Category Archives: Music

Inspired

Foo FightersI recently gained access to HBO programming…brace yourselves. My first discovery? Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways. I’m completely addicted. If Dave Grohl didn’t already have “rock god” status, he attained it when he broke his leg during a show and still finished it…then created a Foo Fighters guitar version of the Iron Throne (Two guesses what I discovered next). Watching the Foo Fighters national tour of these music-rich cities to record their album inspires me to do…stuff.

The premise for the show intrigued me from the beginning. The idea that the albums released from artists are influenced by the city in which they’re recorded is interesting. I mean, no artist creates in a vacuum, right?  Our perceptions are constantly being filtered through all this…stuff, and the stuff we’re surrounded with just gets bigger and bigger when you throw in the Internet and social media. So in the midst of this barrage of stimuli, how much does the energy of a place even register?

Touring the country to create an album and pay homage to the musical history and traditions of the cities without losing the quintessential quality that makes them the Foo Fighters is a tricky thing.  There’s a fine line to walk, and they’ve done it well.  Lyrically, they reference the rich history of their locale and, they keep the sound their own.  You can still hear the influence of all the music they’ve been listening to in order to get ready for their arrival in each song

Before the Chicago episode, if you’d told me Cheap Trick was influenced by the blues…well, I don’t know if I’d believed you. Now, I can hear it in Rick Nielson’s guitar. I can hear the DC punk scene in The Beastie Boys and know they’d listened to Bad Brains, and it opens up a new level to the music I already loved. davegrohl

Watching the stories of the founding of Dischord Records, Inner Ear Studio, Rancho de la Luna, Steve Albini’s philosophy, and more…it is inspiring.  You do what you think is right. If you love it, and no one will help you get there…do it yourself. Keep true to your vision. Do what you love.

How could I not be inspired? As the credits were rolling on the DC episode, I grabbed my guitar…struggled through some truly awful sounding chord progressions (which I KNOW will never get better unless I practice), because I was inspired to create, to make something. After my hands got tired, and my lack of calluses made my fingertips scream, I got down to writing this. Maybe I struggle sometimes with balancing responsibility with the stuff I love, but if I stay inspired, or hell just open to inspiration, and climb out of the depths every time I get bogged down…shit gets done.

‘Til next time,

Jessica

Advertisements

Don’t Be Afraid of Mistakes

NewYearsWish_Page_1‘Til next time,

Jessica


Cain’s Ballroom Is Calling My Name Again

You already know I have an…enthusiasm for music, especially of  the live variety. My favorite Tulsa venue is still the historic Cain’s Ballroom ( Alabama Shakes and Seether were the last two shows I saw there.).  Saturday we saw Flogging Molly and Radkey.  I purchased these tickets back in February, as soon as they went on sale, and I’m glad I did because the concert sold out.

I like Cain’s because there’s a sense of immediacy and intimacy in performances at Cain’s that you just don’t get at the larger venues.  My experience has been that there is also an enhanced sense of camaraderie with fellow concert-goers that I haven’t found elsewhere (well, maybe a couple of festivals).

My comrades in music showed up wearing a lot of Flogging Molly t-shirts (of course), Dropkick Murphy shirts, and there were kilts. Surprising, since the band isn’t Scottish, but I’m always happy to see a well-built man in a kilt!

Radkey

Radkey5 6-6-15

As soon as Radkey’s set began, I was hooked.  Lots of energy, high-intensity, and fun.  The geeky t-shirts and references to Netflix’s Daredevil (which I loved, by the way) made me feel a bit like Captain America in The Avengers, “I understood that reference!”  None of that would have mattered though if it weren’t for the amazing original music which paired well with Flogging Molly’s unique flavor.

My only complaint is that a lot of us had no idea what the name of the band was after their set ended.  I know I asked several people in line for drinks if they knew who the opener was.  They were great, and I definitely wanted to hear more from them.  Thank goodness for Flogging Molly’s own Dave King, who seemed just as excited as the rest of us. He not only gave the band the recognition they were due and the audience was craving, but he also commented that he’d love to play with them again.

