July 25, 2011
After spending a couple of weeks in Belgium touring the sights and meeting the people, brand new shows are once again in full-swing; and what a glorious time it has been.
We kicked off five shows in ten days at La Bellevilloise in Paris. The crowd was really great. About 80-100 Parisians gathered in a loft space that was decked out with faux grass, relaxing deck chairs, a bubbling fountain, and pillows on the floor to relax.
As has been my experience in France, the people are really lovely. They sit and listen, have a little chat with their friends and enjoy the show to the fullest extent; always with vibrant applause afterward. I’m still collecting several photos and video that folks in the audience were taking, but here’s one video that I have posted from the performance.
Leaving Paris at 6:25am, we arrived in Amsterdam by 9:45am, tired and weary. After a nap, I was ready to brave the crowd at Jet Lounge for a fantastic show. The room was full and the people were lively and enthusiastic...just how I like ‘em!
Two nights later we marched ourselves to Skek, a very cool student-run restaurant, bar, and live concert space. It was such a strange mix of spaces, I wasn’t sure how the show would pan out. To my surprise it was a lot of fun. Some new Dan Coyle fans left with CDs in their hands and I was a happy singer-songwriter.
Tonight is our final show in Amsterdam before heading to Den Haag for (what is said to be) a rambunctious house concert. I’ve been told they pack in about fifty people for an all-acoustic set; I’m sure it will be a ton of fun!
The next day we head to Berlin for three shows, and to record my upcoming album (to released September 1, 2011) and “Making of the Album” DVD. We’ve made a few friends in Berlin and it will be really exciting to see them again. One girl from Paris and one from Amsterdam let me know that they’ll be in Berlin for the shows, what an international treat!
The artwork for the new album is nearly complete and you can be sure that it will be up at my homepage and pre-order page as soon as I receive it.
Until then, carry on with your summer, and get excited for the new album.
Stop Apologizing Already Yeah, it's the year 2010 and I play FOLK music. What are you gonna do about it?
I had developed a really bad habit; a habit that persisted for probably two or three years. I used to be proud to write and play folk music. I likened myself to the green days of Paul Simon and Bob Dylan, and the great adventure that their careers in folk became. And then, somewhere along the way, I lost it.
I'm not sure if it was the revolving door of celebrities simply seeking fame above all else, a consumer population that was only interested in what was loud, shiny, and cool; I don't know exactly what it was, but I think that's where it started.
So I found myself apologizing for being a folk singer/songwriter. Often times in the middle of shows I would say something like, "Sorry about this, but here's another slow, finger-picked song; please bear with me." How wretched is that?!
What's worse, is I can't believe how long it took me to realize what I was doing. The other day someone asked me what kind of music I played, and out came the apologies again. "I play folk music, ya know soft and boring." What was I saying?
It was such an immediate brick-to-the-face that I very quickly rebutted myself with, "That's not really true. I play folk music, and it's awesome. If you like singer/songwriters with meaningful lyrics and melodies that are easy to listen to, you will love my stuff."
Wow, I did it! I'm a proud folk artist again; and it's about damn time. No more apologizing for the songs that I write. If a loud venue invites me to come play a set, they had better be ready to hear a nice, slow, easy going tune every few songs. If you want power chords, or loud dance music, I'm not your man; but my folk music has a lot to offer to those with ears to hear it.
One of the Best Spots of Advice I've Ever Received
If you have something in your life that you’re trying to accomplish, check out Bob Baker and his “Artist Empowerment Radio” podcast; you will not be disappointed.
I’m a big podcast fan. Being a musician, I’m inundated with music day in and day out, so when I put my headphones in, I usually want something a little different; my solution has been podcasts.
I listen to about a dozen different shows, and stumbled upon Bob Baker’s “Artist Empowerment Radio” a few months ago. He had already accumulated about 70 previous shows, so little by little I started to whittle away at the great catalogue of information and inspiration that he provides.
The best show that I’ve heard in a long time was one that Bob did dealing with the concept of “be, do, have.” This idea is great. Simply put, if you are trying to accomplish a dream (such as being a successful musician) you must first BE the successful musician. Once you have decided to be that person, then you must DO what that person does every single day. Finally it is by first being and doing that you will HAVE what you seek.
Most people really miss the boat on this, and it keeps them from accomplishing anything. Nearly everyone I know, who has a dream, thinks that they first must HAVE certain things (more time, more money, better job, etc) before they can DO what they need to BE successful. They have it completely backwards. Don’t leave the option that you will be looking back at your life thinking, “All I did was made excuses.”
Give it a thought, and then give it a shot; it has made a huge difference to me, and I hope it will to you.
