Tuesday, May 17, 2011


I was going to give my thoughts on the new fleet foxes album here, but the computer i listen to cd's on died when i went to listen to it...

maybe its just too much awesomeness to handle?

while the computer is back up, i havent had time to listen to the album yet, so ive decided to write about a concert C and I went to last week.

last wednesday evening one of my favorite bands was scheduled to be in town at the great american music hall. ive been amazed at the writing ability of their lead singer, for quite a while now and when i heard they were in town, i knew we had to go.

i have to say up front that the lyrics in their music are what really draw me into the band. their best work expresses heart-brokenness over the state of modern society and it is conveyed beautifully.

While the lyrics and songs in and of themselves were all perfectly performed and displayed, there was something that felt lacking that night. each of the songs were incredible as separate pieces, but as parts of a whole, there was a lack of continuity. between each song the band talked amongst themselves, deciding apparently, which song and/or instrument they should play next. this proved to be a little distracting and disconcerting. while there is a strong theme that runs through their work, breaking up between the songs and not interacting with the audience did not make it stronger.

this lack of a "show" or "performance" made something very clear to me. i have thought for a long time that the lyrics and beauty of a song lie in themselves. in other words, a song is beautiful because it is well written.  i was taught this particular evening however,  that in a live setting, there is an essential part of the musicians job that cannot be ignored if the songs are to carry their full portion of beauty. the whole performance must be executed well if each of the individual songs are to be given their full import. songs lacked power because they were not part of a larger whole "performance". like reading a sentence out of context from the rest of the paragraph and missing the larger point, songs performed live cannot be taken by themselves apart from a good show.

the performance is the context, and each song is a sentence in the larger paragraph of meaning that runs through an artists work.

this has been a hard lesson to learn and work through. ive often left my songs hanging out of context with poor performance. i dont think the band failed at all that evening, in fact, they are amazing musicians with great gifts and talents and each song was perfectly executed. i think they missed a chance to really speak with their audience about heartbreak though, and that was a a sad loss. this band is incredible and is bursting with meaning and lyrical depth. i hope i get another chance to see them perform live.

i wonder how this "context" issue can be applied to myself or you?

do you think performance is as important as writing or intent?


Saturday, May 7, 2011

the highwire

south of san francisco there is a light house at pigeon point. built in the late 1800's, it has been blocked off due to erosion, and the light now shines only on special occasions.  the cliffs it sits above are jagged and rough, but the fields that lie behind it are covered in blankets of yellow flowers this time of year. the most overwhelming part of the scene though, is the ocean itself. vast and relentless, it sends wave after wave towards land. it rises and falls with frustration around the rocks it will eventually crumble and rumbles with the driven wind across its expanse.

what does this place have to do with highwires?

light houses walk a highwire. we stand them up tall, delicate, and shining against a huge unknown entity hoping to find some safety in the warning they provide. at any point a lighthouse could be swept away, fall, and crumble. if the very rocks they stand on are not guaranteed to always be there how is the light house?

this frailty is where their beauty, and i believe, much of the beauty we see elsewhere in the world comes from. what we describe as "beautiful" is that razors edge of a moment when something, a sound, an image, or a light house, is perched on the edge of destruction.

the film “Man On Wire” is the perfect example of this, and the reason i make the high-wire comparison. the highwire walker that strung a line between the twin towers and then performed thousands of feet in the air with no protection is the human personification of the light house. he put himself, delicate and human, in the face of a huge power beyond his control and that, we say is beautiful and poignant.

i feel this same delicate wire walking in performances by musicians as well.  a live concert is a highwire for any performer. putting oneself out on the line with no fall back or safety net beneath the stage is the same as walking a wire between two high rise buildings.  the same sense of delicate balance and un-nerving sense of imminent destruction are there. performing a song can feel like setting up a light house next to the ocean, letting it throw its light, however feeble, into the waters of the unknown.

i look for this highwire walk in the music i listen to, buy, and share. i like words and rhymes that hang on the verge, but turn out brilliant and cutting (See Townes Van Zandt). i like discovering new musicians that take me places ive never been (see Willy Tea Taylor, Joe Pug, The Low Anthem). and i especially like hearing my friends perform their highwire walks (see The Modern Times, Aaron Hale, Tim Palmer, Jordan Martin etc...)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

where you fit in

thank you so much to everyone who downloaded FINCHES

it was a great honor to see how many of you are listening.

i gave the album away free for a reason though.

in the world of digital recording, online releases, and re-shifting record companies, people that write music and share it in this fashion bear the weight of promoting and distributing their music.

im learning that this takes quite a bit of effort.

i am so glad to have friends that listen, encourage, edit, and share my music. these people have more of an impact on why i write than i think they know. they are a prime example of how music like mine gets spread around as well. 

musicians like myself depend on friends like you. without you, no one hears what we write, record and share. you, our friends, are the critical link in the chain of our music being heard.

this, then, is a plea.
a plea for you to share our music.
a plea for you to let your friends know about the music we are making.

to make this easy for you, we release things free.
it takes money to make the music that gets into your stereo and headphones, but for me that money is not an investment i make in hopes of a monetary return. i make that investment hoping that you will download, listen and share the music i make. that's the only return that is important. eveything else flows from that i (maybe naively) believe.

there are lots of ways you can help myself and others like me.
spread the word by:

- link to the website on your blog/facebook/twitter from here.
- email your friends the link as well.
-"like" FINCHES on facebook
-"like" FINCHES on my website
- spread the word about this blog

we write because we like to engage.

please engage with our music by inviting others into the conversation.

if you've read this far, you are totally one of the dedicated people mentioned above.
let me know (in a message/email/tweet/facebook wall post) how you've spread the word about my music or someone else's and i'll give you some more free music...