Songs Are Like Poems, So Here's a Poem

*AUDRA* says:

I've always enjoyed writing. I remember from a very young age writing poems before I even started writing songs. I don't know if they were any good, but that doesn't much matter. It was more about the release. I still write poems to this day. Some situations call for a song and some call for a poem. And in some truly rare cases a situation calls for both. As most of you know, we released a song last year called "Lightning." There was also a big budget music video released for it as well. What you may not know is that "Lightning" was inspired by a real life experience. It wasn't mine. It was one I witnessed between a close friend and a very attractive man. It was a crazy ride and I wasn't even on it! So this is that rare case with a situation inspired more than a song, but also a poem.

--

Never Again
 
I’ll never believe in love again. 
Nope, never. 
If you’ve seen what I’ve seen, you’d feel the same. 
Two people bound by destiny, yet destine to be apart. 
Love shared for mere hours, but a branding on the heart. 
A passion that wakes the soul and opens the senses. 
Seeing love like that, for the first time, through others glances. 
I’ll never believe in love again. 
How can I? 
It’s not meant to send you spiraling. 
Down the rabbit hole you go. 
You’re left
Euphoric
But Lost
Suddenly unwinding. 
I’ll never believe in love again. 
Well, I guess, maybe I will. 
Seeing lovers strike like lightning
What hope it can instill! 
Peace, but agony, to know the touch of the one from the touch of others. 
An unearthly experience to carry through time. 
Worth it just to fleetingly grasp it
To taste it
To relive
Breathe. 
In. 
Out. 
I’ll always believe in love. 

Go Placidly Amid the Noise and Haste, Peeps

Aaron says:

Change. I don't remember where I saw or heard it, but someone said, "the only thing that does not change is change itself." And it's true in every aspect of our universe. The seasons change, the times change, our bodies change, our minds change, and even our lives. And if you actually think about it many things have changed since you started reading this.

Some things change for the better and some things for the worse. The only thing we can do is be aware that things are indeed changing.  And if we have any control over it, we can try to make things change for the better. Unfortunately, we don't always have that control. So to shield ourselves in those times I think it is best to strengthen our inner spirit to help guide us through those changes. I'd like to share something that has helped me change my paradigm about life. Take from it what you will. And with this new season coming in I hope it can help change you for the better as spring brings new growth and new life.
 

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. 

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy. 

© Max Ehrmann 1927 

Faring Thee Well Now, Colonel

*AUDRA* says:

It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of our 6th member and former manager, Colonel Doug Grabowski. He was not only a great leader and guiding force for this band, he was a friend. Life will never be the same without him. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time. Colonel, this band wouldn't be what it is today if it weren't for you and your vision. You always believed in us and we will take your memory on every journey.

On a personal note, Doug was more than just a manger to me. He was someone I called my best friend for a very long time. I spoke to him everyday, all day. He molded me into the businesswoman I am today. Without his guidance I wouldn't be half the friend or musician I am now. Losing him is something I will feel for the rest of my life and will think about everyday. DGrab, I love you.

May the four winds blow you safely home. Rest easy, my friend. We love you.

Transformers Or Just The Two of Us

Aaron says:

So I was watching one of my favorite movies, Transformers, and I got to thinking about when I was a child. I always thought it would be cool to transform into something else and adapt to the situations at hand. I used to run around in the woods, grab anything I can find, and pretend that I was battling the enemy. Then reality set in. Even though I am still a child at heart and can act childish at times, I have had a recent and huge transformation, from a renter to a homeowner. Although it may seem like an adult transformation, I realized it allows me to be more like a child. I have my own place, I can do what I want, and I can build whatever I want. And in that lies the childlike qualities. I have a huge garage that I can build/fix things in. I have a great big backyard that I plan to build tree houses to play in and around. There will be zip lines, rope swings, and secret hiding places. All of these things and more will adorn my property. I know that sounds childish and yup, it is. Yet still I know I have to be responsible i.e. paying the mortgage, making sure all the bills are paid on time, and all the domestic engineering is being done. Although, I still have a chance to transform back into a child every once a while. I know this is not a typical topic anyone would think of while watching the Transformers now or as a child, but it definitely got me thinking. Back then in the woods as a kid, was a time when my imagination got the better of me and I had nothing else to worry about in life. My imagination still runs wild but I have more knowledge of the world and the way that it works. Being able to transform into the things you desire can be literal or figurative. I believe as long as you don't lose those childlike qualities you can always transform into whatever suits your mood and your lifestyle. So whatever life may bring you, whatever responsibilities you may have, always let your inner child be a part of who you are and don't scold them when you think something is silly or out of reach. Just find your secret hiding place, sit down, and have a chat with them. You may be pleasantly surprised with what the two of you conjure up.

