More Content or Extra! Extra! New Neu Knew!

Hey everybody,

Just a few quick updates in chronological order.

Guitar-Muse

My not-quite-a-review review of Yngwie Malmsteen’s memoir,  Lessons Learned From Relentless: A Memoir By Yngwie J. Malmsteen is up on Guitar-Muse.  You can read that here.

There’s also a unison tapping lesson for those of you interested in creating interesting aural effects, making unlikely artistic connections or learning about the mysterious superhero/super villian side kick Cigar-Boy.  You can read that here.

Guit-A-Grip

I’m doing something different on my podcast and serializing the book about my experiences releasing 4 books in 5 months, Nothing Ever Got Done With An Excuse.  I hope that it will provide some good tips and mindsets for those of you who are trying to get any long term goal or project done.  It’ll be a weekly podcast and episode 1 is here.  If you haven’t had a chance to check out the podcast, all of the past episodes deal with similar issues. and may be interesting to you.  Those episodes can be found on guitagrip.com.  A new post on depth of experience is up as well.

GuitArchitecture

Not to be forgotten, there’s a new rhythm guitar lesson here as well you may find interesting on this site!

More reviews, interviews, podcasts, lessons and other content to come!

As always, thanks for reading!

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Update from Upstate

Hey everyone,

A few quick things from the wild woods of Upstate NY.

Guit-A-Grip

I should mention that there’s a recent post and a new podcast up on guit-a-grip that may interest you if you have any interest in project management or motivational aspects of guitar playing.

Guitar-Muse

Okay…projects on tap for Guitar-Muse I hope we can get out before the end of the year:

  • Pentatonic Extraction Lesson (Submitted)
  • Taping Lesson (Submitted)
  • Ridgely Snow Player Profile (almost ready to go)
  • Interview w. Chris Buono (in the pipeline)
  • Review of Relentless: A Memoir (in the pipeline – short version you should check it out)
  • Review of the JamUp Pro app (in the pipeline)
  • Interviews with several people including Daren Burns and Fernando Vigueras
  • Possible cool gear reviews in the pipeline
  • Other lessons and player profiles

I have a steady stream of things going out to them, and hopefully we can get them up in a consistent manner!

Acoustic Project

Boy, I’ve been having the hardest time getting players for the Shakti-ish / Balkan-ish / Middle Eastern-ish / ish-ish acoustic project that I’ve been trying to pull together!  That in and of itself isn’t a shock, but what IS surprising is that  I’ve never had a project that had so much interest, and then kept falling apart at the moment of – “sounds good – let’s get together to play”.

The flake out factor almost as bad as LA in that respect. ; )

If you happen to be in upstate NY here’s the posting, and know a violinist or a guitarist who wants to show up to play, please pass that along!

At any rate, I’ve met some good people that hopefully something can come from and in the meantime, I guess I’ll keep plugging away at it and in the meantime just get a solo acoustic set together and try to make some headway there.

Electrics ‘R Us

There are very real threats of me going to Boston to see John Harper of FnH to pick up some guitars that are waiting there for me.  In the electric realm, I’m still trying to figure out how to get the Rough Hewn material signed off on, and working on pulling together a new remote project with some long-time collaborators/co-conspirators of mine and will feature a lot of 12-tone ideas.

Again we’ll see what happens.

(Another?) Book

Oh, and a lot of work has gone into the forthcoming  Pentatonic Extraction book thus far.  I don’t have an ETA, but it’s going to be cool!  There should be a lesson based on that material coming out for Guitar-Muse.

In other book related news, as a precursor to getting it out the door – If you get a chance, to check it out the new podcasts on Guit-A-Grip will feature a serialization  of my project management book, Nothing ever got done with an excuse  to help people get their projects off the ground.

That’s it for now!  As always, thanks for reading!

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The Five Words Or Less Challenge

(Hey everyone.  Since I’m in the process of moving, the gone fishin’ sign is still up on the door and for this week’s post I’m rolling out some more excerpts and miscellaneous observations from my Selling It Versus Selling Out ebook that you may enjoy.

The podcast will come back in the weeks ahead after I’m settled.  In the meantime, you can check out the latest one here.)

Five Words Or Less

Up until fairly recently, I had a habit that, in retrospect, is quite embarrassing.

I couldn’t describe what I did musically in five words or less to other people.

When asked what I did, I said I played guitar, and then went into a painfully earnest description that was supposed to be informational (but in reality probably sounded more like babbling).

