Tuesday, October 30, 2007

FARSCAPE Convention. Issue #21

Since I've returned from tour, I've spent the last couple of days and last week preparing for my Thursday departure to Burbank, CA to perform with Gigi Edgley. We'll be performing at the annual FARSCAPE convention which was the show she appeared in for a number of years. She'll be debuting her new album, "So It Seems...", for the fans and we'll be performing Friday night at the convention's cabaret event. I guess what happens is that that night each of the main actors have a 20-minute slot which is all theirs, and that's when we go on.

It's been a bit of a challenge figuring out how to translate these songs from what are essentially electronica-styled tunes to acoustic guitar and her voice (which is how we'll be playing them live this time). It helps a little bit though considering when I wrote the songs, that's how they were written before they had all the beeps and boops of production. Hopefully the audience will be able to appreciate the different interpretations, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it will be received.

Like I said in earlier posts, it is the first time an album has been released by another artist that I have produced. I'm not sure if other producers end up (if at all) emotionally connected to artist's albums they've worked on, but I definitely am with this one. I really hope it does well, and I'm just as excited for her release as I am for my own later in the month.

I'll include a video to give you an idea of what these conventions are like, but imagine a slightly scaled down version of Star-Trek fanaticism. From the stories Gigi has told me, emphasis on the word "slightly"! Needless to say, I'm taking my camera FOR SURE, and expect to come back with some good stories.

In other news, I had a really nice birthday (28) last Thursday, and took some time to reflect on one of the worst, and best years I've had in a long time. The first half of the year was not what you would call good times, but that quickly changed when I found myself in the path of some very fortunate opportunities, and I was lucky enough to have my good friends and new ones help me move into an exciting new point in my life. Not wanting to sound preachy, but if you are feeling like I was 12 months ago, it is true that things can turn around in ways that you cannot imagine at the time.

"Everyone is worthy of amazing things if we continue to believe we are."

If that's hard for you to digest (or if you think I'm full of shit), know I'm working on that one too...

Thanks for reading, and see you next week.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Return Of The Mack. GIANT-SIZED Issue #19/20

Home Sweet Home!

Yesterday, TJ Sherrill and I got back from our 11-Day Tour that took us through Washington, Idaho, and Oregon. I knew that it was going to be a great trip if only from the omen I received the night before when I met Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam at a BRAD show at the Highdive. For those who don't know, that I'm a HUGE PJ fan, and this was like meeting Santa Claus for me (still hope to). His guitar style has had a massive influence on my own music since I started playing at 13. I told him this, and after setting down his guitar to shake my hand, you can imagine I was pretty much over the moon. Unapologetically, it was one of the few times I have had to resort to stalker-ish ways by following him out of the club on the way to his car to meet him. You gotta do what you gotta do...

Like I said, an omen right? TJ and I hit the road on Thursday morning early as we had our first show in Coeur D'Alene that night. A little over 4 hours later, we hit the "base camp" for the next 5 days in the form of his good friend's Tawnya and Zack's house. If you've been reading the blog the last couple months, you may remember that this is the house where they have all the cool paintings that I wanted to steal last time we stayed there. Zack is REALLY good. We luckily had a few moments to chill before heading the the MOONTIME CAFE, an "Old-Town Ale House-ish" like place (Ballard Fans, you know what I'm saying), that was kind enough to provide dinner for us as well as fair compensation for our services. This meal providing situation is something we encountered a lot on the tour and I have to say it makes a big difference in feeling like the club values having you there. I don't think I've ever experienced this meal "situation" in Seattle venues, and I think it needs to start happening for musicians across the board...EVERYWHERE. Hey Seattle, you say you're one of the most hospitable cities, huh? Let's start to act like it! (Rant=done).

TJ has a lot of friends in this area, and it was nice to spend the evening playing music for great people and getting a good first show under our belts.

The next night took us on a drive to Spokane to play at the CATERINA WINERY. This is what I would say is one of the best nights we had in terms of the crowd being into it without knowing us, and just a great overall experience. From the moment we walked into Caterina, it just smelled GOOD. It was that sweet fragrant fruity smell reminiscent of other wineries (and your girlfriend when you were in 8th grade) I have been to and that alone got me really excited to play. We met local booking agent Patrick Kendrick who has really been putting together good shows over in Spokane, and did an amazing job at bringing people out to see two singer/songwriters from Seattle who they hadn't heard of before. A really attentive audience who was into participating in the music for both TJ and I, and for Spokane local Mark Ford (think Damien Rice). We will definitely be making a stop back here next time, but I have to be honest and say I did not sing very good this night though, and that through me off a bit. :( I suppose I can blame it on people's cigarette smoke from the night before at Moontime, but more realistically it was because I changed the set list up on random shuffle instead of sticking with the five or so sets I know work pacing/key/feel-wise. Sometimes I'm like the that sticks his hand on the burner to see if its hot, but unlike the kid that learns, I for some reason keep doing it. This was one of those situations, and for a tour where we were playing many nights in a row, I decided to not do that again. That is until the next time...

