Monday, December 29, 2008

Year end rewind

It's been an interesting year. Many ups; many downs and a lot of in-betweens. This seemed like a year of feeling in limbo, not just for me but for many of those close to me. At the same time of weirdnesses, a lot of happy reconnections, so I can count more blessings than dwell on the negatives.

The most I can say musically is there's not a lot that's had my attention this year; it's been a dry period, save for a few things. As I mentioned in my last post, The Tallest Man In The World had a CD I liked quite a lot. It took me a while, but I grew fond of Bob Mould's District Line in February. I don't think anything of Paul Weller's 22 Dreams and I absolutely love the first three songs from Richard Barone's Glow e.p. That's the long and short of it. A quiet year. It's only been recently that I've taken an active role in making music again and it feels good; I'm in a very positive musical frame of mind.

2008 is a year best left in the dust; it's been a year of changes and spectatorship. A time of questions, answers, uneasiness, anger, frustration, doubt and world-weariness. The election of a new president, while joyous on many levels, still doesn't solve the immediate problems in our personal orbits.

My only thought as we head into '09 is to keep moving forward and keep growing, as I feel I have over this last odd year. And yes, I do know that I've grown in leaps and bounds over the four years this blog has been in existence.

I wish all of you a happy and healthy New Year.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Drag the river

Been a musically fruitful time again. This past weekend was one of getting into "playing shape" again; my voice and my hands seem to be back to the level of quality playing they were at a few years ago. Am hoping to make further inroads this upcoming weekend. I'm sure the inspiration will be there after seeing this man.

Speaking of inspiration... Went to a show last Thursday, which was important for a few reasons. First, I haven't been to a show in a while. Second, it was a band I'd never heard of before (which makes it even more interesting). Third, and most important, it was the opening act who really struck me. He goes by the moniker "The Tallest Man On Earth"; he's a Swedish singer/songwriter who was a cross (to me) between Dylan and Lloyd Cole and an amazing acoustic guitarist. I bought his CD, Shallow Grave, before we left the theatre--one of the best albums I've heard in a long time. A voice, a guitar and great lyrical power--absolutely pure. The headlining band, Bon Iver, didn't do it for me. The songs were dirgy and sprawling; the singing was too close to sounding like Chris Martin from Coldplay (a band I really do not like) and the vocals were slurred, harkening back to the early days of R.E.M. Not my kind of thing at all.

The whole spirit of acoustic playing has led me to do an about-face once again to use the 12-string as the foundation to the songs I'm now working on for Last Stop... It's the mainstay of the "Rob Ross sound", so to speak--why deny or try to get away from something so natural?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The revisit

In my recent search for something fresh to re-invigorate my playing, I came back to an album I had as a child--the eponymous debut by Moby Grape. I forgot how free the guitar styles on that record were. Just an absolute frenzy of excitement, fun and yes, mind-altering chemicals. But the songs are superbly structured. I think the first time I heard it, I may have been 5 or 6, in my mother's album collection, but in re-listening to it (especially the tight, soaring harmonies of "Fall On You"), it makes me want to take a piece of inspiration and perhaps record one of these tracks myself.

The other pieces of music that (at moments) can leave me in tears (especially with the good memories) is anything done by Richard Barone, with or without The Bongos. He's incredible. Enough said.

Off to the Apple Store to pick up my now-repaired iBook.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Marching on

A quick follow-up from my last posting: yet another e-mail received last night, concerning The Punch Line's imminent reformation. First, the seven e-mails and three phone calls about this have been nothing less than enthusiastic and positive, for which I thank you, but it is baffling. Second, no one seems to a have a bead on who started all this, but again, I haven't heard from anyone in the band. Third, if I receive contact, I'm willing to speak to and perhaps meet with the others to discuss what ideas have been brought forth. I don't want anyone to be misled and at the same time, I'm curious as to what opportunities brought this subject back to life (at least for the moment).

Everything is all about "we'll see". Never say never, but never say when.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

I looked in the mirror

First, about the music--it's coming along fine. Progress is progress!

Thanksgiving was perfect; relaxing and fun and as always, it remains my favorite holiday.

In looking over this blog and reading through the last four years, I've seen so much change in me and how I feel (vs. felt) about things. The short summation is the person I was is not the person I am now, in the sense that I'm 43, I no longer feel any connection (emotional or otherwise) to the past and I think I'm more comfortable in my own skin than I've ever been. Once freed from those limitations and constrictions, I'm feeling the now in a way I'd hoped. Yes, there have been many ups and downs over these years, but it's all part of the lesson (duh!). It's like going through the closet and instead of lamenting "oh, this doesn't fit me anymore, boo hoo hoo", you smile and say "yes, this is a bit out of date and not for me anymore". That's the only rational approach. Funnily enough, I actually did go through my closets recently and purged even more of what I used to have/wear, etc. If I'm being honest, the most oft-repeated phrase was "what was I thinking?"--then Liz and I would laugh over it.

I think I have it down to a fine science now, anyway. At this age, I buy standards: a few pairs of jeans, plain t-shirts, cargo pants, practical coats and sweaters and that's it (I'm not including proper work attire, by the way). No more extraneous, flashy or hip-for-the-moment bullshit. You just end up looking stupid. CD's and books--if I haven't looked at or listened to a certain piece for more than say four or five years, it can be sold off, etc. People are a bit different; they disappear for a while, then reappear. The thing to do is be able to gauge who they are and where they're at when they get back in touch; this way, you're prepared to deal appropriately.

There are times when this blog was used as a means of venting my spleen; of letting loose the thoughts/emotions/views permeating my brain or just a place to spew. I've always tried to use this forum as a means of honesty; at times, I was too honest. I'm not apologizing; I just see the difference between me then and now. Someone recently said to me "you seem so much more relaxed. What happened?". I'm sure it wasn't meant in a crass manner, to which my answer was "Time... the beauty and politics of time."

A far more on-target statement would be that I won't use this blog as some form of bully pulpit for my views on politics, religion, etc. There are too many self-righteous assholes out there and I don't need to be given static for what I may or may not believe in. The louder you shout your beliefs at me, the more deaf I become. So why do I want to do that to whoever reads this blog?

One final thing that I've found very interesting. I've gotten a few e-mails and passing comments in conversation pertaining to The Punch Line. The gist was that these good folks had heard through some grapevine that the band were planning on getting back together in the new year. For the record, I haven't been in touch with anyone from The Punch Line, be it verbal or written--this is news to me. If there is a kernel of truth, I'd certainly like to hear it from any one of my former bandmates so we can discuss it. My curiosity is piqued but until I know otherwise, I am in doubt. Never say never, but keeping in mind that I own the name, publishing of the music, etc., nothing could be done legally without either my participation or permission. Until I get an e-mail or the phone rings, the band's non-existence remains status-quo.