New stage made from reclaimed hardwood planks

So this post is probably a bit more personal than my others since it is something about my own personal life.  I just cant help but write a quick post about it.  So we have decided that we are going to install an outdoor stage in my backyard.

We have the perfect spot and we think it will make our yard a great party place.  We plan on making it about 20 feet by 20 feet and we are also going to install a canopy over top of the stage that way if it rains, the instruments will all be fairly safe.

What brought this all on was a trip to an old theatre in Detroit last week.  The theatre is slated for demolition so they are selling off everything in the building.  We went in and we were immediately struck by the power of the stage.  It showed so much character and wear.  I just imagine what that stage has seen throughout the years.  The stage floor was made of wide wood oak planks that had been painted black and you could see the bare wood in different areas from where it had been scratched and dinged.  I don’t know why but we absolutely loved it.  We ended up asking if the wood floor was for sale and the owner said he couldn’t see why not and that was that.  We came back the following day with some rip bars and other tools and we carefully tore up the floor.

As of right now, there is a large pile of hardwood flooring planks that are pushed up into the corner of my garage.  We got most of the planks out without too much damage but there are still a ton of cleats left in boards which is gonna be a big project to pull out.  That being said, I am very much convinced that all of the work will be well worth the payoff.  Such a cool thing to grab a piece of history and reuse it for something new.  I feel like I am a part of the many artists that have played the stage before me.  I also feel pretty good about the fact that I kept this wood out of the landfill because that is where it would have went.

One of my buddies asked if I planned on refinishing the wood and I was appalled.  I gave him a lecture about keeping the integrity of the stage in tact.  Ha ha. I really can not wait to get this project finished.  I will have to take some photos and update the blog with the progress I make.  I really can’t imagine that my neighbors are gonna be all that happy with it but hopefully I can smooze them a bit and invite them to any parties or shows that we have.

Until next time….

Why Guitars Are A Great Instrument

Guitars are probably one of the simplest musical instruments to learn and play. At least in my opinion. When you get that feeling that you need to just rock out  I suggest you grab a guitar. Whether you have ever played or not in the passed I know that once you put it in your hands you will feel the magic of it. I know that I did. It won’t matter if you want to play rock and roll, blues or anything else, I know that once you pick up a guitar it will just come to you. Your rhythm or style will show itself in no time. Just have the confidence that you can do it and you will.

After you first get that bug that you want to play the guitar I suggest you just go out and buy one. This will help cement the idea that you are going to do. Just to start, get a basic acoustic guitar, nothing fancy, nothing that is going to break the bank, just something that you can learn on. After that I would find a guitar coach or trainer or teacher or maybe find a workshop that is local to you. This will benefit you greatly. It will help to make sure you are probably learning and using the guitar in the correct way. Plus it will give you one on one instructions. There is no stupid question, unless you ask it more than once! The guy that I took lessons with help me out tremendously. If you know anyone that plays the guitar I would ask them if they know someone who gives lesson or you can look in your paper for people. i highly suggest someone who will do one on one instructions, this way you get the fullest attention. Additional, you can check out workshops from your local music store, they will usually have them. These will be group lessons with other people who are learning like you. This is helpful as well because you can get feedback from the other people in your group. It will all depend on how you learn better. Either one on one or in a group. Either will be beneficial to you.

Once you have gotten more comfortable with your skills, I suggest now to advance your skills with your current instructor or someone different. If you feel that you do not need anyone to help you because you have mastered the basics and are comfortable with your technique then I suggest practicing any song you can get sheets for. Try to get all levels of difficulty. Maybe though, start with easier songs and progress to more difficult songs. This is how I learn better, the hands on way, I always do better with actually practicing. Since you now know the basics this way might be the best. If you feel more comfortable with instructors more just until you get to the point where you can just whip out a song then I suggest sticking with the lessons. You might want to now see if you can upgrade your guitar, there are many places where you can get a guitar for cheap yet still has a good quality. I suggest seeking out a second hand shop because these places feel like you when it comes to musical instruments and they will treat the guitar like you would or you could go to a pawn store or garage sale. I don’t recommend the last two choices because we can’t be certain of the quality or how the guitar has been handled. I would shoot for the secondhand shop before anywhere else.

Thanks guys!

Jess

 

Guitarist Brains

I read this article the other day about how the brains of people who can play the guitar are different than those that do not play. This was pretty cool and informative post I read on music.mic, it made me think that my brain is way more active than those that do not play the guitar. It didn’t mentioned anything about people who play other instruments, this was just about people who play the guitar and their brains.