No matter how sincere people are, most of them shut down with information overload and anything more than 5 words describing what you do initially (“initially” is an important qualifier here by the way) is information overload.

That might sound harsh but it’s not meant to be.  It’s simply that even musicians (i.e. people who do this every day of their lives) tend to lose focus after 10 words or so. I might talk about how hearing koto playing worked its way into my comping and they might be looking at me smiling and wondering about the discolored tooth in the front of my mouth (it’s discolored because I got into an accident the day of my grandmother’s funeral and ate a face full of gravel killing the nerve in my front tooth.  It’s also why I very rarely smile with a full open-faced smile.  But I digress….).

To non-musicians it’s even more alien.  They often really want to understand what you’re doing, but experience has shown me that the more descriptive you get, the more you’re going to lose them.  People are busy.  They have a lot on their mind and they’re often easily distracted, so don’t lose them if they’re interested in what you do!

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The restroom pitch

Now I’ve clarified this with the word initially.  For those of you familiar with the term, this is less of an elevator pitch and (in terms of length of time) more of a restroom pitch.  Imagine you walk up to a sink in a restroom and someone is already using the neighboring sink.  The person recognizes you and taps the soap dispenser and asks, “Hey don’t you play music – what kind of music do you play?”  you’ve got about 5 words to get it across before he or she runs the tap water and can’t hear what you’re saying.

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The goal of being able to do this isn’t to limit yourself in a bad way.  

The point of it is to come up with just enough of a description to get someone’s interest and have them ask more about what it is that you do.

Interestingly enough, while the 5-word rule applies to a band bio (keep it short and to the point), it doesn’t necessarily apply to other text-based media.  People who want to read about a band are often willing to read lengthy articles and will actually retain the information – but that’s after there interest is piqued, and the window for that is generally a short sentence or two.

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In person – in an initial meeting  – you’ve got about 5 words to bring them in.

If you’re interested in trying this for yourself here are some tips that may help.

  • Try to describe yourself musically in 5 words or less.
  • Make it descriptive enough that people get some sense of what you’re doing – but open enough to let their imagination fill in the other pieces.  “Improvised rock guitar” isn’t a bad start, but people who hear that are going to think “jam band”.  So if you play in a jam band it’s easier to just say “I play in a jam band”.  If you don’t play in a jam band, you might need a better description.
  • If you’re comparing yourself to other bands – don’t use any more than two (“Black Sabbath meets Elton John” gets someone’s attention.  “Take Yngwie Malmsten’s leads with Tony Levin’s pocket and hold it together with Zakir Hussain’s tabla” looses people.  Shred guitar with tabla gets it back again.  Will your bassist get pissed at that description?  Probably – but again the idea is to distill it down to its essence – because the essence is where all the potency is.

While this process will help you describe your music to other people (and thus make it more accessible to them automatically), it has a second (and ultimately more significant) advantage. It clarifies in your own head exactly what it is you’re trying to do.

If it takes 30 seconds for someone to initially describe what they’re doing it’s generally because they’re a little muddled on the goal as well.  Again, it’s something I was guilty of on my own and I now have short descriptions for everything I do.  They’re not all 5 words or less (and they all need revision and improvement)  but they’re distilled enough that people get the gist of what I’m doing.

For example, when people ask about performance I often tell them I play “ethnically influenced rock guitar”, “loop-based improvised guitar” or “improvised music for multi-media”.

When asked about my teaching style, I can explain that as a teacher my goal is to “help students hear the music within” or to “help students sound like themselves”.  Both sentences are a little clunky – but that’s the simplest essence.  That’s what I can boil it down to and if I understand it on the base level, I can always expand on it later. How I do these things is a much longer discussion.  Even though none of them fully define what I do, they help open a door for that discussion to occur and opening doors is what music should do in general.

Give it a try!  You may find out some interesting things about yourself!

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As always, thanks for reading!

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PS – If you dig this post, you may like my ebooks (both available for Amazon Kindle or for the FREE Kindle App).  Click on graphic for book link page.

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Indie Musician Wake Up Call

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Guit-A-Grip Podcast Episode #10 – On “You’re Welcome”

Hello everyone!

The iTunes synch.

This has been an on-going battle but (fingers crossed)  I think this is finally all set.

It looks like the links and streaming is reset on the individual pages on this site, but if you’re subscribed to the podcast you may have to unsubscribe and re-subscribe to the podcast to get the episodes that got jacked up in the synch (Episode #3, #4, #5 and the latest #9).

