2020 Can Go Suck It

2020 Can Go Suck It 

So far, 2020 is a year when I can’t see people I love, when I can’t hear the music live that I want to hear, when the world is falling apart at the seams, and when tyranny has become the rule of the day. 

A year when the resurgence from winter into spring was stymied because we were stuck inside to keep ourselves from dying or from spreading a virus to others who might die. A year when summer has been spent behind window glass glancing outside – not a baseball game to be seen, not a swim club to be enjoyed.

It is a year in which a man tinted Easter-egg-dye-orange tries to define reality through the warped lens of his own imagination. And his imagination wants to take us to a dark, dark world.

It is a year in which pandemic has become a word that is part of our everyday lives. 

It has become a year in which I have memorial services to attend, and I don’t know when those memorial services will take place, or if they even ever will. People who were dearly close to me are gone, and I don’t know when or if we will ever have the opportunity to come together to celebrate their lives.

Here’s my tally-

  • An icon taken by glioblastoma 
  • A mentor taken by Covid
  • A friend taken – again – by glioblastoma 
  • Another friend (and boss), taken by a tragedy I don’t and likely won’t understand 

A year of mortality. 

A year of confronting the temporary nature of everything. 

A year of learning how each moment is a gift, and the next cannot be taken for granted. 

A Farewell to Kings

Today, right now, is August 1, 2020.  That’s five years since Rush played their final concert ever at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Tonight we’re watching Time Stand Still, the documentary from that tour and of its final shows. 

It’s a good thing to do. A worthy thing to do. It brings back good memories of years gone by – of getting together with dear friends and going to see and hear great music together.  

And I hope that it’s also a reminder that we will do so again, and that there are friendships yet to be forged and memories yet to be made. 

Sometime. 

Somewhere. 

-Chris

The Quarantine Film Festival

So, things are pretty quiet around here these days.  Not in terms of music – there’s plenty going on there, including a demo for “Clouds,” which is now making its way to a true recorded form.  Likewise on the performance front: I have a few live-stream performances coming up, the first of which will be on the Apocalyptic Open Mic stage, planned for 8:30 PM Eastern on April 14. Please look for me there, and I’ll also do some Tunnel 18 sets in the coming days.  I’ll let you know when!Clouds

Still, being stuck in the house has given me a chance to catch up on some films I’ve wanted to see, or to rewatch. While a few of them fall into the category of brain candy, there are a few that have given me a renewed appreciation of the music that I grew up with, and that influenced me greatly. I have a few film recommendations I’d love to share with you, and not surprisingly, most of them have to do with recording studios, or communities of musicians who pushed each other forward. 

Echoes in the Canyon

echoJakob Dylan was inspired by the music of the mid-60s, and it clearly shows in The Wallflowers’ sound. In this documentary, shot in 2018, Dylan explores how a community of musicians living in Laurel Canyon, just north of LA, inspired and challenged each other to create a brand new sound by marrying folk music with electric guitar, strong melodies and harmonies, and truly poetic lyrics. The legacies of the Byrds, the Mamas and the Papas, Buffalo Springfield, and the Beach Boys have been with us ever since. 

Sound City

sound cityYeah, I know. No surprise that I’ve got a Dave Grohl film in here, and this one specifically. I do recommend of course watching several episodes of Sonic Highways, particularly the LA, Seattle, and New York shows. However, there is an indelible place in my heart for this documentary, which showcases the history of Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, California and how it played an integral role in the careers and sounds of Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, Johnny Cash, Nirvana, Rage Against the Machine, and so many, many others. I have just about everything from this movie (and the shorts from the DVD) memorized and am much the better for it.

Trivia: Nick Raskulinecz got his start at Sound City as a runner.  Now go look up who he is and why all Rush fans should care!

The Smart Studios Story

SmartSmart Studios was a classic DIY concept, started by Butch Vig and Steve Marker in Madison, Wisconsin. And if you’ve ever wanted a great story about how to just make shit happen – as well as learn a hell of a lot more about Killdozer, Smashing Pumpkins, Garbage, and a treasure trove of Indie bands from the late 80s and early 90s – this is the one. 

