Pencils, stencils and t-squares are all on the table, the canvas is blank, and the wheels are in motion.
For weeks I have pondered and prepared, conjured and cajoled, dreamt and desired.
The time has come to commence my next artistic venture: Raw Dog.
As the title indicates, this forthcoming collection of music will be one of raw power and sensation. It will be an electrified, hard-hitting catharsis of mojo might and gritty goodness.
Every fiber of my being will be put to use in creating this red-blooded, roaring exploration of soulful American muscle.
I intent to break the album up into two, or possibly three installments- all of which will be available over the next 20 months.
The first installment will be ready for you by the end of 2011. The question is: will you be ready for it?
Radio Interview w/ Sam Pace:
TO LISTEN TO SAM PACE, PRESS PLAY AD THEN SKIP TO 66:00min MARK. (the BIg Dog interview was the second part of the 2 hour program)
The BBC recently released a documentary on one of my favorite human beings ever, Frederick “Toots” Hibbert of Toots and The Maytals.
Although the documentary is far to short for a fan like myself, and deprives me of a great deal of information regarding Toots’ early material- it is certainly a pleasant viewing.
One thing you will notice about every person they interview- including legends like Eric Clapton and Keith Richards- is that everyone is always smiling when they talk about Toots.
The documentary features some cool old footage and a lot of humorous antidotes; and of course, like any documentary about reggae, it includes a dozen Jamaican interviewees who are impossible to understand.
What is great about the movie is how straightforward it is in clarifying just how explosive a presence this reggae great was, and is.
I wholeheartedly recommend it.
*If you do decide to watch it and don’t know anything about Toots’ music- know that the documentary features a lot of music from his later years- which is all solid. But if you want to drink form the fountain of youth and have your spirit defibrillated, you must go back to his early work.
Watch here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPxtTfabuZA&feature=player_embedded
Perhaps the greatest legend of our time- a legend we have dismissed and laughed about- is now staring us right in the face. Bigfoot has long been the fodder for cynics and non-believers- a running joke with a million punch lines, a tall tale with a hundred plots. But now, with provocative video footage surfacing in North Carolina this week, the grim realities of living with Bigfoot begin to grip us all. While the fat cats in Hollywood stuff tripe like “Harry and the Henderson’s” down our throat, we are left indifferent and unprepared for this cataclysmic event. But I must say, this news is quite vindicating for someone like myself. For many years I have dwelt on the immense fundamental complications that would arise when Bigfoot left his woodland setting, and imposed his stubborn, hairy will upon our peaceful urban lives. And in that time I endured the slings and arrows that come with thinking differently, and holding true to my convictions. But now that the time has come, all those people obsessed with things like the deficit, and healthcare, and public education- they are the fools. And I am the smart guy who is too cool to say, “I told you so.” Being the humble person that I am- always the first to extend my strong, supple hand to those who are clearly inferior in every way- I am willing to let bygones be bygones. We must move forward and work together through this life-altering development- or else certain peril awaits us all. Please listen to the song that I wrote some 6 months before this event transpired, “Bigfoot In The City.” You can call me a prophet if you like- but I’m just a man; a man who knew Bigfoot was coming.
Here's where some people of interest were at 27:
Mark Twain was living in Virginia City, Nevada where he wrote for the Territorial Enterprise. The U.S. was in the second year of the Civil War.
Bob Marley had already made dozens of timeless recordings with Peter Tosh and the Wailers; and yet his stardom lay one year away, when the Wailers would release Catch A Fire in 1973.
Muhammad Ali was in the middle of his four-year banishment from professional boxing for his refusal to serve in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.
Napoleon Bonaparte was the General of the French Army and doing battle with Austrian forces in Italian territory.
Once artists of impeccable talent and esteem, Peter Green and Syd Barrett were relegated to mental illness and recluse, and their incredible talents were now squandered.
