Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Creative Differences Live//Performances//International Tour!

Hey Family!
       I've got some new live performance videos to share with you!!  While preparing for the impending May release of Creative Differences, A Split, D.o.drent and I have been performing a lot of shows and open mics.  We've yet to perform the material in a set together on stage, but this material has been in the pocket and on stage long enough that it's really polished.  He and I have recently posted videos shot of our solo songs from the project.  There are two more songs that we have made together (the title track "Creative Differences" that opens the split, and then "Cause & Effect" that closes the album out). We've yet to perform these pieces live together yet but look forward to and will certainly share them if/when they're filmed!
         His two performances of the songs "Walking Nightmare" and "Pawnographic" were shot in Rhode Island at Everett Company Stage during their "Open Stage" event on 3-7-14 and 2-7-14 respectively.  On the album version of "Walking Nightmare" you'll hear me perform a piece I call "Termagant" that I wrote specifically for the close of the song!
        My two songs "Work In Progress" and "Quality Vs. Quarantine"  were shot by my friend Elly Cornwell at an amazing show that I played at Long Island's The Velvet Lounge on 2-28-14!  There is also a short snippet of the aforementioned title track in this video, from the same night: "Creative Differences/Homesick Is Where The Heart Is"  as well as a video of me performing "What's Your Problem?" !  Please watch and share these videos, be sure to give feedback and subscribe to our channels, we could use the support and there is much more visually on the way!

A Word On Live Performance
       Second to writing, performing poetry and music is probably one of my favorite things to do.  The energy that is channeled and shared from the performer, the sharing of your art in a raw way and the connection that there is between the audience and the performer in an ideal way is the most rewarding and exhilarating thing I've come to be familiar with!  In my/the best performances, there are no walls or boundaries between myself and the onlooker, we are connected, our eyes are locked, words are exchange, and each person has a moment that we both know is specifically for them.   
    When people are interacting with the lyrics, singing and shouting back to me, rapping alongside me or coming up on stage to help me make music to perform my words over...we are connected, we are one.  So much love and sincerity passes between us in these moments and that is why I'm out performing 4 and 5 times a week.  I love it, I love people, meeting them and hearing them and giving them a distraction and something to enjoy and remember.  If music is to relate and connect to, then the performance ought to emphasize that and achieve that goal even more than the record does.  I think an album and a performance should be two different experiences.  The recorded project should be refined and everything is great, but the live performance is an opportunity to stray from that, touch the people (literally and figuratively!) in front of you, play around with what exists and make alternative versions of it.  My performances in those videos aren't perfect, and they don't exactly sound like the record, but there is a renewed life given to each song as I'm doing more than dialing into memory and locking into what the song sounded like when we recorded it, I'm using that as source material and tailoring that to what the moment in the venue calls for.  Some people have told me they wish my albums were more like my performances.  One day I may put out a project comprised of live songs, as there is an energy that comes out that far exceeds the precision that an immortalized and crisp recording requires.  Until then, you'll have to come out to an AllOne show! Click here for my updated performance schedule!

AllOne North America Summer tour!
   I'm planning on hitting the road again! Shortly after the May release of Creative Differences I'm planning to embark on a tour that spans nearly two dozen towns/cities around the country and even making my first foray into Canada!  I'm in the prelimenary stages of booking this DIY tour around the country right now for June/July...If you want me to come to your town or have some advice about any of the following cities, please don't hesitate to email me at AllOneVoice@gmail.com

This itinerary has no solid/current dates but has been chosen based on some places I know people/can set up events and where the Megabus will allow me to go, how I can leap-frog from city to city using the bus!  Right now my route is looking something like:
New York, NY
New Haven, CT
Hartford, CT
Boston, MA 
Burlington, VT
Saratoga Springs, NY
Albany, NY
Oneonta, NY
Morrisville, NY
Syracuse, NY
Rochester, NY
Buffalo, NY
Clevand, OH
Columbus, OH
Cincinatti, OH
Atlanta, GA
Nashville, TN
Indianapolis, IN
Chicago, IL
Detroit, MI
Ontario, Canada
Detroit, MI
Pittsburgh, PA
Philadelphia, PA
New York, NY

"The world a stage? One act play, we won't bow after curtains closing. 
We child actors earn Tony's...Wow factor-in spread smiles past your sadness, 
Pagliacci performed that best! Your role in Wonderland? The Looking Glass a Rorschach test."  
My closing lines from Cause & Effect.
See you from or on the stage I hope!
Love ya'll!

Monday, March 10, 2014

My First Radio Appearance!

