Day Job Dilemma – Working Hard, Hardly Working or Just Not Having Time for Your Art?

Working seven-days-a-week is sometimes what we need to do to earn a living these days (due to shrinking salaries mismatching with rising costs of living.) And it sure does interfere with one’s ability to practice one’s instrument effectively.

Sure, I go through the motions of practicing scales, chord progressions and going over songs long since written… But in terms of getting inspired, of writing new songs or experimenting with new, original ideas and material, well, uh… that takes time.

I notice it on the rare days when I have off. Sometimes it takes more than one day for me to get the creative juices flowing. More than one day of freedom from working at a job that’s completely unrelated to the flow, I suppose you could say.

Don’t get me wrong. These days, one is lucky to have a job at all. But we artist types need time for our art. Generally that means this kind of a job:

–part time but pays enough to live on and to buy the equipment and materials we need in order to pursue our art. Creating art of any kind (whether it’s painting, playing music, or writing poetry) takes time. It takes an incredible amount of time to perfect any art form. Sadly, most non-artists don’t realize how much time and work we serious artists put into our what we do. If we got paid for all the time and energy we expended most of us would be millionaires–not the starving artists the majority of us become.

–flexible, offering flexible hours so that if we get a “gig,” we can take the time off needed in order to pursue. When we can’t make our art our priority then we can’t succeed at our art.

–either related to our art or not so demanding that we feel too drained to pursue our art when we come home. Sure, some people can come home from a soul-sucking job and write, paint, dance, or otherwise create it out, but most of the time a job that drains the life out of us leaves us uninspired. Many potentially talented artists lose their art this way.

Do we really want a society without art? Yes. I think some people do. They’d like to destroy every artist on the planet. We artists think for ourselves. We’re too independently minded to just follow the rules and blindly obey authority figures. We think outside the box and come up with new ideas that defy the old and established ones.

But as a whole, our society will crumble without art. Art keeps us mentally healthy. It gives us joy, even in dark times. We need art and so, we need artists.

Blah, blah, blah. Here I go, preaching again.

Onward and upward.

It’s back to work now in day job heaven. Talk to you soon… in hell.

 

NYC – performing at the Leftfield Bar in Manhattan

Playing in NYC was awesome. Unfortunately, some of the footage didn’t turn out well, and some of it… er… well, it accidentally got deleted.

Still got some watchable footage though. Meghan Tully sat in on the drums. Having never heard the songs before in her life, she just jumped right in there and played along.

Here’s the video:

 

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Sunday morning and John Lennon, a long lost hippie, gone but not forgotten…

“Sunday morning, brings the dawning,

It’s just a restless feeling by my side…”   Velvet Underground

I don’t know why, but I woke up this past Sunday morning hearing that old Velvet Underground song playing in my head. I was thinking of John Lennon, my favorite hippie of all time and that the anniversary of his death–Dec. 8th, 1980–had just passed me by on Thursday. I usually write a little something about Lennon every year around the anniversary of his death. (Oh, but why celebrate the death and not the birth? You may well ask that very question…)

I think the day a beloved person dies is the last time we had a chance to share the world with him. So we remember that day when he shined his light upon us for one last time. It was a day when we knew we’d never have the person around us again. Ever. His last day on earth. Our last day to feel his light upon us while we continue to live here on earth.

 

“It’s just the wasted years so close behind…

Watch out, the world’s behind you…”   __Velvet Underground,“Sunday Morning”

 

So… as I often do on the anniversary of Lennon’s death, I reminisce on the kindness, the sweetness, the innocence of a people (the American people!) that’s long since past us by.

 

Check out this video demonstrating Lennon’s kindness and his sense of responsibility and connection to his fellow human being. (Scene begins at 4:00):

Take a good look at this video because it reflects a time that’s past us by–a time when people were not so consumed with fear, with materialism, with selfishness. A time when there was not as large of a division between the rich and the poor. A time when a millionaire (i.e., John Lennon) might start an honest conversation with a homeless person. (The dialogue with the homeless man begins just before 4:00–about four minutes into the video.)

