#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

☺️

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Rock’n Rule #3. Show Disasters

Imagine starting a show that made everyone leave the room, or playing along to a classic song that you never actually learned, or starting a show with a guy holding (no kidding) a pumpkin (wasn’t near October) and saying to you that he’s sure you can’t play.

You guessed it. These are but a handful of mine. Now I’m not gonna say that I sell out stadiums like Sting and the boys up there, but I can almost bet you they had those early disasters too. Sting, Andy and Stewy were in sooo many bands before they ever met so you can bet there was the occasional weird amp problem.

On continuing yesterday’s Rock’n Rules on how to make great music, or be a success, I found another little clue. I will drop more if I find more, but it came from the fact that I am on a bit of an ABBA kick right now, and on doing some reading their first time(s) playing as a four piece actually totally flopped. Like nobody liked it. At all.

ABBA had every reason to go and quit and say “It didn’t work, why bother.”. But they just kept at it anyways. Music is what the four did so it was back to the drawing board (or the cabin).

Same goes for the boys from Depeche Mode…

Don’t be nervous 😊

The first two shows by these fresh young faces, which they spend time setting up were a complete disaster. Two shows in a row! On one of them all the keyboard stuff when crazy and one guy just kicked something and all the electrics went out on the whole stage.

They kept going. They even make weird mistakes to this day. You can look that up, but it’s only rock and roll.

The trick is to keep going. You get used to it. On the musical side you learn to “recover” if you played it wrong and 9 times out of 10 you notice it more than anyone else around. Nobody is going “hey, what’s with that Bm7 chord!”. It’s about connection to the people in front of you. In fact disasters can be funny and get them on your side if you stay chill and just go “wow, that was neat!” or something and just try again.

Screw up.

Screw up huge.

You’re in world-class company.

😉

(And yeah, this works off stage as well 😎)

Today’s music I blogged to was a classic instrumental CD called Black Sands by Bonobo

Black Sands – Bonobo

Cheers,

Tom

🙂

Retrospect

Since I’ve gone past my first one hundred posts and one hundred follows it does make sense to look back.

This really kicked off between a Uvic school thing and the Ollie and Emma project. I actually just flipped back and I yeah it’s been a heck of a journey to this point, with many posts I’ve forgotten about but I definitely have a sort of theme which is creativity, specifically talking about it. I don’t think it hurts that me and my mom are the weird creative types that talk my dad’s ears off whenever we are in the car, not just about this subject but generally.

Back when I was first self employed as a writer/pitch writer/musician I had all this extra morning time before I’d head to the shared office so I began just researching creativity since to me that was my product, plowing through almost every book in the library. There’s a potential blog for later… favorite books on creativity. Got three in mind all ready, but I’ll leave it for when I can really compile it. Considering this subject can get sometimes…well…”artsy” I want to make sure I’m actually giving you guys something I’d value. There’s so much fluff out there that I want to contribute a little more than that, or at least make it entertaining. Even voyeuristic into what I’m doing. Hey, totally cool. To me that’s like we went for coffee and you asked me questions. I’m a ADHD goofball like I mentioned before so I’d probably give you a moment by moment play by play of my morning if you let me.

Best not do that.

I also (here I go…lol) like the idea of this thing called tompogson.com (which makes me seem like a weird golf caddy clothing line) being about an overarching experience of being a creative spirit. From where I write this I can see most of my music gear, writing, books and even the visual art stuff I mentioned yesterday. There’s no rule stating what you are or are meant to be. One of my favorite little quirks of the band Depeche Mode was that for ages you never saw them on albums and not only did the liner notes not say who played what, but they’d flip the order of names around so for months I thought the singer was Alan Wilder. (nope.) All creativity is your playground and you can just experiment.

Though in a music situation you do feel safe behind your main instrument. Safe isn’t a bad four letter word or something. You can jump from safe to the deep end and back. Safe can get you to the edge.

Now jump.

Ok, I’m going way too global metaphorical axiom wacky now.

Have a great day guys and thank you all for reading this and going on this journey with me!

Ooh! One idea I had was I could put it what I was listening to this morning, since I usually work to music. Now it’s usually Low Roar or Harold Budd so I’ll start with L.R. but I can make it kind of a fun thing to add something different each day (it will be stuff you can work to so less on the metal side for me. If that works for you then that’s cool 😎

Because We Have To – Low Roar

Cheers,

Tom

Stage fright, comparing yourself and other frets

Me with Cookeilidh at a new bridge opening show

It is very easy to get nervous about going up in front of people, and even more frustrating when you see someone else seemingly do that like no problem, doing stuff you never thought of. So what to do?

