Welcome to the era of the Mooch!

Know what a mooch is? Here is a simple definition from Google:

Mooch (verb): ask for or obtain something without paying for it.

Mooch (Noun): beggar or scrounger

I think you know someone like this, yeah? I used to know a guy who would go to parties, stay all day to mooch food and rather than go home when the party is over……well he stays….because he knows the hosts will eventually have to eat as well and they will include him in dinner.

The last few years I’ve seen this on Social Media. People I know begging for things and giving nothing in return. For example a friend who doesn’t have Showtime and won’t pay for it…..yet begging on Social media for someone to give them their password & account so they can watch the latest show.

Another friend who poked around on Social Media begging for someone to give her and her boyfriend an “in” to an exclusive Magic Club…..and do it for Free….because…..well we’re friends.

And then there is today. Where a friend posted on Social Media that she wants to know if someone has a hookup to an exclusive event in Hollywood. Someone who can get her in for just one night only…..ever. She’ll never ask again, just this one time.

What gets me is the gall of people. People who feel that its all good to beg and get freebies and never pay for anything. This notion that someone should give them something for free. How often have they reached out to a friend and offered them something for free? Probably never.

Its different when things are mutual between friends. If I refer clients to a friend so he gets some business, then its fine if I ask him to get me into an exclusive club.

If someone is going to blast everybody on their Social Media hoping to get a bite and get something for free, then at the very least spend three and a half bucks and get a thank you card and write a heartfelt message of thanks to the person who did that favor.

No one likes mooches. Stop mooching!

Woot! Woot! Getting together with a drummer to make music like they used to...

I’m just so inspired by some of the great musicians out there like Carl Verheyen, Andy Timmons, Don Randi & his group.

I’m getting together with a drummer friend of mine to play some of my music as well as play some of our favorite cover songs. He and I share the same ideas in that the vast majority of musicians/artists out there aren’t willing to improvise or really shake things up musically.

He is willing to take the risk with me to make music sound different, exciting, and fresh.

The plan is to play Live shows and have at least two hours of music ready to play.

Can’t wait to hear how we put this all together…..

You think you know some of my tunes by now???? Wait until we start adding some breakdowns and spots for improvisation & fun. Its going to be a blast.

Keep you posted.

Once again.....the modern music industry has its head up its ass...

Back to Don Randi last Saturday night.

The majority of the songs were instrumental, lots of improvisation, with some short breaks as Don introduced the band members and told some stories.

After about an hour, and so far there had been no singing, I decided to just look around the room at the audience.

UNBELIEVEABLE!!!!

Out of 50 people in the room, 1 person was looking at their phone. Everybody was watching & listening to the band and grooving along.

How many local musicians/artists would like to fill a small room in LA with 50 people who aren’t their best friends & family? And how many of these local musicians/artists want an audience that listens and grooves along to every song rather than be on their phone most of the time???

Answer: Every single one.

Yet this performance by Don Randi is against everything the industry tells you. He doesn’t have the massive online following, there wasn’t any singing (thereby no display of crafty & brilliant lyric writing in order to achieve Hot Spofify list placement), and there was extended improvisation rather than perfectly practiced songs to sound exactly like a recording.

There wasn’t some rehearsed talk in between songs nor was there a huge stage presence of dancing and interacting with crowd like Pop Stars are supposed to.

The Modern Music industry is interested in Pop music(and its sub genres) and fame seekers. Anything else, except Hip Hop/R&B is not even worthy of looking into.

Granted Don Randi doesn’t need the modern music industry, but I found it interesting to see the polar opposite of the music business advice I receive.

Truth is……music business consultants and industry leaders really don’t know what they’re talking about.

You know who does? The people who aren’t in the business and like music. That’s who truly understands.

What's its like seeing iconic music makers performing.......not pop stars.....

Saturday night my friend invited me to come see him perform so we could hang and catch up.

He is a percussionist and his played with the likes of Dweezil Zappa, Lou Rawls and more.