Can we imagine (hmm… “Imagine”–What a word choice!) a famous celebrity doing any thing at all like this today? The only celebrity I can  think of might be Russell Brand. Brand has attempted dialogues with neo-nazis and the Westboro Baptist Church. Not an easy endeavor. Only someone who truly loves people could embark on such an adventure (misadventure?)

Click HERE to read the rest of this exciting blog!

www.FlowRChilde.tumblr.com

 

 

 

 

Why Gypsy Rock?

Why gypsy rock? Well… because it’s there…

Meria/Haunted Gypsy is a traveling band. I wander until I find a place I can either call home or at least find kindred spirits for my time spent there. The reality is, my hometown has rendered me homeless. Like every gypsy spirit, I am searching for a place that will stop me from wandering.

Recently, the prayers of the gypsy were answered in the form of an Infringement Festival in Montreal. So… a few of us traveled to Montreal, a city named after a hill–Mont Royal.

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It’s a beautiful city, though overcast for most of our time there. We lucked out with good weather though. Unusually warm temperatures for early winter. Who would think of walking around without a winter coat in November in the Northeast of North America? But we did.

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Unfortunately, it began to snow on our way out of Montreal. In fact, a blizzard followed us for several hours as I tried to drive us home safely. Yep, I was driving 35-40 mph on the highway. Probably shouldn’t admit to that here on the blogosphere but… Safety first, friends. Safety first.

We got home after 3 a.m. It took us twice as long to return from Montreal as it did to arrive.

I don’t have the videos ready yet to post, so I’ll have to blog more about this later, but wanted to keep an update here. We came, we saw, we played in Montreal and then we left into the snowstorm that blew us back to the rust belt.    sortie-2016-11-27-at-6-54-07-pm

Next weekend is NYC. Let the wandering spirit thrive on!

Montreal, parlez-vous francais? Alors…

Yep, it’s gonna be a fun road trip.  My documentary film, “Rocky Mountain Homelessness” will screen and my half-hour comedy, “Catty Open Mic Show” will also screen. I’ll be performing a couple of solo guitar shows and a couple shows with my indie, original project Haunted Gypsy.

Busy, busy, busy!

In fact, while I’m writing this, I’m burning another copy of the documentary onto a DVD and doing vocal exercises to prepare my voice.  Multitasking!

I’m going to write about multitasking in the near future, its benefits and its detriments. But let’s just say, I’ll be glad when I’ve gotten everything ready and can just head out on my merry little way. Merry, meri…

Toodles…

Halloween is coming…

Yep, we’re getting closer and closer…

Come closer. Look at me. Yes, look at me. Don’t be afraid. It’ll all be over soon. Yes, very soon. “The quick way, doctor. Let’s do it the quick way…” to paraphrase Peter Lorre in “Arsenic and Old Lace.” (A classic Halloween comedy, by the way.

Which reminds me, why are there so few scary comedies made in the USA? Americans sure like their fear. I prefer to laugh at it.

Disappointed that we haven’t gotten a gig for Halloween when we have SO many spooky songs that would fit right in for the holiday. Oh, the rust belt… the rusty belt… Hey, put that belt back on!

Is this a nonsensically written blog that I just spewed out just so that I’d have a blog entry published this week? What? Surely you jest. Why, this blog is filled with intellectually stimulating, socially redemptive qualities like… like… like…

Well, okay, words. There are words within this blog entry. Lots of them. And guess what? You’re not watching TV, texting or video gaming while reading this, are you? Naw, you can’t effectively do that AND read what I’ve written here at the same time, not if you’re truly reading.

Okay, so there. I did it. I posted another blog entry. Need to have at least one or two of those every week, after all.

Blah.

Blah.

Blah!

To Halloween or Not To Halloween? That is the Question…

merialovecraftposterwitchI like Halloween. For me, it’s not a morbid time focusing on death and decay, it’s a time of creativity. What other holiday allows people to dress however they want no matter how mature, professional and well-respected in the community they’re trying to be? On what other holiday can we sew together our own wardrobe and pretend to be a character we’re most definitely not. We can make up who we are or we can pretend to be a character from history, from television, from a comic book or cartoon. I view Halloween as a creative and theatrical moment in time. It’s a perfect holiday for actors and performers in general. We love it!

