Moss and May Original Song

Originally recorded in 2004.

click here!

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How to build your creative castle

You can hear Potter’s Theme in the mist as we circle your castle rising above the morning’s fog, it’s spires set against perhaps some fading last star.

Ok, so where do you get started?

It’s about the 1%. No, not that one percent, this has nothing to do with money.

No obligation and no salesman will visit.

This means if you improve something just one percent a day, what is the difference after a year? It’s not just 365% because not only does it stack on top of the numbers but also you will have days that you lunge forward.

It’s a little like going to the gym. Just showing up is half the success. Anything above that is a bonus. Same here. This is why the castle idea. What is a castle really? I have a really pretty one featured there but take a boring one.

It’s a bunch of walls. What are walls made of? Stones. Lots of stones. Some are not that big. One stone after another stone after another stone. The workmen didn’t go…ugh, these stones are boring and it won’t work anyways. They just kept adding stones. Eventually everyone complimented them in their pretty castle.

Same here. People will see your creation and marvel at it, but only you will know the stone after stone that put it there. Plus, like a castle, there is something nice about the fact it took so long. You have built it up over years and it won’t fail you. It’s sturdy and even you are a little impressed by the whole thing.

So when you see your endeavor before you and it looks so impossible just think, today…I will put down what stone I can find. Tomorrow may be a bigger stone or smaller, but I’ll find one then too.

🏰

For today’s music, I just got into this guy and so I had to share some of it. This is Scott Walker who was apparently a huge inspiration to David Bowie.

For the first track from this album click here!

Enjoy!

Tom

πŸ™‚

Happy Indigenous People’s Day!

I know today has other other holidays attached, such as Canadian Thanksgiving but you can learn about this one wherever you are, even if you can’t get your hands on a Tofurky.

πŸ¦ƒ

The image above is from a great audiobook on the Hoopla Audio App which is free and attaches to your local library account (you can get a book for a month and a CD for about a week)

While at the library have a look for books on the subject of Native Americans, First Nations or American Indians (yeah they still use the latter, unfortunately. Some find it annoying, some have decided to roll with it. If you don’t know the tribe or band best to use Native. Or the person’s name. People like that… anyways, I digress)

There are so many books out there especially by First Nations authors that you can really get stuck in if you wish. Makuk, First Nations 101, Two Houses buried in Sand spring to mind from just the top of my head (and that’s just from here on Canada’s west coast.

In my own area there is so much to learn. On Vancouver Island’s southern tip are around 8 bands and 3 main languages. Then, similar to the Uk’s variation on accents regionally, there are subtleties between bands and clans in all aspects of life. To say you can just learn it all is a little like saying “I’m gonna learn the history of every family in Western Europe!”…it’s huge! But you can always dip your toe in with something today. After all you have studied some history I assume. Why not add the stuff they never taught you?

Even if it’s a YouTube video. Here’s a series with narrator Kevin Costner (post Dances with Wolves). I normally do a music clip but I’ll leave this up here as I want it to be leading. However, check out Native American musicians on Google if you want and discover way more that just Buffy. Though Buffy is great πŸ˜‰

Anyway, get the popcorn and a drink, and when your all settled, click here

Cheers,

Tom

What to do when you’re tired

I like to put in about 4 hours each morning but last night probably had less sleep than that. So what to do?

Practicing technical stuff seems a bit pointless as I’ll be practicing mistakes. And yeah, I’ve definitely had that experience of being too awake to sleep and too tired to spell the word “the”. It can make you feel really forlorn and frustrated so what do you do now?

Step back. Explore.

This is actually a time that really works wonders. Don’t beat yourself up with a) trying to sleep when that won’t kick in and b) get upset that you’re performance isn’t up to your ace level when of course it couldn’t be.

For me this morning it was playing through songs I hadn’t heard, working on an original idea I meant to do and then just finally going for a walk. I mentioned walks before and one of my favorite things is to get totally lost (I bring my device with data if it’s bad lol) and listen to music. Treat it like an artists date.

And that’s the gag here. You don’t have to be in “Fine Arts” to enjoy this. Explore your world in something you haven’t done for a while. You’ll get a second wind soon enough so enjoy this off the beaten track crazy moment. Be like a kid that’s stayed up too late and it all feels different and exciting. Take photos, go through old boxes, check out the books and niknaks at a Thrift store. Go up that trail you always drive past and wondered what’s over there.