Again, my apologies!!!  I’m a real luddite on some things I guess!

If you’re unsure how to reset this in iTunes – in my iTunes, I went to Podcasts Selected Get-A-Grip.  Unsubscribed and then hit the subscribe button, and the episodes all came up with the right episodes and times.

(Also FYI – you may have noticed a page on the top bar that says PODCASTS and they’re all there for download and streaming!  Hopefully it’s all set now.)

Episode #10?

The ten episode milestone is now in the rear view mirror!   Guit-A-Grip podcast episode #10 “On ‘You’re welcome”‘  is out and available for download/streaming.

Subscription Notes:

  • You can subscribe through iTunes here:
  • You can use this link to subscribe with any other feed based service:
  • or you can right-click here to download it.
  • or you can stream this episode below.
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Guit-A-Grip Episode #10 – Show Notes

Generally, I listen back to the podcast and make copious notes about what I thought was clear at the time that turns out to be pretty murky.  I only have a few points I feel compelled to address this time.

I don’t have all the answers.

Well…Duh Scott ; )

No one has all the answers, and I’m more than suspicious of anyone who does.  I’ve just been fortunate in that I’ve made a near infinite number of mistakes – some of which I’ve actually learned from –  all of which have given me a perspective that’s been useful to me. Hopefully my answers will help you solve some of your own questions,  (you may want to check out my – Don’t buy the app – Be The App podcast for more on this idea).

For me, the main thing to remember is that lessons only have value in their application (as does philosophy hence my mini rant mid podcast).

That Martial Arts story:

That’s a post I did called Finding The Deeper Lesson.  If you haven’t read it yet, you might dig the article!

I don’t believe in evil:

That’s not entirely true, but I didn’t articulate it well.  I believe that people do evil things to each other quite often, but they don’t see it as evil, they see it as being the right thing to do (or the self serving thing to do) with no care for how it affects other people.  People in caves (or anywhere else for that matter) are not trying to advance an agenda they think is evil (Like Dr. Evil in an evil lair) – they’re doing what they think is right for themselves or their cause.

Much of evil, then, lies in action  maybe even in some cases more so than intent….more on that later.

There’s more

There’s always more, but it feels like I actually touched on a lot of things in the podcast I intended to, so I don’t feel compelled to write a lot about it here.

As always, thanks for visiting, reading and listening.  I hope you get something out of the podcast, and if you like the series please drop a line sometime.

Thanks again!

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Guit-A-Grip Episode #9: Transitioning From An Island To A Peninsula

Hello everyone!

After a little blogging run, I’m back to podcasting.  I’m experimenting with the format for what works best for people, so the fate of the podcasts are TBD but in the meantime, Guit-A-Grip podcast episode #9  is out and available for download/streaming.

Subscription Notes:

  • You can subscribe through iTunes here:
  • You can use this link to subscribe with any other feed based service:
  • or you can right-click here to download it.
  • or you can stream this episode below.

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Guit-A-Grip Episode #9 – Show Notes

The genius in question

I’ll reveal this someday, but for now if you know me from my club ’98 days, you’ll know who I’m talking about.

The study in question.

Here’s a link to the Huffpo article I referenced in the podcast.

The last meal in question.

Uh…my death row meal?  Depends on where I was…probably a bahn mi, but really good pizza, mashed potatoes, burrito, veggie burger or mac and cheese would be on the list as well.  Iced coffee would be there.

The show format

The fluff above not withstanding, I think it’s really important that anything I post here is succinct enough to be inspirational and actionable.  So I’m shooting for more of 10-20 minute posts that have a central idea to ponder and then move from there.  But I’m really interested in how these things benefit you. As always, If you like the podcast please let me know. If you really like it -and listen to it on iTunes –  leaving a rating there would be really appreciated!

More posts and podcasts are on their way.

Thanks again!

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A New Laptop Guitar Post On Guitar-Muse And Updates

Good morning!

Guitar-Muse just posted a column I wrote on blending dual signal paths to get more definition from your distorted guitar tone. You can check that out here.  You can find the tab (and the theory behind the lick) here.  I have a review of the EHX 8-Step Program coming out soon and another interview in the works for the end of the summer.

There are a few recent posts and podcasts on Get-A-Grip that you may be of interest to you.  You can find all of those here, and a page of all the current podcasts (with fixed links) here.

