My reflections on the Album Release Show – I hereby dub thee my FRANS! [FRANS = a combination of the word Friends and Fans – yep, just made it up! ] A HUGE thank you and a run-down of what went-down on an amazing journey from adversity to beauty.
My dear FRANS –
“Life has a way of challenging you, just at the right time. It’s not bad luck, bad karma, bad anything, but there’s a reason to the rhyme.” - from the song “Release”
My own lyrics to my own songs hit me like a ton of bricks as I sang them, real time, this past Sunday. I had been a little stuck “inside my head”, looking down, closing my eyes, trying to focus, and re-focus, concentrate on just performing the songs after dealing with an epic sound system failure on one of the most important days of my life. As I sang those words, a little bit of light shone in to my head, I immediately grasped the meaning in my own song, and it re-framed the whole day, right there in that moment. I let go of all the imperfection of everything that went down on my perfectly planned day. I opened my eyes, and there you were, this amazing and supportive crowd, giving me your energy, your attention, your love – and I let go, and just performed, trying to emerge from a technical storm of all that was wrong, to a plateau of artfulness that I had hoped to deliver in the first place.
And another song became shockingly real as well:
“Look at all these people, milling around the universe, each with a universe inside their head. And in the same room on the same street corner with same sun shining in, one can feel alive and the other dead. Because it’s all inside our heads. Yeah, it’s all inside my head.” - From the song “Inside Your Head”
There were so many things RIGHT about Sunday – so many beautiful elements and such a great vibe throughout the whole evening. But in those moments of troubleshooting to see if we could somehow make the show go on when it went south (which by golly we did, thanks to our collective calm thinking and professionalism of the amazing people we work with), there we were – we were all experiencing that same lovely sunset on that same street corner, but I was the one “feeling dead”. And my loving and supportive crowd, well they still “felt alive”. Inside my head was a maelstrom of noise, just concentrating on fixing the situation. Inside their heads, well they were just chillin’, enjoying the magic of the place, of community, of cuisine, of nature. “Inside my head” was noise, worry, and clawing to get back to a place of peace, and trust, and faith in the experience I know music would provide, despite our challenges. But Inside Your heads, my dear lovely audience, was nothing but love and support, and your energy was palpable, and helped me rise above the difficulties to, apparently, put on one of the best shows (they tell me?) I’ve put on, ever. The most challenging live performance scenario, basically a performer’s nightmare, somehow turned into an epic journey where we lifted each other up and experienced something greater and more real, more human, than just a concert that went off with no hitches.
How did that happen? Again, the lyrics of the song apply, the song goes on – “So let the light shine in, and all the walls cave in; in love there’s no division, it’s all relative inside my head.” And later in the song, “But if it’s all relative then relatives we shall be. The head will make us strangers but the heart a family, if we let the light shine in.” What a timely lesson for me to learn, re-learn, on a day when I could finally share the album I’ve been working so hard to get into my listeners ears and hearts. “Inside my head” was a struggle to get back to the beautiful reality that was actually at hand. The light that shone in was the love and support of all the people who were riding the experience together – they were tuned into their hearts. It was me lost in my own head of all the things that went ‘wrong’. My head was making me a stranger, while the crowd was the Heart that made us a family. So, I decided to join the family, jettison my plans for a perfect party, and despite thinking it all sounded horrible in my head, just trust that the experience they were having was the one I should be having too. I have you, my amazing fans, to thank for pulling me through this one. I am deeply humbled, exuberantly grateful, and flabbergasted by your support – we packed the place!
And it’s so funny – after we pulled the band out of the sound system, and we plugged my guitar and voice right into the speakers with a little crappy mixer the venue had on hand, my stage sound was so horrible, I couldn’t even tell if you, the audience could hear me. The only thing I heard was a bad buzz in the monitor and a weak guitar signal. You all told me you could hear just fine, so it just let it fly and trusted. Well, when I saw some of the phone videos pop up on Facebook, I thought, “WOW!! That didn’t sound too bad at all!! They could hear me!!! And they could hear the band – TRIP OUT!!!” Jonny did a great job in getting us back up and running and again, it illustrates what was going on in my head vs. what was really happening! I’m so grateful for so many of your emails and messages saying how much you enjoyed the show. Epic!!!
