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Spencer Scholes / Blog

Working Musician

When I was round about four or five years old growing up in a little township inside what was then a far more rural Durham County, I experienced a pivotal moment in my life. Lying on my back on the sorta brown kinda orange carpeted floor in what we called "the living room" (which has quite the ring to if I do say so), a seemingly fully formed bubble of thought entered my wee mind, the implications of which are evident today more than ever. I know nobody was home because I was laying in front of the enormous stereo / record player with large built in speakers contained in a cabinet roughly larger than our couch and twice as hard to move sitting just inside the front door, placing me directly in the main thoroughfare to the rest of the house. If someone had been home I would have been ritually squished by whichever parent or sibling who felt obligated to demonstrate through rough experiment the wonders of gravity ( walking, plopping, or standing on) or the joys of that ancient rite of passage known as rug burn ( being dragged across the floor at great speeds). All of which was standard procedure upon meeting someone upon the floor. I don't know what song I was listening to or if the thought bubbled up slowly over the course of a whole radio set list or more. I remember the sound of most of the songs that I heard played several times a day in a list that always cycled around. There were songs I listened to with indignant toleration, and songs I was duty bound to mock and despise lest I was exposed by surreptitious surveillance to be lacking the proper prejudice toward sounds that did not jive with our lower middle class suburban experience ( nearly everything outside Roger Whittiker, Classical, or Soft Pop (gag). No matter the obviously wacko world and peoples who had created such strange and often embarrassing bursts of expression in song, on to the mind numbing commercials which had to be mocked out of a simple survival mechanism, I would stay tuned in order to feel the rush of those particular songs that really spoke to me in some way as they would gradually spin back around to airplay. The thought that kinda wobbled into my brain was " Not only do I want to play music like all these unseen strangers in front of thousands of people, But I actually can do it" Obviously the thought was immature and would take time to take root in reality. For example thousands of people don't come out to hear an average five year old demonstrate extemporaneous compositional skills, so I'd have to learn something first. ( Dang! ) After many thousands of hours of practice and performance, hundreds of widely varying jobs, years of travel and stagnation, decades of experience, as well as multitudes of reality checks ( still ongoing ) here I am writing and performing music full time. And I do mean Full Time as I work on the various aspects of a music career often twelve or more hours a day. My excited gratitude at these developments is larger than I can quantify. I am very glad to be here. To be alive. To be feeling. To be doing something that I love to do despite what I feel to be my continuing lack of qualifications, the list of which I hope to be blessed to address in some way every day in a positive and developing direction. Well, the time has come to switch to another task. Thanks for reading and please stay tuned. It only gets deeper from here.

Virginia is for lovers?

It's been months now since my life has taken the enormous and unexpected though long awaited transition from full time truck driver to full time musician. I am enjoying the heck out of it though this new career path has it's own pitfalls and challenges. I feel very fortunate and dare I say grateful to be able to attempt what I am doing. One thing I noticed right away was how difficult it is to get in the door anywhere especially in established music venues and apparently especially in my own home town/region/state. Yup, what I'm saying is that I struggle mightily to get booked anywhere in NC. and though I work hard at it I get far more positive response playing in Virginia than I do at home. Natural and simple enough phenomenon sure. But curious nonetheless. I am nowadays playing two to six gigs a week in VA. when I can't get a response in my own home town. The simple result being that I have to go where I get treated good because I can't afford to go back to where I wasn't. Even though I'm only one isolated musician with small actual proof as of yet, I have the slightest inkling that Virginia is indeed for lovers. If that made any sense, I'll eat my hat.

Vigil

Ever lose sleep over things that you have no control over? I do. Seems like nothing lines up just right. Beauty comes through the noises of the heart attack machine right when the lane ends and there's no room.

How do you proceed from the wreckage of the matters of the heart. Not everyone goes through this but who cares. I do.

How could a heart be such a deceitful and traitorous organ? how come everyone says it's in the wrong place?

