I have been lucky enough to see quite a few amazing live shows in my life. Its actually pretty hard to pick a top five. Sometimes the bands are simply tremendously memorable performers, like Wolfmother, or The Deftones, or Live. Other times, however, they are sharing something else, something MORE. The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Avett Brothers, 311, Floater, Incubus, Victor Wooten, Dave Matthews Band, Rage Against The Machine…these groups go way beyond the music itself, the albums themselves, the classic lyrics and riffs even. There is Wisdom in their craft. A ageless element that does not depend on "The Times". A universal attitude that, without particularly knowing each other, they all tap into collectively. They bind the souls of generations together. CULTURE. My #1 most favorite show I had ever seen was the Red Hot Chili Peppers at the Rose Garden in Portland, a huge arena show for the album "By The Way" (2002). I went with Joe Bass, and The Flaming Lips opened. I had actually not been a fan of that Chili's album so far…the songs that made it on the radio as singles to that point were just "ok" to me. Once we got there, though, the thing that struck me about RHCP was that the whole band, all four of them, were so Completely Invested in the music and the moments. Watching them was inspiring, because you KNEW that there was no backup plan. There was no going-through-the-big-arena-tour-motions. Lead singer Anthony Kiedis was actually sick that night; a big part of the magic of the show and the drama was him just simply overcoming it for the sheer love of performing and singing. It was the way a live show should have been, and it has been firmly entrenched in my mind as a defining moment in my budding dream of being a real, living songwriter. And now, I LOVE THAT ALBUM (pssst: buy it). Last weekend, I saw The Avett Brothers at the Britt Amphitheater in southern Oregon. It was the best show I've ever seen in my life. Absolute Tops. They overtook the Chilis, after a decade of other shows by hundreds of bands big and small. Again, I was not a fan of their new album coming in, "Magpie & The Dandelion" (2014), as much as their others. Now, after seeing it live, I LOVE IT. Again, the Avetts and their backing band were all so completely enveloped and invested in the music and the production that it was awe-inspiring. They have a way of connecting and involving the community of fans in a way that I have not seen other internationally famous contemporary bands do. They remind me of my development as a fan of live music with early 311…The Avett Brothers sell a Mood with their show, and whether or not they play "your favorite songs" on any given night, you leave completely satisfied…because its really all about THE CULTURE, not the songs or the lyrics or the skill of the members (original or guests) or the music itself. I mean, it IS all of those things…but…its the Family of Fans & Band that is the most resounding. I figured out that THAT is what I want to see in an artist in the live setting. I don't want them to just write a song or two that speaks to me. I want them to craft a canopy under which we can all gather at our leisure.
Cole Porter. Bing Crosby. Roy Orbison. Willie Nelson. David Byrne. The Killers. These guys were onto something. And now, for no particular reason I can discern, other than I woke up with it one day in my head, and then for the next three days could not get it out...I'm onto it too! Recognize it? "Oh give me land, lots of land under starry skies above...don't fence me in...let me ride through the wide open country that I love...don't fence me in...let me be by myself in the evening breeze, listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees, send me off forever but I ask you please, don't fence me in...Just turn me loose, let me straddle my old saddle underneath the western sky...on my cayuse let me wander over yonder till I see the mountains rise...I want to ride to the ridge where the west commences, gaze at the moon till I lose my senses, I can't look at hobbles and I can't stand fences...don't fence me in..." And we're OFF!
About 2 years ago, Kris Farm had an idea for a website system that was dynamic, bright, and easy to update using simple social media apps. We had www.SearchlightsInMexico.com set up for this purpose. Generation #1 Looked very impressive, with bright full-color photos and lots of information. However, the initial coding idea turned out to be limiting in a few key areas. With "Light Up The Sky" out now, and the website www.searchlightsinmexico.com printed on the packaging as the place-to-connect, the second generation is going to go live very soon! Check back periodically for the slick new generation!
