Influenced

When I sat down here in the spare bedroom that I thought I’d be using as my “music room,” but has just been acting as “the room I hang my laundry in,” I wasn’t sure what I’d write. But It became clear what I’d write about today when I looked over at Catherine there on my phone through the magic of FaceTime. Oh, what a time we live in.  

I wish I could say I started typing this of my own volition, but Catherine pulled on the motivation strings today. When I think about it, she’s been tugging on those motivation strings for the last few months. And I’m okay with that. Catherine asked me yesterday if I’ve been writing, and I embarrassingly replied, “no.” I laughed nervously and responded with, “honestly, I should just be striving to write just 15 minutes a day, of any kind of writing.” She said, “yeah, you should… I’ll call you from work, and you’ll have to write for 15 minutes with me while I work.” I didn’t realize she meant today because she woke me up with a facetime and an enthusiastic “get up! Work with me!”

The last few months I’ve spent watching her fall asleep, and she’s been waking my lazy ass up. When you say it like that, it seems like I have the harder part of this arrangement, but I don’t just watch her fall asleep, okay? She found this cheap little adapter on Amazon that allows me to turn off and on whatever she has plugged into it from an app on my phone. So sometimes she’ll fall asleep watching me on Facetime while I’m at a gig, and I’ll make sure I turn off the lantern she has plugged in mid-song. Other times I’ll be at home, and I’ll sing her to sleep while I sit in my computer chair and play my nylon string guitar and sing in as much of a whisper as I possibly can. Sometimes she’ll fall asleep while I chop up veggies for whatever I’m cooking for dinner. Luckily she falls asleep relatively quickly when she’s tired. I’m talking 1-3 songs max! Anyway, she woke me up today to have me write while she works, but I resist a little until the weight of knowing she’s been at work for 6 hours hits me, and I roll myself out of bed. 

It’s not just with the writing thing that she’s helped me stay more on top of. We started a weight loss competition between the two of us a few weeks ago, and I’ve been really on top of my diet for two weeks now. I’m not saying she’s been participating in the competition yet, but she’s been very busy at work, as well as hosting her mom at her place, so I’ll give her a pass for now. She’ll tell me that’s not an excuse, but I understand. She only has to lose 10 pounds while I have to lose 20 pounds, so she’s in the clear for now, since I’m only down about 4 pounds. Sometimes she’ll FaceTime me during the day while she’s working from home, and I’ll feel guilty and go through emails and whatnot. I’m beginning to realize I do have a lot of these clerical type things to take care of, even as a musician. There are checks to deposit, contracts, invoices to send out, and emails to reply to. Sometimes I’ll also clean my place, so she doesn’t see a mess when we’re FaceTiming. I even started running again so that when I go and visit her in SD, we can go running together with her dog Ilio. 

The thing is, she hasn’t asked me to do any of these things. She just silently makes me want to follow through on things I should be more responsible with. It’s a welcomed influence I’m incredibly grateful for. I can’t wait for her to wake me up tomorrow. 

It’s been a while

So yeah… it’s been a while.

My excuse would be, “this gig life of mine has been taking up all of my time, so there’s no time for blogging!” The sad truth is, I’m probably just lazy. I have a ton of free time when I’m not gigging. 

Anyway, I made it back for my annual blog entry to get my money’s worth here. How about a little update with what’s been happening this past year and a half I’ve been M.I.A. from WordPress:

