SINCE I WAS 4 YEARS OLD
I HAVE BEEN WRITING AND PERFORMING SONGS SINCE I WAS 4 YEARS OLD. PLENTY OF PRACTICE, NUMEROUS SHOWS, AND MANY EXPERIENCES HAVE BROUGHT ME TO WHERE I AM, WITH MORE PRACTICE, MORE SHOWS AND MORE EXPERIENCES AHEAD. I WOULD HAVE IT NO OTHER WAY, BUT THEN AGAIN MAYBE A FEW THINGS COULD BE DIFFERENT.
MY MAMMA TOLD ME THAT MUSIC HAS BEEN IN OUR FAMILY AS LONG AS SHE CAN REMEMBER. MY GRANDFATHER WAS AN ADMIRED SINGER OUT IN THE FARMING FIELDS OF A SMALL TOWN (CARDINALE) IN SOUTHERN CALABRIA, ITALY. THIS IS THE TOWN MY FAMILY IS FROM. MY GRANDFATHER WOULD MAKE PERIODIC VISITS TO AMERICA AND WORK ON THE RAIL ROAD’S DURING THE EARLY 1900’S WHERE I AM SURE HE SANG. SINGING WAS SIMPLY A BIG PART OF LIFE FOR MY FAMILY AND EVERYONE ELSE LIVING IN A SMALL FARMING VILLAGE. SINGING WAS A WAY TO PASS THE TIME WHILE WORKING OUT IN THE FIELDS, COURTING A LOVE INTEREST, OR FOR THE SHEER JOY OF IT. MUSIC IN ITS PUREST FORM, WHICH IS SOMETHING I SOMETIMES FORGET.
I WAS BORN IN TROY, NEW YORK WHERE I GREW UP LISTENING TO THE RECORDS MY OLDER BROTHER DOMINIC WOULD PLAY SUCH AS THE BEATLES, NEIL YOUNG, THE BEACH BOYS, THE ROLLING STONES AND PRETTY MUCH ALL THE MUSIC THAT WAS POPULAR DURING THE 60s AND 70s. SINCE I WAS ONLY A FEW YEARS OLD AT THE TI ME, MY GUESS IS THESE MELODIES SORT OF GOT HARD WIRED IN MY BRAIN. MY BROTHER SAID HE PURPOSELY EXPOSED ME AT A VERY YOUNG AGE TO ALL HIS MUSIC AS AN “EXPERIMENT” TO SEE IF I WOULD SOMEDAY BECOME A MUSICIAN. WELL, I THINK IT WORKED.
GROWING UP I ALWAYS KEPT IN THE CORNER OF MY MIND THE FACT THAT I WOULD SOMEDAY GET INTO THE PERFORMING SONGWRITER BUSINESS. BUT ALL THINGS HAVE THEIR PLACE AND TIME, AND MUCH OF MY TIME DURING MY EARLY TO LATE TEENS WAS SPENT RUNNING TRACK. THESE MEMORIES OF RUNNING TRACK AND THE EXPERIENCES THAT I HAD HAVE PLAYED A MAJOR ROLE IN HELPING DEFINE WHO I AM. THE COLLEGE YEARS ARE WHEN I FINALLY PICKED UP THE GUITAR AND SAID OK, LET’S SEE WHAT I CAN DO. MUSIC FOR ME THE NEXT 10 YEARS WOULD BE A LABOR OF LOVE. I BEGAN PLAYING IN NUMEROUS BANDS, MAINLY TRIOS ON THE LESS POLISHED SIDE OF THINGS (SOME WOULD CALL IT PUNK). A FEW OF MY MAJOR INFLUENCES AT THE TIME WERE EARLY REM, THE VIOLENT FEMMES, THE CHURCH, U2, TO BOB MOULD AND THE REPLACEMENTS. MY BROTHER-IN-LAW JOHN QUINN WAS AN ALREADY ESTABLISHED GUITAR PLAYER WHEN I BEGAN PLAYING AND SERVED AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN MY EARLY DEVELOPMENT, BUILDING MY CONFIDENCE AND TECHNICAL ABILITY.
FINDING MY VOICE AND CAFFÉ LENA | Mid-1990’s
AS I MOVED INTO MY EARLY 20’S AND HAD A FEW BANDS UNDER MY BELT, IT WAS RECOMMENDED THAT I MAY WANT TO TAKE SOME VOICE LESSONS AND SO I DID. I MET DAVID ALDRIDGE AN EXCELLENT OPERA SINGER AND MORE SO A GREAT MAN WHO HELPED ME DISCOVER MY OWN VOICE. I PLAYED IN A FEW MORE BANDS AS I JOURNEYED THROUGH MY MID TO LATE 20’S TAKING WITH ME THE GOOD AND THE BAD. AFTER A DEVASTATING BREAK UP WITH MY FIANCÉ AND MY BUI LDING INTOLERANCE AND FRUSTRATION WITH THE ROCK MUSIC SCENE, I WAS TOLD BY AN ACQUAINTANCE/MUSICIAN FRIEND (RICH VALDEZ), THAT I MAY WANT TO CHECK OUT THE CAFFE LENA OPEN MIC, A VERY COOL PLACE WITH LOTS OF HISTORY AND WELCOME ARMS. WHEN I ARRIVED AT MY FIRST CAFFE LENA OPEN MIC, NOT ONLY DID I HAVE A BLAST, BUT LENA’S DID INDEED PROVIDE A WELCOMING EMBRACE. CAFFE LENA WAS A PLACE TO TAKE THE LOAD OFF AND GROW AS NOT ONLY AN ARTIST BUT AS A PERSON. FROM THAT POINT ON MY DIRECTION BEGAN TO MOVE TOWARDS THE SOLO ARTIST, ACOUSTIC GUITAR THING AND WELL, I PLAYED AND PLAYED AND PLAYED SOME MORE.
