Thursday, December 15, 2011

Joint Pop is Trinidad's true Rock 'N Roll band

Last night was Joint Pop's Annual Christmas party/charity fundraiser entitled 'Noise 'n Toys'. We all bring a toy for an orphanage and the members of Joint Pop deliver the toys to the kids.

To us 'grown-ups' Joint Pop delivers the goods - 'Rock 'n Roll style', and last night was another great performance by a band that has led the underground music scene in Trinidad for the last 15 years.

It's something that not many a band can boast of - 15 years together, let alone in a small country like ours with a microscopic music scene, unsupportive radio airplay and a population only concerned about what's the next soca hit for the Carnival season.

So, to say that a band has been around for that long, travelled all across Europe, released a handful of studio albums, on its' own merit, is one hell of an achievement.

And last night, the Pop gave everyone a good kick in the butt.

Rock 'n Roll will never die, and the music of Joint Pop will live on!

It's the lil things that count

Over the last few weeks, two of the schools I teach guitar at had their various Christmas concerts.

Both had the 'guitar troupes' play a song. At Fatima College, I accompanied the boys as we performed 'Dust in the wind' for three nights in a row. At St. Andrews School, I watched from the audience as the primary kids played along to 'Summer of '69'.

It was very honoring and humbling to see the 'fruits' of this endeavor to teach children guitar. All the performances went quite well (Thank God!).

What was surprising to me was the vote of thanks I got from both schools regarding the guitar program. It made me feel that 'Well, maybe this is a worthy cause, and that it is working out for the children, and they are enjoying playing guitar and learning music.'

I guess it's always every teacher's concern if they're doing a good job and if the students are actually learning. So it was a joy to see the kids playing their hearts out.

Now, none of this will ever hit the newspapers, nor the Billboard charts. But this certainly was an achievement for all the children involved.

This was just one of those 'lil things in life that makes the world of difference.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Floods in Port of Spain - 19th & 21st November, 2011

About two weeks ago, one Saturday morning, the rains came pouring heavy, rained for over an hour, and next thing we knew, our family's street was a river, and for a moment, the waters were almost at our gate. While we dragged a few heavy bags of sand inside, we saw the waters reside, but in it's wake, there was debris everywhere.

Then we heard the news that Maraval was hit the worst - walls came tumbling down, houses were flooded, some houses even fell apart. That was Saturday.

Monday afternoon, the rains fell again, and parts of Maraval went underwater, there was a mudslide down a mountain, a few cars ended up in the river. It was a disaster that no one had seen in years, if ever at all.

While clean-up began immediately, the story was told last week that two communities in the area have many homeless people now living in two shelters.

Today I met one of them. She's a young mother, who works at one of schools I teach at. Ironically her school was flooded badly on that Monday. And today I asked her 'So, you guys had excitement at the school last week?' She tells me how she lost her home, that it came down with the rain, and she's now living at the shelter.

I told her I hope everything gets resolved asap, which seemed as empty as anything. The truth is, I wish I could help her find a new home, and quick.

I got to put my thinking cap on.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Quotes from students

Every teacher has quotes from their students who take lessons from them - testimonials as they say.

I'd like to list a few dazzling comments that various students have told me as well as what they may have told each other over the last few years in class. Bear in mind that my students range in ages 8 - 16.

Are you scared? (Nicole, 6)
But I don't like to play that part like how it's written (Nia, 15)
I think Handel didn't know what he was doing with 'Joy to the World', it sounds wrong. (Darius, 8)
When were you stupid? (Nicole, 6 - in response to my reason for getting tattoos)
You have big hips (William, 10)
My mummy says it's good to ask questions (Nicole, 6)
Your name is too long, I'm changing it to Elliott (Andrew, 10)
You're younger than my mom, she's.....(various students when I tell them my age)
I don't practice (unfortunately, way too many students)
Guitar is hard! (again, many students)
Will you tune my guitar first? (St. Andrew's students who compete to be first in the guitar tuning line)
Who's your favorite student? (followed by) Who's your worst student (St. Andrew's kids)
What you mean you don't listen to radio? (Students from Bishops Anstey)
Coach! Miss! I mean Uncle! (St. Andrew's kids)
I need a pick NOW (Nicole, 6)
You suck! (Noah to Andre @ Fatima College)
Hey! it's the Box man (Noah to Daniel who carries his guitar in a box - Fatima College)
I don't understand, I don't remember (the wayward students who don't practice)
Can I lie down in your coffin? (Karl, 10 - he was convinced my guitar case was a coffin)
Did you get a new tattoo? Did you always have that earring? (Samantha & Sabrina, 14)
Why can't we sit on the comfy couch? (Ryan & Cain, 10; James, 14)
Does this water have laughing gas? (Ryan & William, 10)
Hi Frank! (William, Jacob & Luke, 10)
Hey Mellonhead! (Adam to Ulric @ Maple Leaf)
I'll give you a dollar for me not to play chords (Adam, 14)
And now here's this week's famous quote according to Malcolm (Malcolm, 14)
My fingers hurt (almost everybody)
I hate bar chords (almost everybody)
how is that sounding? (students who are interested in improving)
How long till I get good? (EVERYBODY)
What? Play what? (everybody!)

And so the list goes on, what fun I have on a daily basis!

Music listening in meh eardrums #11

These days I'm going ole skool....

AC/DC
The Cult
Def Leppard
Extreme
Jimi Hendrix
Judas Priest
King Crimson
King's X
Led Zepplin
Queensryche
The Smiths
Tesla
Van Halen
Van Morrison
The Who
Yes

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Suicide

The last few months here has seen two very sad deaths in our country.

Two young boys, one in his late-teens, and the other who just turned 21; giving up on life and taking matters into their own hands.

The reasons surrounding their deaths are anything but straightforward, and the question being asked by everyone who knew the two boys is 'why?'.

It's not certain if they knew each other, for each case happened a few months apart, and the circumstances do differ.

