Many hands

Ever wanted to be a rock star?

Even better… Imagine being a central figure of a massive band that then breaks it up to be a huge solo act, traveling the world and trying everything under the sun from different music styles to acting to writing.

Yeah, I’m pretty much talking about this guy…

You can add dark glasses if you wish

…but lots of musicians have been down similar paths from Beatles to Byork (though I will admit I don’t know the mechanics of The Sugarcubes band of the latter)

But the reason I chose Sting was because of something he rightly said in the sleeve of his first solo album.

Since I started this thing people have referred to it as my solo album, which is of course ridiculous.

I know what you are probably thinking.

What? I just called it that. But as he goes on to explain there’s absolutely no way that it could have been a success without the work of his team of musicians, sound engineers and everyone else that would have been needed in 1985 to make that album finally release in the June of that year.

“The Dream of the Blue Turtles”

Whether your a rock star from the Northeastern England or someone working on a company project the truth is we all need other people to make something of substantial value. Often it’s best for one person to oversee the vision of the thing like in Sting’s case but as he said, it would have been crazy if he tried to hop around and do everything. When you work as a team, not only does the whole become greater than the sum of it’s parts (which it does) but also each person can bring the full effect of focusing on what makes them awesome.

What’s cool here is…each part is usually fueled by other people too. As a bassist myself there are plenty of other people involved to make it so that I can sit there and develop what I do from luthiers to teachers to other musicians I’ve worked with, to the entire life world outside of that that makes it so I can sit there and work on 2nd inversion arpeggios and triplets and one-e-and-ah stuff that you have to work through enevitably.

Of course this is a metaphor for the whole world outside of this.

It’s not just “nice” or “cute” to be inclusive and do away with us-and-them tribalism but it’s actually good business. If your on Team A and you want to work with the best of the best but that person, or even part of their network is in Team B, then you either resolve or accept that it wont have that person.

What’s more is the reality of possibly undiscovered talent. The bass playing world freaked out when we all first heard Bakithi Kumalo playing on Paul Simon’s Graceland album.

Now controversy behind the album rightly said things like “So it took a white person for this music to be heard?” It’s true. It should not take one of us at all and this is because of the pigeonhole thing we have that comes from a tribalistic background.

The trick is to have learned we can’t be divided. We are superior as one tribe.

Speaking of Bakithi, for today’s tunes…check this out!

Now I know…a bass album? But again, here is a project driven but many hands to make not just a light load but a beautiful one!

Check it out here and enjoy!

Bakithi Kumalo – Change

😊

Cheers,

Tom

The Fools Paradise or Wise Man’s University

Before you go crazy wide eyed, no this is not where I woke up this morning. But there certainly are those who live this way or even more simply. This image was taken from the monastery quarters of a Californian brother.

The title which got me thinking was taken from a very different but also minimal living condition. It came from an incarcerated man in the “Doing Time” episode of commonspace on NPR.

He was describing life on the inside naturally which, though already worse than many of us can imagine, can from that point continue two different directions.

Starting my blog like I’ve been pushing for each morning, I run into both the work of people who dwarf me by comparison, especially with fiction material. I like doing fiction but for some reason I’m less drawn that direction. I also see sign posts on the way here past bass stuff which lets me know how there are people behind me and plenty way, way out ahead. Hell, you can find kids who seemed to have gotten through that whole “first word was mom” thing and then started in on doing what you do, but better.

You get impressed but at the same time, wonder what you should be doing.

You should ignore those sign posts. Be the brother who immediately heads out to work his garden. Be the man who makes his jail time into the wise man’s university.

On the inside, the outside, or on the grounds near the cathedral, it always goes two ways… up or down.

Now I can’t imagine a monk cracking a beer and being belligerent either.

If you have a clip of that, Id watch it, but seriously…there is two great quotes in Latin from one monastery that, even if you are not religious, might resonate. They have a similar theme.

Work is faith made visible.

To pray is to work and two work is to pray.

You could sub pray or faith out for “love” or “hope” as well.

Now most of us are not on the extreme side of a brother’s life either, and as such there is certainly more moments where Instagram gets involved (I’m guessing if there is WiFi in the cathedral office, it isn’t as heavily used as a downtown cafe, but hey, I could be wrong) but it’s something to think about. Our life can be that wise man’s university. It’s less glamorous, and signs around can dissuade you from any studious activity, but I think there is a security in it.

It’s rhythmic, each day keeping you strong, and giving you paths to quiet roads you never knew existed.

Music wise this morning was lonely day – lofi hiphop mix. I also started listening to early Queen. I like listening to where major artists started and hearing what might have began the engine. My band started as instrumental Celtic and few vocals, and is now ten years later this fast tempo project. Not that I’m putting us alongside Queen but it’s interesting with them or the Police or whoever you listen to, discovering how they morphed into the present state.

It’s all choices.

Oh yeah and one other thing I found on NPR that is just crazy but actually cool…and random…is the Study With Me (2.5 hours) Real Pomodoro Style!

