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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Inspiration is a Funny Thing

Have you ever heard a song, that just makes you stop in your tracks?  A song that affects you - not just in the music, but also in the lyrics?  A song that seems to truly speak to who you are and who you want to be.

As much as I love music, as much as I am moved by music, this doesn't happen often.  And really, it shouldn't.  If every song you hear is life changing - then maybe there are bigger issues going on.  But anyways.

As I said, a song with this much power, is not something I encounter often.  Honestly, I can only think of one other song that has hit me so strongly - and maybe one day I will write about it.

But for now, I continue the story of last Saturday night.....

So Elenowen is no longer on stage, Lainie and I are running high from the energy in the room, and we are waiting - rather impatiently....

The band was on stage - getting things set up.  They put the set list down and we immediately hunted for our favorite songs.  1 of my 2, that I really, really wanted to hear was on there - "What I Know Right Now."  And the one that Lainie wanted to hear - "Everythings Right" was also there.  Needless to say, we were pumped, okay, excited, okay, ecstatic.

And..the time came.  Matt Wertz took the stage!

So he started with his classic jean jacket - which didn't last long - cause even though it was FREEZING outside - it was quite warm in the room.

That is one well loved guitar!

The following video is of one of my favorite songs off of Heatwave.  It was great to hear it live - and great to hear the conversation between artist and fans.

simply put - this song is beautiful - in melody and in lyrics

And like that...the show was done.  However, like any good artist - there was an encore.  The encore made my night.  Truly, it did.

You know how earlier, I was talking about songs that change your world - and that there was a song that was not on the playlist?  Well, on Heatwave (Matt's newest album), there is a song called "Thing About Freedom."  Something about that song struck a chord with me.  In fact, it was so powerful, that I have been struggling to write the blog about this song - and it has been out for two months.

In this song - Matt sings "The thing about freedom, that's so misunderstood - just because you can, doesn't mean you should."  To me, that is something that we often forget.  It is something that we like to throw in each other's faces.  How many kids say, well I'm 18, so I can do what I want?  Or how many adults make terrible decisions, because we have the freedom to do so?  Every day - terrible decisions are made - and many times, it seems that it happens because it can.  Not because we want it to be so, not because we are dreaming of the outcome - but because we have the "right" to do it.

I know that I am not making a ton of sense right now, maybe one day the words will come to me, that will allow me to describe the impact this song has had on me.  But for now, please listen - listen to the whole thing - try to hear the lyrics.

Following this song, Matt & the band, along with Elenowen, came out into the middle of the floor.  Really - I mean the middle of the audience.  They all grabbed instruments and did an amazing rendition of "Sing My Lonesome Away."

And if you watched the video - you heard the crazy cheer that went up within the first minute - no - that wasn't for the band - the Detroit Tigers were on the television behind the bar and had just taken the lead....

And now the night was done....Or at least the show was.  Lainie and I were lucky enough to be able to grab pictures with Elenowen & Matt Wertz.

And now - our night was truly over.  But we could not have wished for a better night.

However, because I want you to be able to appreciate Matt's music - and concert videos aren't always the best - check out these two songs.

This is the song I also had above here....

This is the song Lainie was waiting to hear - and he did play it - I just don't have it on video

So...What is the moral of all this?  What is the purpose behind tonight's blog?  Cause really, it's been a bit long.  Number 1 - Matt Wertz puts on an amazing show.  I would see him again anytime.  Number 2 - Nothing is better than a good concert with a good friend.  Number 3 - Inspiration can hit you any time - in any number of ways - and normally, it is when you are least expecting it.  Number 4 - Remember - Just because you can Does Not mean you should.  

Despite all the beautiful music above, I have no choice but to make my song of the day be "Thing About Freedom" by Matt Wertz.  And if you just jumped through all the pics and videos to read what I am typing - go back up and listen to that song.  No really - do it.

Good night.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Up Next

Saturday night - take 2.