In the Beginning There was Busking Busk·ing (bsking) n. To play music or perform entertainment in a public place, usually while soliciting money.
All the greats have done it; Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, even Woody Guthrie. Busking is quite the rite-of-passage for a roving vagabond singer/songwriter; which is how I would categorize myself. This is the point at which most people would take the time to point out the they don't believe themselves to actually be a Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, or Woody Guthry, but I'm going to do the exact opposite. I do think that I am and will be a phenomenal songwriter, just like they were, and I'm not ashamed to say so.
Don't be afraid to be the person that you want to be, even before you have the 'success' to back it up.
Anyway, I've definitely done my fair share of busking and it can be a total drain or a real blast. My first real go at it was in Buffalo, NY. Buffalo can be a pretty cool town as far as small cities go. It has its fair share of strip malls and chains (which completely take away the authenticity of cities for me) but it also has a great artistic history, and that community still fights to exist there.
I graduated from Niagara University in May and moved into my car permanently to save money to move to Chicago. While living in my car, I would busk on the streets of Buffalo every day to earn enough money to buy myself dinner.
Some days I would make enough within thirty minutes, sometimes it would take a couple of hours; but I never quit before I had enough, and anything extra went toward the move to Chicago.
By-and-large I had a great time. A few times I had some shop owners come out and yell at me to get out from in front of their store, but most people really appreciated it; which was a relief to me.
I remember one really kind fellow, who was eating dinner outside at the restaurant across the street from where I was playing; when he finished his meal he came over and told me how much he enjoyed the "show" during dinner, and gave me twenty dollars! I can still feel the smile forming on my face as I write about it. That man made my day, and I was very grateful for every single crumb of hope and happiness at that point in my life.
The only other time that I really remember was a guy in his twenties, who dropped me a dollar and listened all the way through "America" by Paul Simon. He talked to me a bit afterward and told me, "Man, someday you are going to be famous."
I've never really written about this before, but I'm glad to know that as I do, I can only really remember the good parts; and the shop owners yelling at me to move on is just funny to me today.
That's the thing; if it won't matter in a year, or a week even, don't waste time worrying about it today, because it really won't matter.
Anyway, I'm sure I'll write another post another day about busking in the NYC subway; but that day is not today. Buffalo, thank you for getting me through that time. If I had nothing else, I had my freedom; and freedom was enough.
I get this question a lot so I thought I would tackle it here.
Some of you know, I didn't start playing guitar until I was about 20 years old, so I always was a bit of a late bloomer. My entire reason for picking it up at that time was so that I could play along to albums by The Beatles (then later Paul Simon and Bob Dylan); but I had no aspirations of becoming a singer/songwriter myself.
As time progressed I grew a little tired of just cranking the music and playing along to songs that other people had written, but I was not tired of playing the guitar. It came so naturally to me, and for a long time I thought that it just came that way for everybody. Add to it that I loved playing so much that it never felt like practice, and I had a very lucky break while "learning" to play.
I never took one single guitar lesson; for whatever reason it just worked for me, so I went with it. I should get back to talking about writing my first song.
Finally I started to think, "I could write songs too," and boy was I wrong. The first two or three years that I tried to write a song, it was beyond terrible; I was forcing it unmercifully upon myself for no apparent reason other that to prove that I could do it - all the while proving that I could not!
So I let it go; figured it was not a big deal and moved on.
Then one morning I wasout running some errand in Chicago and I was walking back to my apartment when "You can't break me into pieces, but me back together and pretend I'm fine" popped into my head; and I thought, I kinda like that.
Then "You can't tell lies to me, 'cause I can see the truth beating in your eyes" popped. Was this it? Was this really happening? Is this the big secret to songwriting; just put it out of your mind and go for a walk and it will come to you? For me it seemed to be the case.
So there I was, singing these words to a specific beat and melody while walking (now frantically) home; knowing that if I could get there in time, I could write the song down before forgetting it.
By the time I got home I was singing the entire first two versus and chorus of the song. I scribbled it down, picked up my guitar, let the ice cream that I had bought melt on the rug while I marveled at my new abilities, and wrote my first song.
That's it, easy as that! Now having written slightly over fifty original songs, the process varies from song to song, but I will never forget that first songwriting experience; so effortless, so in awe of myself, it was an amazing moment for me.
And the ice cream? Well, it didn't survive the ordeal; but there are other cartons of ice cream that can be purchased, but only one "You Can't Break Me Into Pieces" which you can find on the "Briar St - The Acoustic Sessions" Album.
The other night I woke up at 230am; marinara sauce all over the bed sheets looked way too much like blood at that confusing hour of the night.
I had no idea what the hell happened and, of course, I was on the road so for a few minutes I also had no idea where I was.