Whats in a name? Fate will explain…I've had enough pain, and my thoughts I just can't contain. I have a professional goal with music: to "make it" into the greater public sphere with a full band. I am willing to reach this goal as a solo artist...but I would greatly prefer a "band sound." To me, this concept is no different than any corporate worker having a goal of a series of promotions at their day job. However, a corporate worker is generally not surrounded by co-workers who are hobbyists. I don't want to be held back by hobbyist-mentalities dominating my music projects, any more than bandmates with their respective careers of their choosing would want me to try to push them away from their goals with my band activities. There is currently a new project being discussed. I would really prefer to approach it in the macro sense. At this juncture, there is irritated resistance within the group to my desire for the Project Name/Brand be related to my name, my past work, or my future goals as a musician. I am facing this resistance head-on, because I need to be able to carry on with the songs I produce for this project if this particular group decides to disband or never is able to make it into the greater public sphere for whatever reason. The band name can be *anything, I just need it to help Me out. This does not mean my full name. I'm definitely not into that. I am not a prima donna, and there has never been any evidence of this. I am totally into collaboration, and there is 15 years of evidence of that. The reason I need the name to revolve around me is because I take this music thing Seriously, Professionally, and with a long-term Vision. Even if it is simply a (very) valued hobby for the others, I can work with that disjoint if there is a Brand. This concept should not affect the standard hobbyist bandmate in the slightest. Really, a good question for each band member is: "What do YOU want out of this band?" I was never drawn to having my name in the band at any point in my past. I have a 15-year-history of actively avoiding it. If anything, "Baron __ " or " __ Baron" would be the absolute most I can imagine accepting. Although, after thinking about this for a long while, and considering how many bands I've been in and how much career momentum has withered due to disbandment, I kind of wish I had called every group I was in "Chris Baron & The Tummybuckles", "Chris Baron & Evelate", "Chris Baron & Searchlights"...and so forth. Just in hindsight. It would have made Today a whole lot easier to work with. Anyway, the point is, my dear new bandmates: Why Not? That is a rhetorical question. Part 2, then?
Its hard to explain. These voices, they eat at my brain, and resistance is draining. Why not help me out with a serious professional goal? I have always been completely collaborative and democratic, and that has resulted in some GREAT music in the catalogue. At the same time, collaborating with hobbyists as equals...has also resulted in some woeful long-term opportunity-cost for me. I am really in search of some sort of serious band, in the long-run. I have been in search of that my whole life. The kind of band that, if given the opportunity, would absolutely not hold back an aggressive gamble in "going for it" (something really musically cool...and a goal of being Recognized for it). I am ok with having this particular new project be agreed upon as a totally fun side project, a hobby for me as well...and if that were to be decided to be the case, I would definitely continue to search for the ultimate band for myself on the side, and I would not write songs for this particular project. My career priority list would re-structure thusly: 1) Looking for my ultimate collaborative/backing/visionary/fully-committed project 2) Chris Baron Music (solo artist) 3) My new ROCKIN' side project with my friends Mr Bass & Mr Drums! My preference is to make this new band priority number one. For one thing, we're hot. And I like it alot. But this will require the concession of the name. Working with me in this fashion will cause no need to quit jobs, cut back hours, increase rehearsal time, start writing songs themselves, or really change anything that they are already doing (I appreciate everything they do already). It would mean only that my name be included in the band name as a Brand, so that I can do the work I need to do for my career goals. A general group consensus on this peripheral fundamental point is necessary before I go any further with my efforts. I have only recently put my finger on the fact that this is the issue that is holding me back from all the hilarious band name suggestions so far. Indeed, I asked myself throughout the past week, including a few sleepless nights: What is my primary goal for The Band? and I discovered that I, personally, want three things, deep down. 1) TO MAKE A RECORD IS MY PRIMARY GOAL. 2) TO BE IN A BAND THAT PLAYS THE SONGS I WRITE, AS I WRITE THEM. 3) TO FIRMLY POSESS A BRAND THAT I CAN CARRY FORWARD MYSELF IF WE CEASE, OR NEVER CRACK THE GREATER PUBLIC SPHERE. Stop reading now if you get the point. Continue to PART 3 if you want me to go more into detail...cuz I feel like writing this all down right now.
Going back 15 years, when I started, I was 17 years old, and my first full-length album with the band One Fry Short was called "Look Behind You." A reference to high-school, of course; but obviously, I was already planning for the long-haul. And to the present day, for sure, my goal, my desire, my destination has been the Same. My IDEAL band-situation is to be in a group that gets together either for rehearsal or a band meeting 3 days a week, and performs (or records!) the other 4. I want to be in a full-time band. If being in a full-time band necessitates performing 7 days a week (touring!), I am fine with that. This is 15 years of feeling this way. Mind: this is the IDEAL. About 8 years ago, I realized that I was the only one I knew that really wanted this. Thus, I decided to put myself in as many local bands as possible. For example, if I am part of 5 bands, then I have 5 rehearsals a week, and then every Friday/Saturday night I have a gig. In this situation, every gig was with a different group, every weekend. And I was playing music (PLAYING MUSIC! YEAH!!!) every night of the week. I was stoked. And so was everyone around me. They all got to play 2-4 gigs a month and jam once a week (nice and easy, no pressure, full-time job and extra-curriculars intact). It worked out pretty lux peachy. The bass player for the new project in question knows about all this...he was with me through it, sometimes as a bandmate, sometimes as a trusted friend…but present through the journey. Fast-forward to now (Summer 2014). All those groups have since disbanded, all for separate and unrelated reasons. All that effort I put in to each one, though...I am left with the Experience Points (increased skill) and perhaps some leftover CDs that I can try to sell at gigs when I want to "cover" those old songs. I am left with very little for my efforts in the long run, and it has finally dawned on me that I had lost sight of my original goal, caught up in the moments and momentums of collaborating with others. It should be obvious, therefore, that I am not particularly interested in being in another band that is just a hobby for everyone else, while I am betting my whole life on it. I do not think that I should put my professional needs aside to accommodate the hobby-goals of others. Get it? Well, stop then. Go on your merry way! Want more? Carry on to Part 4.
