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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Statement...

Created by TomPogson.com

Straight away, First thing

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Good size for mug 🙂

That was my first time using the quick photo feature.  Right now I’ve got, well a decent supply of coffee and a 300 page notebook and a bass which is pretty well perfect.  I have considered bringing a coffee maker in here too but as Cece is also in here I’m not sure her feelings on me brewing in here at 6am.  I could sneak in a Bodum perhaps.

Today we have the Emma and Mandy table read which I’m very excited to get into.  With the main shoot for the demo/pilot coming up it will be great to start working one on one with the cast again.  With recent events of course things have not been easy.  Wolf was not only a great cast member and someone who got our dream and our idea straight away but he was also my Cece’s beloved cousin.  We will be doing a tribute to him in the Ollie and Emma WordPress site early next week when we have time to focus on it properly.

I’ve also been working on a new blog story idea that comes from my own background of working in Victoria and living in James Bay where all the big hotels are situated.  It’s called Closer to Heaven and it’s a romance set here in working class Victoria, BC.  Our city is perfect for that, which I know any local anywhere would say but we are set on the ocean and one of Victoria’s quirks is, thinking of my mention of James Bay, the number of little mini towns within Greater Victoria and how, as I mentioned, the very rich and others can not only live close by but even right next door.  This also leads to all kinds of exchanges and therfore story possibilities.

Cookeilidh is also starting up our festival season which is looking to be really busy!  After such a supportive crowd at The Highland Games our next show is June 7th at World Ocean Day in Sidney, right down by the water.  Moving here almost 30 years ago now from the Mainland to Saanichton it’s great to play only a few blocks away from where I got my first bass! 
If you haven’t yet, follow the band on Facebook!

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Victoria Highland Games!

Created by TomPogson.com

Show must go on

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With lucky socks and left hand shoe
string tie smell the curtain singe beneath
searing red lamps

Piled together, motley freaks clammy
in off stage nausea that’s
when I text her x’s and o’s
It’s all break a leg or not
And I switch off.

And I switch on
to that creature born
of makeup, smokes and stale coffee
pacing thin leopard

I will pull up the boards with my friends
Raising each riser and rafter
to each conceived end

With plastic stars in our eyes
and blue camera flashes

Tungsten tears and sweat
without ceasing or backing off
We rise and challenge as to battle
to fight for other sad clowns

Our pulse rising to heights of curtain falls like an angel’s blaze in flight

On with the show.

—-
Poem in memory of Wolf Rick Patterson, dear friend and passionate showman.

Created by TomPogson.com

The Open Stage

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You're up.

It’s you’re turn at the mic.  Every possibility is there to do anything and the room is about half full.  You haven’t had much more than a glass so far.  That was just to calm your nerves.  As the last guy finished his last song you went over your little set list about ten times.  Maybe there’s a bit your forgetting that’s really good.  Maybe you should lead with a cover.  Or finish with one.

All over this little town of ours there is a open stage on just about every day and what is interesting about these is just about everything.  You get every kind of performer from jazz singers (not in a smarmy way) to world musicians to guys with a background in hard rock and every other style you could name.  Naturally you see every level of player but what’s interesting is the fact that little communities of musicians start up here and sometimes even groups.  This makes it really interesting if you want to get out there and try.  I mean, yes there is that chance you will get together with others to play but at the root of it is guys who play the open stage circuit regularly and so there is a sort of fellowship there.  One basic rule of the stage is if you show up, your there until you absolutely have to go.  I might seem a bit extreme by saying that but it’s about being part of the community.   If you have work that night or your girlfriend is texting you or its last bus then fair enough.  But you don’t want to get known as the guy who gets signed up and is just there to do his 3 songs and then is out the door.  Listen to the other sets.  Pick out what you like in the material.  Talk to the others during the switch overs.  If you’re a real pro you can offer to sit in or even be there to help with any sound problems.  Everyone there wants to give the audience there best show so if you can help a little with that without suddenly coming down like God from mountain everyone will appreciate it.  However I leave one story with you.  I have lots of experience with playing live shows.  In Cookeilidh I have played different stages with different equipment and my own for eight years now.  At an open stage I cohosted just for fun I needed to quickly tune so I turned my bass down on the board, pushed the signal cut on my cable and pulled out.  I did that at the Highland Games yesterday with not a blip.  But with that piece of equipment, on that stage, with the other guy playing I set of a screaming roar of signal insanity that went from a discreet tune to an embarrassing crash of a set.  I apologized my ass off for that.  So much as you may be a ninja with pro audio there are surprises no one wants.  So if you want to help it’s best you give the open stage host (starts show, runs gear, usually has last song…that guy) your idea and he or she will try it out.

The open stage circuit is just one of the little communities in town.  Like wheels within wheels there are groups centered around these different arts like the Jazz community, the filmmakers community and with Cookeilidh the community of celtic and bluegrass players who we met over the weekend.  Community is your best way to view working in town with other artists.  They are not the competition.  It’s not like Coke and Pepsi out there.  Show your respect and enthusiasm for what’s already there and people will respond the same.  All you need are three songs.  It’s your fifteen minutes up there.