Hey Allwunderkind!
This has been a year for new starts, I made my first appearance on radio! 
On March 3rd, I was featured on Stony Brook Universities' WUSB radio 90.1 FM on DJ JD's "Say Whats Radio" Monday afternoons from 3-5 where he brings in local musicians as guests! 
My friend talented new friend Kaila Mullady (check her youtube here) she's an accomplished beatboxer, beatrhymer, singer, improviser, guitar player, writer (basically an all around renaissance-woman-extraordinaire) and she joined me to do some renditions of songs!  Evidently we had one of the most supported and tune-in-to shows of the series...so thank you AllOne Family for giving so much love always!

       I had a really fun time, DJ JD (Jim Davis) was a great host, we kept it silly but also got a lot of information out there. I was allowed to sort of dictate the music played so I suggested a few of my friend's including Alexa Dexa, More Than Skies, Aqua Cherry.  With Kaila's accompaniment I did alternative versions of "Build Here" as well as debuted an alternative version of my song "Work In Progress" from Creative Differences: A Split (my aforementioned project with D.o.drent)!  Kaila and I also did a silly rendition of Will Smith's extended version of the Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air theme song (a cover demand that was left to me by my friends at Phantom and The Fox) that I wrote an additional verse on the end of discussing my affinity for Will Smith and his awesome career.  Kaila and I are huge fans of improv and usual collaborators in an improvisational setting, did a funny and good freestyle of Public Service Announcements at the tail end of the show (we found out they have to air PSAs on every show!).
         You can listen to the Will Smith cover and the alternative "Work In Progress" track below (be sure to follow the AllOne soundcloud and Say Whats Radio Soundcloud as well).  If you'd like to hear the whole show, you can download it from this Say Whats Radio Google Archive and look for the one marked with 3-3-2014 and our names.
I sincerely loved the experience of being on the radio so anyone who has a show or a podcast or something...please contact me if you need guests, I'd love to join you! Thank you Jim for the opportunity and for Kaila Mullady for joining me and for all of you who listened up and will continue to!  Be good to yourselves and one another, build things to invite people into not keep people out of!
Good day and good luck,

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

New England, New Album (Day Three & Four, Recording)

        Welcome back true believers!  Where were we? Ah, yes, we have been staying with our friend, my collaborator D.o.drent and if you haven't downloaded his free project on bandcamp yet, you ought to. it's not the most polished work but it has so much heart and raw potential and passion, and it is based on this and knowing how he could affect the people of the world and that he sincerely desires to, if only he were to cultivate his talents more so, that drove me to attempt to work with him and provide any sort of help I could.  On "All With Good Intentions" he is reaching hard to make a statement and a difference, to embrace his alternative Straight Edge culture and his unorthodox and open support of the LGBT community, which is refreshing and admirable.  Additionally, for every download, regardless of if you contribute money, he donates a dollar to "Get Equal Ohio" an LGBT activist group started by his friend Autumn.

The Studio (Sunday 2/16/14)

    Come Sunday, it was freezing cold and snowy.  It was the first recording day we were scheduled for with Ryan Stack at Format Audio in Amesbury, Massachusetts, which was an hour and a half from Owen's place.  Ryan has quite a lot of experience, although none with hip-hop music, and one the albums he did ("The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die" album that he engineered, Whenever, If Ever ended up going gold!) We had a freezing and snowy long drive ahead of us, I was suddenly getting sick, my nose congested and my throat hurting.  I've found this happens probably 50% of the time that I have scheduled studio time, I don't know why this is, but it is very frustrating and scary, especially being that I was away for this opportunity to do so.  Luckily, this condition, although it worsened over the day and the next, did not affect my breath control or the sound of my voice at all!  After grabbing some decongestant, energy drinks, apples and a bunch of trail mix and gas on the way (of course, tagging the gas station pump with an AllOne sticker) we began our drive.  During the lengthy trip Owen and I listened to Run The Jewels and practiced our lines and talked out ideas regarding the album.  
     I had a spoken word piece that I wrote as a guest outro to Owen's song "Walking Nightmare" as well as both of my solo songs to record and our two collaborative songs.  Our session was only 6 hours and we were nervous about getting it all done in time, especially considering Owen hadn't even had all of his material completed.  One boon was that I was very familiar with my solo songs as I've been done with them and performing them for about a year now so I knew everything by heart and generally how I wanted things to sound as far as the mixing and effects.  I was also a little nervous anticipating working with someone on a serious project that wasn't Michael Korb for the first time in a professional environment.  There have been a handful of people I've recorded verses or singles with, but primarily my entire recording experience has been through Sixth Street Studios/Space Debris Productions with Mike Korb and his patience and our longstanding friendship was an environment I'd come to be accustomed to and maybe even dependent on when it came to recording.   