Flogging Molly

Flogging Molly5 6-6-15Now, I get pretty excited about my music, I’ll admit.  Losing my voice at a concert isn’t an unexpected event for anyone who has…well, anyone who has ever been to a concert with me.  My husky, nearly non-exsistant voice never stops me from attempting to sing along, shout at fellow concert goers to be heard or talk about the show incessantly for days on end.  Of course, Flogging Molly was no exception.  I’d been listening to their albums for days (possibly weeks) because I was so excited about this show, and this went even beyond my expectations of a great show.  This was jumping around the floor, singing at the top of my lungs, clapping until my hands were sore the next day kind of a show.

They definitely earned a place on the I-will-always-see-them-when-they’re-in-town list.  That list is really short, just two bands…who are nothing alike. Zac Brown Band and Flogging Molly…have I mentioned I have eclectic taste in music?

Who will you always see live when they come to town?

‘Til next time,

Jessica

P.S. Today, June 9, 2015 Ben Harper is playing there and then, then on June 14th Ben Folds is playing…I’m just saying, I could go watch live music every day this summer and be a happy woman…of course that requires money for tickets.  Boo!


The Louder the Better!

“Play it f@#%in’ loud!”
― Bob Dylan

I’m in a mood today…I want lots of punk rock played loud enough that if it were any other day, you’d be worried about the speakers.  ScotsFest begins in Tulsa tonight, and a friend flies in from out-of-state today, and tomorrow we’ll all be there for the music, food, shopping and of course…adult beverages. (This time, I know in advance…1 glass of wine = 1/2 a bottle…last year I did not see the sign.)  At least we can be responsible(ish).

This all puts me in a mood.  I want to dance.  I want to sing it out at the top of my lungs, even if I don’t know the lyrics.

However, this behavior is frowned upon in public places…especially offices, so…can you do it for me?  Pick your favorite song and crank it up, sing along!  I’ll be sitting here with my earbuds in place, trying not to sing out loud.

First up on my playlist…hmmm, I think…The Clash…or Flogging Molly…or…I’m gonna need a playlist today.  Any suggestions?  What’s your favorite song?

‘Til next time,

Jessica

P.S. Dropkick Murphy’s just got added to the playlist…


A Higher Revelation

“Music is … A higher revelation than all Wisdom & Philosophy”
― Ludwig van Beethoven

I have a love/hate with Beethoven. His music is transcendent.  However, as a pianist (very amateur pianist) no matter how much I practice, I feel like the man is trying to tie my fingers in knots and my hands ache every time I finish a piece.  But Lord how I love to hear his music…I can hear this belief in every piece.

‘Til next time,

Jessica


Family

Candlewyck Cove ResortLast weekend, I joined my family at Grand Lake for our annual long weekend at the lake.  Every year we rent a house at Candlywyck Cove Resort (and a hotel room or two) and spend the weekend laughing, eating, swimming, fishing and playing dominos (and any other games we can come up with).  My dad and his brothers and sisters and their families (when they can) come in to just hang out and reconnect.  Most of the weekend we had about 15 people there, but on Saturday that jumped to around 25ish (I really didn’t count).  Let’s just say there were a lot of people.

Grand Lake has been a central meeting place for our family since I was a kid.  My grandparents retired there, and we would all gather at their house for every holiday (Memorial Day, 4th of July, Easter, Labor Day…you get the idea) and as many weekends as possible every summer.  Some of my best memories were built on that lake.  I learned how to fish, helped “teach” my cousin to swim, drove a boat for the first time, told stories, enjoyed the fruits of my grandparents’ gardens, learned checkers, became a baseball fan, watched my first soap opera, got my first black eye, and so much more.  When we were looking for a gathering place in later years, it seemed only natural to choose Grand Lake.

Yes, we put everybody in one house, voluntarily, for four days.  This is apparently unusual for families.  I had no idea.  Until I became an “adult” (however, my nephew’s friend questioned my “adult” status this weekend), I thought everyone’s family was like this.  There’s lots of laughing and good-natured ribbing, but rarely a “real” argument.  Our discussions this last weekend ranged from health care and financial planning to theories on how my dad and his brothers managed to cheat at Apples to Apples (We’re not competitive at all: Insert sarcasm font here).  These weekends have been influential in a lot of my major decisions.  When I was trying to decide whether or not to take a job in Chicago, I brought it to the family on one of these weekends.  This year, I even brought the short story I’m going to be submitting for publication for them to read.  (The general consensus is basically that I’m weird, and it must be the weird books, television and movies I like.  This is an acceptable and expected response.)