He was playing percussion for Don Randi. Don was part of the infamous Wrecking Crew and did a lot of keyboard session work for Phil Spector during the Wall of Sound era. Don has played on hit songs by the Beach Boys, Neil Diamond, etc etc.

Basically if you’ve never heard the name of Don Randi, you’ve definitely heard his playing.

The rest of the guys in the band also have a glorious past but I don’t know them that well. Though I can tell you that the drummer, Bernie Dressell, is one of the best drummers I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen him before playing drums with my idol…Carl Verheyen.

Anyway I’m listening & watching to these guys play and they are about 10 feet away from me. As I listen, I just can’t help noticing how locked in these guys are. And this was during improvisation parts. They really listened and communicated with each other to bring about an incredible music experience.

And here is Don…..playing away and kicking ass. And in between songs tells his experience of recording back in the 60s, 70s, & 80s. The stories are just wild! He’s never stopped playing!

And I thought about today’s young musicians, this passion for making music…for working on that craft of musicianship……that spirit of improvisation…….. all gone nowadays. I don’t know of any one really young person just going for it on their instrument because they love it more than life itself. Older musicians…yes.

But the next generation of cats who really want to tear it up? Nah, replaced by guys & gals more interested in being famous rather than making music and continually hungry for the craft itself.

Don is in his mid 70s, and played for two hours before taking a break and then coming back to do a second set. And I think each of you reading this would have been enjoyed every single second of this performance because you would hear and feel the music of good musicians…..and not fame seekers. You can tell the difference a mile away.

Playing music is just like writing a book.....

I was looking at some old files and found this treasure of a quote. I can’t remember where I got this, but thought I’d share it with you because its soooooo good!

“Playing music is akin to writing a book: it is not a prerequisite to use all the difficult words of the dictionary to tell an interesting story. What's more important is to use the right words to hold the attention of the reader; and use the appropriate words that will convey the message, mood, emotions and visuals that the author would like the reader to experience. Having said that, the broader your vocabulary the easier it will be to capture the right emotions and visuals.“

I feel that people who play an instrument as a hobby think they have to live up to using very complicated phrases and music theory in order to make music.

But as the quote above tells us, its more a matter of using the right words. And the right words in music may be just one note…..or just one chord.

Of course over time & if you really care, your vocabulary becomes broader with more choices on how to express yourself.

Making it more complicated doesn’t make it better…..and unless you really know what you’re doing, more complications sound like gibberish which no one really absorbs or enjoys.

Its simple…..just convey your message, whatever it is, and mean it.

NOTE: This takes time, but its certainly a worthy goal no matter your level as a music maker.


Singing along to an 808 machine.......

OMG….I died laughing reading the music blog of Bob Lefsetz recently.

He said that the current music industry only wants someone who raps or sings along to an 808 machine.

Oh man…… couldn’t agree more.

In other words the fact that I play Electro Space Rock where guitar is really the kind, this is the kind of music ignored by the modern music industry.

What? You mean you prefer music made by actual musicians playing real instruments who have clearly dedicated the time on the art and craft of playing an instrument? Oh well…..you are also ignored by the modern music industry. They don’t care about you either.

But hey….I hope you will join me in listening, supporting, and wanting something other than Rap and singers singing along to an 808 machine.

What’s an 808? Click here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roland_TR-808

Happy Independence Day!!!!! Yes I'll probably get shit for stating the obvious.....

Here in the US we will celebrate our Independence from British Rule.

As a child this holiday just meant one thing….FIREWORKS!!! :)

But I’ve come to appreciate something, there is still lots of opportunity to innovate and improve your life here in the US. I appreciate this very platform where you are reading this. The freedom to publish this blog without an authority figure approving it and allowing it to be distributed. This would not have been possible when I was a kid.

In today’s world its definitely hip & cool to be negative, and of course people will try to one up each other on how cool they are by thinking of today as no reason to celebrate as the United States is a horrible entity.

Well I choose to look at things differently, and fully understand and see the endless possibilities in front of me if I so choose. Rather than complaining, I dive in and make music, and talk to many amazing people all over the world here on this very platform. And guess what….its mostly positive.

