“This Is The Rough Hewn Trio – Now Available On Bandcamp

Happy New Year.  It’s been a bit since there was a post.  This won’t really count as one either.  It’s just a short update with a few announcements.

1.  This (my instrumental trio project with Drummer Craig Bunch and Chapman Stick / Warr Guitarist Chris Lavender)

rough-hewn-cover-web

is out now on Bandcamp (https://roughhewntrio.bandcamp.com/releases).  You can pay what you want to purchase it.   I don’t think my friend Andre would mind me stealing his FB description, “proggy, fusiony, ambient-tinged deliciousness in a Holdsworth / Zappa / Crimson vein”.  It’s got all sorts of influences floating through it, and it’s fun for the whole family.  You can stream it for free (up to 3 times) or pay what you want to purchase it.  I hope you’ll check it out!

guitarchitect_back-web

2.  I LOVE Vimeo, but it’s a little too restrictive for SOME (good) people – so I’ll have a YOUTUBE channel up soon.  I’ll put some never before seen (and heard) things up there.  Maybe I’ll even put up a clip of my “Salt Licks” guitar instructional video I shot with my good friend Randy Bird at Berklee. : )  Maybe not.  We’ll see….I’ll announce specifics here once I get some content up.

3.  The second KoriSoron 5-track EP  is done in terms of music.  Big thanks to John Chiara at Albany Audio Associates for going above and beyond!  Farzad from KoriSoron is working on the CD graphics and I expect that we’ll have that out by the end of the month or February.

4.  I’ll have some of my back catalog up online in the weeks ahead as well.

5.  I’m just finishing up pre-production for my solo acoustic release tenatively titled, “Eel – Ecch – Trick – A – Coup – Stick”  It’s a WIDE swath of music and might cover 2 CDs.  I’m hoping to release it in the Spring or Summer depending on whether it becomes a full length or 2 EPs.

6.  I’m back into electric playing these days and pulling something together along the lines of Hassan Hakmoun’s Zahar performance on Night Flight with Hahn Rowe and Yuval Gabay and mixed in with some of the Balkan & Middle Eastern music I don’t suspect I’ll ever get away from.  Right now the goal is Ass Shakin’ music with burning guitar and vocals.

7.  I’ve been thinking a LOT about this website and the purposes (and people) it is supposed to serve.  In a re-branding initiative this year, I suspect that this blog will remain and another site may come up in its place, but completely re-working this may be an option as well.  File that under “Summer Project”.

Some other things afoot too tentative to mention here, so that’s it for now.  I really hope you’ll check out the Rough Hewn EP!

As always – thanks for reading!

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Powerpuff, New(?) Music and TEDx Video Is Live

Hi Everyone,

A few quick updates.

  1.  Apparently, I missed an ultra-brief window that the episode of the (2016) Powerpuff girls I played on (“Electric Buttercup”) was up on the Cartoon Network site – but I have word that the episode will be broadcast TV on November 28th – so I should have a link to that soon.
  2. First “New Music” Item – Back in 2011 – I played on an Onibaba recording session for bassist Daren Burns that got me fired from John French’s recording / band (a topic for a whole other post).  Daren previously released one cd of that session (Disintegration of Secrets/Apparitions of Kings available on Bandcamp here.) but he just released the rest of the session this week.  That CD, Anesthesia is out now and you can purchase (or listen to) that here.  In addition to Daren and myself, you also get Vinny Golia, George McMullen and drummer Craig Bunch adding to the general disarray.
  3. Second “New Music” Item – Back in 2012 – right before I left sunny CA – I was playing in a project called the Rough Hewn Trio.  We recorded some tracks and then entered a bizarre black hole where the project was pronounced dead and resuscitated several times.  After MANY false starts – the mixes for the tracks with myself, drummer Craig Bunch and Chapman Stick / Warr guitarist Chris Lavender are finally signed off on and are in the mastering stages so we hope to have that out by the end of the year.
  4. Third New Music Item (This one actually IS new) – KoriSoron recorded some tracks for our second ep – featuring our most challenging material.  We’re in the process of mixing that now and anticipate having that mixed and mastered by the end of the year.
  5. Non-Music Item  – Festival Cinema Invisible – an organization dedicated to bringing invisible films from the Middle East to the Capital Region of New York – is having its 6th annual 2-day film Festival at Proctor’s Theater in Schenectady in April of 2017.  I’m the General and Artistic Director of the Festival and this year’s Festival will be culled from over 1200 submissions (on its way to 1300 by the deadline) sent to us from over 100 countries around the globe.  You can find out more about the festival (and FCI) here.