WILLIE THE MOAK A SINGER- SONGWRITER AND NOW LONG TIME FRIEND WHO NEEDS NO INTRODUCTION AT CAFFE LENA, SIMULTANEOUSLY BAKING COOKIES, RUNNING THE SOUND BOARD AND THEN PERFORMING HIMSELF, IS THE HEART AND SOUL OF CAFFE LENA’S OPEN MIC. OPEN MIC’S WOULD NOT BE THE SAME WITHOUT WILLIE. WILLIE HAS GUIDED MY DEVELOPMENT AS BOTH PERFORMER AND SONGWRITER SINCE I STEPPED FOOT IN LENA’S. SARAH CRAIG, WHO KEEPS THE WHEELS TURNING AT THE CAFFE, BEGAN MANAGING /BOOKING WHEN I FIRST STARTED ATTENDING THE OPEN- MICS AND HAS NOW BEEN BOTH A LONG TIME FRIEND AND SUPPORTER OF WHAT I DO.
ALL THINGS IN LIFE BLOOM WHEN THE CONDITIONS ARE RIGHT. AFTER WATCHING THE FI LM O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? AND THEN PICKING UP THE SOUNDTRACK, I BEGAN TO REALIZE THAT MUSIC SHOULD HAVE NO BOUNDARIES AND THAT I DON’T NEED TO LIMIT MY STYLE TO SOME PRE-CONCEIVED NOTION OF WHAT I SHOULD BE. LIKE I HAD FOUND MY SINGING VOICE YEARS EARLIER, I NOW FOUND MY GUITAR. I REALIZED PLAYING THE GUITAR IS ABOUT EXPRESSING AN IDEA, FEELING OR THOUGHT THROUGH MELODY; JUST THAT SIMPLE AND FOR SO LONG SO ELUSIVE. FUNNY HOW SOMETIMES SOMETHING SIMPLE AS A MOVIE TRIGGERS SUCH A REVELATION.
A NEW FRIEND
IN 2004 I BEGAN RECORDING MY VERY FIRST FULL LENGTH ALBUM, APTLY TITLED MAURIZIO. BEFORE EVERY SATURDAY AFTERNOON RECORDING SESSION I WOULD MAKE A QUICK TOUR OF THE DOWNTOWN FARMER’S MARKET IN THE TROY ATRIUM. IT IS THERE WHERE I MET MY DEAR FRIEND TOM WINSLOW. TOM, WHO PASSED AWAY ON OCTOBER 23, 2010; WAS A 2ND GENERATION MISSISSIPPI DELTA BLUESMAN THAT STUDIED UNDER REVEREND GARY DAVIS, TRAVELED MANY ROADS, COLLABORATED WITH SUCH ARTISTS AS PETE SEEGER, DON MCLEAN, AND WROTE THE NOW CLASSIC BALLAD “HEY LOOKA YONDER” (ALSO KNOWN AS “IT’S THE CLEARWATER”). MY CONVERSATIONS AND FRIENDSHIP WITH TOM IS WHAT HELPED ME FIND MY TRUE VOICE AND RHYTHM ON STAGE. IT’S ALL ABOUT BEING GENUINE AND PRESENT TO THE MOMENT. I MISS TOM VERY MUCH, BUT CARRY MY MEMORIES OF HIM IN MY HEART.
MY FIRST SOLO ALBUM
ON JUNE 25 OF 2005, I CELEBRATED THE RELEASE OF MY FIRST SOLO ALBUM AT THE LEGENDARY CAFFE LENA TO A SOLD OUT HOUSE! I WAS EXTREMELY OVERWHELMED WITH EVERY EMOTION YOU COULD THINK OF AS I WATCHED THE LINES OF PEOPLE FLOWING INTO THIS SMALL INTIMATE COFFEE HOUSE TO CELEBRATE WHAT I HAD DONE. THIS WAS AN EVENING THAT FUELS MY FIRE TO THIS DAY. THAT SAME SUMMER I WAS NOTIFIED THAT I HAD BEEN SELECTED AS ONE OF TEN FINALISTS IN A NATIONAL SINGER- SONGWRITER CONTEST HELD BY THE VERMONT SOLAR FEST. THIS WAS MY FIRST TIME PLAYING IN FRONT OF SUCH A LARGE CROWD (ABOUT 1,000 PEOPLE) AND THE INTERESTING THING I LEARNED IRONICALLY ENOUGH IS THAT IT’S NOT REALLY ABOUT HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE IN THE AUDIENCE, IT’S ABOUT PLAYING THE SONGS TO THE BEST OF MY ABILITY AND ENJOYING MYSELF. THAT’S IT, WHETHER IT’S A SMALL COFFEE HOUSE OR CONCERT HALL.