In short, take time to appreciate the many many good things we have here in the US. Its not all perfect, but its really really good. Yes I believe in positivity.

But if you prefer to be pessimistic and “realistic”, don’t worry……you will find your kind right here on this very platform. As they say, misery loves company. Now doesn’t that make you feel just a little bit better?

Meetings meeting meetings!! Why do bosses/leaders love meetings?

Years ago I was listening to a marketing guru who said, “I don’t do meetings, don’t bother asking me to a meeting!”

In this case he’s referring to standard corporate meetings. ugggghhhh, yeah I hate these too.

When I was an employee I liked meetings only because it was a legitimate excuse to NOT do a job I hated. It was okay if I was behind on my work……because….I was at THE meeting.

So why do bosses and supervisors and leaders love meetings? Even worse is when they say the meeting is mandatory….all must attend.

Really….with so many efficient ways to communicate what is so important that you need everyone to stop and attend this meeting. What is it you have to say that can only be done in a meeting.

My guess is that bosses love to hear themselves speak. And subconsciously they love the power over underlings. They love looking at their employees listening up at them.

I am going through this right now as an independent contractor. I teach music independently yet the people who are my clients insist I attend meetings. Even worse……they expect I attend meetings for little to no pay. Seriously…..what important information do you need to share on a Saturday at 9am that I need to drive over and attend…..and then fight traffic on the way back home afterwards.

The answer is always the same….Nothing….

Meetings……one of the biggest timewasters ever created.

P.S. before you get on me on the exceptions……yes of course there are rare times where there must be a meeting…..for example when the issue is safety, and things need to be seen visually. For example pointing out a part in a product where you could get electrocuted. That is different than a boss blowing on and on about company policies, procedures, and updates, etc etc.

Do I play naked??????

99.99999% of the videos i put out are the real deal. It is me in the moment. I play Naked!

I just can’t bring myself to do what all of the guitar players are doing nowadays which is to play along with the original track and film myself doing so.

Now I have played to backing tracks where the original solo is muted…..so what you are hearing is me. For example I did a vid of my playing the solo to Pink Floyd’s Mother. The backing track in that vid does not have Gilmour’s solo. So what you hear is me. Me….NAKED…..no Gilmour solo to help me along or mask little mistakes.

Click below to watch it:

Solo from Pink Floyd’s Mother

We should learn to play naked!!

Alright alright….I know what you’re thinking….playing while nude. NO…..that’s not what I mean.

Look, I just clicked a Youtube video where someone was playing drums to Subdivisions from Rush. It has 144,000 views. Before watching the vid, I asked myself whether this person was going to play drums without the original track….in other words naked…..or were they going to play it with the original track.

Fine…I’ll bite, and I clicked on through. Yes the drummer played along to the original track. In other words the drum sound you hear is a mixture of hers and Neil Peart’s nicely sculpted tone. After about 5 seconds I turned it off because although I see her hands and feet moving and seemingly playing along perfectly with the song, I can’t tell what I’m hearing. And after all, isn’t the sound the most important?

Well what about us guitar players? This happens all of the time where an amateur player seems to suddenly bust out a John Petrucci or Eddie Van Halen solo. And their fingers are flying and seem to play perfectly with the original tracks. As in you can barely distinguish between them & EVH.

That’s just it, I don’t actually know what the player sounds like. I hear a mixture of the originally recorded guitar solo and what they are playing. It doesn’t matter to me that the fingers are flying, how do they sound? You and I will never know….and you know why?

Because people won’t play naked!

They won’t have a vid which ONLY has their playing. Or at the very least, find a backing track without the original part and let’s hear your playing for real.

Oh yes I remember way back in the day playing along to my favorite songs. I played along to Enter Sandman from Metallica. Oh man, I thought I had it nailed. I sounded huge! I loved showing it off to whomever would listen.

I was so confident, I got together with a good drummer and a bass player. We tried playing that song and I realized something within seconds. I SUCKED! I had pathetic timing, my tone was probably horrific, but most importantly I just couldn’t actually play the song. It was the real me in the moment.