My TedX Schenectady Talk / Presentation

The video of my Ted X Schenectady talk (with a KoriSoron performance) Past Forward – which dealt with the intersection of art, commerce and scarcity was posted this week.

The video is embedded below (or linked here if you have a browser issue)

For those of you interested in the process  of developing the talk, I talk about that process (and some of the performance challenges like not having a lavalier or hand held mike or having the song form change unexpectedly while you’re soloing) here.  I wish I been able to just just do the performance OR the speech – I would have been in a better frame of mind to roll with the punches of changes that can happen in a performance.  But chalk it up to experience.

The talk is supposed to feel loose and conversational but the reality of delivering something like this in a specific time line means that you have to have it pretty structured (with some improvisation thrown in to keep it from feeling like a PowerPoint presentation).

I’ve included the last of the 15-20 drafts the talk went through below.  It’s not a transcription of the talk I did – but it covers the bulk of the points I made (and also some points I cut in the interest of time).

I hope you dig it!

As always – thanks for reading!

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Scott Collins – TedX Schenectady Talk – 2016

Hi. I’m Scott Collins. I’m a guitarist in KoriSoron a Schenectady-based trio. We create original music based on traditions from across the globe.

The title of this presentation is Past Forward. Past forward, in its most simple definition, involves taking material from the past and revitalizing it by making it contemporary which is what we do in KoriSoron.

I’ll talk more about Past Forward and KoriSoron but to do that I need to put that in the broader context of scarcity.

For much of history the value of music has been based on scarcity.

By way of example let’s consider music in the time of Beethoven.  The only way you could hear music was to be in the presence of someone playing it live.

You might actually be able to perform the music yourself if you a.) owned an instrument, b.) had formal training and c.) were one of the few people that could actually get access to (and afford) sheet music.

Access to music was limited to exposure and modes of transportation. It was also limited in that only a handful of people had the tools to perform that music.

This remains unchanged until sometime after 1877. Since we’re in Schenectady I’ll give Thomas Edison a shout out by name for his invention that recorded sound to a wax cylinder as the first major change in this performance model.

Edison’s invention allowed people to collect live performances and listen to them over and over again. For the first time listening to music shifted from something that came from a live musician to something that came from a device like a radio or a record and a record player.

The equipment used to record music was prohibitively expensive and required substantial skills to use and maintain. Musicians couldn’t do this on their own as it was financially beyond their means. Companies looking to sell records provided an advance to musicians to record their music (and then produced records that they marketed and distributed). This gave tremendous power to the record labels who had a virtual monopoly on the funding, recording and distribution of their recordings.

A perfect storm came together in the form of a technological revolution that completely undermined the scarcity model.

  • The cost of the computers came down to the point where most people could afford them and the internet increased its depth and breadth and became a destination for people to actively go to.
  • Music recording software became powerful enough to replace physical recording components and musicians began to record at home. Additionally, the internet allowed them to distribute music on their own and the amount of available music expanded exponentially each year (and continues to do so).
  • Mp3s and file sharing allowed people to find music online instead of having to go to a retail store.

File sharing services like Napster allowed people to download music for free, but could be cumbersome to use. Companies like Pandora sensed the real desire in the market for people to listen to music on demand and paved the way for current streaming services like Spotify.

The music industry was thrown into chaos because their entire business model was based on the ability to limit people’s access to music and create a demand for CDs, LPs, DVDs etc. and those physical objects were no longer necessary to listen to music.

Three basic approaches emerged to deal with this.

  1. The major labels tried to fight this change and stay with a model that worked on attempting to create scarcity to create demand.  It was a dismal failure that (with several other factors) destroyed the industry and only left 3 major record labels standing.
  2. Some musicians, often those who used to be on major labels and were now independent, saw the changes that were occurring but didn’t understand the needs of the market. So they emulated the record company model and also attempted to create artificial scarcity for their own music. When well-meaning fans got excited about tracks and posted them online – they chastised the fans and attempted to browbeat the audience into caring about the music industry and how much money there were losing in the new business model.

Musicians being musicians began to undercut one another to get to competitive pricing and soon they were giving their music away with the hope of generating income live. Incidentally, many live venues started to succumb to cultural changes brought about by the internet (people who stayed home to stream movies on platforms like Netflix) and were unable to stay open making it even more challenging for musicians to derive an income.

3.  The third approach is a present day approach. Music is ubiquitous so let’s create opportunity by finding the real demands of the market and meeting those needs

People are not buying cds. Based on Apple’s latest iTunes stats, they’re not even buying single tracks online anymore. They’re paying for services that stream whatever they want, whenever they want it.

