Strat Saturday:

 

fender-stratocaster-relic-sunburst-1960

I love the Fender Stratocaster.  This took me a long time to realize.  Right now in my life I don’t know that I need another guitar.  Nothing else feels right to me anymore.  I have had Les Pauls, Telecasters, and all other assortments of guitars.  I just keep coming back to the damn boring vanilla Stratocaster.  When you dig deep into any guitar you’ll find there is nothing boring about any of them.  Not if you love the instrument.

At first site a Stratocaster is very simple.  they traditionally have 3 single coil pickups that most likely buzz to the distain of all guitar owners, 2 tone knobs, a volume knob, and an overly produced body shape style that we have all seen a million times.

Why do I love them? They are percussive in a way that no other guitar is.  The just sound right on a Strat.  For me the neck is familiar and comfortable now.  Go listen to one of the great Stratocaster players and you’ll hear why its great.  If you listen to Jimmy Page play a Les Paul you realize why they are great.  If you listen to Stevie play a Strat you’ll hear why they are great.

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Oh The Places You’ll Go: a Technological Re-imagining

Oh the places you will go

Dr. Seuss released his classic story in 1990.  It’s hard for me to comprehend that this classic story came out even that recently.  The original story is all about being brave and experiencing the world, making decisions with your gut, and embracing all the things you see good or bad.  It’s about finding yourself in other places and people who can change you for the better, all the while you are finding out who you are. Can you imagine the places the young man in this story would go if he had a smart phone or Facebook? Would it have changed?  I am here to say, “Yes it would have!”

The last 6th months I have utilized social media to enter into closed communities of people with similar interest to mine.  It has been a wonderful outlet for me to be myself and dive into my interests.  I totally understand why seclusion could be a leading health risk in the future.  Using Facebook closed groups I was able to talk Minnesota Timberwolves basketball 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year if I wanted!  I still actively try to keep my phone use when I am out with friends under control, but I must admit sometimes I have troubles not being engaged in a conversation online for days at a time.  This compounded when I found John Mayer closed groups.  What are the odds that there are thousands of people around the world who don’t just think of “Your Body is a Wonderland” when they hear the name John Mayer?

I started to not only chat on the threads, but engage them further.  They inspired me to say “FUCK IT, I’m making a podcast”.  This is where things got unusual for me.  People listened.  Not a lot by any means, but enough for me to feel like I was good at something.  It gave me confidence in my public speaking, my story telling, and myself in general.  The first episode of the Mayercast has about 400 listens so far.  400 people listened to me and a bud of mine talk about my favorite musician and his records.  We didn’t rehearse or do any prep.  We just started talking.  admittedly the remaining 4 episodes cap off at about 100 listens.  That is enough for me though! I started to do Facebook live streams.  All of my real life friends generally ignored the action.  They probably think I need to grow up or that I am being dumb.  That is what my anxiety would have told me anyway.

The people who were showing up for live streams that were engaging me socially were all from closed groups.  Most of them have heard my podcast or read this blog.  I am extremely grateful for all of them.  I recently tried writing some new music for the first time since about 2012.  I live streamed part of my brainstorming session.  I was thrilled to share my process and talk about music beyond how others see it.  I was talking about how I choose to make music.  They listened and I enjoyed every minute of it.

The  important lesson I learn is that I can have common interest with people in these groups and see them in a completely different light than the person on the other side of the screen.  That’s okay.  It makes me accept and re-evaluate the art.  I butt heads with people on their sports and music takes.  The common belief is that we would all troll each other to death, smoke a cigarette and go to bed hating each other.  In my experiences that is still just a description for a toxic marriage.  We eventually smile and laugh it off and return to the thread later.

In April I did what I always do.  I went to some shows alone.  This was my first exprience meeting people from my group.  One of my friends I have made has been in attendence at 7 of the same John Mayer shows.  We were once within 15 feet of each other at Alpine Valley for the Dead! We have become great friends It was wonderful meeting them.  The strange part is that It felt as if we had been friends a very long time.  At another John show my phone had died and I couldn’t get an uber back.  A closed group member who read “My Trip to the Garden” that had friended me on facebook drove me back to my hotel.  This is an incredible feeling.  If anything can be learned from this it’s that its no longer weird to meet new friends with similar interest online.

The most alarming and wonderful thing happened the other day.  I travel alone.  I am the king Master-Dater.  I refuse to let being alone stop me from seeing the world.  I think this would make the Doc quite proud.  In a lot of ways it makes me believe that my adult self is taking the Seuss story seriously.  There is an emptiness that comes with traveling alone.  It’s the ultimate way to live in the now, however you don’t have people to remember when with.  This week I started random chats like I always do after doing some online crying about not being able to see the Dead this summer.  I am deeply sad I wont be on the bus this summer.  I started talking to a friend online about the show she was seeing in California.  Eventually she said let me know if you come and I’ll show you the city.  This floored me because I believed her.  Belief is a beautiful thing that you don’t need a lot of when you are alone.  You don’t have to search through broken smiles to convince yourself someone wasn’t lying about the movie they said they loved.  You don’t have to believe they care about the stories you care to tell them.  It’s amazing how one can miss those sorts of inhibitions but the thrill of saying “remember when” is one we all long for!

