Creators, Welcome to Why.

I for one dont have a problem with Bill Maher. I’m also a big fan of Ricky Gervais as my friends have been known to bemoan that I do him. Now what joke am I setting up here?

Anyway, he still never calls.

If a joke is offensive or a song upsets you or someone’s writing made you frustrated, that’s fine. I still believe in a higher power is my point about Bill and Ricky. Just because I dont agree doesn’t mean I can’t laugh. Like one priest my mom knows, he said he like Davinci Code, saying it was fun.

Our job as entertainers, content creators and artists is to get people away from themselves.

People are freaked out as hell right now. Even if you think of yourself as the most level headed there is nothing like seeing those empty shelves for that first time. This is crowd effect. Our species thinks as a unit when the chips are down. Sometimes this can be good and of course it can be bad, but it still is there. I mean, empathy is how we work. As musicians and writers I can tell you we work people’s expectations and things for the most dramatic results.

“People hate this in real life but love it in fiction” Sol Stein on Writing.

Here’s a piece of music I did on the experience of seeing those shelves for the first time. I wrote the lyrics literally on the walk home on a notepad app. It was a bitterly cold day with high wind here in Victoria on the Canadian west coast and my hands were actually cracking from how much I’ve been washing my hands more than usual coupled with work and with performance in my Celtic band during the blur that is St Patrick’s month.

I knew I wanted to keep it simple with two chords back and forth like a heartbeat. I’ve also been glued to the late Mark Hollis’s debut album which probably influenced my choices.

Did the song work? No idea but it takes the viewer away from themselves for a moment.

With my band Cookeilidh I have certainly experienced this. We will play a seniors home and there will be a person singing and tapping her feet, or clapping her hands. Afterwards we will find out that is the first time that person has even spoken in months.

No matter what art form you do this is true. No matter what form of entertainment. We are all these gentlemen…

Or as you may know them…

Interesting being a bassist and seeing the bassist’s “White Star” tie. It immediately makes me think of the prep I’ve done before shows. Instagram girls and adult entertainers I’m bringing you in here too. Now some might say I’ve gone too far or revealed something but screw that. Actors, singers, musicians, painters, dancers, writers, poets, adult performers, filmmakers, artisans, songwriters, producers we are all doing the same thing in our way. We put on the best show we can. Sure, we have our hopes thrown into the ring as well, but without what I’m saying we’re not doing the job.

“There’s a job, there’s a gig here” Billy Joel

“Sometimes a fantasy is all you need…” Just a Fantasy – Billy Joel

“Be the sweetest five minutes you ever had…” Tomorrow We’ll See – Sting

Ariana Grande isn’t so into me our most of us out there but when she sings that against Max Martin’s brilliant production you could almost close you eyes and swear you are in some cool hip club and she is actually hitting on you.

Not that I’ve thought of that.

But especially now when there’s self-quarantining on the horizon or in effect for many of us, the need for escapism is stronger than ever. We need you.

I think of how Sting just about cried when he heard some window cleaner whistling one of his songs. He mentioned this in an interview and I think it was about the Police song “Walking on the Moon”

My music was getting him through the day. It became part of his life that helped him even in a small way

And of course this is just one example. One of the reasons I emulate Ricky Gervais so much is because of my day job which is as a cleaner. While I love music of course it can get a bit background-on-background so years ago I added the complete radio shows and podcasts plus Adam and Joe, a comedy team also from the same XFM radio in London between 2000-2006

And now I’m listening to the Adam and Joe sample… Haven’t heard this specific video so…yeah, I’m wrapping this up and checking my spelling.

Might take a while.

Kind of the point.

Get out there and do your thing.

😉

Cheers,

Tom

You are not a straight line.

Aslan is not a tame lion.This one applies to the divine if you believe in that but you dont have to. I’m not wandering into that. Half because trying to influence a choice on people’s beliefs is pointless up to being thoroughly moot, and part because that’s not my focus.It’s on you.I’m a bassist. It was my first serious instrument to any extent and it’s the breadwinner instrument in most things that I do. It gets me in the door.But i also went to Uvic and switched from music to writing.Record scratch. What?That’s right, the music side of University of Victoria’s Fine Arts program wasn’t working for me, especially with how limited my position in it was, but with the encouragement of a literature professor…writing seemed interesting. I went from this to screenwriting and working in film for a while, all the while playing bass.Songwriting which I slowed at back when I was gearing up to play classical bass reamerged after my filmmaking time came to a close, especially with the International open stage of LiveMe, Instagram and so on.Still playing bass? Yep. Still writing. Well, I think that’s clear. So am I just getting this down between scales and arpeggios on my Fender? Nope.I’m doing something totally crazy I haven’t done in a while. I’m on a bus to hike Mount Quimper which is way out above the Sooke Potholes Park. Why? I saw an image and have wanted to do this for a while and I’m going to record a cover up there.Passing the Luxton Fairgrounds as we speak. I haven’t been out here since I was getting ready to cycle across Canada back in 1994. I hadn’t played bass yet.But you see, it’s ok if you haven’t got the plan yet or if you explore. This is what gives you a richness of life and soul.

Enjoy!

Little clip from the top…

Top ten references when writing The Quiet City

Here, in no particular order, are ten that stood out for me straight away!Lots of honorable mentions as you can see from the racks behind me, including Henderson’s phone directory that told you what was where street by street in 1910 to 1911. Research was always a big deal in this, partly to make sure I got it right, but also to transport you back with all the color, sounds and sights of being in downtown victoria just before the great war.
Part of the book is set in present day which is how the room gets included as of course Victoria’s first library was the one on Yates and Blanshard donated by Andrew Carnegie.Click on the writer section of my page to read now! Thank you for checking out my work!Cheers,Tom

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