The Potential for Magic

One of the biggest mistakes ever has certainly got to do with dreams.

We tell people to follow their dreams but that is it, which inevitably has them either fail and think not for me or they actually move forward. The second case is sadly more rare.

But the point here is how are you learning something?

To me the classic has got to be when I was in scouts as a kid. We had to learn knots, as in all the different kind of ways of tying two ropes together (or one in the examples) like the bowline, reef knot and so on. It’s been a while since this all happened. I will also admit it is not super magical but bear with me.

I couldn’t do it at all. I could tie my shoes but even then only just barely. I remembered left over right, right over left, but that’s it. (Or was it the other way around? Anyways)

Years later I wanted to help fix up my dad’s boat and have everything perfect and for some reason I decided to learn the same knots by myself. In one hour I could flip through the same knots, the exact same ones, over and over.

What happened? Well, it’s the same as with music. I did take guitar lessons once as a kid and got bored. Years later I’m studying bass, then guitar, then keyboard and I have an album coming out.

What happened was the way I learned. The person is the same. The material is the same. The difficulty is the same. But now as a Adhd person who deep dives into subjects, my self teaching makes it actually work.

That’s the magic here. It isn’t limited to guitars and reef knots. Our approach to anything including how people learn can be opened up. You can become literally what ever you imagine.

If you have the dream you have what’s in you to succeed.

Cheers,

Tom

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Gut Wars, A New (leave the house) Hope

“It’s not very rock and roll…”

Andrew Fletcher Depeche Mode

(talking about his depression)

If you feel unwell all the time and feel the need to be near a washroom when you don’t actually need it then know right now that you are not alone.

Three years ago I got to the point that I felt gross and nauseated no matter what, especially if I ate something which being someone who performs regularly was just unbearable.

It had started a few months before that, with me going home sick frequently from both work (luckily for me I soon when self employed for a year so I could focus on it) and at least one rehearsal where I had to leave half way (only to feel better before I even got back home. Ugh.)

I had been to my doctor, walk in clinics and the emergency thing to see what was wrong. They started with tests and then prescriptions that didn’t work. I did that test you do at home that nobody wants to have to do involving saran wrap…yeah, that one. I won’t go there, but it didn’t help either.

Anyway cut to beginning of the year and I tried some anti anxiety meds that not only didn’t work but had the warning of “may cause nausea.” Yeah, right. More like “You’ll pray for the end.”

I was lying on the couch not wanting to move, not wanting to not move…playing Angry Birds made me feel gross.

“Oh, for fu.$@$ sakes!”

I don’t remember the exact moment, but (after quitting those horrible pills) I got my things and went out.

I walked.

I felt like hell doing it but I couldn’t stand not being able to walk around Victoria’s Inner Harbor so I just went there, guts whinging the whole damn way.

They subsided a bit, long enough for me to do this shot…

Yeah, I’m a dork. Anyways…

I wanted more of this and less of the other so I kept going with this, researching my absolute ass off.

I had gained weight after 30 as my usual red hot adhd metabolism had left town so that was a first port of call. I used the Calm meditation app and actually subscribed (I promise I don’t work for them, that’s not what this is about) and did a ten minute meditation practice each day.

I started with a 10 minute walk, 10 min jog, 10 minute jog daily, which eventually I supplemented with the gym membership (Goodlife and the fit fix program. General health training at the Y would be as good)

I discove1red ginger everything. Ginger mint or ginger turmeric teas are my favourite. I quit smoking eventually and tried to cut out pop as it only adds air to your gut (even ginger ale which I was bringing to gigs) Also fennel seeds in tea is ace. Do that. They do that at Indian restaurants for a reason. I have a fennel seed shaker. It is, as Fatboy Slim would say…the Weapon of Choice…

I used the Alkaline app to try and lessen the amount of acidic food. I know this is difficult but one gain was the wonder of steel cut oats with frozen blueberries which are great for digestion, alkaline and a superfood.

And then back to that difficult subject to discuss, but I’ll just say regularity. I cut down cheese consumption and started drinking four of my water bottles a day minimum. I am still working on all this to this day, as I want to keep the weight down and find the best exercise for my gut. I’m not a muscle bound type but at the gym my best machine is now the ab-crunch one. My longest jog is now over an hour but the war ain’t over.

I have noticed how I can be constipated before a run, ran anyways, and my body just puts it aside to bug me later. Just wacky.

So my next thing?

I’m gonna blog about and it’s gonna be this… The Celery Juice craze. I’ve done the cleanse drinks with cinnamon and apple cider vinegar. Now it’s this…

Cheers 🍻,

Tom

Show up to the page. And tomorrow the same.

How do you start something creative? It’s always that first line, that first note, that first brush-stroke that’s scary. It can set the whole tone, can’t it?

What if I’m no good?

I’m reminded of the kept-me-up-that-night excitement of a Abba documentary that I saw. I think the music just got me buzzing all over again, but it could have been this bit.

Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus would keep office hours. Bjorn would make the coffee and hike up the hill to their little cabin/studio in the Stockholm Archipelago where he’d hear Benny was already tinkering on the little upright piano they put in the tiny hut. Sure, gorgeous scenery to write Eagle and Dancing Queen but I don’t think that’s what did it.