Have I been nervous in performance recently? Yes of course! Do I compare myself? Oh probably that too, but that’s just natural. You see someone doing what you never thought of and well, now it is thought of and you can choose to slueth it out later. Truth is we all have such different tastes, approaches and physicality so naturally that other guy (or girl) is going to do things you’re not. Like if I see someone who is slapping and popping all over the place or playing complex Bebop patterns on their bass…on one hand it’s like “I can’t do that” but on the other hand, would I actually want to study that music for hours on end? With what I listen to…is that stuff present? No? Well that explains that…

Not to be flippant but it kind of goes into the heart of the other bugaboo of stage fright.

You don’t have to explain anything, feel bad or apologize for anything. What you do (which could be musical or not) comes from your soul, your heart, your study, your world and it’s you. That isn’t going to change so why be nervous. You are doing your work up there so it’s better to be the most relaxed you that you can be.

How do you get there? Practice is the obvious one, but then there’s how to do that. I have lots of different things to work on so I like zeroing in on certain rough parts daily and repeatedly working them until I’m satisfied. I never practice the day of a show on the instrument I’m playing (got that from, of all places…Anne of Green Gables)

“promised I wouldn’t open a textbook so I wouldn’t get the jitters!”

So instead of playing my bass, or opening any textbooks respectively, I’ll go for a walk, play piano which I actually started really getting into between sets at a big Christmas gig last year, or even meditation. For the latter…yeah, yeah, get the Calm app. I have the subscription to that one and it’s totally worth it. Going for walks is my magic cure all. I take, oh lots of anxiety in my tummy and so walking is just the best for settling that and if you feel bloated or what-have-you it’s really calming. And for weight loss it’s great as your target range isn’t very high so you can keep healthy while you get centered. Walking to music has been my thing since decades ago. Find music that puts you in a calm (not pump fist in air) state. Or go the other way with it. Before a show, like on the way there, I listen to stuff that’s fun.

Do the practice. Be slightly early. Now just have fun with it.

“Out the door…thank you very much..”

Just having fun with it 😂

Cheers ,😉

Tom

Apps for Musicians! The Ear Gym!

In the interest of trying things out, I’d thought I’d give a try to trying things. Hopefully that made sense!

I’ve loaded and deleted lots of apps over the ages as I have a little, little phone with not much room and I just keep a few in play.

Let’s kick off with the second in a series of ear training apps I’ve tried, “The Ear Gym.” Ill keep this brief and tight as I’m short on time like yourself.

Way tougher than “functional ear trainer” it actually puts you through paces with interval recognition which is excellent. I’m a big believer in “The Talent Code” (check this out or maybe I’ll do a bit on it later), and anything that puts you in that just-beyond-ability sweet spot is great. I do wish it would go more into recognizing full chords but maybe that’s soon to come ot elsewhere.

8/10

Know an amazing musician app? Post in comments below!

Cheers!

Tom

7 Bass Books every bassist needs

No introduction needed really.  Got your metronome and your axe?  Let’s do this.

7. Joel Di Bartolo – Serious Electric Bass

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I love how full this one is.  Joel does an amazing job of going over every nuance of playing in detail with attention for those playing five or six stringed instruments.  This one I keep coming back to, in fact, I pretty much had to take it off the music stand to take the shot.  You can’t go wrong with the guy who played for Johnny Carson!

6. Rufus Reid  – The Evolving Bassist

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I had this recommended to me by my former bass teacher Joey Smith.  Fantastic book for upright and electric players alike going into rhythm, chord structure and how to approach jazz basslines.  Really helped me in getting my theory down along with…(drumroll)

5 Jaco Pastorius – Modern Electric Bass

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If you haven’t heard of Jaco, bassist or not, go to youtube immediately.  He’s pretty much our Hendrix!  But anyways, this book goes over the video which is excellent and genuinely teaches you things as opposed to just making you go “Wow, he’s good!”  It does that, and you do feel like the least educated chimp when you try playing after  but the book also has some great little bits on theory that helped me finally piece it all together.  Worth it!

4 Simandl

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Yeah, what do you follow Jaco with?  This is pretty much the book, which Jaco actually mentioned himself, for studying classical bass.  Even if classical isn’t your thing it is the tried and true study of the rhythm section.

