Studio Journal 1-15-10

xmasstree 2010
dulcimer promovideoThe Electric Hammered Dulcimer – 9 min 45 sec
dulcimer promovideoIntroducing the Electric Hammered Dulcimer-1st cut-7.5 min
live at the Plaza"Wild Mountain Thyme", The Plaza, St Augustine, 5-2009
live at the Plaza"Think Of Me", The Plaza, St Augustine, 5-2009
live at the Plaza"This Road I'm On", The Plaza, St Augustine, 5-2009

I continue in stride, or more accurately, running full speed.

I finished the dulcimer promo video, getting it within the 10 minute limit for youtube. Some people had trouble with the solstice video, probably because the files on my site are set to download rather than for streaming. So now I am duplicating most of the videos on youtube, though they are smaller and people with slow connections or machines might have problems with streaming, where they can download a file at any speed, including dial-up, and then play it from their hard drive without a problem.

dulcimer studio video
Though the dulcimer video came out good, its just the beginning. First, I have to cut it down to shorter versions so people have a choice depending on how much information they need. I completed the first cutting, reducing it to 7.5 minutes, just the story of what I did with and to the traditional hammered dulcimer, removing a short background history at the start and a short performance at the end. I still want to cut that even further, to get in the 3 to 5 minute range I usually produce. I know some people want the whole story, but some folks might just want a quick, simple explaination. As well, my general philosophy is to keep my videos short, and make multiple videos, instead of making single long videos, just like I did with the pickup videos.

Speaking of those, I duplicated those to youtube this last couple weeks, as well as most of the performance videos. I am continuing make playlists, and crosslinking my website, my webjournal and the youtube channel so they are integrated, and people can easily move back and forth. Youtube is the place people go, but the videos only provide a minimum of information, while the details, the complete story, is on the website.

I still need to produce more studio videos, now that I know it works, crude but effective! I realize as I look at the first one, I don't really explain the electric hammered dulcimer, but how I got there and why. I also need to make a video specifically about my music and my performance styles, for promoters and venues especially, though it will have general interest for people interested in the whole story. The third one is a "meet the artist" interview. Then the website will be ready to start promoting, even though there are other videos I want and need to do. Like a detailed look at the electric hammered dulcimer, or an introduction to my EDU school programs, and a history of the dulcimer, and one on baisc playing. I shot the footage for a video on tuning while I was at the State Fair a couple years ago, and spent many hours tuning, so I can produce that. I've also been trying to slowly transfer my footage from DV tape to a DVD archive, and I realize just how much great footage I have there to produce from, not just music, but other stories, like raising my sunken sailboat in 2004. I can make a good "how to" video with that, I quess. But its just a good story. And within it is footage of me writing songs, in line with producing video journals about where the songs I'm recording now come from.

the Plaza in St AugustineI went ahead and produced three street performances from the Plaza in St Augustine, last May in Florida. I’d thought that I would make a tour journal about that time period to introduce a set of videos from there, as well as do the same for the Floirda State Folk Festival, like I did with the show at Lou's Ponderosa, all in May of 2009. But I just haven't had the time, and the raw footage has been clogging up my hard drives. So I've produced just the video footage, from the State Folk Festival last time and from St Augustine this time.

So much to do, so little time. I am just one man, trying to do it all.

Otherwise, I deal with life. One computer is out for a couple days with a failed RAM module. The weather warmed up and the snow melted, then we fell inot a record cold spell that lasted till just a couple days ago. In the couple days before the cold, I got some yard work done, transplanting shrubs around the yard from where they have grown spontaineously to where I want them. I've been trying to take it easy on my shoulder, but last week I finally had to get to the woodpile as we ran out. I spent a few days cutting up all the piled sections and stacking it into the woodshed before the rains came a couple days ago. I also processed a set of demo videos for my ma, a working actor still, from DVDs and VHS to flash and mp4 video she ccould email to her booking agents. I built a set of bookshelves for the kitchen, trying to make steady progress on small house projects, and build a second one for my sister at the same time, since I was in the process. Easier for me than her.

I keep writing to my reps, for whatever good it does. Like many things, I am responsible for my efforts, not the results. Anyway, as a folksinger, being a social activist and a serious progressive has been my life, but I am trying to keep this webjournal about the music and the life, rather than a place to vent my frustration by ranting. Perhaps there should be a place here for me to air my opinions on what is going on in the world, though I have always been focused on people and consciousness, grass-roots change, than politics. And I am often frustrated by lots of the statements and concepts afloat, not to mention distortions and outright lies. Nothing new in that, I have had to watch this tragic parade for decades as the world has proceeded off the cliff. I have done what little I could, raised my voice, but in the end, "I told you so" holds no satisfaction in the face of the horrific consequences. Though it does weigh upon my mind and spirit, I continue to do what I can, all I can, one step at a time. An old story. But it has been hard to watch it unfold, unable to do anything but keep trying to raise consciousness to the point where the people will demand change, , and won't be so easily fooled by transparent lies, and will elect real leaders who are dedicated to the public good rather the interests of the few. Perhaps a congress full of Obamas would get some real change done. One can only hope. I have lived on hope for over 35 years, as so many have before me and do today. At least I ate dinner, and can sleep in a warm safe place tonight. Though I never rest easy, while so many suffer in so many places, year after year, decade after decade. My last thoughts before I sleep and the first when I wake are so often about them, or about the greater struggle for peace, freedom, justice.