Some of my favorite moments this year included taking my nephew and his friend out on a paddle boat (apparently kids under 14 can’t go alone.  My nephew was horrified.)  The wind blew so hard the little boat moved backwards, no matter how hard they paddled, and they had to work hard for their trip around the cove.  However, there were no (major) crashes with docks, a couple of turtle sightings, a threat was made to eject someone from the boat (and an unsuccessful attempt), and a lot of laughter (also a request to turn in the boat 15 minutes early).  Paddle boating is tiring.

My cousin’s boyfriend and my uncle attempted to teach us how to play the card game, Pitch.  We learned how to play a game, but I’m not sure it was Pitch.  They kept remembering rules they’d forgotten as we were playing (they were threatened with their lives discouraged from implementing new rules halfway through the game).  However, I think I have it now…maybe…there are a lot of rules.  The most important thing to come out of the game was a nickname for our new “teacher”.  He now goes by Pickles. (It is funnier if you were there).

Everyone got involved in Apples to Apples, which was a treat since one of my aunts usually refuses to play because she says we’re “awful”…not awful, just competitive.  (Really!)  Only a few of us had played the game before, so we got to teach it to everyone else.  The Three Amigos (otherwise known as my dad and his brothers) blew everyone else out of the water…especially my dad.  This is what led to the cheating accusations, well the unexpected domination in the game and a vast and varied history of cheating at board games.  (Seriously, they even cheat at checkers!)

Also there was singing!  My dad only knows one song, and only part of that.  Have you ever seen the movie Paint Your Wagon?  It is an old western starring Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin.  Until I saw this 1969 film, I had no idea that Eastwood could sing, and although it is Harvey Purcell who sings my dad’s song, They Call the Wind Mariah, it was this unsuspected side of Dirty Harry that stuck with me.

 

If I remember correctly, this was one of the first movies my parents went to when they started dating.  The first time I sat through this film, I made my parents promise me that I wouldn’t have to watch it again for 10 years. (I think I was 10.)  I did watch the movie again, and really enjoyed it. (What can I say, it’s no Star Wars but it is pretty good.).  Now, I’m willing to watch it whenever they want to.  I suppose, it is pretty sweet that my dad still sings a song from one of my parents first dates.

 

All of this to say, there really is nothing quite like family.  Next year’s lake trip can’t come soon enough.

‘Til next time,

Jessica

 


OK Go’s New Video: The Writing’s On the Wall

The first new video out by OK Go in years is visually stunning…the song’s pretty dang good too.  The video’s directors are doing a Reddit Ask Me Anything at 4:30 ET, so check it out!

‘Til next time,

Jessica


Neil Gaiman Talks: What ifs, Why fors, and Hows

Have I mentioned lately that I love Twitter?  Well, I do.  I find some of the greatest stuff there!  For example, today I haven’t even been on Twitter, but I got an email from them with tweets I may be interested in.  (You know the one I’m talking about).  Typically, I just delete the email and move on.  Really, I get too many emails (especially since I started applying for jobs online, 30 emails a day with results from job searches!).  This time the title Neil Gaiman Follows the Guiding Light of Instinct caught my attention, and I opened it up.  My mom may read this and see a bit of inspiration from him in the story I just gave her to edit (it is based on something her sister told her that scared her when she was little.  Oh yeah, she’s thrilled to be my editor on this one). Seriously though, I love reading his stuff.  The Ocean at the End of the LaneFragile ThingsStardust, Smoke & Mirrors…really, I haven’t found anything I didn’t enjoy.