3. Slap it! – Tony Oppenheim

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We want the funk!  Get your groove established by this great little book for woodshedding the basics of funk.  Not a really thick book but it gets straight down to it with exercises you can start straight away with and give you a foundation of sound that is not only cool, percussive and funky, but also clean!

2.Teach yourself Advanced Bass – Clive Harrison

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And I can hear the “whhaaa?” from here.

Despite how this one looks this little guy has been my straight, no nonsense foundation to so much of my playing and bass philosophy that I don’t know where to start.  Formerly with the Little River Band, Clive takes you through all the things you need to get your chops sailing as well as gives you great directions in things you might not of thought of like his section of Chops versus Performance or on Shifting.

  1. Chuck Rainey – The Method, sadly not pictured

This might be anti climactic but my copy has disappeared in a recent move, which is annoying because not only did I use to come back to that book again and again but literally it is where I started actually practicing.  Chuck is such a great book to start with as he goes into great detail exactly what kind of strings to use and proper right hand form and technique as well as getting your from that shaky first C scale and onwards.

Hope you enjoyed this little list!  Please feel free to add your own recommendations to the messages below!

Cheers,

Tom

It’s really all so very small.

peter-jackson-young

There’s a few people who would be good examples of this that I could have chose but Peter Jackson was my most recent biography find so it’s still the freshest in my head.  I could have also mentioned Peter Hook of Joy Division for this one, the man who literally grabbed a bass and joined the band.

Peter, the one pictured that is, was inspired by film at a very young age.  Only in his teens he was trying to make his Super 8 go as far as it could until he finally discovered a slightly better camera and began messing around with other little films.  Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit was a long way off from those first initial attempts.

Being a singing bass player Sting is another huge inspiration that naturally springs to mind.  Sting played gig after gig for years in a variety of bands (including a cruise ship gig) before he ever met a drummer named Stewart Copeland who already had this idea for a band called “The Police”.

The work these three gentlemen have created is indeed timeless, and they are only three examples of probably hundred of artists I could name.  The connection to me is those early years of the work and the creative approach.  During a tour of American colleges, Sting explained to music students “We’re not building cathedrals, we’re building sheds.”  This is an insight that I think is worth keeping in mind when approaching anything creative, and possibly other things in life that don’t fall under that category.

It doesn’t have to be great.  It doesn’t have to even be good.  If you think of the early Beatle’s cuts from the beginning of their career they genuinely did not know what they were doing.  Most bands (using music as an example) evolve slowly over a period of years and that’s the stuff we hear.  The same goes for writers, visual artists, and film makers.  Defy the white page and it’s patronizing nature.  Make it all messy in spite of it because the odds are that it probably isn’t a big deal anyways.  You’re just mucking around with it.  I do this with Twitter and Instagram and I fully admit that.  I just kind of go “Hey, what about this?”, usually said out loud because I admit I do in fact talk to myself.  That’s me.  I’ll be talking one way or the other and someone else may or may not hear it.

It even fits into most creative theory with the fact that the first part of creativity is simply getting it out of you and the second part is editing that mush for the little bits of gold in there.  Also if something isn’t working, or you find it boring, try some other thing.  Considering the expanse of possibility and remix culture out there you can always switch gears and bear in mind that you never have any massive thing expected (and should share that same expectation to others).

Even my biggest projects typically have roots that started little bits at a time, little bit each day at a time.  You just relax and let those small things pile up.

So go ahead and mess it up all messy now.  I’ll try to not sound like a motivational speaker now.

Cheers,

Tom

🙂

Days are like little lives

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Perhaps it helps that I’ve had some background of being a morning person out of work related necessity.  I worked a lot in cafes and therefore being ready and bright early just started to flow after a while.  I’m also an insomniac so I kind of get a version of both with exhaustion kicking in somewhere midday. As I steer closer to my existence of working on my creative endeavours full time, my focus has become more about how to best use my time.  I’ve always had the job that set the days program and now I will be doing that.  I won’t go into the specifics of it all because it is not as mountaintop-with-guitar/notebook-and-windswept-hair as you think.  The image I chose probably doesn’t help with that.  I wanted to represent time.

So much gets piled on mornings I’ve found.  There is so much of that “first thing in the morning” suggestion out there that I almost think it is like your early years of child development.  Everything calls for attention.  The evenings are like later in life when you can relax. 