Their families and friends are in shambles, and even though I didn't know either of them, I find my mind running on them boys from time to time.

I wish I knew both boys to tell them that life never stays the same, that every situation, no matter how good or bad, will eventually disappear. That everything will pass.

I wish I could stop them both from doing what they did, and tell them to think about the hurt that they will cause everyone in their life who cares and loves them.

Suicide is a way out of this life, but it is a hard and brutal way, and it cheats everyone of a chance to live with that person, the many years ahead. But now, the family and friends of those left behind will never know what that means.

I pray for the souls of those two young men.

Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon them.

May they rest in peace.

Amen.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Even insects know how to pose for the camera

This morning in my kitchen, there was a small moth. I tried to zoom in to take a shot of him, but the resolution was fuzzy. So, I zoomed out the lens, then stepped in close and took this shot. The tiny lil thing didn't even move, it just stood perfectly still.

Maybe it knew, that pretty soon it be on the cover of 'Butterfly Monthly' (if such a thing exists)

First solo gig in years


You know, life really is a funny thing. Ever notice sometimes when you think of something it 'mysteriously happens'? Just this past weekend, I was thinking of the last time I did a solo gig in Trinidad (eight years ago), and my last solo performance in Toronto (November, 2008); and I thought 'Man, it sure has been a while, maybe sometime again I'll do one'.

I'm not overly fond of playing solo, I prefer a band format. Playing solo is being in the spotlight, all by yourself, and everyone is looking at YOU to deliver the goods. And it better be good!

So, I put that thought out of my head and went on with my weekend. No harm, it's a thought, nothing else.

Monday morning rolls around and I get a call from the booking agent at Fiesta Plaza in Movie Towne. He says there's an open spot this saturday - October 1st and would I like to play?

Well.......I had to plan a set quickly and let him know before mid-day. And so, it came to pass that I ended up playing last night, at Fiesta Plaza, my first solo gig in Trinidad in eight years.

I was a bit nervous at the start, but that disappeared by the third song. It always takes me a while to get into the swing of things.

The crowd was a sit-down, have dinner/drinks audience. So it was a bit quiet, but I got them to sing along on at least three occasions and they were very appreciative.

Most of my guitar students came and brought their parents. My family and friends came as well, and all in all, I think a good time was had by everyone in attendance.

Phew!

When's my next show you ask? I have no idea.

We'll see what happens next......

Don't take it personally

I had a lil slap in the face this week. I posted a link to a recording I did back in 1996, with one of my first bands - Brothers Grimm.

I sent it out as a group email on Facebook. Some people replied to the email, which was a nice surprise, but others started 'leaving' the conversation. I started to think maybe I shouldn't have sent out the email in the first place.

What's worse is the people who left were in most cases, long-time fellow musicians. I apologized to everyone on that email for any irritation I might've caused by sending out such an email.

One or two folks replied to say that many people don't like getting notifications from strangers in a group email all the time, and hence they 'leave' the conversation.

I'm trying not to feel a bit slighted by my friends, but it's hard not to. Still, I guess what's done is done and I'll know better next time.

It was probably more than naive of me to assume that everyone on that 'email' would want to hear the music I sent in the web link, and it was probably even more stupid to assume that they want to get email alerts all the time from various people, including me.

Nevertheless, I do find to take oneself out of an email without at least even sending a 'lil note to the initial sender to say 'Hey, thanks but I don't like being a part of this' more than a bit rude.

But then again, that's just me. I'm sure my 'friends' who deleted themselves from the email thread will say I was more than presumptuous to include them in a group email.

I guess it's all a matter of perception and Internet etiquette.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What's on my ipod now # 10

These days I'm grooving to -

Adrain Belew
The Allman Brothers
The Beatles
Beck, Bogert & Appice
Black Sabbath
Brian Eno
Buddy Guy
Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band
The Dillinger Escape Plan
Don Caballero
ISIS
Jeff Beck & the Jeff Beck Group
Mr. Bungle
Nick Drake
Patto

Cleaning out my 'attic'

So I've been going through ALL the music I ever wrote/recorded so far in life.

I'm putting all of it up on this site here -

http://cescoemmanuel.bandcamp.com/

Have a listen when you can.

This first month's installment is the very first original band I was ever in - Brothers Grimm, we only released one record called - 'Foise', in September 1996.

We had a rather conflict-ridden band life and called it quits right as the album was released. Talk about bad timing on my part.

But nonetheless, here it is online for those who would like to hear what we did back 1996.

Enjoy.

Next month - more music. Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

State of Emergency in Trinidad....making most of the time we have


Everything really is relative you know? It's funny how much we value time when we don't have much of it.

For the fifth time in our country's history, we're in a state of emergency with curfews placed on various parts of our twin-isle.

While many people are moaning and groaning about what this will, if anything accomplish; the fact still remains that our lives have changed now because of this recent situation, and we are all affected by this state of emergency.

Personally, I think it's a great move to tackle our country's crime problem.

Of course, the reality is we all have to be indoors by 9PM, and so night life is curtailed for a bit.

In the process, I'm trying to make lemonade out of lemons. I'm catching up on reading, practicing more guitar at night and mixing down a few music tracks of mine that I've been putting off for a few years.

So, in some sort of weird way, I'm actually glad this curfew is happening, because I'm clearing up my backlog of work that I said I was gonna get to now, for a good lil while.

Time is a valuable asset that never comes back.

My cousin used to tell me all the time, 'Three things don't ever come back - The spoken word, the spent arrow and time wasted'

So my advice to everyone during this time lockdown is make the most of all this free time you have now, do some good and clear out your mental closet and attic of work you might've been putting off.

Now, get to work ;>


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Romanticizing the past

You ever get those nagging gut feelings sometimes? Those feelings that even though you're in a situation right now, a situation that you have asked to be put in, a situation that you chose; that maybe you've outgrown the circumstances and the location of things and that it's time for a change. Time to get out of that same situation?

