Tag Archives: Guitar

A Childs Nightmare

I released this song about a month ago now.

I hope you guys have been enjoying it!

If you haven’t heard it yet, take a listen here:

It is a song that kind of came out of no-where. I was not planning on writing a song at all. In fact I was playing my guitar earlier that night and was just frustrated with it so I put it away.

My son was in bed one rainy night and woke up crying and screaming uncontrollably. I thought at first that it was a night terror and that perhaps he would go back to sleep. Well, after a few moments I realized that he was definitely up.
He had this severity and urgency in his voice.
I walked into his room and he stood up immediately, reached for me and began to exclaim “Daddy come here!”. I picked him up and he just wailed on my shoulder. He threw his arms around my neck and buried his head in my chest as if his life depended on it.
I asked him if he was ok and he replied a very shaky, tear filled “yes”.
He couldn’t really remember what he was dreaming about, or maybe he was too scared to express it, but either way, it was real, it was intense and it was scary.
I was just glad that I was able to be there with him.

We eventually sat on the floor and he sat in my lap with his back up against my chest. His breathing was beginning to slow back down to a normal pace with the exception of a occasional sigh.

To watch my son experience this just broke my heart, but the moments during and after this are things that I hope to never forget.

Children really are a blessing and they remind me of that in the strangest times!

I can still quite vividly remember some of my nightmares as a child. And to this day, they feel quite real, quite intense and pretty scary. While I don’t know much about nightmares, I feel like they have their purpose, their place and their meanings. In some ways, they remind me of something so much bigger than our mundane day to day activities.
As a result of this night and all of these thoughts, I picked up my guitar fairly late that night, and this song came out of it.
I really like this song and am quite excited about it.
I hope that you all enjoy it to.

Please let me know what you think! I would love to hear from you guys!

Until next time.

Be well!

Jonathan.

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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

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.

Unexpected Lessons

Balance and Creative Outlets:

 
    As some of you know, my family and I went to Lake Tahoe for a week of much needed vacation. We packed up our Volkswagen TDI Jetta and hit the road. No cargo box on the roof so it was “cozy” inside this little car.
     With a pregnant wife and a two and a half year old in a car seat, there wasn’t much room inside the car, which is where I keep my guitars on trips since the climate is regulated. In Flagstaff it was a balmy 74 degrees, 110 degrees in Las Vegas and the highs of Tahoe were 68 ish.  Not what you would call “ideal” for instruments during travel. So, I opted to leave the guitar behind. Good call I would later find out!
     I felt so inspired while I sat and reflected on the surroundings and the conversations that Shaila and I had. The time with Noah was just amazing. It is really nice to spend the week with the family, uninterrupted and undistracted, although I feel like my mind and soul are on sensory overload from all the things we saw and experienced. The desolate bad lands, crystal clear blue water, fourteen thousand foot peaks, rushing water falls, beaches and the constant interactions with my family, just to name a few. I really have a hard time expressing my thoughts in voice but I am learning that a pen is sometimes just as mighty as a guitar.
   When I do not have a creative outlet I begin to become a bit frustrated, impatient and antsy. Think of a volcano just before the top gets blown sky high because it has nowhere to vent its lava…. ..
Ok, so it’s not that bad; I completely exaggerated there! Haha The first day or two were the hardest for me without my guitar, but then the opportunities to write became available and the pressure began to subside.
     I am usually so focused on one thing that everything else gets blurred out. Sometimes that is not a bad thing, but the word “balance” came to my mind many times throughout the trip and in my writings. I think that was one of the focal lessons from this trip and something that I am really going to explore these next few weeks.
    All in all, this trip was a great time “away” from my distractions. No car failures, no major blowouts with the family and a ton of laughter at the expense of myself, my wife and my son.
 
What’s your creative outlet for things inspire-able or challenging? I would love to hear how you express yourself!

My sister Lisa

 
She is one of my older sisters and she passed away a few years ago from cancer. It ravaged her body something fierce in the months before she died. But from what I can remember of all of it, she had some of the strongest faith I have ever seen. She was in pain, and was scared, but her faith was just incredible. Not something that man can conjure up, or learn on their own. The way she handled the whole thing really impressed me. Maybe I didn’t see the whole thing, because I was not with her every hour of the day, but from my perspective, her strength and faith is what I remember.
 