Since the summer of 2005 my songs have been played on many of the local radio stations, specifically 102.7 WEQX a popular radio station in the Capital District. My song ‘Right on Time’ has been added to the OASIS Acoustic Satellite Radio Compilation CD. I played well over 200 shows in 2005 which provided me with invaluable performance experience and have continued this inspired pace with few breaks in between since then. I am really excited about what the future holds and continue to learn as much as I can.
S I M P L E Theory 2008-2009
After having played solo for about a decade, I took up playing in a duo (Simple Theory) with my friend Brittany Robichaud, a young talented singer-songwriter. Within a 2 year span (2007 – 2009) we played hundreds of shows; mixing in our originals with blues, jazz, country, you name it. The experience helped me fill out my voice and sharpen my lead guitar playing skills. As all things must come to an end, I felt it was time to go solo again, where I could get back in touch with many unfinished songs.
2010 – 2011 Writing lots of songs and Molly Durnin
Getting back to my solo efforts has put me in a place of inexhaustible writing. I have been writing song after song as if to try and extinguish many of the strong emotions I have been wrestling with as I enter the middle part of my life. During these past few years the road I have been on has merged with my very good friend Molly Durnin. Molly is a young and very talented singer songwriter. She would come see me play when she was just starting to cut her teeth and actually burrowed some of my percussive guitar playing technique which she further perfected. During this past summer of 2011 I helped Molly record her demo tracks for her upcoming 2012 demo album. While recording Molly’s demo/songs I was completely overwhelmed by the emotion/soul, voice and technical precision that were spilling out of her. Watching this all unfold, truly inspired me.
Many times when roads merge between people it’s because they are on a similar journey trying to get to the same place. I have been quite involved in Molly’s recent work with her upcoming album. This experience has taught me so much about myself and my own album that I am working on. Studying Molly’s guitar style has allowed me to take my guitar playing to another level and because of this has opened new doors in my songwriting. It’s a truly beautiful thing when giving becomes a circle of growth. Molly and I have plans to co-write some songs together. Who knows what the future brings, we all do the best we can to follow our hearts and experience being alive.
Recent News and Developments 2012
I am looking forward to begin work on my album with friend and multi- instrumentalist James Gascoyne. James is an remarkably creative and positive soul, who plays in a wide range of different acts spanning from Electronic/Experimental to American Folk. He is part of some well-known local and touring acts such as Railbird and The Rodeo Barons. James and I became friends at The Circus open mic in Saratoga, New York – where he took a liking to my material and had approached me a number of times to collaborate and work on getting my songs recorded in a more professional light. So far we have recorded many of my songs in a very raw/live manner at James’s apartment to simply get the ball rolling and offer an idea of where I am coming from. As progress continues I will be sure to keep everyone in the know. I am both curious and excited to see what comes from what has been a very long road.
First Official Rehearsal for Upcoming Album
Wednesday February 8th, 2012 marked the first official rehearsal with bandmates James Gascoyne (Producer, Arranger, and Bass Guitar), Chris Carey (Guitars, Piano, and Organ) and Sam Zucchini (Drums/Percussion). The rehearsal was recorded and we are currently reviewing the songs for our next rehearsal in which additional refinements will be made. I am truly excited and blessed to be working with such talented, kind-hearted souls. They get what I’m doing and if all goes well we will get where we are supposed to be with this album.
Casey J Chapman – Roads Merge 2012
The beginning of 2012 merged roads with Casey J Chapman and I. Casey is a wonderful singer-songwriter who I had known for almost a decade. After seeing one of her performances at Caffe Lena in late 2011, I realized that something had changed; she had turned that ever so elusive corner. Casey and I have been sharing a good number of live performances both local and out of town, bringing into the fold- harmonies, guitar, bass, ukulele and anything else we can get our hands on. Our collaboration has been a lot of fun and will hopefully produce some great recordings and live shows.
Tracks for 2012 Album Successfully Recorded at Black Dog Studio
I am happy to report that this past May, James Gascoyne, Chris Carey, Sam Zucchini and I – with the help of Engineer Frank Moscowitz have successfully recorded the music tracks for my upcoming studio album. These fine gentlemen did an excellent job! The next step will be James and I carefully reviewing the recordings to make sure everything sounds good and then plan the next phase (mixing, singing, backing vocals etc.).
Kickstarter Fund Raising Campaign to Assist in Album’s Completion
This last week in May, I plan to launch my Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. Making a professional quality studio album is quite demanding on resources and time. Resources and time generally require money and this is where I will be reaching out to the community for help. I need a total of $7,000 to make this album. This includes recording, mixing, mastering and an initial duplication run of 1,000 copies. Compared to most budgets this is very modest, but I am confident this will be enough to produce something great! I will be giving copies of the album in addition to other merchandise based on level of contribution. Although I wish I didn’t have to reach out for funding, there is something special about a community coming together to create something positive.
October 2012 Came Quick | Steady Progress on Album
The summer passed quickly, but that seems to always be the case when the days are hot and sunny, filled with shows, family cookouts, festivals and in my case more shows. I had the pleasure of playing almost all my shows with my now girlfriend Casey J Chapman. Her backing vocals, coloration on Bass and Ukulele have made things more full and exciting. I have also been able to sharpen my lead guitar playing skills while backing Casey on her originals and covers.
Here I am in the middle of October; less live shows booked, freeing up time for me to refocus my efforts on completing the studio album. Recording my vocals at home has been both a challenge and great learning experience. It only makes sense that when you put something under a microscope you see every grain of truth. As the saying goes, “The Tape Don’t Lie.”