So Mark Sala has left the stage (cue the sad face followed by the purchase of an amazing cd - really - buy it here)

Now it's time for a quick drink and to wait for Elenowen to take the stage.  That's when this piece of beauty occurred.

Now, neither of us knew much about Elenowen.  I had heard that they were on The Voice, that's bout it.  So we had no clue what to expect.

And we were blown away.  Lainie and I just kinda kept looking at each other - in awe.  Amazed at what we were hearing - thrilled to be a part of another great set.

Honestly, I don't normally get as excited by female vocalists as I do my male vocalists.  I just prefer the sound.  But the combo of Josh & Nicole Johnson was just about perfect.  Okay, not just about, it was perfect.  Check out the proof.

This is Park - played keys and guitar

And you know I have video, too!

So...couple other cool things.  First, they are a husband and wife duo.  Seeing the chemistry on stage was a beautiful thing to watch.  Being able to see how they connect and communicate - awesome.  Next - check out this picture.

There are a lot of challenges to playing a show with only three people - including the lack of a drummer.  Josh was playing this lovely contraption - which basically acted as a bass drum - the quality and strength of it was amazing!

And now - check out their set list.

Love the option to see what is coming up next.

Now in memory - for several things - I give you "We Were Better Off" by Elenowen - oh - and go buy their music, trust me, just do it.  And you can do it right here

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Does this ever get old?

So the time had come for another epic night.  At least that was our hope.  A few months ago Lainie and I saw that one of our favorite artists was putting out a new album.  Preorders were available along with vinyl, shirts, and concert tickets.  As we looked, we saw he was coming to Grand Rapids, and it happened to be the night before Lainie's birthday.  That meant...this was happening.

Time got closer and Saturday arrived.  And the weather was...terrible.  Cold, raining, windy.  Yuck.  We had planned to wait outside so that we could get close spots, but we weren't about to spend much time in this weather.  So we found a local restaurant, grabbed a drink, or two, and some food.  Then we even got shots on the house for celebrating a day early.

Then it was time to venture back outside.  Thankfully, there were only about ten people in front of us.  And of course, while we waited, it started to rain - at least it didn't rain hard.

A couple minutes before doors opened, we ditched the coats and started to get really excited (if it was possible to be more excited than we were!).

Then, shortly after getting in the doors, someone took the stage.  We weren't expecting the show to start for at least an hour, so we were thrilled to be able to have early entertainment.  Oh, and did I mention that we did manage to have awesome spots on the floor - as in I was leaning against the stage.

Who we saw - Mark Sala.  Hadn't seen him before, hadn't heard of him, but when his set was done, I followed him to his merch table and picked up his cd.  Honestly, you should do the same.  And you can do that here.

In the meantime, check out the pics and videos from the show.

 He had his phone laying there with a timer on it - managed to end with I believe 2 seconds to spare

So, the title to this blog.  "Does this ever get old?"  It applies to many, many things - but today - it applies to the joy that comes in finding new music.  The thrill of a new artist.  The excitement with a new sound, a new collection of words.  While I say that I do not enjoy new things, this is the one exception, I always love finding new (good) music.  And Saturday night was a chance for me to do just that.

So, I give you "Breathe" by Mark Sala as my song for the day.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Music in a New Era

New experiences.  To be honest, not my favorite thing in the world.  It's not that I dislike them, they just make me nervous.  Ask any of my friends or family and they will confirm that when going through a new experience, I am hyper-vigilant, super sensitive, and pretty darn anxious.  I like knowing what I am getting in to.

But - last night - that was a great new experience.  I'll back up for a second.

In three weeks, I have a concert that I am anxiously awaiting.  It is Dan Godlin/Curtis Peoples/Todd Carey at Seven Steps Up.  Should be an amazing show.  As I am very impressed by all of these artists, I follow them on Twitter.  Todd Carey has been talking about an online show that he was planning, following the release of his new song "Nintendo."  After talking with my friend Beth, I decided to check it out.

