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sw fla chip

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About sw fla chip

  • Rank
    Muse In Training
  • Birthday 31/03/1966

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Profile Information

  • Gender
  • Location
    Fort Myers, Florida
  • Interests
    family, banjo, guitar, journalism, education, tropical gardening, baseball, reading and writing non-fiction

Previous Fields

  • Lyricist, Composer or Both?
  • Musical Influences?
    Grateful Dead, Dylan, old-time country and blues, bluegrass, '60s and '70s soul, Springsteen, Paul Simon
  1. Currently participating in 50/90 Challenge (http://fiftyninety.fawmers.org)

  2. There is No Such Thing As Writer's Block

    Great interview! Billy's a good guy - he did a great lyric and vocal on one of my instrumentals last year. I want to add that his songs are good, too - clever, catchy. He has a real gift. I think sometimes people get writer's block because they are looking too hard for big issues to write about instead of just writing about things that go on every day. I still get writer's block occasionally when I am looking for a non-fiction topic to write an article or essay about, but not too often. Lately, I am on a kick of writing about mundane tasks and trying to make them interesting, even melodramatic. That way, the things that take up most of the day become a huge source of inspiration.
  3. 50 Songs in 90 Days

    I'm there again - think I got to 32 last year (including one with you, Val). It suits my writing style, which is to crank out something in 15 minutes to a half-hour and move on to the next thing. It's also a good way to get over self-consciousness and the sense that a song has to be "finished" before others can hear it.
  4. Good topic - I guess I'm more of a daytime, and especially morning, writer. I'm at my best creatively in the early morning, and at least half my gigs are morning shows (libraries, markets, etc). But 3 of my last 4 songs came to me at night, after wife and kid had gone to bed - I recorded them on my phone while watching baseball. I like the occasional happy hour performance, too, but usually after a hard day or week at work I'd rather be listening to music than trying to please a crowd with it. But back to writing ... Probably half of my February Album Writing Month output this year was written during the day. I do like recording at night, though - particularly when I can leave the window open and get a good breeze and maybe even some ambient night time noise (crickets, or sometimes police sirens around here) in there. And I like practicing banjo on the porch as the sun sets. I'm pretty worthless as a writer in the hours between, say, 2 and 4 in the afternoon. That's usually when I'm on my way home from work or driving my daughter around, anyway. I do like to stay up late, but I'm not an insomniac. And I rarely get a good music idea late at night, so there's not much danger of me coming up with something cool right before I drift off to sleep and then forgetting about it.
  5. "Pickin," although maybe I invented a new word.

  6. Piokin' my banjo this morning, then I checked into the Muse and read your post about string band music (which I dig greatly), so I thought I'd say hi. Just getting into Townes Van Zandt - was just reading his bio the other night. What do you think of Gram Parsons?

  7. Susan - thanks for the link. I had seen it before, but never really taken the time to analyze it. It tells me a few things: 1) Writing and making music should be first and foremost about having fun, spreading good vibes, etc. Once you start thinking about how much money you might make from your songs, it takes a lot of the joy out of it and can be downright disheartening 2) Writing and recording a song, putting it online, and then sitting back and waiting for the money to roll in is largely a futile effort. Which means: 3) You have to be prepared to promote yourself shamelessly if you really expect to sell that song. And I think that often means logging countless hours of live performance. 4) Confirms even more that I am a half-assed capitalist, at best, when it comes to my music. But I have a day job and I'm not looking to quit it. That being said, I used CD Baby for one CD, because Discmakers had a deal. It also went to a bunch of other online distributors, including iTunes, both as a full album and as individual downloads. The second CD - didn't do any of that. I just sell them when I perform, and through that and through the promotion of friends telling friends, I have sold just as many. And it's more fun that way - I meet more people, get more feedback. I give away a lot of single songs, too, because not only am I a half-hearted capitalist, I'm often downright socialist when it comes to sharing what I have. So my response probably doesn't mean a lot to the original poster on this thread ...
  8. I'm glad I read this thread. Today is a day off work for me, and I'm going to record. The result will be videos of me playing guitar (or banjo, if I get adventurous) and singing. I am certainly at my best singing in the morning or early afternoon, but I don't do much of anything to warm up. I do drink a lot of water, but also a good deal of coffee. (Sometimes, but not until the afternoon , I will have a beer). But what helps me the most is probably that I do my best work earlier in the day, whether it's taking up carpet (which I did yesterday) or playing music. Right now, I have a lot of energy and motivation to get things done, and that will hopefully carry over into my performances today. When I record for February Album Writing Month, I do a lot of night-time recording because I like the uninterrupted time after my wife and our daughter are asleep (They are at work and school today!). But my voice sounds tired from a day of teaching and talking. My voice is not great, but I can carry a tune and it fits comfortably in my songs. Almost anything I have put out for "official" release, singing or instruments, has been recorded during daylight hours.
  9. Do you "have to" write songs

