Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hurry Up and Wait

Just got back from my follow-up with Dr. King. The good news is everything looks great. My vocal cords are bruised (totally normal under the circumstances), but other than that they are peachy. Getting that bloody scope up my nose was an ordeal, but that's never going to change. He told me today that I've got the most difficult sinuses to navigate of any person he's ever seen. Lucky me! That explains why I am also the best patient because I tolerate the pain so well. Again, lucky me...

He tested their function and both sides are moving normally with no indication of scarring. The way he checked that was to have me sing a long "eeee" and with a strobe light he captured the cords' movement. The strobe allows you to see the cords undulating together. If you didn't use the strobe they would appear to be stationary because they were moving at a rate of about 210 cycles (hertz) per second (that's the pitch I was hitting so it would vary accordingly). The undulation reminds me of a stingray moving through the water. If the tissue scarred that rippling effect would be impaired and that would be a very, very bad thing.

The somewhat bad news is he wants me to see me again and in the meantime he wants me to continue to rest my voice by speaking very little. He also said I have to refrain from singing until that appointment which is about ten days before the Swallow Hill show. I have no doubt I will be able to perform for that show provided I take care of my voice in the meantime. Seeing as that is my number one priority in life right now, it shouldn't be a problem.

The quality of my voice as far as I can tell is completely normal. Neither Tom nor I hear anything unusual and the hoarseness is gone. It's starting to sink in that the surgery really was a success. I bought a bottle of Demi Sec champagne for New Years, but I might just save it for Swallow Hill.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Sound of Silence

On Saturday afternoon, I decided it was time to break the silence of my vocal rest. Dr. King told me to rest for at least 48 hours. I think he felt bad that if I went the three to four days he originally prescribed, I wouldn't be able to talk on Christmas. But I didn't want to take any chances so I decided to go the full four days.

As it came time to speak, I found myself increasingly nervous about it. My throat felt completely normal, but I kept wondering if my voice would be drastically different or really rough. After all, I'd just had a few sections of my vocal cords toasted with a laser. The damage wouldn't be healed in only four days. Still, I was a little surprised when I did speak to hear how hoarse I was, considering how normal I felt. My voice was a little more hoarse than my worst days with the polyp, and it definitely took a bit more effort to speak than usual.

Three days later, it's sounding much improved over the weak, hoarseness of Saturday. Definitely trending in the right direction. Tom thinks it sounds pretty normal, but my perception isn't so rosy because I feel how much effort it takes to talk. I'm trying hard to speak properly, using my support rather than letting the voice box do all the work, particularly if I have to speak with any volume. Even though I'm not talking very much, I feel my voice growing fatigued. I'm sure the muscles in my throat are a bit out of shape, since I've been dealing with the hoarseness for so long and I've also spent a lot of time before the surgery speaking as little as possible in the hopes that vocal rest would help.

It's easy for me to get concerned, as worrying is almost a hobby for me, but I keep telling myself that I've got to give my body time to heal. All I have to do is look at the photo of the finished procedure. It looks like someone put their cigarette out on my vocal cords, complete with a few black singe marks along the edges of the treated areas.

Tomorrow is my follow-up appointment. I'm not looking forward to having that damned scope stuck up my nose again, but I am anxious to see how things are healing. I'm not sure when he'll give me to go-ahead to start singing again. I do know that it's going to be a bit nerve-wracking, though, because I'm going to be hypersensitive to any fatigue, pain, or unusual sound quality for awhile. I can't wait to be able to sing again, but I also don't want to push it and damage my voice.

One thing I've learned in this whole experience is that I'm not alone in having this problem. I just discovered that Rosanne Cash couldn't sing for 2 1/2 years because of a polyp, and the list of artists who have had polyps or nodules is like a "who's who" of great singers. Luciano Pavarotti, Freddie Mercury, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Robert Plant, Bonnie Tyler, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Sarah Brightman, Bette Midler, and many, many others have had nodules or polyps. And then, of course, there's Julie Andrews (whom I consider my first voice teacher thanks to the hours I spent as a child trying to sing "The Sound of Music" note for note, just as she did). Tragically, she lost her ability to sing thanks to a botched surgery on her vocal cords. It's not a club I ever wanted to join, but at least I'm in good company.