Marie Curie earned her degree in mathematics from the Sorbonne, and that same year met Pierre Curie.
Jim Henson moved to New York City with his wife where the newly formed Muppets, Inc. would reside for many years.
Marilyn Monroe graced the cover of the first ever issue of Playboy Magazine.
Earnest Hemmingway completed his first novel: The Sun Also Rises.
Stanley Kubrick released his second feature film: Killer's Kiss.
Aaron Rogers won his first Super Bowl; Tom Brady won his third.
Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery twice, the second effort aided by the Underground Railroad.
Roger Waters was leading Pink Floyd through the post- Syd Barrett years with the release of Atom Heart Mother. It was three years before the release of Floyd's monumental album: Dark Side of the Moon.
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis gave birth to a stillborn baby girl: Arabella Kennedy.
Salvidor Dali painted one of his most famous works: The Persistence of Memory.
Sting was releasing Outlandos d'Amour with his newly formed trio- the Police.
Thomas Jefferson was a busy lawyer in colonial Virginia. He was also deeply in debt due to the lavish spending on his neoclassical mansion, Monticello.
Lady Gaga……. will not be 27 for two more years.
Jerry Seinfeld made a highly successful showing on The Tonight Show Staring Johnny Carson, leading to regular appearances on that show and others.
Clint Eastwood was landing small roles in such television series as West Point and Death Valley Days.
Lance Armstrong had just beaten testicular cancer, which had spread to his abdomen, lungs, and brain. He then began his cycling comeback by finishing fourth in the Vuelta a Espana, and was a year away from his first Tour De France victory.
There are far to many "interesting" people to list here, but see for yourself what the people who intrigue you were doing at your age.
Or maybe, in the words of Clark Griswold, you "don't give a give a frog's fat ass."
(All facts in accordance with dates and events listed on Wikipedia.com)
For a Rock n’ Roll musician, 27 years of age is an eerie place to be.
Starting with the soul-exchanging bluesman Robert Johnson, some of the most influential musicians of the 20th century did not outlive their 27th year. Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones and Kurt Cobain all met their demise at this becoming age.
I do not intend to throw my name in the same category as these remarkable artists, nor do I intend to elicit spooky premonitions of what the next year will hold for me. Instead, I will take a moment to examine what these people had that I do not, and also what I have, that they did not.
Before I begin, I should note that perhaps the greatest hero of my life- Otis Redding- did not even reach his 27th year. The notion that I have outlived my idol, and am still a very young man, is a profound consideration.
I believe Redding is one of the most gifted artists to ever walk the earth. And yet, in the wake of my 27th year I have been given a gift that Otis was not blessed with: more time.
For an artist of my conviction, this truth holds great sorrow, great honor, and great responsibility.
Although I do not have the talent, the success, or the influence that Otis had- I’ve been given more days to live, more time to love, and more moments to cherish. If you listen to Redding’s songs “Glory of Love” and “Just One More Day,” you can hear just how much this man relished the sheer tumultuousness of life- and that each day, good or bad, is a blessing.
And so I live beyond one hero, and come to an age of peril for a handful more.
But these “Dead at 27” club members did not have their lives robbed from them like Otis did (Redding died in a plane crash in Madison, Wisconsin). These artists all had a hand in their respective undoing.
They had reached the apex of their artistic abilities, were surrounded by the ripe fruits or their labor, and appeared to have the world in the palm of their hands. But whether they died from a shotgun blast to the head, or choking on vomit in their sleep, these 27-year-olds were not happy campers when they left us.
It seems these musicians possessed a common tragic flaw: they all perpetuated the victim within themselves. Through excessive drug use and alcohol abuse, they distanced themselves from the realities that not only wound us, but also heal us. And so they fell, desperately and abruptly.
I seek not to generalize or over-simplify the loss of these artists, but to impress the notion that lessons must be learned not only from their great innovations, but also from their great mistakes.
And that brings me to me.
