this one is ukelay lady lay
this one is celloed out
made three songs this weekend
all continuing from the previous, and kind exploring what hides in one chord, even though that sounds more thought out than it was
oh and three different instruments: guitar, then cello, then ukelele
Oh blog of mine, which hath been updated irregularly and regularly since 2004. I’m glad you exist my sweet blog. Although you make me nostalgic too.
But yeah, I’m reminded that documenting moments of time has a purpose, perhaps a hell of narcissistic purpose, but purpose nonetheless. It’s a night like this, last night of March 2012, where I am sipping cheap whiskey on my roof deck, lamenting that Kate is out working for the evening, teaching painting to a group class which must be terrifying. I am listening to Thao and the whosiwhatsits, which isn’t a common choice lately but it fits for now. It was really too quiet in this sweet orange ish apartment. Cinco is sitting on the orange chair making the scene all the more orange.
Life has been really kind of brutal in a non complainy way the last six months or actually year. No breaks man. No big hearty moments of smiley ness. A bit of confusion stew with generous sprinklings of self-doubt and repetition. What a weird time. Ugh. I don’t know that I could have lived it better, in fact I’m willing to bet I couldn’t have. But yeah. Aimless, hopeful and heartbroken.
Well, I mean I finished those albums about this time last year. After endless silly revisions. And then… wha happend? Weird mastering issues, time just passing in such an uncomfortable way, expectations built, and then shattered. Then reality set in.
Thank god for walks and brothers and family, lovely girls and dogs. Thank god for cheap whiskey and a night where I have the balls to write a journal entry that could be read by someone wondering who I think I am. I don’t know. I would love to personify the super cool musician to you, and seduce you with imagery from the special mind of a special musician. But that’s all obviously a bunch of scaredy cat bullshit. There aren’t any musicians out there that are really better than you, in your quiet apartment. They may have the perfect hairstyle in their press pictures, and they may tweet cleverly, and on stage they seem invincible, but they aren’t invincible, and they certainly aren’t cooler than YOU, who, incidentally, are the coolest ever. Music has a purpose, but it oughtn’t be to maintain the egos of its makers. So sayeth I.
So yeah. Turned a corner. Thank god for April. I am starting a new job on Monday. That’s right, a job. Well, yeah, I know. I hoped to break through with the new album enough to not worry about such trifles as “money” and “groceries” but it didn’t happen that way. It’s ok. I like work. I hope to be able to work as a musician and I think this job will give me breathing room. Maybe it will remind me how imperative it is to play music as the thing. I am really really really not interested in giving up. Even though at times, scary sad times in the past year I have actually thought that perhaps I ought to. Give up. Let’s face it. If you are reading this, you are the few and the proud. Unless I have indeed “made it” and this blog becomes a hysterically stupid piece of the legend dispelled of this music. Or what. This music. This… life.
I miss my friends. Gonna say it. Getting older you miss everything. And it’s important to realize the utter and complete sweetness of each phase. I would say “of each day” or “of each moment” but really I can’t keep up. I would just say that each phase of life is insanely sweet and poignant in its own lonely lovely way. Not that you are lonely, but that those phases are lonely. They want you to appreciate them. Remember first break up phase? Remember first apartment phase? Yeah. Those phases are lonely/lovely.
Ok. that’s my check in. Thanks for reading. You are rather patient.
Thanks life. This evening is cool. On to the greatest raddest most fantastic adventure yet!
A big storm passed through LA yesterday. It kind of ravaged this desert city. I heard that an inch came down in a couple of hours. The streets became rivers, rushing downhill almost over the edges of sidewalks, and the drains to which all water rushed were big loud vortexes one would not want to slip into. Especially while unloading a guitar amp.
I witnessed all this as I was loading-in for a show at the Universal Bar in L.A. (It’s called the Universal Bar & Grill, but for some reason my pride allows me to play bars, but not bar & grills). The rain made the load-in more exciting than usual.
This venue was on the shore of the LA river in North Hollywood, which is not really as rustic sounding as it could be. At that point the river is a concrete slough and last night it was really raging, with no trees or grasses to slow it down. The rain was relentlessly dumping.
There was something kind of charged to the atmosphere outside and inside of the bar. Red light mixed with black lights and a cozy warmth. The smell of damp jackets and beer. Everybody had braved the elements a bit to make it out, and, as only some bars can do, it felt like THE place to be in case of emergency. So it was good. People were happy, the previous bands put on a great show and brought in a good draw and all was well.
We (as Midnight Door) played with abandon, as has been the case for all three of our shows thus far. Last night I felt even more the need to exorcise, and the feelings behind the songs felt pretty spot-on to me in my life. Being emotive wasn’t particularly difficult. More importantly though, the small crowd was TOTALLY into it , which is something that you can feel viscerally on stage. It is important and amazing when a crowd is wrapped up in every note… you can be exponentially more interesting and interested as a performer.
Then a rainy drive through Hollywood, which, at the risk of sounding like a farmboy, still impresses me greatly. I don’t know what Hollywood is or means, but it has a certain energy and excitement in its present that just being near is undeniable.
