Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Last Storm

Waking up to that glowing reflection of light shining back off of the ground. Blanket of snow covering every object and making the mornings bright and cold. Its been a strange road here, with inclement weather at every turn. The storms were all metaphorical and all served their purpose. There were twists and turns, winds blowing, snow falling, and drought for days. It was a year of lessons. A year filled with questions that would come knocking on our doors, that refused to lessen their intensity until that door was answered. A year of growth, sometimes almost painful growth that forced us to look long and hard at ourselves in the mirror. There were uncertainties and times where seeing the road out was almost impossible with the flurries obstructing the view. Standing in the cold biting weather as extremities came dangerously close to submitting to the icy grips of death, we saw the storms come and go. When the storms cleared and the debris was removed from the roads we found ourselves intact with scars and memories of what pains we had endured, yet stronger and a little enlightened. It took this last layer of snow to realize everything all at once that had happened. This year was one that came and went within a blink of an eye. With every second passed it was one more chance to take a step in the direction that is needed to make ourselves happy. Did this year teach you humility, mindfulness, patience, and diligence? Did this year teach you to wake up every morning grateful for the chance to make decisions that will enrich your life? I know I walk out into a new dawn with eyes open, aware and care paid attention to where my footsteps land. I will make it to the the promised land, my dreams be realized, my desires fulfilled, my life be lived.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

In the Studio With Cellar And Gustav

Last time I spoke, I spoke on the up and coming artists out of the desert southwest, Cellar and Gustav. I got a chance to sit down with them this last week and speak a little about their plans. They were welcoming and very cool and calm during the whole interview process, like they had been doing this for years. Naturally comfortable I suppose so I dove right into the questions. Here they are in all honesty.

Ok first off just a little background, tell us a little about who you are and where you are from?

Well, we're both from Las Cruces, NM - born and raised. i guess in a lot of ways that's kind of shaped who we are musically and as people in general. James and I grew up together, and we've always been really tight - he's more of a brother to me than anything. We spent a lot of time in college partying and getting into trouble. I remember a time when it was just the two of us in a small apartment and we got tired of having to come out of our rooms so we moved our beds into the living room and set up shop there, kept the refrigerator full of beer and stumbled out of bed everyday, basically just being rowdy and drunk. Then we had a brief stint where we both quit school and drove off to Vegas and then Cali (Palmdale) just because we felt like getting away, California was nice but we didn't find what we needed there. Honestly, I have no idea what we were thinking, but in the end it turned out to be good for both of us. We learned some things and eventually I finished school and we did what we had to do. I guess when you're that young you're allowed to be a couple of stupid fucks.

(Laughs to himself throughout the Gustav's account of the past)
Yeah he has everything just about right. Late nights, partying and drinking way too much. Its amazing that we made it through half the stuff we did. However I took a little detour on my way back to finishing school. I enlisted in the Air Force, I spent some time in Guam, spent some time in South Korea at the DMZ, and lastly I was in Iraq for a little while. Getting to see all that I saw has definitely helped to shape who I am today. I served for a little under 6 years before I was medically retired. I am finishing up school now and working on music.

What made you get into the music business?

For me, I had always wanted to be a singer. I mean, I sing along to practically everything I own and I have always had fun playing with my voice. Besides that, I just love music, I mean really love it. Music just sets the tones and mood for everything in life. There are songs I listen to that take me back to specific times in my life and gives me the full experience of where I was, what I was doing, who was with me, and just how I felt. Its incredibly important to me and so I have always wanted to be part of the creative process and music and singing were just such good outlets for me. I write all my lyrics, and a lot of it was really taken and inspired from a lot of my earlier blogs and poems from when I first moved out to L.A. When i had first gotten out there, it was a really hard time for me, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and I had so much to say. I mean the experiences you have in L.A. stick with you, its not some place where you go and forget the things you did, and saw. It isn't one of those places where you sit idly by and let your life play out before you and when you look back and reminisce you can't really remember what exactly it is that you did. So a lot of my lyrics reflect that and kind of hearken back to this time that is really such a huge part of me.