Settle down, figure this out; you're in Massachusetts, in two days you leave for New Hampshire. You went to bed three hours ago, with the TV on and the air conditioner way to cold. You had to pick your lock to get into the door because you think you left your key on the sidewalk somewhere between the restaurant and the hotel.
Marinara sauce, Marinara sauce...marinara sauce does not fit anywhere into the equation.
So at this point I'm hoping that it's marinara sauce, but I'm tired and I don't really know.
Go to sleep and decide to figure it out in the morning. Morning comes at 11am. Go down to the front desk and explain my situation.
"Oh no! Your sheets were really stained red?" asked the woman at the front desk.
I let her know that it was only in certain spots, looked like marinara sauce, but I couldn't figure out why; and I was only telling her because I wanted to make sure that they came in and took those sheets and cleaned them instead of just making the bed.
"I'm so sorry. We let a disgruntled housekeeper go, and they sneaked into the laundry room the other day and threw pieces of raw meat into the laundry as it was being washed!"
Cha-Ching! Free stay, free complimentary room anywhere in the country for two nights as long as I use it within a year; thanks disgruntled employee!
Questions by Marcel Proust
I had a great time doing this interview. The "Proust" interview is really just a series of quick-hit questions to gather basic, off-the-cuff responses.
Here is mine:
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Not committing suicide.
What is your idea of perfect happiness? To be able to say "This is perfect happiness."
What is your current state of mind? Willing.
What is your favorite occupation? Musician.
What is your most treasured possession? My independent thought.
What is your favorite journey? The band.
What is your most marked characteristic? My height.
When and where were you the happiest? My junior year of college.
What is it that you most dislike? Greed.
What is your greatest fear? Knowing that I could have done more.
What is your greatest extravagance? Water.
What is your greatest regret? I've hurt a lot of people's feelings.
Which talent would you most like to have? To dance.
Where would you like to live? France.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Disliking yourself.
What is the quality you most like in a man? Honesty.
What is the quality you most like in a woman? Honesty.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Uncertainty.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Fear.
What do you most value in your friends? Sincerity.
Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Scrooge.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Being productive.
On what occasions do you lie? To any inept bureaucracy.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Nicknames of all sorts. Nonsensical spewings.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? To have more confidence.
What are your favorite names? Eiffel Tower, Market Square, Chernoble, Lipstick.
How would you like to die? Immortally. With a raincoat on.
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? An ocean wave.
What is your motto? Never have a motto.
What do you dislike most about your appearance? My fatness.
Which historical person do you most identify with? John Lennon.
If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? That they were alive and together, happily.
Auctioned off your Shoes your Wallet Kept your wristwatch As a keepsake 'Til 1941 when you Couldn't take the ticking Anymore
Sold your rocking chair Sold your overcoat (The one you'd wear Every time it rained)
Had to give away your Handbags Your scarves And three gloves Because you couldn't find The fourth
The mailman came by one Day But just to say hi He hadn't brought you any Letters in years
Changed your name in the 60's
A name doesn't mean Much until it doesn't mean Anything at all
I never met you I didn't need to
It wasn't during the waking Hours that we were meant To meet
The nighttime was ours Platonic lovers Reaching inside each other To pull out our next Best illusion
And so it ends Although it never began It's just the way it is
If you don't know What I'm saying This poem Wasn't For you anyway
I want to swat you 'Cause you're a Fly buzzing around My head and I have Better things to do Than have you Persuade me to listen To your buzzing
You'll get there if you'll Sell your soul Sell your brother Sell the mother you Never knew For a few television Appearances For the papers To print your Name
And we'll laugh at You because we can't Take you seriously
We can't listen to you Because we don't believe A word you say
We can't look at you Because you remind us Of all that is puss-filled and Rotting in this world
You remind us of everything That won't just shrivel up And blow away
We call you liar we call You master we call You savior we call you Authority
We pay you our money We pay you when we labor We pay you when we Purchase
Gifts for our babies Houses for our families
Some call you politician
I wish I had words To call you Anything But to me You are nothing
October 20, 2010
Poem Little do we know And what a long time It's been since we knew it
There's the fragrance of Inspiration in the air But we're afraid To take a deep breath
Pounds of flesh Propped up by bones Eluding reality in the Day And discounting Our dreams By night
We know so few Things But we love to brag About our intellect
We are willing to recite Word for word Anything we've carefully Plagiarized to prove How clever we are
Equally as scared to Breath as we are that Someone will discover our secret
But we breathe
We breathe someone Else's air Live someone else's Dream Not to serve or to Honor them But to preserve the Mundane
If a mirror could Show you your Soul You would be Horrified