But people don’t really care about streaming. What they’re really paying for is access to songs. More specifically what they are paying for is a feeling. They want to pump their fist in the air and mouth the words to their favorite songs. The real demand is to be moved emotionally.

Several years ago, I wrote an ebook called An Indie Music Wake Up Call. I ended the book with this quote:

“’Popular’ music in the 21st century will not be marked by musicians who play at being business people, it will be marked by entrepreneurs who happen to play and write well and firmly understand where the bottom line is.”

The bottom line is doing what you do in an honest and sincere way and cultivating tribes of people who identify with what you do and are moved by it. That feeling is a scarce thing. It is something people nurture and support.

I started the presentation talking about music in the time of Beethoven and in many ways musicians are coming back to the business model where music is something that is experienced rather than a genie locked in a digital bottle for sale.

In contrast to the professional musicians in Beethoven’s time were the musicians who performed folk music. This was communal music that was passed down aurally to each subsequent generation. It is no small irony that this music is now often experienced by audiences in a non-communal setting through recordings or in a formal setting such as concert halls.

Music is a language. In KoriSoron we take inspiration from a variety of folk music from around the globe and create original music based on that vocabulary. I can pick up words, phrases and even grammar by listening to others speak, but expressing the poetry of a foreign language authentically requires a context that is outside of my experience. So what is a musician from upstate New York to do?     I write my own poetry. I use the music from other cultures that speaks to me and moves me as a platform for creating new music to move other people.

The true beauty of music is that while it can be created on an intellectual level, it communicates to others emotionally. You don’t need to speak our language to be moved by it, you only need to listen.

Finally I’d like to talk about Past forward – a term I got from Ellie Lee, an animator and film maker I knew in Boston who now works in LA. Past Forward was a phenomenal event that she curated in a loft in Boston’s Chinatown. On Past Forward nights, people would go through an lightly marked door and pay a small cover to see films she brought to screen (often with the film maker in tow), eat homemade baked goods, drink beer and watch bands play. And there was a real community of people who came out to those events.

That DIY ethos of creating a scene was SO influential to me. That idea of sharing things that move you to move other people as well. It is at the heart of what I do as a guitarist. As a human being. It is at the heart of KoriSoron.

If what you want in the world doesn’t exist, you either wait for someone to make it or you make it yourself.  

I seek to speak to people and move them and truly moving people is an uncommon thing. It is scarce. It has value. It is worth doing.

Thank you.

…well…it was a strange weekend… pt 1

Right now some of you are reading this guitar-ish related blog after getting an email with the above title and probably rolling your eyes.

I hope you’ll bear with me.

TEDx Schenectady

A while back I was asked to perform at TEDx Schenectady and coincidentally enough a TED Talk / performance was something I always wanted to do.

More specifically, I was asked to do a performance with KoriSoron and talk a little about the music we played but I was having difficulty with that proposal as what we do, as a technical / craftsman’s approach, in KoriSoron isn’t really interesting to people who don’t have a music degree.  (Having said that it DID take quite a few performances for me to figure out how much context I’d have to give an audience for the pieces we played.)

The theme of this TEDx was “The Future is Now”.   To me, a TED talk should demonstrate ideas or approaches that are actionable for the audience in some way.  Lecturing on the broad strokes of South Indian music and how a group of musicians in upstate New York adapted that to western instruments and a quasi funk tune form wasn’t going to give people a lot to take home and adapt for themselves.

As an alternative I decided to:

  • Contextualize our performance by examining the transition from music being solely a live experience, to music being something held on an object that was played to music being something that had no associated object or per-sale cost associated at all.
  • Examine the real needs of the market and then talk about simply trying to give people the product they’re willing to support (namely artists and songs who move them).
  • Tie that back into what we’re trying to do (namely that) in KoriSoron.  We were told that we had a strict 18-minute time allotment.  I knew our tune was just under 6 minutes long so IF I could get my talk down to 10 minutes we’d have enough time to do both.