This New York Times article delves into a bit of why we like to be scared by horror and frightening stories, they discuss his Carnegie Hall performance that is coming up the end of June, and his creative process.  His thought process as a kid reminds me a lot of myself.  I was always thinking of “what-if” scenarios…then torturing my sister with them.  When I asked if she thought I could scare someone in 2,000 words or less she didn’t even pause.  She interrupted me with a resounding “Yes, definitely!”.  If anyone would know, she would.  I practiced on her for our entire childhood…maybe I still use her as a guinea pig.  (Sometimes, I wonder why my family puts up with me.  I just gave my mom her childhood boogeyman to edit for me…hmm…best not ponder this one too much.)

TheTruthIsACaveInTheBlackMountainsThe Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains has been released in a special edition with the Eddie Campbell artwork, and, for those of you lucky enough to attend the Carnegie Hall performance, you’ll get to hear him read this to music by FourPlay string quartet and see the artwork.  You can purchase an edition of the book with illustrations by Eddie Campbell as well.  (Since not all of us can score tickets to Carnegie Hall…)  If you are attending this show, please email me or comment to tell me about it!

Did you ever play the “what if” game?  You know, making up terrible scenarios and stuff?

‘Til next time,

Jessica


I Lost My Job, Now What?

2045_wpm_lowresWhen I came back from Boston, I had a pretty big shock.  I lost my job.  This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Lately, I’d discovered I’d been yearning for quitting time and not putting my all into my job, and that’s just not who I am.  My big revelation of the amazing opportunity I’m presented with, came from the fact that I’ve slept better now than I have in months, and while there’s a lot of uncertainty in my life now, I’m honestly happier than I have been in a while.  Normally, Pharrell Williams’s Happy wouldn’t go along with unemployment, but we all know that “normal” isn’t applied to me often (if at all).

So, now I’m on this journey to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.  It should be obvious to anyone who’s read about my obsession with Legos, fascination with comic books, or Young Adult Fiction that “growing up” really isn’t something I aspire to do.  What I have discovered is that I am throwing myself into this job search with all the enthusiasm I didn’t have for my job in the end.

Also, self-control isn’t one of my strong suits and while I knew the job search is unquestionably necessary, I’ve allowed that to take over my brain.  Netflix and Assassins’ Creed are awfully tempting after a long day of doing all the boring things that a job search entails, especially when you’re trying to avoid telling all your readers that you are…exploring new professional opportunities.  It didn’t occur to me that blogging had become necessary too.  As last week wore on, it became harder and harder to focus on the things I knew had to be done, because I needed to get words on the page/screen/napkin.

This is my apology to you and to myself.  I shouldn’t have forgotten about doing the things I really enjoy, and I shouldn’t have felt like I needed to atone for some massive wrongdoing by denying myself the things that make me who I am. (I also haven’t picked up a book since I lost my job.)  A good friend reminded me that you cannot search for a job eight hours a day, seven days a week.  You’ll go insane.

My promise is this.  A post will go up every day Monday through Friday.  Bear with me if some of them are not up to my usual, but I’m trying to pull my head out.  I will never find a job I really enjoy if I keep myself from the things I enjoy.  Hell, it took a long time to begin to figure myself out, and I don’t want to forget that all because I’m not working for the first time since I was 16 years old.

To keep myself from becoming incredibly lazy (or just playing through all the Assassins’ Creed games before I get a new job), I’m job searching in the morning and in the afternoon I’m writing, finishing projects around the house, cleaning out…everything and maybe a little Netflix or gaming. (well, except this morning, because the lawn has to be mowed before it rains again.  Send up some good thoughts that my mower and I can make it through the jungle.)

‘Til next time,

Jessica


A Tale of Two Spocks

I am making this Star Trek week…because. I won’t be able to do much blog posting this week, and this is what happens when you just keep clicking on YouTube’s videos they recommend based on the one you’re watching.  It just…went boom.

Aannywaay, I really enjoy watching Leonard Nimoy and Zachary Quinto discuss Spock, Star Trek, and fans.  The J. J. Abrams movies have inspired me to go back and watch the rest of the Star Trek universe.  (That should keep me occupied for a while.)  It has been fun watching the friendships between crew members on the Enterprise develop, and seeing that translate to Spock from the original series and Spock from the new movies is just cool.

‘Til next time,

Jessica