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

πŸ™‚

Learning from Baby Elephants

The age of the city zoo and the animal based circus is or perhaps even has finally drawn to a close. That is for the best, but that’s not my target here. I’m more interested in talking about learning and creativity.

They can teach us something very valuable here which I’ve recently ran into first hand.

And yes, in their little way these adorable youngsters and there gentle grownups have an interesting story to teach us.

Ok, it sadly involves the circus. Sorry about that, but best share the idea while we know of it.

When a baby elephant is outside of the big tent and waiting between travels, what the circus people would do is take a big stick and drive it into the ground. A rope would be securely fastened to this and the other to the elephant. The baby would not be able to pull it out and learn eventually that it had a certain space it could move, but that’s it. Eventually it stopped trying to strain on the rope.

What’s interesting here is that the Elephant’s training stayed that way. So in this way the animal fully believed that it could never escape the rope and stick, despite the obvious fact that this huge creature could now either just pull it easily or take one foot and crush it to twigs.

The metaphor is clear and I’ve certainly experienced it as a musician. I’ve come back to artists and songs that I had thought “nope, i could never come close to doing that” but I’ve not noticed my own growth.

The recent ones for me were those first artists I got into like Queen and Bruce Hornsby whose music just seemed to complex for me. I avoided them until recently when I actually found myself playing them.

I can now here what I couldn’t before. The same guy with the same instrument.

As a bassist I get this from watching (and I’m by no means suggesting I’m now his level) the video “Jaco Pastorius – Modern Electric Bass”. I’m still in awe, but when he goes over concepts I can hear what he’s saying with far more clarity. Even some of his more elaborate parts I’m hearing the idea behind it or how it works. It’s not just this ingenious blur.

I dont mean to toot my own horn, because you do it too. You’re doing it now. You’re reading a blog, when long ago you sat there mouthing an alphabet. We are all growing, in fact that is a requirement of life. We are so close to ourselves that we don’t notice. But outside of reading you more than likely have things in your life, which may be creative ones, that are in the same boat.

As person explained, I think it was Tony Robbins, imagine what you can reach is a circle, like perhaps range reached by a rope? But then something falls just outside that circle. You strain a little and reach it. Your rope just got longer now. Then another one happens, and another.

How do make this happen? Just keep going. Show up to the page and look for those things that challenge you.

You may be still trying to pull that stick from the ground, but dont worry. Just keep working at it. Your growth won’t be denied.

One day you’ll give this old circus a run for it’s money.

Have a great weekend!

Cheers,

Tom

🐘

Videos in the can!

I usually start working on Christmas in September.

The reason for this is because not only did Cookeilidh’s Celtic Christmas season just have its first show yesterday at the Kiwanis but I also try to have some own music ready for social media set up. Seems silly but most of it is building towards this little tradition I now have of posting a song on Christmas Eve.

First year was Il Est Ne Le Divin Enfant in 2016 which I did on my fretless with a video of the Victoria legislature in the snow.

Next year and around the same time I did this I was pushing to learn to actually play piano properly so I could accompany my own songs. So the challenge was Oh Holy Night. I don’t play an acoustic piano due to being in an apartment but I liked the idea of finding one somewhere and so booked 30 minutes to use this beautiful upright in the hall of the Cook Street Activity center I’m pretty sure I was on the way to a show right after this as well as work so that was quite the day!

This time around there’s actually three. Ok, four but my band does Silent Night and I think I did it before too on a bass. I just recorded one now which drops soon…

( follow me at @tompogsonmusic by the way! 😁 )

…and I just did Here We Come A-Carolling, which seemed right to kick it off. I’ve been following folks on YouTube like DanTheComposer and Joseph at Creative Piano Academy and so much of this I owe to them. So many that I listen to at work as well, putting YouTube on Premium so it goes with me…

For Bass… Scott’s Bass Lessons, Talking Bass, Adam Neely, Talking Bass

For Guitar and everything else…Rick Beato. His “Beato Book” is something I am strongly considering as his musical depth of knowledge is absolutely vast.

Still trying to find time to write as well! That’s part of the reason I locked this down, so now its Quiet City, shows and some script ideas I’ve started. Keep you informed about that as things go.

And of course there’s video 3. The December 24th one is actually one that just happened, wasn’t planned but was so fun that I absolutely had to use it.

For more about what I do musically check out the music page. Same goes for my writing including the free Prologue of the Quiet City.

Please follow and thank you so much for reading down to here!!

Cheers!

πŸ™‚

Tom Pogson

Trying to get there

I have gone viral a few times now.

Well, that is in terms of tweets. I haven’t done it as much with YouTube yet.

But I do know what others say when they say it just happens because it does. Some things just click into place. I’m reminded of my other successful venue, Cookeilidh. Now I had been in other bands, but right from the first performance people’s reaction to what we did was enthusiastic and positive.

