Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Back to the Future Day

The day movie geeks like me have been preparing for has arrived. Nearly 26 years in the making as Back to the Future II was released in theaters November 1989. If you don't know the story you shouldn't bother reading any further.

A lot of movies about the future are distopias while BTFII had a brighter vision of the future. The movie gave us something to shoot for and something to believe in. We were going to have flying cars, cool glasses, hover boards, and smart houses. All of those came true though not in the way we expected and none of them are everyday items as shown in the film. Maybe in another 30 years.

There's another side of the whole Back to the Future thing and that's the personal side. Everyone has hopes and dreams and I was the same age as some of the characters when BTFII came out. I had so many ideas of what life in 2015 was going to be like. Like anyone I had good times and bad times leading up to today. I thought I was going to be a rock star like a lot of kids that age and like Marty. Well, I did finally complete that rock album I've been talking about doing since I was 4 years old (at least it seems that long). 2015 has been one of the greatest years of my life. Anyone close to knows my passion for music and this year I did three albums of different genres and a spoken word album. Jazz and classical also in the works. My musical career, check, that came true and like the technology it didn't come true as I thought it would in 1989 but it was as awesome as I had hoped. Poetry, well I dreamed of that too, and some how some way, I was going to publish a book. 2007 I published my first book and yesterday I celebrated the fifth anniversary of the second book with the third book coming soon. The one thing I didn't predict was writing fiction.

I expected to be rich and that one didn't come true, we all expected that, right? I'd like to be a full time writer and musician but that didn't come true. I am doing a lot of commercial work in music along with my own projects. As I look back though 2015 came out pretty much the way I thought it would back in the day. There were a lot of years it didn't look that way and far from it. I'm fortunate to still be around. That being said I'm happy with the way 2015 turned out. Now if I could have that 17 year old body back!

One thing I didn't predict then but was inspired by BTFII was my story “Zarna's Discovery.” That story is my view of the future and was inspired by Back to The Future.

A little comparison:of the technology dreamed up by the BTF writers:

No flying cars and in fact they are not much different than they were 26 years ago. They do have a combo airplane/ car but it's certainly not common place.

Smart houses are the new thing though no thumb print entry. Bio security was nothing new even in 89 being used in many Sci-Fi films. However, it isn't until 2015 that some of those technologies like the thumb print are starting to become common place. It's far from perfect as we saw last year with the iPhones on the day they came out hackers already got around it.

Holograms are still a work-in-progress and like Jaws 15 it still looks fake.

Hover boards are out there but cost $10K plus and have to have a special copper surface to work which is far from what the writers had in mind. I see them fading fast into a dream of the past.

Automatic dog walkers are still a thing of fiction as are neon curbs.

They never foresaw cellphones and the internet.

Well that's it. I'll leave you now so that I can celebrate Back to the Future day. It's a holiday that only comes once, today. So what's your Back to the Future story?

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Poetry CD

Here's a list of poems that will be on my poetry CD. This isn't the order they will be but just the list for now. It is made of of poems from Innocence Lost, Apollo's Flame, and Infinity's Tomorrow. The goal is to have it completed by the end of September which is the five year anniversary of the publication of Apollo's Flame.

Hopeless (part 1)
Romantic (part2)
Impossible Heights
Open Mic Night
The Day Lucille Sat Still
Hospital Food
Innocence Lost*
15 Minutes 'til Midnight
Autumn Vista
That Cat Can Play
Island Time
Just A Kiss
Love Poem
Take Me Home*
Star Dust
Complaint Department*
Love Waves
The Lady and The Piano
Superman's on Roids
Pit in My Stomach
Subway of Dreams
Language of Love
A Greek Tragedy (Featuring Puma Perl)
Easy Like Sunday Morning
Lioness on the Prowl
Love Potion #9
Whitman Park
If She Only Knew
In The Pale Rusted Moonlight
Dear Muse (Featuring Puma Perl)
If She Only Knew
Mona Lisa
One Man's Trash
Love Waves

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Book of Short Stories

I've decided to do a book of short stories with a title of "Standing Still." Next year I'm planning on doing some storytelling festivals which I haven't done in a long time so some of the stories will be written for the festivals. I just finished writing a story that's been bouncing around my mind for a long time which is the first of many more to come. The stories will be in a number of different genres. No plan for release date as of yet I'll write the stories as they come and when I think there's enough to finish the book I'll finish it.

