Next Week’s Gigs, New Releases, and Other Things…

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Hello! It’s been two weeks! I’m already falling behind on these things! My goal when I started was to blog once a week, and here I am falling behind before I’ve even spent six months straight blogging. I hear that six months is the deadline. Like, that’s usually the time when people stop blogging.

So, updates, I’m still putting together this album, but I had a really good paying gig come up recently that I couldn’t turn down, and that led to another radio gig where I’m being interviewed and I’ll be cohosting Nice Show with my friend Scott Jackson on Sunday night from 8:00PM-10:00PM on KRFP Radio Free Moscow 90.5 FM. You can also tune in online or use your radio apps. I’m really excited to host with Scott. I think we’re going to have a good time talking and spinning records–or MP3s–for a couple of hours. The other gig is a show from 12:00PM-1:00PM in the Idaho Commons on University of Idaho campus. Free for you, and it pays me! Best of both worlds! Other than that, I had a roommate move out in the spring, so I’ve opened up my home as an Airbnb with a private room so that I can afford rent. I figure that this way I can decide when I want the apartment to myself and for how long. On top of all that, after coming back from vacation I needed to make some real money for a little bit, so I’ve been working more at my part time job while gearing up for my full time day job at the high school. Summer is almost over already! All’s to say that practically speaking, I haven’t had a whole lot of time to get in the studio.

In other news, I want to let you all know that my good friend Bart Budwig has been doing well and has begun a Kickstarter campaign to fund his new album The Moon and Other Things. I haven’t heard it yet, but I’m sure that like all of his other work, it’s going to be fantastic. I’ve had the privilege of recording my last two albums in Bart’s studio in its various locations, and I distinctively remember the conversation surrounding the titles of a few of his releases. I remember sitting there with Forrest VanTuyl when he brought up the John F. Kennedy quote after which Bart named this current project. “We choose to go to the moon and to do the other things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” I like to keep that quote in mind when I think of this album because I think that Bart is a person who has certainly gone through hard times, and I admire his ability to talk about them in his music. Please check out his Kickstarter!

Finally, although I have been busy running around and doing the non-creative things that most of us have to do to get by with life, I wanted to say that I’ve been enjoying listening to tons of podcasts including Marc Maron’s WTF!? I just finished listening to a really great episode with Laura Jane Grace of Against Me! There are several other interesting episodes with all sorts of people including President Obama, Mick Jagger, Jason Segel, Haley Joel Osmont, Conor Oberst, David Byrne, and several others. Maron spends about an hour with his guests usually, and it’s really cool how he can get to the human side of some of these people who we tend to think of as superhuman. I love hearing how other artists work and getting inside of their heads. If that’s your bag too, I highly recommend that you check it out.

That’s my speedy update. I’m going to review really quick and send it out. Next week is going to be a little hectic, so it may be another two weeks until my next update, but thanks for reading! Take care!

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Out of Touch

Hello, friends. It’s been years since my last blog post, at least 6 months since I’ve more than touched my personal Facebook, and (insert sarcastic tone) 2 years since my last confession. All jokes aside, I apologize for being out of touch. In the last year since I graduated from college, there have been a lot of changes and challenges in my personal life, and without going into detail, I’ll just tell you that I haven’t had the emotional or mental energy to keep up with the caucus race that is social media.

But alack and alas, the summer has freed me from my day job at the elementary school, and the DIY musician podcasts I’ve been listening to have been guilting me into updating my social media, so here I go.

First of all, I don’t mean to be a downer, I’m just a little sick of listening to people say over and over again that I need to update my Twitter and make music videos and take Instagram photos of my studio sessions and play a million shows in a million different places when I can barely afford the gas to travel after spending all the money that I don’t have on putting out a record that I can’t afford to properly promote in order to turn a profit. Speaking of profit, apparently the key to music sales is to stop selling and start telling a story and engaging people in your process so that by the time the product is ready, the people are ready to put money into it. In other words: “update your social media and tell everyone everything really cool that’s going on in your life all the time! It will make you really cool and popular!”

You know what? I was never popular in high school, and I was really glad when all that bullshit was over nearly ten years ago. I’ve never been great at the whole “win friends and influence people” thing. I’m not sure why, but I think it’s because I’m too vocal about my opinions and too quiet when it comes to meaningless chit chat. In any case, I don’t give a shit because I think I’m pretty awesome, and I have no problem sharing that with the world, but quite honestly I get tired of running into someone on the street, trying to chat with them, and then hearing them say, “Oh yeah! I think I read that on your Facebook.” And I’m glad they care enough to follow and remember what I do, but then I get a little paranoid and start wondering what else people can tell about my personal life just by coming across my updates on the news feed or scrolling through my timeline. Not that I have anything to hide, I just like a little bit of privacy sometimes.

