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Mike Evin House Concert

MIKE EVIN 1Yeah, that’s what I said. We’re hosting Mike Evin June 12th. Peter Katz suggested he should play here. Mike and I agreed. So here we go, 2015. I’ve certainly been hesitant about hosting a show. But I think Mike brings a special something to the table. I’ve become a fan since first listening to his music. He has great songs and presence as a performer.

There are many ways to listen to Mike after visit his website. YouTube, Facebook, and really his music tab is the best place to go.

I’ll be delivering some invitations to folks in the area and setting up a Facebook event for everyone else. As always, if you have any questions, just shoot me an email to johnnypm427@yahoodotcom.

Here’s a couple videos to warm you up.

Something I really like is that he has a really melow side as well as high energy. You can pull back to let this sink in.

And then you get this, which is just spacey and upbeat.

One Is Too Many

tom medvickI feel awful for a lot of reasons. Not like my whole life is mixed bag of suck, bad. But like another really close friend of mine has died too soon. I don’t know that I am totally over Joseph passing. I have, however, found a pretty good place to be in my head. I believe that he would want more than anything for me to carry on with life and music. So I’ve done that. I’ve gotten a huge amount of support from Megan to do that. Really, everything has pointed me in that direction.

Just when I get in that place, though, my good friend in music and life Tom Medvick recently passed away. I haven’t said anything about it on here because when I look at the front page, all I see are my thoughts on Joseph. I don’t want to go down that road again. That doesn’t mean anything. Joseph and Tom both knew everything about me. They were both in that special place in my heart. Like I said, I just don’t want to go down that road again.

I want to move forward and make them both proud of what I’m doing. It just hurts, because much like the plans Joseph and I had for our next musical steps, Tom and I had plans to work together again. That possibility is gone now. It’s natural to have regrets in this situation. And as much as I did with Joseph, I do as well with Tom. It brings back into focus for me the need to spend my energy with the living rather than reliving the guilt over the dead.

I don’t know where to go with this and maybe I don’t need to. He was the best. My good friend Rudy Panucci put together an awesome podcast with a lot songs from Tom’s various bands. I’m lucky enough to have been there for most of that. So please do head over and give this very important show a listen.

Show Announcement: April 4th – Coffee Bar

COFFEE BARHooray! I’m really just excited to have The Coffee Bar downtown. It’s a hip place to have a cup…a really good cup…of caffeine goodness. Please do check out the link to their Facebook page. April 4th from 7-8.

Obviously, I’m also happy to be playing out again. That I’m doing it in a place I really want to succeed is just all the better. It’s an hour show, so that’s a nice way to work myself back into shape. Hope to see you all there!

My Couch By Couchwest Submission – Ego Wins

Here’s my submission for Couch By Couchwest, Ego Wins. The link will take you to the website, which I highly suggest you do! Couch By Couchwest is an online music festival run completely by submissions by independent artist like myself. It’s a great idea for a lot of reasons. One, that it coincides with SXSW week in Austin. So, for folks like me that just play to play it’s a way to get some exposure and get exposed to other indie artist. But the real beauty of the festival is the lack of seriousness. Sure, there are some serious songs. But it’s based on the model that fun comes first. It’s not so much a competition as it is an exhibition.

I’m hooked and hope that you will be too! Here’s my video, but please do yourself a favor and go to CXCW and give some videos a spin.

Couch By Couchwest 2015

CXCW2015I’m happy to say that it’s that time of year again. Much of my recent writing has been focused on Joseph, and I’m sorry about that. He was and is such a big part of my life. I just didn’t feel like it would be cool to go on as if nothing had happened. As I said before, he would want the music to continue and for me and you to be happy and have fun.

So with that in mind, it’s CXCW2015 time! I have a new song uploaded and waiting for tomorrow so I can activate it and the world can enjoy it…I hope. It’s called, Ego Wins. It’s kind of a comparison between Ego (that voice in your head) and political pundits. I’m forever fascinated by the idea that people choose sides, not between right and wrong, but between left and right. That they look to media outlets that skew the news to prove that their side is the sane and just side, and the only thing that keeps the world from spinning off its axis. And if you listen to either side too long, you get trapped in this echo chamber of partial truths that are just true enough to make the story seem plausible. As sad as it seems to me, that’s what sells.