Which thing do you do first?  For me its morning-page like free writing with coffee and something light after a walk and then bass practice before steering into the primary work that I do.  I’ve heard exercise and water should be first.  The Artist Way series got my writing going first.  Some of these things I like at home and others out.  I don’t know who else feels this but there is some thing in leaving the home to work on a creative process elsewhere.  Your away from home distractions and you know are there to do the work.  The word work shouldn’t scare creators away.  Its still creative but as Billy Joel said “there’s a job…there’s a gig here…”

All of this hinges on any kind of major event.  And yeah, I do like structure.  It’s my parents coming out in me.  My mom is the creative and my dad is the logical former service planner for Hydro.

And so I’ll be up again, in the young hours with the practical and exhuberant playing out.

Houston, we’ve left normal

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My long time co-writer and friend Cheri Jacobs

     It’s really early.  It’s early enough to still be considered late.  Making coffee now because I know I won’t be going back to sleep for quite some time.  That’s the perfectly normal thing right about now.  I have never slept well, due to a large part that I never liked to do that.  My schedule has little power naps and as I type this on the tablet Cece is sleeping.  I give full points to a girlfriend who sticks by her creative man.  We’re the most difficult breed there is if we’re good and likely worse if were not.

      In now less than two weeks I voyage out into the waters that I have always wanted to sail.  Thanks to a mixture of my work with Cookeilidh, my work with Cheri Jacobs and our partnership with Less Bland Productions I have made the leap to being a writer and musician full time.  I do feel ready for these waters but naturally it is a place that I sort of half thought I wouldn’t be sailing.  The choice to make the leap is one that does scare me since it’s not as though I have made it in the conventional sense.  The work I do is exhilarating in both fields (two sides of my expression  that have always been there relentlessly since I could make baby noises most likely) but the work is still very much in the day to day grind of a local craftsman.  That is something that doesn’t bother me that much.  If you want superstardom you don’t really pick the fields of bass player and screenwriter.  I’ve certainly stepped out of those less lit parts of the stage to do things like acting (in little bits with Cheri on the Tom and Cheri Show) and singing (open stages and backup for Cookeilidh) but with those the need to do that came from the fact that there is this material and its simpler just to do it.  I swear its not false modesty.  I have, when a singer has been I’ll in the past, tried to fake that role for the evening.  Didn’t like it.  Much more relaxed to stand on my side of the stage and focus on making the best work I can.  Its similar to writing.  I want your imagination or the actors to take my ideas and make them soar.  I far prefer to get up early, make coffee and get an idea that makes my toes wiggle in the carpet.

But I won’t say that the ides of venturing out into doing this full time isn’t scary too.  Part of me does feel like “who do I think I am?”. I have routines down so I am always busy, which can include blogging at 4:30 a.m.

Still less than two weeks to go before I officially sail.  With all the making preperations for the journey I still wonder how I’ll feel when the anchor rises.

Til then…

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Interesting...

I actually was looking for that image of Richard Dreyfuss at the very end when he says those words (or close proximity to them).

I have really enjoyed keeping this on as a daily practice but the next few months are going to get really busy around here.  I have a day job and then on top of that I have my band Cookeilidh which is going into a very busy festival season including shows at the Butchart Gardens, Bastion Square, Car Free Day to name a few.  Ollie and Emma is also gearing up to go into it’s primary shoots which include our application to Bravo Fact and two mini shoots at least prior to that.  I like to approach each one of these entries with care and consideration, despite how short they are and I don’t want to put out material that is literally “I have a few minutes…bang something out…” 

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Will stop occasionally for lunch...

I don’t know how much time I will have for the “Closer to Heaven” blog either, but I’ll see how that goes.  There will be updates on the Ollie and Emma WordPress blog as that’s a necessary part of the show and I want to keep everyone updated on how things are going.  We recently lost a member of not only our cast but also a friend and my girlfriends beloved cousin Wolf Rick Patterson so we want to make our next blog a tribute to him before we move on to other behind the scenes filmmaking writings.

I should probably be back to working on here regularly somewhere between August and September after principal photography is finished and festival season draws more to a close.  Until then feel free to check out some of the links up above as well as some of the other parts of the site.  There are links to a number of platforms which I have been using including my twitter site which I am probably the most frequently on (it takes the least actual time)
Follow on Twitter!
So I’m going on a bit of a WordPress summer vacation.  If all the images aren’t a clue definitely rent Rosencranze and Guildenstern are Dead or take it in live.  It’s weird but full of cerebral fun including the fantastic game of questions.
Have a great summer everyone!

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