  1. Gigging. A lot. Currently, I have six weekly gigs on the schedule. Although that changes week to week when I need to take a quick trip to San Diego (more on that later) or take a private gig. Gosh, it’s been almost ten months since Eating House 1849 Kapolei closed (back in March 2019). That spot had a special place in my heart, being the first venue to hire me to play there regularly. My Solo gigs right now are Eating House 1849 Waikiki, Doraku Sushi (Kakaako), Merrimans Honolulu, Amuse Wine Bar, Shore Fyre (International Market Place), and Goen (Kailua). Still doing the once a month gig with my Smooth Remedy brothers at the Honolulu Club on random Wednesdays every month. We’ll be there tonight! 
  2. Uncle Status!  Dang, my two best friends had their first kids this past year! Aaron had his daughter, who just turned one this past December 7th, and Kamaehu had his son on April 25th, 2019. I admit I don’t see them as often as I’d like to. I’ll make a stronger effort to get them to remember my face and voice this year 🙂 
  3. San Diego. I went to San Diego to watch John Mayer play a concert at SDSU last September, and I left San Diego quite smitten. Not with John Mayer, though he’s excellent, and an idol of mine. But with a girl I reconnected with from Intermediate/High School days, though, she reiterates that we were not friends in High School. I fly back home after watching a Zac Brown band concert with her, and next thing I know, we’re texting a bunch, then FaceTiming for sometimes 2-3 hours every day. And I look forward to it, every day 🙂 Going to see where this thing goes, but I’ll say that I’ll be carefully revaluating my living situation/location for the future. 
  4. Photography. I’ve leaned into that aspect of my life a bit more in the last year and a half, due to the extra time that I usually have as a gigging musician. I’ve got this one friend specifically who’s been very generous with her time and knowledge. Darcy Fiero Photography, check out her stuff. Go, do it, you won’t be disappointed. She’s known as the lady who photographs the sunset almost every day, probably why she’s so good at it. She’s very protective of her locations, and rightfully so, but she’s been kind enough to let me in on that information, though I’m sworn to secrecy! I’ve also had a couple of friends pay me in a professional capacity to take photos for their work. It’s been sometimes a stressful learning experience, but still all fun.
  5. Songwriting. I attended, for the first time, the Hawaii Songwriting Festival on the Big Island this past year. The most important thing I got out of it was that I’m an idiot for not going the previous few years that I was aware of its existence. I genuinely believe there’s nothing like it in the world, as far as the proximity to powerhouses in the music industry goes. If someone told me I’d get songwriting tips, for a song I wrote, from John Cruz, a local songwriting idol of mine growing up in Hawaii, and Kenny Loggins, a global songwriting idol of mine growing up with his albums playing in the house, I would have laughed in your face! I remember how proud I was to tell my dad afterward that Kenny Loggins played my guitar! I could dive deep into the festival, but maybe another time. The bottom line is I’m going back, as often as I can. I’m not writing as much as I’d like to, but I’m writing a lot more than I have the past few years, so we’ll call it a win for now.

I’d say that’s enough for now. I told my San Diego friend that I’d try and write on here more frequently, and not tell anyone about it, in hopes that this can be a public but secret diary. 

Till next time (hopefully next week), adios.

Shane

Update: Friday, July 20, 2018

It’s been over a year since my last post, and I realize I’ve been paying for this blog, so I better start getting my moneys worth!

What’s new? I’ve been gigging a lot, I’m up to 5 weekly gigs, and possibly picking up a 6th.  Moved in with my Aunty and Uncle, and cousin & girlfriend, last October. Travelled to Japan in April with the Domingo clan and friends for a couple weeks. We totally lucked out, got to experience full bloom in Tokyo!

D75_6752.jpg

Nuts yeah?! Also I took that picture. Maybe I’ll do a Japan post later. Only a few months late.

I travelled back to LA for the first time in ages to play at a friend’s wedding in the deep hills of Malibu. Congrats again Staci and Justin!

D75_7387.jpg

There’s the view of the pacific ocean from the day before the wedding.

Also met up with my friend Taryn, my best friends younger sister who works at this bougie-ass hotel in Beverly hills, and she treated me to brunch. Ate this dessert there with real gold powder on it. I was worth a little bit more for a few hours after that.

What else… Oh Smooth Remedy finally hosted a songwriting retreat out in Ka’a’awa this June, and it was scary, wonderful, eye opening, and exciting. We didn’t get a huge turnout, be we had two quality attendees. Our two very much local haole friends, Mr. Noah Meyers and Tim Rose. We were so exited that we planned our next songwriting retreat before we left that weekend. September we’ll do it all over again 🙂

Speaking of songwriting, I’m going to admit I haven’t been writing, like at all. The songwriting retreat really helped sparked the flame again, but before that I had gotten comfortable in just gigging. Or at least that’s the excuse I told myself when in fact I’m just scared. But again, the songwriting retreat really gave me the confidence to start writing again, so hopefully will be making moves in that department!