What are you gonna do?

For a list of stages in Victoria click
here!

Google open stages available in your area! See you out there!

Tom

Created by TomPogson.com

St Patrick’s week and more!

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Cookeilidh are : Woody, me, Kim David

     Been a really busy week since last Tuesday when St Patrick’s started.  That’s the thing about being in a celtic band.  St. Patrick’s for us is, and sorry if this sounds ego driven but it’s a whole lot more than one night of green beer (even though that’s fun too!)  We’ve been pretty much doing one gig a night for well over a week and there is still more to go.  One thrill was having tracks from our new cd played on All Points West CBC with Jo-Ann Roberts just before our show at The Copper Owl (pictured above)

It’s funny…just jamming along to Depeche Mode’s Personal Jesus with my bass (ok that’s wierd) and how even though lots of things change…lots more are always the same.  I love playing acoustic music and playing a lot to the band’s I’ve loved over the years (some celtic, some acoustic and some really neither) and I love writing and creating things.  I’ve probably said that before and it’s easy to go with the things you know but the main thing is not to leave any place unexplored because you’ve got a prejudged notion.  That was the wierd story behind me as an acoustic / celtic musician liking Depeche and others (weirdest cd I ever had was definitely “Coyot” which was aeolian strings stretched across a Swedish abandoned military base)  I was very much focused on my style of music back then and I heard of Depeche but lumped them in with those “wierd stuff over there” bands.  When a friend gave me a tape I never even listened until one day making a tape (yeah, tape) as a joke.  From that I brought the whole tape to work and it seriously turned my head around.  Learned my lesson.  I think that applies to way beyond music.  You simply never know.  You never know what the young man with the skateboard on the bus next to you or the lady in front of you in line at Tim’s is really all about.  The idea that other people have it easier is also illusion.  Rich or poor live provides its struggles and it’s joy.

Went philosophical there.  Anyways, check out my other new thing I’ve been working on this week if you get a chance.  It’s a story that is based on my own background when I use to aspire to bike mechanics and was seriously into cycling and going to bike shops…and listening to loads of classic rock!
Journal by Max

You can also follow the band at…
Cookeilidh’s main website!

Cheers
Tom 🙂

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Work in the arts.

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

It’s probably one of the hardest things about a career path that’s already not the easiest choice.  If you do any other kind of work and let’s say you’ve just started and you’re not making that much coin people still respect it because it’s still considered “real work”.  In the arts though it’s seen strangely as not being given the same accolade unless you are one of us fortunate enough to have a creative field as their primary source of income.  But the trap here I think is that we run the risk of treating it like a pipe dream or a hobby.  Having a hobby is fine but for those of us who think of ourselves as artists we have to give our craft that same attention as any other tradesman who puts in forty hours a week.  Will this immediately pay off?  This I can’t say but there is certainly a pride in putting serious determination behind what you do and one thing I have found is that you never know where your creative road will take you, but the more work you do on your craft, the better armed to fight you will be when you get there. 
Our role is different from some trades as just hammering the same thing again and again can work against us so being creative you have to find ways of still focusing on your craft without making yourself bored (creative death here!)  As a writer I like to play with different forms or ideas like this or my other blogs, narrative experiments, prose, non-fiction, or a thing I sometimes do called morning stories.  In this one I do a thousand words (usually ends up being more) of something.  In the same way as a Artist Way morning page you just go with what pops in your head and roll or riff on that.  Writers probably have it the worst for practicing because there’s the natural assumption that everyone can write so it’s easy to get complacent.  The great thing about it is the portability though and I have so many of those little Hilroy 300 page books just full of material and even a little mini one that fits in my coat.  And just like a musician who listens and transcribes what they hear the more well read you are, naturally, the better.  Check out some of the books on writers and writing as well.  Try a new form like creative non fiction or poetry.  Poetry is not to be sniffed at as people think of folks in berets musing on the moon.  Taken to its highest level poems are the writing equivalent of making every shot count.  This fine art, and the origin of all writing in western civilization, is all about specific details and sense and particularity.  Trying to write in a non ambiguous way and connect with people at gut level is genius.  That’s one thing I found with well crafted (and you’ll laugh) country music.  You can’t be ambiguous in that form.  It’s from the hip and for a musician it’s usually written in a bright major key which makes it just that much harder to emote in a way that connects with listeners.  And that’s why some of that style can hurt.
Don’t shoot the country pianist.  He’s doing his best.
A good idea is to set up your work at a time when you know you are at your most alert and won’t be too distracted.  Set that as a daily habit that you don’t intend to break even if the building is burning down around you.  Ignore the fireman.  You’re working. 

So pour yourself a coffee, punch the clock and rock. 

Cheers,
Tom

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