October’s Back Again (End of a Relationship and Continued Progress on The Album) | 2013
It’s been a year and I am still recording vocals at my home studio. Life has been very challenging for me this past year. My schedule has been a testament in repetition, patience and necessity. To pay the bills I am part owner of a modest software company and then off to the gym in the evening to stay fit. After that I visit my mom who suffered a life threatening stroke 5 years ago. Most nights it’s not until 10:30 PM that I arrive home to record, write music, practice guitar and any other music related stuff. As you can see it’s a tight rope and any unexpected events can set me back weeks, even months. Recently my girlfriend Casey and I decided to remain friends and not pursue a romantic relationship. We still support each other in many ways, but alas, as easy as two roads merge there also comes a time when difficult choices must be made.
I have some positive news to report in that I have completed more than half the songs for the album and have found an excellent mix engineer Jon Ervie. Jon has worked with OK Go, Presidents of America, and Brandi Carlile’s latest “Bear Creek.” I look forward to the completion of this album and celebrating the release with everyone. It’s been a long road thus far and my love for music is what has kept my tank full.
2 YEARS GONE IN A FLASH, ALBUM DEBUT SET FOR SUMMER | 2015
I can’t believe 2 years have gone by and I am still wrestling with the completion of this album. I am guessing a good number of people have figured this will not get done and I don’t blame that opinion. Although not much recording has taken place, I have been still playing lots of shows, writing many new songs, recording/archiving all my performances and hope to pull everything together for a big release party this summer of 2015. Jon Ervie the person that was originally mixing the album moved on to other opportunities. The split was amicable. Looks like I will have the album mixed locally by Sten Isachsen, who is an excellent multi-instrumentalist and quickly gaining a great reputation for his mix engineering skills.
No Turning Back Now! Sept. 26 -2015 | ALBUM RELEASE PARTY!
The date is set! I can’t turn back now! Mixing begins in early August, and then it is off to the presses! My debut studio album ‘BEFORE THE CROWD’ will be officially released on September 26th at THE HANGAR in Troy, New York. I can’t believe how long this album has taken and yet at the same time I can. Looking forward to celebrating with everybody that has supported me and sharing a great album!
Single ‘Dulcinea’ receiving air- play on 97.7 WEXT! August 2015
So happy that 97.7 has Dulcinea in their rotation! Every little bit helps in launching my new album ‘Before The Crowd’ Next week begins my marketing campaign in earnest for the September 26th Album Release Party at The Hangar in Troy – New York!
Disappointed and Grateful (Album Release Party) 2015
Well, what can I say? Although some would call me a pessimist, I think I am more of a realist. My album release party on September 26th was poorly attended and left me in a deficit both financially and emotionally. I have given lots and lots of myself to the local music community. I truly thought there was something special about it and maybe there is and somehow I am missing something. But after 25 years of playing music locally (only missed two shows out of thousands of gigs), religiously supporting local acts, helping young newcomers get there feet wet – on and on… I stood before a sparse audience when it was time to take the stage and celebrate my album (ironically entitled ‘Before the Crowd’). I played an inspired set for a group of people that I am so grateful for (mainly comprised of family and other band members). I made it a point to list each person that was at my show on Facebook to show my appreciation. But where was everybody else? I know there was a wedding that some musician friends attended, there was a 50th Birthday for another friend and another album release party that seemed to have drawn well. But where were so many of my friends, fans and people that said they were coming? People I thought for sure would be there? The week leading up to my show, all I received was messages saying sorry I can’t make it. The day after my show, I continued to receive messages from people why they couldn’t make it. Some said they had no excuse and were sorry. I understand that it was a bad Saturday to have chosen -luck of the draw… but at some point I have to take this personally – but in what way? I still am confused as to why there was such a small turn out… I’m not sure as how to navigate forward… maybe I just continue to do what I do because that is what I am and take this experience with a grain of salt? Sometimes things just don’t turn out the way you thought and it’s best to take the good from it.
I worked so hard on this album and am very proud of it. This album has literal blood and sweat all over it. Maintaining a day job and helping with the care of my elderly mother left me with small windows of time to record this album – mainly weeknights from 10:30 PM going past midnight. The songs are well crafted and sit well together thematically. Every line I sang and played were like brush strokes on a canvas. At the end of the day, good things speak for themselves and the time invested will hopefully translate to future benefits/opportunities. I am ultimately grateful to have my working hands to play guitar and voice to sing my songs. I have gigs every week and get to bring some joy/escape to the people in attendance. I’m still scratching my head on where everybody was… but hey maybe my album title is prophetic in that ‘Before the Crowd’ actually means Before the Crowd showed up… so here’s to the crowd I look forward to meeting!
Completion of my Social Media Website – May 2016
After many months of chipping away at the completion of my website –it is done!
I’m hoping that my site will serve as a place for both existing and new fans to listen to my music, watch videos, and stay up to date on the latest news and developments. Although I think technology in many ways has created such a flood of over-information in the music industry, it also provides independent artists such as me, the ability to reach out to a broader audience around the world. I’m looking forward to the possibilities and sharing my progress with you all, every step of the way.
October 2016 – Have to keep trying…
Well, it’s autumn again and I sometimes wonder what I do with my time. Always grasping at something just out in front of me, hoping that I’ll finally get there.
