The Impossible


“We the unwilling, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much for so long with so little, we are now qualified to do anything with nothing at all.” -Unknown

This is one of my favorite little sayings. It always gives me a chuckle. I adopted it when I worked in the public school system where administrative rules and regulations often overshadowed the true work at hand; educating children.  By the time one met the standards, went to the meetings, planned programming, dealt with administrators’ and parents’ expectations and set up a classroom, all a person wanted to do was curl up on a nap mat and rest. The busywork that went into planning often led to a half-hearted execution because of the enormity of the task.

There’s not a soul among us who has not felt the words above deeply. Day after day we address the impossible, whether it’s a dream, a job or a mission. What is not impossible may simply be improbable or highly unlikely, but we’re chasing along after it anyway. Sometimes we develop strategies to feel  some sort of success when trying to achieve the impossible. We break apart the job or mission in small pieces and when one is successfully accomplished, we congratulate ourselves.

At times it’s just too difficult to look at the whole and realize you’re trying to do something with very little. Intellectual property is a good analogy for creating something from nothing except your brilliant thoughts. Your “little grey cells” as Inspector Poirot would put it, harness so much creative energy, yet often the monumental task of dragging thought into action  leaves us lethargic and exhausted before we even start.

Take ten minutes today to tackle your own creative energy. Those artistic urges tugging at your sleeve deserve some attention.  If you break them apart into segments, your novel is not that big a task. If your guitar is gathering dust in a corner, pick it up and just feel the wood and the strings beneath your fingers. No need to practice for an hour and make your fingertips sore. Just feel the instrument and rediscover the power of it.

Be willing to be all knowing and tackle the impossible and be grateful to be able to do anything at all with your creativity, love and energy.

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How to Tour 101- Be Nice


LAST WALTZ

 

 

*Be nice to your road crew. Most techs, crew chiefs, loaders and support personnel would change places with you, the performer, in a heart beat. Treat them with kindness, courtesy and respect. In each one is a dream deferred.

Support crew are essential to touring artists. Drivers, loaders, sound and light engineers, merchandisers, all create a conducive environment for the performer. Always treat your techs and crew with caring kindness. If they’re grumpy it’s because while you were sleeping, they were fighting traffic or loading in your amps.  Techs and crew deserve respect. We could not rock without them.

Chords of Fame


“I can see you make the music
‘Cause you carry a guitar
God help the troubadour
Who tries to be a star.
So play the chords of love, my friend
Play the chords of pain
If you want to keep your song,
Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t play the chords of fame”

Phil Ochs

Constantly in the shadow of Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs’ 36 years on this planet resulted in some of the most inspiring music created during the turbulent 60′s.  While Dylan was daring the press to define him, Ochs wore his heart on his sleeve, proudly displaying his beliefs and writing moving and sometime incendiary tunes about the times.  He hanged himself in 1975  in the home of his sister, finally succumbing to the depression that had wreaked havoc on his mind but fired his creativity.

Ochs wrote the lyrically eerie Chords of Fame and the song appeared on a 2 LP compilation released soon after his death.  The song is a warning, urging those who create to do it from a place of love and passion, not for greed or money or fame.

As a nation we’re all gaga over that lady. We revere popular artists who wind up in court or jail. It’s almost an honor medal for a star to be arrested. There is very little honor among thieves and those in the media.

Be sure today as you create, you’re looking for inspiration from a higher source and for the right purpose.  Creativity is a gift of spirit and should be used to spread love and understanding.

Be guided by the stars. Not by stardom.

I found him by the stage last night
He was breathing his last breath
A bottle of wine and a cigarette
Was all that he had left

“I can see you make the music
‘Cause you carry a guitar
God help the troubadour
Who tries to be a star”
So play the chords of love, my friend
Play the chords of pain
If you want to keep your song,
Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t play the chords of fame

I seen my share of hustlers
As they try to take the world
When they find their melody
They’re surrounded by the girls
But it all fades so quickly
Like a sunny summer day
Reporters ask you questions
They write down what you say

-Phil Ochs

Inspiration…


INSPIRE
–verb (used without object) 12. to give inspiration.  13. to inhale.

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” – William Ward

The first time I ever heard of the color, the enticing and spicy word “magenta”, it fell from the ruby lips of my second grade teacher, Phyllis Madrid, in 1965, during a lesson about art and color. In a world of Smith’s and Jones’ , even her name was mysterious and enchanting. She was the embodiment of nothing a small town child had ever seen before. Maybe it was the long red fingernails, maybe the way she carried herself with loving authority, maybe because every word she spoke was like a kaleidoscope of ideas and wonder. In a time when many women educators were unmarried (desirable in those days), dressed conservatively, and lived in a teacherage on campus, Mrs Madrid dressed like a multicolored flag, was married to the Great Bollo, a world wide wrestling champion and lived in a near by county.  Needless to say, I was enamored.

In a curriculum where the closest a student came to actual art was coloring or painting with fingerpaints, Mrs Madrid introduced paper mache. She  guided her seven year olds deftly through the process of dipping paper strips in paste and water to cover a packed newspaper and masking tape frame. Our objective was to create animals. I made an elephant. A magenta one. With gold trim. Mrs. Madrid had rubbed off- she had, through her mere presence and guidance to discover all that was in a seven year old’s imagination, inspired me.

My life became evenly divided. Before the Madrid and After the Madrid. She birthed a defining moment in my development without probably ever knowing it. The spring concert featured the entire second grade singing songs from The Sound Of Music. We stood on bleachers in the high school gymnasium and as i sang “climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every rainbow- til you find your dream”, i was inexorably changed. I discovered my innate calling,music, and the sublime state of inspiration.

