Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

We hear about local, national and international artists releasing new songs, EPs and soundtracks all the time.  Such fanfare and pageantry!  Producers, Engineers, Writers, Marketing Gurus and Designers are paraded through a gauntlet of praise.

Not so for me.  I write all the lyrics and music for my songs unless otherwise noted in the post.  Some lyrics take years to form after learning from time and experiences.  The odd one just jumps out at me and is written in one sitting.  There are verses or bridges waiting for a home.  Smashing them together will work in a pinch, but I have found that everything has its place and it is better to wait for the right project than to force a marriage. 

My early recordings find me singing and playing bongos or other cheap percussion toys that survived my pre-teen years.  I finally worked enough chores to buy an acoustic guitar that was a step or two above the ukulele and nylon guitars I would get for Christmas presents from my parents.  (As stated before – I blame my mom for all of this LOL)

Writing this I think that might have been my motivation for getting and keeping jobs at an early age….. It was so I could buy instruments, recorders, microphones, gadgets; toys no one would buy for a kid.  Hmmm.   

On this blog I post a lot of songs where I play all the instruments on the recording.  I use as many acoustic instruments as I can and these days the computer is also the recorder, FX, sound source and MIDI controller.  So I use a lot of strings, pianos, drum and mood sounds that are ‘sampled’ from the real instruments and stored on the computer so we can use MIDI controllers to generate the sound of each.  So, while I do not play violin or trumpet, I can do my best to recreate their behavior using various MIDI parameters.  I also have friends come over and record guitar or vocal parts.  My wife and I also sing vocals on the majority of my songs.              

After that I am the engineer, producer, promoter – ha!, and all the other knit-picking things one has to do to keep all this going year after year.  That, and have a regular day job and family.

Many recordings are not the greatest and are not as polished as I would like to see them some day.  I think a few are great.  I share them with you not as gleaming product ready for the digital consumer’s shelf.   I get a song to the point others can listen to get the outline and vibe.  Maybe the listener is a producer or band member that could see their group performing unique songs.  

With that in mind, thank you as always for your visits, and please enjoy songs I have written for the last fifty years.  I am excited to see what I will do in the next fifty!

Waiting for the band

JJAR in the Studio

Noodling at Night
Mix Session
Studio and Gig Set Up
Room to Play!
Careful with that Axe, Eugene!
Drums and Triggers
Full Studio
Racks at Night
Location Recording Rack

Here are a few pictures I took recently in the Red River Gorge, KY area.  We stayed in a cabin for my birthday and the first morning watched the sunrise over the hills and into the valley.  The fog was the best constantly changing eye candy!

 

                                                                         © MSK 11-15-18

Let’s say it like it really is.

We use so many words that hide what they are.

Wherever there is an imbalance

And desires are raised beyond reason.

 

We make everything sound fine.

Truth is where we look it’s not very pretty.

What appears to be the best things in life

Turns against us when we need it the most.

 

Guns, lies, love, faith, kindness and truth.

They are all weapons in the wrong hands.

              Call them what you will but don’t turn your back:

They are all weapons in the wrong hands.

 

Guns have no power to do harm.

Before adoration or anger picks one up.

The empty lies should have no meaning

Until they come from someone we trust.

 

There’s nothing we won’t do for love.

No end to the crimes committed in blinding faith.

Murder is no more than taking a life

Unless it hides behind kindness and truth.

 

Guns, lies, love, faith, kindness and truth.

They are all weapons in the wrong hands.

              Call them what you will but don’t turn your back:

They are all weapons in the wrong hands.

 

 

Letter 306

Here are two little things that bug me about traffic patterns and planning.  Maybe it is just me, but if I am driving in residential or even business areas where there are a lot of intersections, I think it is weird and dangerous when you come to an intersection but the traffic coming from a dead-end street does not have to stop.  This seems to happen a lot where a main road ends in cul de sacs where the “dead-end” is only one block long.  Not much traffic comes from there and it is easy to miss the fact that on-coming traffic has no stop sign.