Truth is none of us probably ever get ‘there’, it’s all in the journey where life is actually happening. Priorities in my life have taken precedence over dreams and to me that is all the difference. I do however hope that at some point in the near future new opportunities will arise that broaden my experience and serve as a catalyst for growth. I have played lots of gigs this past year and with that some noticeable improvement in my overall performance. Here is hoping and trying real hard to get to another level.
Here is Hoping – June 15, 2017
I can’t believe my last post was October 2016. I guess better late than never. Nothing news worthy to report on except for performing at Albany’s Tulip Festival. The Tulip Festival is one of Albany’s premier music events. It was an honor to be asked but the heavy rain hindered the turn out. Only 6 people showed up to see my performance. I was told there should have been about 500 people. None the less, I put on the best performance that I could for those 6 amazing people standing in the rain. I have been continuing to write new songs and in the process of updating my website, along with all related social media. I’m going to try and give my music one more push and see what happens. If I am meant to be on this road then some good things should start to happen.
October Came and Went – November 7, 2017
Well, once again here I am with another October in my rear-view mirror and it seems I didn’t accomplish what I set out to do. Maybe I’m too ambitious considering other priorities I have? I know what I need to do to make progress with my music but I’m just not getting it done. Musically I have made progress with new songs and a better overall show. I guess at the end of the day that’s what’s most important, but the marketing and recording end of things needs to be made a priority if I want to move forward. Let’s see what I accomplish in the coming months. In other news, I’m excited to be starting up Sunday Sessions at The Rustic Barn again. Such a great sounding room and stellar staff.
3 for 3: Another October Slipping By… 2018
Well, history indeed does repeat itself and so do I along with it. Time is a funny thing. A day can feel so long and yet another year has gone by quickly and I am typing the same message. Maybe the fourth year in a row is a charm? I’m not getting any younger and don’t fool myself with young dreams but I’m hopeful I still have something left to offer. I get a passing grade for effort and somehow I need to find that extra focus to accomplish some of my goals. I just want to see a few things through. Get most of my songs documented in demo form at the very least. Properly market my music online and seek out opportunities that help broaden my audience. Fingers crossed next year it’s not the same story being told.
New Year 2019 – Bringing People Together Concert
What can you do when dreams seem farfetched but there is nowhere else to turn? You just keep trying. Maybe it’s in the very process of putting forth effort that gives us meaning. As the old saying goes, it’s the journey that should be appreciated. I’ve been playing lots of bar/restaurant gigs these past years and got away from doing more formal concerts. I understand that in life it’s all about giving while also trying to make a living.
I’ve planned a January 26th concert at The Arts Center of the Capital District. They have a wonderful 100 seat black box theatre. I’m going to be working with Dalbec Sound (the architects of the theatre’s original sound system) to bring the sound system back to its original stellar form for the show. It’s been quite a few years since I last performed there and my hope is to put on a great show and breathe new life into such a gem of a place. My other hope is to build community through all my friends/fans that have come out to my bar gigs and bring everybody together in one place where the music can be heard in a wonderful sounding room and people can get to know each other over some food and drink during the intermission. Here is hoping for a successful evening that leaves everybody feeling entertained.
Arts Center Show in the Rear View Mirror but looking ahead with Experience – February 2019
My January 26th Concert at The Arts Center of the Capital Region was an overall success. The audience was made up of mostly family and a few great friends/fans. As days pass, I look back more fondly on this experience. I hadn’t done an intimate concert in years and with the addition of coordinating/providing food and drink for the intermission, I was pretty well under the gun. My very good friend Joel Patterson and his girlfriend Deb Cavanaugh saved me by helping to set up the food and merchandise tables. Joel and Deb did an incredible job of capturing the evening through video and stellar sound/recording. I look forward to sharing some of these videos with the public soon. My hope is that these videos help support my cause in doing more of these shows in the future and open up new doors. Overall the night was a success and solid learning experience to make it an even better show next time around. Here is hoping for more good things in 2019.
2020 is HERE and I’m moving Backwards (February 18, 2020)
Maybe take a few steps back to move ahead? A blessing from a curse? Not much has happened since my Arts Center Concert in January of 2019. I did play a good number of gigs at mainly the same two venues, – underpaid, in front of a very small audience and then let go during the Holiday Season. So, here I am now at the beginning of March 2020 with a few gigs booked and using my time to reassess things. At the end of the day, playing bar gigs is a means to an end. A great hobby but not a career builder. The challenge is to build a fan base and the only way to build a fan base is to record new music and get it out to as many media outlets as possible. Sounds simple, right? I’ve got a plan… Although I stand behind my 2015 Studio Album – ‘Before the Crowd’ I have grown since then and also feel that approaching my recordings with more of a live/raw in the moment feel will better showcase my personality and musicianship.
I hope to release my songs in batches/groups of 7 to 12 songs. I will have a few different versions of each song. For example, ‘Give Me a Slice of That Pie Mamma’ might have a concise/radio version, a longer version with more intricate guitar playing, maybe a more improvisational singing version. Another song may have a mild version, a medium version and a hot version. You see where I’m going with this. I want to keep the door wide open with my songs. I would like to not limit myself to that one studio mix.
You might think, well why not just use the songs from my live shows? I will also share live versions if I capture that lightning in a bottle. At the end of the day, I want to reveal as much of myself – my music to the listener in an effort to build a lasting relationship with my audience/fans. Recording my songs at home also allows me to split the difference between playing live and having the comfort and fidelity of the studio. I can relax and really get into the soul of the song, while being playful and creative.