I have always been involved in music in one form or another. In high school I was the drummer in a few bands. Playing punk shows at houses and out all over Las Cruces, just trying to find some real music to hold onto and have fun with. When I was stationed overseas I was constantly getting together with other musicians and jamming. I didn't start writing my own music until i was stationed in Ohio. It was my foray into what music you hear today. I bought my first music program and midi controller and that was the start of J Cellar. From there I started working on more and more music. I had one of my songs played at a show here in Las Cruces while I was still in Ohio. It turns out my cousin who was producing some music for a few people here really thought people should hear my song so he took it to this crazy live show where a bunch of experimental electronica, trip-hop, down-tempo, and hip-hop groups were playing and played it live there. According to him people really took to it.

How would you best describe the style of music you play/sing?

I think we've been saying that it's post-modern/down-tempo/trip-hop. whatever that means (laughs). Honestly I don't know, it's really just a mixture of styles and influences. Portishead, Mazzy Star, CocoRosie, David Sylvian, Flunk, Halou - those are big influences for us and so i guess it's really this amalgamation of craziness. I think its best to describe us as something different and something that people haven't heard before.
I like chill out down-tempo. I try a lot of things, some of them work, some don't.

Why do people need to hear your music?

Gustav- I think people should hear our music because it's a unique style, and we've definitely got something to say. not just with our lyrics, but with the music that Cellar writes. He really puts a lot of thought and emotion behind it, so the music by itself really has a lot behind it on its own. That, and we need to get paid, son!

Cellar- I think people need to hear our music to open their minds to everything that is out there. I like to write music that hits you emotionally and mentally. It might not hit everyone the same, but some might feel what we are trying to say musically, and lyrically Gustav's lyrics have a lot of passion and soul behind them.

What inspires you?

Hmm......honestly, and this is going to sound EXTREMELY trite and cliche, but pain and heartache are HUGE inspirations for me. Besides that, life in general, you know? The paths that we all choose to take. You never know where you might end up, and although that's scary, it's exciting too.

Cellar- Everything inspires me.

When can we expect the first full length album to come out?

Jesus..............we're hoping to get it out by February. I mean, that's the plan, but we've been saying that for a while now. Seriously though - soon!

Hopefully February, if not February then later 2010.

When can fans expect to see you play live?

We're planning on throwing album release parties at a couple venues in the Albuquerque, Las Cruces, and El Paso when we finally do release the album, so that's when.

It wont be until after the full length is released.

Would you rather do house shows or bars/clubs?

I don't know. i think i would personally rather do clubs because you can get really creative with lighting and things, but house shows would be great to for the intimacy.

Anything and everything. For our style of music it is important that we have the right type of atmosphere and vibe.

What kind of music are you listening to right now?

Right now, I have Paloma Faith, Lady GaGa, David Bowie, and Blonde Redhead on constant rotation.

Cellar-M83, Explosions in the sky, Jesu,Enigma, Sleepercar, Son Volt.

Where can regular folks expect to find you on a Friday night at midnight?

Right now.......at home probably. I don't get out much lately, and i guess that's a good thing. But seriously, i love hanging at home. It always changing, I can be out and all over town for a month and then nothing but hiding out working on music for a few months.

Same, I am home most of the time. Once in a while I can be found at the few bars around town enjoying a nice cold beer.

If a fan sees you out what kind of drink should they buy you?

Club soda please.

Anything but piss beer. Unless its the wood.(Coors light)

Last question, what would be the perfect show experience?

Thousands of paying, adoring fans (laughs).

Cellar- He would love that. I would like a dimly light place, with people enjoying a few drinks, and getting inspired by our music. Small enough for people to make requests.

Hey well I would like to thank you guys for taking some time out of your busy schedule to sit down and talk with me. I appreciate your time and best of luck. We will be looking forward to the full length and the first live show.

Cellar and Gustav-

Once again that was Cellar and Gustav. Right now we are awaiting with baited breath the release of their first full length album. They do have some music all over the internet for you to hear and enjoy. Please show your support by visiting them at one of many pages that you can find them below. You can also find their music at amazon.com and in the Itunes store, search for Cellar and Gustav.





