Friday, August 15, 2014

Counting my blessings . . . life and music.

Greetings to all . . . (the 6 of you who I know read this . . . I love ya!)

Today is my 38th wedding anniversary to my lovely wife, Liz.  I am so blessed.   So blessed in fact that I started to count my blessings.  Far too many.  Out of counting blessings came the musical thoughts and observations below.

After an extremely busy month of July, which included 3 trips to NW Arkansas, I am enjoying the return of a more productive rhythm during this month of August.

And . . . I am back to singing again every Monday morning.

My next major personal and professional project is to continue my journey to simplify more of my life.   My friends who know me well know that I live in a lot of clutter.

I have lots of stuff (physical clutter).

I have lots of interests (mental clutter).

I have lots of responsibilities and commitments (calendar clutter).

And, I have lots of guitars and music related gear.

KISS is my new motto . . . with emphasis on the last  "S."

What I don't have much of any more is time.  I do not recall a time in my life when I was as busy as I am now.  However, nor do I recall a time when I was as productive as I am now.  I'm in a pretty good groove right now with a system that keeps me on track, and doing the important stuff required of my by the church, as well as doing the stuff that is important to me.  I think I can honestly say that I am doing some of my best work right now.

Except . .  when I have to stop and take care of all the stuff that clutters around me.  One sure rule of life . . . if you have a lot of stuff, then you spend a lot of time taking care of your stuff.

Why have I allowed this to happen in my life?  (Don't answer that!!!!)

So . . . I recently began work on my guitar and gear clutter.

First, I have simplified my list of active guitars, which consists right now of a couple of Martin's and my Guild 12-string.  All the rest of my guitars are at home in my music room.   My 3 active guitars are the ones I am using for all gigs for the foreseeable future.  They are the one's I am focusing on learning to play well, and how to use/adapt them to different situations and conditions.

Second, I'm bringing my PA.  I love it.  It is a wonderful and useful system.  However, it is overkill at times.   It also take multiple trips to and from my car to get all the parts into the gig.  So, I'm using my Vox Acoustic amp more these days when an amp is needed, which isn't very often when you sing in retirement homes or when singing at the bedside of older adults or children.

I can pretty much carry in what I need in one trip from my car.  Set up is fast and easy.   Lately, all I've been carrying in is my guitar.  I'm working more now on memorizing  songs.  That means more practice both vocally and on the guitar.  All good.

An unexpected result of simplifying . . . my office at the church has much less clutter now!  Yay!  My music room has the room, and everything seems to be fitting in it's own space.  At home, I can leave things set up, and plug right in when I rehearse.

Speaking of getting better on the guitars I regularly play on . . . I'm really enjoying the mini-lesson videos that Tony Polecastro is putting out on YouTube, and on his own web page.  His style of teaching is quite relaxed, but very informative.

I've reconnected with the little Grapevine Guitar Shop located on the second floor of the Grapevine Antique Mall.  Todd has a small but efficient little operation there, and my friend Bill White is still there repairing and servicing guitars and amps.  Bill may be one of the best, but unsung, folk philosophers who doesn't know he is a folk philosopher.  I enjoy our conversations.

For those of you who like to use the new Martin SP LifeSpan strings, our area Guitar Centers have Martin strings on sale, buy one get one free.  I purchased 6 sets yesterday, only paying for 3.  Saved over $30.  6 sets on two guitars will last me a year.  I don't know if Martin LifeSpans last as long as Elixir's.  They are less slick, and to my ear, they sound better on my Martin's.

Thumb picks have been an issue for me for years.  When I first stated to play guitar, I used a thumb pick.  Later on, I switched to regular picks, held with the thumb and first finger.  I recently came across some thumb picks by the Ernie Ball Co.  They are a little longer than National's, Dunlop's and Fender's, and not as wide on thumb.  Pretty comfortable, and they stay on.  So far so good.

Yep . . . everything right now is pretty good.

Another blessing is this . . .

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

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