For more info on singers with nodules or polyps, check out this Wikipedia page:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Hit Me With Your Best (Laser) Shot

For the not-so-curious, the short story is that the laser procedure was a success, the chance of the polyp returning and me needing surgery looks slim, and after voice rest followed by a gradual return to speaking and singing, I should be fine.

If that summary left you with questions or, like me, you’re going through “Grey’s Anatomy” withdrawals during the holiday season, read on as I give a detailed account of my vocal polyp removal.

I was diagnosed with the vocal polyp using a procedure called a laryngoscopy. A tube with a fiber-optic camera inside it is threaded through a nostril and down your throat giving the doctor a birds-eye view of your vocal cords. The tube isn’t passive, the doctor is actually able to control the tip, making it flex and bend when needed. The camera’s progress is shown on a large computer monitor and the doctor records the procedure so he can show you video and provide still photos later.

A topical anesthetic, lidocaine, is sprayed up your nose and drips down the back of your throat to deaden the tissue so you don’t feel any pain or gag. The lidocaine is cinnamon scented, but tastes pretty bad, sort of like ingesting some kind of household cleaner. I don’t know why they bother to scent it. It’s kind of a sneaky trick because the scent leads you to think the taste will be pleasant. It’s not.

I suspect the average person having this procedure wouldn't have the sinus discomfort I have, but I'm special (special = cursed). One area of my sinus cavity is extremely narrow, so the challenge was not the procedure, but threading the tube with the fiber-optic camera and laser through my nose. At the time of my first exam, Dr. King had to stuff cotton balls soaked in lidocaine up my nose to deaden the area further. Once it was sufficiently numbed, it was uncomfortable, but not painful getting the tube in. Unfortunately, the scope for the laser procedure was bigger. Last time, we went through the right nostril which in some areas is wider, but is also much more crooked. The left side is straighter. He tried both and eventually made it through the left. Getting the camera in proved to be the greatest challenge in the whole procedure.

It definitely sucks that my sinuses are constructed this way, but I can’t complain too much because that unusual structure may be a significant factor in the quality of my voice. When you sing, your palate, nasal cavities, and bone structure give resonance and color to your tone. I’ve heard of famous singers who needed work on their noses but chose not to have surgery because they were afraid of the effect it would have on their voice. I’ve never liked the looks of my nose, but am learning to value it for reasons other than its appearance. I also have a very keen sense of smell which is both a blessing and curse.

My first exam was done just by the doctor. In comparison, the laser procedure was a party. Tom was there for moral support and sheer curiosity. Dr. King’s assistant was there to provide a second pair of hands and the laser guy (didn’t get his name) was there to man that piece of gear.

Before they inserted the scope, they put a tiny tube through a channel so they could apply lidocaine directly to my vocal cords. That was a strange and slightly unpleasant experience. The doctor had me sing “eeeee” while they dripped the lidocaine. It sounded weird, like gargling, but it also makes you cough as some of the lidocaine gets past the cords and into your windpipe.

Once the vocal cords were deadened, they removed the lidocaine tube from the channel and threaded in a fiber-optic line for the laser. We all had to wear funky glasses during the procedure. I assume it was a safety measure in case the tubing between the laser machine and the scope cracked or somehow there was a release of stray laser beams. I kept expecting to see laser beams shoot out of my mouth, but that never happened (wouldn’t that have been cool!).
At this point, I became a human video game for Dr. King and he got to show off his exceptional shooting skills as he used a foot switch to zap the polyp. He started around the edges and worked his way in until the polyp was completely removed.

The laser guy sure has an interesting job. He carts this expensive machine from one doctor’s office to another, as needed. It looks like a big computer tower and his job, other than to chauffeur it, is to run the machine. The doc tells him the setting he wants and Laser Guy makes it so. Doctor: “Give me 25 watts, 30 millisecond pulse.” Laser Dude: “25 watts, 30 milliseconds, that’s 2 pulses per second.” I felt a little like the warp drive on the Enterprise getting a tune up.