My brother came all the way up from Orange County and drove me to the gig and back which was amazingly cool. And my girlfriend as usual was present and super-into the whole thing, including carrying heavy equipment. Some good friends showed up for a meet up at the bar before and after, and my new partner in musical destruction Tripp played drums so excellently as only a pro can.
The night before, Saturday, we played in Echo Park at Pehrspace, which is this cool, funky venue that sits inside of a strip-mall type area. On both sides there are tiny hispanic churches whose buildings would be equally fitting for a laundromat or a travel agency.
Pehrspace is run by incredibly sweet and kind people whose real purpose seems truly to be allowing for art to happen. The opening band was a duo of drums and synth/beat/sounds and they brought a bunch of their super supportive crowd out. It was really great party jam music with thick beats mixed with urban psychadelia, and their drummer played live with a fury and a precision that is very difficult to pull off with electronic stuff.
There weren’t a whole ton of people there, but the ambience was supportive and great and wide open and so we just rocked it out. To tell the truth, circumstance made it such that we didn’t rehearse prior to the performance, but I had a feeling we could pull it off and we did. It was great. I was sweaty and sore after.
So now as is the usual though I just try and filter out what it means. To play great shows for a few people. To not actually have anything booked. It’s a mix of accomplishment and what now? It feels good and bad at once. I want to play more shows and reach more people and just, be able to do that. And that isn’t always easy to do. Ideally some clarity will come about, some natural career-ish evolution will become inevitable, and I will not have been spinning my wheels on a stationary device. Regardless, it was good great fun, and a solid workout to boot!
Played a show in Echo Park yesterday and the little room at the little cafe was nice and close and intimate and good and the daylight shone through the window which is not all that common for a music gig. Improvised set means you don’t have any basis for judging the performance. Actually, you never do.
I have two gigs coming up this weekend. Didn’t mean for that to happen, that’s usually a no-no, even in a big city, because you you know, use up all your pulling people in power. To be honest I don’t have a ton of that at the moment so every show played out is a chance to reach people. I’m… well… I hate to admit this but I’m desperate to play more. And so if someone says “will you play?” I say “Yes!”, no exceptions (almost).
So I’ll be revisiting Tomorrow Was, which is good. Playing through those songs, which are still full of a meaning I don’t even know that I understand yet. I’m happy to stick around with them a bit, though I’m always anxious to write and create more. Perhaps now that I’ve split my persona in two (Midnight Door and Luke Janela) I can write under one and continue on with the other.
Spring is really here. LA is so ridiculously lovely weather-wise, to the point that it creeps me out at times. I loved the big and rare storm that roared across the basin and blew down my wind chimes. It is essential that break, that chaos.
Anyways, the point is that I will be practicing this week. And that will be good.
Easing along the coming albums. An epic trip to the middle of the Atlantic is plenty to get the inspiration going. I’ve been banging through new tracks these past few days since returning, and I’m excited about the progress especially.
Also in the works: a music video for Summertime Nights. Got some real amazing real talented folks down here in LA want to work on it, and so we’re going to have at it. That’ll be coming your way.
In the meantime I’ll bring you some jams soon. I’ve got a lot laying around, even if I just end up sharing the ideas and not the finished product, it’ll tide us both over until them new albums drop!
This post, you’ll notice is not generally in line with my typical posts here, which is good, in my opinion, I’m trying to open up the content, be more… honest, I suppose.
Tonight I’m overwhelmed. I’ve spent all afternoon working on three electro-cello tracks, and that is fine, only to realize that I have a huge pile of work I’ve already recorded just waiting for me to sort it out. I’ve probably got 25 pieces at least partly recorded for that album. And that’s the problem… partly is the key word. Sorting through them is like going into an old storage unit full of stuff. Some of it is really cool, but doesn’t quite fit into your life now. Some of it you can’t let go of, but never get around to dealing with.
And on top of that, I have probably 15 songs partly recorded for my other albums. Three are done. Three. That’s it!
It’s daunting to be working on new albums again. I’m sure most artists go through this, but after you finish your last one you forget that that isn’t… it. You always push out more.
New albums breathe new life into my purpose, both musically and professionally. I get that drive to get this music out there the more it gets actually finished. So I suppose I’m pushing for a finished record that I can get behind and give what it deserves now that I am in such a crazy city, where crazy things happen.
So… overwhelmed in a good way. Too much material… there are worse things to complain about certainly!
Life has been rolling along. All the sudden it’s May. It’s not even May, it’s the middle of May. Wow.
That slip of the tongue of time has happened (for me) because I’ve been buried in music. Culminations occur tomorrow night, Thursday at the downtown art walk in Los Angeles, where I’ll be playing some jams at the Annex Gallery. Basically I’m playing cello, mixing it up with beats, and making rad action happen all the time. It’s cool, playing music in the center of one of the biggest cities in the world. It’s why I’m here.
On the other fronts, I’ve been writing new songs and nostalging about old ones, culminating in at least a couple new albums by the end of this (very busy) Summer.
Life is good, my fingers have callouses, I’m deeply inspired.
