Photos

02010-08-10 @ 11:08




More excellent photos by Matt, from his Flickr stream.

San Diego

02010-07-12 @ 13:07

Yesterday I changed the set list again, and it was quite an improvement! Everything flowed much better, and our performance at Humphrey’s was a blast. A full house, a guitar that stayed in tune, a great audience, a well-oiled professional venue, the improved set list, and a band that stayed creative throughout the concert. Great fun! It was our twentieth anniversary of performing here, as we opened at Humphrey’s for the late Michael Hedges in the Summer of 1990.

I love this shot by Matt:

You can find more pics from tour in Matt’s excellent Flickr photostream.

Yesterday’s set list was:

New Untitled
Cedar Smoke
Dancing Alone
Santa Fe
Empty Fields
Tokyo After Midnight
Snakecharmer
(Intermission)
Garden at Dusk
Heart Still/Beating
Sixteen Hours
On the Road to Shiraz/2 the Night
La Luna
Backwards Firefly
Jump
(Encore)
Future Green
Barcelona Nights

Words

02010-07-08 @ 12:07

[aiming a video camera] …at anything doesn’t collect what is meaningful to me. I need someone to gather it in with all their senses, mix it round in their head, and make it over into words.

Anathem by Neal Stephenson

Cuarto Centenario

02010-07-07 @ 16:07

This year we celebrate Santa Fe’s 400th Anniversary:

Grand Ball Celebration
The Grand Ball celebration will be held at the historic Bishop’s Lodge Resort & Spa. The evening celebrations start with entertainment by the internationally known guitarist, Ottmar Liebert. Followed by dinner, dancing, silent auction (art pieces by 12 of Santa Fe’s well known santeros and santeras) and finally, the raffle drawing of the Rev. Msgr. Jerome y Alire’s vintage 1967 Restored VW Beetle with 2nd prize: 2 nights at Bishops Lodge, 3rd prize: original painting by artist Greg DeLucca, 4th prize: white cultured freshwater pearl necklace by Carrie Lynn Korzak. Tickets are $125 each and may be purchased by contacting Wanda Vint @ wanda.vint@cbsfa.org or 505-989-9102. ONLY 300 TICKETS WILL BE SOLD.

I decided to do this performance on August 7th with the band.

Petals On the Path Previews

02010-06-18 @ 20:06

Mono and low-bit-rate, but full-lenth previews nonetheless:


More info about this album can be found here.

New Release

02010-06-15 @ 12:06

Our new album Petals On the Path was released today.

Information about the album

Journal about the process of creating Petals On the Path – with rehearsal recordings and photos

ListeningLounge (our own mp3 download store)

iTunesPetals On the Path

AmazonPetals On the Path

You can find the HD FLAC (24/88.2) version of Petals On the Path at HDTracks

Petals On the Path

02010-05-20 @ 10:05

SPECIAL SHOW – The Best of Flamenco + Arabic Pop
For the last show of Flamenco + Arabic Pop on WYBC, I culled through the sixty shows which came before it for the best songs we’ve ever played, and the ones most representative of the Flamenco + Arabic Pop spirit. It wasn’t easy, turning over sixty hours into almost two and a half, but I’m happy with what resulted, and I think it leaves Flamenco + Arabic Pop on a good note. It also featured a world premiere of Backwards Firefly, a song from Ottmar Liebert’s upcoming album, Petals on the Path; thanks so much to Ottmar for allowing us that opportunity.

New Album Arrived

02010-05-13 @ 19:05


Release date is Tuesday, June 15th.

Costa Mesa in July

02010-05-11 @ 13:05

Tickets will go on-sale Friday May 14 at 10AM through this web site:
OCJazzSeries.com

Letter to a Young Musician #7

02010-04-18 @ 10:04

Dear Friend,

How to produce a sound, draw a melody from the strings, is a constant question. You can hold a guitar comfortably, which may choke the sound a little, or you can hold it a little less comfortably and produce a finer tone. Somewhere in between those two extremes lies the perfect way to hold your instrument.

In Flamenco, when the guitar was mainly accompanying singers or dancers and when volume was an important concern in the days before amplification, people often balanced the bottom of the guitar on their right leg. The advantage of this position is that the guitar is loud and sings. Unfortunately the guitar isn’t very stable in this position and has to be held up by the left hand, which is not free to move about the neck.