Some shows are coming up on the horizon which should be pretty cool.  I’ll have more info about those up next week.

More things in the pipeline as well.  Happy 5th of July!

As always, thanks for reading!

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Do You View Your (Music) Career Like An Actor?

I just saw a documentary on Netflix called “That Guy Who Was In That Thing” which is about a number of instantly recognizable character actors and their paths to get to claw their way to the middle.  ; )

The documentary is thoroughly engaging by being both entertaining and thought-provoking.  There also happen to be a number of parallels between performing in the film/television industry and performing in the music industry.  The subjects spoke at length about the difficulties that come with the ebb and flow of work that their careers take.  They talked about how they were (and are) out of work for years before they get a few gigs or hit a streak of work and all of them had stories of other parallel jobs that they worked while trying to make a living acting and tales of losing gigs for any one of a dozen reasons.

Two things grabbed me right away.

1.  The subjects spoke at length about how the number of actors out there willing to work for less has caused many of them to make less money than they did before. The thinking being, we don’t have to pay you that anymore because there are 10,000 other people who will kill to sit in that chair for less money.  The number of parallels with this and recording musicians (and performing artists) was striking. I’m paraphrasing here, “You realize that they don’t need you to fill the role, they just need to fill the role.”  Does this sound familiar to anyone performing and/or recording music out there?

2.  Musicians might actually have it easier than actors.

Here’s my thinking behind this.  Actors need vehicles to act in.  So the model they use is basically variations for  Advertising / Televison / Film.  For a TV show, this might mean

  • auditioning for a pilot with hundreds of people
  • getting a callback with maybe 50 people
  • getting a second callback with 20 people
  • doing a test with 5-6 people
  • having a series of negotiating calls made to see what you will cost them
  • testing in front of the studio executives this will limit you to a group of maybe 3 people
  • if chosen, you then shoot a pilot
  • the pilot then has to get picked up and
  • then you hope that the series doesn’t get cancelled after the first few episodes

The interesting thing to me was that this paralleled musicians and major labels.  The thinking was for years that you had to be in a band and signed to a label to have a career. Online distribution changed that model forever.

Having said that, artists on labels are/were the only people getting tour support. (They’re  generally the only people to also get tour support via sponsorship. )

For actors, working with studios means you get to keep your SAG card.  You get to keep your benefits and the SAG card is key to the audition process (and the securing of roles).

It doesn’t say it directly in the documentary – but some of these actors slogging it out in endless auditions seem to be afraid that the new (up and coming) actors are just getting pulled from YouTube.

I don’t think it’s the case for major films – and won’t be for a while.

Studio legend Tommy Tedesco once related a story where some MI students went with him on a session and one of them said, “I don’t understand.  Someone who’s been playing a year could play that part.”  And Tommy said, “yes. that’s probably true.”

The student pushed it more and said, “But you make triple scale, why do they pay all of that money to bring you in when they could get someone to do it much cheaper?”

Tedesco replied, “Because when you spend 50 or 75,000 on a recording session with an orchestra, you don’t want to lose money because some guy might screw up his part.  You’re going to get the best players on the session to make sure that absolutely nothing goes wrong.”

Again, I’m not knocking YouTube – but a YouTube performance doesn’t mean you can handle the rigors of any gig that comes your way.  While it might get you an audition, in and of itself, it’s never going to give you traction if you don’t have the skills to back it up.

Here’s what bugged me about the documentary.

No one talked about going DIY.

No one talked about making their own films.  Writing and staging their own plays.  Starting their own companies. All they talked about was a variation of the formula:

Get call from agent + audition + a dozen factors MAY = a gig.

It’s easy to view a music career like this.  Waiting for a shot – the right moment, the right contact – to make a big pay out.  It’s the lottery mentality to which I say, “sure, put a couple of bucks in and see if you get lucky, but putting your life savings in it probably won’t pay off.”

Those development contracts like Joan Crawford were on back in the day are never coming back to the movie houses.  Those days of getting signed to a label and having a carer carefully cultivated over multiple releases are never coming back.

Elvis already left the building.

While I’m fully in favor of seeking out opportunity – by and large you make your own opportunities and the formula for that is:

Do really good work + Do it frequently + Affect, motivate and/or move other people = being the go to person for “that thing”.

If what you do services a niche audience, you might not get rich but it’s probably the best way to build a long-term career.

Thanks for reading!

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