Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rebirth of the Blog: The Mechanisms of a Musician

Today is a good day to reboot the blog. Yes, today is my birthday.

The voice of this blog has never really been focused. I am interested in a plethora of subjects and I wrote about them-the economy, Obama, Presidential politics, TV, film, race, sports, pop culture etc. This lack of focus started when I began the blog in September 2007. I was finishing my MBA in Finance. Back then, I was writing papers about a variety of subjects. My mind is a sponge and I'm an information junkie. Oh, I have an opinion about everything and I'm not shy about speaking my mind. The Presidential race was gearing up, the economy started tanking (we pragmatists studying finance saw it coming back then), race and gender were everywhere as the dream of a black or female President grew in country. In addition to all of that, I started dipping my toe in the deep pool of social media. In other words, I was trying to write about a lot of things and sound competent on everything by researching and linking articles. I realized that I was just regurgitating better writers and smarter people on certain subjects.

I did write some good and not so good posts as I navigated finishing graduate school, working in accounting at the Austin American-Statesman, becoming a delegate for Barack Obama, getting into fantasy football (don't get me started) and becoming a member of a group on Spill.com called the League of Extremely Ordinary Gentlemen (I'm the Paul Schaffer of the podcast.) I wasn't really performing music like I did in my past. I felt the murmur of music under my skin starting to get a little louder. I recorded a one song demo at a friend's studio in July 2008. I cut the vocals, bass and guitar for my song "Augustine". The music murmur turned into an internal conversation.

That same month, I got robbed of a position that was promised to me in accounting department at Statesman. It caused a rupture in my program. Years of schools and piles of loans invested to qualify me for this promised position swept away. Yes, I was very angry and had somewhat of an existential breakdown. I took a sabbatical from music to pursue a straight gig and I still get screwed? My information junkie mind started commenting and writing about a lot of stuff on this blog to quell my anger. I was trying to get out of the Statesman because I didn't see anything else I was qualified to do there. The internal music conversation was getting louder.

Fall 2008, I started my current position at the Statesman, Competitive Media Analyst. This position in the marketing department is the first job, other than playing music, that I really like. It feeds my information junkie habit. My job is to stay engaged in media, pop culture, economic policy, race, politics, etc. I use all types of information to assist our sales reps in selling advertising. Plus the marketing department is the most open, idea generating department I have every been involved with. I really felt it today with the non-traditional Happy Birthday salute people in the department receive on their birthday. It's strange, but very cool. So I can exchange, write, talk about, analyze and debate ideas all day. The internal music conversation became external when I joined Soul Track Mind. It's the first band I have been in since 2004. We play every Wednesday at TC's Lounge in East Austin from 10pm-1am. We are rebuilding the website, mastering our demo and doing the things bands do as they reach for success. Now the focus of the blog is clear to me.

This blog is going to be about my life as a musician. I'm a 38 year old black man from Chicago, Illinois with a BBA in accounting and a MBA in finance. I'm a musician first. I've flirted with the idea a few times in past posts, but now the voice is clear. I'm going to share the trials and tribulations of being in a band, being a solo artist, writing songs, singing, playing bass, playing guitar, being a session man and everything in between. The mechanics of musical life. Of course I will have my lists of favorite songs, albums, musicians, etc. Since I'm in Austin Texas, I will post pictures and videos of shows I attend. I will try to be honest about musical acts I see and hear. I will also try to stay in the loop with new acts and music culture trends. I want to make clear my thoughts as a musician when looking at other musicians and commenting on music culture. There are some raw emotions, ego bruising and jealousy about success-perceived or real. This is a tough business and everyone thinks they're great and I'm no different. If musicians don't believe in their work, stop playing and go do something else.

I believe the voice of this blog will be different than other music blogs because I'm a fan, but I'm an insider and an expert. A lot of fans, writers and critics really don't understand the what it's like to create music. A lot of musicians aren't the most articulate in talking about the craft of music, the mechanics and the business. The conversations and debates about music I've engaged in the last couple of months motivated me to really dig deep into my relationship with music. I realize my life has wrapped around music. This blog will become my voice to talk about the journey.

These pictures are from my room in my parents house back in 1989. In high school, I wore my passion for music like a badge. My walls were covered with CD long boxes (remember those things?) and posters from the bins of bootleg record shops. This was the room that began my journey. I use to devour Musician Magazine and my life's dream was to be featured in that magazine. I was an primarily an alto sax player, then a bassist. Sitting in this room I practiced, wrote and dreamed. After 20 years, it's time for me to document, explain and bring an audience into this world.