We are lifting

I served my regulars

Dean the electrician and Dan the

Man who had the bags of groceries set

Out when I went down to his end

Of the great open space, the lot

Everyone with lights at night

Motors of diesel and gas, high test

No espresso, just plywood countertops

I never got it at all anyway

Coffee is .05 the Baker told me, flipping

The giant horse faced mixing bat.

So here I am.

After work, sunny fresh cups and

steam.

Oh, I didn’t bring a book but I have the

colored glass of which one is decaf red.

I see myself in the line.

It’s not compression, it equalizes.

I’m out there too.

Captured in warm florescent.

The creative person you become made simple.

I read a friend’s post that was a eulogy for a creative mentor and about the advice he was given. First thing I thought was what advice I would give.

You are the sum total of your daily focus since you started.

There, that’s the condensed soup version but I’ll expand, and keep it short as my time is limited too.

Practicing, working at it, “showing up to the page” or whatever you call it is how things move even incrementally from where you were to where you are. It is really easy to run yourself down, thinking anyone can do what you do, and other kinds of self taught. The truth is you are raising your own kid in your playing (writing, painting. I’ll stick to music from here on and just insert yourself into that as needed). You’re so close that you dont see how much you’ve grown since you’ve started.

The most important thing is for it to be daily, whatever it is. If you can do hours that’s amazing but even if its 30 min do it daily at the same time.

The reason for this is that you are building literally in the day before. I’ve been trying to push for more time with guitar and I’ve been working with chords I never had memorized before. That’s because I did them two days ago, and then yesterday, and then today. Saying I cant during the week but I’m going to go crazy on Saturday just isn’t the same.

Also, not only do we all compare ourselves to that other person, but we do it totally unfairly.

As a bassist, for instance, it is so easy for me to be jealous of guys that can slap and pop and tap crazy notes all over the place or look at a piano player doing a blues shuffle like out of a western until I realize…

I dont listen to that stuff to begin with!

So of course my practice doesn’t focus there. Now I can do some as we all need to do fundamentals or what’s needed, but all of this is about creating and enjoying.

Your joy is what you are harnessing. In songwriting I get that rush of following the conception of the idea and what comes out is a mash of usually what I like to begin with.

Even if you dont sound like the person who inspired you, fear not, their influence is in you now.

Now, in every sense of the word…

Play

Cheers,

Tom

🙂

Band Survival Guide

So you’re finally going to do it! You’ve been playing and have decided to get in a group and the next step will be under the lights. The lights might be a cafe or a senior’s home or a friend’s living room but theres no need to be nervous.

Trust me, it’s all about having fun. I have been working in the same band for over 800 shows now so on my end I’ll try to get you started.

We’ll do it as a top ten, so here are my top ten suggestions to the applause.

Gear ready?

Now imagine you have some but when you’re just getting going you want something simple and reliable. Try everything you want to bring before a jam or gig and make sure theres no wierd noises. Bonus hint : No patch cords from pawn shops. Super cheap gear will always get you. If it’s super cheap you will not want to know why!

Oh Hungry? Hang on…

I got this from my mom who tried doing a gig after a dinner. Yeah, it was rough. You want to wait two and a half hours between your last meal and your gig and make the meal light but with decent protein. Classic peanut butter or almond butter is my favorite but then I dont have allergic so aim for light. You want to feel relaxed and light and able to sing fully.

Imbibe after.

This actually comes from working with some pro filmmakers. Especially if you are a bassist or drummer stick to beer and weed at the end of the show not before it. Especially with my last bit of advice which I also follow if someone gives me a beer I can actually make it last 2 hours. Melody players are better for this but for rhythm players you want to be ahead of the beat and not behind it.

It’s about time.

“Rhythm is the whole deal” Jaco Pastorius. This is something to bear in mind both playing but also about your musical life. Putting in time practicing at your most creative time (morning person versus a night owl). Being on time. For a small show my band will show up 30 min before and 60 minutes before a big event where you need to connect with people like the sound person. Early is fine as you can settle into it. Late ain’t fashionable.

Practice

Now we all to a degree know this but you should more importantly practice the bands material on your own between jam sessions. I use a Sony recorder which then loads into the computer so I can pull up any tune we’re doing and make sure I’ve got it down. Even if you’re great you need to be there for “shots” or hit the right chord on that one beat when the drummers kick comes down. One great player said it “if i dont practice for two days i know it. If i dont for four days my audience knows it.” Heres my harshest advice though…abandon ship if the rest of a group only practices at rehearsal. My band isn’t like this but ones in my early days sadly were. This doesn’t get better. You’re better off with people who take their craft seriously.

