Less tower, more square.

Just started two things, reading The Square and the Tower by Niall Ferguson and looking into selling music clips online and it brought up a thought about creativity.

Due to the way things are, especially in these times, the ability to navigate around any pecking order and connect with both collaborators and consumers is better than ever.  Just from my own research today on selling clips there are so many platforms with different costs and ways to set up that it really comes down to the creator.

There is loads of support no matter what thing you are curious about, wheth its music, visual, performing or what have you. In my experience as a bassist there is not only instruction but boards where you can talk about how to get going out there ( I also have my own joining a band blog at Band survival guide ) I mean, you can connect to lots of folks online but what’s cool is also making connection to other local like minded artists to get you started. I’m thinking of some of the places our band have played which are artist groups, made up of people who connected online. These people can inspire you as well as be there as potential as friends/contacts who can put you in touch with others.

Not all collaborative activities work out, some do, and some are like when Ricky Gervais met Stephen Merchant, when Sting started talking to Stewart Copeland or when Johnny Marr knocked on the door of Stephen Morrissey.

You never know! It’s not about being a super anything either. New Order, members of the Fall (band) and other eventual full time artists were just people who saw the Sex Pistols at Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall back in the late 70s. Some went from the show to the music store, pointed and said “that one, please!”

Dont hold back on your dreams. Where they can go is limitless.

Cheers,

Tom

Creative ESCAPE

It’s hard to escape the news.

Not just because it’s upsetting or unprecedented but because the nature of it connects more to us than it did.

I can think back to even as recent as six years back where I only knew news if it was something truly extraordinary or extreme. Now it seems its hour to hour. I can think of some speakers who I’ll catch on YouTube knowing that due to broadcast timing they couldn’t have gotten everything that happened that day.

I’ve decided that this blog wont go into that stuff. It’s going to go the other way.

It’s an idea that I’ve had for a while and with summer here and a new week starting I would like to take a little more seriously something I had already been doing for fun.

I mean, they say you should do what you would do anyway, so…

This is now a blog on the subject of creativity.

Now, I can hear you, because funny enough, I took a course on creativity that had us asking it. How can you teach that?

It’s true, I can’t.

But what I have done off and on and want to explore now is how to feel capable of it, harnessing it, exploring it and all the other kinds of support I can think of (and pass on that I will learn) to you so that you can be in that best place.

This seems especially fitting now, even with us all coming out of lockdown in places around the world and worrying about this or that. No matter how you view things the chance for stress is all around.

Creativity and the self care that gives you the fuel to harness it are a fantastic defense against this. One bit of instruction you will get from most music teachers immediately would be “turn the phone off”. That’s what this will be. It will be a place of solace.

I know there are things important to you ouf there but you need to be in your best place to deal with those. Most music lessons all speak against the idea of hours and hours of practice. As such we’re not talking about getting up early, but finding 20 to 30 minutes that are yours.

But first you need to feel you can do it and that it’s worth it. I promise you both are true. Maybe mornings are better for you, maybe afternoons. There is probably a time of day when you have more energy and you’re not at work or in the middle of some obligation.

Make that your first thing you will do. Find out what that time is. Mine is morning and I have a whole routine I run through, but even that gets switched up. It use to be early afternoons back when I was younger. And dont forget, it doesn’t have to be a big chunk of time. It could be a half hour before you get ready for bed. Maybe you will want to get up a half hour early. Maybe it’s right after school or work. I dont know. But the trick is to lock it in and make it yours.

From there we’ll plan your escape.

Think the end of Shawkshank Redemption.

The guards are sleepy. The tunnel is ready.

See you on the outside.

Cheers,

Tom 🙂

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

Dear funny old Mr Leon

“Get him!”

The sound of the oldest boy ricocheted down the alleyway. I ran. I hadn’t done anything but it didn’t matter. Those boys always bullied me. They were about my age but I was small for ten years old.

I ran around a corner only to nearly crash right into some of mother’s friends, especially dottering old Mrs. Wendy who was still wearing mostly black after her husband passed away four months ago.

“Kevin!” Miss Hazlemeare snapped.

“I know!” I managed “I’m sorry”

Behind them I saw a small alley and shot down there, the path rounding it’s way between towering tall buildings. The brick road became narrower and I stopped and cowered in a doorway with a large grey metal bin between me and where I had come from.

I couldn’t hear them. Just the drip, drip, dripping of water from somewhere nearby. I didn’t want to head back the way I came yet, but I had not been in this section of the city before.

I started walking thinking I had the way sorted out. I knew which way home was from when I ran past the ladies so I just needed a road that crossed again and took me that same way.

But then I realized the boys might know I had come down this way and were waiting for that.

Unlikely I realized as I started walking.