And now, a little mind candy….

That Thing You Do

thingYup, purely for fun.  But at the same time I was put in the mind to watch this again after hearing the news of Adam Schlesinger’s death earlier this week.  It’s a sweet film with a few really great songs. It’ll bring a smile, and honestly we could use that right about now.

Almost Famous

almostAnother one purely for fun, and music that’s a lot closer to what I grew up listening to.  Peter Frampton and Ann Wilson from Heart were musical advisors on the film, and the playing is great as a result.  Also, Jason Lee is a comedic treasure as a lead singer who constantly gets second billing.

Now I’m looking for other great films to watch. I know there’s the Joan Jett film, and that’s on my to-watch list, but what else do you recommend?  Please leave me suggestions in the comments – I’d really appreciate adding great stuff to the list!

-Chris

PS – The featured image is from the CD label for the first album I released back in 2015 when I was working under the (clear) band name of Steeling Time*.  You can take a listen to the full album here.

 

*Unfortunately there are bands in Canada and Australia working under the same name, so I changed back to using Tunnel 18, which frankly is more meaningful to me anyway.

 

Confinement, Day 20

Man, these are weird times.

First, let me repeat what I said the last time – I really hope that you are all safe and healthy. This is a very scary time, and all of us have been affected.  

On the one hand, I do want to share with you some silver linings from my own recent experience. First, losing my commute and spending all my time in my home studio (which is also my home office and my bedroom) has helped me find more time and focus to write and record music. I already have several songs that are on their way into the world, including “The Head that Wears the Crown” and “Clouds.”  The first one is already up on Facebook, and the second is available today via YouTube. Both will be more formally recorded and shared via SoundCloud and then Spotify in the coming weeks.

There have also been some wonderful online gatherings – ranging from getting together with old friends whom I haven’t seen for many years, to continuing to play live online with friends, particularly through the Virtual Necessity Open Mic2020-03-24 19.59.01 

(Speaking of which, please join us for our first ever live event, coming up this Sunday at 8 PM! Come to share your music, poetry, prose, or comedy, or just join us to listen. We’d love to see you there!)

Still, these are scary times. I have friends who are still on the road, half a world away and not sure whether and when they are going to be able to come home. I have family and dear friends in the greater New York area, who are doing everything they can to stay in their homes as much as possible and minimize exposure. Even here in the Boston area, I have been out of the house for very short periods maybe once a week.

May we all find our way through this healthy and strong. On the other side of this crisis, may we find the opportunity to celebrate once again with each other.

2020-04-03 20.08.29

It’s amazing how many times in a lifetime one lives through an experience that ends up in a history book. 

May you live in interesting times, my friends.

-Chris

 

Making Lemonade (and Music)

Not sure about you, but I am on day three of lockdown due to the coronavirus situation. Have been working from the house, making a lot of meals at home, even baking some bread. I hope to be finishing up some songwriting – some of that has been going on, but not enough yet to put anything out.

One of the things I am missing desperately is of course getting out and playing live. No one is going to open mic nights, particularly in Massachusetts, as there are no bars and no restaurants open. (Editorial statement This is a good thing! We are trying to preserve the public health.)

I watched on Facebook as several friends I have met through playing music mourned their last gig before going into seclusion/quarantine and started wondering when the next time was we were going to be able to play in front of an audience. And then I realized that in today’s day and age, we didn’t actually need to leave our homes to be able to find at least some form of an audience. At the very least we could get together online and play for each other – and then hopefully invite others to watch as well.

OurPerformers

Enter the Virtual Necessity Open Mic page.  We are only two days in, but there are already over a half dozen performances up, and performers are working on new videos every day. This has started as a Metro West Massachusetts thing, but there is no reason that others who have a song to sing, a comedy bit to make people laugh, poetry to make people feel, or stories to tell can’t submit something to the page (send as a link or in a message).

Author

Art is what will get us through this. Art and the knowledge that we are doing what we can to protect the people we care about. Please go ahead and film your song, poem, story, or jokes and then send them into the page. We’d love to get a little light.

 -Chris