Ambiance+Fun People+Good Wine=GREAT NIGHT!

Next up was a Saturday night show at IONIC BURRITO. Yes, that was the real name of the venue and we were told by the locals the night before that it was originally called "SONIC BURRITO". That is, until SONIC the burger-chain moved in last year and made them change the name accusing them of copyright infringement. Yeah...tell me how that works...it sounds like the roommate who never buys anything for the house yet yells at everyone else when there's no toilet paper left.

It was funny cause it was like playing in a QDOBA but with a stage. No joke.
People would come in, buy a burrito, sit and watch us, and then leave when they were done. No messing around here, and no cheese sauce either (damn!). I did give some kids a few stickers and actually had people whoop and holler when I said I was going to play a SMITHS song. This never happens whenever I ask if anyone has heard of THE SMITHS. Who knew Spokane was down with MORRISSEY?

I did get an unusual burrito out of the deal called the "Blue October" (not like the band) which was a spicy chicken mess with Blue Cheese crumbles amongst everything else burrito-y. Not bad unless it sounds disgusting to you, which I completely understand...

Later that night, we caught up with Seattle local DAN PURSER at THE BLUE SPARK in downtown Spokane where he is a regular with a good following in that area. He invited us to play during his break where I quickly taught his band how to play "Billie Jean" by MJ, and "Hey, Jealousy" by the Gin Blossoms. Not really the place where people care about original music, but more just want to party to songs they know. I decided to take em back to 7th grade with the Gin Blossoms cover and a few people came up at the end excited that someone else knew who the Blossoms were. It was nice to meet some other people who were trapped in 1993 as well...

We had the next two days (Sunday and Monday) off, so we had time to lay low for a couple afternoons to write, rehearse, and catch up on comics. Got some good reading in, and also got some good walks in around downtown Coeur D'Alene. I wanted to share some cool pictures I took of the trees all on fire and in their full "Fall-ness". This was also a big highlight for me on the tour in the way all the driving lent itself to some really good sight-seeing that made the long rides pretty enjoyable. We spent a lot time during these two days at the local coffee shop, JAVA, mostly because of the free Wi-Fi. It was like something out of a tv sitcom in that all the 20-somethings in town seem to go here and that they all somehow know each other...really weird, but I guess that's a small town. I kept waiting for the theme music, but it never came...

By Tuesday, we were ready to get a move on to our next show that night in Moscow, Idaho. We said our good-bye's to our gracious hosts (Thanks again Tawnya!) and set out fully loaded with a truck full of gear and some freshly done laundry. It didn't take us long to get to Moscow, and we were excited that we had a while before our show to see a bit of the town. Well, that took us 1/2 and hour and we wandered for a while wondering where the rest of the town was. After zeroing in on where the venues for the next two nights were (right across the street from each other), we checked into the very lavish and exclusive LA QUINTA hotel. Did you know that LA QUINTA means "Come Again", "You're Welcome Here", "We Take Care Of All Your Needs", AND "Welcome Home" in Spanish? I did not know this, but now feel that I am that much more able to communicate with the Latino community on a whole. After settling in, we packed up the truck and headed out to our new series of concerts which kicked off a THE NUART CAFE. We got to the club and introduced ourselves to the manager to find out one thing...we weren't playing anymore.


It turned out that the mother of the booking agent that booked us passed away a few weeks earlier, and that the funeral was that afternoon. He was to go on after us, so the whole thing was canceled. Only problem was that no one told us...
It was pretty sad to hear though, so it really was no problem and we decided to catch 3:10 TO YUMA at the very-local theater instead. Gladiator and Batman shooting at each other in the Wild West = Awesome. Next to the very exclusive LA QUINTA was the very exclusive APPLEBEE'S and after an unexpected turn of event's we called it a night.

The next morning we both felt like we were on the verge of possibly getting some kind of flu and just took it easy. That night, we were to be at The ONE WORLD CAFE and having heard good things about it, were ready to tear it up. My friend Michelle Markwood told me that our mutual friend that I hadn't talked to in a long time named Rose lived in Moscow and that I should look her up when I got there. We emailed a couple of times, and she showed up kindly for TJ and I that night. It was good to catch up with her and answer all the questions that one has about "What happend to..", or "Who is married to..." regarding high school friends that you haven't seen in a while. I talked to her about being our Idaho College contact from now on due to the fact that a few of our friends have had lots of success in that market. Next time we will for sure be adding some school shows to the tour. Good crowd response and good local beer.

