David's Blog

Another Southern California Mini Tour Winding Down 

Well, just finishing up another California Mini tour. These events for me are school, a proving ground, a fortunate event of new friends and performance opportunities for one arriving from another stratosphere. 

They do things differently down here. I'm not saying better just differently than my home town Vancouver. Its very good to go different now and then as a performing singer songwriter. It gives you more to write about  in new songs and it gives you more to sing about from your heart. I have been very fortunate over the last couple of years to establish some good friends and contacts down here through just playing any spots I could find. Slowly I am gaining traction in a very strong outside (to me) musical market. Earning new spots to perform 1 & 2 hour shows of my own songwriting material instead of always just running the open mic circuit. Open mics are great because that is where initially you establish your contacts and warm your confidence up as a  performer. To finally be able to branch away from that a little and step it up as well is important though. 

Places I have played this trip have been very exciting. To be a performer you have to get used to and expect a lot of moving around. A lot of driving, but its definitely worth it . What it does is it drums up NEW excitement during the journey for the upcoming performance.

One more date Wednesday night at the Coachella Valley Brewing Company in Thousand Palms California, then back to Vancouver on Thursday. See you back home.....

Playing Bellingham 

Going to Bellingham was always a big deal as a kid having grown up in Vancouver. We were going to "THE STATES" to buy Levi 501's , blue Keds sneakers and Three Musketeers chocolate bars . Things you could not get in Vancouver at the time. It was a blast running down in the back seat of our Mustang convertible with my older sister and her boyfriend for the afternoon. Simple.

I was performing one night in Vancouver this last summer and I met a gentleman "Chuck Dingee" who played before me. Chuck has an amazing voice and can sing the hell out of any song, so I really took note of him. When he came off I went over and struck up a conversation with him and he informed me he was from Bellingham and he came up to Vancouver now and then to play. He also said he ran an open mic in Bellingham every Sunday night from 7 - 11 pm with a weekly feature in between, from 8:30 - 9:30 and he invited me to come down and perform my originals in the feature spot. I was honored he invited me as well as  all over this idea/opportunity both from a professional and nostalgic place. Going down there now is exactly the same basically as it was when I was 12 so I very much wanted to get down and play. Some family and some friends came down with me and of course Chuck was there to greet us as friendly and welcoming as could be. The venue was the old "Bellingham Herald" building and "The Culture Café" is set up in the old mail room of said building. I had a great time playing, as well the other performers were excellent and the audience members very friendly. Just the way I remember Bellingham as a kid except I have a closet full of Levi 501's I can buy now in Vancouver....

Performing Outdoors 

Playing outside is a whole different can 'o corn for a performing artist. No longer are you in a DARK tiny (or big or medium) room wearing jeans and a ski jacket. You are out in the day with the sun and the expanse of the world around you wearing shorts and a T-shirt  as you send your songs off in all directions to an outdoor audience.

Its just different! I have played outdoors in the past, but recently I had a chance to play  2 outdoor shows. One 2 hour show on an outdoor stage in the Southern California Desert, then 1 back in Vancouver just last weekend where I was fortunate enough to have a chance to play 1 hour on the outdoor area at 2nd and Commercial Dr. for the "Commercial Drive Car Free Day". You just seem to free - up as you play and the audience seems very keen outdoors as well. Last night / Sunday as I was BBQ'n dinner for my family the urge struck me once again to play outside. So, I set up on my back patio in the warm sun, shorts and a t-shirt and gave my neighbours a concert as I was cookin' dinner. As I mentioned I have played outdoors before but it never really occurred to me then how much different and how much more "Fun" it is than paying inside. Maybe 'cos everything just seems more fun in the summer....

California Mini Tour 

I have just returned from a mini tour in California. Its so worth it to get into a new area other than what you are most familiar / comfortable with to perform your songs. All the way along I was able to shake myself up, get some new / different ideas and write some new songs as well. Initially  I landed in San Francisco, spent 2 days in this amazing city then headed south down the coast through Carmel , Santa Cruz , Santa Barbara etc. Played in Santa Barbara, then made my way east into the Yucca Valley / Morongo Valley and played some spots In the Coachella Valley, Morongo Valley & Yucca Valley Regions. These are very rich musical communities with many aspiring & talented songwriters and performing musicians. I have familiarized myself with this area over the last couple of years. Making friends, playing and just becoming a better performer because of the opportunities that have come up for me in these areas. Its great to get away and play other places and I always feel refreshed when I come back to my hometown music scene after an adventure like this.