Oh! I also began taking singing lessons from my old buddy from high school, Renson Madarang. He was actually in the first iteration of our band, Smooth Remedy, and played saxophone for us. How crazy is it that we had no idea he sang, and now he sings opera and is going to school for vocology. He’s really stressing not changing my voice, the voice that makes me Shane, but developing and strengthening that voice. We’re working toward singing in a manner that is healthy and sustainable for the rest of my life, and that’s extremely exciting. For a while now I’ve worried about the possibility of not being able to sing in 5-10 years, because I had a feeling that the way I was choosing to sing was destructive to my vocal chords. So Renson has really given me peace of mind, and I’m so stoked for our future working together.

Currently chillin’ in Starbucks in Kapolei, bumming some free wifi, waiting to go setup for my usual Friday gig at Eating House 1849 Kapolei. Taking care of emails, invoices, contracts, and the calendar, and sipping on some cold brew heavily doused in half and half. Started doing Keto again, so I’m all about that heavy cream life. As I typed that, my stomach gurgled, saying, “maybe you shouldn’t have taken all of those omega fat pills earlier…” So with that I will end this entry for now and ask these kind Starbucks employees for the bathroom door code.

Bottom line is… Life is good 🙂

 

 

Free Write… Mistaken

In an effort to write more, I will occasionally just employ the help of a writing prompt to get the juices going. This writing prompt did just that. Even though it’s a short story, it brings back such funny and painful memories.

Write about a time when you were mistaken:

It was 2005, and a few weeks before the start of Senior year. We were having our summer Concert Glee camp, which meant a week of dorm life and zero parental guidance. We were the “big dogs on campus” being seniors, and we basked in our seniority over the underclassman. We had meals at Akahi Dining hall which was amazing, because not only was the food great as always, but we shared the campus with other “clubs” like orchestra, band, and cheerleading, so we saw them at meals and in passing. However, this story has nothing to do with the other clubs or the amazing dining hall food, and everything to do with our own club.

I can’t remember when it all started exactly, but I began noticing long glances from a particular girl in Concert Glee. She was a grade below me, and being a dancer, she was very fit. She had a very pronounced back as I remember we’d always joke that she must own a bowflex. She was a good looking girl, I just wasn’t interested in her that way. Another girl at the time had all of my attention which is another story in itself.

It finally all came to a head when she pulled me aside one night. I just thought, “oh here we go!” Being the big bad senior, I decided to lead off the interaction before it could go any further. A long explanation short, I told her something along the lines of being flattered that she liked me but I wasn’t interested in her that way. That was followed by a look of confusion and “oh shit,” from her, which was the moment that I realized I had fucked up.

What transpired next was so painful and embarrassing that I’m sure I blacked out for a moment and buried this memory deep inside until now. She told me that she wasn’t interested in me either, but that she was interested in my friend… I immediately flashed back to all the glances I thought I received from her and realized that my friend was sitting right next to me! Kudos to her, she didn’t make it weird for me after that or make me feel like a complete idiot, but I probably always felt that way around her.

So that was the time the “big bad senior” made an idiot of himself in front of an underclassmen. Come to think of it, that might be why I always assumed that girls were just not interested in me after that. They must be looking at the guy next to me haha. The mind is such a fickle thing.

Shane

What it do baby boo?

Checking in.

I feel kind of basic, but I’m sitting at a Starbucks sipping on a venti (large?) sweet cream cold brew. My eight months ago self would shutter at those words. It’s fine though… I totally used to judge people that came and “studied” at Starbucks. How could you possibly get any work done in a public place with so many characters and sounds and conversations? They’re all basically yelling at me in my peripherals to look up at them and at least pay them a glance.  Yet here I sit perfectly engaged in my computer screen paying no mind. Except this one dude that just walked in with his collar popped, aviators, and apparently lost the use of his top 4 buttons. Back to the screen.