Above me in the narrow passage you could barely make out the sky, or any sun at all with the grey network of structures climbing all around. I was supposed to be home by a certain time. I knew I was trouble. They never listened if I talked of bullies.

Then i heard something very strange. It was a plunking sound with a tapping sound going along with it.

Tap tap…ta tap tap. Plunk plunk pu plunk. It made no sense and that is why I stopped. I looked around. Just high walls. Just steel doors. Just a grey street in the shadowed light of what i could guess was around five o’clock.

Then the noise again. I saw it. A single door was opened. But this door wasn’t grey. It was yellow like a gold mark in parts, red like roses in parts and blue like a summer sky. I walked quietly up to the strange door. I looked around to see if anyone could see me inching closer. The sound that went up and down in tone was coming from in there.

I looked in to see the room inside was lit by four handsome lamps, which by itself was extraordinarily extravagant as mother and all the other adults would never abide more than two. And in the middle was an older man, sitting on a simple wooden chair. Beneath him was a piece of wood which he tapped. In his hands was the strangest thing I ever saw. It was golden in parts and chocolate brown in others and had three cords that ran across it which he plunked withone hand, while the other moved a hand along a bright white plank. I didn’t see anyone in the room and he seemed completely fixated on what he was doing. His eyes were closed.

On the wall were other smaller pieces of wood that, like the door, were covered in colors. In one side of the room he had a collection of other devices, in every shape that I never could have imagined.

“Hmmm mmm hmm” he said to noone as he continued, the tone of his humming then rising and falling.

It was strange and I could only stand by the door mesmerized. People didn’t make their door or anything in funny colors. People didn’t make funny noises to the air for no reason but there he was.

“You going to stand there all day boy?” He said with his eyes still closed as he continued to plunk and tap, the plunking changing tone quickly as he went up the white board to its end.

“I’m sorry, Sir” I said as I went inside. Then I saw one of the coloured boards that really caught me off guard. It looked like the great commons in the heart of the city but it was made in his colors. In this case layers of different blues like the sky, the rivers and distant mountains.

“Do you want to take something with you?” He asked.

I just stood there. I was perplexed but also wondering what mother would say if I walked in with something like what I saw.

“You must be late for dinner, young man,” he said “I’ll take you home but here…”

He got up and went over to his desk by the hearth of his fireplace. He took a little wooden bird and brought it over to me. I had never seen anyone make a pretend thing like this, let alone how it seemed colored to look like a baby chick from the farming lands.

“Do you like it?” He asked.

I looked at it. It clearly had taken him long to make it just so and given it bright colors. It felt light in my hands. I have never been to the farming lands but I could imagine it was like that. I liked how it made me think of that.

“I do like it.”

He smiled and gestured for me to follow him. We went outside into his front garage where he had one of those metal grey engines with the side car. After clearing the side car of all kinds of strange things he seemed to have picked from the forest, from the beach and from the cheap markets he had get in. I got in and he passed me a big oversized black helmet which on my head both made me look ridiculous but also made me feel invisible which I liked as well.

“But Sir…” I said as he got on the motorcycle and started it with a loud roar.

“Yes?”

“Why do you do these things?”

“I never know,” he said and thought about it “It could be the lady from the moon who started it.”

And with that we zoomed into the street and raced down the road, the cobbles bouncing me so hard that I swear, I thought the vehicle would come apart and I would crash. It was fun as we raced through my old city, passed the commons and into the roads where the housing lights of people were lit warmly. We slid up to my front drive where I could see mother.

“Who’s the lady in the moon?”

“That’s for another time!” he said.

I thanked him and went inside. I told mother about him but decided to keep the bird to myself. She said he was a widower named Mr. Leon and how oh yes, people knew about him. He was very strange and told stories which we dont do because they are lies.

I had supper and after doing homework by the fire I kissed mother goodnight. Upstairs I was soon lying in my bed. The sound of funny Mr. Leon’s plunking came back to mind. Through my curtains I swear I could see the lady in the moon give me a wink.

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.

She Lives There

It’s been almost a year now since the recording of my first official single She Lives There and the rest of The Goldblacks album.

I’m presently working on two projects outside of my role as bassist for the Celtic band Cookeilidh

The first is The Quiet City book project which has a free chapter you can sample here.

I’m also working on developing my studio and new material towards the next album.

I’ll keep you updated as these two side projects grow.

Until then you can get “She Lives There” on iTunes here

Or find me on Spotify here

Thank you for supporting independent artists!

Cheers!!

Tom Pogson

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

🙂

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

🐘

A Young Man’s Game.

Inspired by some of the photographs of Brian Griffin on “The Worker”

I never know if I’ve ever got poetry. I like to try. The greats seem so effortless like one of the Marsalis Brothers on horns.

Did it in university to mix feelings. Still, I say do it anyways.

Go with your gut.

That’s all this is.

Tom

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