In the last fifty years most guitarists favor this position: cross your right leg over your left leg. Rest the cut-out of the Flamenco guitar on your right thigh. Lean over so that your body is collapsing on the guitar to a degree. This will put your right hand in a good position to strum the strings and your left hand in a great position to play the neck.

Actually, I haven’t done that during concerts for a couple of years. I have been using a footstool, but while classical guitarists put their left foot on the stool and rest the guitar on their left thigh, I put my right foot on the stool and the guitar ends up in the same position as if I were to cross my right leg over my left leg.

The trick, then, lies is finding a balance between holding the guitar securely and thus enabling both of your hands to move freely, and holding the guitar lightly, so that the instrument isn’t choked and can sing. Similar to many relationships, isn’t it? Hold your lover tightly and set them free – at the same time. How do you do that? With care.

Don’t forget to practice.

Letter to a Young Musician #6

02010-03-18 @ 10:03

The fine art of dampening strings, or specifically stopping particular notes from ringing and thereby colliding with the other notes that you do want. I learned much about this by watching Jon play bass. The fingers of both of his hands are constantly refining the sound that comes forth from his instrument, adding a slow vibrato here and dampening a string that would otherwise clash with the next harmony.
You can observe this constant vigilance in classical guitarists like Julian Bream. While one finger of the left hand goes to a fret to define the next note, another finger is poised to dampen the string that rang the last note.

I recommend renting a DVD of Bream playing guitar as it is most interesting and educational. (((You might also observe how he bends certain notes to create harmonies that are in tune… the well-tempered scale is a compromise, especially on a guitar, and you will notice when you play an E major chord followed by a C major chord that the G-string, if tuned for the E chord, will sound off when playing the C chord and vice versa.)))

And the faces he makes while playing guitar are very entertaining, also.

This, of course, is most important when changing keys, but is always a good idea because even strings you haven’t plucked or struck with the right hand will ring sympathetically. By dampening those strings you focus more attention to the notes you are playing. Things become clearer, as if a fog has been lifted.

Two Years Ago: Beauty

02010-02-28 @ 06:02

He who seeks Truth
Shall find Beauty

He who seeks Beauty
Shall find Vanity

He who seeks Order
Shall find Gratification

He who seeks Gratification
Shall be Disappointed

He who considers himself as the servant of his fellow being
Shall find the joy of Self-Expression

He who seeks Self-Expression
Shall fall into the pit of Arrogance

Arrogance is incompatible with nature
Thru the nature of the universe
and the nature of man
we shall seek Truth

If we seek truth we shall find Beauty

Moshe Safdie, Architect

Neurodiversity

02010-02-26 @ 07:02

A Key Concept for Neurodiversity: Niche Construction
When I suggest that neurodiverse individuals, such as those with autism or ADHD, might have been labeled gifted in other times and in other cultures, the quick retort is: “Well, we don’t live in other times or cultures. People have to adapt to the culture they’re in right now.” So what does the person who is a round peg have to do to fit into a square hole? Answer: Shave off enough of its wood to fit, uncomfortably, usually, into the square hole. That’s one solution. The other solution is to round off some of the square hole so that the round peg can stay a round peg and still fit in. That’s niche construction. In other words, I’m saying that people with neurodiverse brains can create special niches for themselves where they can be their unique selves. An example would be a person with ADHD in a job that requires novelty, thrills, and creativity. Instead of suffering in a 9 to 5 desk job (an example of poor niche construction), they create a career for themselves that allows them to be who they are. Another example: a person on the autistic spectrum who has keen mathematical skill working as a computer programmer in Silicon Valley, instead of wasting away in a group home somewhere. Niche construction is what animals have done for eons: the bird building a nest, the beaver building a dam. They’re modifying the environment to suit their unique needs. We need to make niche construction a key tool in improving the lives of individuals with autism, learning disabilities, ADHD, mood disorders, schizophrenia, and other neurological conditions. Yes, there will always be the need to adapt to the way the world is, and there are medications, behavior modification programs, and other adaptational programs that can help accomplish this. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that we can also help neurodiverse individuals be who they are and still fit in.
(Via Neurodiversity – The Book)

Temple Grandin spoke brilliantly on that theme at TED. Check this out:

Self Moving Vehicle

02010-02-23 @ 15:02

From Neo Bohemia:

neo bohemia – bicycle

Two bicycle sticker designs that I have been working on. Clear stickers with the kanji in either black or white with my red stamp. Thought that they should be presented today.