How To Prepare for a TEDx Talk

  • Have a unique point of view (and an end point) and if you’re not sure it’s unique make sure it’s going though some filter of you where you can present it authentically.  In general I’ve found that the only people who don’t worry about the uniqueness of their ideas are EXACTLY the people who SHOULD pause for a moment and ask, “Hey is this REALLY my idea and if it’s NOT my idea which part of it can I really call mine?”  If necessary, that is the thing to extract, refine and build upon.
  • Research.  This might seem like an odd second step but I think doing a little research on everything I’m considering talking about gives me a number of different perspectives (and may even change the focus of the talk) and – more importantly – it leaves a presenter in a better place if there’s a Q&A.
  • Outline.  When outlining, spend a LOT of focus on the beginning and the end.  The whole thing needs to be good ’cause if it sucks in the middle people will zone out in the end.
  • Write the whole thing out like a paper.  The “trick” to most art is the unimaginable amount of work that goes into making something look effortless.  Write big, broad and clunky strokes if need be.  Just get it down with the end goal of delivering it like a story (keep reading).
  • Read it to other people who will challenge or ask for clarifications about what you have written.   When you do this, imagine that you are reading someone ELSE’S talk to them and do NOT take their criticisms personally.  That’s really important.  I struggled A LOT with this presentation and determining what I wanted to mold it into and my wife was the one who said, “You have 16 ideas in what’s supposed to be a 10 minute presentation.  Maybe you should try 1 or 2.”  I don’t always agree with her, and I struggle editing with her because I DO tend to take her criticisms personally, but my work is immeasurably stronger after it’s gone through those passes because it helps clarify what I’m trying to articulate and why I’m trying to articulate it.  **Quick shout outs here to John Harper who did a lot of leg work and went through multiple revisions, Caroline Dillon who did a couple of passes with me, Warren Senders who was kind enough to give me 45 minutes of his time to talk about music as language, Daren Burns, Jose Duque, Ellie Lee and everyone else who helped with a kind word or an open ear.
  • Edit based on what you find of value from those criticisms.  Never say in four words what you can say in two and speak it aloud as you edit it.  (It doesn’t matter how good it looks on the page, if it can’t be spoken it’s worthless).  Also start to anticipate Q&A questions and work out some rough answers for them.  This game is 90% preparation and 10% execution (although on game day it’s 100% execution).
  • Time yourself reading it – without interruption aloud.  Try reading once fast and once slow.  Get a sense of what the time is.
  • This step depends on where you’re at.  If you’re way over time – you have to go back to steps 5 and 4.  (If you get 2-3 people asking, “Hey what about that one thing you had in there?” you may want to pay attention.)  If you’re at (or near) time – stand in front of a mirror and watch your recitation.  When you do this, try to watch yourself like a third person and be observational and constructive.  (Look for random pacing, shoulder slumping or odd postures, weird ticks or other things and unless you do this a lot you will be shocked at how you come actually across in public.  Recording this and reviewing the recordings is a good idea as well.
  • One thing you’ll notice is that your hands are probably awkward holding a sheet of paper.  Trust me – you DON’T want to be holding a piece of paper on game day.  Make an outline of points of your presentation to remember the “bones” of your presentation as a “story” instead of a number of phrases to memorize verbatim.  A story is more natural and flowing than a presentation and can be embellished and edited on the fly.  Try to remember the specific details of the original presentation and gradually start moving towards progressively smaller notes and moving away from the original presentation entirely.
  • Practice telling the story like an actor or a story teller.  Get back in front of the mirror and in front of people.  Record both versions and don’t stop adding, cutting, editing and revising until the story version of your presentation is better than the original presentation. Make sure to be aware of time and transitions.  Two days before my presentation I was still over so I kept cutting anything I could to make time.
  • This one might only apply to me.  Don’t get frustrated with yourself.  Don’t beat yourself up.  This is a profoundly artificial and unnatural process.  If you take this seriously and try to do your best, you will likely be confronted with deeply ingrained habits and other issues that you will have to try to fix on the fly to get through the presentation.  For me, this is another story for another time.
  • Prepare for a worst case scenario.  That doesn’t mean expect the worst just don’t get thrown when unpredictable things happen.  Be prepared to project and enunciate if the sound requirements aren’t what’s expected. (Neither of the mikes at my TEDx appeared to work so they just had to put an ambient mic in the front of the room.  The video isn’t available.)
  • Practice smiling and making eye contact.  You don’t need to practice this in any “audience” of friends or family with more than 2-3 people.  You want to engage people.  People can hear when you’re smiling on the phone.  They know when you’re engaged in a presentation.  If you practice the presentation stressed you can guess how you’re going to perform it.

So there’s the prep.  Now in contrast, the day before I had done a highly technical talk on FERPA policy that was just as awkward and stiff as trying to plow through 21 slides in 8 1/2 minutes would allow.  Let’s just say that that presentation needs some revision. ; )

How did this one some 22 hours later go?

