Sunday, September 26, 2004

The MusicVine

I have a summary page on has a feature called "MusicVine", in which artists orbit around each other in alleged "spheres of influence". As far as I know artists aren't consulted about who their influences are. Somebody else comes up with that.

So if you click on the MusicVine while you're looking at my page on, I come up in a constellation where my closest influence is Steven Halpern. This came as a bit of a surprise since I have never listened to his music on purpose. There was a time when I worked at a metaphysical bookshop, and his music was on sale there, and sometimes we played it over the PA system for atmosphere.

The music industry is just a big alien galaxy. Most musicians just shake their heads over it. But, if you want people to hear your music in any appreciable numbers, you have to engage with it somehow. One of the first things that has to be determined is how to classify you.

I know my music is very hard to classify and that's how I like it. When my last two albums came out, I hired radio promotions firms, and in order to do their job and get me added to radio stations, they had to come up with a way to pitch me. For Summerland, Peter Hay, who promoted me, focused on the Celtic slant of my lyrics and pitched me as a modern folk artist. For Diogenes, Musik International zeroed in on my mysticism and promoted me as a New Age artist. The album even charted on New Age Reporter.

So this is apparently what stuck for, who have me in a sphere of influence with Steven Halpern, and a little bit further over, Gabrielle Roth (who I have listened to quite a lot on purpose). I would rather be orbiting around with my real influences but there's nothing I can do about it. So go listen to my tunes anyway!

Friday, September 17, 2004

Alexander technique. Maybe that will be the ticket.

Tomorrow morning I've got an appointment with an Alexander teacher.

My first experience with Alexander Technique was when I took a masterclass with Ann LaBerge in 1989. She is also an Alexander teacher and that one lesson I had was really eye-opening. So when I was making my list of things I would try in order to treat my injury, Alexander Technique was definitely on the list.

Repetitive stress injuries are common in flute players (and all instrumental musicians). Mine is tendinitis. I suffered with it originally in my left forearm ("tennis elbow") and later on in my shoulder -- bicipital tendinitis. Various practitioners have treated it with prescription drugs, physical therapy, cortisone shots, Chinese herbs and acupuncture. All of them helped somewhat (except for the cortisone shots. Those were an unqualified bust). My forearm pain actually went away. But the shoulder continues to be a problem. I have had pain of some kind, from mild to severe, every time I've played the flute since 1988.

I now have a flute with an offset G key, which has been a goal of mine for years. It's taken the stress off my left arm that the inline flute keys of my old flute used to put on it. Now that the instrument is no longer in my way, I've got to make sure that I myself stop getting in my own way. I hope the Alexander lesson tomorrow gets me on the path.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

He's so sweet with his jet-black stare...

A few weeks back somebody from the SFPD came on TV and warned the public not to feed the pigeons, because, he said, "they're taking over." And I came out onto the street from some building that day and there *did* seem to be more of them. That's really the kind of takeover though that I could get behind. It would be a liberation of sorts. Pigeons have such mellow energy. I think if the pigeons took over and marched in formation down the streets of San Francisco, I would stand on the sidewalk and wave my handkerchief.

On Polk Street I saw a pigeon who had lost a foot and was gimping around on the stump of his leg. I tried to target him with some pieces of granola bar. The others fought him for the food, of course. This went on for a little while and then all of a sudden, a homeless guy appeared beside me on my left. He seemed to come out of nowhere, and I wondered if maybe one of the pigeons, making use of some transformative powers we don't know yet that they have, had turned himself into a homeless guy...he said that he was really hungry, and that he hadn't eaten in three days. I was very impressed and gave him the whole granola bar.

I walked down to the corner and another woman shook her head at me and said, "You really shouldn't feed them." I wondered whether she meant pigeons, or homeless people.