Honestly, I was always interested, but like I said - I don't get too psyched for new experiences.

So yesterday, I got my ticket for the 9pm show.

At about 8:30, I curled up with my laptop and watched tv while I waited for it to start.  Below is a screenshot of what came on at 9pm.  Pretty darn cool. 

The center of the screen was Todd, who was talking, performing, interacting with all of us.  On the right of the screen was a chat screen.  All of us watching were able to comment, ask questions, make requests, etc.  Todd made a point to say hi to as many people, by name, as he could during the show. 

I think the best description was what Todd said at one point.  It is like a concert with your biggest fans, but instead of hearing cheers, you see bubbles popping up above each person's head with their thoughts.  How cool is that - for both the musician and the fans?

The fans got to learn more about each other, about Todd, and what concerts we are all hoping to attend.  I also learned about a music festival that he puts on at the Outer Banks - maybe I can get there in 2015....

Oh, another fun note.  Todd has to be one of the happiest musicians I have ever seen perform.

During the show, there was the option to "tip" Todd - using actual money - and the top three tippers won various prizes.  Glad to say that my friend, Beth, got top tipper and will have a dedicated song at the show we are going to in three weeks.

So I'm thinking the lesson of the night is that we should try new experiences more often.  Really - what harm does it cause - at least most of the time.... :)

I regularly wake up with this song in my head....

So...I can't play Nintendo for you - so I recommend you look it up here

Due to this, I am giving you two songs of the day....Nintendo and After the Morning After.  Cause really, any song by Todd Carey is worthy of being a song of the day!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

See You Again!

Okay, back to last Saturday.

As I said, Keaton Simons was up first.  After the intermission, Pat McGee and band hit the stage.  Awesome band.

But first...a story.

The year - 2007.  The place - Burlington, Vermont.  My dad and I drove out to visit my sister for the weekend (yeah, and it was the weekend before my last set of finals in grad school).  My sister got the two of us tickets to a concert.  On the docket was Tyler Hilton, Pat McGee, and Stephen Kellogg.  I had never seen, nor heard, of any of these artists.  We had a great night.

Flash forward to 2013.  I saw Tyler Hilton for the second time in May, and now I have seen Pat McGee perform.  Next up, that needs to be Stephen Kellogg, he just hasn't made it close enough for me to make that happen.

Okay, back to a week ago.

Pat McGee and band were amazing.  Time went by insanely fast.  Near the end of Pat's first set, Keaton came back up and joined them on stage.  There was an intermission in the middle of Pat's time on stage.  They finally left the stage after more than 2 hours of music - then the encore happened.  For the encore, the five musicians grabbed instruments and headed to the middle of the room.  It was time for some acoustic music.  Gotta love the drummer sitting on the edge of the loveseat, playing a stool - and the bass player grabbing a mandolin.  Much of this had not been played as a group before - and it showed their true talent.  The encore took us almost another 45 minutes.  Perfect.  Simply perfect.

Check the videos and pics from the rest of the night.

And a special shoutout to Patrick McAloon - a guitarist in The Pat McGee Band - who also happens to be an amazing solo artist.  He took part in the encore with a song of his own.  You can hear some of his solo stuff in my last blog.

So we had a great night, with amazing music in a great venue.  One of the perks of such a small venue was that the artists hung around after, signed things, took pictures, and just chatted.

Final note for the night.  While Pat McGee was performing, they kept talking about this event, alternately called OBX and Down the Hatch.  A few days on the beach with a lot of great musicians.  Sounded pretty intriguing.  Well I am thrilled to report that my husband and I will be heading down for it this coming year.  Combine it with visiting family and there isn't much better.  I'm pretty sure it is the ideal music festival, between the beach, the music, and a killer crowd.  Hope lots of others will be there too!!!