Monday, June 22, 2015

To Charleston

To Charleston

My first book was published by Book Surge Publishing out of Charleston, SC. The team of both black and white people were wonderful to me especially when everyone knew that a book of poetry from an unknown 30 something writer from Ohio wasn't going to pay their salaries. That didn't matter, they believed in me as a writer. Later I would publish several fictional stories with them as well. My experience with them in the beginning was what led me to have the confidence to write more. They also encouraged me to do readings and performances which led to me touring all over the country. I'm forever grateful for what they did for me. None of which they had to do. My account manager told me of how excited he was to publish my poetry because the world needs more poets. There aren't enough poets, too many gangsters, killers, and haters and not enough creators. Amen to that. In 2012 I visited the city for the first time and caught just a glimpse of how beautiful the city is. Full of art, culture, architecture, and wonderful people. This is the Charleston I know and love. Some horrible things have put Charleston in the news. A cop murdering a guy and trying to cover it up and then the mass shooting at the church. These despicable acts were committed by two individuals. I want you to know the Charleston I know. The one whose citizens helped a nobody become a somebody and treated a stranger like I was family, like I was part of that wonderful artist scene in that beautiful city. I pray for peace and healing for my friends and for God's blessings.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Neon Moonlight Out of this World album drop

Album drop! Out of this World by Neon Moonlight is now available.

 What Out of This World is all about is old and new technology coming together. With the explosion of tablets in the last six years have come a number of apps and many being synthesizers. The cost of owning all these would be thousands of dollars but now just a couple of hundred. The particular ones that got my attention first were the Korg apps, which is what all the songs were produced on. These machines were something I could only dream of back in the 80s and 90s. They were way out of the price range I was able to afford. All of the sudden one of the most iconic Korg keyboards, the iPolysix was available as a $20 app. So I downloaded it and began playing around with it. Then I downloaded the Gadget app which featured drum machines, bass synths and leads all on an iPad. You could take it to the park, or out on the trail and write music. It started out just playing around with these retro sounds, then I began writing with some hip hop and dance artists who wanted to incorporate those retro sounds into their songs. Next I began writing some songs of my own, the first being '84 Time Warping, and I sent it out to friends like I usually do with all the music I write and they loved it. It was a surprise to me since it wasn't really serious work. The more people I shared the song with the more who loved it. A DJ I work with sent it to a label that does exclusive songs for dance clubs around the world and they ate it up! I signed on with them and they picked up a few more songs later on. I also posted the songs on Reverb Nation where I quickly went up to top 10 in the world dance artists. Since, I've fallen but still remain in the top 200.

Here it is folks, a year after I began writing the songs on the iPad I have 13 of them on the album. Looking back I remember how much fun it was to produce these songs. Thanks to all my fans hope you enjoy it, and dance your ass off to it! I remember those days when I was still in High School and I'd go to Akron Music to play the keyboards, then I could only dream, but now... It's here and it's out of this world!

The direction for the next album will change somewhat as I introduce some more chill, deep house and songs with vocals but don't worry, there will be plenty more of these songs like you hear on Out of This World.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Track 10 I Should Have Loved You Better

Track 10 I Should Have Loved You Better

More taste of ambient soft synth rock this time with a psychedelic feel to it. The song is about reminiscing after a bad relationship, admitting your faults, and remembering that even if that person is no longer with you they were something very special and that part never goes away. This becomes clear after time and “as the bitterness washes away.” Looking back I think I should have been more loving in this relationship. It isn't so much about wanting someone back but admitting to yourself there was something that you keep and many lessons learned. Although if that is the way the lyrics speak to you as the listener that's perfectly alright. There is some bright electric guitar and a solo at the end. Kind of like the cherry on top of the ice cream. There are seven different synth tracks and some airy flute behind it to give it an even more psychedelic feel to it.

