"Christmas In July"

My new CD "Christmas In July" - THE CHRISTMAS ALBUM is mastered. The graphics are done, and promotional copies are being manufactured in a mystical land called New Jersey, as I write this. The drop date has been set - somewhat randomly I admit, at November 15th, at which date, if the stars disperse their beneficial light in just the right angle, the real thing will have been printed up and shipped to me from my label in Germany. (oh, that rhymes!!!)

And thus the promotion cycle begins. My bank account yawns blearily at me, as I try to extract another nickel from its dark recesses, and the evil credit card man is waiting around the corner with his long sharp knife, ready to extract tribute for the debt I might have to incur in order to give this little baby a chance in the harsh, big world out there. But wait - check incoming! Phew! So I whisper my incantation to the credit card man, and he dissolves into a poisonous puddle of quicksilver, while my bank account sighs a short lived sigh of relief and burps a small, green, bubble.

Yes, I am now on the dark side of the moon, having just wandered through the creative process of making an album. This phase is a whole lot less fun but, as stated above, necessary. And while I hunker down here in the dark and wait for the light of creativity to shine its rainbow colors on my sun-starved skin yet again, a part of my brain is already plotting and scheming as to what I might do next. And the part of my mind that is responsible for perseverance keeps chanting "abundance abundance abundance" into my inner ear - which is, admittedly, somewhat annoying but probably unavoidable.

The moon will keep turning and soon, so soon, I will yet again burst into the light on the other side. But in the meantime I shall promote "Christmas In July" and allow whatever crazy, lurking ideas to gestate in the dark, so that they may burst forth, when their time comes.

The Independent Artist

When I was little, maybe about 6 years old, I had this dream of becoming a vocalist. In fact, I can't remember not wanting to be a vocalist. The jazz bit was a later development. But I digress...
So. I was 6 years old and had these grand ideas of having a label (well, maybe awareness of labels came a few years later), making albums, touring, performing on TV, having a manager. You know, fairy tale land of a 6-year-old.

Flash forward to the latter half of 2011.
Reality check:
I make albums.
I go on tour.
I have performed on TV. And live radio.

I produce/fund said albums.
I book most of my gigs myself.
I am my own graphic designer. Too bad I can't take my own photos...
I fund/enable my own promotion.
I'm also - to some extent - my own mixing engineer.
Heck - I even own a bloody recording studio.
And I teach.
And write.
And practice.
You know. Musician things...

So, I guess, all that's missing, really, is my own venue (lord help me!).

But I am not alone in this. Here's a shout-out to all my singer/musician/writer friends, who stand with me, in the trenches, every day. This is what we chose to do. It's so much harder than I ever thought, especially as a 6-year-old. And yes, it's true. Nobody is holding a gun to my head, forcing me to struggle on. But every time I am ready to just lay down, give up and let the powers that be roll over me I think about what I would rather do. The answer to that question so far has always been - nothing. I sing. I write. I tour. I create. It's who I am. It's who we are. I am honored to continue putting one foot in front of the other with my fellow artists. To add my color to the weave of this life, come rain or shine, warts and all.

Road Warrior Part 2

My first bike was purple. I had it for all but three weeks, before it got "picked up" right outside the New School, where I was studying at the time.

Bike number two was black. This one I had for a bit longer, until one rainy afternoon, when I decided to leave it chained to the lamppost outside my apartment overnight, so as not to carry all the dirt into the kitchen.

Bike number three was a glorious and in hindsight, stupendously silly, bright, attention-hogging sky blue. This one got stolen twice. Sort of. The first time I left it chained to an iron-wrought fence in Chelsea on a Sunday afternoon. Two hours later I came back to find it devoid of its wheels. Poor baby had to be re-wheeled, re-tubed and re-tired. I think I had it for roughly another year after that. Happy times. Until it got whisked away from right under my nose. I had it chained to a handle mounted on the wall outside my recording studio. On the third floor. Some nifty bugger actually went through the trouble of removing the handle in order to take my beautiful ray-of-sunshine bike.

I went off colors after that and opted for a sturdy black beast, hybrid with bits of shiny lettering that I proceeded to cover with duct tape. I still have this one. It has served me well for ten years, but I will very soon donate it to the streets of New York City, once it's clear that my brandnew, beautiful bike, is here to stay. I have secured the quick-release back wheel with a hose clamp and acquired a roll of hockey tape to camouflage the bike's shininess, squirreling away any treacherous stickers that would advertise it to the highly organized crime ring of NYC bike thieves as a "steal".

It rides smoothly, the gear shifts actually work, and the tires are only a sexy inch and a half wide. On to the avoidance of knee-deep potholes, unexpected cab doors and oblivious pedestrians. On to the next ten years of riding my bike in New York City.

Writing is a fickle thing

I have yet to write about 9/11. Or maybe I don't. Fact of the matter is, that, as it's 10th anniversary rolls around, my creative juices have been absolutely, completely mumm on the subject. I remember friends, who poured their pain and heartache into devastating pieces of music and poetry, who wrote eloquently, succinctly and with great humanity about what that day meant to them. But I simply had nothing to say. I was voiceless. Still am, in fact.

Then again, it took me twenty years to write about my father's death and thirty to put my mother's heartbreak into words, and even then the lyrics came out in Spanish. Go figure. So, I guess, I am a bit of a slow cooker, when it comes to soul wrenching trauma. I'm OK with that. Can't change it anyway. Maybe, eventually, I will write about that day ten years ago. Maybe by 2030 I will be ready.

In the meantime life happens, love waxes and wanes, ideas float around, just outside the realm of the concrete, waiting to be acknowledged and realized. So yeah, I'm pretty busy, plus I've got about, oh, twenty more years, before my song/poem/story/one-act play about 9/11 decides to pour itself onto a piece of paper. Or maybe this will indeed be one of those life experiences that I will never write about at all. And if that is the case, then so be it.