Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Skyscrapers... and Everything! The Bitter End 12.21.09


In the footsteps of Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Neil Young and even… Lady Gaga, hi8us made their debut at The Bitter End in NYC this past Saturday, 12.21.09. The show was super fun, and we had a nice crowd despite the royal dump session of snow that came down along the East Coast that night. We battled crazy conditions to and from the city. Staying with hi8us tradition, we shot down to the West Village Saturday afternoon, played 'til the wee AM hours, then packed up and split home. I hit the Commonwealth around 9am the next day, after near blizzard conditions traveling at a steady 40mph and a brief nappy nap at a rest stop somewhere on I-84 in CT.

Thinking back on the gig, it was especially cool. Camp Rakusin came out in force and made the night special. We were psyched with the sound and the other bands on the bill were super nice and had some cool sounds. I remember rolling through Times Square and looking up at those crazy lights. It's cool to have that realization that you are pretty much smack in the center of civilization when you are there. That little intersection in the world makes you feel pretty tiny. So many big events that the rest of the world focuses on happen right around those few blocks in that big city. As I looked up at those big lights and all the people around me, I thought of Regis Philbin… don’t ask me why.

jim


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Burlington VT and Other Random Thoughts

The other day I was thinking about music, and writing songs, in particular. Song ideas will often come to me while I am running around the Charles after I get home from work. If I stumble upon something in my head during a run that sticks in my mind, I try to repeat it to the tempo of my feet hitting the road until I get back to my apartment. The litmus test for me is if a musical idea stays with me the whole way home.

There can be lots of distractions during a run that can throw you off an idea. You could nearly be hit by a vehicle at the Mass Ave. Bridge. You could have some meathead that you pass decide it was too big of a shot to his ego to see you run by him, so he tries to race you for a couple hundred yards with an erratic series of bursts and lulls in his pace. You can witness a near pile up at Fiedler Bridge section of Storrow Drive or even pass Tom Cruise who is running in the opposite direction of you with his bodyguard.

Anyway, if the idea sticks, when I get home I have this habit of bringing my beater guitar into the bathroom with me. I usually sit on the pot and fool with whatever idea I have until my legs start to tingle. If things come quickly, I am usually psyched, and feel that the idea is intrinsically good, and that I should stay with it. I am always trying to stay cautious of how I attempt to develop a simple musical idea into the framework of an entire song. The concern is that you always revert back to your comfort zone and end up with essentially the same song as the last one you came up with, but with different lyrics, and in a different key. On the other end of the spectrum, I don’t want to force something into being so different and atypical that it no longer has any type of impressionable quality, but instead unintentionally sounds like a fugue or something, and someone listening to it tunes out 30 seconds into it.

Anyway, occasionally, I come up with something that I get incredibly excited about. I start to think it will be my breakthrough song. I play it until it is engrained in my DNA. I will play it for anyone who listens, then sort of assess their body language and general reaction to see if I am on point with my excitement about it. On occasion, my enthusiasm about what I have is met with a corresponding positive reaction from whoever is listening, and collectively we burst into a jubilant celebration about the song. More often though, I think the person hates my new song, and I usually abbreviate the arrangement on the spot so that they don’t have to sit in awkward silence as I muscle through my newly drafted opus. Deep down I probably still think it rocks at that point, but it is a little bit of a let down.

Anyway, that’s all I have to say on my songwriting endeavors today. Our gig up at Red Square in Burlington on Sat. 12.12.09 was wicked awesome, pal! Mike and I got to the hotel at around 7:30 and thought we were going to have a good hour to chill… not the case! Max and Colin cracked the whip on us about 20 minutes after we got there, and we had to split to the club. The gig was really fun, and we all felt really good about it. Playing inside at Red Square is a nice setting. The room is hip, and packs with UVMers that have a tendency to dance and support bands they’ve never heard of. It is ideal. Thank you for that, kids! Finally, we are really psyched for The Bitter End in NYC this upcoming weekend. That show will be something. Look OUT!

jim

Thursday, December 10, 2009

On the Road Again

Hello,

It's good to be here. We are back from our return to the North Shore this past weekend. Our first full on snow of the year came during the trip to Kitty O'Shea's on Saturday 12.5.09. It was good to have Colin back from Southeast Asia after his month long hiatus. We thought we might be a spot rusty, but we were hitting right from the top. As the snow continued to fall, the room filled up. The whole night was a wicked blast, kid. This show was the perfect primer for the busy winter schedule we have ahead of us. Everything was relaxed, from our early arrival when we were able to chill out and write a setlist over a few pints and some delicious Kitty's pub fare, to a casual breakdown at the end of the night with no meathead bouncers rushing us out the door. We trekked home safely to the city in the early morning, but before we hit the road, Mike had some enlightening thoughts to share (see the video below).

"The life I love is playing music with my friends, and I can't wait to get on the road again."

Jim

video