Attitude

Dont worry, this ones chill, which is the point. Bring a fun vibe to the game. Take it seriously on your end but be supportive and have a laugh. Your great attitude and the fun you’re having will rub off and they’ll feel it out there too.

As Billy Joel said “theres a job, there’s a gig here.” Some stuff you have to do in a band isn’t playing : setting up gear, hauling equipment to and from vehicles and stages, interacting with public, organizing things and even helping with things not in a musician’s role (like moving a table when you get to the venue, or setting up chairs). I remember seeing Martin Gore of Depeche Mode helping their opening act in set up with things like winding up cables. Egos stay outside. Many hands make a light load.

Marketing point I was told ages back…never talk the band down. I understand being self effacing but too much makes you sound like you really think it’s not worth their time. If people ask what’s happening dont ever say “Nothing…”. Instead tell them how you’re going into the studio soon…you got some new sounds you’re trying out, even if the studio is your friend’s living room and the sounds is a delay pedal-doesn’t matter. If you’re not into it why should they be, let alone pay for your art?

Stick with it. The greats ground through it too.

Speaking of Martin, lots of bands like Depeche Mode had absolutely terrible public debuts. ABBA’s first performance fell flat and Sting’s first review in a local paper said that “If the Police get a better singer they will be great!”

Just because it’s not perfect now doesn’t mean it won’t get better. I remember lots of well meaning people voicing shall we say concerns that it wasn’t working for me. That rarely happens now. I’m the same person but I’ve practiced, performed and kept showing up for years.

Creative 1 + 2

This is a classic which falls in sync with attitude. The basics here is that in the creative process you have :

Stage one.

– anything goes, bring every idea you have to the table.

Stage two

– take all the ideas and make them into a work.

For us it’s great to just apply this concept to rehearsal where there is lots of creativity happening. Try your weirdest ideas out and try what ideas are pitched from the others as well. Not just in playing but in how to run the project. There are so many things you can do that as one music business mentor said

If you run out of things to do, your doing it wrong

How you look

I’m not good at this, but fortunately others in the band are, which helps. Take how you look seriously in terms of what you are presenting to the world. While the sound should speak for itself you want to look like you are meant to be there. Look into things like basic design or color theory, or have someone you trust go with you on what looks right for what your doing.

How you look 2

Easy one I got from a friend and it’s a simple lady one, but try to look up. An old saying is never turn your back on the audience which is sometimes true, but try to find parts where you dont have to shift position on your instrument and look out there. I sometimes look above them or sort of dont focus on one specific person, but you will find what works for you. It also helps with posture which helps with both resisting injury but also for vocals. Not only that but like with attitude, it sends a strong signal.

Well that’s it, and like I say this is more a loose guide but I hope it helps.

If this did help and you go huge, send me tickets for the west coast Canadian leg of the tour.

Cheers,

Tom

After two years it’s a little like blowing off a leg.

Poor Poe.

Had that image around since Halloween and never got around to using it. But almost two weeks before that I’ve been half tempted to return to smoking.

I was orginally using them to deal with constipation and insomnia and really they were just there and I did, sorry but, enjoy them. It was due to the cost, social pressure and having not tried everything yet that I finally quit two years ago.

I have tried to eat better to make up the difference but primarily I would run, a lot. This was both in the gym and outside. I was getting so good at it I was genuinely looking into doing marathons. This was until arthritis suddenly kicked over the ball of my left large toe. Surgery for this with my work would be impossible. On recommendation I’ve used large doses of Tumeric and now run exclusively on either chip trails or a treadmill less than 15 min per day but still I’m inevitably sore and barely able to walk at work.

I tried returning to cycling which I once did across Canada back in 1994 but that did not help matters. In the first place it was the jogging and exercise that took away the feeling of constant nausea and unwellness.

A day does not go by when I feel well. This has not changed for 2 years since I quit smoking. I’ve been trying a low thc cannabis product in a dry vaporizer and it has helped a little with the pain but sure enough the thought of returning to the more normal smoked product has come back. Maybe because weed is 5 times the tar of a cigarette, perhaps because current rules impose on you to act the same way, or even perhaps because after all this time you are inhaling, waiting for that feeling that only a smoker knows.

Could you describe the feeling of swimming to someone who had not, or sex, or becoming a parent. Writer’s are supposed to but truth is no one can. It is one of life’s one way doors. Only those on the other side can know.

Clearly I get addicted easily, so it’s a good job I never went for anything harder that these two.