Whenever I go away and play other spots, it always makes me realize what a great place Vancouver is for musical artists, writers and artists of all types. A lot of inspiration & many opportunities going on in Vancouver...

The Piano Is Important 

The piano is a very useful tool for writing songs. After many years of playing just the guitar, I finally realized I needed to learn the piano so I could become a better songwriter. In my early 30's I had a friend I played a lot of tennis with who was a very good piano player & I asked him one day if he would be able to teach me how to play piano, FAST! He assured me that this would be possible if I put in the time. For the next two years that was ALL I DID. Take piano lessons and practice. Obsessively!! I finally got to the point where I actually was able to utilize this instrument as a songwriting tool and that was great. Problem was now being able to perform these piano songs 'live. Hardly any venues furnish a piano for performers and hauling an electric keyboard around & setting it up is difficult.....so what I was finding was I had a handful of piano songs that I had written that were never getting heard outside of my music room. Now... I am by no means a good piano player, but I do use it a fair amount for songwriting and am starting to find the odd place with a piano I can use to play a song or two. I want to feel comfortable performing with the piano as I do the guitar and I'm starting to, gradually. I find myself being drawn to this opportunity wherever & whenever it presents itself. Distance is no object. I'll go way out of my way to be able to play a couple of my songs in the set on a  piano along with the guitar songs. Being able to move around between these two instruments is important.....

Great New Songwriter Showcase Monday Nights In Downtown Vancouver At "The Cafe Brixton" 

This place is kind of unique. Its organized & run by my friend Scotty Vigue, the same who co- runs The Café Deux Soleils Songwriters Showcase Thursday nights on Commercial Drive. Its in a very old building on east Georgia just off of Main street. Right on the fringe of Vancouver's old China Town. It doesn't really get going 'till around 8, so by then, there is parking avialable. So far they have had 5 consecutive events & every one has drawn out some serious local, undiscovered / up & coming songwriters. As well, the sound system , the room, the sound guy (Scotty) all seem to work very well inspiring you to sing and play your very best. As a performing songwriter I find it super important to move around, play as many different  places in as many  different areas as possible. Shake yourself up, climb out of that comfort zone of playing the same 3 places week after week. I'm thankful for guys like Scotty who are out shakin' the bushes and creating new places for other people to get out , play & improve themselves as artists.
Its well worth checking out:

The Café Brixton
212 East Georgia St.(at Main)
Vancouver
Mondays,  8 'till late

Playing 'em Live Is So Great ! 

Songwriting is for sure a very cool thing,though each time I complete another song I wonder if it will be my last. Despite that, I also think how very fortunate I was to be drawn into songwriting in my late teens. Yes, it can be solitary at times, being locked away on your own all by yourself while the ideas you have at THAT MOMENT spill out onto a legal pad and into a mini recorder. As wonderful and amazing as songwriting can be though, I find after a while getting out and playing them live to people that are there to hear new / undiscovered original material is even more rewarding. As a songwriter, I'll write and gather some new songs and as soon as I am satisfied with that body of work I'm very excited to get out and perform them to audiences. Get some feedback from live ears. Its most valuable....

"Trees" Was Exceptional 

I went down and played TREES last night , Thursday, like I often do Thursday nights, but last night was very different. Seriously, this could have been a screened talent night. The display of talent was outstanding. One girl got up and said it was her first time playing in public and she was very nervous, then proceeded to sing like a bird,sounding amazing. Next, a lady got up claiming she hadn't performed in a long while & went on to play 2 of her original songs that were very very good. After that , 2 or 3 male songwriters. Tops  as well . But not just the songs, vocals, playing, emotion etc. etc. It went on all evening. Rare.
I walked out of there at the end of the night, drove home and started reinventing.....

"Rewrites/Revisions" 

Often times I'll write a song , look at it and know something is not perfect. I'm just mot feeling it. It usually ends up being placed, not on the scrap heap but definitely in  the unfinished bin. Then every once in a while when the writing mode starts attacking me, instead of putting together new songs I will pull out some of these older "incompletes" from the past. Often times coming up with some great ideas and finally finishing off what at last feels like a complete song out of what may have previously seemed impossible to really finish.
Time is the great healer. If it just doesn't feel right, don't flog it , leave it alone and go back at a later date with a fresh outlook. The results can truly be surprising...

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