I didn’t know what I was going to talk about here when I started typing, but going off of the whole focusing at Starbucks thing, it reminds me of this idea of enrollment that I heard of recently.  Being enrolled in something doesn’t mean just getting signed up. Enrollment means someone choosing to sign themselves up into something based on a deep rooted curiosity and interest in it.  It makes me think back on all those late night study sessions in the Von Der Ahe Library in college and having to sit in a study room with my back to the window in order to focus on the material in front of me. Maybe I was just signed up, but wasn’t engaged. I wasn’t enrolled. Makes complete sense now that I can’t remember what exactly I studied in those lonely library corners.

So what’s new? Finally started taking guitar lessons! Got a referral for Jim Cobb several months ago from my friend and fellow musician, Kristi Masuhara. She said her teacher can play anything and will definitely help me with whatever I want to improve on. Got his number and played phone tag with him for a couple weeks and I think we both just decided to stop. Then a few months later at my friend Izik’s show at the Doris Duke Theatre, I saw Jim playing guitar for him! So I reintroduced myself after the show and he let me know he’s just been extremely busy with gigs and a newborn, but was finally getting ready to take on new students. Perfect!

I’m now 3 lessons in, and every time I go back I’m worried I didn’t practice enough of what we worked on the lesson before, but we never do a recap and he never checks my progress on the previous lessons material, we just always learn something new. But don’t you worry your self, I’m still preparing myself for a pop quiz on all the stuff we’ve worked on just in case. It was all major and minor pentatonic scales for the first couple lessons. Now it’s Little Wing by Jimi Hendrix! I was always secretly jealous of all the guitar players that, when asked about their guitar influences, say they started with Jimi Hendrix, etc. etc. etc. My parents never played that stuff for me growing up okay?! Get off my back. I grew up on Clapton, Loggins and Messina, ZZ Top, The Eagles, C&K and Ka’au Crater boys. I was introduced to the guitar as a singer not as a curious wannabe shredder. Not to say I don’t want to be a shredder now!

Doing my best to make it easy for me to practice by leaving my guitar plugged into the looper/amp which is all plugged into one powerstrip in one corner of the bedroom. Next to that I keep my computer open with a blank word document open from the night before so it’s the first thing I see when I enter in my login password. It’s still a process, but I’m finally not feeling like a waste of time and space during the week. There are some Mondays and Tuesdays that I convince myself to take it easy since it’s my “weekend” after Saturday and Sunday gigs, but do I really need a weekend break like the normal 9-5’ers? Probably not. It’s just an excuse to be lazy, and I need to start cutting those excuses out.

Time to go to the gym for some deadlift training. Decided to go do a powerlifting meet in Vegas the week before Thanksgiving, so I’m training for that at the moment. Gotta be well rounded right?

Shoots.

Shane

Izik Musik Theatre

Before I say anything, just go here:

http://www.izikmuzik.com

then go here:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BJNO7PRhI9w/

Currently sitting at a closed Starbucks kiosk inside a 24 hour Safeway on Pi’ikoi. ANOTHER great location for endless access to drinks and snacks and WiFi! Just came from The Doris Duke Theatre at the Honolulu Museum of Art, spelt with an ‘re’ instead of an ‘er’. I asked google about the difference between ‘theatre’ vs. ‘theater’ and basically came to the conclusion that English is just dumb. I like to think theatre refers to the classy venues, where classy performances take place, with acts, intermissions, and “encore’s” yelled at a reasonable volume. Theaters are where I go to step on stale popcorn and spend a couple hours angered at obnoxious kids and their parents while The Hunger Games Par Deux plays in the background (I still don’t know what happened in that movie). I just went from inspired to red hot. Back to inspired.