I will now go in depth on the 3 things that Chris Baron wants in a Band, and you, dear reader, will further explore why I am hesitant to "just pick a band name" that has nothing to do with who I am or what I need. 1). TO MAKE A RECORD IS MY PRIMARY GOAL. A band can play live as much as it wants, with as cool a name as it can think up, and totally Nail It every time (or most times). But, a band does not exist in the larger scheme of things without a Record. And even then, most bands break up after their first or second record anyway. But still, they Exist because they had That. This next bit will mean something to you, if you have had a similar experience in the past. The band Searchlights (Dusty Beats & Joe Bass) recorded 17 songs with my #1 Favorite Engineer/Co-Producer Ryan Ferris. Along with that, we opened for Portland heroes Floater (a goal since childhood for me), made goodly cash playing clubs, and had hugely successful local shows that won us deeply loyal fans to this very day. Those 17 studio songs: I worked insatiably on them. I met with Ryan in the studio once a week for over 3 years. I listened to the mixes constantly and provided him detailed notes, that we then tackled week after week. I spent all my free time, and a little more, perfecting those recordings and mixes...and also writing and arranging and preparing for the next session in the meantime. All this while, Dusty Beats listened in to the online mixes that Ryan posted, making comments, chatting with me by phone, and being involved. All this while, Joe Bass was himself uninvolved in the mixing/post-production process. Again: this was a 3-year-period. While we all showed up to every rehearsal, every gig, and all worked together to promote our shows to friends for the sake of fan energy and momentum, as far as the recording went, I was heavily, heavily, heavily involved. I felt like Dusty was reasonably involved as well. Ultimately, Dusty moved out of state to pursue a job opportunity and all of a sudden, we weren't a band anymore, and I was OUT all that effort. I was able to salvage some of it by working it into my new solo album "Light Up The Sky", which I can support on my own, but that was only 8 out of the 17 songs we tracked (and I mixed, and remixed, and remixed, and polished). A real shame for a guy like me, with the goals that I had. WE NEVER PUT TOGETHER AN ALBUM. That is a terrible blow. For me. In the meantime, Dusty and Joe sentimentally miss the music and the good times, the memories, etc. Aw, shucks. I now think of it like this: Live bands Live, Live music dies (everything's eventual), Recordings Live Forever. Searchlights dealt me one of the hardest and deepest blows to my time and effort and self-view that I've ever experienced. That is NOT HAPPENING AGAIN. Next, Part 5: I want to play in a band that plays the songs that I write, as I write them.
2). I WANT TO PLAY IN A BAND THAT PLAYS THE SONGS I WRITE, AS I WRITE THEM. I will start this off by clarifying: I am willing to play songs that others write, finish songs that others start, and cover songs by groups/artists of mutual interest. Thus far, I am the only person involved that has proven a keen interest in composing original material on the regular...and thus, I am willing to take the lead on this. An equally honest wording for this Goal could become: "To Play In A Band That Plays Original Music That We Write." Until that becomes a reality somehow, I am going with the wording I used initially. The drummer of this new project in question asked me once to tell him about A Crab's Life. The answer to that particular question explains perfectly my attention to this bullet point, and why it falls as a primary goal. Here's the bottom line. When Searchlights first got together, it was magic, and we rocked, and we started learning and rehearsing all of my songs that I was writing. As time went on, our bass player started rejecting every other song, saying things like "...it doesn't fit our direction..." or "...just not into it..." Then, it became that we would tackle 1 out of every 3 songs I wrote, and then as time went further 1 out of every 5. By that point, the drummer and I were talking regularly about the bass player's sour grapes attitude. I decided that if the group was not into a song, I would shelve it, and move on to the next. Sounds fair, right? Original songs have to be unanimous. BUT, here's something you might not see on the surface. I was putting TONS of emotion, and TIME into each and every song I was writing. When these songs were rejected by a band member, it felt like my time and effort and passion was being stabbed in the heart. Taking the path of least confrontation out of this, since it was at this point merely an emotional issue and not worth arguing about (yay being a man!) I simply started playing those awesome songs with A Crab's Life, and also on my own in a newly-relaunched idea of myself as a solo artist: "Chris Baron Music". A Crab's Life got at least an albums-worth out of this cache, and actually recorded and produced it. Others appeared on "Light Up The Sky." Still others remain floating, and in my mind, still very much worth pursuing. I spent a lot of time and experienced a lot of inspiration in crafting each and every one of them, as I've said. And this takes us to a fundamental bottom line in my perspective on songwriting: Give every inspiration at least 2 honest tries, especially when it comes to making a Record (Recordings Live Forever). Thus, it is a Primary Goal of mine to be in a band that wants to play the songs that I write. As many of them as possible, so that I don't find myself in the aforementioned frustrated/rejected/apatheticized position explored in this segment. Now, the Apex, in Part 6: The band name needs to be tied to Me.