I couldn’t feel the laser pulses on my vocal cords, but I sure could smell them. It smelled more like an electrical fire than what I would imagine burning flesh smells like. I was waiting for the doc to mention something about the smell, but he never did. I assumed everyone could smell it, but I learned later that Tom couldn’t. Maybe the doctor could because he was closest to me, but I suspect I might have been the only one who got to experience that particular element of the procedure.

When Dr. King finished with the polyp, he looked over the cords carefully and saw some suspicious blood vessels on the other cord. He said they looked like possible precursers to polyps so he suggested that we get them, too. I agreed, even though I was starting to feel like the lidocaine was wearing off. Whenever I swallowed, my epiglottis was closing on the tube and it was really starting to bother me. I wasn’t instructed to avoid swallowing, just to try to relax and focus on my breathing, but I did my best not to swallow unless I had to.

When the tube was finally removed, Dr. King asked me how I felt. There was this long, painfully silent moment when all four faces were staring at me and I was thinking “how the hell am I supposed to answer that without talking!” Finally, the doctor realized why I was hesitating and he said it was OK if I talked a little bit. My voice was pretty croaky because it was still numbed out, but it worked. He then proceeded to show me some of the footage, and grabbed some stills to print for me. (Hey, if I’m spending $1,000 I should at least get some pictures to gross out my friends. They aren't bloody, but some folks may find them disturbing so viewer discretion is advised. Keep in mind that this is a view from above and the cords are shown upside down so the right cord is on the left and vice versa. The top two pics are of the polyp prior and during removal; the bottom left shows the area after removal and the suspicious blood vessels on the left cord; and the bottom right photo shows the cords after both sides were treated: http://www.trinitydemask.com/polyp/vocal_polyp_removal_4web.jpg)

Dr. King and Laser Guy (I really should have remembered his name) seemed thrilled at the outcome. Everyone was beaming, and I probably was too, but more from relief that it was over. The polyp was completely removed and it seems doubtful it will come back. The potential for other polyps on the left cord were zapped as well. It hadn’t really sunk in that it appears to have been totally successful, and I won’t really believe it completely until I actually hear the results.

Right now, I’m on voice rest for a few days and I go back in for a follow-up exam next Tuesday to see how it’s healing.

Tom has been taking good care of me, but he’s virtually useless when it come to lip-reading or hand signals. I would never want to be on his team in a game of charades. He also occasionally answers me silently because he forgets that he can talk. It would be frustrating if it wasn’t so hilarious. He’s doing his best, though, and I appreciate the effort. It’s so good to have him home and it’s an enormous relief to finally have this procedure behind me.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Two thumbs up

I've learned that when I can't talk, thumbs up is the most instinctive way for me to say "yes." An enthusiastic "yes" is two thumbs up and I've been using it a lot today. Funny, I never thought I was a "thumbs up" sort of person.

The laser procedure went extremely well and the doc said the prognosis is very good. He also said I was his favorite patient of the day because it went beautifully and I was so good (good = tough). The biggest surprise of the day was the level of discomfort/pain, including the pain I'm in now. Nothing really bad, but definitely unpleasant. I feel like I just caught a nasty virus. My throat hurts, it hurts to swallow, and my sinuses burn and ache. Other than that, I'm doing very well and plan to detail the whole procedure here tomorrow.

Tom was able to watch the whole event so I can relay not only my experience as patient, but his input as an observer. It was a very interesting experience for both of us. I'll fill you in tomorrow.

Thanks again for all the prayers, thoughts, good wishes, and concerns!

The big day has arrived

I'm having the laser procedure to remove my vocal polyp at 1:00 pm today. I'm a little nervous, but mostly anxious to finally be doing something about this problem. This is the closest I've come to surgery since I had my tonsils removed when I was four or five years old. And if the procedure is successful, I won't have to have surgery on this polyp in the coming months.

Tom is finally home after two months with his parents in Illinois and I'm so grateful to have him here with me now. Of course, he's enjoying being home and I'm sure he is looking forward to 3-4 days of absolute silence from me. That reminds me, I have to grab a steno pad before I leave so I have some means of communication.