I didn’t have a nice recording to hide behind and lead me along the way. I had to…GULP…..learn how to play it with others. Learn how to play it with a drummer who actually knew how to play. Yeah…….he wasn’t interested in playing with me after that.

Yes its rough, its embarassing, and hard as hell as first…..but I’d love more musicians to play naked.

And if you are not a musician and just love good music, please support the players who actually play naked.

Guitar Improvisation....what I'm learning.....

As many of you know, I put up a fair amount of videos where I improvise to a backing track.

And I gotta tell ya, I love the mistakes as much as I love the successes. I can freely explore some new sonic territory and find out what honest music comes up in the moment.

BUT…..

These backing tracks, which I get from Youtube, go on and on and one and are very repetitive. Rarely are there dynamics in the playing, and rarely are their accents or fills carrying you into a next section and so forth.

And in that respect I find improvisation boring. And this makes sense…..because I’m not playing with other musicians. Real people breathe with the music, and good drummers have good dynamics. And we can play off each other and in the moment.

And that’s where the fun in music truly starts. With the people making the music.

Not to mention that I love actual songs. The improv vids I do aren’t actual songs, but simple jam tracks. I much prefer playing real songs with opportunities for improvisation peppered in.

So yes……I’m glad I can improvise again and again to really build up this skill of music making, but I’d really rather do it with other people rather than backing tracks.

I’m Working on it.

Grandpa Jack........head of IT....knew more about computers than you!

When I was in my mid 20s, I worked for a small company and the guy in charge of all of the computers was named Jack.

He was the grandfather of one of my coworkers so she knew him as Grandpa Jack. My guess is that Jack was in his 60s. Oh yes……and the current operating system at that time was Windows ‘95. Though I may have been using Windows 3.1. Whoa!!

So anyway……any problems with computers not booting up or installation of software, or fixing computers, etc etc…..you called Jack. And he would explain the problems. I recall him talking about why Microsoft would do the things that they do with their software. How the hard drives worked and how the RAM worked, and how e-mail actually worked.

He replaced parts in the computer, loaded software, found “deleted” files for people, fixed printer problems…..on and on and on.

But what always struck me was that he was the oldest person in the company. Grey haired, grey beard, very thin……and yet….knew more about computers than anyone else did in that company. I was in Engineering school at the time and I had learn about things from him.

He knew his shit!

So I figure if a 60 year old man during the 1990’s knew all of this stuff, then surely YOU can learn about this stuff. And you have way more places to learn than he ever did.

Look……all of this tech stuff and coding is not that hard. And the truth is that the world changing biiiiig time. Learning even a little about coding is going to help you in ways you’ve never imagined

Do yourself that big favor……learn to code. :)

Why everyone should learn how to code pt. 2.....Remember Y2K

Remember how the hysteria was drummed up again and again and again up to NYE 1999?

I am not a computer programmer for a living, but I did a decent amount when I was younger and a good amount in college. In fact I was working as an Engineer at the time of Y2K.

And of course there were customers who were concerned that our units were susceptible to Y2K. And many of us just shook our heads the whole year at what was being reported by media and the internet at the time.

Because we had some experience with coding and how simple hardware works we knew one thing when it came to Y2K…… “That’s not how it works!”

In other words many of us knew the whole Y2K thing was complete bullshit and that the world wouldn’t end. But this had to do with a knowledge of computers and coding. Even if all you had was a very simple knowledge of coding, you would have known that the whole things was BS.

Yes I encourage you to learn coding. You don’t have to be an expert, but at least you will know when someone is putting you on or worse……driving you into hysteria by preying on your fears.

And you might even see the beauty in what truly creative people are doing with coding.

I may be a musician, but I am truly excited by what people are creating with computer code. Its truly amazing.

Oh…..think you are too old to learn about this sort of stuff? Read the next blog post……about a senior citizen who was the head of IT.

Yeah but..... is it worth it?

So not long ago I had a friend ask about a music marketing course. I am taking the course and applying the materials I’ve Learned.  

