Live performances

So a couple of Friday nights ago I played a show at a local coffee shop called Cafe Bella.
Its a great little place that is built on community, arts, atmosphere and a drink and food menu that is out of this world.

They have a different band or musician come in every Friday night. They put together a flyer and post it up on their Social Media sites. They tag you in the post and wah-lah, you have a great way to help spread the word about your show.

First, let me start by saying that a guy with his guitar and a looper, and a few effects pedals can really generate some energy during a performance.
Confession time: I was really nervous going into this as it was kinda my first “real show” in a long time. I have played for benefit concerts, dinners, art shows, and various other events, but this was different. People were there to hear some music and watch a performance.
Now this is the trick to the thinking that I am getting at here: they weren’t necessarily there to see me, but a show, a performance. So that was part of my thinking going into this, yes, some of my friends were there and I am super appreciative of their support and I really love seeing people I know and respect in the crowd. It helps to put me at ease a bit, but the thing that got me thinking was there were going to be people I didn’t know. They didn’t know my songs, they have never heard of me.
They were coming because… well maybe their are too many reasons to list here and not bore you to death, but needless to say, they weren’t there for me! That began to freak me out, what if I make a bunch of mistakes? What if I play the song too fast? What if?….

Wait a minute here….. I said to myself.

Then it dawned on me as I was watching people walk in, I thought to myself, “yeah, what if? they have never heard my songs before, for all they know, any mistake I make could just be part of the song.” Especially if I don’t have a sour reaction when a mistake occurs. That is part of being a professional,

Just smile…..

I won’t go into those details now, but that really helped calm me down.
Then I just told myself, these are my freaking songs and I own them. I am suppose to be having fun while playing these, otherwise why did I agree to do this in the first place? Right?

All in all, I had a blast, the crowd seemed to really enjoy the evening. We shared some laughs and I got to share a lot of my-self to them through these songs.

Its experiences like these that remind me why I got into the music busness in the first place! What a joy it has been!

So thanks to those of you that showed up and thanks to Cafe Bella for creating an environment like this to promote the local art and music scene.

Until next time :

Be Well!

Jonathan

Album update and Random info

Hey everybody!!!

 I hope that you can forgive my absence of communication as of late, but I have been busy with some good things too!
For those of you who read my last post about finishing things, you can read that here, I would like to update all of you on the progress that has been made.
First off, I gave myself a public deadline of finishing one song per month. That was in January that I posted it. Well, the really great news is that I am ahead of schedule. In fact I have 6 songs recorded and am working on 4 more. I should have those done within the next two months.
Artwork: well, my friend Michael who owns MichaelEllis Art (click the link to check his stuff out, it rocks!) and I have struck a deal and have been corresponding back and forth. As it were, he has delivered the first sketches about two weeks ago. I was blown away by them. They were better than I could have imagined. It just goes to show you that some things are best farmed out. His artistic expression is way better than anything I could have come up with. Plus, producing all of this myself, I feel like its better to have a professional artist intrepret my creativity.
I can’t hide behind a wall of excuses anymore and my hope is with all of this is that you guys will help keep me accountable. So far so good! Some of you have checked up on me and have asked me hard questions. I really appreciate that!
I can’t share to many details about art or song previews, but I am really excited about this. I may give snibbits here and there, but for now, its Top Secret!
In the mean time, I did release a song with a friend of mine Matt from the band SatelliteReBoot. Click the link on his name to check out his other stuff as well. You can listen to the song we collaborated on here!
I really enjoyed working with him and he was such a catalyst for me to get my rear end moving on my goals of releasing music.
That is all for now. Stay tuned for more updates in the coming weeks!
Be well!
Jonathan

Can I finish anything?… Yes I can

I absolutely love creating music.
I love it when inspiration comes and ideas just start flowing. It is very organic and natural.
The recording process is another story. It’s almost like once the click track starts, I get so nervous and the emotion of the music is stripped from me. It becomes too technical and less about the joy of playing.
I have all of these songs that are written but I struggle so much with finishing them.
All the guitars are recorded, all that is left is bass, percussion and fills. A bit of mixing, then having someone master it.
But I can’t seem to finish them. I feel so overwhelmed. I question if each song is good enough.
I understand how things get done.
One piece at a time, but I think I have become paralyzed by the amount of work that must be done, and all the steps that will get me there.
I think that because there are no outside pressures or deadlines, it is easy for me to drag this thing out and beat these songs to death. There is always more that could be added, but are all those minute changes really necessary?
I need deadlines, I need goals, I need limitations and I need accountability!!
That is what this is really about.
Limitations, Deadlines, Goals and Accountability.
So as I think about this, I have decided to finish just ONE song a month. Start to finish. It is an attainable goal and one that will produce results.
During each month I will post updates along the way as to how the process is going.
I need your help!
Check in on me, ask me how things are going!
As always, thank you so much for taking the time to read this – I appreciate you, your support and encouragement!!
Jonathan.

