Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Charting a Path Forward

After a week-long high upon completing Sonata One, I realized that it is, again, my least favorite time of the year: Daylight Savings Time is gone, Old Man Winter is bearing down (Though, it was in the low 80's here in Alpine today!)... and it's the "Holiday Season." Bah, humbug.

I imagine many middle-aged bachelors are not fond of the holiday season - it is all about family, after all, and aside from mom, I don't have any - but this year may suck more than usual because I turn fifty (?!) on the fifteenth of December. Then again, I may not give a rip, but I'm feeling rather glum this afternoon, in any event.

Every year at about this point I begin to assess my progress over the past twelve months, and since I work my ass off, that usually cheers me up a bit. I'm at the end of the third year of a five year plan I have, and things are going swimmingly, if I'm objective about it. In September of 2004, I picked up a guitar again after having not touched one in over four years. Six months later, in February of 2005, I played my first paying gig on over a decade. Two months later, I landed my first weekly gig (Tips and dinner only, at that point), and in June, I got one that actually paid. I still play there, and they have, of their own volition, raised my pay twice.

Then, in June of 2005 I played my first real paying wedding in almost fifteen years, and started being asked to private functions as well. Thanksgiving of that year was quite nice, as I was asked to play at a dinner out at a nice little ranch, they tipped me a hundred bucks over my pay, and fed me all the trimmings of home. God is good.

Not a bad fourteen months worth of of work.

I landed a second and a third weekly around Christmas, played at a few art galleries, and my repertoire kept on growing. By February of this year, I had memorized - and/or re-memorized - over fifty pieces in less than thirty months.

In case you're reading this and you're not a performer, let me put the above statement into perspective for you: That's just a whole shit-load of work, right there.

Add to all of this that I started working with a manager again for the first time since my rock guitarist days back in the late 1980's - and that has just worked out amazingly well - and you would think it hard for me to be down. Well, you ought to be right, of course. Problem is, there is just a ton of work still to be done, and two more years is a lot more of this to "look forward" to.

I re-recorded my Y2K CD Fossils - which was just a very rough demo before - this year, and I must admit that getting that out of the way is a huge relief (Some of those pieces are almost twenty years old now: Fossils indeed). I'm also only two pieces away from learning all of the pieces for my next CD, Heavy Nylon now, and so I can see the light at the end of that project now too.


Here's how Heavy Nylon is shaping up:

01] Tears in the Rain - Joe Satriani
02] Classical Gas - Mason Williams
03] Desert Song - Eric Johnson
04] Spanish Fly - Eddie Van Halen
05] A Day at the Beach - Joe Satriani
06] Bouree - Jethro Tull
07] Eu So Quero Um Xodo - Dominguinhos
08] Mood for a Day - Steve Howe
09] Yankee Doodle Dixie - Chet Atkins
10] Heavy Nylon - Hucbald
11] Fighter Pilots - Hucbald
12] Stairway to Heaven - Jimmy Page

I've memorized ten of those in the past thirty-six months! Only the Tull Bouree (My own arrangement, including the second section, which Ian Anderson never did) and Mood for a Day left to go.


Well, completing Sonata One has been unexpected, and it has changed the entire plan I thought I had laid out (Man plans/God laughs, right?). Much of the past couple of days worth of agony has centered on how, exactly, to proceed at this point.

Ive been learning the first of the Lineal Studies in G major - a totally new class of pieces I started writing a year or so back - and that is coming along well (It's unlike anything else I've ever played before, so it's slow going), and then I need to "plug a hole" in the E minor suite of my set.

This has caused me no end of heartache. If I am going to learn something by another composer, 1) I have to love it, and 2) it has to fill a space I need it to fill in my set. I was thinking about the E minor Sarabande from Bach's lute suite in that key, but I just don't like that piece.

Well, I spent much of last night searching the internet for E minor guitar pieces, and I finally found something perfect: Erik Satie's Gymnopedie No. 1. It starts out in E major but ends on an E minor chord, it's easy to play, and I love it! I should have it done before Christmas.

Then - and this will probably tic my manager off, as she's anxious for me to finish the Heavy Nylon project - I'm going to learn the Tocatta: I simply must start on Sonata One ASAP.

To-do list for 2008:

01] Tocatta
02] Jesu Mein freude - J.S. Bach
03] Bouree - Jethro Tull
04] Sleeper's Awake - J.S. Bach
05] Fugue (From Sonata Zero)
06] Mood for a Day - Steve Howe

I can hear God laughing already.

One of my manager's friends sent her this from Italy the other day. She said she thought of me immediately. I'm not exactly sure how to take that.


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