It's people like that who make you realize how little you've accomplished. It is a sobering thought, for example, that when Mozart was my age, he had been dead for two years
I’m not big for writing up lists of accomplishments. I’ve always dreaded doing so for workplace annual reviews. I’m really not big on tooting my own horn and my inner critic always wants to minimize whatever it is I’ve done. I hadn’t even considered doing so for my music related endeavors this year, but I was thinking about what I would do for my newsletter this month and about the whole IndieGoGo pre-order campaign I’ve been working on to roll out for the new album. I’m still trying to justify the whole thing in my head — asking for help is not one of my strong suits — and as a result I started mentally tallying up what I’d done over the past year. I was kind of actually impressed with myself... an unusual feeling to be sure.
The year started with finishing up the recording of The L.A. Song. Although most of the tracks had been laid down in the previous few months of 2017, I was struggling to get it wrapped up so I could bring it to its conclusion. My goal was to have it all ready to go and mastered by the time I went to L.A. in May so I could make a music video, and between getting the track done and finding a videographer it wasn’t entirely clear that this would happen. Fortunately for myself, Michelle Renee was available to help with backing vocals, a key missing component, as we prepared for a show together at Neck of the Woods.
In early February I started recording “Lady of the Shadows” with Ben Osheroff. He and now fiancé Louise Nalbandian performed for the first time together at one of my Bazaar Cafe residency shows back in April of 2017. My own song “Lighthouse at the Edge of the World” made enough of an impression on him that he suggested we record together when we met again at a pop-up event at Amado's where Louise was playing’ in January.
Once "Lady" was in the can, Ben and I would go on to record a full album over the summer that includes “The Albatross Song,” "Lifetimes Without You", and "Your Inexorable Pull" in addition to "Lighthouse" — I’ll be releasing this album in the early part of 2019 (and the rationale for the IndieGoGo campaign I alluded to earlier and will link to indiscriminately if not interminably during this post).
I did a lot of shows over the past year. Maybe too many. I put together shows at Neck of the Woods (my first full band show), the Monkey House in Berkeley, and the Oakland Octopus as well two editions of “Rotating Rounds” at the Lost Church. I also joined in at two shows at Bazaar Cafe, one with Rob Jamner and one with The Complements for their residency in April as well as two appearances with Delphi Freeman at Ghirardelli Square.
I also hosted (or co-hosted) 3 ensemble shows events with LehrerPhest in April, DylanPhest in May and EGPhest III in August. All three events involved rounding up a large and diverse array of performers and keeping things at least nominally organized, with assigning songs, arranging practice sessions, doing promotion and just keeping things rolling during the event. Don’t get me wrong, it was blast and I hope to continue doing more events along these lines in the coming year.
In May I went on my first tour as a musician — doing a brief stint down to Southern California and back with shows in L.A., San Luis Obispo and Santa Cruz. While in Los Angeles, I shot my first music video with Button Up Productions. This was like the real deal — it included actors and multiple locations (one in Hollywood no less) — even if it was done guerrilla style with the aide of a rather conspicuously pink towel.
Just ahead of EGPhest III in August, I released a recording by Samantha Margret doing her rendition of “Sunday is Made for Loving” from the previous year's birthday extravaganza. Samantha's recording is accompanied by an arrangement written by Nahuel Bronzini which includes parts for cello and trumpet. This the first cover of one of my songs to be released commercially, with two more in the pipeline from other artists.
The third edition of the big birthday bash — EGPhest III — was held at the Hotel Utah and we had all sorts of lovely performances from both returning performers and first timers, including some Argentinian imports by way of Madrid. And entirely too much cake (I could have been more conservative but it was my first time ordering sheet cake and I planned for catastrophic success). So yeah, I managed to somehow pull that whole affair off once again — with a total of 15 different acts covering my songs simply because I asked them nicely — check out the full blog post I wrote up about it.
Later in August I went to Nashville and I played two songwriter's nights (including one at the infamous Bobby’s Idle Hour on Music Row), performed a show at the Bowery Vault, went to the CD Baby music conference and recorded some tracks with Kenny Schick at his studio in East Nashville (I’ll keep you updated when that’s going to be released) — he and his wife Sabine put me up for a good chunk of time and for that I am eternally grateful (I tried the hostel downtown... one night was enough). Oh, and I ate a fancy donut because...
In September was part of the first ever Balanced BreakFEST showcase, playing at a set at Revolution Cafe. I also released the The L.A. Song as single along with its music video:
During the month of October, with the help of Tohm Lev, I shot a second music video — this one for “Lady of the Shadows.” For this outing I handled directing and editing duties myself and recorded on iPhone (with a smattering of stock footage thrown in). Tohm and I had a lot of fun tromping around the Presidio with a scarecrow prop I had grabbed last minute from the Ace Hardware in Laurel Village. I released the track and the video in early November.
In December I shot my third music video with the help of Anthony Jimenez and Jene’e Patitucci at Summer Rae’s “Secret Garden,” with Ken Newman on hand to host the open mic we used as a lure to get folks to come out to what turned out to be a rather rainy Sunday evening. Although nerve wracking in the lead up, given this is the most complex endeavor I've tried video-wise and the rain seemed like a bad portent, the event was enormous fun and I look forward to sharing the results once we get the editing done and I roll out the full campaign for the new album.
Over the course of the year I continued to be a regular at Balanced Breakfast, played the Hotel Carlton almost every Monday (and the Marker on Tuesdays up until August), frequented to open mics at Bazaar and the Utah (among others), participated in a monthly songwriter’s circle, and had appearances on Bird Flu Kitchen on BFF.fm with Alvie of Alvie and the Breakfast Pigs as well as Mike Glendinning’s Underground Mayhem on FCC Free. I went to three different music conferences — the ASCAP Expo in L.A., the CD Baby DIY in Nashville and Balanced Breakfast’s first music conference in SF (hosted at good old PianoFight). I started blogging (now and again), at some point along the way I hit 300 followers on my Facebook musician page, and although I didn't win the SF Deli poll for emerging artist for the month of February, I did get over 300 votes — and most of those were real ones too. I also wrote a bunch of new songs, some of which I actually think are pretty good.
There are a lot of people to thank — too many for me to list exhaustively and give all the credit they are due. But certainly props should be given to Daniel Button, Jen Cody, Sean Cody (dba Shawn Byron), Eve Fleishman, Delphi Freeman, Brendan Getzell, Robb Hagle, Sabine Heulser-Schick, Anthony Jimenez, Allie Jones, Tohm Lev, Samantha Margret, Theo McKinney, Louise Nalbandian, Ken Newman, Mario M. Noche, Amy Obenski, Ben Osheroff, Jene’e Patitucci, Summer Rae, Michelle Renee, Kenny Schick, Sean Silverman, Samantha Sipin, and Ben Visini — you all helped make all my accomplishments this year possible and I thank you all for your support. If I missed you, please don’t hold it against me.
To end with a call to action, as one does with one’s blog posts, I have launched his whole IndieGoGo campaign thing to try and keep things afloat as I roll out the new album.
In terms of the job review which I brought up earlier, the usual course of events is to get “promoted” to the job one is already doing, having taken on more responsibilities in one’s current position and basically unofficially already having the new title in everything but name. As reluctant as I am to ask for help, creating this summation of the year’s activities at least helps me feel like I’m not asking for anything I haven’t already shown I can do. Only this time its not an employer that I'm making the case to, but rather to anyone who wants to support me as I continue these endeavors.
Here’s that link to the IndieGoGo campaign one more time:
The extended musings of a songwriter.