Inspiration, as the wisened Dr Wayne Dyer describes it, is to be In Spirit. It is to be so closely linked with Spirit and Source, you forget anything except what is happening at that very moment. We have all had it at one time. Writing a song. Intensely finishing a piece of music. Laying down the perfect vocal track. Watching fans sing along to an original tune. That happiness, that innate, heady joy of being one with your creation is being In Spirit.

Sometimes along our path to be successful, we forget about all the happenings that brought us to music. We forget about the first time we were enamored, mesmerized, inspired by a performer or teacher the feel of strings under our fingers or the sound of our own authentic voice lifted up in song. Rediscover your birth of inspiration today. And be a good teacher. Share it with another who may be struggling or stymied in their musical efforts. Embody inspiration and pass it on.

The Madrid would thank you.

Inspiration


INSPIRE
–verb (used without object) 12. to give inspiration.  13. to inhale.

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” – William Ward

The first time I ever heard of the color, the enticing and spicy word “magenta”, it fell from the ruby lips of my second grade teacher, Phyllis Madrid, in 1965, during a lesson about art and color. In a world of Smith’s and Jones’ , even her name was mysterious and enchanting. She was the embodiment of nothing a small town child had ever seen before. Maybe it was the long red fingernails, maybe the way she carried herself with loving authority, maybe because every word she spoke was like a kaleidoscope of ideas and wonder. In a time when many women educators were unmarried (desirable in those days), dressed conservatively, and lived in a teacherage on campus, Mrs Madrid dressed like a multicolored flag, was married to the Great Bollo, a world wide wrestling champion and lived in a near by county.  Needless to say, I was enamored.

In a curriculum where the closest a student came to actual art was coloring or painting with fingerpaints, Mrs Madrid introduced paper mache. She  guided her seven year olds deftly through the process of dipping paper strips in paste and water to cover a packed newspaper and masking tape frame. Our objective was to create animals. I made an elephant. A magenta one. With gold trim. Mrs. Madrid had rubbed off- she had, through her mere presence and guidance to discover all that was in a seven year old’s imagination, inspired me.

My life became evenly divided. Before the Madrid and After the Madrid. She birthed a defining moment in my development without probably ever knowing it. The spring concert featured the entire second grade singing songs from The Sound Of Music. We stood on bleachers in the high school gymnasium and as i sang “climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every rainbow- til you find your dream”, i was inexorably changed. I discovered my innate calling,music, and the sublime state of inspiration.

Inspiration, as the wisened Dr Wayne Dyer describes it, is to be In Spirit. It is to be so closely linked with Spirit and Source, you forget anything except what is happening at that very moment. We have all had it at one time. Writing a song. Intensely finishing a piece of music. Laying down the perfect vocal track. Watching fans sing along to an original tune. That happiness, that innate, heady joy of being one with your creation is being In Spirit.

Sometimes along our path to be successful, we forget about all the happenings that brought us to music. We forget about the first time we were enamored, mesmerized, inspired by a performer or teacher the feel of strings under our fingers or the sound of our own authentic voice lifted up in song. Rediscover your birth of inspiration today. And be a good teacher. Share it with another who may be struggling or stymied in their musical efforts. Embody inspiration and pass it on.

The Madrid would thank you.

How to Tour- Job Descriptions


The world of a traveling band requires specific jobs and most importantly JOB DESCRIPTIONS. As you pull together a tour support staff, be sure you’re assigning tasks and duties in a specific way. A written job description is an easy way to keep everyone on task and the tour rolling in the proper direction.

While booking agents tell you where to be  and publicists let everyone know you’ll be there, the on the ground support staff of tour managers and techs and roadies are indepensible.

A tour manger, as we’ve discussed, advances shows, books rooms, hires vehicles, books flights, and takes care of day to day management of the traveling ensemble.  Guitar/drum/equipment techs and stage managers/roadies may also have a place on the bus as members of the tour team.

Some bands travel with merchandisers who set up tables for tee shirts, cds, stickers, etc. A merchandiser may help with load in and then be responsible for his own retail corner. Merchandisers are in charge of the all important mailing list and may walk around with the list at set breaks, adding names and talking up the band to individuals and groups in the audience. It’s his responsiblity to make sure all merch is clean and presented neatly. He is customer service!

A tech is just that. A person with technical expertise in specific instruments. A guitar tech should know how to do a basic set up and change strings and keep instruments clean and in good repair. If an instrument is damaged, she should know who to call for service. Techs also encompass lighting and sound engineers and some bands tour with both or with one person handling both jobs. Roadies are also an essential element in the basic organization of the tour and duties may include setting the stage (placing water and drinks and towels for artists and making sure the stage and backstage areas function efficiently and safely) , running errands and loading in.

Each person on a tour team has duties and obligations that allow the band to be artists and to focus on writing and shows. The tour team is the foundation a band is built upon.NathanM

Kids bored? Dwight can fix that via skype….


Dwight
Dwight graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, NC, receiving a Bachelor’s in Music Performance and Music Education in 1980.  He was recipient of the Alyse Smith Reynolds Performing Scholarship for 3 years. Dwight began playing guitar at age 5 and studied for 2 years with a local instructor as a child.  He attended the UNC School of the Arts Summer program in classical guitar at age 7 and again at age 11. He switched to bass at the age of 14, playing in the high school jazz band. After college, Dwight spent 10 years touring and working with notable musicians in jazz and rock bands.  Dwight has been teaching since 1980, and he offers rock, country, bluegrass, pop, jazz, classical, world music, among other styles

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