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And contrary to what some might think, it’s not a celebration of death but a way to laugh at something that scares us more than anything else in this world. We can’t prevent our own deaths or the deaths of our loved ones but we can laugh at it. What else can we do?

So we dress up as dead people and laugh. We all know deep, down inside that someday our bodies will resemble those costumes but…ooh…we don’t want to think about that.

Winter is coming. The weather’s getting cold and uncomfortable. The skies are getting gloomy. Where is the sun? Some of us hibernate during winter, rarely entering the outdoors only when absolutely necessary. Outside it is dying, leaves falling and losing their natural color, flowers withering away, grass turning brown and even the sun has lost its glow–blocked by the clouds.

For most people, winter is a sad time, a time when things die. Spring is the time of birth and awakening. Flowers bloom and the air smells sweet and warm. But winter occurs at the year’s end when most living things die or hibernate. It’s a dark time, literally and figuratively. That’s why there are so many holidays during winter. We seek to be with our families and friends, to cheer ourselves up. Some of us who live in cold climates buy special lamps that emit light resembling the sun to prevent fatigue and Seasonal Affective Disorder. No, it’s not the best season for many of us.

So we laugh at the coming gloom. That’s what we do on Halloween. So no, Mr. and Mrs. Religious Fundamentalist, we’re not worshiping evil. Quite the contrary. Evil scares us just as much as you. But we’ve learned to laugh at it. It’s called… Hmmm…. What is it called?

Oh yes, I remember now. It’s called: “Having a sense of humor.”

So with high hopes, I hope to be performing on Halloween or within its vicinity. Wrote a song called “Cthulhu” especially for the HP Lovecraft Art Show and I’ve got a few other spooky songs, perfect for the big day… Spooky, spooky. Here’s looking at you, Halloween…

Were You Better Off UnDead, Or Looking Like You Were? HP Lovecraft Art at the Atrium!

Yes, you’re only human, but… you don’t need to look like one.

hg-spookyxcfHave you ever dressed up to look like a monster, then taken a look at yourself in the mirror (or on a video?) and realized that you actually look pretty good that way? Well, I have… sort of.

Last Saturday, I (Meria/Haunted Gypsy) played guitar at the HP Lovecraft Art Show in Elmwood Village. A basement called “the Atrium” was filled with artists and their work. Yep, it was a venue filled with spooky paintings and sculptures. Monsters everywhere! Just my kind of environment. Not to be a conformist or anything, but since everyone was focused on monstrosity, I wanted to be a monster too.

When in Rome… Well, you know how the saying goes…

So with the help of a friend, I zombified my face, even applied glow-in-the-dark makeup which would have looked very cool if anyone had happened to see me in a dark room. My face lit up like a skeleton, but no one noticed but me when I went into my car that evening.

For the performance, I entered the stage area with a black cape, a rather attractive witch’s hat and a cute black cocktail dress. Curtis Orange, the guy who drummed up the beats, was also zombified, though I might add he didn’t go to the extreme I did. I spray painted my hair black to match my outfit. Black is beautiful! (Wow, it was fun rinsing my hair later that night… Black water slowly drizzling down the drain. One of the longest showers I’d had in a long time…)

But I digress…

When I later saw my reflection in the video footage of the performance that night, I was surprised to discover that I actually looked more attractive zombified than I do otherwise. Hmm… what does it mean? Perhaps it was the blue color along my cheekbones. Rouge it was not. But my eyes are also blue, so I guess my face was color-coordinated.

So… this got me thinking. What does it mean when one is more attractive looking like a zombie-vampire than a real human being? Was I meant to be frightening? Am I reading too much into this?

This may very well be the most ridiculous blog I’ve ever written. But here it is…

Boo again!