    Great thread! I posted earlier, and wrote about how I feel like I "have to" write what comes into my head. I don't think it's a matter of doing it to keep my sanity. In fact, songwriting and performing sometimes make me crazy. Often I need to step back and re-establish perspective. I've been teaching middle school and high school for 15 years. It is rewarding, and I feel I have made a difference in many, many young people's lives. I have tried my best to be a good husband and father, and I think my wife and our daughter are happy with the job I'm doing. I believe that the single most important thing in life is to be good to others. I try really hard to do that, and in that way I do my tiny part to make the world a better place. Yet still, I get jealous when other local performers get gigs that I do not. I hear new music on NPR by young folkies and I think, I could do that so much better. I wonder why more people don't buy my CDs or come to my shows. Still, I guess, a part of me equates leaving a mark on the world with being famous, or at least more popular. It's immature, but I can't help it. Now, I know that what I'm writing about here has more to do with what happens after the songs are written. But if I didn't write the songs in the first place, I wouldn't record them, perform them, and put them out there for people to hear and judge. Before I sign off on this long, rambling post, I want to address what a couple others mentioned about how writing got them through some tough times. I used writing to get through some difficult times in my late 20s. Now, I only write when I'm in a really good mood - I can even write a sad song when I'm feeling happy.
  10. Do you "have to" write songs

    "Drug of choice" - that's a good way of putting it. Playing/writing music and gardening make me feel "high" in a constructive way. So do golf, tennis, and going to the beach. But there are times when those things don't give me that high, and then I don't do them for a while. If FAWM wasn't fun, if it got in the way of the rest of my life, I wouldn't do it. There is a sister FAWM challenge, 50 songs in 90 days, that I got heavily into during the summer and then stopped once I went back to work. Got to around 30 songs. Many of them were banjo instrumentals - practice pieces that I recorded. And I like what Corinne has to say about how FAWM gives "permission" to write differently than you might otherwise. Also, FAWM is not really a challenge in the sense that you can win anything, so not getting to 14 is not a huge deal unless you make it that way in your mind. Back to the original question - I "have to" write, I guess, because the best songs come to me at unusual times and I feel compelled to get them committed to paper/a Word doc/a recording before I forget them. But lately I have felt like I "have to" write a song for a teacher friend about saying please and thank you, and I keep putting it off because what I have so far doesn't work for me.
  11. What do musicians look for?

    I love shorter lines, and that's a great example. Because it's so simple, the cool "day tripper" phrase stands out. And, of course, set to music it's one of the Beatles' most hard-driving rockers. One of my favorite songwriters, Bruce Springsteen, simplified his lyrics over the years. Not only shorter, sparser lines, but lots of repetition to build drama and intensity. I was just listening to The Rising - lots of repeated lines. And he nails the words in his vocal delivery. In fact, writing a song with a good deal of repetition might be a good lyric exercise, especially for a lyricist who is also a vocalist and/or looking to develop his/her musical ear. Experimenting with different ways the repetitive lines can be sung could be beneficial in a number of ways.
  12. What do musicians look for?