                                             Format Audio, Working with a New Producer
      We arrived in Amesbury around 2pm, it's a quaint little town and the studio was in a modest red brick building in a snow-ridden space that Ryan was renting out to utilize as the headquarters of Format Audio.  Luckily Ryan was really accommodating and patient, he was professional and easy to work with.  We had decided the priority was to get all my material done first since it was rare that I'd be here.  The first thing we recorded was my poem, this was an auspicious and interesting start.  The way that Tony Mahoney's beat for "Walking Nightmare" ended initially was with a bit of piano and then the beat came back in for a while.  I decided that it would have sounded better if ti were just the piano part while I did my poem so that I wasn't to be compelled to stay on beat and to truly maintain the general rhythmic lawlessness of my spoken word piece.  This being decided, Ryan asked me how long he should make it.  I threw a guess out there "I don't know, 60 seconds?"  Owen, somehow says "Run the piano part for 70 seconds Ryan", though I don't know how he got 70 from 60.  Regardless, I performed the poem perfectly in one take and Owen's odd misinterpretation ended up perfectly ending my piece with the last two letters right after the music ends. It was so serendipitous and perfect, it was very encouraging and funny!  
     While I worked on my songs, Owen productively used the time to work on his final verse for the project.  During those next few hours I recorded my solo songs for the project.  The first song I did was "Work In Progress", a raw and confessional song discussing the idea that we are always changing and encountering challenges and finding flaws in ourselves.  In the song I share a lot of personal woes and standpoints, as well as acknowledging my history as a wild aspiring stuntman when I was younger.  My overall message is that is important is to maintain a persistent willingness to evolve, to love yourself and the ebbing and flowing world around us, and to humbly improve upon ourselves and encourage others to do the same. "Ideally I wish I'd whisper 'sweet nothings' in your ears, but really I'll just speak so much you'll wish I wasn't there. My heart isn't encased in any sort of picture frame, it ripped the cage and slipped away much like the Grinches' eh?"  
         The second song I recorded, which I ended up asking Owen to do some guest vocals on, is called "Quality Vs. Quarantine". It is about my personal romantic history as well as examining and cautioning against being so cynically guarded that you shut yourself out from the beautiful things of the world.  At a certain point, caution becomes a diseases in itself.  "Intense, advanced or cultured, this mentally relaxed persona is actually a fragile, vulnerable bundle of nerves I control with intent to use empathy to effectively represent life vividly." It is a tribute to the spurned, a helping hand and a hope to remind us that while it's important to learn from the past, we should be careful not to let our wounds restrictively govern us!
        I sing on the choruses of both of these songs, making use of that new found passion, and always hoping to evolve the vision and contribute new aspects of myself to what I make.  Owen and I then started working on the closing track of the album that he creatively spearheaded called   "Cause and Effect".  We have a call and response interaction on the chorus and we both get long solo verses as well as an aforementioned 32 bar verse that we trade 4 bar phrases on.  I feel that "Cause and Effect" is a great song with strong writing and delivery over an instrumental that is uplifting and amazing. It is a beautiful way to end the album.
     Around 8:30 we had to wrap up and we still had the title track of the album, the last collaborative song, my brainchild, to do.  Ryan was generous enough to agree to have us come in for another three hours the next day on Monday the 17th.
We drove home tired but ecstatic to have the end of this long and interesting journey in sight!

The Final Day and Final Song! (Monday 2/17/14)
I woke up Monday morning with my throat killing me and my nose paradoxically runny and yet congested.  I was not happy about this at all and was really nervous about how it'd affect the recordings.  Owen was dead tired having worked eight consecutive days prior to my arrival.  We got breakfast at Friendly's and was working on Owen's verse that he'd written at the studio the day before.  We rapped back and forth and brainstormed and cleaned up and contributed to what I feel is a really solid verse from him (his solo verse on the song "Creative Differences").  "Creative Differences", a sort of alternative music/lifestyle anthem to introduce the project, a proud forewarning of the unorthodox nature of our styles and approaches both stylistically and in terms of subject matter.  It is some of my strongest and most direct writing and precisely issues a challenge to the listeners, to other musicians and a reminder that I/we will always endeavor to challenge ourselves, for that is what defines an artist!   We were certainly tired but our spirits were high, and all motivated we headed back out to an earlier session in the studio, arriving about quarter to 1.  
We cleaned up some parts we had scrutinized from the session before and went in wholeheartedly on the last of the material.  Ryan was really in sync with us this second day and was even more socially involved with us and Owen and I had gotten into a productive rhythm that was no-nonsense but also was amiable and positive.  We got our songs done and I feel and felt really good about them.  All that was left to do was do some mixing and mastering as well as sample in some voice-mails that we had collected over the past year or so to tie the project together and the theme of our experience as friends and artists, a testament to the connective power of music.  We thanked Ryan enthusiastically, surprised and glad to have gotten everything done!!  