No sleep today

Straight to The Heart

One afternoon I visited Anthony Yarborough at his house as he was confined to his house due to illness. Anthony is a singer who's talent I can not do justice in writing compliments. He also is a gifted songwriter who has a strong gift for coming up with fitting lyrics instantly. We sat down and were playing and singing for each other some new material that we each had been knocking around for a minute.At one point I played for him an instrumental piece that I had stumbled on while sitting in my truck and playing one evening. Tony asked me to play it again and when i did he launched into his soulful vocal and sang "It's funny about this thing called Love" " Do you want to live in it? or just die?" You would have had to have heard that first explosion to get what it felt like. The vocal line was beautiful and stood free and lifted the instrumental to another place. At the time Tony and I had formed a group with violinist/ songwriter David Binanay called "Major Step" one of the most creative collaborations I was a part of at the time. For what it is we were able to co write some really fun material that we were blessed to perform for a while. So as the days sped on. I asked Tony a few time to finish the lyrics. One day at a rehearsal I brought it up again and Each one of the three of us contributed a bit of a line here and there. Yet the song was still not complete in my feelings. One day as I was driving the lines that I ended up writing and recording came to me all in a rush. I stopped on the side of the road to write them down. Thought the words I used only approached Tony's first lyrics. The melody that he first brought forth with the music I had composed seemed to clearly state the lines that ended up in the final mix. I don't feel that anything was lost or compromised and I hope that you and they will agree. And enjoy what has become Straight To The Heart.

I've been thinking about the way things are When I am all alone, driving in my car I look at the sky , and I hear the birds Feel the thought of you, In every word I've been up and down, All around I feel it now, Straight to the heart

I've been thinking about this thing called love how it can bring you down, before it lifts you up when you're caught in the middle It can give you a shove We are waiting on , help from above

you've been up and down, all around Feel it now , Straight to the heart

We've been wondering bout this thing called life So full of beauty, harmony and strife It's tough as nails, it's an uphill fight When said and done, you'll make it alright

We've been up and down, All around Feel it now Straight to the heart

I've been thinking about this thing called love Sweetest thing that ever could be ( David's line) It can come from below, or it can come from above make you forget all you thought you knew of love We've been up and down, All around Feel it Now Straight to the heart Straight to the Straight to the heart

spencer

Nine with The Buffalo Beat

Buffalo Beat Studios in Bahama N.C. is the setting of the nine.

First many moons ago I met Robbie Bieliawski an extremely talented and real musician who rolls it out on the keys with alacrity and audacity. We jammed a few times in the old tobacco warehouse I was playing in. Months later we recorded some riffs that we kicked around and he introduced me to one half of Buffalo Beat Studios production team and brilliant rhythm section Patrick Currin-producer-mixing engineer-trumpet/bass/guitar/keys player...what else Paddy? who then took some of my songs to the Beat of Buffalo Beat Eric Mrozkowski producer-studio owner- drummer- teacher- and more Apparently these fellas really liked some of my songs and liked that I was writing them and arranging and performing them and they said (and i paraphrase) Hey! We would per your request like to work with you to get these songs arranged and recorded and performed with a great band. They accomplished every bit. We worked for one month on arranging these songs some difficult and challenging with partial measures and playing around the beats, others needing as arranged with a band shifts and changes that everybody could enjoy. Everybody contributed to the feel and arrangements including key changes, hits and some lyric credit (on Ain't So Bad) brought by Patrick Currin Robbie's translating my riff on Dragonfly Season for the fellas when my musical lingo failed.Along with his equal contribution to the pace and feel of every song. Eric Mrozkowski brought a deep experience with music and a natural and embedded ability to play drums at such a high level that what can you say. I hope you can see him play sometime. It took some time for me to finish vocals and guitar tracks and all recordings went into the mad mind of Mr. Currin who proceeded to mix all the tracks in the best way possible at which he succeeded as I hope you will agree. Now i'm working on uploading the songs for your enjoyment. I want to let you know that these guys took a great deal of their time and talent with the goal of making a great product for you to enjoy. I hope you will enjoy the songs as I release them and agree with me that these guys deserve great opportunities.

