Because working to make rich bankers richer is a soulless, thankless endeavor, As well as for other reasons, I’ve decided to leave the Information technology field for good. Thankfully, I insured myself against this time when IT contract opportunities have become fewer and further between by launching my wife into the Nutrition store business over a decade ago. That business has absolutely flourished in the past 11.5 years.
I don’t want to speak out of turn but I think all the players have agreed to the monicker of “The Branches” or perhaps just “Branches” as the name fpr the church praise band. Even calling it “praise band” puts us in a box I’m not sure that we fit in. I know there is interest in playing outside of church at retirement homes or other funcitons and the way we are hammering weekly practices, I believe it can be done if God wills it. Maybe it should be called, “Guys who love playing christian themed music together.”
I’ll generally try to capture some sort of media here each week to capture our progress. We don’t always have the perfect performance in the actual service which is not entirely unexpected since we learn the songs one day and play them the next. In the case of this week, right before the service we played , “Back To The Cross”
and “Using My Bible As A Roadmap”
a little better so I am sharing the mps as well as the video.
Last night Joel and I performed for the first time, at least my first time at Trail House in Indian Trail. I really liked the venue and it was quitely lively for a Thursday night. The room was great for sound and the levels were a breeze to set. I hope to be back there again at some point in the future, either solo or with a full band. The crowd and staff really treated us well. We’ve been pretty serious about the rehearsal and I think was well reflected in the first set particularly. Good crowd feedback and great energy. Read more “An Amazing First Concert at Trail House”
Well, I guess I’ve kind of been avoiding a new post for some time. No particular reason, just life in general and not really having anything to say for once. Still feels like I’m in a recovery/rediscovery mode these days. From loss, from a career change (definitely a good thing,) and from having a direction to run in I guess. Read more “Time, See What’s Become of Me”
This gripy post is going to sound like a bit of a joke, but I wrote it down months ago and held it back so as not to embarrass the place that was kind enough to book me a few times. So….this is about nowhere I have played recently nor anywhere you see me regularly. Little Tokyo, Harmancos, River Wild, those places are fantastic as far as I am concerned, but sometimes places that don’t regular feature musiicans really don’t know how to treat them.
I recently celebrated my 47th birthday by performing a 2.5 hour music set of mostly original material at a restaurant in a town about half an hour away. I was paid $60 & a free meal and earned around $17 in tips. I’m thrilled to still be making original music and sharing it with with new listeners. On the other hand is that blasted salad bar I was playing behind and the dozens of people who stayed well past their meals to drink and listen and subsequently leave without tipping or even throwing a “Hey, thanks I enjoyed it” my way. Music when done as a business is a thankless job.
I let them know my displeasure at said obstructive bar the first time I played over here as politely as I good. I mean it is a giant empty bar on wheels and they have a huge empty event center right next door which they could easily roll it into when they have performers. I’ve decided to not book there any more. An artist has to have his line in the sand. For me, it’s a big bulky cold stainless steel salad bar mucking up my connection with the patrons. Sorry.
A Very Pointed Update
Since much of my work in AEM with this current contract seems
to often involved hand written HTML lists, I thought I’d give this update in bullet points and
sub bullet points. I’ve gone with letters instead of discs strictly because I can.
Let’s List It Out!
- Commuting an hour to and from work for a new contract for the next 2.5 months
- It’s been great so far.
- Great team of people
- Great Facility
- Adobe Experience Manager is Awesome
- Accumulating gear and knowledge for a planned hike on the Appalachian Trail starting in May
- Got my boots purchased from REI
- Waiting on their March 18th “Returns Sale” day to get the rest
- Planning a test hike in the Uwharies in a few weekends
- Seriously considering a Flip Flop approach starting in Harper’s Ferry, WV so I can hike as long as I’m between contracts this summer without running out of time in the North.
- Working with An Inodnesian Artist to Create Mother of Vampires Graphic Novel
- Character Sketches in the likeness of the actors are in
- Page 1 of the massive story that starts with the happenings of my film, “Take That,” is under way. I’ve given feedback and asked for a few changes and the process is working well
- I’ve found a Candian comics guy who’s helping with reformatting my film script to a graphic novel format.
- Counting the days until my first official Genesis 3 product is released at Daz3D.com
- Spending time with Liam in the Gyms with kind of a two pronged goal of losing weight and spending time with my boy.
- He’s almost 18. If not now, then WHEN?
- Trying to get to Trapdoor Recording Studio in Monroe an evening per week and every other weekend to work on finishing the new album.
- This place is strictly no frills and essentially a home studio setup
- The engineer is good and very easy to work with
- Early results are very promising
“FRODO! If I take one more step it’ll be the farthest away from The Shire I’ve ever been.”
In two days time I travel to Lynchburg, Virginia for a Two Spies show at the Whitehart Cafe. This will officially be the most distant gig from home I’ve ever played. How exciting. I sometimes do miss my rock n roll roots but this folky thing has been a lot of fun and it has afforded me the opportunity to get my original music out there in a much bigger way. That’s been a blessing.