And then venues–bless them for giving us a place to play and to listen, and bless the bookers who have to suffer through the task of sorting through and figuring out who is and isn’t legit and who will get a draw–but I just get so lost on my end figuring out where I want to play and how I can get a good draw in an area I’ve never played before. And then they ask where else you’ve played in the area and say that you can’t play there until you’ve played a two hour set at another place down the road that won’t let you in because they’ve never heard of you. And all the while I’ve got to juggle that with two day jobs. By the end of the day, I’ve had no time for myself to process and appreciate or learn from each of the significant little events that have happened over the course of my day. Oh, and songwriting? Jesus! Who’s got a spare second to sit in front of a computer screen or notebook and agonize over message, story, line breaks, word choice, rhyme scheme, melody, harmony, and rhythm?

Anyway, I’ve said all this not to complain. I chose this life, and I still love the music. The problem that I have is that I never chose this because I wanted to be cool and popular and have everybody like me. I chose this because I heard more than a few songs that expressed lyrically and musically emotions, ideas, and conflicts that I didn’t know anyone else felt or thought about. It made me feel less lonely. I just want to create that for someone else. Unfortunately, finding the people who connect to my music in such a way is a difficult task that requires a lot of promotion via social media, so I guess for now I’ll bite the bullet and do it.

So raise a glass, and toast to electric vanity!

More Dreams, Nightmares, and a Little Bit of Hope

Recently I’ve been thinking quite a bit about dreams. I had a dream the other night that I was a senile Kermit with a drinking problem, and then I went to a haunted sleeping porch with beds infested by worms. Church people were coming out of the walls and trying to scare me, but I wasn’t really paying attention because I was too busy wondering why the hell a sleeping porch was supposed to be scary.

Well, it’s been a few weeks since my last post, and I’ve mainly been focusing on work. I was in the studio last week. Dropped some bass and keys on Wednesday and Thursday. We still need drums on a few tracks, but most of the songs are coming along nicely. Since my last record, I feel that I have grown a great deal both as a lyricist and as a musician. As a result, I have been able to more accurately capture my ideas in audio form.

You may also be interested to know that I have been working on a new side project just for fun. Our debut show is scheduled for October 12 in Moscow, ID, and I would love to see you all there. In the mean time, we’ll be putting together a mean set list.

Not a lot more to say at this point. Most of my creative energy has been exhausted this evening on a brief assignment for senior seminar. Almost finished with college, after which I hope to be able to focus my creative energy on more melodic endeavors. Until next post, love to you all. Read a book. I hear that’s good for your brain. There’s a possible side-effect of cynicism, but if you’re already cynical, you’ve got nothing to lose.

Not in Kansas, Peter Parker

Yesterday was my third day in South Dakota. I-90 is littered with billboards for tourist traps. They’re starving for people in the Black Hills. After New Orleans, all activity suddenly slowed down. Towns are growing farther apart now, and they are looking more and more similar because they have less and less history and so many are made up of chain food restaurants: a Dairy Queen here, a McDonald’s there, a Subway attached to the gas station.

I can tell my mind is ready for home, and it’s not just because of the strange dreams and daydreams I’ve been having. My friend’s father was decapitated in a car accident with a semi when I was about 16. Now I rub my neck every time I am stuck on the highway behind a trucker driving 55 in a 65, impatient but afraid to pass…

No, it’s not just the fantastic flashes of car crashes. Those are normal, and I couldn’t help but have them last month after visiting James Dean in the graveyard. He told me all about how he died, and the story kind of freaked me out. I think the visions have gotten a little less frequent. They mostly occur when I’m on the highway or boxed in on the freeway, and I’ve avoided sleeping in my car to help keep the frequency down.

I keep thinking about that sign I saw as I drove within range of Tulsa: JESUS IS COMING. The style was outdated. The color was faded. The paint was chipped, and I could see the wood peeking through the holes in the lettering.

No, it’s not the crazy car crash thing that makes me think I’m losing my mind. It’s the fact that after I watched Spider-Man in Tulsa at 10:00 AM, I had a hard time remembering who I was: Peter Parker? Jeremiah Akin? Stan Lee?

