Wednesday, May 1, 2013

"Runaway Sketchbook" goes live, and a note about people these days

My debut album Runaway Sketchbook goes live today on BandCamp (gobble it up here). All the hard work paid-off when I woke up yesterday to find that it had made the best-seller list in the acoustic section of BandCamp's charts (more on that in a bit). I excitedly sent a message to the company thanking them for the services they provide in helping artists like me make a living. It was more a gesture than anything; I assumed it'd get lost in the swarms of Emails they get daily.

I was wrong. Within a few hours, they wrote back. It was personalized, friendly, and completely free of a sales pitch. They thanked me for my kind words and wished me good fortune in my work. BandCamp did. 

As someone who lives their lives very introspectively, I'm constantly looking for ways to improve myself, and over the past year, resolved to not only live a positive lifestyle but also simply be a positive person to be around. My execution is still far from flawless, but overall, it's been working well. 

Time after time, people have shown me how gracious, generous, and trustworthy they can be, even when there's nothing in it for them. From the ever-growing list of sponsors and donors for my music project (see the list here) to complete strangers holding a door open or offering a hand while I cart gear back and forth between stage and car to funny "this reminded me of you" notes from friends, people are kind. While there are plenty of people who are negative, condescending, discriminatory, judgmental, and on the prowl for the next insult, there's little I can do or say to change the minds of those dedicated to the cause of misery. Instead, my [all-too-many] calories and limited time in this life are better served at the attention of those who are positive, are helpful, are generous.

Another shining example: my good friend, Dan Drago, agreed to engineer my album long before any mention of money came into the conversation. He was eager and full of ideas on how to do a good job and make the record sound incredible and unique. It was his idea to record in rooms that naturally enhanced acoustics and his efforts and connections that allowed us to use the space at the Fleisher Art Memorial sanctuary. I bombarded him with questions, and he patiently answered them respectfully and admitted to areas he needed to research further. A true gentleman.

I could go on and on about the scores of people who made a positive impact on my life, but at the moment, I'd like to return to the best-selling status of the album. It was accomplished not by any huge promotional effort on my part, rather by the little, person-to-person word of mouth sharing. They haven't been doing so with expectations of getting anything in return (though I do try and make it worth their while). Yet, it's all making an impact. The album is selling both inside and outside of my social circles which is absolutely gratifying to see. 

I'm also happy to see people who listen to the tracks, don't necessarily buy my music, but feel compelled to share it among their friends. In the end, that's the spirit I want surrounding my music. I want my music to be shared out of self-motivated desire, not from jamming a marketing campaign down people's throats or making an extra buck my gouging prices. Don't get me wrong, marketing is absolutely important, but I also feel that intent and actions are more important. If people truly get something positive out of what I do, I have faith that they'll find a way to support me in some way.

So far, I've been pretty happy with the results.


Henry, "Sheltered Turtle"

Monday, April 22, 2013

Making lemonade out of a soured, over-saturated music market

As a working musician, it's so easy to be jaded by the vast sea of material all vying for the attention of the general public. If you're a friend with musicians on Facebook, you're probably inundated with event invites for shows (read: "You live in Los Angeles, but come to our dive bar show in Nashville because we talked once in college!).

However, something hit me today that seems super-obvious in retrospect but is helping me see the plus (among the many!) in being involved in music as a career. It's simply this: I'm constantly surrounded by creative types, each with their unique ideas and perspectives. 

At any moment, I can listen to music made by someone who is a friend who also happens to be a content creator. Almost any night of the week, I have the option to see a great show put together by the hard work of these very same friends. Even if a show isn't going on, I can always dip into a local open mic and check out everyone from new upcoming artists to working-class cats who just enjoying playing a few tunes out every once in a while. My music friends are also among the people that support me in what I do, can relate with my problems on a first-hand basis, and push me to work harder.

We help each other by trading ideas, lending unique skill sets, and helping each others' social circle grow. I've made it a point this year to listen to more new music, even if I don't like it at first. Little by little, I've been checking out the bands of everyone from friends to incidental acquaintances and have generally been pleased in what I found. I've become a better, more open-minded patron of the arts and have been more inspired than I have ever been as a result. 

My musician friends are creative, inspired, driven, and always have interesting stories to share. We might not be able to catch each other all the time due to the amount of travel many of us do, but I can rest easier knowing that there are people like them that often get lost in this psychosomatically over-saturated music market I wade through.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Test recording session at the Fleisher Art Museum Sanctuary (Philadelphia, PA)

This is is the spot!

This is where all the natural reverb comes from!


We ended up moving back a few feet and using the folding wall to round out the corners of the room.

My engineer, Dan Drago!

Listening to the playback.

Guitar taking a break.

Cool stain glass window.

Dan doing his thing.

Guitar taking another break.

Can't wait to finish recording!

NEW VIDEO: "Puppies"

Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely adore puppies. Even a quick glance at the Sheltered Turtle Facebook page will reveal post after post of puppy-related pictures and videos, far more than anything actually music-related, haha. Well, it's about time that I post a puppy video of my own, only there aren't any cute animals in this one. This is an affectionate ode to those little lumps of fuzz and joy that make the world a better place.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Native Rhythms Festival 2012 - More photos! (Melbourne, FL)

Left Top: Approaching the festival grounds.
Left Center: Rehearsing in our hotel room.
Left Bottom: The stage at sunset.
Right Top: Tee-Pee!
Right Bottom: A guitar three-some.

Left: Wind Dancer!
Top Right: Gopher Tortoise. Aww.
Bottom Right: Peopling holding hands.