The article mentioned a study in Berlin, where they took 24 people and while they were playing the same piece of music they were hooked up to scanners and had their brains scanned. The researchers noticed that the pairs of players they were watching had the neural networks of their brains synchronize with each other. This happen while they played but it also happen just before they started to play. This meant that the guitarist could on some brain level “read each others minds”. This is a pretty cool thing to have discovered. The sync happens in part of the brain that creates social cognition and music production. Apparently we a part of our brain that lets us creates music, I did not know that. This is a big deal when a band gets together. This is probably why people can make great music together. Why their chemistry is so great. It also says, this is why brothers or sisters are so good together because not only do they have the same genes that allow them to be great artists, they also have this sync with their brains.

The article goes on to say that guitarist are able to switch off a part of their brain which will allow them to be more creative than practical. It lets them act more subconsciously than consciously. This helps us fellow guitarists to be able to produce better sound. When a person who was not a guitarist attempted to play a solo, this part of their brain did not switch off. It did not do the same thing that a guitarists brain did, which the article says goes to show that guitarists are more intuitive than other people.

I know this next part is pretty accurate because I learn better this way. It says that guitarist can learn better and faster watching someone play the guitar as opposed to reading the sheet music. I know that I am a hands on learner, I learn better by watching someone do it then I do it. Having to read the notes as opposed to hearing them played is much harder for me. Our brains are unique to all of us but this article put it in a whole new perspective for me. If you haven’t read the article I suggest you check it out!

Thanks everyone

Jess

Oh, before I forget I want to mention one of my local companies that supports this blog, they are a great company and actually helped me out a lot when my water heater took a dump, I thought it needed to be replaced but they are highly skilled technicians in water heater repair and were able to fix it for me, check out their facebook page, they are Canton 24 Hour Plumbing.

 

First Real Guitar

I can remember the summer when I turned nine years old, it was 1989 and I had just bought my first very own guitar. It was a Yamaha LS-21. I can remember telling my family that all I wanted for Christmas and my birthday was money. Just money, no gifts. I didn’t want anyone to buy it for me, I wanted to use my own money and go to the music store and buy my own guitar. Of course, my family had a difficult time not buying me gifts, no one could just give me money. Looking back now I can see how hard it would be to just give some kid money for their birthday or Christmas. I was so bummed but I did receive a total of fifty bucks for Christmas and twenty five dollars for my birthday, which is in April. Everyone that had given me a gift had also given me a five dollar bill towards my guitar.

My dad about once every couple weeks would take me to the guitar store so I could look around, do some research and put questions to the experts that worked at the store so I would be able to pick out a guitar that I liked and that I could afford. It made me nervous to see how expenses they all were. I coveted my seventy five dollars because I my dad had mentioned that I needed to at least double that amount to get even basic guitar. I spent no money on anything. I bought no candy or gum, had to settle for what ever my mom gave me or what ever scrapes my siblings threw my way. I starting helping around the house more, hoping to earn more chore money. I went around the neighborhood asking my neighbors if they needed work done in their yard for a modest price. I can remember telling them my story of how I was saving for my own guitar. Some took pity on me and let me clean up their yards, no one let me mow their lawns. I guess it’s hard to trust a nine year old girl with a lawnmower, that sucked because that’s were the big bucks were. But I worked and saved and by late June I had two hundred dollars saved to get my guitar.

I will never forget the car ride to the guitar store. My whole family went. It was a big day. I can remember my parents being so proud of me for working so hard towards this. I spent a hour in that store looking, talking with the employees and deciding on which guitar I wanted to bring home. I wasn’t very good with numbers so it confused me to figure out if I had enough or not. Then I found the Yamaha LS-21 and that was it. It cost me $169.99 plus tax, $180.19 out the door with money to spare. I was the happiest girl alive that day.

I’ll tell you all about what first time playing and tuning it next time!

Jess

Weddings

I’m going to stray a little off topic here today to talk about weddings. It’s really not that far off because music is always a part of weddings but at this wedding I did not participate in the band. A fellow co-worker of mine was married over the weekend. It was a typical wedding, they were married in a church in Ann Arbor and the reception was at Lake Forest Golf Course not to far away. It was truly beautiful. Her colors were pink and gray, the dresses were pink with a gray sash and the men wore gray suit with pink ties and vests. It looked quite nice. The only reason I bring this wedding up was because they used a DJ as opposed to a live band. I’m partial to the live music myself but to each their own.

The only down fall was the temperature, it had to be close to ninety, no matter how much time it would take a girl to get ready, just being outside for five minutes and all your efforts are wasted. That is why I choose to do my hair in a low bun and be done with it. With the hair up and the light weight summer dress I was good to go. I felt real bad for some of these other girls and especially for the bride and her bridesmaids, they looked fabulous but it had to be tough to stay that way. We were just thankful they chose to get married inside a church and not outside at the golf club, they debated on it for months. I could remember hearing Amber, that’s the bride, talking about it last winter. Thank you Amber for opted for the inside!