The course isn’t free, and let’s face it....a lot of people might consider it to be very expensive. 

But I told my friend that the course is very informative and definitely very good. His response was “Yeah but.... is it worth it?” 

Man, I can’t answer that for you. Only you can answer that question. To me it’s worth it, and that’s the only person I can speak for.

Like anything else in life, only you can answer if something is worth it. Take the risk…..find out.

"....and it doesn't sound very Spotify"

Ohhh boy. Apparently this is a comment from a major record label executive.

Whether an executive actually typed that in an e-mail to an up and coming artist about their music or not…..I can tell you by experience that that is how they feel.

New music must be something playable on today’s hottest Spotify Playlists.

Yes that is how the most of the music business work. And sadly a ton of very young artists sit, write, and create thinking about landing on hot Playlists on Spotify.

So let’s see……we are now in an age where musicians and music artists must create music geared to how a corporation has written its algorithms in order to get plays and be put on major Playlists. Which are actually curated by humans……but these humans are wined and dined by major labels.

Then that settles that. For real art and new music you, the reader, will probably like…..it won’t be something on Spotify’s top Playlist. It won’t be something you discover on Spotify.

If you do connect with new bands or artists and you really like what they’re doing……connect and support them as best you can. Because believe me they are being ignored by this bigger music business.

On that note......is Improvisation truly Original stuff which you've never ever played before

Well I mean there are apparently a couple of different thoughts on this.

When I was in music school, the teachers as well as the superstars who came to visit our school and do clinics all said the same thing really. That when you are improvising, you are really putting licks and phrases you already know all together in context of the song you are playing.

This would be akin to talking to your friends. You don’t really practice before talking to friends, you are simply using words and phrases you have used previously in order to have conversation. In other words, we are all improvising all of the time.

So for example, I would learn some licks and phrases from Albert King. Then I would practice playing the same licks in a different key, and I would change the rhythm and phrasing….or even change from Minor to Major. Still…..its coming from Albert King…..and its something I’ve played a lot. And then suddenly that phrase just comes out in the moment while improvising.

Of course I’ve met some dudes who feel that this isn’t true improvisation. That real improvisation is NOT playing licks and phrases you already know……but rather just exploring the notes during the song and just playing whatever as long as its not phrases you are already comfortable with and already know.

Hey man…….that’s cool. But if you ask me….ultimately I’m playing for an audience. And if I’m just searching for notes while playing in order to TRULY improvise……well then I feel its like me putting together a bunch of random words in hopes that will become a sentence someone else understands.

And I may do just that. But fuck man…..if I love Albert King, I don’t have a problem showing that off in my improvisation. If my licks and phrases make an audience feel good and they can comfortably consume it, I’m quite happy with it.

One thing Im not doing is rehearsing everything to death and simplifying it until the music is freeze dried….read to thaw and serve to the masses for mass consumption. Nothing special about freeze dried food.

Are the "Original" artists you love truly Original?

I guess this depends on your definition of Original.

When I was much younger I used to think true originality had no influences. You came up with stuff that doesn’t sound at all like anyone before you.

But actually meeting people whose work inspires me and reading lots and lots of interviews from artists who inspire me……….well…..every single one has an influence. Someone who else who inspired them to pick up the guitar.

When I first listened to Metallica back in the 80s it was like nothing else. Years later I listened to Diamond Head. Whoa…..Metallica sounded a lot like Diamond Head. Of course……Diamond Head was a huuuuuuge influence on Metallica.

In music school I listened to a lot of Albert King. Transcribed and learned his solos. Years later I really listened to SRV…….Holy Moly……you can hear that influence of Albert King.

The examples are plenty……and truth be told music would sound weird if it was truly original in that the artist had absolutely no influences. That would literally mean they neither liked any music they heard or they have never ever heard music in their life so as to no influence them.

Not only would that be weird…..but what a depressing thought. Spending life neither listening to nor enjoying music. Yikes.

Who are some of your favorites bands/artists. Who were their influences?

The case of the smoking Electrician.....or....things are not what they seem.