It’s the fact that I identified so deeply with the characters in the new movie.

It’s the fact that I allowed myself to be so manipulated that I walked out saying, “Wow! That’s exactly what my life was like when I was sixteen, except for the superpowers and having a girlfriend like Emma Stone’s character.”

It’s the fact that I fell in love with Gwen Stacy for a whole two hours, and then I had to remind myself that she wasn’t a real person.

It’s the fact that it now seems normal for a belligerently drunk man to come on stage with me, steal the mic, and sing all the lyrics to “Dammit” as I am playing the song. I could taste his breathe from three feet away. It tasted like burnt cigarettes, marijuana smoke, and cheap beer.

It’s the fact that it now feels weird when I play a show and no one tells me that I’m pretty. In Arkansas a man mistook me for a “friend of Dorothy.” In Kansas a girl wrote “I’m not wearing panties ;)” on my mailing list and told me I was very handsome. I’m not trying to brag, but more so trying to acknowledge how vain I’ve become. Surprisingly, I’ve managed to simultaneously cling on to my self-deprecating sense of humor. I’m not sure how that works, but I think it has something to do with the fact that self-hatred and self-love are two opposite manifestations of narcissism.

I played a gig on Thursday in a town that consisted of two bars, a library, school houses, and a post office. “Main Street” ran through the neighborhood. Train tracks crisscrossed the street with the bars, library, and post office. About two blocks from the door of the bar were infinite acres of cornfields.

Well, as boring as the Midwest can be, the Black Hills are beautiful, and Rapid City has been an adventure. Last night after my show I was invited to a strange basement apartment to play music in exchange for $40.

“How much do you charge per hour?” asked the older-looking woman in the onesie and fedora.

“Umm…what?” The context of some of the experiences I have had on tour paired with my narcissism led me to believe this woman was making a less than admirable proposition.

My soundman interrupted: “He only plays music.”

Good. At least I’m not the only one sketched out by this situation.

“Yeah. That’s what I mean. How much would it cost for you to come over and bring your guitar and play us a couple of songs? We’re having a party.”

I finished up the show at Hall Inn and walked over the this woman’s house. I made my soundman and the venue booker come with me. I played a few songs to a tightly-packed smokey room of about fifteen people sitting around on couches and talking loudly. We left at about 2:15 AM.

I stayed on the property of the venue booker, a sweet girl who works at the winery I had played the night before. She owns land that she leases to her parents. I slept in the spare bedroom of her parents’ house, and she slept outside with her pet raccoon. From what I gathered, sleeping outside is the norm for her. When I walked in the house, there was an overweight naked man on the couch watching television. I waved. He stared. I kept walking.

Raccoons are fascinating up close. This girl’s raccoon was only a pup (or was it a kitten?). His name was Max (I know. Rocky would have been perfect in the Black Hills). The fascinating thing about Max was that he moved with such fluidity. Cats and dogs are very mechanical creatures in comparison. Raccoons seem to have a far less square type of structure, and when they walk it looks like they are using every muscle in their arched little bodies.

I’m pretty excited for Colorado today. The first time I went through I had two pretty fun shows. Tonight will probably be pretty low key since it’s a Sunday. No worries. Gwen Stacy just called and told me she was going to be there.

Week Two

I put up a new post, but then I decided that the things I wanted to write weren’t ready to be written yet. It’s been so many days since my last post that I should just catch you all up to now. I apologize for the lack of creative description here.

Most of the shows so far have been pretty small. In Utah I played in the corner of a small Texas style barbecue restaurant. An older woman requested that I play some Willie Nelson. I told her I didn’t know and Willie Nelson and that I focus mainly on original work, but I offered to play Johny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” instead. As the woman was leaving she handed me a five, gave me a pat on the shoulder, and said, “You’re pretty good, but think about Willie.”

I told her I would think about Willie. I promised nothing more than that.

Colorado venues seemed to like me. In Pueblo I talked for a while with a bar tender who had Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson tattooed on his right arm and Allen Ginsberg and Charles Bukowski tattooed on the other. One of the patrons tipped me in Pall Malls.

After my set, I fell in love with a very witty and intelligent black-haired girl who drank only water and told me she used to model lingerie. For better or worse, she was too smart for both of us. Throughout the talk, she seemed to be mistaking me for a pick-up artist, so even though our conversation went well, it ended at the bar.

Meh. It only takes me a couple of minutes to fall in love anyway.