The second minor thing is when you have multiple lanes of road or entry ramps to a highway where the lanes merge and signs say the left lane ends!  Again this does not make logical sense.  Merging traffic in the US comes in from the right lane the vast majority of the time.  The right lane is the slow or merge/exit lane.  Faster traffic is encouraged to use the left lanes, implying they have priority.  Why tell a priority lane that the lane ends…… merge into the right lane……. and sometimes when you reach the end of the entry ramp you have to merge left again?   These little things just bug me from time to time.DSC_0010

                                                                             

   © MSK 1-31-2017

You can leave your eyes open

But you have to learn how to see.

Experience and perspective

Blinds us like the forest through the trees.

 

The banker filters Loss and Profit

The value in everything, no value at all.

Time wasted is time not making money

Some will rise but many more will fall.

 

A poet looks through other’s eyes

Ignoring their own feelings or thoughts.

We know every photographer

Measures life through memories lost.

 

Consumption of energy by every living thing

The hunter understands death has a price.

The farmer learned to replace what you take.

Knows the beauty beyond once or twice.

 

The brain reconstructs what the eye sees.

Colors, depth, lies or possibilities.

Culture reinforces common thoughts or beliefs.

Stealing and selling truth like common thieves.

 

Forget what you have learned

To know what others know.

Share knowledge you have earned

And watch humanity grow.

Happy National Geek Day!

Posted: July 13, 2017 in Uncategorized

I have always considered myself to be a geek.  Most of my friends are geeks in one way or another.  And on this day of national recognition (I know, most people are not aware there is even a geek day!) I want to share a thought I have on the subject.

We have all heard that the meek shall inherit the Earth.  I just think that needs to be updated a bit.  At the time of this saying, there were no geeks.  They existed, but the word did not!  So years ago I changed it to ‘the geeks shall inherit the Earth.  Sounds better to me LOL!

Now, give your favorite geek a hug.  Life is much better with them around!

I am still here

Posted: June 2, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

And Alive.  

All is well.20151010_194456

 

Stay tuned, much more to come!

 

 

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Unseen Dimensions

It is great to be human.  We see beyond our primitive instincts.  We learn by watching others.  We know things our senses blind us to.  We carry lessons learned from one event and apply to others.  This is one of the reasons I love photography.  Our naked eyes and untrained mind can hide what is right in front of us.  With the simple ability to focus and zoom, we are no longer limited to what the unaided eyes communicate to the brain.  With the pictures in this post, it is easy understand the dramatic change in focus alone.  Each picture was taken in the same place and at almost the exact same time.  A slight change in focus and what was invisible becomes clear.  Zoom in further and what is hidden directly in front of us becomes unmistakable.

Perhaps looking for other dimensions is just like that; maybe we need a simple device like the lens array in a camera.  Once we learn how to look – we may be able to see them all around us.

There is a joke, not much of a joke really, but a saying that describes a point of view we too often have in the United States:

Question:

What do you call it when you speak two languages?

Answer:

Bi-lingual.

Question:

What do you call it when you speak several languages?

Answer:

Multi-lingual.

Question:

What do you call it if you speak one language?

Answer:

American.

As you can see it is not really funny and not really a joke, but I use this often to remind myself how different our decisions and thoughts can be depending on perspective or point of view.  I was delighted with the response to my recent poem entitled “Hearts of Stone“.  (…..Actually, I initially titled it “Where You Live”.  As mentioned before I am not good at naming my own songs.  My daughter Alisa – and partner in the success of this blog – correctly suggested I change the title).  I wanted to give you a bit of history to this poem as it was actually inspired by follower comments.  All of which I read and respond to – not as quickly as I like but I try to get to them all as I truly appreciate the time and thoughts from so many people.