What's Love Got To Do, Got To Do With It

*AUDRA* says:

As a relatively young band we've encountered and created a substantial amount of success in the few years we've been together. Of course, we've made our share (and then some) of mistakes, but here are some items I would like to share about things we have done that have worked really well that I think you will appreciate. 

1.        We trust, love, and respect each other. I've been very lucky that I've been playing and creating music with my best friend and guitarist Pat since we have been 10. My bassist, since 18. My drummer and keyboardist have been with us for 2 years, and we're family. Trust, love, and respect are the foundations upon our success. It's special, and something we don't take for granted. Without these three items, we'd be unable to accomplish anything. It may sound trite, but we encounter so many bands that are seemingly thrown together, or share the goal of money. It never works. Unless you live 24x7 for your music, your band, your career, and have people alongside doing the same thing, it never works. 

2.        We've invested heavily in ourselves. We have invested substantial sums of our time and our own money into Chaser Eight. We practice every Tuesday and Friday for several hours. New songs, live set, recording (check out Pat's CD Baby blog on the topic at http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/2013/08/5-tips-to-improve-your-home-recordings-right-away/). We're always doing something. On weeks we have a show, we practice on Thursday and do several run-throughs of the set we are going to play. We have self-recorded three EPs, and our fourth was a HUGE studio  production. We're always working on improvement. We just don't show up and play. It's a well-rehearsed performance.  

3.        We have people that believe in us. The first time I met someone outside of my immediate circle of family and friends that said he believed in me, my world changed. Here was someone who believed in me! And he invested in us. Many people have invested in us, and we're incredibly humbled by their support. Their belief in us helps propel us forward.

4.        We network. We're our own #1 fans. We have invested heavily in social media. I think that the days of someone buying a concept album like Dark Side of the Moon and getting a group of friends together and listening to, and more importantly, discuss, the album are gone. Today, we are competing with single tracks for $.99 and thousands of other things to do on a night than go see a live show. To embrace this reality, we have marketed to our fans directly: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, internet radio, blogs, and word of mouth. We've promoted posts and tweets with our own money. We've invested in a PR agency, which has produced tremendous dividends for us. We have engaged a manager to control everything but our music, so we can focus where we need to. Everyone we meet knows who we are, gets a band business card, and is incentivized to connect with us online (special free tracks, content, etc.). We have built our site out extensively, and have many new items in the works, too. 

5.        We say NO. Perhaps the most overlooked thought is to say NO. We adhere to a very specific gig schedule to accommodate many event locations and promoters with whom we speak. We want to leave our audience wanting more. We don't want to play three nights a week, not because we don't want to play, but because we can't draw and engage our audience. This way, we aren't over-exposed, and we are able to give our existing fans, our new fans, and people interested in us a great product.

These five items are just a few of what's worked well for us. I could tell you them all, but I want to leave you wanting more…

Unicorn Chaser (Eight)

*AUDRA* says:

Catching a unicorn. Sounds magical, doesn’t it? Well unless you know exactly what I mean or what I am feeling you don’t know that it is the most plaguing feeling on the planet. It’s like a curse to those who know it. What is a unicorn? It’s going after a dream that is so huge that only a small percentage of people actually make it to the big time. Musicians, writers, actors, professional athletes; the list of the elite can go on, but that’s the very point, it’s an elite list. You have to be elite in some way, shape, or form to make it. And when you do, you are forever a part of the elite. You know something people that didn’t make it don’t know. You have tasted the forbidden fruit. You have caught your unicorn.

Often times wish I were normal. And I don’t mean normal in a negative way. I mean it in the way that I wish I had an obtainable and realistic goal. I wish it was my life’s ambition to be a teacher. Teachers are a tremendously important part of life. They are knowledge bearers that feed our youth to become the next knowledge bearers or healers. It’s amazing. And if you study hard enough and read the right books and pass all the tests, your dreams of becoming a teacher will come true. Your dreams of becoming a doctor will come true. Your dream of becoming a (fill in the blank) will come true. Unfortunately, that is not true for the unicorn chasers. It doesn’t matter how much we study or learn. Without talent, luck, and opportunity we could be left chasing forever. And it’s a chase that kills us.

