Tag Archives: album

Once (2007)

I found out about “Once” while watching extras to the film Begin Again.  Once was written & directed by the same director — John Carney — and stars Irish musician/actor Glen Hansard and Czech musician/actress Markéta Irglová.

Usually when I make note of a music-related film it’s because I strongly related to it relative to music — it struck a chord (no pun intended) in me, it spoke to me about the experience and the inexpiable thing that is music … this one is hard to write about.  More than anything I think for me this film speaks to me because of the busking and because of the from-the-core music of the male lead, played by Irish musician/actor Glen Hansard.

Frankly, it’s difficult to write about because I missed about 15 minutes of the film about 1 hour in — the DVD sketched out, which is a typical problem with films I get from the library.  From what I could tell visually I predict that there were important elements to the story line, especially having to do with the ending.  It was very disappointing and I’d like to get my hands on a non-blemished copy so I can get the full story.  I liked that the film was shot hand-held — it made it feel human, that you were with the guy & gal leads having their experience.  Which is another thing … I didn’t realize until I saw the credits that they never have names in the film — as listed in the credits, they are “guy” & “girl”.

Maybe the two areas where this particularly spoke to me …

  • One, it was shot on the streets of Dublin.  I’ve barely spent four days there, but places were familiar.  I particularly recognized parts around the Temple Bar area, and know that a lot of famous performers out of Ireland have come from there.  Despite aspects that didn’t register well with me — that it’s a tourist town with too many poor mannered American college kids, and there are a lot of immigrants and it was hard to find Irish people in Dublin/Ireland — I no less came away knowing that I wanted to return and see more of not just the city but the country.
  • Two, I identified with this film from the standpoint of being a broke musician — dealing with the challenges that come with trying to survive, trying to live your passion (music), and trying to keep your music supported financially when you are struggling to pay rent and for food.

Also, similar to what I got out of Begin Again, I think this film spoke to me about going for it with your music — being venerable with your art and releasing every inhibition to touch the depth of each emotion present in a tune, in a song, and playing it despite judgment, despite an audience, and regardless of what stage you’re on.

Ultimately, about this film, I can’t put my finger on why I’m writing about this one or its importance why a musician or non-musician should see it — but there is something about it that I can’t let it go without note, it touches something inexpiable which is a huge part of music itself.  This film is not just a story, it’s not just a vignette of drama, it does not fall into the ranks of ‘just a music film’ as it is music itself.

I think it’s fair to say that there are some common threads that go through this film that also go through Begin Again, and given how I responded to Begin Again maybe that’s why I respond to its predecessor Once.

PS – I essentially just watched the film a second time.  Without giving anything away, there is an element to the ending – perhaps a few, but one in particular – that to me is beautiful, it is subtle yet it is powerful, it is joy and it is balance.  You might & you might not see it; it may be a musician thing.  If you don’t see it, that’s okay.

Once at IMDB and Wikipedia

Glen Hansard at IMDBWikipedia, and his Official Website

Markéta Irglová at IMDB Wikipedia and her Official website

John Carney at IMDB and Wikipedia

Begin Again (2013)

Cut to the chase — in fact, it makes sense for me me to start on that given how this film struck me.  The story is good, but it wasn’t the important thing to me, but it supported what I saw as the bigger point to the film … which maybe comes out to a musician viewing the film as opposed to a non-musician.  So maybe now you’re saying I haven’t cut to the chase, but you’d be wrong — I’m coming off as cryptic because I haven’t written the rest of my point supporting my what would be cryptic.

Right, so, let’s get on with it.

So here’s the basis of the story …

A British song-writer breaks-up with her rising-pop-star boyfriend and gets noticed for one of her songs by an out-of-work record producer when she performs at an open-mic in NYC the night before she was going to return to England.  The music producer convinces her to stay and record an album with him but they don’t have money or other support to make it.  Through portable gear and musicians of varying abilities they take her songs to the streets and record live around New York.  The first track gets recorded in an alley, another in Central Park, one on a train platform, the last on the roof of a building.

