Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas! & Best Fishes!

Hello all, I am enjoying my time out at Dad and Sally's!  We enjoyed watching the Vikings Vs. Packers game yesterday.  It was a shutout with Vikings winning it, and Sally was not amused!  This evening we are unwrapping presents and watching the movies Despicable Me 3 and The Other Guys!  Excellent!

With the year coming to a close, I think I'm happy with the events of my life.  Things haven't been all unicorns n' rainbows but It's A Wonderful Life!  It was an honor graduating Olmstead and performing our skits at the Court House in St. Paul.  Our skit was about our Tour of Homes to show people with disabilities how they could live on their own but still receive support.  In my team's skit, Ashlie and Dustin placed bricks with the benefits of increased independence written on them reading them aloud.  Then I boomed out, "I'm the guardian and I say no!"  This illustrated a major barrier for many people with disabilities- often we want more, but the guardian gets afraid that we can't handle it and puts the kibosh on it!  What is important to remember is "The Dignity of Risk."  We deserve the opportunity to get the most independence and integration we can with the community.  With the right supports in place that should be realistic.  I know that guardians are only doing what they think is right too; it's a tender issue.  I know they must get scared, but I believe people deserve a chance.

Here in the present moment Sally is passed out with the Book Magicians on her lap and dad is snoring through a history show.  Andre is also in slumber next to Sally and no doubt Bella will try to sneak away with whatever morsel of food she can as ma and pa are unawares!  Again I would like to wish you a berry merry Christmas and best fishes for your new year!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Destiny Is Not What You Think

My theme for today's post is- 'Destiny Is Not What You Think' because life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get.  But really it is!  You know, when I was 18 I had it all mapped out; I was going to get my degree in music and be a world renowned musician.  I had a scholarship and went to college at U of M, Morris.  But, Destiny Is Not What You Think- I had trouble sleeping in the summer heat, I got disoriented easily, I didn't have the desire or presence of mind to do my homework, basically I became overwhelmed with the situation.  After only a month I dropped out and moved in with my Dad and Stepmom in St. Cloud.

My education did continue in the form of guitar lessons and learning job-skills at Goodwill.  And I never gave up my dream!  I made new friends with Asperger's like me and we formed the band "Syndrome"!  We performed an open mic at The Local Blend.  It went over great!  I played the melodica for the song Incense & Peppermints as well as bass for the song Wonderwall.

Fast forward.  If I hadn't dropped out of college I probably wouldn't have met a lot of great people in my life today.  My best friends Tyler, John, and Kyle- The 3 Amigos!  Or my buddies Mike and Cole- Dos Bros!  Everyone at Asperger's Group in St. Cloud!  Everyone who is or was one of my staff, supporting me with either challenges I face, or just encouraging me to keep working on my music and other interests.

Last year I hosted my best concert yet, Don J Neu's Birthday Muzak Bash!  The turnout was amazing, the adrenaline of performing was like a drug, the pizza was delicious, and my friends got to enjoy playing ping pong while I played!  I'm sure as shit going to host the party again, so March 2018 expect Dni's Birthday Muzak Bash 2.0!

Another great opportunity I had was being a part Olmstead Academy with Dustin and Ashlie.  Now that I've graduated I'm co-hosting DETS with Bev Kaler and Dustin. DETS stands for Disability Equality Training Series.  This is the new path I'm on.  The path of self advocacy.  I'm totally stoked, and I really feel like I'm doing God's work he planned for me.

Please enjoy this live DJ set I created during my hotel stay of our Olmstead Graduation↓


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Christopher "Dry" Martinez Secrets for Totally Transcendental Tunes

Another internet buddy of mine gave me the inside scoop on how to ROCK! None other than Sugarland, Texas' own Dry Martinez! His solo works are available to stream online at:
Dry Martinez | ReverbNation Dry and me have worked together on a few songs, and I knew he had serious skills...  But what I really wanted to know was-

What first inspired you to become a musician?
I come from a musical family. My Uncle was a classical pianist who wrote scores in Hollywood in the 1930's. My Sister is a classically trained pianist, and my oldest brother was a guitar prodigy. As long as I can remember I wanted to play some kind of instrument, I just didn't figure out which instrument until I became a teenager.