Next up track 11 Bad News

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Track 9 My Cherished One

Track 9 My Cherished One

This is another soft rock song on the album. It has an ambient sound with the flute guitar and piano and trance vocals. This song is for those couples who have been together for a long time and look back at their lives. You know when that person means the world to you. I approached this song from that point of view. This is what love should be and I think you're pretty blessed if you look back on your life and this song is exactly how you feel. At the time it was written my parents had just had their 50th wedding anniversary.

Next up track 10 I Should Have Loved You Better

Monday, April 27, 2015

Track 8 Gone Fishin'

Track 8 Gone Fishin'

A friend of mine from Aurora, NY lost his father five years ago. He wanted to write a song for him and came to me for help. At first I was just going to write lyrics but in the end wrote the music too. The lyrics are about the bond father and son had while participating in their favorite pass-time... fishing. The lyrics tell the story of their bond and how in good times and bad they found themselves fishing. This song was an attempt at writing a country song which turned into an acoustic rock song. The amazing solo written by Jeffrey Koval​ made the mood of this song as sweet and sorrow. Get your lighters out, it's ballad time and a salute to all the rad dads

Next up track 9 My Cherished One

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Track 7 Gray Tommorrow

Track 7 Gray Tomorrow

Lola returns on vocals on this dark piano rock song with a unique violin solo. The song is about living with someone with depression. It turns from a minor to A major in the bridge as it turns from sadness to hope that there will be a day like when the relationship started when there were good times. This song can apply to a lot of mental illnesses but, as a writer, for me it was dealing with an alcoholic and depressed person.

Andrea Young comes in on violin and viola on this song. The strings come in at the solo and are present from then until the end of the song as if they are singing and pleading for better days. Andrea is another artist I hand picked after hearing her play a gig in Nashville. Though she is mostly a country violinist I thought she could also be a rock violinist and provide the unique sound that I ask of all musicians who collaborate with me. I think you'll agree she was the perfect choice for this solo providing the emotion I needed for this song. It's beautiful yet dark, it's sad yet hopeful. Andrea has also worked with me on some jazz music and we have some blues songs in the works. The next album “Lonely Band of Misfits” will have some more violin including an experimental violin in a metal song. Don't know if that will work out but I'm going to give it a try.

Next up track 8 Gone Fishin'

Track 6 Hourglass

Track 6 Hourglass

After the metal sounds of Full Moon we slow it down and bring Lola back on vocals for and this song is a ambient feel fitting the mood of the subject of the song. The lyrics turn to a more serious tone also. The subject is what we all can't control... the passing of time. At one point in my life I had a serious illness and I was faced with a lot of questions like “have I done and said all I had to?” and “did I live the life I thought I should have?”. The lyrics were molded out of another poem I wrote about the frustration we all face with the passing of time. It's a dreamy song with the piano synth and guitar added to Lola's vocals that are naturally ambient. One thing I always write into the lyrics are to challenges all of us and this one is to evaluate your life and for you to make changes and do the things you want before it's too late. As for my illness I got a second chance but none of us knows when it will be over. Savor life

Next up Track 7 Gray Tomorrow

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Track 5 Full Moon

The next song on Concrete Roses for Soft Hearts is Track 5 Full Moon

Full Moon is the first of two metal tracks on the album. I was into hair bands growing up so this song was a delight to do. I also introduce my rough metal vocals on this song entirely different than the vocals done on any other song to this point. The record goes heavy once again before moving to a soft rock feel in the songs that follow. When I approached writing this song the first thing that came into my mind was how to write a song that Beavis and Butthead would get up in front of the TV and headbang to. The lyrics have to be about sex and there has to be screaming guitar licks in front of lots of distorted guitar. This is what I came up with! Huh hu huh hu.. That was cool! Yeah it rocks, it rocks yeah yeah. Jeff did all the guitars on this song and Wes McCraw did the drums offering up the perfect metal feel to it. The cherry on top was the cowbell. Horns Up!

