"It's not good enough," said the producer. " I don't know what you're saying." I wasn't quite prepared for this reaction because I wrote the song 7 years ago and performed it for almost as long. Moreover, many of my band members say it's their favorite song. So, yes, I was a little taken aback. But then I remembered why I hired this guy -- he's one of the best in town and it's his job to hear things I can't or won't. After a deep breath, I was ready to listen and read the chorus. And he helped me. We started reworking the chord progression -- a little less jazz, a little more "accessible" and making it longer.
We started with me playing the chords agreed on with made up words and a melody I created on the fly. He liked it so now it's time for homework: I need to write a new chorus based on the new chord progression and melody. I've never done this before and delayed for a couple days before tackling my assignment.
I started with:
"Where's it gonna go? Honey I don't know. It's a strain of Coltrane Sands in the hourglass..."
My local Starbucks served as perfect host as I settled in with a little lunch, Klipsch headphones and a MacBook Pro. I started with John Coltrane. What more could I say about him in the context of this song? After refreshing myself on Coltrane's story, and a couple false starts, I decide to work with the lines in tandem rather than separately. I then google and read about "hourglasses" before returning to the verses and story I hoped to tell when it all comes together. The story is about "dangerous attraction" so the chorus needs to put a fine enough point on it for the listener. My old chorus failed that test -- and helpfully I could see that now.
With work and a little serendipity, here's where I ended up:
'Where's it gonna go? Honey I don't know. It's a strain of Coltrane -- raw emotion -- free fall jazz. Every moment with you leans forward then snaps back. A bolero of human circumstance, doing a dance that has no chance, You and me are just sand in an hourglass.'
Though I'm not sure that's the "last word" on "Traces of You's" chorus, I do know I've grown as a songwriter by having someone challenge me to leave my comfort zone and "do better."
As a birthday present to "me" I decided to spend a week on Big Island, Hawaii focused on yoga, reading, learning more about the ukelele and just being good to myself. It's a little after 7am and I've just woken...my first morning at Kalani Retreat near Pahoa on the East Coast. It's the first 8 hour sleep I've had in awhile and besides my little too loud ringtone alarm there's a cacaphony of nature singing outside my door -- whistles, caw-caws and an ocean's rumble just steps away.
It took almost 3 hours to get here from Kona -- along mostly winding and rural roads -- driving almost 2 hours before seeing my first McDonald's -- one road deadends and then you take a left and at the T you take another left before reaching Kalani -- between mileposts 18 and 17 on the left. It's sorta metaphoric how many lefts one has to take to get here.
My cabin is charming and off the cell phone grid though I do get spotty "OVI" -- ocean view -- wireless on my MacBook Pro. Guess I'll need to read a book!
Gotta go -- breakfast is from 7:30-8:30 and I'm hoping for great coffee, KONA of course.
Every now and then a special campaign hits us here at posterGIANT, like working with Paula Boggs to announce her bands upcoming gig at the Nectar Lounge in Seattle. There are a lot of great bands in the Seattle music scene, so what makes the Paula Boggs Band special? Let us count the ways. To start with, everything their front woman touches turns to gold. Paula has worked at the Pentagon and The White House, was the Executive Vice President at Starbucks Coffee and worked on President Obama’s second presidential campaign. She sits on the board for the American Red Cross, the School of Rock and KEXP. It’s pretty safe to say she’s had the career success that every college student dreams of, and most recently she has devoted her time to writing her memoir, and working with her band to release their second CD and gear up for their upcoming national tour.
Listening to Paula talk about her band mates and their music is inspiring. There’s so much respect and consideration for each person and their talent, it’s hard to not get excited about getting to know the band better and seeing their styles blend LIVE at the Nectar Lounge on Wednesday May 8th!
Tickets for this great show can be purchased here: http://tktwb.tw/12jkMez See you there!
I don't usually like airports. Even with "Pre Check" - a nifty invention allowing me to breeze through security without removing shoes or bagging 3 ounce liquids, the stale air, harried faces and overall hassle is usually a total turnoff as I get to and from Seattle, a less than ideal hub.
My recent 24 hour turn-around trip to DC started like most: the alarm rings way too early, "no, I really don't need makeup," the 40-minute drive to SEATAC and navigating the boarding pass/luggage/security boogie. So I was surprised to turn a corner and spot former colleague Martin Coles gathering his belongings. “Martin!” “Paula!” I’d not seen Martin since he’d left Starbucks and didn’t know but hoped he was well. Martin was fit, happy and now CEO of a small company. We talked for 5 minutes and I left him with joy as I contrasted this “new” Martin with the one I’d last known.
Meeting Martin was only the first of four serendipitous airport encounters over the next 24 hours. Upon landing in DC and pausing to check email I heard my name called – it’s a dear friend, Margaret McKeown, who’d just attended the US Supreme Court arguments in the DOMA/marriage equality case, heading back to San Diego where she lives and works as a federal judge. Through Margaret I got a second-hand front row seat to this historic argument and we also brought each other current on life and family.
The next day after conducting business in DC I’m at Reagan International Airport and pause before retrieving my boarding pass. I look up, focus, and mutter to myself – geez that guy looks like Rob Porcarelli…”Rob!?” And it is. Rob used to work for me, is a fellow Hopkins grad and veteran, and I just love being around him. I hadn’t seen Rob since leaving SBUX a year ago and in a word, it was a “treat” spending a few minutes with him before we headed back to Seattle on different airlines.