In that same week a friend from a Facebook closed group reached out to me at random and asked if I would like John Mayer tickets in Seattle and Portland.  I gladly excepted with blind belief.  I’m embracing the idea of Air B&B to possibly make connections with people who can show me the emerald city of Seattle.  I am reaching out to old friends in Portland.  Most of all I am creating digital memories.  Oh the places you’ll go without leaving your screen.  Oh the places you’ll go when you find your self belief.  Maybe the docs story is the same, maybe the only thing that changes is how you get there.

-Kyle

Summer is Dead the Day it Begins

 

Dead-Company-Hug-Instagram

In Minneapolis Summer officially starts Tuesday June 20th, 2017 on the day the sun is at its northern most position.  In my mind summer begins with a Bob Weir guitar chord.  Today is the beginning of the summer Dead and Co. tour! I have now been to 4 Dead and Co. shows! I loved every single one! If you are reading this and have never been to a show in the Grateful Dead universe I have some suggestions for you to make the most of your experience!

  1. Get there early!  I know getting to shows early can be kind of a drag! Nobody wants to sit through a crappy opening band they didn’t pay to see. However, Dead and Co. never has an opening band problem solved! Many of the suggestions I have will not work if you are not there early.  Also, keep in mind some of my tips don’t work as well for indoor shows as they do at he outdoor settings!
  2. Meet new people! Dead Heads are mostly wonderful people! They come from all walks of life and a lot of them have seen and done some shit!! The majority of them will be very kind to you!  They will tell you stories about tours and trips of past.  These are unforgettable stories and the smiles on their faces as they tell them represent what is so special about the Grateful Dead.
  3. Don’t rush anything.  Seeing the Dead and Co. is about escaping life and finding some kind of bliss.  I would argue any show is, but Dead and Co. has this vibe on another level.  Much of that is because of the joy and sincere love their fans have for the music.  Note, I say music because the music is bigger than any one member of the band.
  4. Don’t drink the Gatorade.  If someone offers you Gatorade or another beverage that is not sealed don’t drink that shit.  I once had a younger Dead fan in full hippy garb basically maliciously ask me if I wanted some Gatorade.  I am fairly certain that shit was dosed.  If you want to trip out by all means embrace the Gatorade!
  5. Have fun and dance.  Dance like nobody is watching.  They aren’t because they are busy soaking up the vibes!!  This is not a time to be self conscious about your outfit or what people will think about you.  This show is about the music.  Once the music starts you should focus on one thing and one thing only. Soaking up the sounds and the energy!

I unfortunately will not be able to attend a Dead and Co. show this summer for the first time since this version of the band has formed! I hope all my friends who do will share many photos and bring back stories.  I will be sincerely jealous of all these individuals.  Please create unmatched memories! I need to find a way to live through them!

-Kyle

John Mayer’s Traveling Band and the Musical Sounds I Have Heard: Part One

Through the years I have seen John Mayer and his Traveling Band play musical sounds 11 times.  I would like to attempt to document all my experiences! Please refrain from judging me!!! Its just been to much good to not be documented!

Show 1: Febuary 13th, 2007. St. Paul, Minnesota.  Xcel Energy Center

The first time I caught a live show was Febuary 13th 2007.  John had just won a grammy for best male pop vocal the night before.  The “Continuum” album was still relatively fresh off a September 6th 2006 release date.  I have to admit my memories from this show are limited.  I remember very vividly when he came to the stage wearing a custom blue t-shirt with a cartoon grammy screen printed in the middle.  Uncle John was flying high that night.  He opened with Bigger than my Body.  I felt like I was flying.

It wasn’t always easy being a John fan. I had spent recent years trying to explain to friends that John was an incredible musician.  It had not been easy with tunes like “Your Body is a Wonderland” being so well exposed to the general public.  I really loved “Room for Squares” and “Heavier Things”, but they just didn’t serve up the guitar chops that I could use to convince people John was great.  “Try” was very under the radar for most and it seemed like a helpless task to get other 16 year old kids to give John a chance.  I did have “Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Tour 2005” on DVD and John ripped some solos on that to help my cause.  Still some of the other kids thought he was sappy or whiney.  One girl tried to convince to me that Simple Plan created higher quality music.  Im still bitter about that one.  Still waiting for that episode of “Where the Fuck Is Simple Plan Now?”.  Needless to say with “Continuum” being as fresh as it was and “Try” being out there it was starting to get easier to Justify my Mayer love.  While I may not remember a lot of specifics about my firs John show I remember the feeling of satisfaction that I got a full night of killer guitar work.  There was also a middle aged man who was yelling after the show ended because, “I PAID $70 DOLLARS AND THAT SON OF A BITCH DIDN’T PLAY DAUGHTERS!?!?!” That comment is still the gold standerd for me of concert goers who should just hang out on Youtube.  It was a great show and I was elated.  The set list was out of site!