They had so many cool things at this wedding, like a photo booth, this thing was awesome. It came with so many props likes all different types of hats, masks, glasses, wigs and things to hold in your hand like a club or noise makers, it was pretty cool. Each person who went into the photo booth got to have a picture of it, the bride and groom actually get a copy of every picture that is taken, I’m not to sure if that is a good thing or bad thing. 🙂 They even had a customized graphic with Amber and Sean’s name with their wedding date at the bottom of each photo, pretty cool. I couldn’t believe that the girl who was running it didn’t run out of film. The line for it was always long, I’ll bet that at least over two hundred pictures were taken, the only down fall was that it got really stinky in there with everyone being all hot from dancing and sweating and then getting real close up together in the booth. I felt bad for that girl who ran the photo booth, she was pretty cute and she got hit on a lot but she took it all in stride and just told the guys to make her laugh while they were in the photo booth, Ann Arbor has some pretty cool people!

Like I said earlier, I wished they were have gone with a live band and not a DJ. For me, being a musician, I always prefer live music as opposed to music from a computer. Not that I wanted to do it, I wanted to attend and enjoy the party, I have never done a wedding before and I’m not sure that I really want to. That would have been way to much pressure, not that she would have asked anyways. She had a certain mind set for her wedding and it didn’t involve a wedding singer! I feel that a band get people up and dancing more than a DJ but that is just my opinion. Anyways, the wedding was awesome and so was the party, I wish Amber and Sean many many years of happy married life.

Thanks guys, catch ya next time!

 

Bonfires

One of the most fun things that I do with my friends is have a bonfire. Whether we are camping at the local state park or if we are just hanging out at one of our houses we have a bonfire (when the weather permits). There are many times that I wish that I lived in a state that was warmer for most of the year that way we could have a bonfire more often but yet other times I feel that if we had them more often that we wouldn’t appreciate it as much. Mostly though I wished we lived in weather that permitted bonfires every day of the year.

I bring my guitar with me every time we have one. Some of my friends also played the guitar among other instruments. We have a jam session whenever we get around a bonfire. I am not sure why the fire brings this out in us but it does, we seem to need to play around the fire. It must be something ancient that we carry in our souls that makes us do that. We never get too crazy, we are always respectful of those around us but it seems that the people who can here never really get upset to here music play. Most times they are requesting songs for us to play. I have one friend that has a really good voice so I leave it up to her to sing and if we need another voice, my other friend usually will pick that up. I am in the clear ,when I am with them. I hate subjecting my voice to others.

As soon as spring hits, my friends and I struggle to find time with our busy schedules to get a bonfire going. We our families and jobs it proves to be a difficult task but we seem to have a reason every weekend to get together. There is always a reason to celebrate, sometimes we just use the weekend as an excuse to party. We will have a BBQ, beer, good food and of course good music. My one friend has a house on a lake and that is always our preferred spot. Being near water seems ideal for some reason. He takes us on his, takes the kiddies tubing and we have a great time. Then night falls, the bonfire is started and the instruments come out. Then the real fun begins for those who have stuck it out all day. Some of my friends have small children that need to be put to bed at an early hour for some reason, so they leave but the rest of us make s’mores, drink beer, and play some tunes.  Last time we got together one of my friends decided to get a photo booth rental set up just for fun and honestly I thought it was a pretty stupid idea but it ended up capturing a lot of fun moments from the night.  It was an open air photo booth so we could actually turn it around and snap some of everyone around the fire.   I know it sounds weird but they turned out really cool.

Fall is a really sad time because that means our bonfire season is coming to a close, this is when I most crave living in a state with warmer weather year round. Nothing beats a good bonfire with good friends.

Thanks everyone!

Jess

Guitars

I received my first guitar for my fifth birthday, I remember that day so well. It was purple, I had a purple guitar. It was a gift from my uncle who had an ulterior motive to annoy my parents with the “music” that I play with it. Little did my uncle know how that small, simple, purple guitar would have changed my life.

Of course, at first, the music that I created what hard on the ears, my dad actually learned enough about guitars to be able to tune it for me so that at least the notes were in tune even though the they didn’t make sense when put together. None of that matter to me, from the first notes that I played I was in love. I thought that I could rule the world, just me and my purple guitar. Every song that I played I had created myself, I have realized now that as the years went on, the songs I created became less and less and I started singing and learning songs that other artist had written first. Usually from my favorite band at the time. Now I only write a song when I am especially moved to. Which is not that often. I probably have enough of my own songs to have one album, which for as long as I have been playing is not very much. My talent lies in my playing not writing, I am a terrible writer, the notes are easier for me than the words so it’s difficult to get things to come together.

I don’t let that stop me from enjoying playing, I can a lot of songs, my voice needs a little work but I don’t let that stop me either. Most songs I will just hum, I hate to subject my friends to the horrors that is my voice, event though they say it’s not as bad as I think it is. I like to think that my voice is not so bad but still I hum and  don’t sing when it’s possible or I let my audience sing a long as I play.

Well, that all for starters, I’ll be back soon

Jess