Presently I’m charging my vaporizer as it died with weed in it and I’m in my usual Tim’s after a day off’s worth of frustration. To start again I know exactly what I would get:

Smokes of a decent quality first time around

Lighter

Nicotine gum for times like the ferry’s where you now cant for absurd periods of time.

Gatorade as your body probably wont like the first “halfy” you try and draw (a clue by itself)

I literally just walked up to the first one on the list (which was the necessary last item, the Gatorade, thinking just do it. My mood has been crap recently so one thought was to try for a month and then if things dont change then use the gum to quit again.

Only, as stated in the title I couldn’t do it. You also cant not know what a feat it was two years ago to quit, let alone get all the way to here now. But even with that, and walking away, here I sit feeling like I should have started and shouldn’t have at the same time.

Creatively outside of writing this I did also funnel this frustration into a play called Vivacity set inside the head of a woman who is trying to make a simple decision whether to go out or not. I might develop in more. Meanwhile my device is charging in the seat mounted power outlet using the charger I just bought for it.

I’m not sure if I’m asking advice as most will naturally say to not start again but there it is.

🙄😂

Cheers,

Tom

Update.. as possibly expected I did try a little, literally 3 drags of one and put them away. I didn’t throw them out immediately the last time and wont immediately either as I want to not force the choice. Immediately it was like, oh no I didn’t want this…it was probably just romanticizing the idea of them. I want to stay dry and stick with weed.

Got paid my own rent, which is fun…

Switched over banking information as I was frankly fed up with my old one and, well, I’ll have to make another phone call.

I’ll double check, but definitely a fun way to start November.

If only life was like that, that would be amazing! My apologies to anyone who thought I had landed the perfect financial independence scheme. Imagine that! Your rent would pay for your food!

So, with that not the case, I’m presently focused on two things outside of work…musicianship and The Quiet City. Within musicianship is getting ready for this season of Cookeilidh Christmas, bass study, guitar and keyboard. Songwriting tends to come to me in bursts so I like the idea of just developing the packaging for the next album after The Goldblacks.

Keyboard especially as using one had always been around but trying to “actually play” has only been going since one year before the last cd and I’m proud of how that went, especially with songs like Precipice and Missed Connections that were recorded in one take of vocal and piano.

Quiet City is still going a bit a day after the free sample.

If you haven’t read it yet check the blog just before this one.

On my bus and about to get off for lunch so I’ll catch up in a week or so!

Cheers!

Tom

The Lie that tells a truth – a Quiet City blog

Fact : The place of Emmett Till’s death is now on its third physical sign, a teflon coated, bulletproof marker that weighs in at over 500 lbs.

Lie : Atticus Fitch and To Kill a Mockingbird really happened exactly like that with those specific names.

Now, by no means am I comparing my story to Harper Lee’s justifiably Pulitzer Prize winning masterpiece, or my subject matter as powerful as how one speaks to the injustice and still present anger, but I literally just saw the article about the new sign (Washington Post Article ) and it is the broadest and most blatent example of this.

Such things show the function of fiction. Through a story you can bring people in and let them fully experience truth at a gut level. To Kill a Mockingbird caused a visceral reaction in 1960. So did Philadelphia when that movie came out in 1993.

For me the story of The Quiet City speaks to both the magic and the extremes of my hometown, which is really like many places but packed between a Malahat and a Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal.

In one block in Victoria are the vvery poorest and most extremely wealthy. Working in our service industry for decades in a world class tourist destination I have long compared it to a theater stage. There is a glorious performance up front, but backstage the paint is peeling and the coffee machine needs replacing. Even more so now as working people can’t survive on one job and the need for “low income housing” keeps exploding, as well as animosity to people who have properties here from out of town.

Whitechapel all over again, and here comes my ripper.

There’s also the enjoyment of the books creation. Outside of my own political and editorial sides, to come anywhere near creating this work I had to dig into every story, many of which just unfolded more secrets and stories about our city such as the network of tunnels…

and like this image, Victoria’s story is one of a vibrant mix of cultures as in the early days we were more the destination than Vancouver. As such this new furthest flug city of the commonwealth attracted everyone, from First Nations to across the Pacific, from Europe to every other corner of the

Inner harbour 1910

…world to create their own chapters.

What is still interesting is due to the natural barriers of water and mountain rock, our mix of stories is crammed together so within a few miles it is as though every possiblity is played out. And of course there’s poor dear Agnes Bing, who perished on September 29th 1899.