I have often mentioned that I am thankful for access and exposure to thoughts and feedback around the globe.  It helps open my eyes to things I would not normally consider.  Creative people all over the world are represented here and it is amazing what an impact you have had on me and my writings.  A while back I posted a question about what was your first concert.  While many responses were very cool, some responded they were not allowed to have huge concerts in their country.  This struck me deeply.  First; as a callous question from an arrogant blogger who takes life for granted.  We often complain about politics or taxes and a million other things in the US and other countries but we have a choice.  We may not get our way but we can voice our opinion and discuss our thoughts openly.  This is not true everywhere.  Secondly: it drove this arrogant blogger to think about how many things we take for granted every day.  So I tried to look around my little piece of the world from another point of view.

The first line is kind of an inside joke and would easily be understood by people that live in places line my town.  We often have cloudy – hazy skies most of the time and it gets so bad that the traffic reports have to remind us what that big bright thing in the sky is on sunny days!  Often at night we do not see stars and frequently miss the experiences of full moons or eclipses.  The rest of the poem tries to reflect the things humans might notice looking at their world.  Some are glorious and beautiful and worth celebrating while other things are tragic and unimaginable to ‘outsiders’.

I have read the words in this poem many times since posting the poem on MIDIMike and a melody keeps creeping into my subconscious when I repeat them.  In the same line as the global inspiration for the lyrics, the melody and arrangement is not my ‘normal’ style.  I may be the only one that likes it, but I cannot get rid of it.  I will be finished putting this poem to music soon, but to be forewarned it is not a replica of my past works and musical pieces.  It is my thanks to all of you.  It is a sharing.  It is an apology for not keeping my mind open to others.  It is a simple reflection from deep inside.  It is an invitation to continuing communications that will bring different cultures and peoples together.  If we cannot communicate we are doomed.

I will post as a song as soon as I have a decent recording of what has been spiraling inside my head.

Click Here to read the original poem.

There have been many memorable events in my life to date and many more to come.  It might not be apparent at the time the impact any one of them would have at the time.  I have never been diagnosed or treated professionally but I find myself dealing with depression from time to time.  It is impossible to know what triggers those feelings and more difficult to see your way out. On one of those times I could not break the cycle.  I had no motivation or inspiration.  In fact, I did not care at all.  About anything.  I had been through similar situations before so for weeks I kept telling myself it would pass in its own time.  I would get through this one as well.  But that was the only positive thought I had.  Life not worth living.  Nothing made me happy or sad. I forced myself through motions and obligations by shear routine.   I seemed like this would go on forever.  It felt unbearable even though most of my friends had no idea what I was dealing with.

I had tickets to see an amazing show under any circumstances, so I went to see Cirque du Soleil.  It is funny how this affected me.  I watched human beings do what seemed impossible even if you could think of the skills in the first place.  Art and amazing physical prowess seamlessly blended together to tell a story with few words.  Strength and perfection only achieved with years and years of unrelenting practice and sacrifice.  It again showed me the potential of mankind.  Dedication, creativity, trust, respect were all required to make this amazing performance happen.  I realized watching each scene that we are incredible beings when we try. That night I started trying again.  I saw the end of the funk that was created by myself – for myself.  I could see again the beauty of life and the result of hard work when things seem impossible.

History sometimes repeats itself. Funny to think of this after my recent event at a concert to see my musical mentor and hero – Peter Gabriel, performing on tour with Sting.  It is so refreshing to know there are others in the world that struggle to be good.  That work every day to promote peace love and all that corny stuff I could not live without.  In their music and through their lives they can impact so many.  I thought I would never be able to see Gabriel perform.  I have come close, but things did not work out. They almost did not work out this time either.  Of all the artists/people in the world, his music, words and projects affect me like no other person on this earth.  I am who I am with his unknowing help and guidance.  I struggle to be better knowing it is possible.

I grew up listening to Genesis and following his solo career.  I am not obsessed and do not own everything he has.  I do not know every detail of his personal life or career.  But I do think I ‘know the man’.  I understand him as a man and not an idol.  We are growing old together.

Sting was also amazing and sang a number of Peter’s songs, and performing his own tunes and some from the days of The Police.  For me, it was precious, unforgettable and one of the greatest musical experiences I have had.