Why can’t I just write a happy song? That answer is that I don’t think I was meant to do that. I have before and probably will again. But when I put myself on the spot to write a new song, like every other songwriter I guess, I go toward what I know. Lately, that’s this middle ground I keep searching for and the reasons why we as a country seem to be so against compromise and harmony.

Enough of that, though. There’s going to be some great songs and great performances over the next week on Couch By Couchwest that I just can’t wait for. I hope you’ll join me in exploring all the fun that is to come, and I hope you’ll find an artist that you never knew you were looking for! It happens for me every year and it’s what keeps me coming back.

And here’s some art I’ve done for CXCW2015

CXCW2015 CXCW2015 2 CXCW2015 3 CXCW2015 4 CXCW2015

A Last Letter To Joseph

A real letter is more of a conversation than a recollection of events. This is what I’ve done to date concerning Joseph. Most likely because it’s much less painful to recount the man rather than what I would say to him if I could today. I’ve been much more comfortable thinking about the good things rather than the bad. I carry a great deal of guilt about the bad. I don’t know that I’ll ever get over the thoughts of what I could have done to keep him alive. I carry guilt because on a certain level, I had given up on him. Not as a friend, but I had given up on the idea that I could help him with addiction and depression.

I lived for the days that he wasn’t completely drunk or high. Mostly because seeing someone as supremely talented as he was being so intoxicated that he wasn’t in control of his body made me as sad as anything I could imagine. This is the way he was the last time I saw him. Stumbling around like a punch drunk boxer. But his mind was still sharp. I was playing a song I had been recording for his opinion. He liked it, overall, but wouldn’t let me move on without drilling home the point that people want to hear what I’m saying. I had my vocals a little low in the mix as usual. I’ve just never been comfortable with my voice. It made him a bit angry with me and he continually remarked throughout the song that my vocals needed to be louder. I couldn’t do more than reluctantly agree with him because I knew he was right but also felt that my voice was wrong.

That kind of internal conflict brought about a great anxiety in me that I couldn’t deal with while he was there. So I quickly made up an excuse for why I needed to take him home while I simultaneously shut down all but the most basic communications with him until we got to his house. I put on a shallow smile while we said our goodbyes and that was the last time I saw his face. We talked once more on the phone before he went on vacation and agreed that we needed to get together and work on some things when he got back. But that was it.

So many things go through your head when you lose someone to suicide. You beat yourself up for not doing more the help. You experience great anger, not understanding why it wasn’t enough for them to stay alive. Why you weren’t enough for them to stay alive. How someone so sweet and peaceful could have such demons lurking under the surface, waiting for the right opportunity to end it all. It’s easy to say that the alcohol and drugs led to his suicide. It’s a shallow belief, though. The truth is that the drugs and alcohol kept him alive. It is how he self-medicated the pain he was dealing with. And I hated him for it. I hated him for the way he dealt with his pain. Mostly because I was too stupid to see that it was how he kept himself sane.

So now I find myself in a place where I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t want to talk about Joseph as some abstract object. He was real. He meant a great deal to me and was a huge part of my life for the short time that I knew him. I think it’s time to stop talking about it and start doing something about it. That’s what he would want, for me to keep going and making music. And of course, to bring my fucking vocals up in the mix…

Letters To Joseph: Making Sense of the Chaos

LETTERS TO JOSEPH2Some people excel in chaos. Others like a more orderly existence. They each bring something to the table that the other needs or desires. They fill in gaps that the other needs. And when they work well together, it can be magic. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m talking about me and Joseph.

I’m order and he’s chaos. In a way, we butted heads a lot. Not in a confrontational way, mind you. More like two solutions to the same problem. I can hear myself saying over and over, “sing like you’re going to sing when I hit record so I can get a good level. If I get all these levels right, It’s going to be much easier to mix.” Followed by Joseph, “I’m just going to feel it when I do it and it’ll be fine, man.” We were both right and both wrong. Depending on what you think is more important.

I can’t stand chaos. I like everything to have a place, so when you need it you know exactly where it will be. A lack of chaos is comforting to me. When everything is simple I can do very complicated things with ease. When everything is complicated I struggle to do the simplest of things. Joseph was the exact opposite. But somehow we meshed very nicely as friends and in the studio.