Job Done, Just Begun, The Support of Friends and Family.     
   Owen was completely done overall and we opted out of attending a Boston poetry slam.  As though to make up for it he treated us both to an incredible offshoot of Chipotle (you may remember this as Alexa Dexa and my tour food of choice) called Cilantro in Providence.  We then went back to his house to visit his funny brother Myles' friends Julien, Joe and Remy, all of whom were really hilarious and kind to me.  We talked and watched funny internet videos and bad rappers and just goofed off.  They all generously (including Owen's Mom Libby) bought CD's and t-shirts and asked me to sign them and overall it ended up paying for my portion of the recording, which was incredibly humbling and amazing.  So much love to all of those guys for supporting me and making me feel like someone special, I hope I can return the favor!  We ended up hanging out until maybe one in the morning despite having to be up at 5am to get to my 6:45 Megabus from Providence to NYC and return home.  
     The trip went differently than we both expected, we didn't perform at all but we spent a lot of time together, we created something we were proud of, we are on track to releasing a work of art that we are proud of and genuinely feel will contribute something to listeners.  We got along well and met a lot of new people and learned things about one another and ourselves.  We went from distant friends and artistic collaborators to close friends with inside jokes and a work of art we will give the world in a few months and feel justified in doing so.  I am grateful to have this experience. Many thanks to Owen and his family for posting me up and supporting me and believing in my music and my visions, for being family to me!   
Now all the post recording work needs doing, we are on schedule, I got my photo shoot done and half my half of the artwork finished, Owen has a photo shoot planned and we are waiting on Ryan Stack to send us mixes back.  We will release the album in may and celebrate and share its release in June on a tour which we will begin planning around several states and across the northern border into Canada!  If anyone would like us to come out to see us anywhere, plan a show with us, share a living room/stage/couch/night/weekend with us, please contact me at AllOneVoice@gmail.com

Thank you all for staying tuned in, I hope to affect you positively.  Go connect with people despite (or because of) your differences! You will surely find yourself enriched and surprised!
Much love!


New England, New Album (Day Two, Writing)

Welcome back to the continued chronicles of my Massachusetts trip, album recording adventures with North Attleboro's own "D.o.drent" my travel host/album collaborator and friend! Feel free to read the account of the prior day of arrival HERE!

Turn (Snow?)Pitfalls To Windfalls (Feb 2/15)
  I woke around 6am and started my day as I always do, reading.  Then I began working on some of the writing I was doing (for this piece "Flesh" for an avant garde sort of ep I've been writing on and off for a while).  I found that I wake much earlier than Owen and in his words: "My friends say I've got an overbearing amount of energy but you're on another level from me even, I don't know how you do it.".  I think I'm just really hard on myself about relaxing so I'm sort of frantic and hyperactive, it certainly isn't always a good thing!  Regardless, I started my day as I always do, reading.  There was snow on the ground and, according to Owen's mother Libby, there was more impending.  Our agenda for the day was really to finish writing our material for the record in anticipation of the studio the following day, and to attend a rap cypher at Providence's own AS220 at night.  Around 11am Owen and I headed out to a quaint local owned diner called JD's and ate delicious breakfasts (mushroom/cheese/franks hot sauce omelet? My tongue is drowning in watery reminiscence!)  We thought out some more lines and figured some verses, laughing self-consciously about these older folks starting their morning with some young jerks mumbling through raps excitedly over breakfast.

