I hope you all remember this great scene from Dumb and Dumber.
I hope you ALSO remember to tune your radios to CITR (101.9FM in the Lower Mainland, tomorrow at
http://www.citr.ca/index.php/listen/ if you're an out-of-towner) at 11:30AM PDT (12:30PM MDT)! I'll be touting some tunes and I'll shoot the breeze a little, too. And hey, if you like whatcha hear, come on down to the British Ex on Friday at 8PM and catch the real thing...!
See you then, you beautiful people, you!
On Tuesday I was lucky enough to be invited to play at the Displace Hashery as part of the 1-year anniversary party for their Open Mic Night (hosted by Oswaldo Perez Cabrera of CITR 101.9's The Morning After Show). Today VanMusic.ca posted a link to that performance, so if you didn't happen to be down there or within reach of a radio/an internet at that time, you can relive the glory by following this link to their podcast!
Speaking of CITR and Oswaldo, I will be appearing on The Morning After Show this coming Tuesday (Oct. 30th) to chat with Mr. Perez and to play a few of my signature melodies. I plan to undo some of his dreadlocks with the sheer force of my rockitude. Tune in at 11:30 to hear some classic CFord!
Also, this is completely unrelated, but I wanted to make sure everyone saw this one (it takes a satisfying twist at the end, so bear with it):
Ahh...makes you feel glad to be human! Talk to you soon, team!
...to White Rock. Before we get into that, I want to give mad props to my broseph of a brother, Don, who carved a sick pumpkin (see picture to your left) this week. Really good stuff.
As the title suggests, I have some news. First, big thanks to everyone who came to the Princeton for a very successful show! Major respect should be given to Jess Martin and to Dylan Murphy for putting on great sets (great hipster glasses, Jess!) and I had a blast up on the stage, too. But as this business is all about looking forward, I've been hard at work getting some more excitement lined up for the fall.
First, I have another show to announce - I'm playing at Small Rituals Coffee House in White Rock as I've had some requests from folks down in Surrey to hold something closer to home. It should be a great show; I'm playing two sets and will be offering up some sultry mood music whilst you sip your mochas and munch your pitas.
I've also got an even bigger announcement: CFord on the radio is now a reality! I'll be appearing on 90.1FM CJSF's Melodies in Mind on December 4th. I'll play some songs, tell some stories, and pose seductively for the microphone; ...there's a slim chance that I've never done this sort of thing before.
Which brings us to our THIRD announcement (I feel like a vice principal in a high school right now). I'm continuing my work in the studio with another local producer and I'll keep you posted on how this all goes. Right now I'm slotted to be recording on the evening of November 6th. TRIVIA GAME: what else will be happening that night? I will give an e-high five to the first person to respond with the right answer.
This concludes today's announcements.
To be specific, from a road in Vancouver; the gleeful novelty of blogging from my phone is giving me tingles and also thumb cramps. I wanted to make a small departure from what is typically a news-only blog to muse briefly on something that's been on my mind. For those seeking extra CFord news (show announcements, recording updates, girth measurements, etc.), you'll have to wait till at least tomorrow. Alternatively, I do have a great show coming up tonight and you can get any news straight from the horse's mouth (or even better, from mine) at the Princeton Pub at Powell and Victoria.
So with that aside: the meat of this blog. I've had an inordinate amount of conversations over the last few months about what it means to be musical (or artistic in general), and what makes some people more musical or artistic than others. I guess, too, that it's been on my mind more proximally as I've been reading a book on the subject - Guitar Zero, by Gary Marcus - in which the subject is explored from the perspective of an adult musical novice trying to develop musicality at an advanced age. In conversations I've had, I've noticed a general assumption people seem to make that I'd like to address (and correct) before letting you all go about your day:
(Warning: sweeping generalization follows these parentheses. Feel free to refute in the comments.) People seem to assume that the world is divided into naturally artistic/musical people and people who just "don't have it." This bugs the heck out of me. On the one hand, it's flattering to think myself one of the "lucky few," who won a genetic lottery of sorts, and it's certainly humbling to think that but for coincidence I might not be able to sing "Twinkle, Twinkle," let alone my own words and music. Looking past that, however, it's a frustrating thought for me that someone might listen to me perform and write off what is generally the product of a lot of my own hard work, self-scrutiny, and practice as simple "talent." It's not easy to give off the impression of a "good" performance, and it often ends up being the case that I'll disagree with external assessments of when my voice has been "on." To quote Jeff Tweedy, "I shake like a toothache every time I hear myself sing."