Be over there today.

πŸ˜‰

Today’s music is a really cool Jazz standard by Chet Baker called Alone Together.

Click here!

The arts – unmasked

Early Salish Carver

Did read the recent Twitter run about Geoffrey Owens? He was that guy from the Cosby Show that someone photographed working at a Trader Joe’s.

Or what about those local bands that have yet to go huge and end up on Jimmy Kimmel?

Like that relative you have you is still writing the same novel?

Isn’t talent meant for just those you see in mainstream media?

Ok…by now you might pretty much realize where I’m going here…the answer is no. ☺️

We’re all Geoffrey in a way. I work as a cleaner and I’ve worked behind multiple counters as well. For a year I did go full time thanks to some funding, but that didn’t stick as rules changed (I swear, and yeah, it sucked).

While being a bassist and writer I have been lucky in one way though, and that’s that I consistently have interacted with other creative people and seen what they have been doing, getting a taste of what’s out there, even if it’s just here on Vancouver Island.

From Native artists like Roy Vickers and Alano Elzerza to the Black Angus band to the Eighty Sticky Fingers show in Colwood BC that represents local artists and potters I have consistently been surprised by what’s out there and of course with the very medium you’re reading this from, I have uncovered more.

And it isnt… here’s the thing…”not as good as it’s not famous or whatever”. It doesn’t work that way. It’s like espresso. Someone tamping a perfect shot produces a better drink than…brace yourself…the machine that does it fast at your local Seattle giant chain. The latter just has gone that direction with it. It’s like when I was young and I (embarrassing..) asked a local jazz horn player why he didn’t put out an album like Kenny G.

I don’t have the hair..

Alano Edzerza of North Vancouver.

And that’s not to run down Ariana Grande or Ed Sheeran… they’re excellent at what they do too…truth is the arts is just that…it’s a craft and these are the craftspersons. The very doing of it is part of the joy and beauty as is the fact that it is not easy, that it is not necessarily lucrative involving a Hollywood tycoon with a cigar.

Victoria Jazz Festival

So I suppose the take away from the Geoffrey situation is to see what’s going on in your own home town. Got some extra white on your walls? Make them pop with local art where not only will you have some nice color but you might have a story of actual interaction with it’s creator. That’s one of the best parts. When we do a Cookeilidh gig we end up answering questions about things like Woody’s Irish flutes that are handmade from African blackwood which is incredibly dense and are cut precisely from an old original.

While we are discussing local music, I can only wrap it up with this example. This is the late George Essihos who I did take a lesson with once and his bassist who was pretty much the most influential teacher I probably had. Don’s pretty good too.

πŸ˜‰

Listen here … https://youtu.be/2u4AEvgFDcc

And yeah, see what’s happening in your local arts community. From stage to film, visual arts to music and beyond I can strongly say you will be richer for it.

😊

Tom

Alpha, Beta, Gamma…what to do?

Speak low when you speak love…

Kurt Weill

Do you put more faith in a clear abundance of ego or someone who convinces with facts?

Kurt may have been more introverted or what is called a Beta male. There’s Omega too, as well as an army of others but let’s keep to the two main ones here.

Alpha male. Dominant.

Beta male. Submissive.

Off the top of my head I can add the names Nick Drake, Vincent Van Gogh, and Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins as strongly potential Beta males.

Alpha males are far easier to spot as they naturally feel perfectly ok under the intensity of white hot light. Most actors, politicians, employers, sports figures fit here but… ok…Frank Sinatra, Stephen Colbert and…yes, you guessed it…Donald Trump.

There’s things I’ve heard, read and experienced where the reality of Beta males comes into question. Like shouldn’t they not be like that and step up as it were. I see the point because it is really what it is about Alphas that we naturally like.

An Alpha will look you in the eye and shake your hand (typically) and will sell you something with actual confidence. You feel confident with them. It puts your mind at ease. They are the company breadwinner, the pointman and the guy at the front.