I’m looking forward to sharing my first batch of recordings and building my audience. Wish me luck!
Well… can a PANDEMIC have an upside? April 16, 2020
I’m not quite sure what to say anymore, other than life is truly a mixed bag of unknowns. No matter the choice you make, the road you take – anything can happen. All about risk management – making an educated bet – sure… I think that makes sense. Well, after recovering from a horrible flu/virus in early February (I’m thinking it was Covid-19), I thought to myself – ok, now I can get to work on making things happen. Since March, most of the United States has been shut down to reduce the spread-rate of the Covid-19 virus. It’s likely a significant percentage of the population will contract the virus over the course of the year until a vaccine is made. With most businesses shut down, no professional sports, people staying home – other than going to the market for food – musicians performing online has become one of the main positive distractions amidst arguing/polarizing media outlets, sensationalized news and plain fear of the unknown. It seems things will not return to normal for a number of months. If there is anything positive to take away from this, it shows us how fragile life is and to live in the moment but also slow down and take time to reflect on what is important. Ironically this was my plan before the pandemic hit, but to be forced to stay home truly has allowed me the opportunity to look back on prior habits and routines with a more accurate lens.
I don’t think a pandemic can ever be said to have good timing, but the way this is all playing out, musicians/artists are gaining more attention online as one of the only shows in town. I’ve been posting phone videos on my Facebook page and website to a thankful audience. One of the best things in life is when you do something you are passionate about and it also brings a level of happiness and peace to others.
I’m looking forward to beginning my recording/catalog project of between 7-12 songs per release/batch. There will be different versions – mixes of each song. Now is the best time to start this project and share my songs with a hungry audience. After this pandemic passes, I hope to have new fans, and a stronger bond with my existing fans/friends. Wishing good health and peace of mind to the world as we navigate truly unique waters.
Almost a Year since my April 2020 Pandemic Post (April 1, 2021)
Oh man… it’s been quite the year wouldn’t you say? So much sadness, loss, division, coming together, joy and everything else that is life. It seems that with production of the vaccine up to speed; there is light at the end of the tunnel. More and more people are being vaccinated every day and most the elderly and immunologically compromised are already vaccinated.
Before the pandemic hit, I was at the bottom looking up, as most my gigs were cancelled and I was recovering from a heavy hitter flu (which I believe was Covid). The gigs were cancelled pre- pandemic/social distancing and in some strange turn, it was Covid that may have kept me afloat. I have always been honest reporting any income I make playing music, even though lots of it is paid in cash/under the table. I often wondered if being honest was truly the best way to go when many people were simply pocketing the money made playing music as fun money. As a self-employed worker you don’t qualify for unemployment benefits and although new rules allowed for the self-employed to apply for unemployment due to the pandemic –I was initially not approved. The reason for the rejection was an oversight as the state of New York only based my qualifications on my software business revenue which was not enough. I realized upon closer inspection that my music revenue was not being taken into respect and after sending a letter for reconsideration –outlining 5 consecutive quarters of income above the required minimum (and of course I paid taxes on that money) – I was approved! Since then, I have been ever so thankful – using my time to be productive in ways in which I couldn’t before the world stopped. I’ve been building a new website – writing new songs –sharing home videos, performed at a ‘Save the Stages’ Caffe Lena live stream event, house projects, and overall healthier living (although I was only drinking a six pack worth of beer a week and eating fairly healthy pre-pandemic – I now just have a beer or two on Sunday evenings – eating a healthy bowl of oatmeal for lunch instead of a bagel and enjoying more focused workouts). This pandemic has provided me with the luxury to re-evaluate my goals – how I live life and re-invent my overall self. I completely understand that this isn’t the case for many families who are out of work and have kids to raise and bills to pay. We have also lost so many lives in the midst of this and knowing this is humbling.
I hope to soon launch my new website and begin booking concerts for the summer. As long as the vaccines do their job, things should start to return to normal by late summer/fall. The main piece of my website will be what I call my ‘Batch Project’ – at least that’s the working title. My goal is to properly release/catalog/demo most of my songs (upwards of a 100) in groups of around 7-12. The songs will be just me and my guitar – recorded live in a one-take fashion at my home. I’ll share different versions of the songs to add more variety for my fans. Although you will be able to listen to most these songs on Spotify, iTunes etc. I really would like to try and build a community from my website – in addition to receiving the full proceeds from my songs. 90% of the money you pay for a streaming service likely goes to artists you don’t even listen to. It also takes 250 streams to make a dollar. Although I will be providing songs for free on my website – I will also be charging between $1 and 1.50 to download high quality versions of my songs. You can also of course stream all my songs off my website (or go to Spotify etc.) to your hearts content. I’m just trying to find ways to keep the wheels turning.
Cheers to finally seeing some light ahead and wishing you all hope and love in your hearts.
November 30th 2021 NEW Website and well… maybe see the bright side?