Monday, December 21, 2009

Cellar and Gustav

Its eleven o'clock an hour away from midnight. Darkness coats the skies and the air is still warm outside. We run up the hill laughing, get to the door and playfully ring the doorbell. Inside its quiet, no one is in the entry room. We walk a little bit further inside and hear the sound of music coming from the garage. Open the door and a warm reception as always from the two individuals that comprise Cellar and Gustav. Cellar is at the soundboard mixing, editing and going over previous recordings. Gustav is at the microphone waiting to start recording again. Cigarette smoke creeps out of the garage door slowly, the drum kit is unmanned. They both have cheap beer right in front of them, with headphones on, working diligently. Beer bottles litter the floor and cigarettes fill the bottles. I get the sense that they have been here for a few days, working, thinking, recording, mulling over written melodies and vocals to be recorded. The drums look weathered and beat, the two look inebriated but focused. They have been working apparently for weeks on their EP Sometimes It Bleeds. The music is ethereal, you can hear the emotion in the lyrics and the vocals breathing truths in labyrinths and metaphor. This is the start.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Something Magical

There is something magical. I can't describe it exactly. Especially this time of year. I look out driving around town and the lights they shine, the street lights, the Christmas lights, they all shimmer, glimmer, twinkle and shine. I get home, unwind for the day, let the sun set on my transgressions, my mistakes, my shortcomings, and I look out the window and smile. There it is, simple and beautiful, lights being put up by overzealous neighbors in order to bring in the holiday cheer. I dislike the season, but am grateful for each person that puts up those little light bulbs every year without fail. Every year when I drink one glass of wine too many, one beer too many, one gin and tonic too many they put up their lights and do all the holiday things that make them smile and make others hope. Every year there are white Christmas lights and wreaths upon doors, I sit looking outside the window and smile knowing there is something magical about those lights, something more, they bring me hope, they bring me joy, they bring me a sense of comfort, they bring back memories of being a child, they bring back sorrow and smiles, tears and joys. Every year those diligent people do something for everyone, even though they don't have to.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Don't Forget

Don't forget this day, the wind whispered in my ear.

Bloodshot eyes and bloodshot lives, rivers dry and time passes by. I felt a tear, a tear in the seams, a tear in my soul, a rift in my being. I felt a tear, a lonely tear, bitter with saline dripping from my eye to my cheek. I could barely speak, my lips were quivering and my knees were weak.

This day more important than any other, the sun arose today, shining anew but a little stronger than the others. It made it through another rotation, another placement, another ellipse and you lay quietly still in motion waiting for the new day to eclipse.

A new dawn arose and we were almost slow to catch it and bring it in with its reins. Heavy as it went and steady ever flowing. I saw the sun shoot up so fast, I almost missed it but sprung from my slumber at seconds last. Ran to the door and out went chasing the beams, the light, the rays, leaving behind all darkness of dusk, previous days I did leave. I shall not look behind lest I be turned to a pillar of salt, I shall not regret the elapsed, for the prior is no persons fault. This horizon I set sail towards, fulfill my soul and give sight to my hope, my goals.

Each day that had passed is immaculate, that amassed to this day, where I am at. I cannot find fault or failings in each experience but remember them and reminisce on each painful blow and each blessed kiss. Each sting and cut, each broken bone, bruise and sorrow, each leaves a trail to follow. I reached the peak of foresight and now I see the sea where the sun shall set. I run and appreciate each step, one more experience, breath, moment in my life that I accept.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

We Must Cultivate Our Garden

I wrote this a while back thinking about life changes and leaving Las Cruces. It was a thought on how beautiful leaving the city I grew up in would be. It is about new places, and new people and living somewhere that feels more like home. I began writing this stream of thoughts on my drive back from Santa Fe. Please leave comments or questions.

The odyssey, or excursion was molasses, and came from a dead stop, to a slow crawl. There was a sense of gloom in the air that the people of this sleepy town breathed in and out until they were intoxicated with complacency. The local population ate hardily of the fruits of quiescence. I could not mirror my soul in the hollow shells of existence that shuffled around like the undead. Unaffected by the beauties of the natural world, and ignorant to the ways of the nature of humanity. Culture made no stop here, and art had withdrawn its presence from this unholy city, and the music had not died yet, but it was on life support, its cordate vessel barely beating.