Next up track 6 Hourglass

Also Last night I made an announcement about my next poetry book at my feature reading and if you weren't there you missed it. So making the announcement today on FB today. (drum roll) I was accepted for publication by The Poet's Haven and the book will be published later this year. As soon as we have a release date nailed down we'll let everyone know. It will be available online at the Poet's Haven boutique and if you catch one of my shows it will be on sale there or any Poet's Haven shows . After it's released of course. "Innocence Lost" is a look into the mind of an artist it's celebrating what makes an artist tick. For this reason Poet's Haven was the perfect choice when I decided to look for a publisher for this book. Vertigo, the owner of Poet's Haven, has done so much to support the poetry community over the years it was the perfect fit for this book. There will also be a new poetry album this year too. We are hoping to begin production on this June or July.

Lots of cool stuff coming your way folks, stay tuned

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Track 4 All I Can Do Featuring Lola de Hanna

Track 4 All I Can Do Featuring Lola de Hanna

Track 4 takes a dark turn from the bright and happy songs that proceeded it. It also has a deep meaning about a dark tragedy in the history of this country. The senseless loss of life at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The song is about frustration and trying to find hope after such a horrible tragedy. The day I learned of what happened I felt a lot of anger and frustration with the stupidity and ugliness of human nature. It didn't stop at the shooting, public officials lied about the circumstances and politicians made sure they took advantage of the tragedy to further their agendas and narcissism. All this just before Christmas which was a time for peace, hope, and love. I wanted to lose faith and as a songwriter I have a belief that my words can change the world in some small way and that day, as the news reports came in, I was as helpless as anyone else. I later learned the motive behind it and it was pure jealousy and selfishness, this is beyond comprehension to me how you can become so dark as to destroy the gift of life yet this world is filled with the devaluation of life, we see it every day and not enough of us are trying to change it yet it is so simple. This is this song in a nutshell. I hope the listener stops to consider that we are one but part of a large world and every life is a gift from the heavens and should always be treated as such. There have been many tragedies just like this one since then but the recurring theme is that life, even their own, has little value to those committing these horrible acts. Life is more precious than any possession, any dollar amount, any position of power and until we as humans take this to heart we will not know peace. Candles can only fade if we allow them to blow out. We've all heard this before but the lessons of life will be repeated again until we take it to heart.

Musically this song takes a turn just like the lyrics and feel of the record. The key of B gave me lots of mystic, ambient chords to work with and I used every chord in the key. It's bright at moments and dark just like the lyrics. At the urging of Scott Hanson, who helped us out when recording at his studio in Cleveland, OH, suggested I speak the verses poetically instead of singing. The key was out of my vocal range and creating a melody became difficult but the spoken vocals were the best thing for the song so fate helped out with that. The spoken vocals really project the numb feeling that I felt that night. Lola comes in the chorus and gives the emotional response of the frustration and in the last chorus of the hope. Scott Hanson also helped out with some really sweet and rhythmic acoustic guitar that added a layer of hope into the choruses and solo section. This is the most complicated song on an album of complicated songs but the instruments and vocals just magically fell together.

Next up Track 5 Full Moon

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Track 3 Rock Star

Track 3 Rock Star

With a title like “Rock Star” you'd think this song would be about partying and living the life of a rock star. Instead, it's a love song. It's got plenty of guitar and a trance style of vocals. If your girlfriend, wife , fiance is totally awesome then they are a rock star to you. That's really the simple message in this song . It has a wicked synth solo in it too.

The guitarist on this song and every song on the album is Jeff Koval. I chose him for his ability to adapt to my many changing styles from a deep bluesy feel of the solo in “I Should Have Loved You Better” to killer metal licks in “Full Moon” and the fuzzy chunk guitar and ambient feel in this song. Jeff and I go back to our high school days in band. He later went on to be the lead guitarist in The Fifth Wheel touring all over the country and producing two studio albums before become an engineer in Nashville working with the likes of Kenny Olsen (Kid Rock) and Hobo Jim and hundreds of other big name acts. He's engineered all of my album projects.