My last post was this past April, and it seems things have somewhat remained the same. There has been a slight improvement – but new variants of the virus are keeping things unsettled. I have had on average a few gigs a month and really hoping by the spring-summer of 2022, things will be a bit more on the winning side. I had a major car crash on Black Friday – but survived without a scratch. Black Ice on Black Friday is never a good combination and I believe I may have used up my luck for this and next year. With not much revenue in 2021 and a number of other negative/draining life stuff… I could easily fall down the rabbit hole of despair and wallow. But let’s just say, I’ve got a little more fuel in my tank – however little – and that’s all I need to release my website in the coming days. I truly look forward to having a personalized platform to share my music with all my fans/friends/family –whoever gets something out of what I do. There is no better actualization of my writing/songs than when I am affirmed by the listener. I most definitely derive personal satisfaction and confidence in what I do as that is the root of it– but there is a sense of value –full circle in my songs when somebody can relate.
December 3 2021 and Done SICK with flu
Well… I did mention in my previous log that I used up all my luck – a bit of foreshadowing. I’ve been laid out sick with a bad flu all week. I was feeling the early symptoms as of Sunday but it didn’t show itself fully until Wednesday. I was looking forward to performing a Holiday Season show of sorts this Sunday – and that has been cancelled as I’m still running a fever and also don’t want to spread this nasty thing. Well, what can you do? What can I do? What can we do? As my mom would often say – do all you can to prevent bad things from happening – but once they happen it’s a practice in patience.
December 5 2021 Keep GOING Covid
If you read my above December 3rd entry, you will see that I went to Urgent Care. I was sure it was the flu this time around (*I’m fully vaccinated and very careful – don’t go out much etc. etc.) but the call from Albany Med Hospital on Saturday morning – informed me it is Covid that I have. Well… I caught it once before vaccination and a second time while vaccinated. I’m still sticking to what I said in my December 3rd entry: “Well, what can you do? What can I do? What can we do? As my mom would often say – do all you can to prevent bad things from happening – but once they happen it’s a practice in patience.”
Please try and be as safe/responsible as you can out there –not only for yourself but for others. I’m guessing you’ve heard this many times before –but what the hell I’ll say it again.
May 7th 2022 – Carrying on without my Mom
Life doesn’t care about the finer details of our lives… it’s all about numbers – reproduction – cold evolutionary progress. But maybe in the grand scheme – evolution moves all things closer to some critical point in time where a truer love – connection – rebirth is experienced. I don’t know – but I do know I miss my mom dearly and yet know it was time for the road we were on to end. My beautiful – incredible – queen of the infinite – darling of the flowers – lover of all things from the simplest to most complex – passed away in early March. As I write this, I don’t remember the exact day – I could look up the wonderful obituary my family and I wrote – but this detail means nothing to me. She’s gone – it was time. She was suffering more and more with each passing year. I could feel just before she passed that we were at the end – maybe Carl Jung was right in that our subconscious stores things – the things we don’t want to –or- aren’t ready to see… the things that cause us pain – that rip our world – our reality up from its core.
My brother in-law Al – had commented the weeks leading up – that my mother was acting more and more clingy. I think we all knew in a certain sense the time was at hand. Looking back – I can remember a particular uneasiness within my family. A combination of nervous energy and resignation. That uneasy feeling animals have before a big storm. My sister Rose – her husband AL – our dear health aid Waka who is family – all were sensing something… but my mom at 93 years old – although she suffered a debilitating stroke 15 years prior – was still so strong and healthy in many ways. But with this said – her decline could be seen from year to year. Sometimes it is difficult to see the larger picture when you are so close. The stroke my mother suffered left her in a wheelchair – unable to speak – paralyzed on her right side and extremely sensitive to cold. Amazingly she could still sing! And for these almost past 15 years we sang lots! I learned so much from her – even while she was in such a compromised state. Some might say – I sacrificed a possible music career – but the way I learned to play and sing by playing with her –has made all the difference. I know what it means to sing from the heart – to be playful – to empower others when singing.
My mom taught me about patience… although I’m still working on that. Maybe it’s a lifelong endeavor. Even up until the night before she had her second life ending stroke – I was losing my patience with my mom’s defensive behavior when trying to get her ready for bed. She was so strong pushing back on me (with her good left arm)– and I would have to work so hard some nights to get her in the chair that brings her up the stairs and then finally into the second wheelchair on the second floor in which I then would wheel her to her bedroom. That night – I was truly at the end of my patience. I was sadly resigned in that moment… I wasn’t as gentle with her as I would be most times and I believe my mother felt this. When my mom was finally in bed – she looked to her right – of the picture of her daughter/my sister Grace – who passed away when she was 24 years old serving in the Peace Corps overseas in Africa. Next to that picture was the picture of my father Bruno who passed when he was only 60 and my mom’s parents who have been gone for more than 50 years. It was as if to say she would be joining them- wherever they may be. I don’t particularly believe in an afterlife – but my mother did. My mother had a strong religious faith. Her faith – her religion was her identity. For her it was through god that she saw wonder – beauty and could bring this joy to the one’s she loved. And we surely received all of it – in heaping servings.