I had the idea for the Ripper coming here only to find out that this lady who co-owned a bakery with her husband John was tragically killed in that same way trying to cross the then Johnson Street bridge late at night. Songhees people were blamed but we never learned the truth. Like with the Ripper crime scene investigation was in its infancy.

So is The Quiet City true? No. The settings are as accurate as I could make them, and certain people such as Rattenbury, Carr and the Vital Statistics agency in the West building are absolutely fact. My story is silly but the rest comes from a love, pride and fascination with #yyj

Ok, speaking of, time for some story to happen.

As a bonus Halloween treat I will be posting the first chapter of The Quiet City so you can finally dig into something.

Stay tuned, like and definitely follow so you can read it as so as it drops!

Thank you for reading!

Cheers,

Tom Pogson

The Quiet City – post Thanksgiving catch up

A very special location

Happy belated Thanksgiving to other fellow Canadians. Just getting going again after a very busy weekend with not just cooking a turkey but also a wedding and getting ready for the Cookeilidh Celtic band’s next season.

Presently I am doing outlining of the remaining chapters. I had put this off as I wanted to let the book flow naturally from one section to the next but as I got to about Chapter three I realized that it wasn’t going to work.

There are lots of little parts and things that connect one person to another so you really have to map it out, so the train has stopped for a while as the tracks are being laid down. The book is presently sitting at just 34 pages which is still quite early and when I’m in transit I have done some reading and editing of that. My parents, who have always been my executive producers before have also gone over it and know the basic structure. My mom Joan Pogson is also working on a historical work about the “Scuzzy” which was a steamer that use to go up the Fraser River, through the Hell’s Gate Rapids, to deliver supplies to the miners.

Like I said before, this kind of thing runs in the family.

This is my Dad’s (Jim Pogson) book from his and his father’s (Roy Pogson) time in BC Hydro. My grandfather was head of BC Hydro for Vancouver Island and workled for the company back when they were the BC Electric company that also powered the streetcars.

Was studying more about those streetcars powered out of their station on the corner of Store Street and Pembroke and Discovery near the harbour. Eventually these cars did serve incoming passenger ships as well with signs saying “Downtown” prominently displayed on a front window .

You can definitely imagine the car emerging from the back entrance first thing in the morning to pick up commuters.

While some of my photos are admittedly shots from online there has been more and more actually going to locations to try to imagine how it all wouled work. I teased at some things going on around Johnson and Douglas on the book’s Instagram page and while I can’t say what I’m planning…

Douglas and Johnson

Interesting nearby alley

…I can say that that alley will have a connection and that in absolute honestly the intersection of Douglas and Johnson was the site of Victoria’s first graveyard.

To the best of anyone’s knowledge the bodies were moved to Pioneer Square on Quadra Street beside Christ Church cathedral.

There’s also other great locations worth checking out on foot such as…

the site of the David Spencer arcade before the fire of, you guessed it, 1910 and…

the Brown Jug saloon which almost to make up for it’s exciting, rough and ready history has turned into a very classy Birk’s jeweler’s.

The blogs are going to be more like this with letting you know little bits of where I’m at, with one final exception.

I will be releasing something very special at the end of the month so definitely stay tuned!

Anyways, back to work for me! Brewing more of my favorite tea, Tulsi ginger turmeric as it’s a wet day out there.

Have a great day yourself and thanks for catching up!

Please like and follow!

Cheers,

Tom Pogson

Beecher Bay

The Quiet City – the characters

On a fall morning in 1910 a Vital Statistics clerk was found with his neck broken inside the west tower of the Victoria, British Columbia legislative buildings…

And that was just for openers.

Developing characters and how they interact is the most important part of any work, from drama to comedy to even this kind of historical fiction. Two are based in modern day Victoria BC, the rest are in 1910.

Born : May 5th, 1887 Kingston

Government employee and veteran of the Boer War, he never left his standard of military excellence behind, or the thingas father told him about why they had to leave his hometown behind.

Born: Sept 1st, 1997

Having worked at the Royal BC museum as an archivist for a year, this 23 year old First Nations anthropologist came home one day to more than she bargained for.

Both born : October 31st 1870

Highly educated, not just in England but as far flung as the Al-Qarawiyyin libraries of Morocco, James and Penny are the illustrious fraternal twins with connections from royalty to architect Francis Mawson Rattenbury.

Born : August 21st, Cridge home Victoria .

Daughter of Lekwungen mother Marie and French Canadian father Rene, Jenny tries to take care of her mother since father went missing. One day, taking care of everyone as the cheery nurse she was known to be, she met a very interesting man.

