Blogging Til I Win a Grammy: Day 536

Post #27 of ANNIE B.’s D.I.Y. MAGAZINE:  Hone Your Craft!
“I promise to post blogs here, sharing some daily activities & the work I do to achieve my career goals, and when I do win that Grammy, YOU can say you followed me all the way! I also hope to give inspiration, information, & advice to indie artists, and I hope you take a little something away with you when you read my posts, whether or not you are yourself an artist!”

If you ever have ANYTHING you’d like to respond to in my blog, PLEASE find me at

Well, today was another hard day.  I got some cards & other stuff in the mail from people sending condolences.  One letter was from another Marine, he sent a bunch of articles and poems about the Marines.  I started to cry.  I am finishing up with all those and will make copies for my family.

It’s hard for me to move forward right now… I am feeling kind of stuck… kind of numb, kind of overwhelmed by it all.  I have not been to check e-mail for at least a week.  Somehow, I got lucky and decided to check my MySpace messages today.  I got offered 2 gigs at a venue which is new to me: Magellan’s in Waukesha.  This girl Stacey used to work at the Coach House and she sent me a MySpace message looking to hire me.  I called her we we booked a date in Oct. & one in Nov.  I also got a call today from Dee of Almost Famous Booking.  She secured a date for me at a place called Towne Square in Trevor, WI.  I’m so thankful that I am reaching that point where people are contacting me for gigs and I don’t have to bust my ass 8-10 hours a day looking for new venues & contacting old ones, although I really should spend at least an hour or two per day on that.  There’s plenty of venues that would be new & plenty return venues I would do well at.  Like Walker’s Pint, Sammy’s in East Troy, and lots of others.

I have decided to cancel the Artbeat show in October.  I have too much administrative stuff on my plate right now and not enough music-making.  Besides the fact that I am dealing with my dad’s passing and everything that goes along with that.

I can’t remember when is the last time I added a new song to my set… Maybe “I Still Got My Guitar” but that’s kind of a novelty song.  I keep having songs come to me, and I do what I can to get them recorded in some fashion, but there’s too much music coming to me, and not enough follow-through in making these new song ideas into complete songs.  I bought a new loop station and have not had a chance to open the box!  It’s awful, how I have been busting my ass doing all this promotion and networking and poster-making and I still feel like I’m not where I want to me.  Is it just a matter of time?  I am so thankful that Vic Thomas called me two days ago to offer me a gig at the Bay View Bash.  I am sooooooo excited about that… I will play with my new trio, all original music!  But I do need to push for new songs.  I do need to push for more of a “WOW” effect when I play a show.  I feel that I am capable of so much more, but I have not had the time to develop it.

Maybe it’s time for me to re-group.  I think I need to put all my Artbeat stuff aside right now and get back into my career as an artist.  I am a singer/songwriter first & foremost.  I am a promoter and a producer of shows secondarily.  I need to remember that.  Artbeat will be on temporary hiatus until the beginning of next year.  I will need to find the perfect balance to make it all happen properly next year; I cannot go on doing how I’m doing things right now.  There is something crucial missing in my life right now.

I got a reading from Barbara Kruck at Artbeat in the Heat, and she told me some very interesting things.  The main message is that I am on two (or more?) divergent paths right now.  She said it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but these paths are definitely divergent.  I believe that my efforts as a promoter and event planner has taken away from my growth as an artist, and I need to return to my path as an artist.

Sure, I still have to spend at least 5-10 hours/week on booking, making posters, and promoting my shows, but perhaps I need to scale it back so it’s all about my music right now.  More songwriting and rehearsals, more practice and learning how to use that loop station, more vocal exercises and guitar lessons.

I remember when I lived in L.A., I once waited on Helen Hunt… one of my favorite actresses.  After she finished her dinner and walked out the door, I thought to myself, “You idiot!  Ask her that one question you need to ask her right now, before she gets into the car & drives off and you never get this opportunity again!”

So, I chased her out there, thankful that she was waiting on the porch at the front doors, and I said, “Hey, Helen, I just love your work!  I’m so glad I got the chance to wait on you! But I have to ask – – If you were asked by people struggling in the business, what is the ONE most important thing or key to success… what would you tell them?”

Her answer made SO much sense: “I’d tell them to study, and then study some more, and then go on auditions, and then study some more and study more after that… go on more auditions, and keep studying until you just hate it.  And then study some more.”

“Thank you!”  I said, so excited that her answer applies to artists of every kind.  The answer “Hone your craft” is so obvious, but so ignored by so many, including myself.

I’ve bumped into Jeff Goldblum in the coffeehouse parking lot, I’ve waited on MY FAVORITE Kurt Russell, Brooke Shields ate at that same restaurant, hell, I hung out with Dave Grohl at Paladino’s in the San Fernando Valley and I’ve spent the whole night drinking with MY VERY FAVORITE Kiefer Sutherland at Joya in Beverly Hills (I have his cell #!!!)  But I never asked their advice about how to “make it”!

I have read plenty of books and stuff online, I’ve gone to seminars and conferences and workshops and all sorts of crap, but getting advice from someone who I admire so much has more of an impact.  So many of these “experts” at these conferences really don’t know much of anything.  There are true experts, but many of these people aren’t telling you anything that will really increase your chances of success.  They did a big study on this, which I told you about back in October or November of last year.  They tell you how to promote, they tell you how to network and you can be taught how to get gigs, but the one thing that will allow you to stand out is if you are BETTER THAN THE REST.  And really, there are only two ways to become better than the rest… you are either born with some amazing God-given talents, or you work hard at it for a long time and you continue to work at it every day.

That’s my new success strategy.  Vocal exercises every day.  More guitar lessons.  Time writing songs and learning new techniques for songwriting and better playing.  I just changed my strings for yesterday’s gig.  Now is a really good time to start finding my way down that path.


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