Seeing Martin, Margaret and Rob though could not prepare me for what happened next. I’m at O’Hare now and waiting my turn to board when a man next to me says, “did you speak at SBUX annual meeting last year?” When I say “yes,” Doug Lo introduces himself, tells me he loved my remarks, we know several folks in common and he shares his emotion in being a friend of Seattle leader Cheryl Chow – at the time living her final moments. I am moved beyond words, grateful for the encounter and reminded afresh how fragile life can be and how precious true friends are. Somehow, I’ll never think of airports quite the same.
With only days before "Ides of March" -- anniversary of Julius Caesar's death, inspiration for Shakespeare's famous quote and gateway to Spring -- I've been reflecting on 2013 so far and what it can be. Musically I'm trying to up my game by learning some cool new stuff on electric guitar and working with master voice coach Robert Lunte. And, a few weeks ago brought our first major personnel change. Brian Miller, band bass player for over 6 years -- hugely talented, great guy and good friend -- now follows a new and different muse so we've welcomed Jeff Volkman, an amazing musician.
Band chemistry can be fragile, but I think Jeff's got huge talent, great work ethic and is low maintenance...in other words, perfect.
Next steps: choose a producer and studio for upcoming record, lock down a couple Seattle-area gigs, polish the newer songs and write a few more.
Stay tuned and don't forget to smell those Spring roses.
Upon realizing I'd be in Dallas rather than LA on Grammys Night, I sprung into action to RSVP for a Texas Chapter party after checking in with amazing Denton, TX (30 miles north of Dallas) guitarist and sometimes Paula Boggs Band sub Robert Gomez to see if he'd go with me. Two years ago I was in Atlanta on Grammys night and had a blast so knew what was possible.
Well Dallas didn't disappoint. Country singer Easton Corbin opened at Gilley's -- The Loft, a cool bar and music venue not far off I-35. Robert and I got there around 6:20pm and everyone was really polite...even the guy helping us park the car.
After checking in and receiving our red ID wrist bands, I spotted some empty seats at a table not far from the stage and a mega-screen so quickly introduced myself to the folks already there. They included a guy who'd won a Grammy in the 80s for gospel from Atlanta, his Dallas girlfriend and an indie rock trombonist from Cedar Park just north of Austin.
Easton Corbin played a stripped down acoustic set and entertained the crowd well for 30 minutes before the show kickoff. The food was tasty and the folks serving it seemed happy to be there.
Once the show began, with TVs throughout the club, the Grammys crowd turned its attention to LL Cool J and onscreen activity. During the commercial breaks the hosts quizzed us with Grammys trivia. Not sure what it says about us but both Robert and I won Grammys blankets -- that is, the prize, from answering some arcane question correctly before anyone else.
I was happy to see Mumford & Sons and Frank Ocean win, Elton John perform with Ed Sheeran and Alicia Keys with Maroon 5. On the flip side, Adele again, really? And, I didn't get Carrie Underwood's projector-aided gown. Personally, I'd love to see more jazz, folk, blues, Americana and real rock on the televised show but again, maybe that's just me.
All in all, it was a great evening. I got to hang out with some of the "beautiful people" of Dallas/Austin, Robert and I reconnected, I made a couple new friends/contacts and hey, I've now got my very own Grammys blanket!
All Original Tunes Except Tor's Song, Rock & Roll and The Way You Look Tonight: 1. A Finer Thread 2. A Buddha State of Mind 3. Motel 6 Serenade 4. Traces of You 5. Edith's Coming Home 6. Someone Else 7. Look Straight Ahead 8. Original Sin 9. Last Hope's Gone [Tor Dietrichson Lead Vocals] 10. The Curving Line 11. Peel the Charade 12. Lenny’s in Our House 13. Fuzzy Fitness 14. Miss Ruby Kirby Blues 15.Rock & Roll
ENCORE: The Way You Look Tonight (dedicated to the crowd!)
We now have a charter bus to transport folks to/from Portland's Mississippi Studios day of show, SAT January 12th. DETAILS:
Bus Departs EUGENE @ 4:30PM, from Eugene Christian Fellowship Church 89780 North Game Farm Road, Eugene, OR 97408 COST: $35 Roundtrip; Pay Through PayPal (http://www.paypal.com/, you do not need an account) to Paula Boggs, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Bus Leaves Mississippi Studios @ 10PM, returning to EUGENE Christian Fellowship Church parking lot.
Drop me a line either on FB or email: email@example.com with any questions.
This will be FUN, FUN, FUN!!!
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2012 was a great year of music growth and richness: Paula Boggs Band did 6 shows, I wrote 4 songs and "A Buddha State of Mind" appears on Songwriters in Seattle's 2012 Compilation CD. Along the way we amassed almost 3600 social media listeners/fans...so THANK YOU! I also joined the boards of School of Rock LLC, KEXP and Peabody Conservatory's National Advisory Board. Collectively these organizations -- cutting across classical, jazz, rock, roots, world, blues, folk -- inspire and fuel my love for all things music. And, I'm able to help.
The Band kicks off 2013 with our first Portland show on January 12th @ renowned venue Mississippi Studios and soon we'll have a producer for our next record. I got ukelele lessons for XMAS so look forward to learning a new instrument too. I love fellow band members Sandy, Brian, Tor and Mark...and after almost 6 years playing together they've become family. So a big YES to 2013's promise. STAY TUNED!!
As a voting member of the Recording Academy (The Grammys) it's time to get to it! So who do YOU think is this year's best new artist: Alabama Shakes, The Lumineers, Frank Ocean, Fun. OR Hunter Hayes?