 Snowed in: 12 Hours Of Writing and Rehearsing
   We returned to the house as the snow began falling harder and upon arrival, were informed that there was definitely a foot or so impending, and it's likely a parking ban would be issued in Providence, preventing us from attending the event.  Rather than get upset, we just took it as an opportunity to work more on our material.  We now had an entire day and night snowed in to rehearse our songs, write the pieces we had to    (Owen and I both had material for two songs to do for the sunday afternoon recording sessions tomorrow).  That being said, we holed up and worked on songs for roughly ten hours, taking breaks to eat and freestyle, toss ideas back and forth and just got to know each other better as people and as artists.  Prior to this, I'd never really collaborated with another writer/rapper.  I mean, Mr. Phillips and I did a few songs together, where he generously invited me on a guest verse (Check out his debut album "Songs For Selena") but never  sat down in a room with a person and wrote with them.
       Owen's writing style is different than mine, which is to be expected.  His musical influences are totally opposite of mine for the most part, despite the origin of our friendship being a mutual appreciation for FL rapper 24/7 he writes very dense referential lyrics, similar to what I do, the difference being rather than most of my work being phonetic or simile-based plays on words with references, he utilizes a densely clever patchwork of nods to song titles/album titles and band names to create a sort of lyrical quilt or ransom note to paint his pictures and get his points across.  Admittedly, a lot of what he says goes over my head, but then he breaks down why it's intricate and intelligent and I'm blown away by the amount of puzzle-riddle-meticulous work he has put in.  Grindcore/hardcore music fans will probably need GPS diapers (because they're going to lose their shit) in the event of hearing his verses.  He has grown a lot as a writer and performer in the year or so that we've come to work with him, and in the least condescending way possible, I'm proud of him and the direction he is taking his talent.  The work I've put in on this project has been undoubtedly my most vulnerably introspective and stripped down to date.  The messages and honesty I've worked to impart on this small batch of songs are on a totally different and from the response thus far, emotionally impacting level than much of my previously, perhaps more cryptic or esoteric and philosophy driven work.  I am eager to share it with you, for I'm very proud of it.
    By nightfall exhausted, excited, and elated I finished writing my last song worth of material with him, (A song he came up with called "Cause and Effect" which will be the album closer) and continued to tweak it syllable by syllable tediously and obsessively as I always do.  I use the song as a platform to ponder who I am as a person and an artist, what my motives are and how I've gotten here, what this means to me.  We got to do a 32 bar final verse where we trade off four bar phrases and that was a really fun new experience for me.  It reminded me of a new era version of what I do at the end of Origami Observance with Joli Ienuso or at the end of Intertwining Storytime on my own.  This segment is particularly strong I feel, some of my most lyrically clever/intricate work on the project as a matter of fact!  I endeavored to end the album with boldly optimistic and strong statements regarding dedication to my craft, to myself and most importantly, that listeners will realize this same necessity for passion in their lives!
"The world a stage, one act play, we don't bow after
curtains closing. We, child actors? Earn Tonys! "wow-factor-in-
spread smiles past your sadness, Pagliacci performed that best!
Your role in Wonderland? The Looking Glass a Rorschach Test" 
-My last lines on the album during"Cause & Effect"
Come back again to hear about the last two days in the studio recording of the album! 
You'll always work harder if you love your work, but if you truly love it, you'll never notice it or care!
Much love,

New England, New Album (Day One, The Arrival)

Hey AllOne Family I've got great news! My new album with D.o.drent "Creative Differences: A Split" has been entirely recorded (at Format Audio by Ryan Stack in Amesbury Massachusetts) and just needs some mixing and design work and to be pressed and we are on schedule to release it in May!  I stayed with Owen from Friday February 14-18th (tuesday)! Here is an overview of the trip in a series of thoughts and anecdotes...

Connecting With People Old and New (Friday 2/14)

 The night before I left, I stayed with my Grandma, so we could spend time together and I could leave my car there and she could bring me over to the train Friday morning.  She has been living alone since my Poppy passed,the one I wrote "Pennsylvanian Patriarch" for, and I can't imagine how difficult that must be to suddenly have your life switched over like that.  We talk and tell each other stories and eat all sorts of homemade food and listen to music and comment on silly television shows. It is relaxing and beautiful, she is a wonderful woman who is always loving and supportive of me and my music, I miss my Poppy whenever I go over there, but I'm grateful to at least have my Grandma still with me. Valentines Day, Friday morning she dropped me off at the train station at around 10:30.  It feels surreal that this time last year I was in a healthy relationship and in Houston, Texas.  Appropriate to be on the road again to make something new, to have a change of scenery musically and geographically. I had to be at the Megabus in NYC(which you all need to use for travel, my ticket from NYC to Providence, RI was $1. Seriously, one dollar) at 11:45am.  My train ride into NYC was fine and I was able to get a little reading done. All weekend I was reading Kurt Vonnegut's "Welcome To The Monkey House" which has since become one of my favorite works by him.  The walk to the Megabus was really cold but I managed it fine.

    I got on the bus and found my seat, people were looking for spots and this young guy was looking around apprehensively, I moved my backpack and coat off the seat adjacent to me and invited him to sit down.  He thanked me and I went back to reading and writing.  He was on the phone for a while with friends and I overheard him talking a lot about music and video, it seemed he was a rapper.  After he got off the phone he saw me writing in a notebook and we got to talking.  He went by the name Chris Real, and was an aspiring rap artist from the city.  He was a really nice guy and it seemed like his head was in the right place with what he wanted to do with music and why.  I asked him if he knew anyone of my friends from the Buendia Brooklyn crew, and he didn't, so I advised him to seek them out as they have a very supportive and tight familial group of good artists they run.  I also showed him "Work In" which he flipped out on and loved it.  We kept talking for another two hours about all sorts of things, he was headed to meet his girl in Providence for the weekend and we arrived not only uninterrupted by the snow, but a half hour earlier than expected!  I felt that this went on to show that taking risks isn't so bad, socially and otherwise.  I've yet to hear from Chris, but I wish him well with his life and music career!