I'll post again soon to report on the procedure. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A silver lining

First of all, I want to thank everyone who emailed or called me with your well wishes. I have been overwhelmed and humbled by your kindness and concern.

It is true that every cloud has a silver lining.

I learned Monday that I am indeed without health insurance. It terminated as of December 1. Great timing, huh? Tom has not been able to get an answer regarding whether we can get COBRA coverage or not because of the buyout of his employer. It looks like I will probably be without insurance until January when Tom goes to work for the new company.

Dr. King's office was ready to schedule the surgery for this week, but I told them I'd have to wait a bit to figure out what to do. Since I didn't know about the insurance problem when I had my exam, I didn't discuss the ramifications of waiting with Dr. King. I also had thought of other questions in the meantime so I arranged for a phone consultation.

He had mentioned when he discovered the polyp that lasers have sometimes been used on polyps. I asked him to elaborate on that comment and he said that because of the size of the polyp it's possible a laser could be used to shrink the blood vessels supplying blood to the polyp. This procedure would be a fraction of the cost of the surgery, and could be done in the office under local anesthesia while I'm awake. No surgical center or anesthesiologist to pay, and no risk of surgical complications like a reaction to the anesthesia or infection. The only risk would be the money for the procedure if it doesn't work. If unsuccessful, I'd still have to have the surgery, but it would be done later after I am healed from the laser procedure and, hopefully, when I have insurance coverage again.

Needless to say, I'm thrilled at this news. I'm not sure when I can schedule the procedure since the laser has to be brought to the facility. I’ll keep you posted as I learn more.

In addition to the laser procedure, I'm also taking a homeopathic remedy supplied to me by homeopath and acupuncturist Joseph Ellerin who is the partner of my friend Galen Williams (founder/owner of the Louisville Clinic of Traditional Chinese Medicine). Perhaps the remedy, combined with all the prayers and healing energy being sent my way, will manifest in a miracle, or at least ensure that the laser procedure is 100% successful.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Mystery solved

I've been experiencing some hoarseness and vocal problems for about two months and was finally able to see an doctor (Dr. King at Boulder Valley ENT) for an endoscopy on Friday. We discovered that I have a polyp on one of my vocal cords. It's small, but is unfortunately not something that will disappear with vocal rest. I will have to undergo outpatient surgery to have it removed. At this point, I'm waiting for the doctor's office to schedule the surgery. It's supposed to take place as soon as possible, but I don't know what that means in hospital terms.

Essentially, a vocal polyp is a blood-filled blister. Untreated, it would eventually cause irritation and quite probably a nodule (callous) to form on the opposite cord. It could also enlarge and cause further problems. The surgery involves opening a flap of skin on the polyp, draining it, and closing the flap. Sounds simple, right? It would be if it was on my toe, or just about anywhere else on my body.

Polyps are usually caused by overuse or trauma to the vocal cords (too much talking, singing, or screaming, or singing while sick). While I have certainly abused my voice in the past (singing for 4 hours straight in smokey bars, screaming at concerts, talking over music at parties with friends all night, etc.), I haven't done anything even remotely strenuous in the last few months (or year, for that matter). There is a good chance the polyp may have occurred due to acid reflux, so I'm being treated for that as well. I haven't really had symptoms of it, but apparently, it can often occur without the typical signs of heartburn.

The prognosis for a full recovery is very good. After the surgery, I will have 3-4 days of complete vocal rest and then weeks of voice therapy, gradually speaking a little each day (and I would imagine involving some exercises). I'm unclear at this point exactly how long it will be before I can perform again. Now that I'm over the initial shock, I have more detailed questions to ask Dr. King.

Perhaps more shocking than the diagnoses was the news that I may not have health insurance coverage anymore. Tom is still trying to determine if I'm covered or not. His employer sold the company to another company about the time Tom went to Illinois to help his dad recover from quadruple bypass surgery (he is still there, by the way). His start date at the new company was moved to January and he was told that he would have insurance in the interim, but when he investigated it last week to be sure he discovered that we may have been dropped. When it rains, it pours...