What instruments do you play and how did you develop your style of musicianship for each?
I first took piano lessons when I was 9 years old. I was training to play classical music but once my piano teacher taught me a blues scale, that was it. I knew what direction I was headed. Some friends I spent a lot of time with were learning to play guitar at the same time. When we were about 14, we decided we'd start a band. That's when I picked up the bass. The bass came real natural to me while I had to work really hard to play the piano so doing what most teenagers did, I took the easy road and played the bass. At that time I was really into bands like RUSH and YES so it was like I was learning classical music... at least in my mind what we called "Progressive Rock" was as challenging as classical music to perform. I also had a 6 string Les Paul knock-off and I was picking up there where I left off on the piano. Playing the blues felt natural on the 6 string.

So how do you record?
Right now I'm using an 8-track Tascam stand-alone hard drive recorder. I usually program a beat on my old Alesis SR-16 drum machine and lay down a stereo drum track, then bass, guitar, vocals, etc. Then I mix it down and make a "master" CD. Pretty basic stuff really. I use on-board effects for final production. That's why I call my music "Dry"... not much effects

What is your favorite guitar to play, favorite bass?
My favorite guitar has to be my Stratocaster. My favorite bass would have to be my 1985 Charvel/Jackson 4-string.

What are your favorite guitar pedals, favorite amps?
I've always had a soft spot for my MXR Distortion DS-1... it adds just the right amount of distortion (for my needs). I currently use a Crate GFX212 120 Watt guitar amplifier with 2-12 inch speakers. It's fine for home recording but in an ideal world I'd like to have several different amps for different styles of playing. A Fender Twin Reverb for playing clean blues or a Marshall Stack for songs with heavy distortion.

What do you think of working with a record label verses being an independent "bedroom producer"?
In my opinion, it all depends on what your goals are as a musician. Some people want to score the big "deal". I chased the "dream" for years and when the group I was playing with finally did get a record deal, we got screwed by the label. We basically paid them to put a single of ours on a compilation CD that was distributed to radio stations around the country. Our song was 11 of 20 on the disc and probably never got heard. I'd bet most of those compilation CDs that went out ended up in most radio stations' trash cans.
Being a "bedroom producer" gives one the creative freedom one might not otherwise have if they were signed to a big label with some producer breathing down your neck telling you how to make your own music. For a reasonable amount of money you can market and sell your albums on the Internet . Then there's the old fashioned- promote your music through live performances avenue. These days it's a lot easier for an independent musician to put their music "out there" and sell it with varying degrees of success- depending on how much work you put into your musical endeavors.

The guitar is sadly becoming undervalued in modern music. What would you tell a non-believer? How can we bring it back?
I'd tell the guitar non-believer to listen to guitarists like Tom Morello or Robert Fripp. Two guitar players from different generations. Both are innovative artists creating sounds that you just wouldn't believe came out of a guitar. I'd also tell them to pick up an electric guitar and a good effects box/pedal and make some noise. Hell, just go to the local guitar store and plug in and give it a try. You don't have to be a "player" to make great sounds from a guitar. Once an artist makes an unforgettable "noise" out of an electric guitar, they're hooked.

What are your secrets of songwriting? Do you have any soft of formula?
I don't have any real songwriting secrets. I usually sit around picking on my guitar or bass and happen upon a cool riff, then I'll build a song around that riff (or "hook" as they say in the industry). I try to stay in keys that "play" well together, but not always. I guess one could say I use the "old school" formula for songwriting. I'll generally start off with an intro, followed by 2 verses with vocals, a lead instrument of some sort (usually guitar), a third verse, and then the ending. As far as lyric writing goes, I'm usually inspired by current events in my life.

What are you working on now? What can we expect to hear in 2018?
I'm currently writing several songs, written in my traditional style utilizing both acoustic and electric guitars. I have about 4 finished pieces (fully written) and half a dozen other unfinished works... some of which is pure Texas Blues. Look for new music from DRY MARTINEZ in the spring of 2018 on my page at Reverbnation.

What advice would you give to a newbie musician?
I'd tell them to follow their heart in every aspect of their music. From the kind of instruments you play, to the way you sing, to the kind of songs you write, don't let anyone tell you how to feel about what you're creating. It's your art. And naturally, you need to practice. I hate to sound like a parent preaching to their kid about how practice makes perfect, but you can't develop skills without practicing. Besides, when you're practicing is when you usually happen upon those cool riffs that are the genesis of great songs.

And there you have it! Now gosh darn it be inspired and (((ROCK))) like Eddie!