Owen Arrives
   Owen picked me up at the bus station, I spent a cold half hour stickering up the area.  Owen arrived highly animated fresh out of work to taxi me around in his appropriately yellow car, decorated with band stickers (some of which were mine!).  He took me to his home in North Attleboro, Massachusetts, which is right on the border of Rhode Island.  We listened to his music of choice, grindcore/emo/hardcore, none of which is my flavor at all, and I was reminded how interested and true the "Creative Differences" theme/subject really is!
   We transitioned to listening to a series of rap duos/groups to sort of get some inspiration about what other pairs of lyricists have done.  This became a sort of staple throughout the weekend. We listened to the following, all of them are incredible groups and their individual participant's solo careers are incredible and worth perusing:
Run The Jewels (El-P and Killer Mike)
Prey For Paralysis (Sadistik and Kristoff Krane)
Hail Mary Mallon (Aesop Rock and Rob Sonic)
The Contraverse (Obeah and Kontent)
Flight Distance (Bender and Patience)
Greenhouse (Blueprint and Illogic)
                                        Deep Puddle Dynamics (Slug, Sole, Alias and DoseOne)
Our drive brought me to his beautiful house where he has three adorable dogs and where his mother and father invited me in like family.  Owen was festively and flatteringly wearing his AllOne shirt and it impressed me as his mother and I spoke ,how involved and interested in her son's life musically, creatively and socially she was.  She knew what friend was involved in what band and so on, she had listened to songs he listens to and knew local music history/venues as well.  I don't have that support of kinship in the creatively colloquial with my own parents, so it was something I really appreciated and admired seeing.  It was really cute to see "All1 Bruce coming" written on her day planner and on her several cork board mosaics of the most incredible pinback button collections I'd ever seen, and peering humbly out from the crowd was her AllOne pin!  I felt like a celebrity!  We goofed off imitating aggressive rappers on our way to eat something new and interesting (ended up being a sort of pizza hut type place called Papa Ginos, which Owen was baffled I'd never eaten at)  I only had a salad and was munching on apples and trail mix all day, trying to maintain healthiness.  We retired to his place, they'd set up a pull out couch bed for me in Owen's spacious finished basement apartment. I worked on some writing (for the split and otherwise) and we eventually I passed out mid-writing, his laughter from a Ron White comedy special in my ears.

Stay tuned for the account of the rest of the trip!
Be adventurous, take risks and meet new people!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Love, Travel, and New Music!

Happy Valentines Day!
   Whatever that means to you! or whether the holiday is a primarily capitalist venture pressuring couples into spending money on each other as opposed to time or genuine humble appreciation whenever/wherever they feel like it, that is besides the point.  I want to wish you all days and lives filled with love and sincerity, be it romantic love or love for your friends and family or passion for something intangible like art or a hobby or a career.  I can't help but feel we as a culture undervalue vulnerability and the necessity that it is to express affection to one another.  I don't mean you have to be all mushy and lovey all the time, but just remind people why they're important to you.  I make a habit of letting people know when I think of them, and if I reminisce about them, I reflect on how they've affected me positively or what they've taught me.  This could be a symptom of my ever-wandering brain but I think our thoughts stray to people from time to time and why not just tap them on the shoulder and give them a hug, figuratively or literally?  Times are tough for everyone, and you'd be surprised to know how much a bit of love can do.  So from the bottom...no, the ENTIRETY of my heart, I love you all for supporting me and helping me to be where I am today.  I sincerely wish you a day....no, a life during which you can see the magnificence in everything and fall in love with yourself and the people and surroundings and experiences around you!  Take a listen and feel free to download my song with Dyslexia and Sik Sense called "Warm Love" I have the last verse in which I talk about the affectionate relationship between myself and my listeners, and how without you I'd be unable to do what I do half as well!

Back on the road! (Island Hopping)

     I'm back on the road! This time last year I was in Houston, Texas with Alexa Dexa staying with our friend Nick!  I find myself at my grandmother's house again this year, about to take a four hour Megabus trip from NYC to Providence, Rhode Island. I've yet to visit Rhode Island, but it is the place that my favorite artist, the one who sparked my entire interest in hip hop music, Sage Francis, an artist who I can't emphasize the importance of in music and my life enough who I highly recommend.  He brings a cleverness, intelligence, and a candid vulnerability to hip hop and music in general that is just refreshing, jarring and beautiful.  I have missed being on the road very much, and once I release my new projects I am eagerly looking forward to traveling a lot more and bringing my art and passion to new places and people!  I've thus far tried to set a goal to be on a significant trip for music at least once a month this year!  As for the four hour bus ride, I'm rather excited for it.  It will provide me an opportunity to work on some writing I've been needing to get done.  It's sort of a mobile forced work-station.  Many people groan when they anticipate a long trip, even if I am driving, I simply don't mind the travel, I just put on some music and enjoy the montage that unfolds.  I have recently been listening to Eddie Vedder's Into The Wild Soundtrack, and it is beautiful and only fortifying and encouraging my wanderlust.  Highly advised you listen up!  Go adventure, the world is huge and the people are wonderful!  Onto the nature of the journey...  