Events like these are always challenging as there’s a LOT going on.   We picked the tune that best represented what we do with the least amount of gear.  I got there around 11 and the other guys got there at 11:15 and just before 11:30.  The event started at noon, but it turned out we had doors at 11:30 so we literally had 15 seconds to soundcheck and then had to strike the stage.

There was a first 1/2 then we kicked off the second half.  A few of the speakers had gone over so we were about a 1/2 hour behind so we had to set up quickly and go with what we had for the soundcheck.  I did my presentation and performed it the best I could.  I guessed it was going well because I saw a handful of cell phones start to go up as I was speaking so I guess I was saying something interesting.

I got to reference Hershell Gordon Lewis by name (I believe a TED first and a moral victory for me) and did a brief introduction before we played Ganamurti Melakarta.

I adjusted my sound based on the amp being on the floor (carpeted – the room in my house has wood floors and is reflective).  I made a bunch of quick adjustments before we packed up.  I made the semi intelligent observation to just put the amp on a flat wooden chair for a more reflective surface for the performance but forgot to adjust it when we played.  (3 hours later – “Why is it so nasally?  OH YEAH!…”).  So that got sorted out.  Midway through something happened where the form got changed just enough that it threw me off a little during my solo.  I got back onto it and rode it out until the end of the tune.  People seemed to like it.  We got applause.

We ran over so unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take any questions.

The remaining presenters then presented and the event was over.

Managing Expectations

There is always a lot of built up stress followed quickly by an “Is that all there is?” reminder with events like this and that feeling is about managing expectations.  With any type of local event you should expect some variation on the following:

  • Don’t expect that the event is going to be a network event unless it’s billed that way.  A lot of presenters are volunteers.  They want to do what they said they’d do and split.  You’re going to be disappointed if you expect to speak to everyone.
  • Unless your name is on the marquee, the audience didn’t come there to see you.  I remember playing a gig once where no one said a word or had any reaction while I played and I thought people hated it. I packed up in silence and just tried to get out as quick as possible.   For months afterwards I’d run into people who were at that show who were really complimentary about my playing.  People don’t come to gigs to talk to musicians so if you want to speak to them (engage them and potentially start to build fans) you’ll need to introduce yourself and make yourself available to people as they mill about.  Every once in a while people will be moved enough to talk to you but openness is a two-way street.  Note – this is incredibly difficult at the END of a gig when people want to go home.  This is the challenge of a working musician.
  • That the event staff will be profoundly earnest and hard working – but will also not be people who do this every day and will generally not be able to anticipate every need.  When I’m working at Festival Cinema Invisible (FCI – a local Middle Eastern film festival that I’m the Artistic and General Director of) events at Proctors GE Theater in Schenectady, the people who work a lot of those events begin to anticipate any of the general commonalities.  You can’t do that when you run one local event in your first couple of years.  Managing the venue, tickets, and people and food and speakers.  It’s just too much.  (From personal experience a NOTABLE EXCEPTION to this rule is Maria Zemantauski and everyone associated with the HVCC Guitar Festival who put together an event that was one of the most musician friendly I ever attended.)  So plan on having your needs worked out (and their solutions if need be) in advance.    Ex: “No power?  No problem? I have a 50′ lead cord here!”
  • Gigs are always what you make them.  I find you do these events, just like you take the opportunities that you can, because it’s never known what person or situation you may cross paths with attending one but it’s certainly known what the opportunities are in not attending one.

 

This post is already two times longer than I intended.  I have a part 2  so I hope you’ll come back and read day two of the Cinderella story!

As always thanks for reading!

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New KoriSoron Release Now Available Online

Hi Everyone,

Just a quick announcement – we hope to have the physical copies of our new live ep:

A (Live)

A(Live)-Poster

Graphic and Logo by Farzad Golpayegani

out by the end of the year but, for anyone interested,  the digital lossless (i.e. full quality AIF) tracks are available on BandCamp here for $5.

We decided to try to make it an accurate demonstration of what we do live, so there are very few digital interventions in the final tracks and, instead, just documented a live performance with a lot of improvisation that happened on the day we tracked it.

We also decided that since what we do is a live performance with acoustic amps and signal processing, that we would incorporate that into the final recording.  So rather than try to capture a pristine acoustic guitar sound, John Chiara, the engineer, used a combination of mics on the guitar and signals from the amp (direct off of Farzad’s ZT acoustic lunchbox), I had an LR Baggs session DI in the effects loop of my lunchbox and ran a DI out of that.