So for tonight, for my song of the day, the week, until May - I give you "See You Again" as performed by Pat McGee, Keaton Simons, and Patrick McAloon at a previous Down the Hatch.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Variety is the Spice of Life???

So today...I went in to work, determined to be in a good mood.  It has been a rough few weeks, and I thought we needed a change in pace.

It was a pretty crazy day, which meant that I was not at my desk as much as I needed, or wanted.  The reason I wish I was there more, is because when I am, I get to listen to music.  Generally, I put my iPhone on shuffle and see what comes up.  At this moment, I have just over 700 songs on there.  I wish it were more, I just don't have room at this time.

For the first time, I decided to track what came up, and listen to whatever came up.  It was a pretty interesting list.

See You Again – Pat McGee
Almost Everything – Wakey!Wakey!
I’m Like a Lawyer With the Way I’m Always Trying to Get You Off – Fall Out Boy
West Coast Smoker – Fall Out Boy
I’m Not That Girl – Wicked
Sincerely, Me – Better than Ezra
Cold or Bold – Patrick McAloon
Dreams – Brandi Carlile
One Foot – Fun.
27 – Fall Out Boy
Rise (The Dog Barks) – Ryan Cabrera
Down – Mat Kearney
She Got the Honey – Mat Kearney
What a Catch, Donnie – Fall Out Boy
Benson Hedges – Fun.
Don’t Stay – Laura Izibor
Sad Song – Christina Perri
Lover of the Light – Mumford & Sons
The Morrow – Brandi Carlile
Girl that you Love – Panic! At the Disco
Wishing He was Dead – The Like
Anna – The Honey Brothers
The Medicine – Keaton Simons
Why When Love is Gone – The Like
Release – Pat McGee
Compliment – Collective Soul
The Clock – Alex Mendenall
Nicotine – Panic! At the Disco
Square Peg Round Hole – Wakey!Wakey!
Shadow of a Doubt – Down the Line
Death and All His Friend – Coldplay
Ok It’s Alright with Me - Eric Hutchinson
It Hadn’t been Long Enough - Eric Hutchinson
Rollin’ Home – Tyler Hilton
Pass the Time – Justin Stover

Honestly, I'm a little surprised at what the list ended up containing.  It did not have near as much Tyler Hilton as I expected, it had way more Eric Hutchison (only cause I only have a few songs), not enough Indigo Girls or Todd Carey.

As you peruse the list, you see that overall, I tend to listen to fairly mellow stuff - singer/songwriter, heavily male, some fairly obscure stuff, a lot of popular stuff.  And throw in a mix including some more rock such as Fall Out Boy and some Broadway with the Wicked soundtrack.  It was an interesting day.

I will say, listening to the awesome music helped to keep me in a good mood all day. I recommend you give it a try one day.

I think for my song of the day, I will - obviously - go for something on the list.  In honor of the upcoming blog on the rest of my concert experience, I am going with Patrick McAloon (guitarist for The Pat McGee Band).

So I give you...Cold or Bold by Patrick McAloon

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Lots of Hugs...NBD

I know, random start. :)

So, Saturday night.  Epic.  Simply epic.

Lainie and I headed out to see an artist that I started listening to sometime in the past year, and an artist that I first saw in 2007.  We met up with a new friend, Beth, that we met through other concerts we have attended.

The venue - unmatched.
Keaton Simons - unrivaled guitar work.
Pat McGee - remarkable band

We were at Seven Steps Up.  It is billed as a listening room.  After a series of concerts in venues that include hearing other acts through the walls, annoying people yelling throughout, and more - it was an extremely nice change in pace.

 Yep, there are couches.  That's where we happened to be sitting.

It is only 110 seats, drink service during the show, amazing acoustics, great prices, what more can you ask for?!?

So we get there early, not sure of what to expect, as none of us have been there before, order drinks, and just hang out.  We got to visit with the owners, as well.