September 07 John

  1. Bigger than My Body
  2. Belief
  3. Waiting on the World to Change
  4. Why Georgia
  5. Clarity
  6. The Heart of Life
  7. Vultures
  8. Good Love is on the Way
  9. No Such Thing
  10. Gravity

Encore:

  1. Slow Dancing in a Burning Room
  2. Your Body is a Wonderland (Thanks John)
  3. Neon

Please enjoy this crude video I found on Youtube!

 

Show 2: March 2nd, 2010. Saint Paul, Minnesota. Xcel Energy Center

3 fucking years.  How did I wait 3 years to see John for the second time.  At this point I was in my last year of college for music production.  I was in a band playing all the time.  I had a relativly long term girlfriend who knew me well enough to buy me the “Battle Studies” record on Vinyl, but didn’t know me well enough to embrace my passions for music.  She eventually dumped me when I finally started to persue music after bailing on my friends.  I’ll leave those sour grapes righ there though.  Obviously songs like “Heartbreak Warfare”, “Perfectly Lonely”, and others from “Battle Studies” would become very relative later that year!

Show 2 was part of the “Battle Stuides” tour.  Good lord was it amazing.  I had been on a Silversun Pickups binge the last 5 months or so.  I was so ready for new John Mayer tunes when “Battle Studies” came out.  The show was incredible, however I remember John had just got in trouble with the press.  The infamous “Rolling Stone” and “Playboy” interviews were fresh.  He crushed the whole set.  I finally got to see Steve Jordan play.  He did a big solo before “Waiting on the World to Change”.  It was all sorts of epic.

John was a little beside himself.  He didn’t seem happy.  I remember him perfusley apologizing to the audience for the stupid things he had said in interviews.  “I don’t know why you all still come to these shows. Thank you all.”  Was something I distinctly remember him saying.

The vibe coming from him was sad, but I really think he used that to put on a show.  At the end of the day the thing I love about John is he will put all his vibes back into the music whether it be joy, self-hate, or heartache.  He did that in a big way! Side note this is still the coolest birthday present ever!! My sister took me! Thanks a ton Haley!

Mayer 2010

Setlist:

Full Band:

  1. Heartbreak Warfare
  2. Crossroads
  3. Why Georgia
  4. Vultures
  5. Perfectly Lonely
  6. Assassin

Acoustic Set:

  1. In your Atmosphere
  2. Somethings Missing (Outro from In Your Atmosphere)
  3. Free Falling (Tom Petty Cover)
  4. St. Patricks Day (thats right Whelan)

Full Band:

  1. Waiting on the World to Change
  2. Edge of Desire
  3. Belief
  4. Half of my Heart
  5. Dreams (Fleetwood Mac)
  6. Gravity

Encore:

  1. Who Says
  2. No Such Thing

Please enjoy this another video that has been lingering on Youtube for years!

 

Show 3: July 6th, 2013. Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Marcus Amplitheter. (Summerfest)

In 2013 I had been living in the cities.  I was had just scored my first real job.  I later lost it shortly before this show.  I remember my best friend Whelan’s dad Jim talking about how they might go to Summerfest in Wisconsin to catch the John show.  I told him that I would pay for my ticket if he let me come with!! When the show came around I am pretty sure I was on unemployment feverishly looking for a job.  Either that or I had just landed a replacement job.  Jim was kind enough to buy me a ticket anyway.  He paid for my lodging and food and let me ride along.  I was some kind of broke and he was kind enough to bring me along for the ride.  Between letting me live in his basement multiple times and his constant generosity I don’t really know how to thank him!  Thanks Jim! I may never be done saying thank you.  Some day maybe I’ll get there!

John was fresh off his break from music due to Granulomas that developed on his vocal chords.  He had multiple surgeries and went missing from the music scene for a few years.  I had become the die hard John Mayer fan I am today between 2010 and 2013 somewhere.  I was always a huge fan but something clicked and the obsession was in full force by the time John released “Born and Raised”.  I spent days drinking Keystones in my yard on a lawn chair listening to “Born and Raised”.  I was the trashy dude in a tank on the college campus getting slammed on unemployment Keystones.  It was a wild good time in spite of the stress that comes with not having a job!  “Wildfire” was the song of summer! In a lot of ways its been my summer jam ever since I first heard it!