That is the desolate mental landscape we have endured for so long. We come out of our caves and have seen the blinding light. Ignorance is suffocating here, its fingers wrapping tightly around my neck and the presence of death constantly looming. Apathy so thick you could swim in it. We moved out towards the light, and witnessed a brave new world, filled with hope and promise. Evergreen zeal, and flowing ecstasy, sweeping our minds and spirits away to a expanse of surreal reality. There was beauty in the movements of the people there, there was life and wisdom in the trees. There was no stale breath, no sigh of exhaustion, but brisk winds.

Leaving was a sense of freedom that was never known to either of us. We have always longed for this liberty but could never quite find it. This freedom we had never been able to replicate, or even witness. It was shocking those first few turns of the wheels and how even the smell of the cigarette smoke that rose from out my tired lungs seemed more sweet. The cosmos smiled upon our travels and there seemed to be a return to the universal equilibrium.

We had decided one fateful day that we shall trade our shallow comfort for adventure and uncertainty, to be shared in the embrace of each others hearts and in the cold mountain air. What could be more beautiful than opening up our wooden door in the midst of winter only to be pushed back into our humble abode by the bitter cold and warm ourselves at the base of the fire and the linens of our bed. We had dreams before but none like these, none that weren't so much dreams but goals and realistic musings that had not been acted upon just yet. She focused her fancy on the capture of human emotion through moving imagery. I were to focus on waking at any moment of any day, office or home, computer or steno pad, and grab the deliberations, intuition, inferences, ideations, and seeings from the collective consciousness and put them into the flowery but meaningful constructs of language. I was to write and describe human experience in such a way that would bring people together and make them understand each other in a much deeper sense. Our lofty and utopian desires be realized, and realized in the clouds of our heaven, our land of purpose.

Easily this could all be the end of our passage through life, but never would our path be ordinary. In most unordinary fashion a metal was hammered, from the daughter of an artistic mastermind came the shape and the style of what was to be a band. This band carefully designed with tender thoughts and amorous purpose. Destined for the digit of promise and engagement. Struck until the everlasting stone could be placed into the center of its heart, was a band of such meaning that none other could possibly hold. No not ordinary at all, but most extraordinary this would continue to be our destiny, our fate.

With love this piercing what could escape the effects of its reach. Not I, so as it were, I fell and most dangerously I fell. There would be no end to the depths of this emotion, no cessation of affection only growth. There came a time where an observance and a rite were to take place. In the pines there was a clearing, a circle. This would be where a heart would lose its place, where the loss of blood would be devastating. Torn from its place amongst the ribs and lungs, blood loss in a most dramatic sense. There would be two who would die here today in an eternal ritual. The two would die and out of the dust, ash and blood would rise one united in friendship and flame. The covenant sealed into hearts and hands here would forever seal adoration between the two, two stares locked into each others eyes, two lives became one. What more could have been promised but eternity between the two, separated at creation, reunited and never splitting. Two flames dancing in the wind burning higher into the heavens warming and glowing. Even this could never end, never ordinary.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

San Francisco

I recently visited San Francisco during that Thanksgiving holiday and this is a basic rundown of the feeling, the mood and the experience.

Feel free to leave comments!

Two birds flew west, two birds flew east, far from home, atypical feast. Trying
times, and pricey wines. Ocean mist, and comfort missed. Privileged ice cream and
homeless kids. The playful paradox begins with this.

