Gotta practice NOW! or The Best Guitar Is The One You Have With You When The Desire Strikes

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Stopped at a rest stop on my way to Tuscon, not because I needed rest but because I NEEDED to practice. Yep. Needed to. Many times I hear a song or I'm reminded of a song and I just need to try it and see. See if it's one I can do quickly or if it'll take work. 

In this case, the song came together quick. I had been wanting to do a second song by this group, The Jackson 5, for some time. I've been singing "I'll Be There" for sometime and have been trying "ABC" for just as long but haven't cracked it quite yet. I came upon "I Want You Back" due to its use in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Fun tune but hadn't really thought about trying it till I heard Colbie Caillat's stripped down version playing in the bar after a recent show of mine.

I tried to find the actual version on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon to no avail. I want you to take my money, man! Make it available to buy! I instead needed to put on my waders and head to the darker corners of the internet to find it. 

It wasn't till the next morning on my way to visit some friends out of town that I listened to it for real. Driving along, listening, it started to get into my head. When a song does that I am fairly sure I'll be able to do it right away. But I needed to be 100% sure. So? Rest stop, here I come. 

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Luckily I always have a guitar with me in the car, a Martin Backpacker, which is neither a great Martin nor great guitar but it IS a guitar. Following the photographer motto "The beat camera is the one you got with you" I grabbed the Martin and found the song chords online and gave it a go and lo and behold, it turned out great! A few more run throughs and it'll be ready for public consumption.

I'll have to pair it with another new addition, again obtained via Guardians of the Galaxy, Hooked On A Feeling. Hope you will come around to catch them both!

Posted on August 16, 2014 .

Time slips away

I just never seem to update this as much as I would like. There is much I want to share, even if no one reads it. Most things I want to say have to do with my own process for choosing songs to include in my ever expanding list, my opinions on other performers I have heard or seen, ramblings about practicing and working on a song until it's just right, songwriting... there's a number of things... I just need more time to do it all!

NOt all of the things I write about will be music related though, which is why the title is Tidbits rather than some music-related catchy thing. I wanted a place where i can just gAther my thoughts about ANYTHING. Have a question about something? Let me know and I'll do my best to answer it here.

Hope you'll stick around for more!

Posted on August 13, 2014 .

Exercise

Many songs in my song list are a bit odd or off the beaten track. One is the sequel to the popular Johnny Cash song, A Boy Named Sue. most people are unaware that Shel Silverstein, the children's book author, was actually the writer of that song, and it's subsequent sequel, The Father of A Boy Named Sue. There aren't any recordings of it except one by Shel Silverstein himself, at least that's all I could find, so I decided to immortalize the song myself.

I started with a karaoke track, cut and edited it so that it fit the right length for the sequel, which was shorter than the original, as well as not having some of the breaks in the original. I sung to it using my best Cash voice i could muster, and then lowered the whole thing by half a step to get it into the key of A, as well as give my voice a slightly deeper sound. My voice can normally be pretty low but this was just for the extra effect.

Next I recorded a rhythm guitar part to accompany the one from the karaoke recording, and added a guitar solo as well just to make it more interesting, more unique, rather than just me singing along to a track.

Shel Silverstein wrote A Boy Named Sue, which was famously performed by Johnny Cash. however, years later, Shel wrote a sequel to that song called the Father Of A Boy Named Sue, which was the same story but told from the point of view of the father.
Posted on May 8, 2014 .

Updated List!

I keep meaning to post more here but it just falls by the wayside to so many things. I even have drafts waiting for revision... just need time! For now, hope you will be content with an update of my song list! Added a bunch in since the last time... some highlights below.

 

A couple of Roxette tunes added in

Percy Sledge

Jason Aldean

Tracy Byrd

Extreme

Jellybricks

Sinatra! (YEAH!)

Fountains Of Wayne

OneRepublic 

One Direction

Five Man Electrical Band

Posted on May 5, 2014 .

Two Shows In Two Days

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Last night I was back at the Sail Inn for my second performance. It went well, didn't mess up (that anyone could really tell), had a few requests and in general it was a fun time. Playing live is really great and being able to see people interacting and enjoying your music makes it a bit different than when performing in Second Life. There are advantages in Second life, such as the audience being able to type out exactly what they're thinking so that you know exactly how they feel. In the real world, you need to look for smiling, or hand clapping, or if all falls into place, dancing.

People have been asking me if I get nervous and I honestly can say no. After doing over 500 shows in Second Life, performing now in front of real live people is not that much different.  It's been the same format that I have been doing for over a year, an hour show of acoustic covers and originals. The only thing I might have been nervous about was how I would sound through a PA system. In Second Life, I connect to my mixer and plug right into the computer. I don't use headphones, rather I just do a few test runs to check for levels, and then I sing into the mic! only hearing my voice and guitar as anyone would hear it sitting in the room with me, unamplified and untouched by effects. In Second Life, people hear that with just a touch of reverb added in by my computer. So no, no nervousness really.