We got up Friday at 5:00am and hit the highway for a 4 hour drive and an afternoon show at Grandview Community College in Yakima. They treated us like guests and did good promo for the show as well. We hope to be heading back that way for a big show in April if everything works out according to plan. They also gave us a big thing of cookies for the truck which is always a good thing (especially since the ones that my Grandma gave us for the road were long gone).

We had another four hours of driving ahead of us as we made our way to the ALBERA ST. PUB in Portland. A 3-piece Bluegrass band opened up for us, and I always get a kick out of bills I've been on that are weird pairings like that. Ironic in the fact that it's mostly just some guys getting together and playing, really casual, but also very obvious that speed and dexterity wise kick the ass of any rock band they play with. TJ and I almost stopped playing guitar right there, but alas, the show must go on!

Considering 8 hours of driving and having already rocked the house once that day, we felt that it was maybe the best we had played all tour. Oh adrenaline, you and your mysterious ways...
After the show, we crashed in Longview at TJ's In-Laws, a welcome warm home in contrast to cold Moscow and a truck that smelled like dudes.

Friday was a day off for us and after hanging around the house all day, I started to bitch about why we hadn't done a song together yet. You see, this was the goal months before we stared the tour, and for whatever reason, we had not met this one yet. After throwing a few ideas around, we come up a very cool Indigo Girls/Tracy Chapman-esque song called "Mexican Jail". They say write what you know...and we did. You'll be seeing a video of this in the near future on our sites, so keep a look out...

Saturday was the final night of the tour at THE GREEN ROOM in the Pearl district of Portland. My old high school buddy Manzell Blakely came out and it was great as for some reason we haven't caught up in 8 years or so. Also, my friend Jared (who moved to Portland a year ago) and ex-Ultraviolet guitarist Scott Bickham and his wife came to support. A sort of "this is your life" from random points of my life intersecting if you will. Scott was in a band called who toured with INXS at one point in his life, and whose song "Bottle Rocket" I tried to rip off when I was 14. I decided to fan-boy out on him and cover it that night just to mess with his mind. A lot of fun, and I may throw that one in the mix more often. I also wanted to prank TJ on the last night and did a quarter of one of his best songs "High Horse", leading into "Sparkle and Fall". I tried to do it justice, and was enjoying stirring the pot. It was a funny show in the fact that it's been so long since I've have had to sing in cigarette smoke since we've been spoiled in Washington/California. I forgot that it still existed...

Seriously though, I still think one of the coolest looks is a cigarette in a lead guitarist's mouth, head back, taking a solo. If you went to the Black Crowes concert earlier in the month, you know what I mean.

I told you it was Giant Sized Issue didn't I? I definitely learned a lot, figured out how to make next time even better, where to play again, and where to try to get into. We even walked away making money. For a first tour, that's pretty damn good...

Overall a GREAT tour and good time with my tour wife TJ. We got a system down in that he dusts and I vacuum. As for the dishes? Well, that's both of our responsibility, you know how it is...

Oh, you want to know the specs for the tour? I'm glad you asked!

Here's how she broke down...

# of miles logged in "Merlyn" the truck: 1,336

# of tanks of gas: 8

# of times someone tried to "save" me: 1

# of times listened to new Radiohead "In Rainbows" Album: 10

# of cool masks purchased for the rehearsal room: 2

# of times I probably really annoyed TJ talking about how cool it was to meet
Stone Gossard: Probably 15+ (on the first day...)

# of cookies consumed: 30 (thanks Grams)

# of times impaled in the neck by the truck canopy lock: 5

# of comic shops visited: 1

# of times woman asked me if I was "Superman": 1

# of kids eyeing my stickers on the merch table but ignored me when I asked them if they wanted one: 5

# of people who wanted me to turn the sound system down: 4

# of people I did it for: 1

Thanks for reading and see you next week! I'll be a year older (birthday on Thursday), so I hope I have many points of aged wisdom for you...or just one.

If you'll excuse me, I have some fighting with my dog to catch up on. :)

Monday, October 8, 2007

Wii Now Pronounce You Man and Wifey. Issue #18

Gigi Edgley was in town again this past weekend to put the finishing touches on her E.P., and I just got back from Mastering at Mark Guenther's Seattle Disc Mastering. It has been a fun whirlwind getting the E.P. finished and I can't believe it's done. Time flies...