Here’s my thing from this film …

To date I have more than 30 concepts for albums that I want to record.  To date I have done a lot of work toward five or twelve of these and haven’t recorded a single note maybe beyond a few demos.  Five or so years ago I got myself into a playing-skill space over a three-day weekend.  I was back in school at the time — busy — I felt that if I could keep working during the coming school week that I could belt out recording my part the following weekend.  Well, I returned to school, was busy with school work (remember, ‘busy’), and didn’t continue to practice hence I didn’t make the recording.  But what if I had?  What if I just made the recording, even if I wasn’t that little blip further along in my ability.  I thought of it then, figuring that I’d be better off to do it, to make it, — to have a recording to work with it if I didn’t get to push for that little bit better playing ability.

Why not record?  Why not record every performance, record every time you’re close to the idea you want to record?  I’m not talking about studio recording – I can’t record that, many musicians can’t.  I’m talking about personal gear.  These days you can get good equipment that’s pretty easy to use, really for not much money.  At a guess, I’ve spent about a thousand dollars on music gear — about half new and half used.  I’ve read a little how to use it, I’ve experimented with it, I’ve asked advise of folks who are in the know, and I’ve captured recordings that sound at least pretty good – recordings that can be worked with.  Likely, had I recorded and later recorded the other musicians, got the album finished, let’s face it … it wouldn’t have been the last time I played those numbers … and I could have recorded them again.  I could have taken the album and booked myself for small performances, maybe had something special happen on some night, and recorded that too.

I’m not saying playing bad is good or making a garbage recording is acceptable.  Play well and make a good recording, but neither have to be some ideal of ‘perfection’.  It’d be better to play, perform, and record as opposed to never doing any.  The Grateful Dead recorded their songs, released, and once touring always played exactly as they did on their albums?  NO!  Their recordings were a foundation to work from, to create upon.  Record – get the playing, get the moment, do it instead of don’t, you may get something unique.

I didn’t cut to the chase, did I?

By the way … if you like Begin Again — which was directed by John Carney — I urge you to watch Once (2007), which Mr. Carney both wrote & directed.

Begin Again at IMDB and Wikipedia

Searching for Sugar Man (2012)

Written 10Oct2016 – 28Oct2016

“Searching for Sugar Man” is the unbelievable-but-true story of an iconic musician who did not know he was famous – for his influential music and for seeming to have never existed.

Yeah – you read that right.

One night in 1968 Detroit, two renowned producers (Mike Theodore & Dennis Coffey) intentionally went to a back-alley bar to hear a musician known as Sixto Rodriguez.  So impressed with his craft they quickly offered him a recording deal.  To their surprise, when his first albums were released in 1970 & 71, Rodriguez’s albums tanked.

As the singer/songwriter faded into obscurity, bootleg recordings of Rodriguez’s surprised album found their way around apartheid South Africa. Here, unbeknownst to him, over the following two decades Rodriguez became a cultural phenomenon.

“Searching for Sugar Man” gives the account of two Cape Town fans in the late 1990s endeavoring to solve the mysteries surrounding their hero.

LINKS

NOTE – Dennis Coffey & Mike Theodore also worked with Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, The Supremes, Gladys Knight, Ringo Starr, The Four Tops, and Wilson Pickett, among others.  Yeah, these guys are no joke.  Also, this film does not draw attention to the fact that Sixto Rodriguez did get attention in Australia – which it receives some criticism for, suggesting that it is ‘myth building.  The argument against that is that it is not attempting to build a story about this artist but instead to tell the story of the two fans and their search into the history of this artist.

Change Taking Place(?)