Oct eighteenth twothousandten

Things are going well. You will have noticed that I tend to move real slow. Let me tell you what has been going on. Late two thousand nine I posted some note about my "working on an album" As I had worn out years of tape and so many notebooks and was seeing a small heap of leaping and limping musical experience as song peaking through boxes and stepping from stages set up in many local clubs including The Broad St. Cafe who offered and engaged me as a regular performer for eight months this year alone. Throughout each opportunity to perform there I was able to work with none but the most capable, professional and talented Sound Techs, wait staff, management, and musicians Thanks Ya'll! I was joined on stage at B.S.C. from time to time by David Binanay-violin-keys-vocals-composer, by Cayce H. on vocals, and by Major Step,Tony Yarborough and David Binanay.

I am blessed to have played with some very talented, dedicated, and all around excellent musicians. I am pleased to inform you that I have twelve of my own songs recorded by professional studio producers/musicians/mixing engineers. Three songs , Audios, Lay Easy, and Straight To The Heart One afternoon Cayce H. , David Binanay and myself hopped into Cayce's car and we scooted on over to Johnson City Tenn where we met up with Grammy award winning musician/Studio producer multi instrumentalist, breath huh huh, Grammy nominated producer ,drum roollll please.... Chris Sharp. You can google his work with T'Bone Burnett, Willie Nelson, and John Hartford just to get the list going. So back to the story. We arrived and spent two days recording at Chris's Studio 607. Where I recorded guitar and vocals and Cayce gave tracks of her beautiful voice and David Binanay laid down excellent violin parts at which point Chris brought his expertise to bare and not only did he perform the most genuine,thorough and dedicated job as producer and editor but Chris also plays guitar,banjo,bass,and mandolin on the songs. Did I miss anything Chris? Her'es the kicker. Chris knows his stuff and initially produced my untrained vocals in his studio. He suggested That I employ and singing technique that makes perfect sense. I breathed vocals in a way that I had not done. They came out sounding very clear and easy go figure. So if you know me at all, it won't be a surprise for you to learn that I wanted to redo the vocals. I did return to record the vocals on Lay Easy and Audios to see if I could employ the technique in a little bit different way. In comparison the new vocal is similar but... My mistakes and my warbles are much more obvious much as they can be in live performance. The vocal technique is simply to sing right and friends have been telling me this for years. Ya'll tell me whether it has gotten better.

More later

Even Still Upcoming Album

For a month now I have been playing with some great musicians. Working on getting a few of my songs arranged and recorded hopefully by midsummer. The musicians that I am so fortunate to be making music with are Eric Mrozkowski on Drums. Patrick Currin on Bass guitar, and Robbie Beilawski on piano and organ. The songs are coming along very fast and progressively reaching the goal of Album Numero Uno. The sounds we are reaching with the songs I have written are well you'll have to tell me what you think... The songs that I have written that will be on the "Album"/ CD so far are as follows...

Stranger, Trials, Anna Liffey, Mountains, Ain't So Bad, Garden Wall, Soft Night, Dragon Fly Season, Over Land, and "Like Rain"

I am playing original Songs in an acoustic project with the violinist/ songwriter and performer, David Binanay also with Patrick Currin on upright Bass and lead guitar.

I am working steadily on getting everything together for an acoustic album as well.We shall see which CD makes it across the line first.

S.S.

March 9th 2009

Getting off work (the day job) and heading to the library to update a couple of upcoming local shows. Now headed to my hideout airplane hanger to work on new songs several of which will appear on my debut Album to be released later this year. Six hours of music then late to bed early to rise and hit the routine again, and I love it.

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