Betas get flustered. They might be extremely intelligent but when asked to produce on the spot it throws the whole game. Betas can’t sell it smoothly and have to work like crazy to play the same game. They are usually at the back and prefer that.Β  Sometimes men are dominant or submissive depending on the situation as well but when someone is not the supremely outgoing/extroverted/Alpha-type as I’m not for the most part, that does tend to be the default setting.

Anyways, here’s the thing…we need both guys.

It’s the ying and yang of how it works. It is ludicrous to try to impose Alpha rules on Betas like Vincent Van Gogh should have really left his ear alone and took up, say, tackle football. The kind of man he was gave us the beauty of his work.

Same with Nick Drake who had a very difficult time due to shyness and depression to perform live. And yet Nick’s beautiful sound still resonates today. Sometimes you want to muscular sound of Van Halen’s Jump and sometimes you want the soft, close sound of Nick Drake’s Riverman

To wrap up this one… here’s Five Leaves Left – Nick Drake (Full Album)

Have a wonderfully exciting, or chill, long weekend.

Your choice.

Cheers!

Tom

Many hands

Ever wanted to be a rock star?

Even better… Imagine being a central figure of a massive band that then breaks it up to be a huge solo act, traveling the world and trying everything under the sun from different music styles to acting to writing.

Yeah, I’m pretty much talking about this guy…

You can add dark glasses if you wish

…but lots of musicians have been down similar paths from Beatles to Byork (though I will admit I don’t know the mechanics of The Sugarcubes band of the latter)

But the reason I chose Sting was because of something he rightly said in the sleeve of his first solo album.

Since I started this thing people have referred to it as my solo album, which is of course ridiculous.

I know what you are probably thinking.

What? I just called it that. But as he goes on to explain there’s absolutely no way that it could have been a success without the work of his team of musicians, sound engineers and everyone else that would have been needed in 1985 to make that album finally release in the June of that year.

“The Dream of the Blue Turtles”

Whether your a rock star from the Northeastern England or someone working on a company project the truth is we all need other people to make something of substantial value. Often it’s best for one person to oversee the vision of the thing like in Sting’s case but as he said, it would have been crazy if he tried to hop around and do everything. When you work as a team, not only does the whole become greater than the sum of it’s parts (which it does) but also each person can bring the full effect of focusing on what makes them awesome.

What’s cool here is…each part is usually fueled by other people too. As a bassist myself there are plenty of other people involved to make it so that I can sit there and develop what I do from luthiers to teachers to other musicians I’ve worked with, to the entire life world outside of that that makes it so I can sit there and work on 2nd inversion arpeggios and triplets and one-e-and-ah stuff that you have to work through enevitably.

Of course this is a metaphor for the whole world outside of this.

It’s not just “nice” or “cute” to be inclusive and do away with us-and-them tribalism but it’s actually good business. If your on Team A and you want to work with the best of the best but that person, or even part of their network is in Team B, then you either resolve or accept that it wont have that person.

What’s more is the reality of possibly undiscovered talent. The bass playing world freaked out when we all first heard Bakithi Kumalo playing on Paul Simon’s Graceland album.

Now controversy behind the album rightly said things like “So it took a white person for this music to be heard?” It’s true. It should not take one of us at all and this is because of the pigeonhole thing we have that comes from a tribalistic background.

The trick is to have learned we can’t be divided. We are superior as one tribe.

Speaking of Bakithi, for today’s tunes…check this out!

Now I know…a bass album? But again, here is a project driven but many hands to make not just a light load but a beautiful one!

Check it out here and enjoy!

Bakithi Kumalo – Change

😊

Cheers,

Tom

Not all who wander are lost

One of the best things I have discovered is literally one of the absolute simplest, walking.

It’s strolling in the city or hiking in the woodland but it’s really that same thing. It’s the way you discover the world around you the way nature meant us to.

It is a great simple way to burn calories as well, with a brisk walk bringing your heart rate close to a target rate. If you don’t feel like jogging or don’t have the equipment for cycling or cross country skiing it’s always there. It is low impact and it is great for battling anxiety, bloating/nausea (it works like a mother burping you essentially) and of course you can mix it’s exercise qualities with doing actual errands. What barbell can pull that off?