He could count on me to have everything squared away on the technical side of recording. To write guitar parts that mattered, but didn’t crowd out the rest of the song. He could count on me to be in control so much that if I had to change directions, I was ready. Like a good fucking boy scout, I was always prepared.

I could count on him to glide into any situation with a style and ease that made me jealous. He needed exactly zero prep time to be brilliant. There were times I would want him to sing backing vocals on a song, and a couple hours later it was more than I could have ever hoped for. Even if he had never heard the song before, he would just saunter up to the mic and proceed to blow my mind. He has an understanding of how vocal lines and harmony work together that I’ve really never seen in anyone else.

There was a time when we first started working together that I would question everything he was doing because it just didn’t make sense to me. I’m not going to lie, there were notes hit that I didn’t think had any business in the song we were working on. But he convinced me to wait to hear the finished product before I made up my mind. He was right, of course. The combination of all the wrong notes I heard was just a thing of beauty. I literally told him it sounded like angels on It’s Not The End. And that no, I was not too high to know the difference. I miss that day. By far, it’s not my best song. But I don’t know that I had a better time recording any of the songs we did together. There’s a lot that doesn’t come through in the final mix that I wish everyone could experience. I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it when I tell you that there was order from all the chaos that went into that song.

Letters To Joseph

LETTERS TO JOSEPHI try to think of how best to write something about my friend, Joseph Henry. It’s not easy, because he was not easy. I mean, I still expect him to pop through the door any minute. I know it’s not going to happen. But still….Likewise, I’ve found it impossible to write a comprehensive ode to my friend. I don’t know how you do that. But I do know how to visit a subject from time to time.

There are so many things we recorded that are still in the can waiting to be mastered. It makes me sick that it isn’t done. But that’s where we are. Maybe if I can do a few posts from time to time as I finish songs we’ve done together. I think sharing a little bit about him and his music should be part of the deal too. Songs that we played on. It’ll be good for me and you. With that in mind here’s an example why, no matter how much I did for him I’ll always feel like I got the better end of the deal.

If you’re like me, you have these “well it’s all over” moments where you think the music has finally passed you by and at most you’ll pick your guitar up once a month. And then less and less as the years go by. But then something happens, like meeting Joseph, and you’re right back in the middle of making music and leaning into the day to try to capture it all. That’s what being with Joseph was like for me. I had a genuine thirst to make music again. Not that I wasn’t doing anything. This just took it to a new level.

This is the last song Joseph and I played on. It’s called Back of the Line. This is a demo that still needs some work on my part. But I like what we did with it so far.

Picture on the player via Meg Buskirk

 

The Slow March To Respectability Street

Lord, I hate the time between work and work. Work being the recording and mixing/mastering. Especially right now as I’m building a new PC that will probably take over the world it’s so powerful. I really am quite impressed with the array of circuits I’ve assembled. It’s slow work, though, and doesn’t do much to move the project forward. Once it’s finished it will be a great asset. But for now, it’s just something else that takes me away from what I love to do.

I guess the thing that kills me the most is that I have all these songs that are in various stages of completedness. So much potential, it drives me crazy. But I have to keep reminding myself that nothing comes easy. It is truly a long slow march to respectability street. If I believe in what I’m doing then it will get done and it will be as glorious as I let it be. Having said that, I can’t wait for you to hear it. It is literally killing me.

Update From The Monkey Butt Studio

roundersDid I ever tell you that my studio is called Monkey Butt Studio? It has a lot to do with my friend Jeremy’s greyhounds. I just remember singing to them, “Shake! Shake! Shake Shake your monkey butt.” And that’s it. No other meaning or thought. I just enjoyed singing it to them when we first saw each other for the day. Bless their hearts, they are some beautiful affectionate animals. That’s not why I’m posting today, though.

I have had a chance over the past few weeks to get some work done on some songs. I’m super pumped to get Muse out there. It’s my favorite song on the CD. It’s got a drive to it, and anger but in the end still resilient. I also got to play a solo on one of Hardy’s songs, 7 of 9. Likewise he laid down the perfect bass line for Muse. I truly cherish those times that we can make music together. Duku, the perpetual optimist, is one of Hardy’s characters he acts out in real life. Funniest thing in the world and helps keep me in the right mood to play music. I’m not completely happy with my voice (I never am), but I like where I’m going with it.