Creative Differences: A Split

     The purpose for this trip is to make progress on my forthcoming collaborative album, which you should be able to hear in May.  I'm going to stay for a few days with my friend Owen aka D.o.drent, whom I've been working on this collaborative six song project titled "Creative Differences: A Split" for a while now.  The production on it is handled moodily and masterfully by UK producer Tony Mahoney whose gritty lo-fi beats provide the perfect backdrop for the most bare and emotional lyricism Owen or myself has released to date.  There are topics of passion, oneself, love for others, a sincerity for your craft and coping with heartbreak thus far addressed.  The format of the album is that we both get two solo songs, and then we are doing two songs collaboratively.  Everyone who has heard my material for this project thus far has generously claimed it to be some of their favorite work of mine, which I'm very proud to say, as I'm always trying to advance myself to a new level or uncharted territory.  This trip is the first time I've spent a length of time with Owen in person, although we've become close friends over the phone for a year or so now as we've worked on this project casually.  I did meet him when I took a trip to perform at All Asia in Cambridge with Aqua Cherry earlier last year, I've posted a silly photo from our hangout below!
         My big goals for this trip are as follows:
**Finish the writing of the album (Owen has some parts for our collaborative songs he's still working out, and the song that closes the album still needs a lot of leg work, I've yet to be told the concept or have a chance to write on it).
**Perform a few different venues, we have primarily open mics involved, as despite my hard work and research we couldn't seem to find anywhere fitting that had an open schedule.  My advice with touring is even when you can't find feature shows to book, spend those nights at open mics.  Often, these are even more advantageous than featured shows because they have a built in crowd and a more social atmosphere for you to meet people in the area.  This being true, I don't entirely view the inability to book shows (this time around, who knows what our experiences this weekend will bring for our opportunities next time) as a loss.
**Lastly, to record the majority of the album with Owen.  We have studio time booked for Sunday with Ryan Stack at Format Audio in Amesbury.  I've heard fantastic things about Ryan and his accolades are noteworthy.  My approach will be at least to get our collaborative songs done first, as we don't easily get an opportunity to work together.  I may record my two songs ( "Work In Progress" and "Quality vs. Quarantine") as well, I have them embedded in my head so I could probably just do them in one or two takes without referencing a lyrics sheet.  Here is a video of me performing "Work In Progress" the WITT live last month, courtesy of Peter Paprota.  We are also going to have Owen's friend from Mandee Rose Photography  film and document the whole studio experience so that we can later use the footage for teasers/videos/promotion/nostalgia whatever else.

Of course, my biggest goal is to enjoy the experience, take in all the new sights and sounds and spend time with a friend and make good memories and art!  I've got to finish this coffee and get myself ready for my departure!  I'll keep you updated!
So much love to you all!
Sincerely and ever lovingly,

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Super Poem Sunday (my first Slam Poetry Contest)

Hey AllOne Family...Yep, that's me, Steven T. Licardi and Kathaleen Donnelly, with 3rd, 2nd, and 1st place positions (respectively) in a SLAM poetry event, the first one I'd ever attended!  In short, be sure to always challenge yourself and bring yourself into new situations, the worst thing that happens no matter what is you have a new experience!  My new motto...(no, not "Y.O.L.O.")
"Compete with yourself, you'll always come out a winner"
Here's the story:
    Being as I'm not a football fan or follower in any capacity this past Sunday, (February 2nd) I went to a function called Super Poem Sunday at the Walt Whitman Birthplace in South Huntington.  During this event the main entertainment was to be a SLAM poetry contest, where upwards of 40 poets would share a poem that was 3 minutes or shorter and would be judged, winning awards and nominal amounts of money.The event was set up by The Bards InitiativeThe Long Island Poetry Collective, and The Performance Poetry Association.  If you are a poet or writer of any kind I recommend that you get in touch with or become involved in the social and creative circles cultivated by these three groups.  The atmosphere that is promoted and perpetuated by these people is friendly, inspiring and encouraging.  The talent is abundant, humbling and motivating!