The Land of the Gigs, Musical Apathy & Hecklers

The Land of the Gigs: Musical Apathy, Hecklers & More…

It’s a land where most of us musicians gravitate toward—this Land of the Gigs. It’s good land, but

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it’s not inexpensive, and it does have its hazards. We seek it out ‘cause we like to play, and we want others to listen to us play. Not sure why, but a lot of us do. Those of us who write songs are communicating our sorrow, angst or joy. Maybe we’re telling a story. It may be personal. It may just be a silly, shallow bunch of words we put together for lyrics to make our song. But it’s our baby, that song. And we’re sharing it with you. You may not like it. Maybe it’s boring. Possibly it’s not well-written. Perhaps we shouldn’t share it with you at all? But it’s a part of us that we’re sharing with you and it’s something you won’t find anywhere else. Like a small, locally-owned family business, we undiscovered musicians are unique to your city or town. We reflect our surroundings–both our inner mental and our exterior physical environments affect our songwriting and performing. That reflection will always be unique–for better or worse. You won’t find it at Walmart and you won’t find it on corporate-consoled mainstream radio. You’ll only find it here, and if we aren’t allowed to perform publicly, you may never hear it again.

I find it inspiring to play in front of an enthused crowd, but it’s also demoralizing to play in front of an unenthused crowd. (You know who you are. You’re the ones who sit in front of the musicians while they’re playing, ignoring them and talking loudly to your friend as though no music were playing at all… Or worse yet, you stand up and leave as soon as the musicians get up to play. How dare they interrupt your texting and gaming?)

But it’s okay. Because you’re there. An audience that doesn’t care is better than no audience at all, right? Well, sometimes.

An unenthused audience can prompt the performer to work harder at grabbing attention and pleasing a picky audience. Frankly, you the audience are casting your vote when you choose not to listen. What you’re telling the musicians and the venue is: “We don’t want to hear it, and we don’t like it!” When you choose not to see local musicians perform but to pay a lot of money to hear national acts instead you’re casting your vote for the national acts. You’re making a statement that says, “We don’t want local musicians to play at our venues. We only want to hear music performed by famous people.” Hey, that’s okay. No worries. Your choice. You like what you like, right?

Just know that you are making a choice. You are casting a vote. Just like no one forces you to shop at Walmart when you could support local businesses instead, no one forces you to support local artists and musicians either. Do you want musicians in your area or would you rather they pack up and just go somewhere else? People, you decide. It’s all about you!

When we played recently at a certain venue, two audience members loudly ignored us. So… we played a cover song that has been played probably thousands of times over the course of nearly 100 years. Yep, a tried-and-true tune. And guess what? They turned around. Turned around to look at us musicians. It was the first time they noticed us up there performing while they talked loudly in front of the stage, upstaging the performers with their banter… But that’s okay. It gave me a chance to experiment, to take risks. They clearly weren’t listening anyway, right? And so I played a cover song that I knew they’d heard many times before. And voila! Their short attention spans revealed themselves! The psyche has no clothes! The naked mind exposed—and there was nothing inside it; nothing but rehashed, regurgitated melodies that one has heard countless times over the course of a century and that only a narrow and nearly empty mind could appreciate. (Actually, it was a good song that well deserves to have been played over and over again throughout the years. It’s just frustrating when people don’t give new songs and new ideas a chance. After all, every old, cover song was once a brand new song no one had heard before…) More than this, it’s also sad that people are that disconnected from each other that they can ignore each other even when one of them is standing on a stage and talking into a microphone.

Turn off that bloody TV set and start interacting with your fellow human being on a regular basis before it’s too late and you forget how to interact with other people!

“Ha ha! Got ya’ to look! Made ya’ look!” I thought triumphantly as the cover tune got the two audience members to turn around and look toward the stage. As much as it occurred to me that this couple that sat near the front of the stage and chatted loudly in front of the performers may have been purposely attempting to heckle our performance, it also occurred to me that this was a challenge for me to rise up to. I was determined to get them to listen to something I was playing. I’m not suggesting it’s possible to get people to like you, but I am suggesting that some people will appreciate your music—if it’s good—in spite of their worst intentions. We can’t convert everyone, of course, but our challenge as performers is to at least get their attention and entertain them on some level.

And that is, after all, our job as performers—to be good, to be entertaining, to play well, to write good songs and to present them professionally and wonderfully so that an audience is engaged, enlightened, and, we hope, enthralled at some point.