Still awaiting, I suppose, the big break, but I’ll just keep making this music, like I always have, and that will do it, I think.
Let me know when I should come to your town and play a gig.
I sincerely hope you are well. Thanks for checking in. You know I’ll post some new music here when I feel it is deserving of your ears…
In all things, do good, be well. Etc.
December and November were such a crazy wash for me I was feeling burnt out. Right now we’re house sitting a really beautiful house outside Nevada City and I feel life returning to something better than it was.
I’ve strangely writ a good part of 4 new songs since being here three days ago, and feel like I might have more. Starting to flesh out the lyrics etc.
Other music life has been busy too… recently:
Traveled to record with Huff This! at a former 60’s rock star’s LA estate. Obviously fun to the max.
Added bass tracks to Aaron Ross’ new record and therefore we are sending it off to be mixed and mastered.
Scheduled a few gigs, with Aaron and solo action… I’ll keep you posted.
Thanks for stopping by, I’ll put a new track up here pretty soon…
This has been one of those clusters of time where big things happen and there isn’t really even a way to gauge how much it impacted. To see Barack Obama elected was something I never thought I’d witness in my youthful days, and not for the reasons the media is obsessed with. I know it meant a lot to me to see this, as halfway through the minute after MSNBC announced he had won I was calling all my family quite emotional. That happened. It was beautiful.
Now here in the whirlpool or resilient aftermath, whatever it’s called. Things have been quaking a bit. I’m listening to old music and catching up on some long overdue chores, generally putting things into categories and then evaluating each and every one. Like: for instance: music. The album of songs I’ve been playing live is getting to the point of “ok, well, let’s put it out!”… though I’d like to have a sudden revelation and record another song or two with it. The other albums are floundering, and have taken far too long to put together. But it’s all organization at this point… a lot of the material is there… just waiting to be shaped up.
And then there is Aaron Ross’ new project, The Heirs Of Mystery. That album is almost done. A trio: Aaron singing playing guitar, Cody Feiler on electric guitar and backup vocals, me on cello and backup vocals. It’s a fun mix, it’s a good mix, it’s the kind of mix that doesn’t happen often, musically or personally… I really admire and respect those guys on all levels and I think that what we end up putting out, such as this last Sunday at the Crazy Horse Saloon in downtown Nevada City, while the sweaty pre-election crowd sat waitingwise under the redlights hearing for the first time… I think it is good. It is good music.
So tomorrow evening downtown Nevada City again, playing cello for an art opening at the Mekka… will be an interesting thing… fun I hope. And lately that’s what I mean, just a constant waterfall of these types of opportunities, crossing paths with really cool people. Nevada City has opened a bit, and yet…
now winter is upon us in it’s own way
and who knows… I just feel that of course, as always, as usual, it is not enough to be sitting here waiting for the next page to turn, waiting for the blind spot to become defogged, and perhaps even waiting for some approval to crop up out of the ether, because you know, we all want that. And, as it is shown, we are all getting there, older, and wiser, and closer to our fate, whatever it may be.
So, in short, things roll forward. I’m moving this more into journal form again by the way. I don’t really mind if it offends anyone that I shall tell of my days and nights and life in a truly vain manner on these pages. It’s what it is. I don’t need no excuses…
“The darkness has got the best of us… there’s a darkness in this town that’s got us too…
they can’t touch me now… you can’t touch me now… they aint goin’ to do to me what I watched them do to you… ” – Independence Day you should know perhaps who by
So yes, thanks in the air, the full fall leaves weighting down just enough. Enough passing by in a blur to become one with each exhale, the days. The sharpness of breath, the long-ness of the night. The books to read, the family to see, the projects to complete. The holy arena of reflection. It always happens, thank goodness.
Ambition is the answer to the vanity that tears me apart. I know I want to do more, and I believe that it will come about, the restless dreams of each and every night meaning something, meaning that indeed there is meaning. Simple tasks like homework pull me into two halves, the perfectly numb and the perfectly distraught. That’s where I’m at… You?
No, I haven’t been drinking. I just get this from the crisp air, from being on the cusp of change. From being a part of this second that said: write.
Life moves on. Last weekend I watched Tchaikovsky being played wonderfully by the S.F. Symphony, and it was really inspiring. Sat up in the front row while the conductor grimaced and ohhhed.
February is the longest shortest month. The narcissus are blooming in my kitchen now. Reading Jung. Currently listening to Refused. Cinco the dog lies on the floor patiently. Kate works on paintings.
Here is a rework of the demo song still in demo form, All Right Now.[display_podcast]
This is a track from way back. This is one of my first shows where I used the cello for half my set. I had my beatbox, and was playing at the Medicine Hat, this beautiful underground type spot on NE Alberta St., in Portland. It was a quiet night, like a Wednesday or so, but I remember that several of my friends were there. We probably ate at the Vita Cafe. I know that I had left my cello pickup back at my apartment on SE Hawthorne, and was frantic to make it all happen for this show.
So it was the beginnings of making the cello and beats thing work. This recording was done nicely by the sound engineer. Its an old song too, one off of “Still Dream” I believe.[display_podcast]