Wednesday, December 30, 2009


It's an odd feeling to be staring at the end of the year. I've been really thankful for so much that has happened, and I'm looking forward to what opportunities await me in 2010. Lately, it just feels like positive things have been finding me, so hopefully they're an indication of what the next year has in store.

On Monday night at the Speakeasy, I closed the night with two poems and met three guys who'd come in during our final poet's set. One of them owns a new restaurant/music venue in town called Coltrane's. He's interested in having me perform there in the future.

Last night, I got the chance to perform at the Tremont Tavern for the first time in months, and I was very excited to make my return as a performer. I did four poems, and afterwards, a man approached me. He told me that he enjoyed what I did and that he's a teacher at a local charter school. He's interested in having me do something for his students in the future.

Needless to say, both opportunities came as complete surprises. I'm hoping that something will come to fruition, and of course, I'll keep everyone posted if and when they do. I feel very vindicated, and I am honored. Whatever challenges await me over the course of the next year, I'm eager to face them.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Further Down the Rabbit Hole

I made a post back in September where I talked about how excited I've been this year to collaborate with a number of different artists. There's just something genuinely special about pairing up with someone who has their own unique set of ideas, skills, etc. and creating something. I'm very proud to say that I've had yet another great collaborative experience with one of Chattanooga's brightest singer/songwriters, as well as a good friend of mine.

Ryan Oyer has been working on an album for months, and he's been giving out demos from those sessions to give people the chance to hear how it's progressing. In early November we were talking and he said he had the demo playing in his car when someone pulled up at a light next to him blasting some Hip-Hop. His song "Rabbit Hole" matched up with the beat and it got him thinking about possibly doing a remix. He kicked me the idea and wanted me to come up with something.

Around that time, I was experiencing writer's block (it is real) really heavy, so I wasn't sure when I'd be able to bang something out as far as lyrics go. I ended up taking a trip to Macon, GA for my cousin's wedding, and while I was there, I was fortunate enough to start writing a verse. What I wrote wasn't anything special, but it was a start. Over the next week, I forced myself to write, edit, delete, etc. two full verses and a hook. Fortunately, I beat myself up about each detail of the verse, every word and how it would be delivered, and eventually, I managed to get the lyrics to a satisfactory point. I felt confident enough to kick what I had for Ryan when I next saw him.

When Ryan heard what I'd come up with, he seemed really excited. After that, we talked about how we'd piece the remix together, and we mentioned getting a drummer. However, since I had a car to die, thus, leaving me with limited mobility, I got an idea. As some of you know, I've produced Hip-Hop/dubstep/etc. over the years, and the notion struck me to try to come up with a working track for the song. It would give Ryan and I the chance to arrange the song how we wanted it and go from there. I proceeded to sample the guitar riff from his demo, and then craft some other components around it. I added some 808 kick drums, some subs, etc.

I was fortunate enough to present the beat to Ryan just to see what he thought, and he enjoyed it so much that it kind of became the working version of the song. I went back to the lab and started balancing things out. Ryan had a local musician add some violin to his album, and he mentioned that he'd like to try to incorporate that onto the remix, so he e-mailed me the tracks. I chopped them up, added effects to them, and before too long, the Rabbit Hole remix sounded like something that the RZA might have done back in 1997.

From there, the new version of the song has seemed to kind of grow its own legs. People have been hearing about it and I think there's been a mutual excitement shared between those who are familiar with the original version who want to see it done in a different light, and between Ryan and I deciding when and how to execute this thing. It's been a joy, needless to say.

On Dec. 13, at the end of my set at Give 5, Ryan and I debuted a version of the song, and the reaction was very positive. We switched things up on the 21st at the Speakeasy by taking the completed track, and performing the version we've been tinkering with for weeks. It's a tremendous pleasure to be able to post that performance here. Mr. Shawnessy Cargile is responsible for the interesting camera techniques, by the way. You might want to have an air-sickness bag at the ready.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Give 5: The Wrap-Up

I sincerely want to thank everyone who attended Give 5 on Sunday. So often, the term "artistic community" gets thrown around, but honestly, Chattanooga showed that there truly is a devoted creative network here that is willing to lend tend, energy, talent, etc. for a good cause.

It truly was a tremendous honor not only to be a participant and performer, but also to assist in coordinating and organizing. The work was very tiring, but far more rewarding. I, personally, would do it all again in an instant, and ideally, we'll be be able to initiate more benefits in the future.

Gandhi once said that we must become the changes in which we want to bring to fruition in our communities and cultures. By putting on functions like Give and championing positive changes, I think that it is very possible to facilitate legitimately great elements into both our lives and the lives of those around us.

In my set, I had everyone in the audience put a hand in the air and repeat the mantra "I am somebody." The purpose was to get everyone to realize that regardless of economics, class, gender, background, or whatever the case may be, each and every single one of us is capable in some capacity of doing something to mold our societies.

My challenge to everyone who reads these words is to commit yourselves to doing something to benefit another person. Perhaps you'd like to assist in a battered women's shelter or volunteer at a community kitchen. Regardless, whatever the case may be, I strongly encourage everyone to both get active and get involved. Let's be lights in each other's lives.