So when you find yourself heckled or otherwise frowned upon, remember that not everyone appreciates the time, energy, training and skill some of us musicians put into our performances. Some people just take it for granted. Ah, there’s some nice music playing in the background of my conversation. People are up on stage performing it. How nice. It just doesn’t occur to some people that musicians work to get good at what we do, that we may have spent years practicing that instrument, studying music theory, and prepping ourselves for those onstage performances. Gratitude for each other, it seems, has become a lost art.

How many times do we stop and think about who made our clothes, for example? Who built our smart phone? Who paved the road we drive on everyday to work? So yes, we musicians are guilty of the same ingratitude. I see it as yet another symptom of our atomized, disconnected society. As humans, we were meant to be connected to each other, but these days we are afraid to talk to “strangers.” Who are these “strangers?” “A stranger,” a friend once explained to me, “is just a friend you haven’t met yet.”

Estranged, detached, we are self-centered, texting our narrow circle of friends, Facebooking, tweeting, Instagraming, but not so much thinking about or really pondering each other. Possibly there just isn’t time to think about much of anything anymore. But we don’t need to be intellectuals, don’t need formal education, don’t need a strong vocabulary to just focus on our surroundings and question that reality.

There I go again, into the realm of abstract thinking in the decidedly concrete yet shallow world of the blogosphere.

So much philosophizing about a mere performance at a café. Silly me! Am I, perhaps, haunted?

Boo!

Life in Gig Land, the Land of the Gigs, the Study & Science of Coffee–Caffeology!

Life in Gig Land: The Land of the Gigs & the Study and Science of Coffee: Caffeology

BIF 2016 -4th day Sat., Aug 6th last gig Allen St

Haunted Gypsy’s 4th day and last Infringement gig was at Caffeology, a little coffee shop on Allen Street in the infamous Allentown district of Buffalo. We had a little crowd that included a few fellow infringers—actress El-the-Mime, painter John Farallo and Ms. Sophie T., among them. We also had an unexpected guest who wandered in and reminded me we were in an heavily traversed urban area exposed to a major street containing a wide cast of characters. An audience member or a heckler? She wandered in and approached me at the microphone as she invited herself to a duet. I asked her what she wanted to sing, she said, “Whatever,” so I invited her to sing “Whatever” into the microphone. She did. It went like this:

“Whah–teh–vehr…”

And a passable rendition of “whatever” she did slur into the mic. The scent of alcohol perfumed the air. I jokingly thanked her for “whatever-ing” into the mic but suggested this was not a good time to jam. We were performing a show for an audience after all.

Unfortunately, her inebriated state caused her to lose her balance and (accidentally?) grab me by the throat!

Okay, I’ve been accused of being too open, naïve, possibly too friendly when I shouldn’t be, but this I could not tolerate. I do need to breathe. So I removed her hand off of my throat, realizing the alcohol had just made her clumsy. I think she meant to pat me on the shoulder, maybe?

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Maybe.

Now, if I were a celebrity (ha! ha!) the tabloids would have created all sorts of stories surrounding this. I might get asked about it in interviews.
“Did you worry about your safety, Ms. Gypsy?”

“Oh, gosh, no. I have security guards and I pay them well. And there’s my yellow belt in  Karate. I lifted a full 10 lbs yesterday at the gym. I’m a pretty powerful person. I could have easily lifted that microphone (it weighed considerably less than 10 lbs) and wacked her on the head with it, but I held myself back. I don’t want to hurt anyone. These hands are weapons, and with all that physical strength comes a certain responsibility, you know.”

 

Ah, I can see it now. It would be all over the news.

Not.

But as democratizing as it is to be standing on the same ground level as the audience, it certainly does pose a challenge. One must grab the audience’s attention as a performer while physically being on the same level as everyone else (and while not being physically grabbed by one of the audience members.)

This has also started me thinking about how those of us who are not rich and famous often deal with the same issues as celebrities (stalkers, crazy fans, etc.) but we don’t have the resources to resolve them easily, so we have to be tough. We have to be our own bouncers, our own security.

Just like we need to be our own roadies, booking agents, and publicists—and on a much smaller budget.

And this blog entry has come to its inevitable end. Onward and upward!