Yeah, this blog is still a thing, bud. 

I dropped these projects like they were hot as school was ending in April due to the face that I was moving out of the old place and into the new as well as embarking on some adventures and trying some new things out. Myself and 3 friends got together and started playing music and it turned into what we call a band and was actually really well received. We call ourselves The Stringers and you can listen to our two live recorded demo tracks here! We did the two demos, played two awesome shows and were played on the uOttawa radio station. It was kind of really fun to just be with like minded and equally as enthusiastic people and watch something come together. Hoping to keep that going seriously. 

The main reason for dusting off this blog was that I have had a VERY good weekend. Myself and my bestfriends went up to the Muskoka region for some serious cottage R&R and to celebrate a dear friend's 21st. Her family is very open and accepting to the idea of a gathering of youngsters and this weekend was no exception! 

The thing is we decided that while we were there we felt so disconnected from our homes and hardships that we got into this weird meta state of absolutely not caring, and it was lovely. It was sincere happiness in meeting new people but also catching up with those we already knew and expanding those relationships farther and forged something more permanent. I know this all sounds pretty, well...lame as shit, but the fact is that's how it went. Just..comfortable. It was really comfortable. 4 nights in a row of getting straight pissed was a blast but as I write this I'm definitely feeling like turning off the liquor for quite some time. I was truly so GAD DAMN happy. 

The drive home was today and it was fucking eery how with every kilometre travelled away from the cottage the anxiety of reality was setting in no matter how hard we reminisced. We're all going to be seeing each other in a couple weeks but still, it was...really hard to drive back. It's odd how in a road trip the drive to the destination is way more fun than the ride back. The fact is you drive past all the landmarks and signs that you've already cracked jokes about, that you've already told the stories that were spurred by them. It's kind of rough. We did alright as we mostly stayed silent and left all the windows down so we could get the good pine air in our lungs and relax with our thoughts of the trip. 

Memorable. I need detox. 

Cheers everyone, I hope you listen to and like the Stringers and that you did some stuff this summer that you will never forget! 

"We do what we do to get by..."

Hello all I realize it's been an age since I've thrown any of my usual garbage up on this site so heeeeere we go cats and kittens.

Fact is, Spring is here. I'm in a boring class that I have just evaluated the shit out of it and it's not pretty. I'm in a Canadian tuxedo because sometimes you just have to indulge. There's a girl with one of those weirdly long silk skirts that are see through so it ends up looking more like a weird turquoise cape. Like a fabulous disco Batman. Anyhow. Patios are sprouting, the call for a midday drink beckons loudly but we have the looming crush of exams to deal with. Life is chalk full with weights that don't balance out so you pick a side and vow to find redemption for all your wrong actions later, because sometimes that middle balance point only tears you apart straight down the middle. 

There was a day in March of last year that was weirdly warm. To the point shorts and tank tops were necessary. To the point wearing a swim suit and going tanning was the only conceivable option on how to deal with it all. I ended up on one of my best friend's rooftops surrounded by sunshine and...all my other good friends. I can't really explain in full how amazing of a day that was but I'm going to try. It was a day where all various groups of friends somehow found the time to come together and celebrate the day together. It was a day where people who didn't really know each other all that well suddenly did. It was a day where regardless with who you were involved with in any kind of fashion, you got along because you knew this shit was special. After making a game time decision, a long haired friend with a jeep and I raced to the beer store to fetch 36 Coronas and some ice, because again, it was the only option. Did we get paid back? Ha, no. Did we think we would? Not really. We supplied what was needed to make that day all the more enjoyable. It was so enjoyable to the point where my best friend/roommate had to leave for work but didn't even bother asking if we'd be here when he got back, because of course we would. We yelled from the rooftop at the weirdly large groups of runners going down Goulbourn to Somerset because it felt right at the time, and they yelled back because holy hell why not. 

After watching a glorious sunset it was obvious we had to go to the bar is it was a Wednesday and that can only mean...kareoke. I'll be honest, I was so booze and sun drunk at that point it was the last thing I had wanted to do, but I'm glad I reluctantly put on some trousers and dragged myself up the hill to Osgoode. Songs were sang shittily, drinks were provided for all because of money placed in accounts by caring mothers, and life rolled on. 

We did it right that day, guys. 