You can stream the recording for free, but any purchases help us record and document more material and we have a lot of cool material that we’ve been developing.

So your support is appreciated!  Even if you like our facebook page (facebook.com/korisoron) and share the link to the bandcamp page – it helps us get the word out about what we do.

We wanted to record our first release live to document what we do! Live we use some signal processing to get our tones across and we decided to not shy away from the acoustic-electric aspect of what we do.

for more information – see our webpage – korisoron.com or our facebook page facebook.com/korisoron

credits

Scott Collins – Guitar and loops
Farzad Golpayegani – Guitar, loops and violin
Dean Mirabito – Percussion

Recorded by John Chiara at Albany Audio Associates on November 15th 2015.

Mixed and mastered by John Chiara

Artwork, logo and design by Farzad Golpayegani

Special thanks to ZT Amps for their support!

As always, thanks for reading!  Look for another (regularly scheduled) GuitArchitecture post soon.

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New Guit-A-Grip Post Music – Business Podcast and KoriSoron Shows

New Guit-A-Grip Post and Podcast

Kate Bush

Some music business material went up on the Guit-A-Grip site.  Did you know that 35 years after her last performance, that Kate Bush’s recent return to the stage was SO successful that it drove EIGHT of her albums into the top 40 charts?  You can read about that (and how you might be able to use that information here).

Developing Your Business Plan

(From the Guit-A-Grip site)

“This summer I had the opportunity to get involved with the BuckMoon Arts Festival which was held at Fulton-Montgomery Community College in Johnstown, NY.  One of the ideas I had was to create workshops for artists in the area who were looking for ways to monetize their income.  The workshop idea was replaced with a panel discussion with the purpose of utilizing some of the artists and professionals we had access to.  This made for some great discussions and interactions throughout the day.

This podcast is from the “Developing Your Business Plan” panel with panelists Mike DiminYvonne Lieblein and Mark Swain.  The event description was “The business of art – Setting up your business, creating a business plan and building your team.” but it went into a lot of different areas.  If you’re interested in developing your art as a business, you might be interested to listen to hear how these people are already doing it!”

More Things KoriSoron Soft Launch

KoriSoron (my duo acoustic international instrumental project with Farzad Golpayegani) has a twitter feed, and a ReverbNation page and a YouTube page.

Upcoming shows:

We DO have more shows coming up as a direct result of this one:

  • Friday, September 12th 2014 – Moon and River Cafe, 115 S. Ferry St. Schenectady, NY – KoriSoron plays 2 sets of international instrumental music at 8PM and 9PM.  While most of our music is composed there’s a lot of improvisation in the set as well so
  • Thursday, September 18th 2014 – Proctor’s GE Theatre, Schenectady, NY Festival Cinema Invisible‘s kick off event for their 2014-2015 Invisible Film series is going to be fantastic night!  A $10 ticket gets you into a screening of a rarely seen film from Iran, “Common Plight”, a Q & A with the film’s producer Mahmood Karimi-Kakak Persian style tea and delicious sweets from Schenectady’s own Persian Bite restaurant, and a performance from KoriSoron!  Full information about the event is here.  Tickets can be purchased online here.
  • Thursday, September 25th 2014 – Bombers Burrito Bar, 2 King Street Troy, NY as part of the CUR518 local music showcase series.  We play with Groovestick and Dylan Storm and the whole night runs from 8-11!
  • Saturday, November 1st 2014 – Fundraiser for Amsterdam Public Library in Amsterdam, NY. Three sets of music!!!!  No information on the library website yet but the library link is here.

And more shows coming up in October and November while we prep for a new recording.

Mas Music:

Also more details as they become available, but Farzad and I are going to be composing and performing the score for a new theatrical work called Child Soldier this fall at Sienna College called.  More details as that emerges.

As always thanks for reading!

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New Music, New Shows, Gear News and Guit-A-Grip Posts

Hi Everyone,

This is just a brief update of new gear, news and music with some things that may be of interest to you.

New Project

I’m playing in a new project that’s currently an acoustic duo with an incredibly talented guitarist and artist form Iran named Farzad Golpeyagani who recently relocated to the capital district.   He has an extensive discography and portfolio of projects and you can see his website here.

For those of you starting new projects or developing new things, there may be several aspects of this that might be of interest to you.