What do I actually hear when or if I listen?

In Silence: I grow impatient.
In Silence: My mind tosses solutions.
In Silence: I become frustrated.
But wait!
The ringing subsides.
In Silence: I hear something
In Silence: I listen,
In Silence: I learn.
And Finally:
In Silence: I relax
In Silence: I unravel
and I begin to understand.
In my own little world, I don’t like to listen, I like to talk, and think and plan and scheme.
When do I stop?
I ask for things when I pray, people to be healed, things to turn out the way they should (or would like them to), etc. but when I pray, do I listen?
Is prayer really about talking?
A really good friend of mine, turned me on to this by Soren Kierkegaard.
It made me stop in my tracks.
I really am thankful for challenges that make me question things. What a blessing.
“As my prayer became more attentive and inward,
I had less to say.
I finally became completely silent.
I started to listen
-which is even further removed from speaking.
I first thought that praying entailed speaking.
I then learned that praying is hearing,
not merely being silent.
This is how it is.
To pray does not mean to listen to oneself speaking.
Prayer involves becoming silent,
and being silent,
and waiting until God is heard.”
                                                                      Soren Kierkegaard.

Noise, Distractions and Quiet.

   At any given moment, there seems to be constant noise around me. Cars driving by, music playing out of windows, air conditioners, heaters, water running through plumbing, people talking, cell phones buzzing, deadlines, pressures and anxieties. For me, there are plenty of other distractions as well, a new toy, the research that goes into a new purchase, the desire for things that give us a quick feeling of self-worth. They are just distractions, and there are a ton of them. Distractions take our focus off of what is really important, or who is really important.
    Recently, I was out in the wilderness with my family. They were taking a nap and I was left alone with my thoughts. I found it strange that although there were no sounds around me whatsoever, I noticed my ears were ringing. And not very quietly either, it was a loud ring, like you get after a concert. As time passed on, the ringing got quieter and quieter. It got to the point that I began to enjoy the quiet of my surroundings, and the lack of massive bombardments to my senses.
   My thoughts seemed to whisper to me; they were not trying to compete with any other distraction of goals, responsibilities, hobbies, job and all the everyday noise. During that time, I realized again how important it is for us as humans to frequently take a step out of our everyday routine and be still. Alone, with no distraction.
    For me, being alone with my thoughts has pushed me to look into areas of my life that I have been covering up for years. Yes it can and has been very painful, very honest, but also very exhilarating and freeing. There is such a freedom that God offers us. We can’t hear God if we put so many other things in front of Him. Those noises threaten to constantly distract us, yet He still quietly whispers to us, “come and rest”.

Beauty and Affliction

 
Some Sunday afternoon thoughts:
 
 
As I have been reading and relaxing this weekend, I have been drawn in my thoughts to the matters of the heart.  I don’t know if I really even think about my heart much, yes it pumps blood breath after breath, pulse after pulse, but what about the emotion of the heart?
Pain, joy, affliction, beauty, moments that I wish could last for ever, and moments that I wish never would have happened.  The seasons in our lives pass with or without our permission.
 
I love the utter complexity of the heart. There is no clear definition that I can find that truly explains the depth, the breadth or the magnitude of the heart. It is wired into us, it is part of our core being. We cry, we laugh, there are even times that we feel like we can’t go on because things are just too much to bear.
 
I read a quote from Blaise Pascal that states; “The heart, has its reasons which reason knows not of”
I really think that the heart is a more a part of us that we want to acknowledge. It informs our decisions, our choices, it affects our judgment, our longing, our desires. 
 
You know the saying, “all good things come to an end”? I really hate the saying.  It is a bold lie. We were built for something so much bigger than our minds can fathom, and if we listen to our heart, it speaks to us that this world cannot be the way things were intended to be. Our heart cries out for a longing that addictions, possessions, or experiences can’t fill. 
 
‘”Our creator would never have made such lovely days, and given us the deep hearts to enjoy them, above and beyond all thought, unless we were meant to be immortal. ” Nathaniel Hawthorne. 
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I am so thankful for the beauty and the affliction that has been, and that will come in my days on this earth. I am thankful for the moments that I get when things seem to “make sense” or that moment of sheer amazement when I look up into the big sky, or the music that touches my heart and makes me want to cry, or dance, or shout with joy. 
 
Such beauty and affliction, such beauty in affliction.