Dear readers, I want to give a special thank you for all of you who’ve read this blog and shared your thoughts with me over the past year. Yes, I find it hard to believe now, but this is actually my fifty-second and last blog for some time. I can hardly believe that I’ve now been doing this for a little over a year. It’s been a wonderful experience. I will be taking some time off to complete my third and final book in my Atlantean trilogy entitled, ‘Mayhem’s Triangle’. I will, from time to time, do my best to write some blogs every now and again, but I don’t plan on continuing my weekly campaign until my third book is completed.
What a year it’s been. Over the course of the year I released my book, ‘Mayhem’s Fountain’. I’ve started a twitter campaign, (thanks Greg), I’ve created a face book account (something I never thought I’d do), and of course I’ve created this blog (again, something that I never envisioned myself doing). My favorite thing to do, of course was this blog. I was pushed into doing this kicking and screaming by my publicist, but I admit, I’ve truly enjoyed it. What better way to share my writing with others, without them having an opportunity to read my stories? Finally, I did my first book signing in Los Angeles, which was an exciting, albeit scary experience, but it was well worth it.
The key question remains … what did I try to accomplish in this blog over the past year? To be honest, I had no idea what I was supposed to write about week in and week out, so I decided to write about what I found most compelling – entertainment. Yes, I’m a writer, and yes, I enjoy reading, but like most, I enjoy so much more. Being a musician, I love my music. I introduced you to my group Koncrete Kite. We’ve worked hard this past year creating our fourth CD entitled, ‘Full of Bull’. We hope to have the CD ready for release in May of this year. For more information, please visit our new sight attached in this link. I’ve also given some reviews of concerts I’ve been to, my personal favorite was Paul McCartney in Yankee Stadium – awesome show.
I love my movies. I did my best to review all the blockbusters of 2011 from the great superhero films, to Harry Potter, Pirates, and so much more. I may not have been a fan of everything released, but let’s face it, who is. I did though, try to do my best to give you an honest assessment of the films. I personally loved doing my top five lists. What better way to share some humor on something that wasn’t all that great by giving it an entertaining twist? Let’s not forget the program reviews of shows on cable and free television. I probably watch more than I should, but what can I say, I love to be entertained.
Let’s talk travel. I gave some traveling tips with places to visit and sights to see. Whether it was a historical review visiting such place as London, Scotland, Germany, or wonderful places to visit right here in the great U.S., like Sundance, Universal in Orlando, Beaver Creek, Colorado, etc. I wanted to give you an on the ground perspective of what to do, what to see, and what to watch out for. Hopefully some of you found this useful. You even received a little paranormal information on the places we visited and experienced during some of these trips. This was not only for you, but also for your kids. They don’t like to stay at haunted locations, so visitors beware.
Finally, I discussed my thoughts on book reviews and my writing experience. I reviewed such books from the latest James Bond novel, to War and Peace, to everyone’s current favorite – George R. R. Martin’s and his latest release in the Song of Ice and Fire series. I gave you my thoughts on my writing experience, whether it was writer’s block, or procrastination. I wanted you to hear it from a fellow writer who’s experienced everything all of you must have felt as well at some time in your writing career.
So alas I bid you all a fair adieu. I will return, but not completely until my final book is completed. I anticipate completing the book in June, but then with the developmental edit, content edit, proof read, etc., it probably won’t be published until next year. Don’t worry, I fully intend to keep everyone informed of my progress and of course, everyone will be aware of the release. Until then I hope to fit in some blogs from time to time on my favorite movies, shows, books, and travels visited over the course of this year. I thank you all again for your wonderful support and kind words and hope to see you again soon.
I’m getting ready to go into the recording studio tonight to record the ninth song on our upcoming album/CD ‘Full of Bull’ hopefully to be released in early 2012. I personally believe there should be at least a minimum of twelve songs on any album, but studio time is expensive and we’ve been working on this album for well over a year now, so we might just end up with ten.