For me, there is no backup plan. There is no “what happens if this doesn’t work out?” This is my dream. My life. My body and my soul yearn for this. How can you give up something that lives inside of you everyday? Unless you’re in the business of unicorn chasing, do you really even understand this life? Do you understand what it feels like to want something so much, but never quite having it in your reach? And it’s completely out of your control. Sure, you can practice and be the best you possibly can, but what if that’s not good enough? Or what if you were born with the wrong stroke of luck? I ask again, do you understand my life?

Listen, I’m happy for people that can be happy and fulfilled being married and parents and successful in their jobs. I’m even happy for the people that don’t want any of that and just want to live their lives. It’s just not me. It’s not a unicorn chaser. I want to be a wife and mother, but there is nothing I want more than to stand on a stage for the rest of my life and have people hear my music and sing my lyrics. Being a wife and mother or successful at my job is not what drives me. It’s not what lives inside of me. I die inside every time I have to sit at a desk or learn a new job. Not because I don’t enjoy it. I’m actually very good at finances and have had many fortunate positions over the years. I was even making fantastic money at one point. And it was great, but at the end of the day I felt like a sellout. I felt like someone who had sold my soul for the comfort of a good job with good money and good benefits. I wasn’t me. The unicorn chaser had turned into the chaser of an animal I could actually catch.

I’m happy to say I’ve found my way and I’m back to chasing my unicorn. It didn’t take much for me to get back on track. Honestly, when you feel a calling with such great passion as I do, it’s a constant voice screaming in your head not easily ignored. And after all these years of chasing my unicorn I have learn two things: Unicorn chasers are the most hopelessly romantic people on the planet. We have the ability to dream beyond reality and envision a life that may be out of our grasp. And even though it may be out of our grasp we never stop chasing it.  And that I am a successful and famous musician already because I will never give up on this dream. So many try and fail and the difference between them and me is that 10th time they fell, they stayed down. I will always get up the 11th time. Always. Until I no longer fall a 10th time. Until I am my dream and I’ve caught my unicorn.

Are You There Guitar? It’s Me, Aaron

Aaron says:

I’m always searching for things to inspire me. Whether it be a new way of thinking or a new way to do something, I’m constantly searching. In this recent case though, I found a new inspiration in an old guitar I have been separated from for years. And I literally mean years. I think it has been about seven or so by my count. It’s a simple guitar, an old Alvarez acoustic. I bought it brand new for only a few hundred bucks or so, but it was one of the best guitars I’ve owned in my years as a musician. Now, I've been playing guitar since I was 12 and I’m…well I’m not going get into that, but it’s been a while. Anyways, this was a guitar that traveled with me from solo jams on the couch to weekend excursions in the Berkshires, but one of the more frequent places to play was my buddy Lucky’s house. Yup! That’s right his name is Lucky and it’s not even a nickname! It’s Lucky!

So, after countless jams over a few beers at his house or after beers at the bar with the numerous different characters/musicians that would find themselves there, we had a great idea to leave my old friend at his place. The deal was I would take his mandolin in trade for the while my Alvarez would have a new home. At that time, I’m sure I had more than one guitar and I knew a mandolin would be a cool instrument to learn. Mandolins are tuned in fifths, the same tuning as violins, and I thought that we be interesting to know how to play. Good trade, right? Wrong. It did not work out to be as great as I thought and I was down one favorite guitar. As time went on, the jam sessions faded as did the appeal of playing the mandolin. I didn't see Lucky as much and the mandolin didn't see the light of day out of its coffin like case and into my hands. And as life tends to happen, circumstances change forcing us to move on, figuratively and literally. What I’m trying to say is Lucky and I lost touch for years shortly after that and I was left only to think back fondly about my old friend.