On another note, when I've been finding time and inspiration I've been laying down some pretty rough and tumble demo tracks that I've compiled into a 5 tracks wee album EP thingerdoodle you can download that I've named Demonstrations, and you can download completely for frizzle or just stream right here. It's some first look and listen ideas that I liked enough to do this with, so it'd be pretty cool if you gave it a listen just for kicks. Hoping to really dig in with it this summer. There's a Bruce Springsteen cover on there too. FOR A LITTLE TASTERDOODLE here's a track off it called "Factory" that I wrote about not speaking up when you feel something and how nine times out of ten it will cause you some serious grief down the line, but you keep on a-truckin'. But I feel lame telling you why I write songs so just listen to them and clap because that would make me feel really good and I'll for sure kiss your babies when you decide to have them. 

Ya'll are beautiful. More blogs soon because I like to write and pretend you read all of it. 

Follow Kristen Learned on twitter if you want to smile. 

Again, check us out on bandcamp for a free little downloaderdoodle right here
Gaslight Anthem..."Even Cowgirls Get The Blues"...
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In this study break sober edition of the Saturday night raw cover, I decided to do a nice little slow one that I hold dear. Click on the file to stream it, feel free to download it!

"We're Going To Be Friends" by the White Stripes.

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Lots and lots of playing recently and not a ton of bloggy woggy so I figured I'd just blog about playing and hope that none of you who know where I live come and rob me. Being left handed it's quite difficult to find models of guitars that are good and yet affordable. I'm not really a big believer in that very expensive guitars equal very well made, but there are many shades of grey. The fact is a guitar is multiple pieces of wood either bolted or glued together and some of them have electricity going through them and some don't. You pay a ton of money for the name on the headstock but that's because of the history and reputation that goes along with it. There are definitely guitars worth the 4 digit price tag, but there are many that aren't. I am in no way a master in the knowledge of the instrument or how to play it, but I do know what a good guitar feels like. None of the guitars I own are particularly expensive, but I love them for their weird nuances and all I really care about is how they sound. 

Here's what I play:

A Samick custom Greg Bennett Gold Rush series acoustic. I got this guitar around 10 years ago in Syracuse NY on a whim when my dad decided an acoustic would be a good call, probably I was so awful at playing my electric at the time (which won't be featured in this post because it is currently VERY broken and I'll restore that..probably never). Most acoustic guitars (most meaning Gibsons) come in at 24.5-25 inch scale, which is measured from the nut of your guitar usually to the 12th fret, and then double that measurement. This guitar is weirdly a whopping 27 inch scale, which really makes no sense at all. I have no idea whether or not the tone is affected by that, but it sounds perfect to me. A nice beefy low end, loud as hell and a nice twang to the treble strings. Really cool intricate designs around the sound hole and such. Spruce top, very pretty, very battered. The pick guard eventually kind of...fell off so there's this awkward tanline. but it's okay, it makes her human. 

Next is my latest and probably greatest that I bought in October of 2012 mainly because I wanted a smaller scale and bodied acoustic to be used mainly for playing live while plugged in. The guitar I ended on was a Taylor GS Mini. I decided to get the mahogany version instead of spruce to get a really nice low end while mellowing all the other strings. Small bodied acoustics generally bright so I decided to get something with an even tone all around. A ton of performers are using small bodied acoustics these days for that fun bright tone including Marcus Mumford, Dallas Green and my boy Brian Fallon when he does his solo acoustic sets. That darker wood is just so damn fiiine. 
My hecklecktrick geetar isn't really all that special but it looks super expensive (it's really not) and sounds really fantastic the way I have it set up. It was a 16th birthday present from my mom and I wanted a semi hollow mainly because that's what Tom DeLonge had been using at the time instead of solid bodied electrics. Over time I've discovered the hollow body gives you really nice sustain in everything you play and this semi acoustic sound when you're strumming chords clean. Although it only has alnico humbuckers in it I can get some pretty gnarly tone out of it with the amp I have which I shall get to after this. Overall I've found it to be very versatile, which I think a ton of artists have discovered nowadays. It doesn't stay in tune worth a damn but I just love playing it more than most guitars I've put my gross hands on. I removed the pick guard completely because I hate how angled they are on Gibson style guitars, it's almost like it bounces your hand away after every strum. It's going to get scratched anyway. Here's Karen, my cherry finished Epiphone Dot. 
My one and only amp is a doozy Vox AC30VR. I didn't get the true all tube AC30 because there are other things that are 1000$ I'd rather spend my money on, and this one does the trick anyway. It has 2 tubes in the pre amp circuit connected by a valve (VR=valve reactor) so it can hold the tone even through the higher volumes without being broken up naturally which is what would happen if there were tubes in the post amp as well. Having all tube is really desirable for that exact reason though. It has one clean channel and two overdrive channels, but I only really use the light one. I usually have the clean channel gain pretty high up to get some crunch anyway but when it's time for some leads I'll put on the OD. The second OD channel is a little too heavy for my liking. Crank the middle, drop the low end and you get the Strokes. Leave the middle off, crank the treble and drop the low end and you get Kings of Leon. Leave it clean and crank the treble and you get Chuck Berry. Crank the low end and drop the treble and you get the Blues and Rockabilly. I love it very much and was one of the best purchases I have ever made. This is Vox Roger.
As for effects I don't really use any, as I chase tone more than neat things. My only pedals are a Boss tuner and an MXR analog delay, because delay is king to me. It just adds so much depth to a note or chords, especially with the reverb cranked (mine. is. always. cranked.) even if it's just a  wee little bit. A small bit of delay and you can have little choppy chords that you'd fine in crooner songs and rockabilly, a lot of delay and you get every U2 song ever written. I will probably try and get a tremolo pedal sooner or later because I love how it can be used to make your chords shimmer ever so slightly. 