All of which is to say, if you tell yourself "I just can't sing," you're doing yourself a major disservice. You can sing. You're probably not trying hard enough - which is 100% understandable. I don't try hard enough at basketball. I wanted really badly to be a basketball player when I was in high school. I would play every day at lunch with my friends, and I'd focus on my strengths - I could take the ball away from people, and I was tenaciously energetic. Everything else, I was very, very bad at. I can't shoot worth a damn. I can't dribble very well. I'm too short and I can't jump high enough to dunk at an elementary school gym (I tried quite recently to do this - all in the name of science, my friends). But if I really wanted to, I could devote my life to learning how to overcome my natural weaknesses. I could spend hours every day trying to sink baskets, adjusting my hand position, thinking about follow-through and spin and grip - just like the experts who now play the game professionally did as children. I think people see music and singing as different than athletics in this regard, but in my opinion there's little difference - it's all about teaching yourself self-reliance and confidence in your own instrument. I think it's the same for any discipline or art - I truly believe that if I studied hard at it, I could be very good at sketching, despite being currently very, very, atrociously bad at sketching (anybody wanna play Draw Something with me?).
So my point is this: musicians or singers who seem to have a natural 'talent' for singing are all in fact the beneficiaries of years of practice and have confidence in their own abilities after repeated validation by their peers and instructors. If singing is important to you and if you want to see it get better, you'll have to be willing to work on it before you start to see results.
If you find yourself in the self-improvement mood (I happen to think you're perfect just the way you are), I would recommend sitting down with a piano, guitar, or pre-recorded song and try recording yourself (nothing fancy - an iPhone mic or similar will do fine) singing alongside some simple instrumentation, clearly hitting the notes. For example, the most basic iteration of this experiment would be playing a single white key on a piano and trying to match the frequency with your voice for a few beats before moving to another single white key and trying to match the new pitch. Then you can play the recording back to yourself and listen for moments where you were on/off key or beat. It sounds a little weird and a little lame, but you'll never be a great singer without understanding exactly what your strengths and weaknesses are.
I'm not by any means 100% happy with my voice. There are things I know it can't do. There are thousands of times when I know I've missed a note, or a beat, or gone flat. But knowing exactly what you've done wrong lets you work purposefully to change those errors and get better.
Well, Internet - now look what you made me do. I've written my first stream-of-consciousness/motivational speech blog. Anyways, I hope that helps someone, and if not I hope it's at least coherent to read.
Before I go (see you all tonight!), I do want to share a great video of Pete Townshend playing an acoustic version of "We Won't Get Fooled Again" that I noticed this morning on this out-of-the-way site called Rolling Stone (song starts at the end of the interview, about twenty minutes in):
2 new shows to tell you about. But first, some news:
Last week I spent some time in the studio.
If you're not an artist, you may not have spent much time in studios. Let me contextualize it for you, because I like you and because that's what bloggers do:
(Note: let me also preface this by saying I loved my experience and I recommend Aman, the engineer I worked with, and the studio itself wholeheartedly to anyone interested in a professional experience.) The studio of the modern, indie artist is not the giant wooden expanse you see on "That Thing You Do." (Thanks, Hanx.)
These are one, maybe two-room affairs that would embarrass your average cubicle-dweller. In fact, this studio had cubicles in it. The soundroom is downstairs, and the upstairs is crammed full of expensive things. Climb the stairs and turn left; here's a large computer interface where Aman sits. Then, turn right and see a frightening tower of amps and wires. Pull up a microphone, put on some headphones (or 'cans,' as we call them in the industry), and let's do this thing.
Still, glamourous or not it was a grand old time, and I think Aman and I came out of it with some great tracks. I'll keep you posted on the results!
I have two new shows up on the Tour page of this illustrious website! If you enjoy white males singing into microphones at various volumes, please come see me play at the British Ex-Servicemen's Society and Raw Canvas in November. Both are going to be great shows, and I will keep you posted when I find out who's going to be opening.
As always, I'll leave you with a riddle of a video (apologies to old fans who've seen this before - I just can't get enough of this gold):
CFord is out! I love you guys!!