Doris Duke Theatre was the stage for my friend’s concert, which was stacked with amazing musicians and backup singers that would sing most people under the table in a heartbeat. On top of that, as I looked into the audience I couldn’t help but notice that you could have made like 3 super bands out of the musicians in attendance. I am still star-struck by some of the people I get to say hello to. The main act tonight was Izik. I spend about 95% of the time listening to him with a ‘thizz face’ on, just repeating over and over in my head, “naaaaaasssstyyyy… ewww whaaaat?! Naaaaaaaasty…” I’m trying to remember the first time I heard Izik sing… It was probably around the time that he and his band won the Mai Tai rumble a few years ago. That was around the time me and the Smooth Remedy boys were getting all up in that Hawaii wedding scene and meeting a lot of cool musicians in the local music community here. I just remember thinking, this guy’s vocals are insane. You know when you hear or see some mega-talented person doing what you want to be doing  but then say, “I quit,” because he or she is just on some next level shit? Fun fact, my bandmate Kama texted me during the show and told me to let him know how it went. I replied “that was some next level shit.”

I could spend this whole post fan girl-ing over his vocals and the show, but the reason I wanted to sit in this Safeway and write was because of something Izik said between songs tonight.  He was explaining that a few years ago, he was dealing with the loss of his Grandmother. Izik was also waiting tables at a restaurant and had an exceptionally shitty hard day, and out of that place of being down and defeated came a song, and it healed him when he needed it.  I don’t know exactly what he said word for word, but the gist of it was that we all need to find our ways to heal our “naturally damaged” selves, and most importantly, figure out how we can heal others. He said, “for me and Jim (Jim Cobb, a super talented guitarist playing guitar for him tonight), it’s music. For my sister and my mom, it’s through education and teaching others.” This made me flash back to a conversation I had with my first boss at my last engineering job.  When I announced my plans to resign, he made it a point to take me to lunch that last week I was there. This guy is very old school, conservative, set in his ways, and says a lot of things I don’t agree with. But what I told him that Wednesday, at Mexico’s on School Street, was as follows:

Something like, “I remember one of the first things you said to me when I started working was to remember that through all the stress and late nights, we’re doing this job to help people. Not just the clients, but doing quality work helps the company, which helps our coworkers and their families. I totally get that we’re helping people, and that’s great… But I just have this deep feeling that I can help people more through music than I ever could through engineering…

I said that to him. I didn’t know how he was going to receive that, but he received it.  Luckily I’ve played music at like two of his kid’s grad parties over the years, and also he’s a fan of music. I don’t remember what he said after that, but I think he accepted it, and wished me success.

When Izik talked about healing others, I instantly was reminded why I left my job in the first place. Call it coincidence or just lucky timing, but recently there have been little events happening in my life to remind me of the “why” and also to write it down where I can see it and remember it.  So in the spirit of that. I’ll write it down here.

 

SHANE, THIS MUSIC ISN’T FOR YOU, IT’S FOR THEM

 

Okay, that was short enough to remember.

Again, go check out Izik, and also his talented friends that were backup singing tonight, Keilana Mokulehua and DeAndre Brackensick. I met Keilana at a singing competition a few years ago, which she won for the girl’s side.  I was super impressed back then, but it’s like she went 1000% in on practice for that whole time after we met, and if angels do exist, I imagine they sound like her. It’s like soft and sweet, calming and motherly, but then powerful and soulful at the same time. If I have my thizz face on 95% of the time for Izik, I got it on like 99% of the time for DeAndre.  His legs must be tired… from doing all those vocal runs. My brain can’t even process most of the stuff he sings.  They did a short acoustic set between Izik’s album music, sharing a song each of their own creation. The song DeAndre shared tonight harmonizing with Keilana and Izik gave me chicken skin. “Looooooooooove, was the excuse for us, when we both know that it was not enough…” I’m buying that one on itunes when it comes out for sure. Keilana’s song, Ascendant, was about the mask we put on to act like certain things aren’t bothering us inside. As they both spoke about their songs, I was reminded that we’re all alike, we’re all nervous to be vulnerable and share that side of us with strangers, even friends!

Keilana’s song:

View this post on Instagram

•COTTON CANDY FEELINGS• original

A post shared by K E I L A N A | MUSIC (@keilanamusic) on

OH!!! So I found out tonight that there’s going to be a show at the Blue Note on September 25th with my buddy Tim Rose, but also Izik, Keilana, and DeAndre. It’s going to be “Nashville writer’s round” style as he put it. Just some microphones, some bar stools, some originals, and some stories about those songs. I’m so pumped for that. My best friend Aaron, who lived in Nashville for like almost 4 years, told me about writer’s rounds there, and I’ve wanted to see one ever since. Especially with this group up on stage. August 25th at The Blue Note.