I'm really happy with the way it turned out, and it sets the mark as the first album
I've produced for another artist, and for which I'm listed as a co-writer. It was a truly collaborative environment for which we each brought our strengths to the table; Gigi's being her energetic ideas and voice, and mine being swearing at the computer in multiple languages (still working on African "Click" dialect). More news regarding release date when I find it out, but you can always check Gigi's site for more details.

Yesterday, Mandi and I attended my friend Scott Taylor's wedding downtown. Scott is a friend I met while playing HALO 2 with years ago online, and we became warriors in our mutual addiction. It was a really great ceremony and great to see him as well since he moved to New York a year ago. One of the coolest parts of the wedding (see picture) was the top of the cupcake tier and the fact the the little "bride and groom" figurines were exact copy action-figure models of their Wii characters. TOO COOL! I want some to give away with my CD (and maybe for going on battles with the X-Men before Mandi comes home...what am I saying...I mean WHEN she gets home).

It was actually the first time I met his wife as well..."Hello, I know you are wondering who this guy is walking around eating all your POCKY, but I really was invited."
There also was a photo booth where the pictures were free and printed out two copies; one for you and one for the bride and groom. I throw out gang signs on instinct alone...

As I've been talking about for weeks, TJ Sherrill and I will be hitting the road this Thursday for an 11-Day/8-Show tour. That means no blog entry next week (WHA!?!) since we'll be driving all day, but expect a GINORMOUS super-sized issue (comic geeks, you KNOW what I'm talking about!) when I return in the form of a detailed account of our journey across the misty north and running from inbreds.

Here's the packing list I came up with as I get ready for departure...

Note from Mommy (maybe not mine, just somebody's)
Uncanny X-Men Issue #117 (You know, the one where Storm unleashed the lightning bolt freeing Wolverine from the clutches of Magneto as he has him pinned to the wall magnetically keeping his claws at bay? Anyone? Uhhh...)
Graham Crackers
Batman T-Shirt
I.D. Braclet (If I get lost, and/or scared)
Ruffles Cheddar and Sour Cream (yes baked, if any Granolas are wondering)

So, I think that's the list, and feel free to let me know if there's anything you think I forgot or might need not listed. You'd hate to read about a story two weeks ago and feel really guilty you didn't give me the heads up...or laugh, which is what I'd do.

Be well and see you on the other side!


Monday, October 1, 2007

www.kylestevensmusic.com Issue #17

So, it took me a while to get this guy up and running, but I'm happy to say that my new site www.kylestevensmusic.com was delivered this morning a healthy URL, and looking just like his Dad. Yeah! Thanks to Matt for helping me navigate my way through the murky waters of the internets. The waters are
deep and treacherous...

Seriously though, it will be a lot easier to have all the goods and links in the same place (what a concept!). I also have included what will be a rotating mix of video clips and photo albums from shows that I thought people would enjoy. Nothing too flashy, just a clean set of info for supporters and curious passers-by to get a full taste of what I do. What do I do again?

As stated last week, I wanted to share the track listing for my new album,
"SONGS FROM THE ORANGE ROOM", which will be released in mid-November. The CD release show will be Wednesday, November 28th at The Highdive in Fremont. I'm very thankful and excited to have my good friends Matt Edington, Ian Caruso, and Mark Wooten performing with me as my band, and I'm really excited how the songs are shaping up live.

Some of the songs you may have seen on my myspace page before, those being demo versions having since been re-recorded and tweaked. The line up goes like this...


So, there you go!
As always, I'm looking forward to getting it in everyone's hands, and I hope November comes quick 'cause I'm ready!

My sister and her boyfriend Josh flew in from Hawaii on Friday and are freezing as you can imagine. It's been nice having them here since I don't see my family that often, and if you remember, Josh was the one who shot a few photos for me a year ago when I was in L.A. to meet with the "Beyond The Break" folks. Speaking of that, I should have the episode name and time for when my song ("Thicker Than Leather") will be featured in the near future for everyone. I'm really curious to see what context the song will be featured in. Emotional teen moment? Bodacious surfing montage? Hmmmm, we'll have to see...

As you can see on my new site, there's a big list of up-coming shows for my
"Those Aren't Pillows" tour with TJ SHERRILL (I'm a big John Candy fan). Next week I'll give a play-by-play on the shows we have booked, and which performance-enhancing cocktails were recommended to me by my personal research team to up my tour endurance...

Have a good week and enjoy some videos!

Sleepy, not dying...

Prepare to have your mind blown...