I've been romanticizing the past, for years, for most of my life actually. I keep on looking back at how great things were in various times. When I was in Trinidad, I day-dreamed about how life would in Canada when I migrated. When I reached Canada, I reminisced about Trinidad and made the bad times look not so bad. In fact, I made myself believe that what I thought was bad was all relative, that it was actually great. It was the great old past, the good old days.

The truth is, things weren't always that great. There was always conflict, problems, a struggle, a fight and a solution.

I've realized that no matter how hard I try to go back to what once was, that it will never be the same again. More importantly, I've learnt that even if what once was not that great nor that bad, it doesn't mean that it will be better now. If some things had problems back when, it will have problems again because of the nature of the situation and the people involved.

That's just how it is. And maybe rather than going back to something because it was 'perfect' when compared to everything else (of course the comparison is the distorted lens through which I'm viewing the 'pristine' situation, a big mistake to begin with), the wiser, stronger and more productive thing would be to start anew.

Life is not meant to be lived in the past, nor too much in the future, but rather right now in the present moment.

While I now look forward to a better future, I will relish the now.

Carpe Diem.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Help for the Horn of Africa

In this modern day and age, where news travel faster than anything else, I find it hard to believe that people are dying in Africa. I mean, we all know what's happening, and yet we haven't rushed to stop it from getting worst. This drought, this famine.

I find it incomprehensible that people haven't donated to the point where the UN and other agencies tell people to stop sending money! Instead the UN is saying that it's running out of funding! how can this be? How? Don't we care as to what's happening to other people around the world?

If you are looking at the news every night then surely it must break your heart to see all those kids suffering from starvation?

If you haven't noticed or have chosen to ignore what's happening, then I hate to tell you this - trying to forget what's happening won't make it go away.

We have to do something about it.

So here's a list of websites where you can donate. Now you don't have to donate to ALL. Just one would be really, really nice.

Thank you for your kindness towards your fellow human being


http://www.supportunicef.org/site/pp.asp?c=9fLEJSOALpE&b=7542627

https://www.wfp.org/donate/hoa_banners

The USA for UNHCR

http://www.savethechildren.org/site/c.8rKLIXMGIpI4E/b.6146369/k.95B8/Ways_To_Give.htm

http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/donate/overview.cfm?ref=main-menu

https://my.care.org/site/Donation2?df_id=9620&9620.donation=form1

https://www.mercycorps.org/donate/fighthunger

http://www.icrc.org/eng/donations/index.jsp

http://donate.worldvision.org/OA_HTML/xxwv2ibeCCtpItmDspRte.jsp?funnel=dn&item=1754360&go=item&section=10366&


Sunday, July 24, 2011

What I'm listening to now? Installment #9

These days I'm in a heavy frame of mind sooooo here goes...


Anthrax
At-the-drive-in
Bad Brains
Cacophony
Deftones
Every Time I die
The Explorers Club
Facing New York
Faith No More
Gojira
Gordian Knot
The Mars Volta
Mastodon
The Muse
Nine Inch Nails
Opeth
Pantera
A Perfect Circle
Porcupine Tree
Primus
Queens of the Stone Age
The Refused
System of a down
Tool
Wolfmother
3

Everyday you learn something new

So I started taking online guitar lessons recently.

I've been playing for 24 years, started taking classical guitar lessons when I was just about to turn 13, but I picked up electric guitar a year later on my own. I never took lessons for that.

So, it occurred to me the other day 'What if I'm doing a few techniques wrong?'

So, here I am, 24 years after the fact, now taking lessons online from a guitar wizard in the US.

Why not? I'm learning the proper way to do certain things and it's always good to re-work through various techniques and see how things can be done better.

Only goes to show you, it's never to late to learn something new.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Seeing your favorite band

When I was a teenager  in the mid-eighties my two favorite bands were The Police and Iron Maiden. I used to fantasize all the time that I was going to see them in concert.

Little did I know that by 2008, I would've seen both bands. It was a childhood fan's dream come true. I'll never forget those shows. If it's one thing I learnt then was that good music, never dies, nor does good bands lose fans. The papers maybe covering the latest pop fad, but good music will always stand the test of time.

At the height of the Grunge era, I fell in-love with Soundgarden. This loud, grimy band from Seattle had this wild streak to their music that just was so slack, so reckless for me that they became my favorite grunge band. When they broke up in 1997 I played all their albums for a whole week straight, drove my mom nuts!

When they re-formed last year, I knew I had to go see them. This year's summer tour kicked off in Toronto. So I went and and boy what a show!

They were the loudest thing I ever did hear, they were slack yet tight, it was sonic mayhem, and Chris Cornell's voice was killer.

I've seen so many bands over the years, but somehow, Soundgarden was the loudest band I ever heard.

They had the crowd singing along to all their 'hits'. It was a great night, accentuated by a lightening storm which lit up the sky.

And who would've thought, that 14 years after they broke up. I would see them play!

What a night to be a music fan




Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fatima ole boys


So this pic was taken a few years ago at Damon Homer's bachelor party.

From left to right (me, John Hussain, Brent (Bart) Kelshall, Damon Homer). We were all in the same form from 1985 - 1990. We didn't always get along, but by the start on form three onwards, we had a bond of music.

John, Damon, Brent along with Gerard Rajkumar would from GREEN and gig out from 1992 - 1995.

Bart doesn't play music anymore, in fact he hates musicians. He hates that he went Fatima College. But whenever I see him and we stand up and ole talk, I can't help but laugh my brains off.

Friday night, we bounced up each other at Shakers on the ave, and he asked me 'Franny? (my wonderful nickname from since Fatima days that he gave to me, and STILL calls me by that), Why did people say I was on drugs in school?'

And I said 'It's because of the way you talk Bart!, so sound drugged out' 

The weird thing he's not, he's totally sober. Well, he had a drink in his hand at the point in time...but.....