When I was awoken by a call the next morning from Waka – I knew something was wrong as she never had called me at that time. She said my mother wasn’t waking up. Waka loved my mother dearly and her sadness – desperation spread into every crevice of my being. I jumped into my car and followed the ambulance to Albany Medical. I never spoke to my mother again… she stayed breathing for another 5 days –enough time for all the family to see her – to kiss her – to pray over her – to sing to her with tears soaking the sheets of music. I must have told my mother I loved her thousands of times – to the point of exhaustion. I don’t know if she could hear me… her eyes were sealed shut but I swear there were moments her eyes were tearing up and that crooked smile was making an effort to show itself in approval of my one last act of love for her. In one particular instance – while my young nephew Johnny of 25 years and I were praying over my mom – a tear rolled down her cheek and it seemed she was trying to smile. The medical profession would say that it was just her eyes building up with fluids… but why did this one tear roll down her cheek at such an appropriate time? You see… my mom always struggled with the fact that I don’t believe in a personal god. I truly believe she could hear me and my nephew praying – and it meant all the world to her to know how much she was loved. I truly loved that woman more than anything. But at 93 it was time. I remember telling her while she was tucked into bed the night before she had the stroke – that she had been suffering just about every day now and that I wanted her to just feel better and that maybe the following morning she would feel better. I wasn’t at my best the night before she had her stroke and it’s something I have to live with. When I arrived home that evening – I just through everything on the kitchen floor and went to bed shortly after. Man I loved her… but I wasn’t perfect – especially that evening before she passed. Looking back I can see how much she wanted some warmth and affection and yet I wasn’t as warm as I usually would be. We did sing one last time that evening – Santa Lucia – she sang the final line and I will have that recording among hundreds of other recordings and videos to bring back those days – to make me smile – to make me feel some of that love –to not forget.
Right now on the eve of Mother’s Day – I’m not ready to listen to those music recordings or watch those videos. Interestingly enough – Mother’s Day won’t make me feel much worse. The loss and pain is something that is so part of my being –everyday has the same weight as I loved my mother everyday – no more or less. In many ways I’m handling this loss much better than I thought… possibly because I’ve been grieving my mother’s loss since her first stroke 15 years ago – letting go more and more – little by little with each passing year since then. But I also think it’s because I loved her in my way – so fully – so intentionally. She was my world – and I think she knew that. It was just that the road came to an end – it was right there in front of us and there was nothing we could do… I loved her – she loved me – we were best friends you know.
Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right | February 14, 2023
It’s been close to a year since I last posted anything in this journal. I’ve been growing – learning – and trying to accept things that may not change. Maybe I’m fooling myself, but some say ‘fake it til you make it’. I’m such a perfectionistic/idealistic kind of artist that I sometimes suffocate the very thing/song I love. I want it to be so good for the audience, that the song is void of life -forced. I need to learn to get out of the way – and play/sing the song the way I feel it in the moment – not the way I played it yesterday – not the way I want to play it – but the way I feel when playing it. The audience may have their expectations – but I can’t do anything to satisfy that. All I can do is put forth a valid – genuine effort.
In a few weeks will be the anniversary of my mom’s passing. She was incredible and I still feel her in things that surround me. I feel her in the home I live in – I feel her in the songs I sing – I feel her when I see a cute kid smile with wonder – I see her big time in summer’s full bloom. As she would say – nature is in love. Man do I feel her when I smell coffee or bread – she loved those smells and so do I! I’m still trying to navigate what I’m going to do with my life moving forward. I wonder if we are in control as much as we think we are but I do worry a bit about retirement… having something saved as I’m not a spring chicken anymore. But time is so precious and if I get a day job my passion – my art will suffer… what do I do?
This past year since my mom’s passing – I’ve played a decent number of gigs/shows – have written some new songs and feel good about the place I’m in musically. I’m also giving some lessons during the afternoon. I just don’t know how long I can continue this… maybe another 10 years? And then what? I’ll have no money saved… and yet this is what I have worked so hard on all my life. In some regard maybe I just need to take the next logical step in front of me and that should get me to a good place. As John Lennon said/sang ‘life happens while you’re busy making plans’.
I’m currently working on songs for a new album inspired by a feverish bout of Covid – as I would awake during the night and kept writing down ideas that would come to me for song titles and lyrics. I have since begun work on the songs – and have performed some of them solo at my concerts/shows. One particular song ‘In the Ground’ has been well received and I have started some formal studio work of this song as it will be the opening number for the album. The songs on this album came to me as almost a revelation of what was to come with the passing of my mom a few months later and the emotional challenges I would have to come to terms with. The songs delve into unconditional love – my own self-analysis while looking back on the 15 years of care that I gave to my mom – looking back to when I was a child – the wonder/possibilities – the UFO’s I prayed for at my mother’s feet while we said the rosary – the plastic toy soldiers – innocence juxtaposed with my current middle-aged cynicism – the media dividing us – and me trying to make sense of it all being non-religious -seeking answers/comfort for the loss of my mom in science the quantum realm – our reality in time – and fleeting romance.
I also haven’t forgotten about my Batches Project – in which I would like to record my entire catalog of songs with at least a demo/live rendition to have an account of my songs in a somewhat proper light. Batch 1 is already on my website and you are welcome to give those recordings a listen.
A lot to do – much to think about – but as Dylan sang – ‘Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right’
My Heart and Soul – written around 2011
I keep this note at the bottom because my mamma is truly my heart and soul. She is my safe harbor within. She raised me to be honest and pure of heart. She taught me to sing with a smile and genuinely care about others. If I am in the right place during a performance it’s because I have her spirit and her heart. I am lucky to have been raised by such an amazing, funny and loving person.
My mother suffered a stroke in 2008 which left her paralyzed on her right side and without speech. It seems the only mercy that was bestowed to her was her ability to sing. Second to my mother’s passion for family is singing. Every Sunday, I visit my mom and we sing Italian folk songs around the dinner table. Life is a bittersweet journey with a surprise almost at every turn. Here is hoping for more good than bad.