I'll post more information as I get it. In the meantime, I welcome all the crossed fingers, warm thoughts, and prayers you'd care to send my way.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pantoum who?

Years ago, after winning a poetry award, I decided I should take a poetry class or two and figure out what the heck I was doing. I had come to poetry as an appreciative reader and wrote as such. I wrote poetry like a musician who can't read music, but plays by ear. I obviously had some ability, but no actual knowledge of the art form. The couple classes I took -- one through Colorado Free University and one with Lighthouse Writers -- were very informative and fun. I was challenged to write in styles I didn't even know existed.

To celebrate the season, I thought I'd share one of my assignments. This is the only pantoum I've ever written... so far, anyway. If you don't know what a Pantoum is, see if you can figure out the pattern before you look at the Wikipedia link.

© Trinity Demask

An old friend knocked on my door today,
the screen door thumping in announcement
over the playful, pulsing wind
as it swirled around the house.

The screen door thumping in announcement,
the wind chased its tail
as it swirled around the house
shaking loose the first-browned leaves.

The wind chased its tail
in a cloudless, cobalt sky,
shaking loose the first-browned leaves.
Cool air kissed my cheeks in greeting.

In a cloudless, cobalt sky,
bright against the changing trees,
cool air kissed my cheeks in greeting.
I inhaled deeply of the sweet breath of chimney smoke.

Bright against the changing trees
sunlight streamed in challenged warmth.
I inhaled deeply of the sweet breath of chimney smoke,
and overhead, departing geese chanted good-byes.

Sunlight streamed in challenged warmth
unwilling to relinquish the throne of season
and overhead, departing geese chanted good-byes.
I smiled in remembrance, acknowledging . . .

Unwilling to relinquish the throne of season
the sun blazes despite the crisp arrival.
I smile in remembrance, acknowledging
old friend Autumn knocking on my door.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"Here" used in promotional video for Boulder business

My song "Here" has been used in a video to promote a Boulder consignment store called Clutter. Metroseen is the company behind the video. They promote local businesses through web videos that introduce you to the owners, their stores, and their merchandise. Metroseen supports local musicians by using their music in the video soundtracks. Check out the video for Clutter by clicking here.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Band Names: The Good, the Not Bad, and the Ugly

Once I suffered through finding a band name that adequately communicated the essence of my music, I found I couldn’t shut the search function off in my head. Tom and I are always listening for phrases that would make a statement as a band name and we often come up with some great ones. Often times, these have already been taken by other bands ("The Untold Story") and they are almost always names that have nothing to do with any music we would ever create ("The Improbability Drive") so they are essentially useless to us. But some of them are pretty damn funny ("Gunky Bob & the Flaming Tumbleweeds") so at least we get a laugh out of it in addition to a little brain exercise.

So, today I’m sitting in the van at the gas station and I notice a banner advertising beer. I came up with "Bud Miller and the Brown Bottle Boys." Eh... It’s worth a smile, but that’s about it. Then, I started thinking about Coors (pisswater, Golden, etc.) and stumbled across this, my favorite band name of the week: "Adolph Coors & the Clear Creek Contaminants"

OK, your turn now. Go...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Control and excess baggage

I’m a control freak. I admit it. I manage. I over-prepare. Some people think controllers are picky or particular or selfish, that we do what we do because we want things our way. That isn’t the case. Anyone who believes that these controlling tendencies come from a desire to control others for our own gain or to have power over others doesn’t understand the fear that lies behind this compulsion.

When I was a child, my grandmother was ill and my mother would often fly from California to Kansas to see her. I don’t know where this particular fear came from, but I had convinced myself that if I went with my mother, she would be safe, but if she traveled without me there was a good chance she would die in a plane crash. (Morbid child? Me? No!) I didn’t believe that I was some lucky charm to be carried for protection. It was more a sense of responsibility, as if my presence and my attention could thwart danger. Needless to say, I worried the whole time she was gone.

