Equinox

equinox sand swirls

I woke up suddenly around 3:30am this morning.  It wasn’t just a minor stirring amidst the sheets, a quick mid-sleep water break or dazed round-trip to the bathroom.  My eyes came fully open and my head was clear, although my thoughts were anything but.  I’d gone to bed early after my Sunday rehearsal and a quick dinner. However, despite pleasant company throughout I felt unsettled and withdrawn the whole evening, and not in a particularly social mood.  Some words I’d spoken still hung in my ears:

“I feel like a stone in the eye of a tornado.  Like I’m barely holding onto balance while everything around me goes crazy. And I mean batshit crazy.”

At that moment, I hadn’t made any connections between that phrase to any other particular event or circumstance. There’s been an awful lot on my mind over the last couple years, and I know at times things have seemed a little scattered. It’s been sometimes hard to put a finger on exactly which brush fires are causing me the most heat, generally speaking. But when I looked at the calendar again things started to come more into focus.

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Gear Acquisition Syndrome, or NAMM – Day One

NAMM Show Floor (2014) - your source of gear acquisition syndrome

It’s the opening day of Winter NAMM 2017, the music gear event of the year for most musicians I know.  Vendors roll out their latest drool-worthy instruments and gear. And there’s a name for the affliction many musicians emerge from NAMM with – Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS).

Umm… Gear Acquisition Syndrome?

Yep, it’s a thing. GAS’s key symptom is a relentless drive to grab your wallet and upgrade all your instruments, gear, and accessories to the shiny new hotness you’ve just played with.  When it comes to GAS afflictees, I’m pretty much a poster child – so it’s a good thing that I’m not attending in person this year.  Restraining my wallet hand is getting easier with age, but from early signs we may need medics at NAMM this year.  It’s gonna be a gear acquisition syndrome outbreak!

Here’s my first two candidates for ‘wallet magnet of the week’.

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Install a Badass or Omega bridge on your bass.

Installing a Badass II bridge in your bass

I’ve installed Badass high-mass bridges in every bass in my collection that will take them. Why? I love ’em to death for their beefy sustain and definition. That said, they often come without string slots cut. This doesn’t exactly make them a drop-in mod, they’ll need some handiwork to install. I avoid the pre-slotted bridges, as cutting them yourself allows you to get a perfect string spacing and fit for your particular bass. If you’ve got an unslotted Badass bridge (or one of the recently-available Omega bass bridges from Allparts, which from what I can tell are exact replicas of the Badasses, even constructed w/zinc), here’s a rundown of how to install them.

UPDATE: re-edited this in January 2017 to add pictures (finally!) from a new build. Also note- if you’ve got an Omega bridge, these steps should also work.

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The Road Ahead

Forging the road ahead.

2017 hasn’t come fully into focus yet, but already feels like a breath of fresh air. I haven’t really gotten back into the swing of my daily routine(s) yet, but I already feel like the baggage of 2016 has finally slipped free. The road ahead is foggy but highlights are starting to poke through the haze, drawing me forward with curiosity and intent.

I decided to not kid myself this year with the usual New Year’s resolutions. Instead I’m just sticking to the basics, with the goal of leaving this year stronger than I began it. And by doing so, hopefully find the road ahead to more productive paths for personal and professional growth.

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Looping a loop on bass guitar

Loop practice on bass

I recently experimented with an improvised bass loop using a T.C. Electronics Ditto looper pedal I’ve had sitting around for a while. Of course, it was tons of fun. I originally bought the pedal to run simple bass line loops at the front of my pedalboard. It’s helpful for fine-tuning tones and settings without having to play bass at the same time. However, so far I’ve only used it as a test simulator in the studio. I’d secretly been wanting to play around with it more creatively for a while. I wish I hadn’t waited, as live looping is a ton of fun!

Accordingly, I took the plunge and improvised a quick composition live on the spot.  One pass, under a camera’s eye, with the record light on for a bit of pressure.  Enjoy!

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2016 Was Quite the Turbulent Year

2016 - a turbulent year

In retrospect 2016 feels like such a mess- oh, what a glorious disaster this year has been. Not without it’s blindingly bright moments in time, mind you, but an utter disaster year nonetheless. Just over a week ago my company held it’s monthly ‘InDay’, a Friday that all employees are allowed to take off of regular work in order to focus on a particular theme. This last InDay’s theme was ‘reflection’, and ohmygosh looking back on 2016 was a ton of fun for me this year.

(Feel free to walk back my last few posts for broader context on that. I’m gonna shoot from the hip and not crosslink like I usually do.)

As I looked back, sprinkled throughout this year were serious moments where I nearly said ‘okay, fuck this all’. A true WTF year, 2016 was shockingly beautiful in it’s tragic optimism yet absolutely crushing in it’s toll on my emotional and physical well-being and the general state of the world around us.

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Expectations can really suck.

Letting go of expectations

I’ve been living a bit of an experiment with expectations the last few months during my healing process, and it’s become so telling that’s it’s far less of an experiment now and really just a Very Good Thing to be mindful of in general. My experiment really gets down to managing expectations, and/or the lack thereof.

Given tonight’s Supermoon is the biggest in years, ushering in a phase of rebirth and cleansing, I’m gonna focus on what I’ve recently learned about expectations and hopefully get an energetic leg-up this evening.  Let me explain.

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