3). I WANT TO BE INVOLVED IN THE BAND NAME. This does not mean the band needs to have my actual full name in it. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am not the guy who tries to be the center of everything, the dictator, the glory hog, the prima donna. It is simply not true, has never been, and there has never been any evidence that I am not completely willing to compromise and collaborate. This attitude of community growth has been to the detriment of my music career as it turns out; but, its part of my musical personality, and its just the way things are for me. So what I mean is: the band name needs to be something that I can carry forward if this band happens to cease. There should be no argument here. A recognized music career is a Dream, A Profession, A Pursuit, A Battle, A Lifeblood for me. Unless I'm mistaken, its a Hobby for everyone else involved in this instance. If I have learned one harsh thing over the years of effort that has been squashed by bandmates falling by the wayside (for perfectly legitimate reasons), its that if I don't retain the long-term Brand, I am shooting myself in the face, getting older and further away from my original vision. I would feel like I am stunting any possibility of ever achieving my professional (and personal) goals in life. So I implore my new potential project to HELP ME. Not at a cost to the enjoyment of your hobby, but working in tandem with it, and understanding that it means something TOTALLY different to me. I am currently thinking of starting a brand called "Baron Mind", and releasing an even newer solo album under that (projected for 2015), and if I had my way with the new full-band project I have been discussing, we would be called "Baron Mind & _____ ", tying it all together. The way the band name "Searchlights" tied the music to "Searchlights In Mexico", and then eventually the sequel album "Light Up The Sky", on which the band Searchlights played the full-band parts. That, at least, became Eventual. When you do the right things, everything does. Thank you for listening. See you around the bend.
First show with Steve and Joe. This is what happens when Steve Waters and Joe Bass come together with Baron Whitewater. Mayhem! Sweat! Purposeful - Brash - Potential Kinetics. Hawthorne Theater Lounge on Friday night was a terribly musical night. Thank you very much to everyone who came out to our first live set, a free set, on a hot night. We jammed a little on the 4th of July at The Pleasure Trove, our rockin' band hideout, and then parted ways for a full week as I took a 5-day camping extravaganza out Highway 26E to Central Oregon…whilst Steve and Joe worked our local sphere of the city into a frenzy with hype for the Debut. We had selected 2 Evelate songs, 1 song off Searchlights In Mexico, and 2 off Light Up The Sky. We performed 4 new original songs, and rounded everything out with a raucous 311-medley. That's right...Joe Bass…BEAT THAT THANG… Our official first set, as it happened: Good Fortune The Medicine Man You & I Were Made To Be Close Someday Brand New Body A Star Can't Even Break Through 311 Medley We Better Kells Freakout (encore) It was a pleasure to meet Steph Infection & The Heebie Jeebies for the first time, who were the 4-piece opening act. They did a phenomenal job, and you can find out more about Stephanie's stylings here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loqVKRpbnvs Commonly Courteous closed out the show with an enthusiastic shirtless set that took the room right to closing time (1am). They are my favorite original Portland ensemble right now. The best part about them? They always BRING. IT. Every time. Without fail, they find some way to raise to the bar and push themselves as performers with a positive message and unshakeable spirit. I have a soft-spot for John; he's The Man. Look them up at www.commonlycourteous.com. Matt, as always, was trusty behind the bar; forever a pleasure to see. Thanks to K8nPdx for filming the whole concert with 2 cameras, and the other mysterious photographer who wandered over from the main theater show on a whim (a good call on his part!). Find K8 on YouTube to see what she's been up to lately, she is one Hard Worker for Portland Music! Extra special thanks to Jason, the new GM, a stellar guy with a warm attitude that is going to carry Hawthorne Theater to all the success it might want. My camping trip was awesome too. 1st night: Cove Palisades State Park. 2nd night: Walton Lake (Ochoco National Forest). 3rd Night: John Day River near Mitchell, OR. 4th night: Clackamas Lake (Mt Hood National Forest). While incredibly beautiful, reflective, and relaxing, this trip still…did…not…yield…unanimous confidence in a new band name for us. The top contender at the moment is "Potential Kinetics", which I am just kinda "…meh…" on. Unfortunately. So, more to come on that.