Well I promised Tim I’d go read this book tonight that he highly recommended. So I’m going to get to that. I’m so inspired by all of these people popping into my life over the last several years in the world of music. One of the main reasons I decided not to move to Washington this year was because I’d be a damn fool to go there when they’re all here. Thanks for inspiring me old friends and new friends. So excited for the future for all of us. Congratulations Izik on an amazing show! Sorry if I got any quotes wrong or whatever, not like anyone reads this 🙂

– Fan girl

Be Better

First off, this 7-Eleven on South and Queen Street across from the Honolulu Fire Department is the sh*t, as the kids would say it nowadays. Unlimited access to drinks and snacks, a nice seating area with an ATM and a copy machine and Free WiFi from the FedEx next door. Ah-mazing. Alright, back on track.

Podcasts. They’re a lot cheaper than audiobooks, so that’s been my choice for passing the time behind the wheel lately.  If you’ve ever talked to me about books, you’ll know I’m more of a practical guy. Probably 95% of the books on my kindle are non-fiction. However, I’m slowly learning the value in fiction writing, since that might be useful for my current pursuits. Anyway, last week I was listening to one of Tim Ferris’ podcasts (A very non-fiction-y, educational type podcast) with Seth Godin. Seth talks about branding and marketing, and it finally clicked with me… The reason why Island Event Logistics and Smooth Remedy have been doing so well over the last few years.

Let’s talk about branding. He says, our brand is the promise that we make, implicitly, or explicitly. Brands that keep their promises are consistent, and earn trust. I think most importantly he says that we have a brand whether we want one or not. Branding doesn’t occur only at meetings or consultations with clients, they happen at every interaction whether it’s at the grocery store, post office, or 7-Eleven. I often forget that someone is always watching, getting a first impression, or a last impression. We’ve definitely had our slipups here and there, but in general we’ve had very positive interactions with clients and potential clients. Seth says your brand is a story that helps people tell themselves a story about you. Whether it’s how you get things done on time, your accent, how tall you are, or even how you spell your name. Sometimes these stories are just outright unfair because they don’t really know you. There is just no way for anyone to know you that deeply, to get the full scope of your brand that only you know. Seth says it’s our job to “consistently and persistently show up in a way that amplifies that brand.”

Now that I got that information section out of the way, here’s the part that finally clicked. The feeling I’ve been having, but couldn’t quite put into words. Seth says this:

“You’re not getting that gig because you do a commodity a little cheaper than everyone. You’re getting that gig because you’re better. Better at knowing them. Better at being flexible. Better at going the extra mile. Better at keeping your promises. That we un-commoditize our work by making our work more human.”

I know there are tons of musicians out there that are better performers, better singers, and have better musicality than us. There are other companies that have more lights and workers than us. But we’ve made a name for ourselves by being accommodating, friendly, problem solvers not finger pointers, and maybe most important of all, genuine. We had to go through that phase of saying “yes” to everything we were offered, and we probably were hired because we were just a cheaper commodity.  I don’t know if that’s what it takes in every situation, but that’s the route we took. It’s exciting to transition into a new period of having the gut and wisdom to choose wisely between all of the opportunities. To a bride and groom, a wedding musician’s work is a commodity. The lights are a commodity. We “un-commoditized” our work when we put being a ‘better human being’ first, and a ‘doing a business transaction’ second. I don’t know how much other musicians or lighting companies charge, but I can tell you with confidence that we aren’t getting business because we are a cheaper commodity. We’re getting business because we try to care a little more, and provide peace of mind to our clients because we will go to battle to deliver more than what we promise, and more than what they expect. That’s how we’ve chosen showing up to amplify that truth in our brand.

The future is exciting, and I know I’m in the right place with the right people to share that future with.

-Shane

 

 

I didn’t explode?