So this is what's been acquired over a lot of time! Remember that it really doesn't matter what name is on your headstock and that there is no such thing as a "real" guitar. If it's got strings on it that make noise...that's pretty real to me. If you can play it well, it's a good guitar. If you're a bad player on a great guitar, you're making me sad. 

Keep the memories in your bones.

What was shaping up to be a largely plan-less weekend actually unravelled has probably one of the most fun ones I have had in a very long time. Starting with a mass wine consumption on Thursday, a hilariously ill and mango vodka induced confident Friday and late night pitcher relaxation Saturday ending with a very odd confrontation all combined to peak my spirits to their all time high of 2013. So far..

Today I went home to the West End Estate to see dear old dad. He's doing just fine, and him and I decided baking ribs for lunch and then both retiring to our own most favoured couches for an hour and a half long sun nap was the best course for the afternoon. After we rose we went for a lovely walk on top of the hard frozen snow fields with the dog, sharing thoughts on current issues as well as how our lives were this week. I made the decision to polish my horridly salt stained jump boots to start my somewhat productive day and I found that performing such manual tasks allows for the mind to free itself and reflect. 

I realized that my 2013 so far has been a very odd and special one. That I've had revelations, if you will, in terms of what matters and what doesn't, and what should or should not be allowed to trip you up. 

I rang in the new year at my best friend's house as sore and shell shocked as can be due to being battered by an oncoming vehicle while I was walking across the King Edward/Templeton crosswalk completely legitimately in broad daylight, miraculously rising to my feet and actually being able to stay on them. The mental trauma will probably be engraved for a while, but the fact is I am the same man, and I am thrilled. I don't feel like getting into the details, but everything went well and no the man did not just drive away. This experience left me in an odd state for a while but I made some key decisions that don't really bear well with me but I knew I had to make them. It put into motion some projects I have always wanted to do but somehow never found the motivation for. 

I moved on to brushing my dog, a task I'll never know if he actually likes to have performed on him. He's very hot and cold in his old age, I find.

 At this point I realized that incident forced on me the choice to self record an EP that I may have been writing over a long time. I've always written things down whether they're outputted as single sentences or full songs, but I decided to man the fuck up and compile all my "works" and realize I actually have a shit ton of material to work with as well as the gear to make it sound somewhat listenable. I've already started, and regardless how it turns out I'm pretty stoked. Whether or not I've got talent I really do not know or care, nor do I write that to try and find reassurance, it's just something I really enjoy doing. Singing, strumming, songwriting. SSS.

I don't know, you get the idea that there really is not a whole lot you need to be frightened of, and that most things you are in fact scared of are constructs of your imagination and take one small push to pass through them unscathed (well, relatively). I am by no means saying I'm fearless. God no. I'm terrified of whether or not that next drink means I'm going to vomit everywhere or whether or not that assignment I submitted makes the difference of a pass or fail, but it's more knowing that once something's happened. It brings on a potentially sad revelation that maybe I am not an interesting person whatsoever, simply a completely average individual who has had interesting things happen to them. The question of whether or not that is really a bad thing. It presses onto you that asking a girl to have a drink with you really shouldn't come off as a monstrous ordeal or having a drunken lunatic threaten to break your nose is now somewhat totally laughable ("somehow I doubt you punch as hard as a car", type of thing). 

I go now and start a fire in the fireplace for my dad to a)heat the house for the night before I head back into the city and b)show I'm not totally useless. 

So in the end what have I come to conclude? That 2013 will probably be just fine. That what happens, happens. That I'll get around to doing what I truly enjoy and hopefully spend it with the ones that make me feel just fine. Gilmour is proving to never disappoint. 