And here is what the sticker looks like on a biycle:

Two Years Ago

02010-01-21 @ 05:01

I get up a little before 4AM and start to get ready. While I shower this comes into my mind:
Whatever you want, this world has it.
If it is greed and ignorance you are looking for, we got that.
Selfishness and inflated egos, yes, got that.
Hatred and violence, yes, plenty.
but also…
Poetry and wonder, yes.
Love and care and gentleness, yes.
Beauty, creativity and awe, yes.
Disliking greed and ignorance does not make it go away. Instead we notice more of it.
Hating violence and hatred doesn’t make them go away. It amplifies them and we see hate and violence everywhere.

Sure, we may know this. But, it slips my mind all the time.

All that and a marvelous moon!

Touring Schedule

02010-01-20 @ 13:01

We are adding more dates to our Spring and Summer schedule – with more to come.

Spring – East Coast

Summer – West Coast

Letter to a Young Musician #5

02010-01-01 @ 13:01

Dear Friend,

There is practicing and there is performing and they are two very different sides of a coin. Practice is a solitary act while performance involves an audience, large or small. Having an audience changes everything.

Practice is something you will get used to doing every day, like eating, drinking, sleeping. Few artists perform every single day.

The truth is, you can’t practice performing. You practice to practice and you can practice to get ready to perform, but performing is so very different…

You can practice landing, rolling and catching your fall, but you can’t practice parachuting – unless you jump out of a plane. You can train your body to run a long distance, but you can’t train running a marathon race in a large pack of runners – unless you run many marathons.

So that’s how you practice performing – by performing. It’s as simple as that. The more you perform, the better you become at performing. The more you perform the more at ease with performing will you become. True, some people are natural performers, but I find that they are rare exceptions. Most people grow into themselves on stage over time.

After we returned from our first tour in 1990, we did a benefit concert in Santa Fe. Everyone in the band had lots of friends in the audience and we were excited and nervous. As a result we raced through 90 minutes of material in about an hour. Now, many years later the band seems to settle into a certain tempo for a song and that tempo doesn’t change much from performance to performance.

And remember: practicing is practicing and performing is performing. Do both!

Letter to a Young Musician #4

02010-01-01 @ 12:01

Dear Friend,

Today I am thinking about time. Time is important to a musician, that’s obvious. Music consists of time and pitch. Without time there can be no song. A melody can only exist in time. A melody can only be heard because our minds can store time, for without memory a melody would remain a series of unconnected sonic events. The beauty of music lies in the many different associations and memories a mind can attach to the flow of a melody.

Our perception of those sounds-connected-through-time, or melody, varies from person to person and can be improved by practice. Modern classical music or Bebop Jazz often contain very long melodies that evaporate in most listeners brains. It takes training to follow these long lines, and may be an excellent antidote to a short attention span. I read somewhere that the average listener can hold about 7-9 notes in their attention. Bebop melodies are usually much longer than that.

Time is the essence of music in its guise as the sisters rhythm and melody. And time is also the duration of your practice. Most musicians serve a good portion of their lifelong practice as teenagers. We may never regain that sense of time we have as teenagers – everything is still ahead of us… and four or even eight hours of playing our instrument feels completely natural.

Allow me to give you this advice:
Don’t worry about being popular in school or in college. The unpopular kids have time to practice their musical instruments or paint, take photographs or devise science projects. The popular kids on the other hand are busy going to parties, their social calendars packed with events. Sure, you might watch them with longing, but being popular in school isn’t all that. (((although honestly, how would I know, I wasn’t popular in school and spent most of my free time playing guitar and reading…)))

What happens to the popular kids when they grow up? Maybe they become real estate agents or sell cars or find another profession where they can use the social skills they learned as teenagers?

And since I am on the subject of time…

We always look for the quick fix, don’t we, the silver bullet, the advantage?

That is true in terms of becoming a better player and also true for getting signed by a record company, finding a manager or agent etc. We never think it happens fast enough. What if I tell you that I was signed by a record label exactly when I lost interest in getting signed? Or at least stopped pursuing a recording deal and instead made the music I wanted to make.

I think this also parallels our search for happiness or enlightenment. We may find either exactly when we give up searching. Unfortunately we can’t start out by giving-up-searching… the quest must come first.