John was so happy that night! His voice had not fully returned but it was back enough for him to feel alive again.  I cannot begin to describe the contrast in his mood from the 2010 show experience to 2013 experience.  Its poetic justice that a man who said things as horrible as he had lost his ability to speak for months on end.  His guilt in 2010 was obvious.  This show was him getting a second chance.  It finally clicked with him that music is what mattered most.  I am so grateful I got to watch that play out!

MJS Amp_JohnMayer_02.jpg

Setlist:

  1. Queen of California
  2. Something Like Olivia
  3. Waiting on the World to Change
  4. Paper Doll
  5. I Don’t Trust Myself (With Loving You)
  6. Waiting on the Day
  7. I Want You (Bob Dylan)
  8. Going Down the Road Feelin’ Bad (Grateful Dead)
  9. Slow Dancing in a Burning Room
  10. Free Fallin’ (Tom Petty)
  11. Wildfire
  12. Half of My Heart
  13. Born and Raised
  14. Dear Marie
  15. If I Ever Get Around to Living
  16. The Age of Worry
  17. Speak for Me
  18. Gravity

Encore:

  1. Who Says
  2. A Face to Call Home

Please enjoy this video that has been hanging out on Youtube for years! (Still gives me goosebumps the way the crowd took over the song for him in the beginning!)

Show 4: November 23rd, 2013. Minneapolis, Minnesota. Target Center.

This show marked 2 monumental moments in my development as the person I am today.  It was the first time I masterdated (took myself on a date) at a concert.  It was also the first time I saw multiple dates on one concert tour! I have done both things a lot since this show.  If you ever want to see a show and you are afraid to do it alone, remember one thing.  You don’t see the show if you don’t go.  Being alone is a crappy reason to not experience the things you really want to experience.  Also, you never know when an artist wont be back or around to play music to you.

I had been very broke.  This seems to be the norm for that time period.  It still feels like the norm.  Maybe its a personal problem! John was still very happy to be playing.  Ever since his surgery I have never seen him play a show he didn’t seemed to appreciate the fuck out of.

My favorite moment of this show was his cover of “Sideways” by Citizen Cope.  It was my introduction to Cope.  That song just has a soul of its own.  Add Johns guitar playing and its heart breaking in a way I cannot really explain.  It speaks to my anxious mind in so many ways.  The worst thing about anxiety to me is realizing that I have no reason to feel the feelings I have.  “These feelings wont go away, they been knocking me sideways” cuts deep for me.  Couple that with John’s expressive melodic guitar stylings and you have one of my favorite moments of live Mayer!

JOhn target center

Setlist:

  1. Queen of California
  2. Belief
  3. Who Says
  4. Waiting on the Day
  5. Wildfire
  6. I don’t Trust Myself With Loving You
  7. Speak for Me
  8. Dear Marie
  9. Neon (Acoustic)
  10. I Will be Found (We never heard the song.  John thought the piano sounded like shit and had it taken off the stage.  He said he couldn’t put us through that. It sounded like an 80s piano like you hear on Motley Crue ballads.  Do you blame him?)
  11. Something Like Olivia
  12. You Don’t Know How it Feels (Tom Petty)
  13. Slow Dacning in a Burning Room
  14. Age of Worry
  15. If I Ever Get Around to Living
  16. Waiting on the World to Change
  17. No Such Thing
  18. Happy Birthday (Carlos Ricketts you dog you!)
  19. Half of my Heart

Encore:

  1. Sideways (Citezen Cope) FULL ON BANGER!!
  2. Gravity

Please enjoy one of my favorite videos on Youtube.  Yes its been up for a while.

To be continued: 

Give Back to Yourself

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I live in anxiety.  It follows me to the office, out to the bar, and even sometimes in my own home.  I acknowledge my depression.  In fact, in recent years I have become abundantly self-aware about all of these struggles.  I see my anxiety as a constant obstacle.  It stops me from talking to women, it stops me from writing songs, and it stops me from being myself all too often.  I see my depression as a necessary occurrence to even the emotional scale of life.  I contend that one cannot fully appreciate the greatest moments in life if they’re always happy.  Thanks to these mental blocks I am constantly apologizing for myself and trying to fix myself for those around me.  In my mind I need to always improve.  If something occurs that negatively shapes my relationships or situation I feel I need fix myself.  It’s time I tried a new solution.  In recent months I have started to make lifestyle changes that will shape the way I perceive obstacles and my status in life.  I have worked my way from 204 pounds to 187 pounds.  I quit drinking. Im dedicating myself to my health.  I am seeking out the things in life that give me purpose. Im putting my heart back into my guitar.  The last change I am working on is always  trying to give back to myself and be unapologetically me.

I would like to sincerely thank all the people who have let me be myself over the last few years.  Whelan, Pat, Alex, Jenn, Tim, Josh, and Wondra you guys have no idea how much I appreciate you.

-Kyle