Do what you like! You'll be alright!

Whatever comes my way, I shall encounter it while wearing a fine ass pair of boots.

And for fuckssakes look both ways.

Keep the memories in your bones.

Passive aggressiveness that is unreasonably directed is something I am seeing wear me down presently. It's incredibly difficult to not notice and to shut out, and even more frustrating as to why  an individual feels the need to unjustly take the side of the person in question hopefully thinking that silently being an asshole will result in a positive outcome. Allow the relationship between the two people who are going through an uncertain time in their lives to remain between them and leave your bullshit idea of an opinion out of it. If in your eyes I did something "wrong" to your friend by being honest with them, you can think that, sure, but it is not your call to make or to voice it. If you actually think I just nonchalantly cut a chord to an entire new network of friends I took 7 months to get to know, you clearly don't feel like being one of them. 

And that's sad. That's really fucking sad. Not only for you, but for me. 

It's just quite unfortunate to watch as all the people I was introduced to and the people I brought introductions to carry on their relationships as I get to sit on the sidelines reminiscing. Ridiculous. My only wish is that someday people watching can wake up and realize sometimes it just doesn't work out. 

Sorry for not being Hollywood. 

Here is the first edition of the Saturday evening raw and half drunk cover song series.

This song is by Fake Problems and is entitled "Songs for Teenagers"

Just understand me as I understood you.

BEIN' busy famjamalammin', reading up on my wine and definitely drinking enough of it. Besides that I've decided it would be a cool idea to go back to the gym on a somewhat (haha, definitely somewhat) regular basis because being a stick is only so cool for so long. 

Holidays were good, I don't have much to explain on that note. I hope that yours were as well, whatever you got up to. 

Random thought: that Hunter Moore guy is launching a new site where you can throw nude photos of your ex or whatever up on to get "revenge". That guy should probably just go royally fuck himself with a cactus and croquet mallet, but on the flipside the fact sending each other nude photos was a step you were willing to take, content is really sacred these days. 

Moving on

With 2013 starting up and no turning back (duh) it's time to buckle down again. Although I don't really have anything dead set this year that I consider to be exciting e.g. no trips planned, new jobs..whatever, I still have a lot of things going on/that I am trying to accomplish. For one, I'll be halfway through attaining my level 1 Sommelier certificate, and for someone my age...that's pretty damn cool (I mean, If I say so, anyway...). I don't know what to say really, I just love the world of wine now. Which leads me to my next paragraph...

I want to launch a wine website! The thing is, I don't really know what I would focus on as I don't really want it to be a generic thing. You can google a ton of questions you may have about wine and you'll get decently good answers/pointed at really good wine blogs. So my question to you, the reader, is this: what do I make the site about? I was thinking  of not bothering to write about 60$ Bordeaux or 40$ entry level Amarone (not that I can fucking afford it, anyway), but rather wine on the cheap but doesn't shed quality...because there is actually a ton of it. You can have a 50$ bottle of wine and you may hate it compared to your trusty 13.95$ bottle, and that's what makes wine so much fun and magical! Everyone is so different in their preferences. I feel like if you ask me things about wine I can answer in a fashion that will be simple to understand. If you want to get into wine, I can recommend wines to go with everyday meals, wines you can just drink by themselves and how to impress a date. Maybe. Let me hear what you want to know!

Random thought #2: I found my element jeans that were at the bottom of my drawer and oh my GOD they fit great. 

I really want to hit the slopes soon! We have had so much snow and my board is beautifully tuned and I wear bright blue pants and a hot pink jacket so there is REALLY no reason why I should not be there right now. 

I also am going to sit down with my recording gear and just lay down some acoustic demolos of songs I've been working on silently in the wee hours which is why no one hears them...putting an ensemble together is proving to be damn tough with time but it's a shame, there's so much potential in Ottawa especially with so many new venues that have come to fruition in the last year. I will be getting back into the open mic nights though, those were just fun. If I know any drummers with a place to play...please talk to me:)

On the listening front, I've been really getting into the Arkells' first album, Jackson Square. I didn't really love them as much as I do now until the second record but MAN this is a strong debut. It's one of those "not a bad song on it" records. For reals. One of my favourite bands, for sure.

I, uh, apologize for this kind of being a non funny and generally kind of crud blog post all about me BUT PLEASE tell me what you think of the wine website thing. It's something I really want to try and get off the ground you know?

Anyways, here's a pic of me you can totally use as a desktop wallpaper:
The cut on my chin is from getting really drunk and going tobogganing. I have no regrets.

Keep the memories in your bones.

p.s the wine thing. I'm serious.