There is also the creative element. There’s always more streets to go down and places to explore (don’t venture into people’s property…they don’t like that…I know, right?) and this is always great for being inspirational. I have definitely worked out ideas in walks and there’s also that liminality quotient of bringing you out of your comfort zone and into the experience of the world.

Locally you will get to know your way around which is great and one of my favorite things is combining that with a pair of headphones. Any of the music that I’ve been recommending on this blog would be awesome, as would your favorites, but for today’s…

Here’s a classic Tom fav from a classic album…

Today’s track is Depeche Mode – Freestate

Open your mind – Freedom’s a state

😊

Tom

Care for the Soul

Been a while! Part of the reason for that is what leads sort of into this morning’s blog post idea.

The idea you don’t have to take it all on.

There’s this thing going around that those who don’t jump on the comment section bandwagon have their head in the sand or some other failing. Ironically this rant on Twitter, that one on YouTube and the third on that new social media thing that was just introduced yesterday is probably not going to change your life.

There’s connections to be made out there certainly, and there’s things I’m doing now that come from those connections but there is without question a toxic element at play. Ever had a difficult meeting? Do you have to now live one?

If you want to get involved in a cause, you may be able to get stuck into it physically and it will definitely feel more effective. There are people struggling not far from you and of everyone looks after the less fortunate near them, well the potential here is self explanatory. I’m not saying let’s not care about those abroad. You can certainly do that too (many join things like the http://peacecorps.gov which very much still exist)

Look into local soup kitchens, outreach centers or other volunteer opportunities to make life better for those struggling just down the road from you now. If you want to make the world better you can a) try to affect how you listen to others, empathize and make time for them in your own life or b) go to where the problem is and try to help in physical terms. Neither are easy but both are very much needed.

Problem with comment sections is essentially trolls and negativity. You might enter a situation because you care or feel compelled but then that stuff kicks in, and you walk away just feeling frustrated. The people in need are barely effected. Remember the ice bucket challenge? Barely, huh? It was about spinal cord research which is a lie, it was about Als but you might have gone on with that for a second as it’s been so long that like me as I was writing this could barely remember. Now how effective was that and that, for social media, was a major event.

My plan is to cut my social media activity down by dropping the primary ones of my phone, and leaving them on my tablet which stays home. I genuinely like the creativity of some of it so if I see something I want to do it can still happen, but I’d rather live my life in the right now than this thing which is blowing “TV Generation” right out of the building.

Am I saying ignore the world? No, but bear in mind that too much of this is designed to crank up your emotions in the first place. They did it with the newspapers, the nightly news, commercials and now right here in your hand on something that makes you feel guilty for turning away.

There is beauty, love and joy in the world. It is there. It’s not all ____________ <- fill in what political or otherwise bugaboo that first springs to your mind.

I’ve actually started, and this is a grear part of Care for the Soul, listening to this that make me happy, or make me laugh. Part of my work work is very dull, repetitive and alone (which I appreciate is quasi-unique) so instead of NPR political shows all the time I’ve started finding audio of things like British comedies. Now they really shouldn’t be on media platforms (my official statement, it’s fine, grab what you can before it’s taken down) but see what you can legally get on your device that reminds you of gentler times, makes you so happy it is physical. You need this. We all need this. You can’t treat others with life-affirming compassion at the same level as you can when you don’t feel it.

John on the use of the word “Snowflake”

We need to feel connected to the others around us, not like we have to battle them every step of the way.

Life can be great fun.

Much like…..

Today’s album choice which is Kings of Convenience. I’ve chosen Quiet is the new Loud (which isn’t one file, my apologies) as it includes some of my absolute favorites including “Summer on the Westhill” which…well, it was once said that describing something beautiful like a sunset or art is a place where you shouldn’t so I won’t.

Enjoy this adventure for the soul by clicking here! 😊

Cheers,

Tom

Kindness is Magic

It has been now (just 2 days over in fact) five years since this little video was published on YouTube, as a mix of a song of the same name and people all over the world saying Kindness is Magic in different languages.

Click here to see Kindness is Magic

Kindness maybe little things but they make such a difference. When you feel for a moment that you aren’t alone, that we look out for each other, or that things won’t go too far wrong…well, it is magic.

Click the link today. I just want to let it speak for itself. I think we need it.

Cheers,

Tom