Next up All I Can Do

Friday, April 3, 2015

Track 2 Waiting on You featuing Lola de Hanna

Track 2
Waiting on You featuring Lola de Hanna

After “Natalie's Song” track 2 “Waiting on You” comes along and introduces you to the heavier side . This song is crafty composition that takes you off the beaten path to a world far from three chords and a I, IV, V progression. My classical and jazz training brought me to this path and it's what you'll hear throughout the album. In fact, the typical method of pop, rock song structure is far off my radar and it's a song structure I rarely use. The listener is also introduced to Lola de Hanna the vocalist and her unique ambient voice. We move from the acoustic airy sound of “Natalie's Song” to a gritty guitar and more aggressive flute. Lola's vocals add a bright pretty side of a darker sounding instrumentation. The lyrics were inspired by wandering thoughts in my head, I hear so many people say “Where have you been all my life?” They say this to “the one” when they find that special person. I know the feeling and I thought it would make a great song. It's about desperation, frustration, hope, loneliness, impatience... in other words the feeling of waiting for love, Waiting on You. Jeff Koval returns on guitar this time with a heavier gritty sound.

All the performers on the album were chosen carefully and they all bring a special sound and a special energy to the song they are performing on as they do to the group as a whole. This track you hear Lola for the first of four songs she appears on the album. When I first heard her sing I knew immediately I wanted to write songs for her to sing It is a majestic, mysterious, ambient voice that draws you in and it sounds a little different against a synth, acoustic guitar, or electric guitar. As I began to work with her it became clear she was more than a one dimensional singer. She has a vast, natural understanding of many different styles of music and a perfect fit me since I write in so many different styles and genres. She keeps up with every song without blinking. She has also appeared in my jazz group On Dante with amazing vocals on the track “Queen of Diamonds.” Even more plans are in the works for her to sing including some metal, deep house dance, blues, jazz, and more alternative rock. I'm know for my unique instrumentation and that extends to the voice . In one of the songs I'm writing for her to sing in the future she and the flute will talk back and forth with each other matching harmonies and rhythms. Stay tuned

Next up Rock Star

Friday, March 27, 2015

Natalie's Song

Leading up to the album release I'll discuss all 12 tracks, what inspired them, what we did in production, and much more.

Track 1: Natalie's Song

This track started the whole project on a summer day in Nashville in 2011. As an Artist I do many things from songwriting, composition, fiction writer, poet, etc. This song is where 2 of my artistic worlds come together. The idea for this song came from my 2nd novella “From My Heart to Yours.” Natalie is the lead character. Her Fiance Edward is a producer for a leading record label in Nashville and reconnects with a college friend while on a trip to his home city Seattle. The two become a couple and he asks her to marry him in their favorite park. When Natalie moves in with him in Nashville he writes a song for her, this song titled “Natalie's Song.” Those who have read the story will understand what the lyrics are all about. The song was fully recorded at Wilderside Studios in Nashville. Jeff Koval engineered the song and also played the acoustic part while I played bass, keys, piano, flute and vocals. Jeff programmed the drum tracks and I played the percussion. Because of their beginnings in Seattle we wanted the guitar to have that feel to it. The keys added an airy feel which is a signature sound for me. The flute also gave it an airy, dreamy feel but was meant to represent Natalie's beauty. The track ended up with a sort of 60s British pop feel to it which was unintended but with any song compositions, things just happen. Later on I wrote a poem titled “Do Not Disturb.” The poem was about how the song was first born in a hotel room. Next up the second track “Waiting on You” featuring Lola de Hanna. I'll discuss why I chose Lola as the female vocalist, what the instrumentation and key was, and what inspired that song.

Do Not Disturb
Sounds of flute and guitar resonate into the hallway
Do not disturb is on the doorway
A song is being born, just listen
Conceived by poetry and instrument

The cleaning crew waits outside listening intently as the song is constructed
First the chords on the guitar
The flute accompanying the melody
Before long a voice rings out, not quite perfect just yet, trying to find the right notes for the lyric
After a while it comes together and the lyric is molded into a beautiful melody
Percussion, electric guitar, and the bass will be added later but this song has been born

Afterward I go to remove the do not disturb sign and the crowd outside applauds at my effort, it's good to have fans even before the song is finished and I can't help but think how good it feels to create music

It is these moments it feels good to be alive and to live the life I was meant to live as a poet and musician