That stated, I think to myself, well this is the fourth CD that we would have released and even if we record only ten songs, that’s over forty songs that Koncrete Kite has now written and recorded. This brings me back to a conversation I had with a friend of mine who asked a very simple question – how do you write a song? Let me tell you friend, there are actually many ways one might create a song, but since song writing is a form of self-expression, much like painting is to an artist, or writing is to an author, there is no exact formula. The method I will explain is one I have used for many years and has proven to be successful.
Now, considering I am a guitarist, I always start with the hook. How do I come up with said hook? Well, I’ve come across a number of hooks through various forms. I’m either inspired by something that I’ve heard that I found could, or should be played differently, or I’m simply doodling around on the guitar and something just comes to me that I enjoy. I’ve once even come across an idea through a dream. Yes a dream. I dreamt that I was performing on stage as the opening act for Bruce Springsteen, and I played a song that I never heard. I liked the song so much that when I woke, I immediately picked up my guitar, figured out the melody, and recorded it on the tape recorder. I then went back to bed and finished sleeping.
The point here is that there is no specific thing that comes to you and gives you this hook, it’s either there, or it isn’t. Sometimes my brothers might say, hey we need a rocking song to open the album, or we need something commercial here, and I’ll try to focus my energy on a specific idea, but in general, hooks come to you when they do. I find it best not to try and force any ideas. Either you enjoy what you’re playing and record it to memory, or you’re just goofing around.
Okay, you say, I’ve got my hook, what now? Well first and foremost, make sure you’re hook is strong enough to carry the rest of the song. The hook is going to be your chorus, or the catchy part of your tune. Now you have to fill in the missing parts. This is where it helps to have other musician to bounce around some ideas. The simplistic way to write a song is to go: opening (hook), verse, chorus, verse, chorus, (possible solo) chorus and end. So simplistically speaking, you need three parts to each song. If you’re creative, or talented enough, throw in a solo. Nowadays most musicians tend to opt away from the solo. The days of Eddie Van Halen have faded, it’s now all about the melody.
Alright, I’ve come up with my verse, my chorus, and I’m going to be daring enough to throw in a solo. Now what? Well, did you happen to give any thought to the rhythm of this song? Has a drummer sat down with the song and worked out a beat? No? Well, I would highly recommend doing this. The right beat to a song is critical in the shaping of a song. How would ‘Rock-n-Roll‘ by Led Zeppelin be if not for the driving intro, or ‘In the Air Tonight‘, by Phil Collins without the impactful entrance of the drums? Go work that out and come back to me.
Whew, tougher than I thought. Ok, I’ve got my hook, created a solid rhythm and put the song in proper order. Am I done? Is a house done without the floors? Is a car complete without the engine? No, you’re not done. We need the melody. Get out your paper and pen, or computer, and start putting some lyrics to this bad boy. Here’s a hint, play off of your hook, and what ever you do, make it catchy. If you don’t enjoy singing it, no one else will.
From here it’s all down hill. Go into the studio and record all the basics to your song. Now comes the fun part, or what we in the band like to refer to as the pixie dust. Fill out the song, make it complete. While listening to the basic song, hum what ever catchy comes to mind and record it on top of what you’ve already put down on tape. Make sure you have a competent engineer to work with, mix your song, and your masterpiece is now ready to be released to the general public to be listened to and critiqued. Hopefully they like what you’ve done, but as long as you’re proud of what you accomplished take what others say with a grain of salt.
So there you have it, the blue print to creating a song from an artist who has written and recorded many. Is my formula the correct method to use? Well, for me it is, but for others, it may not work. Many musicians like to start with the lyrics and melody first, but this is simply a preference. With this in mind are you now ready to become a songwriter? Hey, as long as you have the desire, and some musical talent, of course you are. So what are you waiting for? Pick-up your instrument, or pick-up that pen and start creating.
Mr. McCartney, I salute you. Sixty-nine years old and still rocking! I wrote a blog about my group Koncrete Kite last week in where I was proud of the fact that we, as a band, have been performing for over thirty years. Well, that’s a drop in the bucket when you compare it to all the performance this particular Beatle has done for over the past fifty-one years. Fifty-one years … that’s simply unheard of this day and age. If not already, I would imagine that it must be close to a Guinness World Record for performances by a musician over that timeframe. I do not know of any other musician, with the exception of possibly Ringo, who has performed on stage as long as Paul McCartney.