The last time I posted was back in February, right before I ended my career as a civil engineer. A lot has happened since then! One of which was a promise to post on here pretty often. But let’s not get caught up in the details. Hands down one of the most memorable events these past several months happened tonight, or I should say Friday night, as it’s now 2:23am Saturday.

A friend I met through the music scene, Dhevhan Keith, posted about a Singer/Songwriter contest, which he was an organizer for. It was being held at Lola’s Grill, which was previously Champions Bar. First off, I gotta say Jed and the staff there really changed the atmosphere of that place. I walk in and see large head shots of famous local celebrities and musicians covering almost every wall. Rap Replinger, Andy Bumatai, John Cruz, Brother Noland, and so on. A stage sits to the left of the front door and  you immediately know, they mean business when it comes to live music. I will definitely be back. Now back to the competition.

I see Dhevhan’s post on Facebook and think, “don’t think, sign up right now.” Well I didn’t sign up like I had just told myself to do, because let’s be honest, I was scared. It was always in the back of my mind after that, until a couple weeks later my other friend Amanda Frazier posted it on her Facebook page and mention that she’d be one of the judges. If I’m going to play an original for a bunch of strangers, I’d love it if she was one of the ears in attendance because I respect and admire her a lot as a musician and songwriter. She won a Na Hoku Hanohano award back in 2014! Anyway, 5 minutes after seeing her post, I was signed up and regretting it with every scared bone in my body.

Maybe I’m being dramatic, but my emotions ran the gamut this week in anticipation of stepping on stage tonight. It’s been a long time since I was this nervous to play music in front of people. In an explanation to a friend a few days ago, I tried to make sense of my nervousness to her. Basically I’ve been playing covers my whole life, and after the initial fear of performing music in front of people for the first few years, a feeling of pure enjoyment took over.  Gigs have just been fun, plain and simple. But playing tried and true covers for people is easy if you do a half decent interpretation, if not a carbon copy, of these already popular songs. People love to hear these songs and are pleasantly surprised if you can do them well enough. I explained that I’m a ‘nobody’, in the most positive sense of the word, as far as the songwriting music scene here goes. That could actually be a blessing since there isn’t any hype or expectation based on my previous works for anyone to lean on while listening to me. Virgin ears to my music.

BUT THOSE EMOTIONS THO!!! My hands were sweating all night while listening to the other artists perform their music. On a few occasions I said to myself, “thank goodness I’m not going after them!” I managed to do a well timed buzz using the Heineken on draft and making small talk with people next to me, to mitigate the bad nerves and coax the confident nerves out. Dhevhan called my name to play, and any confident nerves that were curious enough to poke their heads out immediately shot back into their shells. I set up my guitar and pulled up a chair, because well, I’m lazy, and standing is hard. I dropped my iPad on the stand in front of me which acted like a mini  lectern to hide behind in addition to my guitar. Also, a side note, I totally almost misused the word ‘podium’ in place of ‘lectern’. I was allowed one warm up song before my original piece, and only up until I finished tuning my guitar on stage, did I settle on A Thousand Miles by Vanessa Carlton to warm up with. Why? I dunno, I thought maybe it would get the attention of at least one person before I tried the original song. But apparently I didn’t need to get anyone’s attention because there was a sizable cheering section in there for me by chance. A friend happened to be there with her coworkers and coerced them into cheering for me. I specifically didn’t tell anyone about this so I could kind of just fade into the background and get an honest reaction from people. But in the end I can’t say the cheering didn’t yank some confident nerves back out, so thanks cheerleaders. Vanessa Carlton: done. That was the easy part of the night.

I hit that home button on my iPad and swiped that bad boy on, revealing song lyrics and chord annotations for my song. I had a moment of panic when I read the first verse because I thought, “wait those aren’t the right lyrics!” Then, “Shane, you’re an idiot, get your sh*t together, the words are fine.”  I explained to the audience that I wrote this song right before I turned in my resignation letter and put that Civil Engineering life behind me. Too scared to say anything else, I went back into my hiding spot behind the mic and strummed the first chord: C. Then I blacked out. Not really, but I basically closed my eyes the whole song because I was so terrified, only opening them to check in on those lyrics. You know, to make sure they were doing okay there on my iPad. My song was short and sweet and it felt like it was over as soon as it started. My obnoxious friends and her coworkers spammed the airwaves with “hana hou!” so I busted out a Taylor Swift cover for them and scurried off the stage.