    I'd never been to the Walt Whitman Birthplace, which is a completely unassuming little building that you can pass by easily even if using a GPS.  It has a rustic lodge feel with the informational panels that you'd think herald the opening ups of zoo enclosures.  Admittedly I didn't know much of Whitman's history or work, despite knowing that he was a Long Island native/resident. His story is/was really interesting, a pioneer and a bit controversial for his time.  He looked like Santa Claus or Karl Marx, or an old picture of God and from what I gathered, he was sort of the Woody Guthrie of poetry. Whitman was a speaker of the people, a dusty hardworking man with no ego and a lot of heart.  His recurring and widely recognized work "Leaves Of Grass" (released in 1855) was influential and innovative for it's time and continued to grow as he was reprinted dozens of times over his lifetime.  What was really interesting to me was that the first run of "Leaves Of Grass" didn't have his name anywhere, just a picture of him in it.  Ralph Waldo Emerson was a fan of his and this encouraged him to continue to write.  One quote that I read that stuck out to me, that I ended up writing down was in response to friends and critics that advised he censor or alter the course of his work and vision.  On this he says: "I felt down in my soul the unmistakable conviction to disobey all and pursue my own way".  I think we'd all be hard pressed to find someone who doesn't identify with that, whether they recall having acted on that necessarily selfish desire to be who and what you feel you are in spite of everything else, or you are someone who wishes so badly to "be able to do that".  We pilot ourselves through this life, let nobody hijack your flight!  The birthplace, as you'd imagine was very informative both on his personal history and the style of his work and progression of it.  Here's an archive of his work, and some photos I took of the informational parts of the building.

        The building must have filled in with something like 50-70 people, which is huge, especially for a poetry event!  My friend Kelly accompanied me to it.  There were tons of great poets there, and while I made a list of those who performed,  I think it'd be exhaustive to list it here (no disrespect to any of the poetic family that gathered here!).  Quite honestly, everyone involved was supremely talented, genuine and supportive of one another.  I always feel confident and loved and loving at these events. I feel proud of myself and my surroundings, not because I think I'm great, but because I think what we are all doing is great and it is affirming to be among those who share your love for something dear to you! I consider myself a writer before I consider myself anything else (performer, musician, singer, ect).  I've been actively and purposefully reacquainting myself with the poetry scene  because there is no ego or competition at these events, there is just a refreshing love for the craft and those who love it likewise.

   I ended up being the third or fourth performer.  The piece I performed is called "Anti-social-network-ethic" which I originally wrote as a guest part on my friend Knife's song "Least Entertamed" for his forthcoming album, I highly recommend you helping him and his group Dope Sandwich Productions  they make some fun and traditional hip hop.  Knife's album is a sort of blend of Trent Reznor and hip hop, as he explained to me when I met him and The Contraverse at a Comiskey Park show that my friends Last Of The Horsemen played while on tour.  I have been integrating it as a spoken word piece into my set lately.  You can watch the performance my friend Kelly filmed on this video here or on the AllOne Youtube (which I'd appreciate if you subscribed to, this year I'll be adding a ton more video work to it!).  The sharing of this poem ended up earning me third place, which paid for me entry fee to the event, meaning I got to have a beautiful experience socially and artistically for free, which would have been worth it, whether I won anything or paid to get in!  My friend Steven T. Licardi (The Sven Bo) performed in the slot just after me.  He is a phenomenal poet and person and you should visit his blog "Cross My Heart and Hope To Write" He ended up getting 2nd place, and I'm glad he placed because his performance was impacting and it was a poem with a lot of meaning.
     There was a silly Super Bowl parody vibe about the entire production and it was entertaining and goofy and everyone was in good spirits. There was  "half time" intermission and a hilarious skit involving a false news reporter in the vein of Rod Serling with a "poem vortex" that only resurrected poet impressions could salvage, (such as Whitman, Edgar Alan Poe, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost and Sylvia Plath) all with mock-style-parodies written and performed by participating poets.  Kathaleen Donnelly performed a piece which more than earned her first place and the "Most Valuable Poet" title!  Despite being a "contest", I think it is important to emphasize that nobody felt hurt, no one felt cheated, everyone was happy for everyone and there was an amicable and supportive environment throughout the event!

   This experience was a phenomenal one.  It gave me something to do on a day that is largely governed by a sports tradition that I don't identify with.  It allowed me to spend time among talented people whom I really loved interacting with, seeing plenty of old friends and meeting many new ones!  I did something not entirely different for me, but taking the idea of "competition" (even in a fostering and warm environment) to my work was new to me, and it felt really good. I felt rewarded just by the enriching rattling of my nerves and the inspiring hard work and heartfelt sharing of other's art.  I will certainly seek out more SLAM poetry events, to compete in and to spectate during.
 As it is, I am doing two poetry features in the next two months. Feel free to attend and read during the open mic portion, share a poem in an environment that is positive, open and supportive!
February 25th at Sachem Library,
March 17th at the Bellmore Bean 
    I encourage you all to get involved in your local communities, gather together, regardless of your interest, whether you're poets, athletes, whittlers, singers, songwriters, whatever it is, just connect with each other and relish in your passion for something.  Something as private as our favorite things to do can paradoxically be fortified by the discovery that others love it and worship it as much as we do, in their own ways!
So with that story shared I encourage you:
Compete with yourself, you'll always come out a winner!
Love always,