Born : November 13th, 1987, on a ferry.

Resident of Beecher Bay reservation and his own private retreat on southern Pender Island, to say Michael is an unusual man is an understatement. His strength with special gifts started very, very early in life, so much that he has found crowds too uncomfortable. He will soon have to face this head on.

Born : 1844 London, Whitechapel

Now the Sergeant at Arms for the British Columbia parliament buildings, Roger takes his role in security seriously. He doesn’t talk much about his life before he settled in Victoria.

Stay tuned!

Thank you for reading and supporting independent artists. Please follow as I get closer to my first The Quiet City teaser!

Cheers,

Tom Pogson

“The Quiet City”, Behind the Scenes of a novel

Having done many years of work in bands and filmmaking projects, I love the idea of sharing the journey of a project. The art is how it’s jumbled together and smoothed into a work, but this is the slow moving factory. With something like this, set in actual history with fiction trying to run through it, it’s going to be huge. You have to return to your own notes regularly to keep it connected. You are connecting dots well outside of the storyline.

The scope of the full timeline starts in the 1880s and ends as recent as tomorrow. That’s a big factory floor.

Telegraph Bay, 1900

This was one of the reasons that The Quiet City had an earlier start approximately seven years back. At the time I was working as a cleaner and going to Uvic writing full time. One of the inspirations was being in some of those buildings like the Dunsmuir’s summer home that became the Fort Rodd Hill administration building. I also lived about a ten minute walk from this…

I wanted to include some of my favorite things about early Victoria such as the Victoria and Sidney Railway, the streetcars now gone with only slight remnants of their existence remaining as well as the birth of my own corner of town…Cook Street Village.

With about ten places to get coffee in two and a half blocks, Cook Street is a popular chill out part of Greater Victoria but before about 1909 it was a marshy dairy pasture to quote painter and writer Emily Carr. Incidentally Emily doesn’t make a personal appearance but she gets involved in the story along with a person who deserves a movie of his own…Francis Mawson Rattenbury.

Anyways with these in mind the story was set in partly 1910 which set me off to every place that I could go, besides online to see and hear what it was like back then here…

Fort Street near Douglas. Yeah, I’m in the new Tim’s.

The image pictured about is at the Heritage Room of the Greater Victoria Public Library where I spent most time, but also the archives near the Museum where part of the story now takes place along with Victoria Archives, Saanich Archives and Sidney as well as the Royal BC Museum.

Back years ago I actually stopped to work on something else as I wanted this to have more time to actually focus on it. I want to make the details as accurate as possible as the stranger fiction needs a firm support. Not only that but it is fun to get the details. I was so excited by the Betty Bell’s book “This Fair land, Saanich” which goes into life in the Saanich Peninsula in fine detail as she lived there. That photo of myself reading is in the local history room (aforementioned Heritage Room) where so many treasures are hidden.

Even just wandering around Victoria can get your imagination going, whether it’s trying to find the hidden tunnels under the city or looking at houses in Fairfield.

There have been lots of little parts of the story that have been either created or effected by the research outside of just the setting which was of course very different and more languid than today’s pace.

Fitting in this perfectly was the often late Victoria and Sidney Railway that was that way due to its often late ferry connection, the Iroquois that could take you from the Pier in Sidney to Nanaimo.

Sadly this boat met its end a little ways after 1911 which didn’t help business for the Victoria and Sidney either, a train so underpowered that when it climbed northbound through Royal Oak towards Elk Lake, passengers could jump off, grab a beer from the nearby pub and hop back on without missing a beat.

But of course history was about more than just locations. There’s details on current events, fashion, and what it was like to live back then.

Above is a modern Government Street, but back then this wasn’t just the actual main drag, but actually the oldest street in Western Canada. If you wanted it, it was here with government offices on the west side of the road (your Post Office) and your green grocers, stores and pubs on the east side. The Brown Jug was a particularly famous one on the corner of Government and Fort, now a jewelry store.

And of course, the aforementioned world of paranormal and my very evil special guest, Jack the Ripper.

The legend and mystery of Jack and the canonical five victims has also been a major part of the story, so it naturally lead to going over any books and videos I could get my hands on. My take on the Ripper is very different from what’s been before and specific to this story so, without giving too much away I had to research some other things to compliment this.

Anyways that’s about it for now.

Thank you for reading and please follow so you can catch the next entry on the creation of this historical thriller. And definitely check out the writer page here at tompogson.com to see my other work, along with my music projects such as Cookeilidh.

Cheers!

Tom Pogson