I have not known the success of these beautiful people (and that they most certainly were), nor have I reached the peak of my own abilities. I know neither the warmth of widespread recognition nor the luxury of great wealth; and I am yet to leave my impression on the medium that I hold so dear.
But I am a happy man.
I am frustrated and dissatisfied and anxious and angry.
But I am inspired. And like Otis says:
“Cry just a little, sigh just a little, let that ‘ol wind blow on by a little. That’s the story of, that’s the good ‘ol glory… of love.”
Waiting can be a dreary thing.
The sullen anxiety of limbo can disable the spirit, and fester the mind. Perhaps some are better suited for stagnation than others, but for anyone intent to grow or move- there is considerable discomfort in anticipation.
Aaron Rogers teaches us to bide our time, and be ready for opportunity when it knocks.
And so I bide my time, and ready myself for Mr. Opportunity, who must have gotten lost on the way to my house.
But I reckon he’ll find his way along sooner or later.
After moving into my apartment, the amusement of settling into a new life commenced. The uncertainty of each new day became a thrill rather than a burden, and Austin’s warm and vivacious nature began to reveal itself.
The prospects in this town are liberating and plentiful. Austin’s clamoring appetite enlivens the hopes of thousands of gifted musicians, and pays homage to a musician’s true badge of honor: his musicianship.
And despite the climate of a fiercely competitive industry, these thousands of musicians look out for one another, and encourage each other to follow a dream that only a select few will fulfill. They toil away with stubborn optimism and relentless vigor at the most up-hill of pursuits, and the most uncertain of endeavors.
Amidst this surplus of talent and ambition, one is forced to reflect, and inevitably ask: how do I distinguish myself?
In one week I have seen a dozen guitar players that know the Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn catalogues top to bottom. I have seen them walk into crowds as they play, wowing audiences with tricks Buddy Guy used 50 years ago, and picture posing for iPhones in the middle of a solo. And it is awesome.
So how can an out-of-town, upstart solo musician compete with such awe-inspiring performances?
The answer, I believe, lies in craftsmanship. Craftsmanship, and the artist’s pursuit of authenticity and perfection by original means, is where there is room to move.
I will not overlook the gimmicks and showmanship of live performance, as they are near and dear to my heart. But if I focus on my identity as a craftsman, and hold my artisanship slightly above my musicianship, perhaps I will find my niche.
The ride- Milwaukee to Austin- took twenty-four hours. Eleven hours on the first day, and thirteen on the second. I spent a night in Marion, Arkansas; and the second day should have been shorter, but icy roads and rush hour in Dallas added nearly three hours to the trip.
My first 48 hours in Austin can be summed up by one over-arching theme running through my brain: fuck.
In the weeks leading up to my departure, various life distractions and bittersweet celebrations occupied my time- along with preparations, practicalities, and people. The reality that I had no job, no friends, and no place to live in a city I’d never been to before didn’t set in until the morning after the evening I’d arrived.
As my anxieties and insecurities festered, I spent most of my time trying to find an apartment and scouring the Internet for work. The rest of my time I spent getting lost and fruitlessly searching for hordes of tanned, spicy coeds.
As I roamed about, I wondered if this city was one of creation and inspiration, or a city with “live music” as its tourist pitch- overpopulated with rock n’ roll clichés. I knew the truth would not reveal itself for many months.
On my third day in Austin I singed a four-month lease at a complex that will be torn down in four months. I move in tomorrow.
I haven’t touched my guitars in over a week; I will tomorrow.
In search of new artistic pastures, the Big Dog will be moving 1500 miles south to Austin, TX this February. After three and a half years in Chicago, Pace seeks adventure and inspiration in what many call the “Live Music Capital of the World.”
With eyes focused on his next album, Pace will search for musicians who share his taste and ambition and look to make electrifying music of the highest caliber.
Stay tuned for news and antidotes as the adventure unfolds……