Both are the same. It just happened. There was no research or plan. Dave even said it about when he and Kim started playing outside for fun, people kept trying to give them money. They weren’t busking with a case out. It just worked.

Every time I have a tweet go beserk I think “that one?” The last one I didn’t even think it was done right but off it went. And yes, clearly there is a difference between them but in a way not. You just do something you can do. Then chips fall.

The other thing I’ve noticed recently is my impatience. This might be because my time these days is limited or maybe because I want to get the idea out but it does speak to something I’ve talked about before.

Like with tweets, just return to it daily.

It’s all made up of one bit at a time. Even for me this is something to remind myself of. I’ll know where I want the story to go and I’ll race there. I wont give a song idea time to breathe and race some bit of it to Instagram long before it should get public scrutiny.

Creatively things need to cocoon. If it involves you sipping coffee and just staring at a wall that’s fine. Every moment doesn’t have to be glorious. Every second doesn’t have to be Snapchat ready.

Things have increased in tempo, which is part of the reason for the used image. The Lord of the Rings was written back in the time of the first movies, like the languid pace of Wizard of Oz or even the first Star Wars. I know from research how this has effected books, trust me! From Sol Stein on Writing he goes on for ages about how writers of yesteryear could take a slow narrative summary approach to storytelling that would be “suicide today”.

Today’s audience would find Jeffrey Archer slow.

But anyways it was the thing mentioned by Siskel and Ebert back when Fellowship of the Ring came out, it was too action packed considering the pace of when it was written. Its been twenty years since back then when the closest thing to social media was a messageboard.

I have been deliberately putting the phone aside and forcing it’s none use. I’ll bring a book on a bus ride. I practice drum patterns on my break. I let them charge away from my station as I create and turn my back on them.

Allow yourself the space to work.

Even back in my cowriting days I noticed this. The first near hour at your station is decompression.

Then you flow.

Step back in your water.

Have a great Sunday and last week of November!

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.

πŸ™„πŸ˜‚

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.

My reason for basic income is probably selfish, but

I know I’m not alone. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if many readers have great reasons of their own.

I can’t physically work more than I do. Presently I have arthritis and certainly cannot take time off for the surgery and weeks of recovery it would cost. And I’m Canadian. I know this flies in the face of our “health care is magic” but I can promise you it’s not roses in every case here.
Here in Victoria we have a lack of doctors run off their feet. They no longer, for instance, to check ups as they are considered “a waste of time”. In order to avoid any problems the only thing you feel you can do is improve your diet and exercise.
Now add that to the aforementioned low income, and inability to work more due to arthritis. If you exercise you push against the arthritis that makes what work you do even more painful and if you work more the same so you have to take what little money you have to actually pay for better food which costs more.
This is why there is the modern phenomenon of poor people being obese. It used to be rich=fat. Not it’s poor=fat. Rich people can do a southbeach diet. We can’t.

When you are poor you are eating to feel full. This is starches and low quality food. Food costs are up across the board as well as gas. Again with the interconnection.

This is the part that actually makes me crazy. That I actually studied Sociology in university that in the first term explains how “income dictates health”.

How can poor people pull their socks up or whatever phrases we use if they their situation is built to fail. It’s 2019. We can do better and we do know how.

It’s the basic income model. I just got paid Friday, paid bills and now on Wednesday I have 2$. A supplement to this would not stop me working. It would have me work more efficiently, more effectively and for longer. I’m typing this into a crap phone on a city bus but I have seen and read cases on how when this program has been tested in not only didn’t make “everything worse” but it actually cleared up problems across the board. Medical centers, for instance, notice a significant drop in visits because people’s lives became healthier.

Reason I say my story is because, even though it is specific to me I know I’m not alone. I’ve heard through the cracks in media’s paint.

Most of us are not doing better than we were ten years ago.

If someone told me they were going to make things “great again” I will admit, my hope would be raised to. This isn’t going “that way” now but it’s connected. It all is. When things are impossibly hard in a way that cancels happiness and threatens your existence you grab for any rung. You can blame me or anyone else that “didn’t make it” but that also is logically flawed. We can’t all be the head of the company. The architects just didn’t make the executive washrooms that big.

Also many of us have a “side hustle”. We worry we’ll miss out. Only stands to reason you would be on your phone so much. It doesn’t stem from anger. It stems from trying to make it “great again” yourself. It’s true no matter how you politically alighn yourself. All of us fish see the same nets being used. And it’s freaking the gills out of us.

Please have a look at the different basic income accounts out there on social media and check out what they’ve been saying.

It may be early days for this still grassroots idea, but we got to start somewhere.

There is other gains as well that can occur from Basic Standard Income as well.

Firstly we can kick off we a general feeling of brother love and togetherness in a way that actually matters, and not as an abstract concept.

Secondly the boom in the arts and humanities cannot be overstated. It is at our peril that we discount these parts of our culture as some would do. They are our culture. They are were we step into our higher selves and think beyond the immediate. Examples range from Beethoven to Beckett, from the Charter of Rights to the inscription on the Statute of Liberty.

