Thursday, July 29, 2010

Who I'm listening to....First installment

You know, it dawned on me....I never write about who I'm listening to...I mean, I'm a musician and I never write about who I'm here it first installment of what's playing today, this week, right now as we speak....on my home speakers:

Jean Louis
Victor Lafuente - Six strings for one heart
The Roots of Chica - Psychedelic Cumbias from Peru (Various Artists)
Shakti with John Mclaughlin - Natural Elements
Morglbl - Grotesk
The Mothers - Fillmore East - June 1971
John Frusciante - The Empyrean
African Virtuoses - The Classic Guinean Guitar Group
John Abercrombie - Class Trip
Meshell Ndegeocello - Bitter

And thats a wrap.....

Friday, July 23, 2010

Quality vs. Money.....Rock vs. Soca

I went to see CHECKlist and Skid Nevely last night at Casa de Ibiza. Every Thursday night is 'Live Alternative' music there, it's been drawing a fairly decent crowd over the last few months. Both bands were tight each have a very unique sound. The overall acoustics of the venue needs to be worked on though, last night I couldn't hear the vocals at all.

I was talking after to Drew Gonsalves and Jason Kernahan about the state of music, the pop market and the TNT music scene. I was lamenting that Rock/Metal/Alternative doesn't get any funding as say compared to 'Our culture' - SOCA, which is sponsored heavily, on both a government and private corporate level. Soca is lauded as our pride and joy. but if you talk to many musicians and music lovers alike, they will ALL agree that the quality of the average soca song is TERRIBLE - songs lack originality (in some cases stealing music from foreign acts), lyrical content is a joke, and it's not uncommon to have a few soca songs each carnival season 'sharing' the same music. I mean, the exact music, same key and everything.

After all, original soca ideas are hard to come by. Didn't you know?

It was then that Jason said, 'Yes, but look at the quality of Soca vs. the quality of Rock here'. Nearly all rock/alternative bands here are self-financed. It's truly a labour of love for the average rock musician, and clearly the quality of the product shows. And the rock bands are getting less, they're growing. Their songs are well crafted and the fans are loyal. Sure the market is small, and media could do a lot more to help promote the 'scene' here. In fact, it's fair to say that radio, which has the power to promote has more often that not, held back local artistes here, ESPECIALLY with respect to the local rock scene.

Still, nonetheless, it was refreshing to hear Jason's point of view, that for all the funding and publicity that soca music and their artistes get, their music is below sub-standard and almost anyone with a brain can see that. Well at least, that's my opinion (the brain part at least).

Heck, the fact that this little rock scene has survived all these years without public, proper support from the media, the private sector and the government is a success story in itself.

I only hope someday soon, the general public will awake to see that rock 'n roll in TNT is a great thing, and it's only getting better. Will little or no money to be made from this, it truly is a labour of love.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wish I could play in a symphony

So, I sat yesterday watching the ARTS channel with my dad, he loves the classics. I told him, 'Man, I wish I could play guitar in an orchestra'.

But then we both realized after counting all the instruments there, that guitar is seldom used in symphony. I mean there have been Concertos featuring guitar works in the past, surely (e.g. Concierto de Aranjuez).

But usually, guitar is not included among other orchestral instruments.

Why? is my next question. I have heard and seen guitar played with other stringed instruments in a 5-piece chamber music movement, but not in a full-scale symphony.

So....I'm putting this out there. I hope someday to play an entire suite, on guitar, alongside a full orchestra. Heck, I'll even wear a tux!

If not, I'll settle for playing guitar in a chamber setting, or getting one of my songs used as score for a movie, that's another dream of mine, but that's another blog altogether.

Monday, July 5, 2010

One of those unexpected moments that you treasure forever

So....I teach guitar for a life (not a living). I teach privately and at two schools - St. Andrews and my old high-school - Fatima College.

Friday, 2nd July I was asked to recommend a few of my students to perform at the orientation ceremony for newcomers to the school. So we decided the easiest thing to play would be 'Redemption Song' by Bob Marley. We even had a singer, some random kid who just started coming and sitting through the guitar class early on in the term, he didn't want to learn guitar, but he said he wrote lyrics and sang.

So here we were - four student guitar players, one teacher accompanying them and one singer, performing to the freshmen of Fatima College, along with the Principal, teachers and parents.

We got a great introduction by the MC, who even mentioned that I was an 'Old-Boy' giving back to my school.

Things were going pretty decent, we got through the first two verses and choruses, had reached the bridge and for the final verse, the singer grabbed the mic, rocked back and started clapping. Next thing I know, the entire hall (which was jam-packed) is clapping along.

It was great. It was a moment totally unplanned and perfect.

It was one of the best feelings I've ever had performing. I know it was just one song, and I know it was at my old school. And no one said after 'Hey, that was great!' But somehow, I had a great sense of happiness and fulfillment when it was all over.

Thank you God for the miracle of music in my life. Thank You!