Then he says to me 'You were always a geek in school, in fact you're still a geek Franny!'

I laughed my head off....

I hope Bart never changes.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Sometimes things do come to you......Kobo Town comes to Trinidad



So this year had so much hope and promise to it. I was so looking forward to summer when I would hit the road again, this time just like 2009, I'd be in Europe. The plan was England, Sweden, Germany and hopefully, France. That was the plan! Yes indeed. June come quickly, I'm leaving on a jet plane, yes I am!

All this was being planned out since late last year with Kobo Town - the band that I still tour with from Ontario, Canada. (I know Ontario is a big province, but I can't really say the band is from Toronto nor Ottawa as half of the band members lives in each city. So Kobo Town is from Ontario! Why not? And I currently reside between Toronto and Trinidad, running a guitar program, and so we practice whenever we do meet up, but anyway, that's another blog post!)

So yes, as I was saying, the new album was being recorded and was to be released by Spring this year, and then we'd hit the road in support of it. That was the plan.

Instead what happened was delays and now the album is going to be released next year. That's the music biz for ya! So the tour got delayed....err....until the new album is out. I mean after all, we can't tour on our previous record, that's five years old now.

So, here I was just planning a 'lil trip up north for the summer, just to relax and visit some friends, when all of a sudden, the guys called to say 'Hey, guess what? The Canadian Embassy is flying down the ENTIRE band to Trinidad to play on Canada Day - July 1st at the Trinidad Hilton. And we're booking a few more gigs! So stick around man, we're coming your way!'

And so, I had to change my ticket. Oh well. That's life!

Now, I know it ain't no massive tour, but to be jamming with those lads on a stage again, and this time on my own stomping ground. I can't of a better way to start the summer. I've missed those miserable bastards. Every one of them.

We've toured all over Canada, various part of the US, Germany and Denmark, but we've never played Trinidad.

How cool is that?

Sometimes, when you least expect it, things do come you way!

Check us out online at www.kobotown.com


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Not really ever knowing someone

My uncle died last week saturday morning. Well, he was more like a cousin really, but with such a big age difference, I called him my uncle.

He was a really nice guy, who loved to garden. You shoulda seen his garden, it was a sight to behold.

He left behind a son and two daughters.

The amazing thing is, I never knew he had a son. I only found this out at his funeral. I also learnt alot from his eulogy. And it really does make you wonder.

Do we ever truly know someone?


Having fun un-wiring my mind

I realized that I've been doing something wrong for the last 37 years of my life.

It occurred to me like a month or so ago.

Now on one hand I can look at it as 'Man, I took so long to come to this awareness of what I've been doing wrong, why didn't I come to this conclusion sooner?' Or, I can say 'Wow! Here I am, 37 years of age, starting over with a clean slate, and I now know how to do the right thing'

I'm going with option two. And you know what? Standing on firm ground for the first time in my life, is a great, great feeling.

Monday, May 30, 2011

what I'm listening to now....edition # 8

So these days I'm taking in these guys, I know it may seem a bit odd that I list who I listen to from time to time, but maybe somewhere in this list, something might piques someone's interest......

Andres Segovia
John Williams
Enya
Eric Johnson
Gangbe Brass Band
Victor LaFuente
John Frusciante
Jeff Beck
Kaminari
Lizz Wright
Louis Prima
Norah Jones
Michael Manring
Pat Metheny Group
Puccini
Sandro Albert
Tri Lok Gurtu
Stevie Ray Vaughn
Steve Vai
Salif Keita
Madina N'diaye
Jean Louis
Sting
The Roots of Chica
Shakti with John Mclaughlin
Winifred Atwell
Morglbl
John Coltrane
The Mothers
John Scofield
Etta James
John Abercrombie
Femi Kuti
Eric Whitacre
Count Basie
Meshell Ndegeocello
Billie Holiday

Sunday, May 8, 2011

So when the music is coming, the best thing is to go with the flow.

I've been in a creative mood these last few months. Been recording a few pieces for my own catalogue.

I just put everything down as soon as it came to me and then I went back a few months later and edited, then mixed them all. I like working that way. Just get it all out, then tweak later.

I'm also working on a score for an upcoming documentary that will be aired here in Trinidad in September....

So I guess the main thing is when ideas come to you, put it down on paper and audio media asap, cause you never know when you might forget an idea, and you never can tell what might come out of a few random chords or a melody line.

A few songs that I'm putting up now started off in my head with just me humming a melody that just came to me. After that, I had to scramble to hook up my gear and record it IMMEDIATELY.

It was a rather spontaneous process. Had no idea what would happen next after I pressed the record button. But here we are.



Hope you like the songs

Check out 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Poison people

I don't mean to be dissing anyone outright in this post, but this needs mentioning.

There are some people in your life, that no matter what you say or do, they always have a negative comment to make.

There are people who thrive on confusion, on gossip, on being 'bad-mind', on having wicked ways.

These people have nothing worthwhile to contribute to anything, but can always tell you where 'you' have fallen short. They themselves have never done anything wrong.

Many of these people inhabit various groups (church for example), and while I'm not singling out anyone in particular here, I think it's important to realize that these 'drainers', these poisonous folk seek out such groups and affiliations for one thing - A forum for their malice.

They're interested in furthering their ego at all costs.

One must feel sorry for this type of person, whose internal poison has them so warped that they feel the terrible need to inflict other people with their bad vibe. And bad vibes do rub off, that's a fact. Someone has a bad vibe around you, it can sour a whole gathering.

So what's the solution? Armour up! Before encountering such a person, put on your personal mental shield, and be ready for anything. Don't listen to a thing they say, stand your mental ground and shake off all negative comments as quickly as possible.

It will do you no good if you allow that person's venom to torture your peace of mind.

Stand firm and peaceful and leave the poison within that person, give it back to them if they give it you, not with the same malice they have, but rather peacefully and with humility. In all honesty that person needs help and prayers, but will more than likely stay stuck there in their mental prison, thinking that everyone else has done them wrong, and that they have a right to be nasty if need be.