Over a year ago I made my biggest residential move yet — from Seattle to beautiful Whidbey Island.  Not that far, I know– but being an old-school Seattlelite, it’s kind of a big deal.  If you weren’t born & grew up in the city decades ago, you might not understand, just bear with me…

Without getting much into how Seattle has gone down-hill since the 1980s, I’ll just say that moving to Whidbey has been good for me … mostly.  The attitude and pace of the island is much like how Seattle was as so many years ago.  Island-living is familiar to me as my family has history here and I spent a lot of time visiting while growing up.  This made for a comfortable transition also enabling me to move closer to my parents and to help support them.  Then there is the matter of having dealt with 2 burglars, 1 car prowler, and a few uncontrolled threatening dogs and one of their idiot owners … hence ‘mostly’ … but I digress.

A large portion of my move occurred relative to employment — and my gross lack thereof.  This came with the projection of starting a baking business for myself, which I’m excited to say looks to launch soon.  I have many ideas of how I want to develop this company as employment for myself and others and as an extension of my creativity.  Keep an eye for Whidbey Island Baking Company and my biscotti, in the mean time look up Biscotti Journey on FaceBook.

When I moved from Seattle to Whidbey I told myself that I wanted to keep current as a Seattle musician — I wanted to keep working with musicians I’d already connected with along with gaining new experiences.  I also wanted to keep gigging with my band and being of service to private events.

A year+ later I have found that this has proven to be challenging and costly.  Frankly, when I moved to Whidbey I was broke — which included no longer having a personal vehicle.  I’m grateful for public transportation and the use of crash space at friends’ places, but the dividends of doing most-things-musical in The Greater Seattle-etc Area I’ve found to not be worth it.  Mostly what I mean by this is solo gigs.

The long and short of this is that I’ve been wrestling with what I want to do and how I want to do it.  The greatest expense to my playing in the Greater Seattle Area is my time.  I want to still play with my band, I want to work with other musicians, and I want to do some solo gigs though I imagine I’m going to be much more selective about my private gigs.  More than anything I want to focus on developing my playing and work on my album concepts — I’d also like to try and start performing house concerts.  In truth, with a company about to launch, that’s also going to take a lot of my time, and I predict I’d have to direct prospective clients for private performances to other qualified pipers.  I’d like to further develop what I’ve explored only a bit before — building my presences online with video broadcasts, YouTube videos, and e-marketing my albums.

Mostly, I see this as a shift in my existence as a musician an opportunity to direct myself on what I’ve most wanted to do.  It is an interesting question to ask musicians thought — if you could only do one which would be, only record and not perform or only perform but not have any recordings to sell or get played on radios or stereos?

Nae Regrets News

Nae Regrets, my Celtic-rock/fusion band, is gearing up for our 4th weekend performing at Northwest Folklife, providing high-energy performances to fantastic audiences. We are working hard to prepare and release our second studio album “Widdendream” at this year’s event — be there to enjoy us perform and to get your copy of the new album.
Check out the band’s website at NaeRegrets.com where you can also download 2 free MP3s on the Free Stuff page.

Free Stuff on BagpiperDon.com

How Cool is Free Stuff?

I posted 2 free MP3 downloads on my site yesterday — unedited tracks from my Celtic-rock/fusion band Nae Regrets’ recently released album “Alive at Northwest Folklife 2009”. Check out the newly added “Free Stuff” page on my site for the downloads. Album copies are available through BagpipeDiscs.com, Amazon.com, myself and Nae Regrets’ snare drummer Andrew in Vancouver BC.
ALSO, I recently submitted a track from the album to to IRFT Celtic (online) Radio — look them up and request music by Nae Regrets!

Smallpipe Album – Back to Work!

I’m very happy to announce that I am back to work on an album I started before my recent round of school. For this project, titled “Building Fire”, I will be playing my fireside smallpipes, and will be joined by a number of talented accompanists between the US and Ireland. My goal is to release Building Fire during the first half of 2011, following it with a sister-album re-working the original material into an electronic/techno remix edition titled “ElectriFire”.