Two thousand two hundred and eighty four miles and twelve bottles of wine later our
weary feet land on solid ground. Not the same as other trips, none could be similar
to this. A new day arose and off we shot to ports and planes, interchange and
delays, for a different set of scenes for a few days. From lonely desert to culture
confluence, intoxicated on rolling hills, under some type of influence. The days
started slow, waking up with the cool ocean mist coming in from the open window.
Overlooking the backyard gardens and wet stone tiles, a spider web carefully
building in the right corner of the whitewashed window sill. Each strand of the web
glistens with the morning dew collecting on the vegetation and our arid lungs. This
is how each day begun. Victorian homes and quaint, comfortable streets marked our
waking and something extraordinary each day we did meet. What place was this that
quietly whispered change? This was not our backyard, not our comfort zone, not our
home. We stood atop twin peaks looking out in an endless gaze, a maze of city
streets, bays and bridges, and camera clicks. Traditional holiday with unorthodox
cuisine. Carrot shavings in kitchen sink, cut onions and garlic pressed. Cornbread
and biscuits for homemade dressing, evergreen celery stalks chopped in cubes.
Sauteed chard, garlic, and onions with sea salt tossed with tempeh. Organic green
bean casserole and mashed potatoes with fresh ground peppercorn, chips and guacamole
while we cooked, along with a few bottles of Literai imbibed. Slightly spinning and
wine induced grinning a San Franciscan toast to food, to friends, to family, to
hosts. Off we travel to new sights, new scenes and to do new things. Ice skating in
the middle of downtown with towers of glass, concrete and steel, with shoppers on
the darkest friday of the year abound. Masses huddled and bundled warm as an unusual
bout of rain finishes its storm. Trolley cars circling around and voices, footsteps,
shopping bags, create a melodic cacophony. Stop and walk, dodging oncoming
pedestrians and wayward cars. Lights blinking red, yellow and green, shoppers from
the tall and slender to the short and obese and everything in between. Parallel
parking schemes and large computer screens, decanting wine and hearing children
scream. Parks with blankets, pie, hippies, dogs, and tight rope walkers. Watchers,
talkers, doers, thinkers, smokers, drinkers, and eaters. This was it, where we were,
the lasting memories endure. Etched into our seeing eyes, desire to see more and
realize the culture, the heart, the soul, for what we witnessed could not be
everything. This could not be the bay area with millions of homes, and endless
roads, that so many talk so much about, this was only the first taste, the first
drink of this quite different place. I must say in all its madness on a certain
street corner some sense made its way to the surface. A corner near a store that
would symbolize something about Haight maybe decades earlier, a store that once was
owned by two hippies who would make ice cream that was filled with fruit and real
ingredients, with names that came right from the pages of counter-culture. Outside
this bustling store were two very memorable things a homeless man with a hand that
looked to be burned from some type of horrific accident, and a starving young man
sitting at a typewriter. The typewriter was vintage and had a single sheet of blank
white paper dangling dangerously loose from its grip. Just beneath the makeshift
table that held the typewriter was a sign that read, “pick a price, then a topic,
get a poem.” As soon as I walked by this corner, this man I knew that I would have
to purchase a poem, a real authentic piece of culture, art, memorabilia that
represented the people and the city. As the corner continued to fill and empty of
people, I walked briskly over the young gentleman and said, “I’m sorry, I don’t have
much money, but I would like a poem, I have this dollar.”
He asked “ What is the topic?”
I replied “Writing.”
We spoke about the book he was reading, a biography of John Coltrane, I told him I
had seen his son in concert a few years back. He and I spoke about how living in the
shadows of a legend can be daunting. We fell silent, and the keys started to tap,
lightly and slow at first then suddenly increasing in speed and rhythm. After a few
moments others passed laughing at the idea of a poet at a typewriter, others
photographing this moment in history. This time was sacred enough to some to capture
it and store it, to others it was worthless and was thrown away before they could
even understand the gravity of the moment. Either way he paused and thought to
himself and finished his poem quickly. Pulled the poem out and made some quick
adjustments to spelling errors with the pen he held. Afterwards he handed me the
poem and I shook his hand and thanked him for my gift and piece of San Francisco. I
held up the piece of paper and stood there reading each word of contemporary
literature for the first time it had ever been read by eyes other then its author.
It read;

See the image and feel it till it hurts,
In knowing that life is given and it must be let go,
See the eyes that look at you and see yourself still sitting,
and watch the duration of a lifetime,
and tell yourself honestly where you stood,
and if they were with you give them there portion of the dream,
and wake up when it is finished,
only to fall back into a dream.

On Writing
Haight & Ashbury
November 28th 2009