’t take the time to do this, and they just can’t keep up for days at a time, of long gigs. My acoustic gigs can go anywhere from 1 hour to 3+ hours, and I often have multiple gigs a weekend! (For example, I have 4 gigs between May 24th and 28th, for a total of at least 7 hours I am going to have to be able to sing and play.)

Vocal warmups MAY sound corny, but I can not stress how important they are… I’m not by any means a “lead singer” and I think the ego of those types, tend to get the best of them… They’re also the ones spraying God knows what down their throats 5 minutes before they go on, and then are often complaining about sore throats the next day… (let’s not forget how they also cup the microphone, which is the most irritating thing in the world for a sound guy… more on that later…)

Speaking of spraying un-known chemical compounds down your throat to preserve your vocal ability… Try drinking some water instead…

We as people (ESPECIALLY Americans), go through our lives practically dehydrated… You should be drinking about a gallon of water A DAY!! It’s a lot harder than it sounds… but totally worth it… I can usually get 3 quarts in, which is better than most, but it really does help.. Let me dispel a couple rumors about things that ‘help’ your throat.

Tea w/ honey & lemon – Nope.. Just.. Nope… Caffeine dehydrates you, lemon juice (or anything sour really..) doesn’t do you any favors, and sugar just makes ya feel gummy..

Any kind of alcohol – I used to believe this one… I’d try ginger brandy to ‘loosen things up’  The truth of the matter is, alcohol relaxes you… So, when you’re relaxed, you’re obviously less tense, even in the throat muscles… the alcohol contacting your vocal chords does nothing good.

Smoking – I’ve heard singers that tell me they sing better when they smoke… I think this may be related to my previous statement about alcohol… Hot smoke from a cigarette just dries you out…

There’s just a few of the many ridiculous things I’ve read on the internet before.. The fact of the matter is this: You need to drink water, NOT strain your voice, and do vocal exercises to keep your voice in shape. Do not rely on ridiculous home remedies to do it for you. If you want the job, you gotta do the work.

Alright, well, I’m done scolding you for today. I’ve gotta go suck down another half gallon of water, before the day is up!

Until next time!

 

-Joe