  • I met Farzad at the Festival Cinema Invisible Film Fest back in June of this year.  People that I met at that event have since opened a series of friendships which has lead to other doors, opportunities and gigs for me.   What’s interesting about this to me is that I almost didn’t end up making it to the festival and if I didn’t have full passes for the festival – I might have missed it entirely.  So (for me) it’s yet another reminder that opportunities are made more than they are found.
  • While there are several reasons for playing as an acoustic duo (rather than starting an electric band) the primary reason is flexibility.  Years ago, I played in a live hip hop band, which I loved, but trying to schedule regular rehearsals and gigs with 6 people was a perpetual mess.  Our thinking behind starting as an acoustic duo is we can make a soft launch of the project, develop material and cultivate an audience in the short term and then expand the lineup out over time.  This will eventually give us the flexibility to be able to perform small shows as a duo or larger shows as a larger ensemble.

For now, this is our acoustic guitar duo project with heavy note density – expect tunes from and/or inspired by the musics of Iran, Turkey, Spain, Romania, Northern India, Japan and other parts of the world all rolled up into some kind of Kati roll / Sushi roll / Gumbo / Goulash. 

We’re working on a name and a logo (I’ve penciled in a name of KoriSoron for the time being).  Farzad and I have been been testing out some material with soft launches at open mics in the area that have gone over very well and now we have some actual shows coming up.

  • “The birthday show” – Saturday, August 23rd – The Moon and River Cafe in Schenectady 8pm – 10pm.  Several short sets to herald in some new material which also happens to mark my birthday on the following day.   As my gift to anyone there, the show has no cover, but supporting the venue with food or beverage purchases is encouraged.
  • Thursday, September 18th – Kickoff screening for Festival Cinema Invisible‘s monthly film series at Proctor’s Theatre. FCI will be showing an Iranian Film, “Common Plight”, serving tea from the fantastic Persian Bite on Jay Street in Schenectady and have a performance by the two of us.
  • Saturday, November 1st – Amsterdam Library Fundraiser. 6pm-9pm.  No information yet but you can check back with the Amsterdam Public Library website for details.

We should have a name, website, Audio/Video and other information soon….

New Gear

For this acoustic based project, I’ve gone back to the shed for getting the tunes together and back to basics for getting the sound I want.  This required some new tools and (for anyone interested) I’ve settled on a few items for live use.

Amps – Amps might seem like a strange place to start, but given that this is an acoustic-electric project, it’s the lynchpin that holds things together.  I’ve tried a bunch of amps and none of them touch the ZT Lunchbox Acoustic.

Lunchbox_Acoustic

I’ll have a full review up in the weeks ahead but for quality of sound, features, portability and price point, nothing else even comes close.  It’s the only acoustic amp I’ll use live now.  Farzad will be using a lunchbox acoustic for our project and he’s using the regular Lunchbox  for his live electric guitar performances as well.

Guitars – I think of all the time I spent trying to get my other acoustics to work in a live setting and now laugh that I didn’t just look at guitars that are designed for electro-acoustic applications and for my money the best in the field for that is Yamaha. I’m using an APX500 II and and APX700 12-string and they both work great for live use and I’m using Yamaha acoustic electric guitars exclusively moving forward.

The Ghost of Christmas Past

Years ago (as in about 6 or so), FnH guitar’s John Harper took in my custom double neck fretted/fretless that he and I designed in for some work.  The problem was that as the guitar was designed to replicate a Mosrite – the necks were too narrow for standard bridges.  So the solution was either to custom build replacement bridges or to make new necks.

New necks were made and the guitar (now forever dubbed “The Harper Albatross”) was delivered last Thursday.  Some features of this beast include:

  • The Albatross weights about 14 lbs and is about 20″ wide.  It’s HUGE!
  • It has one fretted and one fretless neck (both with a 25 1/2″ scale).
  • Both necks have bone nuts and locking Sperzel tuners. (The tuners are a major contributor to the overall weight so those may be going soon).
  • The fretless has a Fernandes Sustainer circuit and pickups in it.
  • The fretted has a gold foil in the neck position and a Lace Alumitone DeathBucker in the bridge position.
  • The fretless has a stop bridge the fretted has a floating Wilkinson bridge
  • Mouradian in Boston custom-made the gig bag for this guitar by modifying a keyboard bag design to fit it.  I love my Mono bags as well but my Mouradian bags are second to none for design, comfort and durability.  Here’s the guitar with the bag.

2014-08-10 09.13.00

Here’s another photo with more of a close up of the controls.

2014-08-10 09.13.27Look for some new material featuring this and the Yamaha guitars this Fall!

New Guit-A-Grip Posts

It’s been a while since I’ve announced any of these here so there may be some topics below that may be of interest to you.