Time is the best teacher, but you’ll have to allow yourself and your music to ferment. Think of yourself as a cauldron of soup – let the spices mix, let the flavors develop, let the ingredients get softer… and play the music that makes you happy.

I shall end my letter with this observation:
In the beginning we play out-of-time, because we are scrambling to find the correct notes. When the fingering becomes more familiar, time remains sloppy while we learn to move from note to note. Later the correct rhythm emerges, at first clumsily and then more fluid… and when we listen to a master play music we can hear him/her stretch and squeeze time, playing before or after the beat… but returning to the downbeat at will. Another spiral of learning. At some point we arrive at a new stretching-of-time, only now it has become our choice and an expression of emotion, rather than the inability to move to the next note smoothly.

Time. It is the great puzzler. Enjoy your time…

Letter to a Young Musician #3

02010-01-01 @ 11:01

Dear Friend,

How should you find your sound?

Well, every hand is different, every nail strikes the strings at a slightly different angle. So, if you play long enough, your sound will eventually emerge somehow. There are rules, but they can all be broken. For example, I file my nails to a shape that is “wrong” according to some experts.

I think there are two elements to “your” sound. The first is the sound-production itself, how your fingers strike the string, where they strike the string. Many guitarists don’t make use of the many different sounds one can coax from the nylon strings and the box. That length of guitar from the fretboard-side of the soundhole all the way to the bridge is rich with different sounds. This can also help with the tuning of the guitar. Sometimes plucking the string in a different position will sound more in tune. (I recently watched a Julian Bream video and was impressed at how he would bend this note in a chord here and that note there… he was always aware of the pitfalls of a fretted instrument and the well-tempered scale)

The second element is what you play. Some guitarists are instantly recognizable, like Carlos Santana for example. Others have a more chameleon-like approach and it takes a while to hear their personality. One is not better than the other. Just different.

Finding your sound is a little bit like finding what you should do for a living, or finding your place in life. It seems to come to us of itself, almost sneaks up in the dead of the night. One day we wake up and from then on we wear our heart in our melodies. Maybe finding your sound has a lot to do with finding yourself and finding yourself comes out of being natural. In the West natural refers to whatever humans have not manipulated, controlled, or despoiled. That’s a dualistic view. It separates humans from nature. In the East, what is natural is what exists according to its true nature. There is no separation, no dualism. That also means that there is no despoiled nature devoid of humans to return to.

What is your nature? What does your nature sound like?

I discovered that at the core of my melody is a slightly melancholy feeling. Even when I am expressing happiness you will find a few notes that speak of longing. But, that is as much a part of me as my crooked right index finger – it turns to the right and because of that turn the nail is perfectly parallel to the string. A flaw may become a pearl in time.

Don’t forget to practice. And keep thinking about what your nature sounds like!

Letter to a Young Musician #2

02010-01-01 @ 10:01

Dear Friend,

To listen with a mind that flows freely is to listen with your whole body. In Western thought we often separate Body and Brain. But is that correct?

I think Mind happens where Body and Brain meet.

In a groundbreaking New York Times story, Sandra Blakeslee disclosed that new scientific evidence is giving credence to the notion that the human body actually possesses two centers to process knowledge and dictate physical actions. Blakeslee reports:

[Scientists say] that the body has two brains–the familiar one encased in the skull and a lesser known but vitally important one found in the human gut….The gut’s brain, known as the enteric nervous system, is located in sheaths of tissue lining the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and colon. Considered a single entity, it is a network of neurons, neurotransmitters and proteins that zap messages between neurons, support cells like those found in the brain proper and a complex circuitry that enables it to act independently, learn, remember, and as the saying goes, produce gut feelings.

Musicians can learn to perform with their whole body, that is to follow the flow of the music with their mind, using the brain, ears, body and their “gut”. Eventually we can learn to LIVE with our whole body – if we are willing to do the training. The main obstacle is our own ego/brain that can get in the way by jealously guarding the self it has created. There is nothing to fear but fear itself, and there is nothing separating us from life itself but our own small selves…

Now check out the definitions of Hara and Qi.

Go with your gut! And integrate Body and Brain through your music.

And remember to practice.

(Reference: “Complex and Hidden Brain in the Gut Makes Cramps, Butterflies, and Valium,” Sandra Blakeslee. New York Times, Tuesday, January 23, 1996. p. B5)

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