On Monday mornings I teach music at a small private school. Right next door a new apartment complex is being built. They are in the middle of building the third floor.

Today I looked up at the Electrician who was busy putting up junction boxes, measuring cable, cutting it, installing it. But I also noticed he was smoking up a storm while doing it.

Mind you the drywall is not put up yet. Its just the wooden frame up right now with the studs. So he is busy puffing away, and I suspect he will be smoking the whole time he is doing his job.

And I thought about it…….his cigarette smoke will be getting into the the studs, the frame of this building before any drywall is even put up. And if this is so, will someone living in the apartment smell this smoke even though it may be faint?

And even though it will be a brand new apartment building, someone has been smoking inside of it. How about if you go move into a brand new built house? Does that mean that no one has been smoking in it?

Things aren’t what they seem on the outside. You move into a non-smoking brand new apartment. And even if every new tenant doesn’t smoke……yep someone has still been smoking. And if the smell of smoke bothers you, it won’t matter how you disinfect nor clean the place. Its embedded in the frame, the studs of the building. But you wouldn’t know that because you never saw the smoking electrician.

Note: I don’t know if the electrician is allowed to smoke while he is busy working. Even if there is some sort of code violation to smoking, it doesn’t matter. He’s already been smoking. Even if he were to get fired for it, the developer or foreman isn’t going to tear down the whole structure and start over.

In most things in life……..beware the smoking electrician…….unless you love the smell of cigarette smoke.

Yes of course I have an opinion.....but I'm not absolute A**hole about it.

Ohhhh man. Some people on the internet are absolutely brutal in their comments.

Sometimes the comments are so nasty and classless……I just have to laugh.

But in any case…..yes I have opinions about the current music industry and music gear industry…..but I’m not an asshole about when I voice my opinions.

Disagree with me? Fine……but I’m still not a jerk about it.

But some of you others online…..wow!

OMG.....so are fake guitars going to be the new innovation?

If you’ve read plenty of this blog, you know of my disappointment with today’s music gear manufacturers and their lack of innovation.

Hell……read the previous post where the latest big innovation was to add a big knob to a pedal. oooooook.

As I was teaching music this morning, I thought about Steven Slate. He mostly makes plugins, but he is hell bent on creating absolutely accurate plugins of vintage products. Spending enormous amount of R&D in getting every last nuance as accurate as possible….and even more accurate than other people who make plugins. I mean….are they competing to see who can imitate someone else’s product & design better?

Its like two Metallica tribute band trying to outdo each other in who is most like the real Metallica. Maybe they’ll get so close to the real thing that you will mistake them for the real thing. Wheee……the real Metallica won’t have to do anything anymore.

Anyway, Slate also made a microphone which along with his software is supposed to accurately emulate many different types of vintage and highly prized microphones. For a few hundred dollars this one microphone should give you the sounds of tens of thousands of dollars of microphones.

Now his latest product is classic guitar amp and guitar speaker cabinet emulation. He has numerous examples of how its nearly impossible to notice the difference between his software and the real thing. Note: Many other companies do this, but I’m picking on Slate because he came to mind today for some reason.

So whether its Slate or one of his competitors……what’s next guys?

Getting rid of the electric guitar all together? A simple guitar without strings or the need to tune or do adjustments. With software the user can now emulate nearly every single classic electric guitar that ever was? Want your guitar to be just like Santana’s PRS? Boom. done. Wait let’s try an SRV Strat. Boom done. Nah….let’s try Slash’s Les Paul. Boom done.

That combined with the amp and speaker cabinet simulators and software effects……Hell there’s no reason to have real instruments nor real microphones nor real recording preamps nor consoles. Software will take care of it.

My question to all involved here……when will someone break the trend and create something new? Create a new product which isn’t emulating nor copying another product?

As an artist I gotta tell you……..it must be really nice to run a profitable company based on copying someone else’s ideas to a T.

P.S. Its not just Slate, but many many other manufacturer’s who constantly churn out emulations. When will they innovate and create something new and sonically exciting?