I am very, very lucky to be part of an incredible music scene here in South East New England
[some have suggested New London, CT is the Live Music Capital of New England – and who am I to disagree]
The Whalie Awards celebrate the breadth and depth of talent across our corner of the universe and I’ve am honoured and humbled to have been nominated across the past few years, including winning the Americana Record Of The Year for 2014 with Sparse.
While winning may be nice, I know of no musician here for whom the making of music is in pursuit of awards, and the same is true for me. Every year, the Whalies serve to remind me of how lucky I am to make music, and to share that music in collaboration with so many others. For this reason, you won’t see or hear me shouting that you need to go and vote for me or mine in the people’s choice awards. If it helps, you should know that I don’t vote for myself in the awards!
For those keeping track, though, I (or we) have been nominated for the following awards this year:
Voting for People’s Choice ends tomorrow (6th June) and ceremony is next Saturday, 11th June – immediately following that, Anne Castellano & The Smoke, are playing at 33 Golden Street, just down the street from the awards – so I guess we get the after-party!
The beauty of accepting that my music has limited commercial viability
[I am blessed to have a small group of followers who enjoy and support what I do, and they have my love]
is that it removes nearly all my self-imposed constraints.
My online-only release last year, Writer’s Flow – Music For Writing, is a great example, recorded and released in short order, and trying to be nothing more than it is: music for writing.
Start to finish, it was an enjoyable piece of art and craft – a large part of which was that it wasn’t song-based. I’ve always made instrumental sketches, and have many demos of non-vocal tracks, but because of that notion of commercial viability, I’d always limited myself to the expectation that I was a
songwriter, who would perform, record and release records of songs. With lyrics.
As I let this go, I can feel a
instrumental record emerging. A couple with words, but mostly instrumental.
In practice, things like this are emerging:
Literally, the first thing I played after pulling an old flanger out of the cupboard and adding it to my practice board. And, while it’s a rough take on my Ditto Looper, it’s not a million miles from what will end up on the record.
For any of us, giving up a long-cherished hope/aspiration, is a tough road, yet the acceptance can lead to just doing what you enjoy doing – music is such a gift, and these instrumental ideas/motifs are always just beneath my surface – diving into the pool is proving sweet relief.
Very pleased to let you know that my 4th iPhone application, Math Grab, was released earlier today!
Just when you thought mathematics couldn’t get any more fun… we put it on an Air Hockey table. With a countdown.
Math Grab is an educational game, where “doing the sums” happens within the game, so doesn’t become a chore, repetitive or boring – if you want your kids (or even you yourself) to get better at mental arithmetic, Math Grab is a highly-addictive way to do it!
More educational games are on the way, but for now, have fun making 2 + 2 = 4!
Being an independent consultant, I often have to be where my clients are, which recently has involved a lot of driving. I’ve always enjoyed being on the road – when I’m in song-crafting mode, I’ll often have my bed tracks on to sing along with; other times it’ll be audio books or, as recently, I’ll be discovering new music by streaming curated playlists on Apple Music.
[I’ve discovered some great artists and songs this way]
Now, as much as I am a fan of new music, I’m also a fan of not crashing my car and, over repeated trips, I began to get very frustrated with the Music app on iOS. It’s fine when you’re sitting and able to focus on it, but while driving fast on a freeway, the amount of clicks to find out who is singing, or the name of the song, became very, very distracting
[and you wouldn’t believe the number of albums where the cover art doesn’t mention the artist at all]
More than once, I found myself looking away from the road for extended moments, and/or dropping the phone as I tried to juggle it with the steering wheel.
As luck would have it, I’d recently been working with a friend to develop MgmtDNA for my business, and as a long-time coder, was beginning to lift the lid on iOS apps. As I was learning, the idea of What’s Playing began to emerge and I set to work.
Fast forward to mid-January and What’s Playing was approved for the App Store.
So, what does What’s Playing do? It simply tells you the artist and song you’re listening to in Apple Music
[it’s not trying to do what Shazam, or Soundhound, does]
And it does it in BIG text, so you can read it at a glance.
And it lets you touch the screen to Play/Pause.
And it lets you swipe right/left to skip between tracks.
And it lets you choose a color-scheme that suits your mood – including night-time driving.
I use the app ALL the time. Here’s a picture of What’s Playing in action just this morning:
If you’re an Apple Music user, you’ll know how different it is to be able to read the artist name at this distance from the screen.
[a good example above – Gui Boratto – a Brazilian artist I’d never heard of until this morning]
All the time I was developing the app, I’d have music playing on my iPhone in front of me on the desk, with the latest version of What’s Playing up-and-running. As new songs came on, I got used to just glancing down to the phone to see who it was, and then straight back to work. What usually took full attention became a quick glance.
Now, the funny thing is, once Music is playing, I immediately jump over to What’s Playing, I’m so used to it!
I’m looking forward to extending the functionality of What’s Playing
[including, possibly, a version for Mac OS X]
but it’ll never lose it’s core focus – letting you know what’s playing without putting you at risk of crashing the car, or falling off the treadmill!