I wrote a book ages back and just recently finished my CD The Goldblacks which I’m releasing May 1st, first single out on Friday stay tuned lol (plug out of the way…😜) and I genuinely took a leaf out of their book on both things (with the second knowingly)

Just show up to the page (or the easle, or the keyboard, or in my case my little studio spot of my place.)

There’s something that happens thats true of Goal Setting where even if a goal seems too lofty that it’s worth it just to check it out anyway. It’s like the meta-you takes over and makes it more real. If, like my Mom for instance, you play Irish harp then each day at a time you’ve decided is your most focused, got sit behind that harp (add yours here…it would get way too distracting for me to list them each time)

Where were you yesterday in playing? What haven’t you tried? My note app on my phone is amazing for this. Throughout the day you can give yourself ideas to use at this special time to kick you off. Much as you want direction for your endeavor it’s perfectly ok to just ramble, trying things out. Ricky Gervais on set of the Office called it his “mucking about” that often came up with great natural ideas.

Don’t forget, you’re supposed to enjoy it. I don’t believe in everything being final-end product focused but to be true-you have to enjoy it for them to as well.

Some stuff is certainly hard, and one thing worth looking into is deliberate practice where you can make great stides but first…

Make the coffee.

Go up to the hilltop.

Sip your coffee.

See what your hands do.

Take a chance,

πŸ˜‰

Tom

Week One

It’s the first week for everyone which is partly the reason for the title as it’s also the first week of Goldblacks recording.

And my first time off in about eighteen years, which naturally, I used to work on something.

As I’m writing this, the protest here in Victoria is marching up Fort Street in solidarity with the BC First Nations who are, long story short, being put through the same crap that they did in Standing Rock. Really unfortunate this still needs to be sorted out but great to see such a large crowd of support on a rainy January day.

For those who we should be building bridges with we are quarreling with, pulling Elders (First Nations seniors) out in the snow.

Here’s a link to more about their first week.

For me the first cuts of each song are recorded and now it’s going over, fine tuning, remixing and some rerecording. Just did a live version of Take Me Higher, a song that’s been around for just decades, it being requested many times including at work and on a #4 bus

I also have some plans for a music video for She Lives There and maybe two more. I did that Such a Drag one to kick the year off but Ill have to see. The main thing is to finish the CD in time for this Summer.

First Cookeilidh rehearsal is this week so getting ready for that, with the focus being on Robbie Burns as his day comes up on January 25th.

There is a few shows this year that we’re doing including Craigdarroch Castle with the address to the Haggis. The castle has been a wonderful partnership with us all these years and we are very lucky to play such a beautiful Scottish castle for this date. If you are in Victoria at any point check it out, and especially during Robbie Burns or Christmas season.

Inside Craigdarroch, the last being us two years back!

It has been a politically busy first week, but I think that’s because we are finding more and more that we can’t take things for granted.

We should be all able to enjoy life at it’s fullest or as Freddie Mercury sang

“this could be heaven for everyone!”

Cheers,

Tom

Rainy ride

Bundle up and

Get something warm and

Get your keys and

Stand and wait sip your drink and look out traffic

Pull your hood close and

Wave your pass and

Wait in shelters

Bleary burn stained glass

Look for the white white roof of the

Crosstown connection.

#MondayMotivation

This will be a blog on the move.

I practice music every morning, and did so this morning for a short period but we planner to head out to my parents and that means time to travel. Traveling makes me think because, well, most of the time you are stuck with that.

In some situations you can play music on ferries or busses, and I have, but to me writing works better. It’s like you are already doing something so anything you add is a bonus. And you’re stuck there for a while so don’t worry about being too keen.

What I want is to perform more, which was recently inspired by the story of Ed Sheeran. Now I have performed lots already, but I want to do more especially with my keyboard which is fast becoming my second primary instrument. I learned guitar as a early bass teacher told me I should learn a chord instrument and my mom’s nylon string was around so I started learning, accelerated when I told the church choir I had started and then the guitarist quit, putting me alone in front of a congregation (along with singers). They were a forgiving audience 😏 but it did help to get me ability to play and change chords fast happening.

Even with all that though, and being a bassist, I could never really get into crazy levels of playing, or taking it seriously. I wanted to because I knew I should but it was like a less comfortable bass to me so soloing and really fine playing has never really happened.

Playing keys really didn’t become a thing until almost a year ago now (I had one around for multitrack attempts, a la Depeche Mode) but never actually tried to play a song solo and sing. Naturally I knew C major. Not altogether hard to find, that one.

More recently I have fallen into a once a day pattern of putting something out there. I’m still on the bus as we speak and between parent’s and work I imagine this will be today’s.

Kind of fits with the sleepless one before. What would you like to try? Take some time when you are next stuck in traffic of any kind. Note apps are just amazing for this.

“You dream of something and it’s a thought. You write it down and take action on it and it’s real” Anthony Robbins

Today’s music will be this one I just rediscovered of Scott Walker of the Walker Brothers. I think last time was Scott as well but I thought I would add his hit.

Click here!

Cheers!

Tom

☺️

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

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