One More Time: I’m going to ask for your support one more time regarding this album release – even though it was a one-of-a-kind experience, in order to put it to rest in my own head, I’m going to have a do-over concert! Mostly because I want you all to hear the lushness we had planned for you to hear, that you heard for the first four and a half songs! I want to play the whole album over again with this incredible band as it was meant to be heard – I’ll keep you all update on when and where, but look for a show soon at one of my favorite venues, TBA! Would you guys come out to hear this band again? Stay tuned!!
Many definitely ‘thank yous’ are in order (in no particular order…):
First: My amazing dream band: Andre De Santanna on bass (and producer of the album!), Gavin Salmon on drums (who also played drums on the album), Collin Elliott on guitar and vocals, Josh Bonas on guitar and vocals, and Jonny Tarr on keys and vocals – you guys are not only exceedingly talented musicians, you are true friends and stellar examples of what people could and should be. I am blessed to work with you. We played four amazing songs the way they ‘should’ have been, before the sound system took a crapper, then we sounded like the finest unamped garage band ever to hit San Diego. Thanks for rolling with the punches, my friends. I’m looking forward to a re-do!!!
Next – Jon Edwards, who provided the lights and sound – you are amazing, my friend – thank you for helping find a solution that helped the show go on. Jon felt as dead inside as I did as things went south, and it affected us both in the days since. I want to point out, it definitely was not Jon’s fault at all – he’s done several shows for me, and is always a consummate professional and is one of the best sound men in town. What was wrong was a shaky power source that was unforeseen by any of us, causing all the digital components in the system to go haywire, causing us to jettison that nice lovely set up we had, and basically play like a garage band through our own ampsJ Thank you, Jon, I hope you’ve recovered!!
The Crossings at Carlsbad - You guys are ROCK STARS! Thank you so much for all your hard work leading up to, and at the event - everyone was just RAVING about the venue, and you guys provided us with everything we needed, start to finish, in a super pro manner!
Then – Amanda Wirtz – the INCREDIBLE violin player (and human being), who was called into action at the very last minute – THANK YOU! Adding to the stress of the day, the violin player I had hired to do the strings on one of the most key songs notified us at 11:00 that she couldn’t make it. I sent Amanda a frantic text, she accepted the challenge, read the score I emailed her, in her car (!!!), and showed up sans practice or ever hearing the song prior to 2 hours before performing it, and knocked it out of the park with cello player Erdis Maxhelaku. Truly, playing “Never Alone” with that string part on that day is forever imprinted into my soul as one of the most intense, joyful, and unexplainable get-lost-in-the-music moments I’ve ever had. Incredible!
And – Jeffrey Stasny – my amazing duo partner – when I went acoustic without the band in the middle of the set, Jeff was supposed to come up and accompany me on percussion, like we do every week at En Fuego and other joints around town. Due to the sound difficulties, we had no way to amplify his percussion gitup, so I had to go it alone. I felt horrible not to be able to showcase Jeff’s incredible talents and all he brings to my music, so I’m left to stating my gratitude here, knowing you know how much a I value you, your friendship, and your talent.
To Lee Coulter, Dawn Mitschele, and Tolan Shaw – You guys were incredible troopers, as we got the first taste of the sound system crash during the middle of your amazing set, you guys handled it like true professionals. What a treat for the crowd to see how you handled it – Tolan when you just jumped off stage and just started jamming acoustic and getting anyone within earshot into your song, accompanied by Dawn and Lee – well, that was magic. You guys inspire me.
Lastly – my family. No words for you, just absolute heartfelt overwhelming gratitude to my wife, my two kids, my parents, and my bro’s and sis’s, my uber fan Aunt Mary Jane, my nieces and nephews for their continued support of my dream.
The process of creating art is an unspeakable joy to me, and this album was a long, fought-for, challenging and amazing journey. The act of actually showing people your art is a completely different experience – it’s different for everyone, but for me, it is equally joyful, but yet there is tension, apprehension, nerves, and pent up emotion of what is revealed through the music, the writing, and the performance. In many ways, planning a CD release is a lot like planning your own wedding. You all have made this one of the most memorable days/weeks of my life. As I hand this music over to you, I simply ask you share it with your friends, family, co-workers, anyone who might enjoy it. And we’ll see where that takes us.