OK, not the most prolific blogger over here…
Lots going on, very little of it seemingly worth talking about on a web page. But I’ll give it a go…
Teaching guitar is one of the very best jobs in the entire world, and although things are a little softer than they have been in previous years, I’ve still got a very good schedule of 30-plus students, plus a “school of rock” – style band that I help coach (and play bass guitar in, too!) Like pretty much every single other person I know, I’ve been extremely stressed about money for the last few months, but teaching has been remarkably resilient to the economy.
I haven’t played any solo gigs for quite a while, mainly because the two venues I used to frequent – Nova Express (the space-cafe pizza joint in Hollywood) and Dangerous Curve (an art gallery and performance space in downtown) have both closed down. It’s a drag to not be able to book a gig; there are plenty of venues in Los Angeles, but most of them require an artist to bring at least 15 or so people through the door. I can’t guarantee that kind of audience in LA; I’ve done shows for a lot more people than that, and I’ve done shows where no one at all showed up to see me.
Being “homeless” in a performance-venue sense has been a bit of a head-twister. I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the last few months going through the typical tortured artist/thirty-something bohemian motions: wondering exactly what the hell I’ve done with the last several years of my life, feeling like a cryptic madman howling alone in the wilderness, wondering why I didn’t spend all of that time learning classic rock songs and jazz standards instead of programming drum machines and studying Echoplex parameters, etc etc ad nauseum.
The main result of all of this is that, partially because of not having impending gigs to have to prepare for, and partially because of the above-mentioned feelings of dissatisfaction with myself, I’ve been practicing guitar more intently and obsessively than I have in many years. It can be hard to gauge one’s progress on a day-by-day basis – it’s a bit like looking in the mirror every morning to see if your hair’s growing – but there are things I’ve been trying to do for a long time that I’m finally getting a bit of a handle on, and things seem to be flowing more smoothly and fluently than they have in a long time.
I feel a bit like I did in ’98-’99, when I was recording Disruption Theory, or in 2002 when I was trying to find a voice with the Echoplex; like I’m putting myself back together again. Ten years ago I was obsessed with being a jungle/instrumental hybridist, and seven years ago I wanted to deconstruct my own concept of looping. Right now, I’m trying to turn myself into a guitar player. Not a post-DJ looping slice-and-dicer (though I still have plenty to say in that world) and not an electronic-meets-organic composer. I want to be a guitar player. And God help me, I’m actually seriously thinking about recording new original music for the first time in at least six years. Even if I don’t have a venue to sell a CD at!