I am amazed at how our bodies store these patterns in our nervous system and how easily the patterns can be triggered when we experience similar stimulus. Our minds seem to have little capacity for managing the body’s response. It isn’t rational and sometimes we’re not even aware that we’ve been triggered. We just know that our body has gone into “fight or flight” mode leaving our stomach in knots, our muscles tight, and our nerves on edge.

That’s where I’m at today. Tom left for Illinois today to visit his family. This is the first trip he’s taken by himself since we’ve been together. Since he insisted on taking this trip alone, I was inclined to let him handle all the preparations himself. But as he began to gather things and pack, I found myself stepping in to assist. I really struggled internally with this compulsion to help, but I felt like a mother whose child was going off to college. It was then that I realized the depth of the fear that drives me to try to control and manage all the minutiae in life. It was as if by ensuring that Tom has every item he needs (or might possibly need) for his trip, I would protect him from harm. It’s an attempt to manage the future by being prepared for any and all possibilities.

This fear-based behavior doesn’t stop with my loved ones. I do the same thing when I take a trip. There is this heavy sense of preparing for the unknown that goes into everything I do from readying the car to packing snacks and reading material. I often have to remind myself that if I forget the toothpaste there are hundreds of places along the way to pick up more. If you saw all that I carry you’d think I was driving into the wilderness or visiting a third-world country.

I’ve always wanted to be someone who travels light, who carries the most minimal of possessions to get by. I wrote the poem below over ten years ago. I suspect it was after I hauled a giant suitcase all over Britain and Ireland for ten days. I’ll never forget dragging that thing up and down stairs on the London Underground. I’m in the process of scheduling a short tour in the fall. I hope by then I will have learned to be a little more trusting of the Universe, relying on my inner tools much more than the “stuff” I pack in the van.

© Trinity Demask

Travel lite, I say,
though I know better as
I stack and stuff the suitcase full
of comfort in every

Just in case, in
the event of improbable situations,
I pack for survival,
for sustenance,
for hope.

Travel lite, free to
roam and wander content
in the faith that
the universe will

My bags grow heavy with
fear and distrust.
How I long to conjure courage
into my suitcase,
fold peace within my backpack
and walk, empty-handed
and full-hearted into life.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

S.J. Tucker's "house concert in a coffee shop"

My friend and fellow song-sister S.J. Tucker (aka Skinny White Chick) is returning to Colorado this weekend. I'm hosting a "house concert in a coffee shop" for her at Super Joe in Superior. The shop is usually closed on Saturday nights, but the owners, Linda and Jon, and generously offered the spacious, air-conditioned venue for S.J.'s show.

S.J. is a force of nature: fabulous voice, inventive guitarist, enchanting songwriter, and consummate storyteller. She can give you chills one minute and have you laughing hysterically the next. I simply cannot recommend her more. If you're in the area, drop by and join us for what is sure to be a most entertaining evening.

The coffee shop will be open for business for house concert attendees, so unlike most house concerts, you can sip a latte, have a delicious sandwich, or a scrumptious pastry while S.J. rocks your world.

Here are the details...

SATURDAY, JULY 11, 2009, 7:00 PM
100 Superior Plaza Way, Superior, CO 303-494-1380
$6-15 suggested donation

Super Joe is located on the southeast corner of McCaslin and Highway 36 between Old Chicago and Superior Liquor. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Guilty pleasures from my distant past

It’s been a rough week, but I took some time today to tick off some things I’ve perpetually carried on my “to do” list from month to month. These things have no due date. They aren’t tasks so much as research or education. And yes, some things land squarely in the “entertainment” category, but as they are music related and I am a musician, I can call them research. Check out this person’s album, watch this interview, listen to that podcast, and so on.

Today’s “research” involved some guilty pleasures. I had a note to watch a recent Rick Springfield interview. Yes, I was a fan. Still am to some extent, though I can’t stomach the soap opera thing. I also have this weird synchronistic relationship with the man that has become rather amusing over the years. His latest CD (yes, he’s still recording) is called “Venus In Overdrive.” Sound sort of familiar? Anyway, I was looking for this interview and stumbled across a video of him in 1970 with the band Zoot performing an inspired, and strangely Alice Cooper-esque version of "Eleanor Rigby." He was the guitarist of the band, and only sang backing vocals. He was playing a white SG that I’d never seen him play before. I wonder how many of his fans would notice such a thing.