What a busy, busy Summer. With the addition of bass player & vocalist Carolyn Munn upgrading Two Spies from a duo to a trio, we’ve honestly been receiving rave reviews, which is welcomed considering the work we’ve put into our original music and social media since January 2015. Things are starting to reach a certain momentum and venues are finally calling us to book shows instead of the other way around. It seems our particular brand of folk Americana with bluegrass instrumentation has struck a chord and we do seem to be filling a niche. I’m not aware of another group quite like us in the region.
I know we are all enjoying the weekly, or in some cases twice weekly shows, but it will be good to get a break to develop new material and work on the record over in November.
My Mando skills are definitely coming along. I’m getting more and more comfortable with the scales and it’s starting to really feel a part of me, as the guitar does. What to add to my tool box next? Fiddle? Lap Steel? Nothing but time and instruments to be discovered. Hi Diddly Dee! A musicians life for me.
Well, I’ve been in hyper-artist mode between Two Spies and script writing and storyboard rendering. It’s funny how often times the busier I am the more the creative vibes want to flow. I try to always let them. You knows when inspiration will come or go. I’m here for a finite time and have a lot of art to make in that time.
The musical thing is going really well at the moment. I seem to have finally found the write people to forge a new body of music with and I am very very happy about that. Americana is a really honest sounding and feeling genre to work in and it kind of comes naturally to me.
Presently, The Two Spies Trio is coming up on the 3 performance of our 9 week Summer 2015 – Americana tour. So far we’ve played a show at Badin Treehouse Co in where else but Badin, NC, this weekend it was Provisions Local Market in Waxhaw and this Saturday it’s a 1 hour set at Albemarle Nutrition from 1 – 2. Following that we’ll be returning to the legendary Harmancos on September 4th for a long Friday night show. September 12 it’s Morgan’s Tavern in Stanfield which we’ve never played before, then off to Lynchburg Virginia o September 19th to play the White Hart Cafe. BTW, that’s our first out of state booking so that is pretty cool. Afterwards, more local area gigs up through Oct 9th.
Hopefully, after this flurry of shows we’ll to get back into the studio and polish off our debut record, “Following The Road.” We continued to produce new original Americana songs at the rate of about 1 every two weeks. Each song seems to be something better than the last one so that is an exciting state to be in with a band. Further out perhaps we’ll see Two Spies as a fully formed electric band. Hey, it worked out O.K. for Mr Dylan when he went electric right?
Well, I’ve lost a few more lbs still but nothing super dramatic yet. I’ve been so busy with the music it’s kind of diverted me from proper exercise but frankly I plan to correct that post haste! I’m starting a new cleanse with Nancee today and those are never easy but they do kick off weigh loss in most cases. This morning it was a lemon juice and vinegar concoction. Not too bad. Let the record state that this morning my weight was at 325.5lbs. 250 is a long ways off but I will get there either before or after I begin my hiking on the AT this fall.
On that note I’ve done zero training hiking since the short jaunt with Big Daddy months ago. It’s been awfully hot and that’s starting to change now so I hope to get myself on the Morrow Mountain trails very soon.
Yesterday, I did something I haven’t done in many years. I took in a double feature at Eastgate Cinemas. I saw Sinister 2 which was good but too predictable after having seen the original, then I saw Hitman: Number 47. A decent over the top action spectacle but the story and some of the abilities of the protagonist were absolutely ridiculous. It was an ok diversion from editing Two Spies videos for a half a day. Since school started back today, the theater was practically deserted so that was kind of cool.
I’ve been making some really cool renders for the new script storyboards and part of that I kind of talked Les over at Sixus1 into building me a set piece for those to mimic the real life location of Rocky River Mini Storage. The W.I.P. Shots from Maya he has shared so far look super accurate! Very cool stuff. I should be such a geek about commissioning Poser items to be built for me when the money could have probably served the production better as part of the shooting budget, but this might not film until fall of 2016. I want to pour all the effort I can into pre-production. It’s effective at helping me make a better film and most importantly it is fun! Writing the best script in the world costs you zero. I find the indie folks often gloss through the scripting process to get to the actual shooting which the view as the fun, particularly if they are actor types. Not me. Scripting is the business where the sky is literally the limit.
In closing I’d like to share our performance of a very old spiritual tune from Saturday’s 2nd set.
Well, I’ve played many shows in many types of places with my legacy bands and acoustic collaborations over the years. If all goes as planned, in two weeks I can add grocery store to that list of venues. Ever since I heard that cute pixie of an actress, Rachael Leigh Cook utter the words, “What’s up shoppers” in her roles as Josie McCoy in the 2001 film Josie and the Pussycats before belting out a little rock ditty right inside a grocery store, I’ve thought what a bizarre places to rock a live show. The audience must be thrilled, amazed or possibly annoyed to be encountering live music as they scurry about collecting their food stocks.
Speaking of first time things occurring, I reckon there are a lot of first coming up for Brento and musical crew. For the first time I’ve been booked to play a show out of state. It’s probably the first time I’ve been booked to play for 8 consecutive weeks. I’ve joked that we should be the tightest trio ever by the end of this string of shows. The band of Iron!