Truth is, no one has a right be mean and wicked, no one has the right to inflict someone else with their mental acid. But the sad fact is, many people are mental drainers, many people love to pass their trouble around, like a virus. And they need us, they need normal, relatively happy folk in order to carry their problems, their lies, their malice.

And all we can do is pray for them, protect ourselves mentally and shake it off and move on.

It's the only way to keep our peace of mind. And that's the most valuable thing in this world.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Imaginary boys

There's a group of guys here that call themselves 'Three Imaginary boys', although technically there's five (sometimes six) of them. They're all friends from UWI, from the mid-90s. They all DJ the coolest blend of indie, Brit-pop, shoe-gazing music that you'll ever here on this side of the planet.

Most people here don't even know that kind of music even exists.

It's one of the imaginary boys' birthday today, so we all went to Drink Bar and limed last night. There was another DJ there last night playing disco and hip-hop. After he finished, the imaginary boys set-up and started to spin. The place soon emptied out (some folks were busy requesting soca of all things) and it was just a handful of us (the usual suspects) that stayed back to dance and sing along to whatever songs we knew.

Maybe it's the guys themselves and their love for music, maybe it's seeing how each one has a different taste and musical selection, maybe it's hearing all that music (most of it I don't know, but am always enlightened by hearing something new and refreshing), maybe it's just being around old friends and just enjoying the moment.

But man, what a great time it is whenever the imaginary boys spin.

Thanks Darren, Marc, Vin, Kemal, Vijay and Gerard for making music come alive and opening my ears to new sounds.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Forgiveness

The hardest thing to do in this life is to forgive. To forgive others, to forgive ourselves is something not easily understood.

I say that here even though I myself am now starting to understand what forgiveness really means.

We always heard that we must forgive others as Jesus forgives, as God forgives.

But we've never really been able to truly discern why we must forgive.

When we don't forgive, we hold onto thoughts and feelings that are not healthy for us in both the short and long run. When you harbor bitterness happiness docks somewhere else.

Have we ever noticed that when we hold ill-feeling towards someone, we've giving that other person power over us, over our thoughts and actions. By extension, that person whom we feel has wronged us now has control over our lives. We live our lives harboring hatred, which can restrict our mental and physical growth. All sort of illnesses can develop within us.

But if we forgive and let go, truly let go and let God be in charge, and I mean truly in charge, we're able to breathe new life into our minds and bodies, we can learn from our experiences, good and bad. And we can grow as a person.

But if we don't forgive, waiting for the other party to suffer, wishing them evil, then, all we're doing is taking a bitter pill unto ourselves hoping the other party will die.

Holding onto a bad situation doesn't make it any better, nor does holding onto bad memories or hateful thoughts doesn't make it any more legitimate. No matter how long we do it for, and no matter how we twist the facts of the case. Whether we're right or we're wrong, there comes a time we have to let things go.

I think, but I could be wrong, but I think when we forgive, we heal ourselves in the process.

I know it sounds strange, but it's true.

Last week sunday night, I saw 'The Passion of the Christ' for the first time, and as Jesus was being nailed to the cross, he shouted out 'Father, forgive them'.

I don't know any human who would wish their wrongdoers nothing but vengeance in a case like that. Do you? But here was Jesus asking for God to forgive his murderers.

Now, if Jesus who was murdered by a mob of his own people, if he could ask for forgiveness of their sings, then whom am I to withhold my own forgiveness towards others.

Who are we to not forgive?





Monday, April 11, 2011

The human condition

So I know I've spoken on a few posts about my newfound love for football. I take a lil sweat with a group of guys on sundays.

Every week it changes, some new faces, a few strangers but it's always a decent game.

One guy in particular - Dirk, who's a friend of a few of my friends, comes often. He had a bacteria that almost paralyzed his nervous system, so he can't really run nor walk too fast.

But yesterday it was just six of us, so he started out in goal and ended up as a forward. He even scored a few goals.

Nobody tackled him, but he did run and gallop towards the ball a few times. And we all watched, almost as if we were his physical therapists and he was undergoing a muscle training session to rebuild his legs and his muscle memory.

Last week, he said the doctor told him there's a possibility that he may stay this way for good. We told him not to take it on, that there's also a possibility that he will get better! We told him to think positive and who cares what other folks think. Just focus on getting better.

It was great to see him run yesterday.

Ain't the human spirit something?!


Sunday, April 3, 2011

APRILFEST 2011


So, in a rather surprise turn of events, we - THe SONic REVIVal PROJect, got picked to open this year's APRILFEST at Pier 1.

Now APRILFEST is one of three shows put on by 95.1 Radio Station. It features mainly 'tribute bands'. It always bothers me to an extent that so many thousands of people would come to hear a tribute band but would not support a local band putting on a smaller gig in a pub for instance.

Now, I'm not a fan of cover bands (although my first band was a Thrash Metal cover band, but then again, I was 16 at the time). And that being said I'm not a fan of Tribute bands either.

But, a gig is a gig. So we agreed to open the show. During soundcheck the bands were all nice guys and time for to play the show the crowd response was rather receptive and friendly to us playing our originals mixed in with a few covers.

Not what I expected at all. I thought we were sitting ducks ready to be heckled off-stage by a crowd that just wanted to hear cover after cover from these tribute bands.

Walking through the crowd after our performance was the real highlight for me. Tons of folks stopped us, asked to take pictures with us, said they really enjoyed the set. Some even said we were the best band and should've closed the show.

Me personally, I don't think people would've stayed back to hear a local band, but still, it was nice to hear that from some people.

That was very humbling and gratifying to hear. We reached out to an audience who only listen to a station that plays mostly 80s' music. Now I like the 80s. But I couldn't listen to it all the time.