 
 
 
 
 
     Lisa is probably the main reason I got into playing guitar, or music in the first place. I have this picture of her sitting in the grass somewhere in Willmar and she is holding her guitar with her legs crossed. She could play really well! She studied classical guitar, but could fake her way around just about any style. We grew up in Minnesota in a blended family. When I was born, she was already fifteen or sixteen, so I was the runt of the family, and she was already planning her escape! Not to say that our family was bad, but it was the early eighties and she wanted something more than farm life in a rural town. She joined the Army and worked her way up the ranks, ending with Major before her death.
    I had lost other people through the years, but this was the first death that really left a void in my life. She was my sister, she was way too young, she wasn’t supposed to die! This was the first death that would change the course of my life. I awoke to a realization that life is short and relationships are way more important than personal gain. That family, blood or not, is important and I needed to wake up to the fact that there have been some amazing people in my life.  I still have to remind myself of this daily.
    Lisa was a pivotal point in my own spiritual life, not just after her death, but before it too. She had faith that couldn’t be learned by books, it was divinely imparted. It was her gift, and she shared it willingly, lovingly and gracefully. Even up to the last day, she knew, and not arrogantly, that she was going to have peace after all of this. Peace that surpassed all understanding, and that inspired hope within me.
    I still miss her a lot, but when I listen to this song, I can remember her and what she meant to me, and the impact that she left on my life.
 
     Thanks for taking the time to read this!

Some of my favorite instruments.

This is the first in a series of posts about some of my favorite instruments:

 
 
A Martin HD-28E Retro 
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 I really enjoy the warmth, tone and feel of a good acoustic guitar. They just have this organic, natural sound that really speaks to me. I love the way that a player can really articulate a feeling with how hard or how soft they play on it, or if they play with a pick or the tips of their fingers.  
    My goal through this is to hopefully help you see and understand some of the tools that I use, and for my musician friends to give you a detailed look at the gear that I use. So I will start with my Martin HD-28E Retro.
    It is based off of a 1941 Martin guitar. Now, I have never played an actual 1941 guitar before so I have no idea how close it is to the original, but it looks nice and sounds amazing. I would probably be truly freaked out and super nervous if I had the chance to play one though. 

 The head stock is that signature Martin Guitar Company which I really like because it is very simple and clean.

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    I use this guitar a lot for most of my hard strumming and driving rhythms since it stays really clear and crisp at higher decibels. I will tell you, IT IS LOUD!
     Being a full bodied guitar, it projects the sound very well. You can wail on this thing as hard as you want and it doesn’t muddy the sound. It has a great feel and is not too big or too small. 
     The neck of this guitar is based off of Martin’s performing artist series. My hands don’t hurt after an hour or two of playing like it has on various other guitars.  It’s super comfortable to play, and hard to put down.
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   It took me a while to decide on this particular guitar. I had a check list of things that I wanted in a new acoustic. One being a dreadnought, which means that it has sort of “D” shaped body, the right combination of tone woods, a slim neck, and a comfortable feel in my hands. Not too big or too bulky.  Looks were not that important to me because I don’t really want a guitar that is super flashy. Shiny is okay, but I don’t like busyness on a guitar. I guess the word I would use to describe it is subtle or possibly vintage. 
    The guitar’s top is a Solid Sitka Spruce, which is kind of a standard for most acoustics. It is pretty strong but also has very good elastics which allow the guitar to sound good whether played lightly or hard.
 
    The back and sides of the guitar are made from East Indian Rosewood, which has a really broad range of sounds. It delivers good bass, mid range and treble for almost all styles of music, plus it has a gorgeous pattern and a beautiful and rich color.
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  One of the many reasons I love this guitar is its sound, not only unplugged,  but plugged in as well. Truthfully, thats where this thing really sings. While going through an amplifier or P.A. system, it just sounds amazing to me. It still has that warm, unplugged feel. Some acoustics sound terrible plugged in, but the Fishman Aura Plus system is incredible! Now, it has taken quite some time for me to dial in the tone that I really like, which is important to do because you don’t want your sound too trebly or too bassy. If it has too much bass, the sound gets really muddy and the guitar is not clear, and if it has too much treble, it can pierce the ears and be offensive. It’s a delicate balance, and one thing to keep in mind, tone is subjective. 
   So in short, I really enjoy the ease of playability, comfort of holding it and the sounds that come from this guitar. All in all, it is a very versatile guitar that I hope to be able to play and bless others with for years to come. 
   This is one of the tools that I use to create, write, record and play music on. The guitar has always been a great way for me to communicate without messing it all up with words. 
 
Thanks for taking the time to read this!
 
What is something that helps you to get your ideas out? I would love to hear from you!