Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Turn off the radio and listen to some music!

     At one point, record stores and radio used to be the only means by which we could come across new music (or bootlegged casette tapes?).  Now, we're able to get music straight from the artists in the purest forms without meddling from record labels, sponsors, and contractual obligations.  Of course, most of what you'll hear on mainstream radio consists of music following the tried and true "hit" formulas.  The formulas work and make people a lot of money.

     However, sometimes it's nice to listen to something a little different, a bit more edgy.  Experimentations always runs the risk of coming-off as gimmicky, but some of them really do yield something cool.  In this blog post, I've got three YouTube videos that displays music you probably won't hear on the radio (though one of them was featured in a movie).

     First-up, guitar + kalimba.  I'd long thought about doing something like this and even unsuccessfully tried mounting my thumb piano to my guitar.  Well, someone beat me to it, and boy does he do so successfully!

     Second: an unlikely trio of piano, guitar, and ... beatboxing?  How's this for a fusion trio?  If you find the intro a little inaccessible, fast forward about a minute into the video.  Magic.  And how about that ragtime solo?

     Third and finally for today, how about fusing rock/disco beats with Mongolian folk music and throat singing?  You might recognize Altan Urag's music from the movie Mongol.  The fusion of western style composition and drumming with the sounds of eastern folk instruments has been addictive to my ears since I saw the film.

     Have any recommendations of your own?  Let me know!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Endy photo shoot.

     Ever see the movie Zoolander?  Yeah, I think it's funny too.  The vain model, idiots viewed through a TV a screen at least ... three times that size, ambiturning, mind-reading bulimia, internal computers, mermen, etc.  But Earth to Hansel ... *sigh* ... alright.  I'll say it.  Modeling isn't easy.  Ok, sure at its core, modeling is easy.  You stand still, you get a picture taken, model.  Right?  

     As it turns out, I'm camera shy when it comes to getting my picture taken by someone I'd just met (in person) whilst shooting outdoors in a public place.  No pressure, right?  That said, young photographer Nathaniel Dodson of Endy Photography ( did a great job in making my first outing feel loose, informal and more animated than the cardboard cutout I initially felt like.  He was very friendly, patient, and conversational.  

     Three years my junior, Nathaniel is quite the accomplished and ambitious character.  His talents are wide and varied, but one thing is clear: he hates mediocrity and doesn't settle to just be "good enough." His hard work and perseverance shows.  He put his all into the photo shoot.  

    The session went on for a while, and the change in lighting (or lack thereof) lead to some interesting experiments and some really cool concept photos that didn't pan out the way we'd hoped.  He did a fantastic job of making due with with my complete lack of modeling talent, so I'd highly encourage you to check out his website (link) to really see what he can do!

("Obey my dog.")

Sunday, October 16, 2011

October highlights

     October is proving to be a busy month!  With music going on seven nights a week, I reached a point where I realized I was spreading myself too thin.  I was compromising quality musicianship for the sake of a shallow, machine-like efficiency, and it was showing in my playing.  The month has been a gradual process of simplifying my life and re-evaluating my priorities.

Baller status backstage?
(Photo: Nick H.)
     That said, the beginning of October marked my debut at the Kennedy Center with, appropriately enough, the very people who inspired me to pursue music.  The place was decorated lavishly like a high-end 1950's jazz club and the music was well-received.

(Photo: Cesar C.)

Jazzin sound check.
(Photo: Cesar C.)
Hard Rock, hard to miss.
(Photo: Cesar C.)

     Later that week, I made my debut with the group formerly known as the Sobriquets now named The Way Home.  The venue of choice was the Hard Rock Cafe in Philadelphia, and we shared the stage with Hamburger Hunt and the Folkadelics.

The Way Home's debut.
(Photo: Cesar C.)
Two hands, two keyboards.
(Photo: Cesar C.)
     There are some projects I'm sad to be leaving and others I'm excited to see blossom.  Unfortunately, relatively little attention has gone to my original material as far as releasing all this music I've been writing for the past while.  Once I have everything catalogued and streamline my recording techniques, expect to see some new content out little by little.