Supporting these is our “Why?” much as supporting infrastructure is our “How?”. If you can’t stop to think you can’t do it better than before.

This is about not just raising up some of us, this is about all of us. This creates hope and from this joy. Your need to stop violence across the world to within communities and families could reduce too.

This is about humanity’s purest potential.

To quote Jeff Goldblum in the movie Powder “Maybe one day our humanity will overtake our technology”

Cheers,

Tom

Thank you for reading! Please follow me and feel free to surf around my blog! πŸŒ…

Watch “THE ULTIMATE 80’S NAME THAT TUNE – IMPOSSIBLE TO GET! GENIUSES ONLY!” on YouTube

❔❔❔ULTIMATE 80’S NAME THAT TUNE❕❕❕

Warning!! This may make you crazy if you heard it before like myself and others !

πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€”
(And no dissin the piano… going from my memory as an 8 yr old kid here…πŸ˜…πŸ˜…πŸ˜…)
But seriously, now I’m jamming this thing!
Goes much further I’ll call it an original!
But seriously
Still bugging me since I posted before.
I have googled all kinds of combinations of those lyrics.
I have watched sooo many YouTube 80’s compilations.
I have asked Facebook peeps and groups only to find…
Nothing!🀣
πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€”nobody including me can get it but *people do recognize it!!!*πŸ˜•πŸ™ƒπŸ˜œ
So crazy if you lived through that period and heard it, as I can hear that part and the voice, but the identity of the artist is still shrouded in mystery!
All I know is…
1) Early to mid 80’s
2) Male vocalist
3) Lyrics may not be accurate as nothing comes up and I was 8

This thing should go viral so we can all find it lol!!!

Cheers,

Tom

Thank you for reading! Please follow me and feel free to surf around my blog! πŸŒ…

Lifetime of Learning

We like to be surprised. If you think of the last YouTube video you watched or online platform you used outside of WordPress (or perhaps within it) the best part was without question when you became enraptured by something.

Why is that?

Why watch a YouTube video of a cat missing a jump and falling out of shot like a cartoon.

I still get caught by those cats, or Simon’s cat.

There was the “double bounce” videos where both kids and cats got shot into the air, or even off camera by a person or preferably two in succession falling on the same mattress.

Someone did this to me on a trampoline when I was a kid. I shot into the air and shrieked.

In all of these cases, maybe even now, we lose ourselves in the thrall of it. In the subject of learning sure, bouncing a cat isn’t exactly a study of the northern Wyoming’s biodiversity but it is still a study nevertheless.

Over the past year I have been more musically focused which is the reason for less of these as I have been over there (pointing to my keyboard, trust me) more than typing these on my phone. But I’ve been enjoying the study of that and I’ve noticed my own growth over the past year. I’m almost 45. Like in two days. I know, it’s scary lol!

But I’ve been making music “seriously” since about the age of 20 or so. (Got my first bass guitar quite late). Anyways I can promise that I am still absolutely enthralled by learning and there is lots to tuck into. My playlist just went to Teru by Wayne Shorter off of his album Adam’s Apple which seems appropriate as listening to that level of musicianship speaks to how much there is still to explore.

Even if it’s what you watch of YouTube. Now some documentaries on there are pretty bland (if there is lots of animations and ‘exciting’ noises it’s probably less of a heavily academic work) but there is some really good ones too. Even though his stuff is a bit of a British cliche by now I would suggest anything hosted by Tony Robinson who has gone from actor to amateur archeologist with programs like Time Team and Walking Through History.

Here’s episode one as a sample.

There’s also Hoopla Audio which is an amazing app you can connect to your local library and can get you music, audio and even plays. For a writing project I’m listening to stuff on Shakespeare including acted plays that are on there.

There’s NPR of course and the Ted Talk series, How I Build This and a variety of other programs on there. I have to mention Car Talk as that has become a early week tradition for me at work laughing along with the episodes by Tom and Ray while I learn about cars. Or at least feel like I’m learning about cars.

And then of course there’s the public library.

Maybe this all starts to get you as you get older but I never was that jazzed about library stuff as a kid. I remember me and my older sister being part of a library kids club back then and she did way better at it than me.

Anyways later later on I wanted to write my first real book based on Lord of the Rings and so I did all this research on everything I could, trying to step up to Tolkien’s level (trying being the key word) and even though, no, I failed to create any languages I really had fun learning about things like archery (which I also did physically-awesome!) and some botany subjects and other things. I remember getting really excited about anything I could tie in like the history of wine. See my Georgia blog for more about this.

So, how to wrap this up! I’d say browse. Browse one of these platforms or the library for something you’d like to know. Make some tea and settle in. No this won’t be something to entertain friends with straight away. Take a quiet moment to settle into this kind of journey.

The world is out there.

Explore!

πŸ™‚

Tom

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