Last Friday night I had the privilege of watching Paul perform his On the Run tour live in New York City. And in typical Beatle fashion, he didn’t perform at just any venue. No, he performed in a venue fit for a Beatle – Yankee Stadium. I still recall a scalper outside of the stadium yelling at a woman who was trying to low ball him on the price of a ticket. I believe he said, “You can’t see no Pau McCartney at no Yankee Stadium for forty dollars?!?”. Suffice to say, he didn’t sell her a ticket. That was her mistake. She should have doubled her offer. Paul put on a show of a lifetime.
My wife and I flew up from Tampa earlier that afternoon and after a three-hour flight, one-hour cab ride, and forty minute subway ride (D train baby) , we arrived at the door step of Yankee Stadium just minutes before the show began. We had just enough time to grab a shirt, some beers, and find our seats. This was my first trip into the new Yankee Stadium, and I have to admit, I was impressed. What a beautiful ballpark. I’m going to have to go back some time to actually watch a game. We had a seat behind home plate (Paul performed in the outfield), kicked back in our cushioned chairs, and put our feet up on the bannister in front of us. We were ready to rock.
He opened with Hello- Goodbye a classic from the Magical Mystery Tour album and continued to play hit after hit after hit from The Beatles, to The Wings, to his current songs released over the past decade. One of my favorites was when he performed The Night Before off of the Help album as he said, “This is the first time we’ve ever performed this song live.” If you closed your eyes, you would have sworn John and George were harmonizing right along with him. He then continued to entertain the masses with hits like Paperback Writer, Eleanor Rigby, Something, A Day in the Life, and a slew of other classics. I truly felt like I was at a Beatle concert.
Not only was the music spot on, his voice held up just fine thank you, but his demeanor was wonderful. He truly appreciated his audience. He took the time to speak with us between songs, he acknowledged some cards being held up (one particular one said – Hey Paul, I’m Jude), and he told some great stories. My wife was particularly pleased when he shared the back-story to why he wrote Blackbird, which he also performed flawlessly. Finally he shared a little joke. Considering we were at Yankee Stadium, he came out and said, “Who is this Derek Jeter guy? I hear he has more hits than I do.” His response from the audience was in typical Yankee Stadium fashion with a hearty salute of Paul Mc-Cart-ney stomp –stomp-stomp-stomp-stomp.
Of course he played the classics like Let it Be, and Hey Jude. At one point asking the men and women to sing along separately to the na-na-na parts. Personally I think the men had better voices (the women sounded like children), but my wife disagrees. During the encore he busted out tunes like Lady Madonna, Day Tripper, and Get Back finally ending with The End during the second encore. My only regret is that I didn’t bring the kids, they would have loved this show. So again, I salute you Paul McCartney. I only hope I get one more opportunity to see him perform before he finally decides to hang it all up, but considering his condition, energy, and showmanship, I think I’ll get that chance.
Many of you have seen me write in the past about my participation in a group called Koncrete Kite and many have asked … whom, or what is Koncrete Kite? This is my brief overview of my band and our history.
Who are Koncrete Kite? First and foremost, we are brothers. This is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing of course is that we’ve grown together as brothers and musicians over a thirty-year period of writing, recording, and performing together. I don’t think a band consisting of friends, or acquaintances could have lasted as long as we have unless they were placed under contract by a label, or paid professionally to do what we have done. We’ve released three CD’s, and are about to release the fourth. We have written hundreds of songs and every year, the material gets more elaborate and creative. This is all attributed to growing and staying together. That in itself is a blessing.
The curse of course is that we are brothers. The amount of fighting that comes up when we write, record, and perform tends to rip the band apart. This has happened over every CD we’ve ever recorded (with the exception of the first) and will continue to happen because, let’s face it, music is a very personal expression and there are many different interpretations of how a song should sound and be created. The beauty is that because we are brothers, we eventually make-up and start to play nice once again. This leads to more writing and recording and to the eventual break-up after another album.