Remember how I wrote about closing my eyes the whole time?  I walked over to Amanda and her bass player Ernie, who by the way is freaking awesome and I’m always stoked to see and share a good bear hug with the man. Their first critique was that I need to open my eyes when I sing. So I heard them, and knew they were absolutely 100% right, but my irrational fears had closed my eyes and I’d just have to work on it next time. And guess what? I didn’t explode, the world didn’t end in a ball of fire, Donald Trump didn’t become the president, cat’s didn’t befriend dogs, and I was still alive!

I’ve played this song for a few friends. Some of which were songwriters, some just fans of music, and some just fans of me. But it’s different playing it for strangers, and I’m so relieved that my first time playing an original for strangers was in front of the crowd that was there tonight. Before I went on, one of my best friends texted me that this is what I wanted, and the nerves are just telling me that I’m growing and progressing. He also said he was proud of me, which was just what I needed to hear.

So in light of not spontaneously combusting into a supernova and imploding into a blackhole, I think this is definitely what I want to be doing right now. Writing songs, and playing them for complete strangers, with the occasional familiar pair of ears listening in.

Cheers to the future and more music!

 

It’s time.

Monday marks the last day of my tenure at R.M. Towill Corporation. I would have made 6 years in July…That was quite the lengthy experiment!
For the people that have told me that maybe I just need to work for a different civil engineering company, I’ll just say this. NOPE. RMTC has been the perfect storm to keep pushing that internal debate in my head of, “is this my calling… is there where I see myself in 20 years?”  If there’s one thing I learned about RMTC, it’s this: if you love engineering, you belong at RMTC. If you don’t love it or want to just get by and make a living, you won’t last more than 5 and a half years.
Now I can wonder all I want, about where I’d be if I dove into music 10 years ago like my gut wanted me to, but I don’t think I would have succeeded the same way that I have the chance to succeed now.. I will face the same failures that I would have faced if I started 10 years ago, but my mentality has matured such that those same failures would have affected me much differently if I could say, “what if I tried engineering, I would have done well at that…” Now all I can say to myself is, “NO SHANE, ENGINEERING IS DEFINITELY NOT WHAT YOU SHOULD BE DOING.” It’s true, figuring out what you don’t want is as good as figuring out what you do want! I have no more what-if’s left, and only “what’s next.” I’m only scared because I’m jumping into a hole that I can’t see the bottom of. My only hope is that in the end, it was all just an allusion, and there really is no solid ground to land on. In that case, maybe I just needed to jump… and without any ground to crash into, at what point does falling just become flying?
Ready. Set. Go.

5th Wheel

It’s been a crazy last few years. I’ve lost some people, and met some new ones. One of my best friends got married, and my other best friend got engaged. There’s no way to express how excited I am for all of their futures. There just isn’t.

For a couple years now, I’ve been the 5th wheel of the group whenever we go out. However, it hasn’t ever bothered me. If you don’t count the few times that Jenn begged me to find a girlfriend, so she has someone to hangout with when she helps us at gigs, they’ve never made me feel like I needed to find that 6th wheel, or that I even am the 5th wheel.

A few days ago, it dawned on me, that I am the 5th wheel. Not in the usual way that you’d expect a 5th or 3rd wheel to be, but actually the steering wheel. But hold up! I don’t think that highly of myself, to self title…myself, as being the figurative steering wheel of the group, and whatever duties or traits that might imply. I’m more like the steering wheel on the kiddie car ride you find outside of a super market. You know the ones you walk by as an adult and say to your friend, “eh, dollar I can still fit in that.” Yeah, I said it, I’m the kiddie car steering wheel of my friends.

Don’t feel bad for me though. I take pride in knowing that even though I don’t actually do any steering of the other 4 wheels, it’s not a car without it, and you still wouldn’t get on the ride without that steering wheel. It’s just not the same 🙂