There's so much more great music out there that deserves airplay. Starting with more local underground content. Inasmuch as 95.1 does play local music, it's only for an hour and a half on a thursday night starting from 10PM. People do listen to it, but for sure we need more legislation to get radio stations like 95.1 to play more local content during Prime Time hours.

Canada for example has Cancon. Canadian content on radio stations must be at least 40%! and yet still, underground indie artists argue that most of that 40% belongs to Celine Dion, Bryan Adams and Michael Buble!

Yet, still after that show last night, I can't help but feel a 'lil lighter and hopeful about the state of affairs in TNT. I do hope legislation passes to get more local content on radio. I do hope local underground original bands get more airplay and gigs in bigger venues.

I hope more and more trinis open their minds to original music.

I hope.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

What I'm listening to now....edition numero 7



Soo....a lil change for the moment

The ROOTS
Thievery Corporation
DJ Krush
Q-Tip
Crown City Rockers


oh and ...

Beethoven
Kalin Ivanov (Cellist)

West Side at Napa...what a show! but why did people laugh at the wrong scene?


So the musical - West Side Story played at NAPA (National Academy for Performing Arts) over the last two weekends here in Trinidad. So I went last night, my first time inside NAPA and what a place!

I'm not really a big fan of West Side Story, it's too sad, but the local cast comprising teenagers from various high schools as well as adults did an excellent job in my books. I'm no theatre critic, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I was shocked and highly irritated when kids and adults started to laugh at the end when Maria grabs hold of the gun from Chino after Tony has been murdered and starts to say now she can kill too, because she hates now.

Now, I ask you 'what the hell is funny about that?' If it's one thing that gets me irritated and ashamed of Trinis is how easily we make a joke of everything. It's serious part, the saddest part of the whole darn play and people are laughing? Are you kidding me? 

Why?

Come on Trinis, grow a spine and learn about proper etiquette would you?

Monday, March 14, 2011

There's bigger things than all of us

Surely no one expected such a terrible earthquake and tsunami to hit Japan. And that's the scary part of life. Things can change in an instant. What was here today could really be gone tomorrow in a matter of seconds. And the people of Japan have suffered immensely.

What's even more scary is the fact that the earthquake was so powerful to have shifted the entire country nearly 13 feet closer to the US! It's shifted the earth's axis as well.

If this doesn't make us wake up and realize that the things that we think we 'control' are really microscopic and petty. Because when mother nature's ready to make a change. All we can do is stand aside and watch. We're all just fooling ourselves. Seriously.

Even the richest, most powerful people on the planet can't control nature.

If that isn't humbling, I don't know what is.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12716870

Friday, March 4, 2011

Who will carry on Calypso?

Over the last few weeks, a local pub on Ariapita Avenue - SHAKERS, had local Calypsonians perform on a wednesday. It is after all, Carnival time and 'tis the season for Calypso, Soca and Mas.

I went ever wednesday and I saw 'Crazy', 'Shadow' and the 'Mighty Sparrow' (not their real names of course, that's their 'sobriquets').

It was great to see them live, up close and personal, Sparrow is unfortunately getting much older and had to sit for his performance. But his voice was strong and sharp as always, maybe that's why people call him the 'birdie'.

There's is one sad reality though, after these guys are gone, who will carry on the tradition of Calypso?

Calypso is our version of the Blues, it's the Caribbean's man tale of life, of love, of social and political situations, you name it. Calypso covers it.

Soca, it's predecessor, only deals with partying, it's mainly music for the season. And the beat is only ten thousand times faster that Calypso. Lyrically, it's not too intelligent either. Not all soca songs are this way, but most are unfortunately.

Calypso in the early years was always supposed to 'take off' just like reggae did for Jamaica. Although it has reached very far, and many foreigners come every year to experience the sensation of Carnival and listen to all the music we have to offer, I honestly do feel Calypso as a music form stayed more low key than Reggae and Soca. But that's just my opinion.

I myself have travelled the globe with KOBO TOWN playing our own version of what I call 'Renaissance Kaiso'. And I know for a fact, people love Calypso.

That is not to say individual calypsonians don't tour the word. On the contrary, many artists travel to Europe and the States on a regular basis promoting our original art form.

But after the old guards have passed on, who will carry the flame? Who will keep the legacy of Calypso alive? Not soca artistes, they're too busy writing a party hit with minimal lyrics.

I hope Calypso will live on somehow, I hope new calypsonians will emerge to carry on this tradition of great lyrical content, political and social satire.

As the calypsonians would say 'Kaiso, Kaiso!'

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Who I'm listening to....6th installment? First for 2011


Soooo...on my ipod these days and in my CD player are:

Meshuggah
Metallica
Megadeth
Slayer
Testament
Annihilator
Iron Maiden
Incubus
The Mars Volta
Stone Temple Pilots
Hoobastank
Black Crowes
REM
Cat Power
Pink Floyd

and

Puccini - La Boheme

Blessed are the peacemakers yes, but blessed are the jackasses?


So yesterday at mass, the gospel reading was about turning the other cheek.

You know, giving your shirt off your back if someone sues you in court, befriending your enemy and praying for them. Don't just be kind to your friends, be kind to strangers (okay that's do-able) and your enemies as well (are you kidding me?)

In that way, you will be perfect, or at least be aspiring to be perfect like Jesus.

Now, I've heard some of this before,and maybe I am a cynic, but I'd like to ask Jesus and God if this means tolerating ill-treatment over a prolonged period of time? And this could be from anyone? Family, friend, co-worker, boss, lover, and yes enemy.

On the other hand, we always hear people say 'Be good to yourself' and 'You can't love others if you don't love yourself'

So how can I truly love myself if when someone hits me, I turn the other cheek?

Seems to me it's a bit of a contradiction.

I think, and I could be wrong, but maybe when someone does us wrong, we're supposed to be as compassionate and as understanding as possible and leave it to God to be the last and only judge regarding that situation and all parties involved.