We are aspiring musicians. Collectively as a band we can play the guitar, bass, drums, piano, trumpet, saxophone, and of course use a wide variety of vocals. The members are, in no particular order: Rich – drums and vocals. Chris – bass, guitars, and vocals, Greg – guitars, and of course myself, guitars, bass, and lead vocals. We are no stranger to the recording studio and have been recording music since our childhood. If memory serves, our first song was recorded in a small studio in Sayreville, NJ back in 1983. Our fourth CD is now being recorded at Red Room studios in Tampa.
We are performers. We have performed live music for over thirty years. Our first show was at a battle of the bands and our last performance was at a palooza party a few months back. We have performed across the country from small venues to well known establishments. We have performed in front of family, friends, and AR executives. We’ve done the club circuit. We’ve played through a monsoon. We’ve played everywhere from isolated islands to radio stations (both live and recorded). We will continue to perform and entertain family and friends until we can’t play any longer.
Finally, we are rock and roll. If you were looking for the ingredients that make-up the inspiration of our music, look at the classics. Take a cup of The Beatles, a dash of Nirvana, a pinch of Kiss, and a splash of Pearl Jam. Marinate that with a mixture of Queen and Van Halen, and blend it all together with some Led Zeppelin. Pour that in a pan and place it in the oven. This last step is important, make sure you let it bake for about thirty years. The result of this delicious combination is who we are and the meal is called Koncrete Kite.
So, there you have it. Koncrete Kite is a rock band consisting of brothers. I guess I could have said that from the beginning, but as you might have surmised by looking at my career track record, I tend to drag things out. If anyone reading this is interested in sampling some music, or obtaining a CD, please let me know. I’m always happy to oblige with a slice of banana bread.
It came and went just like a blur. When my novel was published, I knew there would be some marketing implications involved with the selling of the book, so mentally I was prepared for this, but I admit, when I was told to prepare for my first radio interview, well … I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was a bit anxious. It’s not as if I was new to this sort of thing. I’ve actually done quite a few interviews and performances on the radio with my band, Koncrete Kite, in the past. But that was with my band, my brothers. This time I was going solo.
I wasn’t exactly sure how I should approach this one. Should I prepare notes, or just wing it. Being that I’m a bit of a procrastinator, I chose the latter and didn’t think much more about it until the day before the interview. Suddenly it dawned on me that I didn’t know anything about either the interviewer, or the station. Would this person toss me some softball questions about my book, or would they grill me on the subject matter? After all, who was I to write about Atlantis? What do I know about the lost city? What qualifies me to write about this topic? The seeds of doubt started growing in my mind. What if I couldn’t answer their questions?
After allowing myself a few moments to run through a number of worst-case scenarios that could possibly arise from this brief experiment in public speaking, I stopped, took a deep breath, and just relaxed. Clearly I was over analyzing this. They’re just going to ask me a few questions about my book. What was I so nervous about? I mean, I did write it, I should know the answers. It’s not like they were going to ask me to discuss the history of Atlantis … or would they?
When the time finally arrived, I was well prepared. Even though I told myself I wouldn’t, I did my homework and read up everything I could about Atlantis. I couldn’t leave anything to chance. By the time of the interview I could tell you who else wrote about it, filmed it, where it first originated from, etc. I’m not sure if it was a relief, or a disappointment that I didn’t get to share any of this newfound knowledge.
Before I knew it, the interview was over and I had a blast. The interviewer couldn’t have been more professional. He prepared me for what we would discuss, made me feel very relaxed, and best of all, mentioned to me that the interview would be recorded; therefore it could be edited. Now being a musician, that’s all I needed to hear. I’ve had my share of overdubs in the past.
In the end, I thought I did okay; at least they said I did okay. I don’t know, I never heard it myself. You be the judge. It just so happens that I have another radio spot coming up this week and I would love some feedback. As far as preparing for the next one, this much I do know … I plan on having fun with it.