Rick actually had a pretty strong influence on me in one regard. In my early teens, none of my musical idols inspired me to play guitar. They were all singers, with the exception of ELO, and for some bizarre reason I can’t even hazard a guess as to what kind of guitar Jeff Lynne played (I guess I must have been mesmerized by the eternal sunglasses). Rick was the one who made me want to sing AND play guitar. I paid attention to his guitar collection. To this day, when I hear “Jessie’s Girl” it’s that Strat that makes me weak-kneed. Even though the recording sounds incredibly thin and anemic compared to the tones I’m used to, it’s magic for me.

The song “Venus In Overdrive” has one of my favorite guitar tones of all time on it. I’m not wild about the song lyrically, but the guitar groove in the chorus absolutely rocks. Rick always had a knack for writing songs that were built around hooky guitar riffs. One of these days I’m going to write a letter to him to thank him for being my Guitar God in those formative years. And I’m going to ask him how he got that tone. Who knows, maybe he’s never had a fan ask him such a technical question and he’ll respond. If I write it before August 23, I can wish him a happy 60th birthday. Yes, 6-0. Take a peek at his website and see 60 like you’ve never seen it before. In his world, it’s the new 30.

As I was watching these old videos, I remembered that Rick had covered “Life In A Northern Town” which led me to another dark-haired boy that gave me heart palpitations and influenced me musically: Nick Laird-Clowes from The Dream Academy. I googled him to see if he’s still making music and learned that he has been busy with film soundtrack work. He’s also recorded under the name Trashmonk, though there are no tracks on Rhapsody. According to one source, he was to release a CD in 2008, but the only thing on Rhapsody is a film score. I did discover a lengthy interview with him and his DA mates from 1985. Not only were they inventive, mixing classical instruments and an ethereal 60’s vibe to create a unique sound like nothing else on the radio in the 80’s, but they were one of the only bands I was into in those days who used an acoustic guitar. If that wasn’t enough, they were all gorgeous. See for yourself...

I remember racing home to tape the one and only video show on TV before MTV aired, waiting with bated breath to see which artist was next, and hoping it was (fill in the blank). Kids these days have access to libraries of every video ever made on their cell phones! I wonder if they have anything that makes them race home from school. I wonder if they know that kind of anticipation and thrill. I don’t think they’d understand the little shiver of excitement I get when I stumble across something on the web from that era that I haven’t seen before or that I thought I would never see again.

If you ever need a good laugh, search the web for some video or band you thought was really cool back in the day. No doubt you’ll find something that will make you laugh out loud even if it does leave you feeling a little embarrassed for your adolescent self.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Midwest mini-tour awaits... I hope

It always amazes me how much time a musician can spend on the computer. For instance, I spent nearly all of today researching acoustic live music venues in a handful of Midwestern states and sending emails out to try to book some shows when I travel through these areas in late July. Many places don’t have websites, or have gone out of business, or don’t have the correct contact info up on their sites.

This sort of work is normally sort of fun for me. I came very close to opening a private investigation business once. I like digging up things on the internet. But in this case, I procrastinated too long and now I’m trying to quickly manage something I should have done two months ago. When will I ever learn?

If any kind souls in the following states have knowledge of nice venues for live music or would like to host a house concert, please drop me an email at trinity@trinitydemask.com. The states I’m traipsing through are: Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, and Missouri.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

In the immortal words of Dr. Frankenstein...

It's alive! At long last, I have a blog. Wow... hmmm... Surely, I must christen this hallowed space with profound and wondrous prose else I be ridiculed by my peers. Of course, some of these said peers live in their parents' basement and type their blogs in their tighty whities in between sessions of World of Warcraft. That said, I will leave it at this: Thank you for visiting, and please do check back soon. Once I get done playing with all the fonts and text colors available to me here in Bloggerland, I'll endeavor to write something worth reading.