  • In this post, I dissect the “$1.7 million” figure that was quoted for a former student of mine whose band signed to a major label.
  • In this post, I’ve posted an excerpt from one of my e-books that talks about the necessity for strong opinions in the arts.
  • In this post, I talk about the disadvantages of burning bridges to your career.
  • And in this post, I talk about how opportunities are sometimes wasted before they ever come to fruition.

In the weeks ahead, I’ll have the full audio for the panel discussions for artists from the Buckmoon Arts Festival and there’s a lot of GREAT insight and information for those of you who are trying to build your carer or get you business project off the ground.

In the meantime, that’s it for now!  As always, thanks for reading!

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New Guit-A-Grip Posts, Festival Cinema Invisible and June News

Hi everyone, this is just a short series of updates of things that may be of interest to you.

Guit-A-Grip

There are a few new posts up on my other site, Guit-A-Grip. The first post (Differentiating between action and change) has to do with why people take action to deal with problems (like buying a book) but don’t follow through (i.e. actually reading the book).  If you struggle with getting things done, this post may help and you can read it here.

Also there’s a (semi) return to the podcast.  If you’re thinking about doing your own podcast or running your own promotional effort, you can learn a lot from the mistakes I made on mine.  You can listen to that podcast here.

Guitar-Muse

Guitar-Muse should be running my interview with Daniel Donato soon.  Also, it looks like an interview with Joe Romagnola of the Rochester-based Grooveyard Records is in the works.  If you want to know what inspires a guy to start a guitar-centric record label when a lot of other labels shut their doors, this will be a good interview to check out.

Schenectady and The Festival Cinema Invisible

In 2006, right before I relocated to California to go to Cal Arts, I took a trip back to the capital district to visit family with my wife and FnH Guitar’s John Harper.  We took a drive down state street in Schenectady into Central Avenue of Albany and it looked like a post-apocalyptic nightmare.  Every other building was boarded up, and the only thing that seemed to be open was dollar stores.  I was in shock at how far down it had gone from even the last time I was thereh.

Last September I relocated to upstate New York and this past February I moved to Schenectady.  It’s come a long ways from where it was just several years ago and with places like the excellent Persian Bite, Tara Kitchen and Mexican Radio opening soon – there is a real sense of revival here.

The excellent efforts of the good people behind The Festival Cinema Invisible go a long ways to highlight the best elements of what’s happening here.  President and Artistic Director Mahmood Karimi-Hakak and executive director Elahe Golpari have curated a massive 3-day festival that is screening over 40 short and feature length films at at Proctors Theatre this weekend.  As a number of these films have not been seen in Iran, almost all of the film screenings are world premiers, US premiers and/or East Coast premiers.  In addition to helping artists get their voices out into the word – they are committed to the transformative power of art and community.  I am grateful to be here in Schenectady while this is happening, to make some fantastic friends and I look forward to see what I can contribute to arts and community here as well.

These are great people and if you live in the area, they could use your support.

  • The festival runs through this Sunday and culminates in a concert with the incredibly gifted guitarist and visual artist Farzad Golpayegani.  I saw Farzad’s work at the kickoff event for the festival on Thursday and you owe it to yourself to see him perform his Persian inspired instrumental rock music.  His cd, FOUR will be available to pick up there and I believe his artwork is available for sale as well. Farzad’s website is  here.
  • Big thanks to Brona Jafari and Elahe Golpari for posting an impromptu interview with Candace and I.
  • Mahmood has a new book out, Love Me More Than the Others – Selected Poetry of Iraj Mirza that’s available at the festival.  Having picked it up last night and read it until the wee hours of the morning, I can tell you that it’s fantastic.
  • Also, a big shout out to Modi, the bassist for Toltec Band.  Modi’s in town for the festival and has cds for sale there as well.

Gigs

I’ll doing live improvised accompaniment for a staged reading of The Exonerated as part of the BuckMoon Arts Festival at Fulton-Montgomery Community College July 12th and 13th. I’m also involved in organizing a series of workshops for emerging artists and we’re going to have some great panelist and panel discussions on being a working artist.

Some other gigs are in the works for this summer and fall.  More info as it becomes available.

Tracks

I’m working with an engineer to put some finishing touches on the long-awaited Rough Hewn Trio ep and will also have an EP of acoustic guitar music out this fall.  Some projects I’ve been trying to pull together for a while now, may actually have traction – so we’ll see what happens there!

Books

I’m still currently outlining the book on Practicing book, editing/ reviewing the material for the Pentatonic Extraction book that should be out this year and still looking at an e-book modal series that I think would be cool.

As always, thanks for reading!

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