I wish I had something to share right now, but it will have to wait. I have run into some issues with Pro Tools and some DAE errors. Very stab yourself in the eye with a pencil type of stuff. It all seems to work out in the end…if I update my systems. Which may be a final solution. I need to build a new PC soon anyway.

Hate Sandwich

It’s one of those knowns that no one wants to talk about. The sidewalk sale of hate in our society. The big dollar enterprises that are Fox News, MSNBC, Drudge Report, Salon, Rush Limbaugh, and so on. All echo chambers. All encouraging us to hate our political opposites. All feeding you just enough to keep you coming back. All have a laundry list of expert commentators that are only experts on selling shit…or to put it mildly, talking points.

It truly is like going into a restaurant. Your waitress gives you a menu, and you notice that the only sandwich available is the hate sandwich. You look up at your waitress and ask, “do you think you will ever run out of hate sandwiches?” She just gives you a quizzical glance and then laughs as she walks away. Just then, you realize you didn’t order the side of fear and spend the next five minutes unsuccessfully flagging your waitress down to update your order.

Oh you bet we need fear. Without fear, we wouldn’t be so likely to send someone else’s sons and daughters off to war to kill someone that poses no direct threat to our country.  We wouldn’t be so willing to pay for a security system for our home or enhanced weaponry for our police forces. We wouldn’t be so willing to accept the fallout when a swat team storms the wrong house and badly injures a toddler with a flash-bang grenade.

Between all the fear and hate, we are nearly paralyzed to make any true progress toward building a better society. Inequality of wealth is spiraling out of control. Corporations rights trump those of citizens, the human kind. We’re granted almost limitless lines of credit that we rack up to ensure we can’t afford to miss one day of work. To ensure that we are economic slaves to our employer. And yet we still buy more hate and fear with every opportunity. We’re addicted…

I don’t have the answers, but I’m pretty sure it would be something that we could all agree on. Not our differences, but our similarities.

 

 

In The Moment

There’s lots of moments to embrace. As a songwriter, I sometimes focus too much on the ones dealing with music. Like the moment you finish writing a song. It has a certain godlike feeling to it and it is most addicting. Be mindful of those other moments, though. They might just be the ones that inspire a great song.

2014 Couch By Couchwest Awards

cxcw2014Big surprise for me to receive an award for anything, really. So I’m overly happy to have won Best Song With A Message category. The song, Company Song, is one I’ve toiled over for a couple years. Which is to say I wrote the first verse a couple years ago. I had all the melodies for the chorus and all the verse parts, but nothing to say. The poisoning of the water in the Charleston area was what I needed to finish. I’d much rather it didn’t happen and I don’t finish the song. But since it did…

I can’t thank the folks at Couch by Couchwest for all they do. It’s a beautiful thing, the celebration of not being able to make the trip to SXSW. Turning lemons into lemonade. Because it’s probably as good a thing I can do to connect with music fans and musicians. You would do well to scan through from the beginning or from the top down. I have no doubt you will hear something you can’t live without. It’s such a wide range of genres and littered with inspired performances.

Go now! Thank me later, and thank CXCW as well!

The Heart Of Songwriting

via berkleegroove.com

I’ve had the pleasure to sit in on quite a few songwriting discussions in my day. Not enough that I would consider myself a master on the subject. Really, just enough that I have something up my sleeve when I need it. There was a time, though, that I thought everything had to come 100% from me. So I shunned any suggestion of using tricks to write songs.

Obviously, I was being stupid. Now I’m much less worried about where the song comes from and more concerned that the songs keep coming. The little things you can do, like reading a random line of poetry or in my case, a random phrase from a random phrase generator. You see these things and it sparks something inside you. Whether you recognize that as being organic or not is really up to you. The tricks, of which there are a ton, spark something that was already inside you. When I see the work flame, I see something completely different than you or anyone else. Some days it’s magic and some days it’s crap.

And of course, there are times when I just play guitar until I make a mistake I like and turn it into the melody for a song. I think if you talk to any songwriter you’ll get the sense that we all have our own little tricks. Or we have an understanding that you can’t push for creativity. You just need to be awake enough to recognize it when it comes. I don’t think I’ve heard this process described better than a series of videos of John Mayer speaking at Berkley. He’s not exactly my favorite, but I’ve always had a great respect for him. I would encourage you to watch all the videos. But this one is the one for me. Talking about expectations, he’s not just talking about songwriting. He’s talking about life.