The Toyota's starter has gone out, but I plan to leave so soon it is more important to work on the van and get it ready for the trip to Floirda than worry about the Toyota, with the limited funds I have to work with. The same old story, limping along on hope, trying to manage to get a little farther while barely afloat. The life of a folksinger. But it was my choice, compared to many who have no choice. At least I can go out on the street and make some much needed cash again, soon, hopefully it will be warm enough in Florida when I get there.

Though on that front, I have almost certainly decided to just go down to Florida for a few weeks, visit Dad and check on the boat and look for connections, but return here quickly and get back to work. I didn't come up with any really important opportunities in Florida to justify spending more time there, and moving the studio down there.
the Plaza in St Augustine I think it will be more productive to come back here and return to Florida later in the Spring when it warms up and I can work on the boat and visit Dad again, and perhaps line up some festivals or house concerts, and go to the State Folk Festival again, or most likely fall back on the practical reality of making money immediately on the street, something I can count on. Gigs are nice, but I can count on the street. Though I am tryng to “do more”, and I am hoping that the new web effort will result in gigs and even more, direct income from the web, I don't count on it. It is a nice vision, but content providers are still out of the loop in most sites, we are still expected to provide free content, and the general idea of the web is still that content is free. The pragmatic result is I have to play on the street so I can survive and keep providing content for the web, record, build dulcimers, volunteer in schools and senior centers, play gigs that barely pay gas money, if that. So it has been for decades, ther web hasn't changed that. Though I still hope it will, I have no expectations. As I often tell people in this business of smoke and mirrors, promises and pitches, I'll believe it when I see it.

I am still not sure how much Florida will figure into my long-term plans, except for passing through regularly to visit Dad. But you never know, opportunities know no location. But I want to go where the music takes me, and moves me forward, not focus on finding a simple niche in a specific place. I even wonder whether I should keep the boat or not. It was good when I lived on it and worked a harbor town, but if I want to be flying around the world, or going wherever people want me to play the boat may just be a problem, a responsibility, a great tool I have no time to use. Though I love the water, and I'd still make my home on the water, if I have time to have a home anywhere for a while. I can always get another boat, it is skills and knowledge that make a sailor, not a boat.

Maybe it makes more sense to focus all my effort here, while looking for connections to jump anywhere in the world for short trips out. Which means making contacts here if I can, even if it is harder to find musicians. I haven't really come up with a social circle here, friends, but mostly stay here at the house, feeling like the list gets longer rather than shorter, though I never stop working. I sent out the invites to come jam here over the holidays, or just visit, but as usual, only a few people showed up in the end. But it was really great. I feel pressured to get so much done, and it is hard to leave the house. And I have cool things to share here, the dulcimer, the studio, even the tree, that I can't take out, and big groups are really less social. It was a great pleasure to just take a break and talk to someone, have time to really communicate, play some music, just be social. I still plan to try and get out to some open mikes, now that the website is mostly ready for people to visit, it justifies starting promoting and meeting people locally, and looking for places to play.. that has always been my social world. I am used to the village life of the festival grounds, or life on the street, cafe to market, the parks and waterfront, out among the people, striking up conversations with everyone, always interacting. I am not used to being in a house, to having to "go out".

It is true my life, and friends, and even culture, has been more part of the west than the east. But even there I walked a different road, and I guess that is my life. I don't want to live a normal life. I am more interested in getting back to the music, and traveling the world not just the country, and doing what I can to raise consciousness with that music, do my small part in the struggle for justice and freedom, for love and peace, with this gift I have in the music. It is hard to go it alone, but that was the times I lived in. Now the energy of change is building, but I feel disconnected. Distracted by the music, by the dulcimer, and the demands of doing more, instead of using what I have to reach people, even in the limited stage of the streets, trying to reach one mind, one heart, at a time. But I don;t want what I have done with the dulcimer to die with me, and so I have to do more. And as this constant pain in my shoulder reminds me, I can't say how long I have to do it, so I better get it done. Though in reality, the dulcimer sits gathering dust whie I work at the computer. But this is the way both to reach and find people. With the website done I can network, find musicians to collaborate with, find places to play, connect to venues around the world.

electric hammered dulcimer video studioIn a couple days it will be time to take down the tree. It stays up for a month, but the time has almost passed. Then I'll set up the curtain and lights and try to produce some more video before I leave. Though I am thinking I should shoot some performances in front of the tree before I take it down, ready for a holiday video next year. And I need to bake more bread. I have a job to do. One step at a time.

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