Now that being said, leaving things in God's hands is about as hard as trying to find a decent driver here on the roads of Trinidad, one who obeys all the laws, you know the stuff most common sense people OUGHT to know how to do??

But that's another blog entry on common sense here in Trinidad. Oh yes indeed.

But anyway, not acting out any acts of wild, hateful vengeance is a tough nut to swallow, even if we are right. But my beef is, I can almost tolerate walking away, but why do I have to stand up and turn my other cheek? What, do I like abuse? Don't I like me on some remote level to know when I've tolerated enough crap?

And what about Karma? Don't we all have karma to repay for acts of non-kindness that we ALL do?

So God, If you happen to read my blog tonight, I'd like to say that I don't get that whole 'turn the cheek' thing. Aren't we supposed to stand up for what's right, without causing harm to anyone else? Isn't that our right as human beings? To fight for what's right?

Sure, I can walk away and 'Let go and let God', sure no probs, I hate doing that, but I'll do it! But can't I save my other cheek for myself and my 'lil bit of pride that's still left?

I don't need an answer right away. Whenever you're ready is fine by me. But I just thought I'd tell you that yesterday's sermon and gospel reading confused the holy crap outta me.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day





So, I figured today being St. Valentines Day...I'd use the definition of Love from the Bible......

Happy Valentines Day everyone.......Spread love and joy to every living soul

Ok...here it is....

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails...But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.1 Corinthians 13:4-7,13

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Speed and Sound


On another totally separate note, I was observing something in church and in yoga class.

I think all humans have a fundamental ability to speed up a piece of music. We naturally speed things up, it just feels as if we're keeping time, but we're speeding up the tempo bit by bit. It's totally normal.

The next thing is, when we sing in a group we lose pitch. We start off in one key and we either go flat or sharp (i.e. lower or higher than the initial key we started the melody in). As a group it feels natural but we are losing key ever so slightly.

I think our ear, as precise as it may be, is not our best tool for zeroing-in on perfect pitch and correct timing.

At least, that's what I think.

But I could be wrong.

We are truly blessed


Without sounding like a complete happy go-lucky, bible thumping, tree-hugging wanna-be; I'd just like to say that so many of us are really blessed and lucky to be alive.

In a world where's there so much sadness, fear, anger, violence and hatred; we are truly fortunate.

We are blessed if we're healthy and happy, if we can see, hear, smell and taste. If we can experience something new once in a while, we are one of the few lucky ones. If we can choose our own destiny within reason, then we are even more fortunate. If we can get up ever day with a roof over our heads, with no fear of imprisonment, persecution or death, if we have clean drinking water, if we have quality education and health care, if we can get in our cars and drive - then we are only a small percentage of the world's population.

We are totally blessed if we have friends and family in our life that can help us through any tough situations. With friends and family to laugh and cry with us, we can make it through the day.

And no matter what happens, with loyal friends and family around we can weather almost any storm. It's almost as if God sends us human angels to guide us along our journey back home to him.

When we look back on our lives, it's not 'what' we had in our lives, nor what we had accumulated in terms of material status and wealth, but who we had alongside us to share the moments with - both the good and bad times. Because they were still 'the times'.

That's all life really is - a serious of moments that we reflect upon as we get older and say 'Man, those times were truly the best!'

I hope to never forget the amazing times of my life, right up to when I get old and wrinkly, lose my teeth and fart in public, I hope I never forget those great moments and the friends I shared those moments with. I trust the bad memories will fade in time on their own, but I know the lessons learned will stay with me. And that's fine. The good times will always be with us in our mind.

I am truly blessed for having everyone in my life.

We are all lucky to have one another.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Brene Brown: The power of vulnerability | Video on TED.com

Brene Brown: The power of vulnerability | Video on TED.com

Capturing a moment

Last week friday, it rained and the raindrops stayed on the trees in the yard.

I got a funky 'lil pocket camera for Christmas, and although I ain't no photo-out-taker, I took a few shots.

Maybe it's just me, but I have a thing for angles. It's good to have a camera close-by, you never know what you can capture.

Raindrops are a beautiful thing that reflect so much, they project an illusion, they fill up a space with water and then they disappear.

I like rain.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

What I was listening to...End of 2010

Other than the usual Christmas music in Nov/Dec, I was digging the following stuff:



Air
Blues Traveller
Catherine Wheel
The Clash
The Cure
Curve
Depeche Mode
Elbow
The Gufs
Hooverphonic
Interpol
Killswitch Engage
Lush
Mogwai
New Order
Ours
Phish
Pink Floyd
REM
Slowdive
Talking Heads
Tori Amos
Travis
U2
The Verve
Widespread Panic






Photo by Alan Swinton

Sunday, January 23, 2011

You never know


Yesterday after guitar class I was driving back home. I was listening to the Black Crowes pelt out 'My Morning Song'. The breakdown had just started.

It was during that moment when I started to think about life, career, and love. I was thinking man, I really don't know how to be positive in light of certain recent events.

And just then the lyrics in the song said ' Music gotta free your mind, let it go cause you never know'. And I thought 'well'.

And just then in front of me was a guy on a bicycle, the back of his T-shirt said 'You never know'

I laughed out loud and thought, well, if that ain't God trying to tell me something, I don't know what it is.

Thanks God

You never know.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I heard the saddest thing today


Today, in class at a very prestige school, a young kid who's rather noisy and hasn't learnt a thing on guitar, told me that why bother to do anything because his parents don't love him and they don't care what he does.

Now what do you say to that? I tried to reassure him that I'm sure his parents love him, but he kept denying it. So I told him that everyone in class wants him here, inasmuch as he's noisy. We want him here.

We just wish he'd pay attention and not jump on the desks and hurl himself at the cupboards. We just wish we'd learn to play guitar.

I wish he'd learn to play guitar, you never know. He could be great at it.

Talk about being thrown into a situation without a clue on how to handle it.