It gets to be time for the show to start, so we take our seats.  Then we see Keaton Simons head out towards the stage.  Then he heads back towards us.  Turns out he knows the table sitting directly in front of us, and takes the time to greet us.  Yep, we got hugs from Keaton big deal. ;)

So, side note.  I hate live cd's.  Really, truly hate them.  I find that live cd's have too much crowd noise, no way to appreciate the music, all together a lousy quality about them.  Remember that.

Back to what I was saying.....

Then the show starts.  Having never see Keaton live before, it was amazing.  Check out the pics and me....the videos are worth your time.

Isn't his guitar playing just amazing!!!!

All too soon, Keaton was done.  But wait...he was to be back....

And yep, we got more hugs after the set.  N.B.D.

After that set, I knew I needed more Keaton Simons music.  I already owned Beautiful Pain - which is amazing.  For sale was also his live cd.  Now I have told you how I feel about live music.  This was another story.  I now knew just how amazing his guitar playing was, and how much more goes into the live version versus the recorded.  The live cd had to happen.  And it did not disappoint.

Below is the live version of Ordinary Words.  It is worth a listen.  If nothing else, put it on in the background.  If you aren't amazed, I am sorry....  I could not have EVER asked for more out of this show...except for maybe another couple of hours :)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

I vs Me vs We

Yep, I've been absent again.  Sorry bout that.

Lots of thoughts running through my head lately.  To the point that I have been struggling to actually make a coherent sentence with them.  Let alone music to match my mood.  Nothing is more frustrating for me than when I can't find a song to express what I am feeling and thinking.

But here goes an attempt.

I have been thinking about the word "I" a lot.

First.  Have you ever noticed that we are quite the conceited beings?  No matter the situation, no matter the questions, the first thing that everyone thinks is - How is this going to affect me?  We then will turn to our family, our friends, our world, strangers, and everyone else.  But our instinct is always to worry about ourselves first.

Second.  For those who don't know me well, a little background is necessary here.  I have a Masters degree in Social Work.  So I have had quite a bit of education on counseling, communication, etc.  Because of this, my brain tends to work a little differently.  As I was thinking about how we are always concerned with ourselves first, I turned to the other side of using "I".  When in an honest conversation, it is really important to us "I" statements.  That way, you aren't accusing the person you are talking to of having feelings, thoughts, etc., that maybe they aren't experiencing.  For example, saying I felt angry versus you made me mad.

So here I am, trying to merge these two very different ideas.  One where I feel like we need to cut back on thinking about ourselves and one where we need to use I more often.  And yep, didn't get too far.  I think it boils down to the intention behind it.  Is the intention to help those around us, or to care only about ourselves?

I'm not saying that we can't ever think about ourselves, I'm not saying that we don't have a right to worry about what happens to our immediate life amongst everything else.  I'm just saying that maybe we need to try and move outside of ourselves.  Maybe we need to think about others first, then take our preference into account.  Or...maybe we just need to try it once in a while.  It is not exactly an easy change to make.  Each day, choose one decision, one situation, one opportunity to think outside of ourselves and maybe we can be just a little better.

Wow.  Sorry for the ramblings.

In other news, it has been a crazy couple of weeks.  Spent some time on the other side of the state to celebrate a friends birthday, and lots of time busy getting back into the fall swing of things.  Even though I am not in school, the school year always has tons more stuff going on.  And for fun we have also had Oktoberfest and Art Prize.  Oh, yeah, and last night was an AMAZING show.  Pics and video are coming.

 The birthday boy :)
 What birthday party is complete without a little 8 vs 1 Trivial Pursuit?!?
 Chocolate cake for breakfast


ArtPrize time!!!

The winning quilt

And so, with all the crazy thoughts, all the busyness, all the randomness, I have a phenomenal song for you.  And it works well since the artist is one that I saw last night.

I give you - "Beautiful Pain" by Keaton Simons
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