Tuesday, October 13, 2015

How About a Life Update?

I've been busy.

There's tons of stuff going on in my little world. I'm still running in The Time of Your Life at The Artistic Home in Chicago for about 2 more weeks, until October 25th.

It's a lovely show, and well worth your time, even if I have a very small roll. As McCarthy the Longshoreman, I have a nice spotlight scene. It's the kind of role I call a "paratrooper job," I fly in, make my presence felt, and then fade to the woodwork. It's been a really great chance to work with Kathy Scambiaterra, who directed me in The Copperhead, which still stands as one of my proudest moments, again.

After that, like, IMMEDIATELY after that, I'm on call as an understudy with A Red Orchid Theatre in the world premiere of Brett Neveu's Pilgrim's Progress. I'm understudying Michael Shannon in one of the lead roles, under the direction of Shade Murray, whom I have worked with on The Petrified Forest at Strawdog Theatre and The Shadow Over Innsmouth with WildClaw Theatre. It's really inspiring and an honor to be in the room with all of these folks. I can't thank Shade enough for bringing me on board, and I must also thank Christa Rolf van Baale, who I go all the way back to Nebraska Theatre Caravan's A Christmas Carol tour with, for championing me, as well.

Both of these shows started rehearsal on virtually the same day, while I was still performing in Good People at RedTwist Theatre. I feel like I've been running for months, and I can't wait for a bit of a slow down. At the very least, I am looking forward to SHAVING THIS DAMN MUSTACHE OFF MY FACE on October 25th. I am aiming my life for December 13th, right now. The day on which all of my current commitments end.

I had a couple of callbacks recently that would've kept me working through the winter, but none panned out. Frankly, I've found myself unconcerned. Some time off will be good, and, as of right now, it looks like I'll be returning to RedTwist next summer. So, at least something is in the pipeline.

I'm also fairly excited that this time off will allow me to focus on music some more. I have four songs in various stages right now, "Light & Shade," "Tallahassee Bridge," "Carnal & Divine" (which was formerly "Riff") and an untitled fourth track.

"Carnal & Divine" has been receiving the most work and attention, lately. I had penned some lyrics, and finished up the music, when I realized a couple of things. One, the lyrics were terrible, my singing more so, and two, the music was pretty much in a rut. It sounded a lot like several previous tracks. I feel like I've successfully pushed myself toward some new directions. Away from using the same chord progressions over and over, and away from riffs that were feeling repetitive

So, what to do?

The answer was to scrap it all, and tear the track down to just the drums and the bassline. Right to the essential core, and start building back up as an instrumental track. The result has been very freeing. No, I'm not a shredder, I'm not going to whip out a complicated string of guitar heroics like Joe Satriani, Steve Vai or Eric Johnson, but the idea of approaching melody through the instrument, rather than my voice, was freeing.

When I combined this with the new focus on the drums and bass as a unit, with the guitar over it, I end up finding new lines to play. Where as before I was focused on a riff, to drive the song forward, while the vocals claimed the melody, now I find myself noodling, and going into new areas.

It's not going to be a mind-blowing instrumental, but I'm quite happy with how it's developing. It's not done, but getting there. I suspect that most of the new record will have vocals. "C&D" will likely be the only instrumental, but it's helping me see new avenues to explore. When you work alone, it becomes way, way to easy to find things that work, and then just keep doing it, over and over. It's a trap that can also happen if you're in AC/DC.

I also stumbled onto a photo that will likely be the cover of Volume 3, which I'm toying will calling Light & Shade. I snapped in in the waning days of summer, right in front of my office building as I left for the day. I was looking to the west, across the Y in the Chicago river. There was a foggy mist over the city, and the rays of the setting sun were catching in it.

There will be some cropping, of course. Maybe even some tinting and futzing with the color, as I did with the Uptown cover. Still, I like the picture a great deal, and find it inspiring.

....And I am in need of inspiration, not necessarily in the creative parts of my life, but the "life" parts of my life.

Along those lines, what's also lovely about some time off is that maybe I can re-connect with the good people in my life, the friends who's relationships have become far, far too distant. I am one of those people who cultivates a wide range of friends, but usually keeps a few people very close. The sad part is that those people feel further away recently. Either just by the fact that life is so damn busy, or the reality of geography.

There are events in the wings...I mean The Force Awakens will open 5 days after Pilgrim's Progress closes, and I am sure I will join a group of friends for an excursion. Cbyrd and I have long wanted to do a "trilogy day" of The Godfather, and it's sequels, with a big spaghetti dinner, and with my January free of real commitments, I think it's time to front-burner those plans. Not to mention a weekend in New Orleans in the depths of winter....

I need to re-charge.

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