Parents - give your child your love and attention. They need it ever so much. You will never know how much your words and your actions affect your kid's life, for the rest of their life.

God, help that lil crazy kid to know that he is loved. As much as he gives me a headache every thursday, I'd hate to see him go.

Maybe I have a soft spot for lunatics, maybe it's just that kid.

Help Lord, help.

Charles Limb: Your brain on improv | Video on TED.com

Charles Limb: Your brain on improv | Video on TED.com

Friday, January 14, 2011

Dodgy



Lyrics | Dodgy - If you’re thinking of me lyrics

In-decision


You ever have those nights where you wish you were out somewhere, but yet you're feeling lazy to go out?

You can't yet sleep because it's way too early. You have a few movies you could watch but nothing sounds appealing.

You could listen to music, but you're feeling restless. It's almost as if you should be out, but you can't find anyone to be out with. And tomorrow night you know you're going out. So might as well stay in tonight.

But still, what's this weird feeling?

Maybe it's just wishful thinking. Indecision indeed.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Encouragement

Everyone needs encouragement. Kids and adults alike. We all need encouragement. No matter what it is we're doing. Big or small. Encouragement is the glue that binds us all. (woohoo, I just made that rhyme up myself! Yes indeed, I'm gonna be a rapper - just kidding)

We all need to be told we're doing a good job, even if we're not. We all need people to believe in our 'potential'. Even if we stink at what we're doing. Eventually, if we stick at it, we'll get better.

The kid who gets encouragement will develop the mindset to not give up when things get hard.

Perseverance is the key. And as the old saying goes - 'Practice makes perfect'.

Sometimes it's hard to see the potential in others. Sometimes the quickest thing to do is criticize. Now, we all need constructive criticism, don't get me wrong. How else would we grow as human beings. We should all be constantly looking at ways to progress on a personal level, and constructive and objective criticism can be rather helpful.

I once heard that a great person will never belittle someone else, but rather will encourage that person to achieve his/her full potential, and follow their dreams and set realistic goals towards achieving those dreams.

Sometimes people have been through so much of their own disappointments and heartache, that it's hard to be happy for someone else who's living their life the way they see it. Sometimes it's our own fear and jealousy. Sometimes things in our life aren't going that great and we project our problems onto someone else. We don't mean to, but it happens.

Sometimes, we create such rigid definitions of a 'normal, decent life with a plan' that anything out of the ordinary is instantly categorized as a failure, as not good enough. It's a strange thing to think outside the box. But history has shown time and time again, persons in the past who took a gamble with an idea, beat the competition and made a name for themselves.

As my dad would say, the prize goes to the bold.

Now the hardest thing to do is to not take a lack of encouragement personally. How do you not take harsh criticism personally? What if someone dear to you tells you that what you're doing doesn't make sense? How do you get beyond that? Do you stop what you're doing or do you continue at all cost? Either way you take it, the decision is a tough one to make.

How do you convince someone to believe in you?

Maybe firstly by believing in yourself. That's a good place to start. And even if you don't get the encouragement you want, eventually it'll come, from places and persons you wouldn't even expect to give it to you.

Not taking it personally means accepting that the other person is not really out to cause you any pain, but just afraid of loving you.

Terrible thing to live in fear. But it is easier to live and hide behind fear and anger rather than to live in love and act out of love. That's bloody horrifying to most of us. How do we act in love. How do we love completely to stand by someone, to support someone, to believe in someone. Even if it meant letting them go. Go and do their thing.

Letting go is so hard to do. There should be lessons on how to let go of someone or something.

The hardest thing to do sometimes is to give a loved one encouragement in a venture that we have no clue whether it will succeed or fail. I guess that's where trust comes in. And faith. Faith in that person's judgement and faith that if things don't work out the way it should, that things will work out, one way or another.

In the movie 'The Pursuit of Happyness' - Will Smith's character (Chris Gardner) tells his son 'Don't ever let anyone ever tell you that you can't do something, not even me. You got a dream, you protect it. If you want something, go get it. Period'.

Sometimes, a kind word and a little patience can make the world of difference to someone. In some cases you may not have to say anything at all. Just be there, listen and smile. And hope and pray with the person as well.

I realized I went off on a tangent there, but on a smaller personal note.

I started playing football with a group of friends over the last three months, usually on a sunday. I haven't played since the Christmas season. But I went today. The guys all know I'm by no means anything great, but they all encourage me to take the ball.

And lo and behold, today I scored two goals from two amazing passes. Thanks Marc and Gerard. Thanks for believing in me. Now I know I will never play in any sort of football league and who cares. But still. What a game! What a day today was! Yes indeed, what a day!

I'd like to close by saying this.

Parents - encourage your children. Teachers - encourage your students. Siblings - encourage your brothers and sisters, don't pick on them, it'll leave scars. Lovers and spouses - stand by your partner and love them. Through thick and thin. Grow old together and make it work. Because it's so worth it.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Happy New Yr....2011....Post #1

So...I realized I hadn't written in awhile. I haven't written for 2011. Happy New Year everyone!!!

May this year be better than the last.

May we all - treat one another better, be kinder to ourselves and every stranger that we meet, be kinder to loved ones (because we all know how we take everyone for granted).

May we be more courteous to drivers, be more respectful of the environment and let's all make time for things that really matter - spending time with a dear friend, perfecting our favorite hobby, learning something new that will inspire personal growth, and last but not least, let's talk more with God.

Talk with God as if he's an old pal. I sometimes get so angry at God, I scream at him! Yes I know, very shameful of me. But someone once told me that any conversation with God is good conversation. He's just glad we talk to him. Thankfully, he had never screamed back at me. But I do enjoy our conversations. He always listens. What a friend indeed.

I've had a great 2010, played some great music, taught many great students and recorded two albums. What a year for music!

2011 looks even brighter with hopefully plans for the summer. I hope to play more music.

My wish for everyone? May we all find peace and happiness this year.

God bless you all.