    That's a good point - I consider myself (whether it's actually true or not is debatable) well beyond the amateur composer point. Not only that, almost all of my songs are written on an acoustic guitar, so they almost all have some folk element to them. When I read a lyric from a potential collaborator, I have to be able to hear almost right away how it would sound as an acoustic folk song. One person I collaborated with sent me an a capella version of her song, and I could hear it was bluesy and she sang it in the key of E (I don't think she knew what key it was in, but she sang it beautifully). Another sent me lyrics only, but I could almost immediately hear a Neil Young-ish melody and chord progression that fit it. That's why it was a pleasure to take Mystery Mike's "Rain Forever" and put it to music. I could hear it two ways - one as a jangly folk-rock/jam band thing, and another as almost straight folk. And because he is experienced, Mike knows that sometimes fewer words work a lot better and repetition can be good. I have worked with amateur and first-time lyricists, but it involves a lot of re-writing and so they have to have a pretty thick skin. I'm not saying I am a great songwriter (although my wife and our 6-year-old daughter think I'm the best), but I know what I like and I can bang out a song pretty fast. I enjoy collaborating and hope to do more, but when it comes right down to it, I like writing my own lyrics best.
  13. What do musicians look for?

    Great thread. I've gotten too used to being a solo guy, so I'd like to try some collaborations. I did two for the FAWM challenge in February, and both turned out all right. A friend and I keep talking about doing some writing together, but when we do get some time together (all too infrequently) we either play and sing songs we already know or just sit around and drink beer. Here's what I'm looking for: I'm working on my second CD of folk rock aimed at kids and families. I want my music to be accessible and appropriate for kids, but I'd also like for adults to dig it, too. Check out the links below to hear what I've done so far. So, I'd like to collaborate with someone who is serious about getting music out to the public. Although I have a full-time job as a teacher, music is more than just a hobby to me. My wife is also a teacher, and we have a plan for using my music to teach writing and social skills. I perform interactive shows, with programs my wife helped develop, all around our area. So, I would want a lyricist who can write fun, clever songs that teach lessons without talking down to kids. So far, I've written all my own lyrics, but it would be exciting to work with someone with a new, different approach. For my kinds of songs, I think repetition is OK. Families listening to music together like something they can sing along with. I'm also considering doing a project with songs that are meant for adults - songs about being a parent, and songs that reminisce about being a kid. Right now, I have two albums' worth of songs, but I'd replace some of those with good new songs. If anyone is interested, I could provide backing tracks for you to write to. If you want to give me lyrics to try to put music to, I would appreciate it if you let me know what kind of song you imagine your words going with. I'm acoustic based, but I add keyboards and percussion to my songs, and I touch on different genres (blues, country, straight-up rock, folk, jangly jam-band, even funk). And Mystery Mike, if you're out there - you mentioned a possible collab on another thread. Send a message - let me know what ideas you have.
  14. Bought any music equipment lately?

    Sounds like you are describing a fine wine . Sometimes I wish I were more of a guitar guy - I play an Ibanez acoustic with a Fishman pickup and I can't tell you a thing about it except I like the way it sounds. A guy recently told me he likes the way mine plays better than the Martin he records with. Got a banjo today! A nifty Gold Tone resonator, made right here in the Sunshine State! (Well, at least assembled here.) I wanted something that I could carry around, learn enough to jam with others, and just be able to focus on the instrument, be more of a backup guy or band member. So now I've got to learn how to play the thing. Also got a nice gig out of it - our downtown folks (Ft Myers, FL) are trying to revitalize, and they have started having solo acoustic guys set up on street corners on Fridays at happy hour. My date is after the weather cools down a bit, and it's also after rainy season. But this post was about to be about the banjo, so ... woo hoo! Got me a banjo!
  15. Paramount Group?

    I, too, wish to apologize to Craig, and for my bitterness and cynicism in general lately. I've posted a few times lately in a rather jaded way - don't know what has gotten into me. My life is fine - great job, great family, taking my music at a nice pace and it's leading me into some cool places ... yet I have lately been tearing down instead of building up. I took that out on Craig and in another post earlier about the 50 most annoying songs. No excuses, I'm just going to try to be nicer and less judgmental.