What DOES make me nervous? Tonight's show. Tonight I stand before a band of 40-some children and teenagers, their parents behind us, waiting anxiously for the first note to play as I count them off. Why does THIS make me nervous in ways my own solo shows do not? Simple. I am not in total control of what happens. I'm the director, yes, but in the end, it is up tk that kid to play that note at that time with the right rhythm and right tone. If he does, great, if he doesn't? Well, we all beat him up after the concert and humiliate him, of course. No no no, come on. Even if they mess up, it's fine. They're KIDS. 

In fact, this nervousness led me to create my infamous SPEECH. Every concert I do with a band, I look at them right before we start and I tell them, "Look, no matter how much you mess up here, no matter how many wrong notes you play, or rhythms you mess up, or if you go too fast or slow, I still like all of you... (And then I point to a random kid) except for you," Everyone laughs and I say I'm kidding and they can just relax slightly ever more, and then we begin. It's something I've done for each show over the last 13-14 years. It relaxes them, takes away their nervousness for a moment, as well as mine, and reminds them, let's just do what we do and have a little fun making music. 

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So nervousness? Yeah, a little right now as I await the students arrival... A tad bit as I hope that everyone shows up (it's always a possibility that some won't due to priorities certain families place on different things)... A slight missed heartbeat as I think of a student that will show up dressed inappropriately and asked to go change because we did in fact send a letter stating what is acceptable and non-acceptable concert attire. Again, all of this, out of my own control, and all of which will fade in a few minutes as the students start to enter the room, ready to go, pushing down their own feelings of nervousness. I smile and try to exude confidence to them. They take a breath, and now...

Showtime!

Posted on December 12, 2013 .

New stuff

New acoustic covers that made their debut in my shows the last two weeks or so:

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What Does The Fox Say - Ylvis (a fun song. Really. Can you imagine it done acoustically? Come hear it!)

Roar - Katy Perry

Heat of the Moment - Asia (the 80's rock)

Missing You - Johnathan Waite

Go To Hell - Casey Donahew Band (there's always someone to dedicate this song to)

Pretty Good At Drinkin Beer - Billy Currington (come practice YOUR beer drinkin skills with us!)

HEAR THESE AND MORE at the Sail Inn, December 11, 7:30-8:30 pm at 26 Farmer Street in Tempe! 

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Posted on December 10, 2013 .

From The Top

I decided it might be a good idea to have a page here on the website to post my latest projects, my newest written songs or covers, or simply just my thoughts on anything, music-related or not. So... let's take it from the top!

My name is Tom, and I've been involved with music from somewhere around the 3rd grade. We had a Lowry organ in our home growing up, on which my sister and I had a few lessons on from a lady who came to our house to teach. Those lessons stopped soon though and we were both able to figure things out on our own. The following year or so, in 4th grade, I would begin trumpet lessons at school, which would be the instrument that carried me up through high school and into college.

Piano was added in, somewhat, during high school. I learned by improvising simple piano melodies to jazz excerpts created by my high school music teacher in his Music Theory classes. It wasn't until I had Music Theory 101 in college that I realized that not all high schools had the kind of music program my own high school did. It would be a long time before I actually encountered anything in college music theory that my high school teacher hadn't already covered. He was quite good at what he did.

If you're going to become a band teacher, it helps to know how to play all the other instruments in the band, so that's what college did for me. It wasn't until I moved to Arizona to start my public school teaching career that I found myself with a lot of time, not many friends (yet), and a guitar. Using The Beatles Scorebook, the musical Bible of all Beatles songbooks, I was able to learn how to play guitar. My first two chords? Am and D7 from The Beatles song, I'm A Loser.

Over the years, I'd mess round with guitar and signing here and there, but it wasn't until my last gig with "let's get together a few times a year to play" band, The 91st Avenue band, that I thought "Hey, maybe I could do this more..."

Enter my discovery of Second Life, where people could actually perform, streaming their performance from their homes via the internet into a virtual world for people all over the world to hear. Over a year of performing, 500+ shows, helped me shape my style, my show, my humor, and everything that you hear when you come see me live on stage. I'm constantly adding new songs to my shows to keep things fresh and welcome suggestions for songs. They may take me awhile to get to or to learn but if they resonate with me, they'll end up part of the show.

And so, there is me. Summed up in not TOO long a post, as I can be quite long-winded. Thanks for reading and I hope to see you at a show soon!

-T2

Tom 2.0, the early years, technically, version 1.0

Tom 2.0, the early years, technically, version 1.0

Tom 2.0 today, still working on upgrades though

Tom 2.0 today, still working on upgrades though

Posted on December 9, 2013 .