Monday, June 23, 2014

A little cheese with the wine

People don't go to a vineyard to have a bad time. Scenic terrane, fermented fruit and, if you’re lucky, some live music. At Ankeny Vineyard you get all of the above. One of my bands, Old Soul Brew, has been providing entertainment during the summer months for a few years now. It’s easily one of our favorite gigs. They host us like friends, pay us well, and the view is unbeatable. The owner, Joe, is a jazz fan and always makes an appearance when we’re on the books.

Ankeny Vineyard from the sky
few days before our gig last Saturday, a poem came to mind. We decided to perform it for the unsuspecting crowd. Imagine a beatnik rhythm and bass as you read:

Winding paths lead to rolling hills
Countryside so peaceful so still
I can’t imagine a place I’d rather be
Life is no race, you see
Wood fire pizza, you just can’t say no
No, not to Joe
For he has the power 
To turn grapes into liquid gold
So sit back and enjoy the good vibrations
Slowly sip on your one-of-a-kind libations
Let go of all past frustrations
They fade away without a trace
Especially when
You order by the case
As you relax and unwind please keep in mind
To tip your server
For they are the one’s that help us take our experience even further
No further ado is needed 
We’ll put an end to this silly rhyme
But, please do join us in having a remarkable time

The delivery was a little stiff in the beginning. But, once I got to “good vibrations” I loosened up and was able to get the crowds attention enough to get a few laughs and claps.

Overall, I think the patrons and staff appreciated the candid, and somewhat silly expression of our experience at Ankeny. Only one unintended consequence came of this word play: higher expectations to do another poem next time.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Some breakthroughs

With only 51 days left in my official sabbatical, I'm past-due for a personal update. A few things I call progress:

Piano beginner chops acquired
Speculation on my articulation
Searching for authenticity in sound
Freelancing is not entrepreneurship

Not bad for 4-months work, eh? I've come to realize it's just the beginning. It'll be a few years not a few months before I reach 10,000 hours of practice. However, I've learned more about music, the business and my personal hopes and dreams, in these few months than I have in the past two years.

It's a challenge to work on something for 3-6 hours per day and then have very little to point to and say to yourself, "I did that!" Music is experiential. Its subjective nature can distract from incremental gains made in technique.

In regards to the business, I recently arrived at an important conclusion. Turns out entrepreneurship is more exciting to me than freelancing. Someone I read a lot of, Seth Godin, describes the difference:
A freelancer is someone who gets paid for their work. A freelancer charges by the hour or perhaps by the project. Entrepreneurs use money (preferably someone else's money) to build a business bigger than themselves. Entrepreneurs focus on growth and on scaling the systems that they build.
With my current approach I am a freelancer. I hone my craft so that someone will hire me to perform for a wage. At a shockingly wide range from about $0.12 to $100 per hour. It's a great way to be your own boss. But, I want to build something bigger than myself. What will that look like? Breakthrough in progress.