However, in sake of not making a long story longer, we ended up finding one another again over the last year! We would always make plans to trade back our long lost instruments, but somehow still I was still down one favorite guitar. Then, this past Tuesday, that all changed. We finally met up and made the trade: I got my Alvarez back (Woohoo!). And this takes me full circle to the whole point of this post. I love playing guitar and, more often than not, I find a good, well-crafted instrument that feels good and sounds good inspires me to play more! I’m talking about getting lost in the moment as time is only relative to the tempo of the beat and the strums. I mean sitting down for an hour just strumming and picking away to whatever flows out of my fingers. So now that I've just restrung my long lost love, I plan to be inspired daily and just get lost in the time with my old friend. This is something so simple that inspires me. I hope you can find something simple to inspire you. And if you can’t, you may want to try and find a new paradigm, then search again.

So, search on my friends! Be inspired!

I'm King of the World. Or Queen. No, KING!

*AUDRA* says:

"Your dressing room is this way."

That’s what our escort backstage said. My response, “exsqueeze me, a baking powder?” (borrowed from Wayne’s World) probably wasn’t the best, but it was all I had. Here we were, being escorted backstage to our dressing room. OUR DRESSING ROOM! Not just a little closet, mind you, but a real, freakin’ huge dressing room. With a full bar, buffet, and someone completely at our disposal to procure a hair dryer (required!).

We were competing in a regional contest at Mohegan Sun, this night one of two acts in an eight-week weekly competition. I fully expected to unload our gear, get on stage, and get off. Boy, was I wrong. 

First was the dressing room. Next, the sound check. What a professional, courteous, knowledgeable set of people! We’re used to 30-second sound checks. Nope, not tonight. 40 minutes. We’ve never sounded so good. The sound guys, who, at this point, had been at work for many hours setting up the stage, repeatedly commented how great we sounded and that they were looking forward to the set. What a great way to begin the night. The coup de grace was that we were going to go on last. Headliners!

Suitably excited, the wait set in. It’s 4:40pm. We go on at 9:30pm. What do we do? Gamble! 

Just kidding. Our manager, the band, and I ate a nice, leisurely, ((expensive)) dinner (during which we booked a gig for January), and just had a lot of laughs and smiles, including discussing how cool it would be to win at Roulette on number 8. (Our manager, who got married on 8/8/2008, who coincidentally manages Chaser Eight – DID win $700 on a $20 bet on number 8 on the very first (and only) spin of the wheel - which made for a great beginning night, too). 

And then the music started. We went on last, and played to a full house. We completely crushed the set. In fact, I ripped my finger open during the finale, and have the bloodied guitar to prove it (picture here). Afterwards, the crew, emcee, and even the bartender across the theater came up to us saying how well we did. What a tremendous feeling.

I won’t know for a while if we “won” the contest, but I do know that even a few days later, I’m still on Cloud 9 (or Cloud 8 for Chaser Eight). It’s going to stink going back to small venues, but knowing that we completely rocked that arena is such an amazing feeling that makes it all worth it. Knowing I can get back there and that I was good enough to be there in the first place, is what will motivate me until the next time. And the next.

Oftentimes, we don’t take the time to enjoy what we have. We make excuses for why we’re not happy, or for why we just got in a fight, or settle for something less than what we want. Heck, even I was thinking about our next gig not even an hour after we got off this awesome stage after an awesome set! That’s how I’m wired. But, and it’s a huge BUT, I’m taking the time now to enjoy and revel in the experience. It makes it all worth it.

 

The Way to a Man's Heart

Pete (the drummer) says: 

So they say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach...

Other than the drive to constantly better myself as a musician and performer, a passion for food and the culinary arts is a close second. Studying cultures for their music, always...studying them for their food is just as amazing. Just as music is more than entertainment to many cultures around the world, food is more than just a meal. It brings families together, celebrates holidays, has spiritual and religious meaning, and so much more. Like music it also allows for creative freedom. Of course there are the traditional dishes that do not need changing: Take the time open a cook book and do it. You could surprise yourself and others with an extraordinary dish.

Cooking has been a long time passion for me and always will be. For at least twenty plus years I’ve done most of it in my home and some professionally. The idea of people enjoying my cooking, the looks on their faces and my favorite sound, mmm, brings a smile to my face and puts joy in my heart. It’s the same feeling I get when I see people enjoy our music. So if the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, does that mean I’m a man after my own heart? No it just means nobody else in this house can cook!

Buon Appetito                                                       

P.S. A quick and simple dish: Shrimp Scampi

As long as the pasta took to cook is as long as the dish took to make.