This video is, no kidding, you studying next to a girl named Jamie who uses a study time method. She’s dressed conservatively at an apple mac workstation. After 25 minutes there’s a place to pause with a video of what I can only guess is her cat.

Hey if this works that’s cool. I remember being a full time student and I know how time is such a factor that it’s just out of control.

Have a great day!

Cheers!

Tom

😊

Welcome to Adhd

imageFull speed ahead

Full speed ahead

This is the sort of post I usually wouldn’t make. I guess that means I should in a way. It is, I promise, not about complaining. It is also, I equally promise, not a new-fangled thing that I was diagnosed with recently as I was diagnosed back in the early 80’s.

My Adhd is very real and has been my entire experience of life as lack of sight is to a blind person or confusion of events is to someone with schizophrenia.

It is naturally not as debilitating as these previous ailments as unlike them it has its positive and negative attributes. Adhd people would have been the best watchmen (or watch persons) as we are always switched on
There is no down time. There is no relaxing. We won’t do it later and we are always hyper-aware of the…ooh what’s that? Just kidding but funny enough I’m getting what I call “the shakes” as I write this. Or maybe I just need another smoke. It makes smoking really hard to quit, well for me anyways, as it is perfectly meditative.

Coffee which I’ve talked about before has different effects and I know for some of us Adhders (it’s a word…well…ah, smile and nod) coffee can actually work wonders in strangely balancing the rush. And I think the reason is like I’ve experienced. Coffee slows us down. You didn’t misread that. I’ve had a double espresso and passed out shortly after. And no, you didn’t…well…you get the idea.

Because we are so much in our high gear coffee is a paradox that speeds things up even more which, unlike the Seinfeld episode with Kramer and the multiple espressos, it goes into an overdrive that’s exhausting. Down we go. Moderated we can use it to just slow it down gently instead of a sugar-like crash.

This brings me to the downsides. Not only is reading something that is hard to focus on, as is a formal lecture situation (we’re great strangely at self directed study) where information is being fired at us but in the same way that coffee can overwhelm so can over stimulation. Much as we are great at seeing lots a high speed situation can go all the way over and like with my espresso crash things go into overwhelm. When that happens I swear I couldn’t spell the short version of my name.

It’s Tom. Now that’s pretty easy. But seriously those situations are like a Japanese train being derailed. Our being fast only makes it worse. I’ve learned to breath when I feel those jitters that spell the overwhelm sign. You can pause and stop because much as the situation may ask you not to its going to be lots worse if you don’t.

I don’t know if these experiences resonate with others. I know Ritalin and such have never worked and only made me feel dopey but then I’m looking through my camera view of the world. Please share your views on this if you like.

Cheers,
Tom
Created by TomPogson.com

The world of waiting

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I like the quote that Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode used to talk about the years he had already worked in the music business.   He got the quote from Keith Richards originally but I don’t think it’s only true for rock stars…

“It’s five years of work and the rest is waiting.”

We wait so much of our lives and you just know for a fact that there is…oh lots more to go.  As I write this (originally) I’m early for work and so I’m simply waiting as well.  Some folks naturally don’t like to wait.  I probably don’t much of the time as well as there is lots of things to do with creative work where it’s not one event after another.  So much of what I do is scheduling (as my many employers can understandably talk about) and that naturally leads to those in between times when you are simply waiting on the green light to get going.  But since we know that the waiting is going to happen I think that it’s almost empowering.
I mean, we now have these sometimes leash like mobile devices and if you “do social media” that is certainly one way to use up that time when we line up for a ticket, a coffee, purchasing a new shirt but there also just that opportunity to be more present in the moment.

This is one thing that is great about kids.  They are utterly self aware and in the moment.  They notice everything, and as we know, they are only too ready to tell you about it.  Ok, this shouldn’t be confused with patience as spending any time at a religious (or otherwise) service can tell you but that’s just because they have been told to quell their natural exuberance.  But as a busker, kids are awesome because they will often halt their parents who are cannoning from one very important thing to the next very important thing to pull at mom’s coat and exclaim…

“Mommy!  Look!  Guitar!”

I owe their union a lot of money for this.  It’s about being relaxed that things will work out and just setting off early so you’re not late.  Don’t line up if you can’t.   Don’t take on more than you can.  You don’t need to be perfect.  You’ll have plenty of time to wait tomorrow too.

But then I’m probably just an early bird.  Victoria is wonderful first thing in the early morning.  Give yourself the time to enjoy those little details of her city because there is lots of them.  That’s actually one thing I’ve really enjoyed about working on my own twitter and my project accounts…when reaching out to the city to tell everybody that we are here I’ve learned how much is really going on that you can get involved in.  This city was founded on a Gold Rush and a sudden influx of people from all over the globe.  With a background like that set on the Pacific Coast there is always another thing to see.  So step out of your own blinders when you have no option but to wait.  You could be surprised to find out where your really standing.

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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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