In Colorado Springs I got to see my great aunt and she bought me lunch at a French sandwich shop. It’s been about two years since the death of my grandfather, and I was fascinated to see so many of his facial expressions and mannerisms in my aunt. There were no dangerous brunettes to speak of at this venue; only a friendly male barista who loved the skull on my merch table and gave me a hug after the set. (Just to clarify, by friendly, I mean friendly and nothing more. It’s hard to be clear sometimes when you’re writing in a hurry.) I drove after and slept at a rest stop between Colorado and Omaha.

There is too much to talk about in Omaha, and in Winona there is basically nothing to talk about, so I’ll save the good stuff for later and fast forward past the boring stuff, leaving you with a mediocre story.

After spending the night swatting mosquitoes in my back seat at a rest stop, Chicago driving was a pain in the ass. Upon arriving, I had plenty of unjustified road rage. After getting some rest, I quickly adapted. I stayed at a hostel, and there were tons of twenty-somethings from all over Europe staying there. I had roommates from Sweden, France, Spain, and I think Australia.

At Monday’s gig, I was pleasantly surprised when my old songwriting teacher showed up and sat through my whole show. He lives in Chicago over the summer and gives bike tours, so after the gig we went for a drive and he showed me around. We had a good time drinking Belgian beer on tap at Hopleaf, and then met up with some of his friends at a diner.

Monday was my first real day off, so it was pretty boring because I was taking care of all the stuff I hadn’t had time to do. On Monday night I spent about an hour drinking beer and talking with a group of Germans who were making a movie about their friend. They were going at the pace of about 120 miles per day, and their friend was biking at the same pace. The film crew of about 4 or 5 were sleeping in parking lots in a van, and the biker was sleeping outside at every stop. The biker was the only non-smoking, non-drinking vegan. The other guys seemed to be having a good time.

Left Chicago yesterday. Besides getting bedbugs and leaving with what looked like chicken pox, my stay was awesome.

Last night’s show was small, but I sold a couple t-shirts, and the venue owner, was really cool. I enjoyed hearing his stories about having hung out with various musical personalities. He told me Alanis Morissette once squeezed his ass, and I immediately knew he was a man worthy of my respect. He also told me that James Dean was buried nearby, so this morning I smoked the Colorado Pall Malls next to Dean’s headstone before making my way to the venue.

Right now I’m in Ohio and finally starting to lose geographical track of myself. I think we’re going to have a good show. There are multiple acts playing, so that will bring more people in, and one of the locals outside told me that the people who hang out here are mostly hipsters who drink PBR. That seems to be my target demographic at this point. Who’s to say what will happen when the hipster phase goes out of style? I’ll probably just start sounding old and outdated. As long as I’m not playing casinos at age fifty, I think I’ll be okay. Did I just jinx myself by saying that?

Send Off and First Show

Well, it looks like I’m officially on tour. I’ve been putting off writing anything because I’m not really a blogger, so I’m not sure of what kind of “voice” a blog is supposed to have. As a result of my lack of direction and my rushed posts, this blog is bound to have a bit of a rough and unrefined feel. You see? My sentences are already full of redundant adjectives.

Alright, alright, alright. Enough with the boring and apologetic prefacey stuff. Down to business.

I want to thank all of my friends and family for making me feel so loved as I was sent off. They have all supported me so much both morally and financially. On Sunday morning before I left, my family and friends took me out to The Breakfast Club. When our waitress and my dear friend Rachel brought the check over and I saw the doodle she’d drawn on the back of the check I wanted to cry. It was a little dog with a speech bubble that said “We’ll miss you, Jerm!” It’s a good thing I’m so macho otherwise I might have turned into a pitiful puddle of tears and snot.

Caldwell was pretty fun. I arrived a day before my show so that I could wake up in time for a radio interview. Short radio and television spots seem to be some of the best ways to get exposure these days. I think people are getting too comfortable just sitting in their houses. They like it when entertainment is brought to them, and not the other way around. I’m not criticizing, because I am guilty of the same thing. I am just observing.

The show booked in Caldwell was a house show, so I was able to stay at the venue. On Monday morning before the radio interview, I rode bikes around Caldwell with my host, Bert. Bert is a friendly guy in his late forties or early fifties with a couple of grown kids, and he’s full of stories about being a roadie for various Christian bands from the 80s, including a band called “The Call.” His son is a semi-professional rugby player, which I think is pretty cool. I don’t know squat about rugby (or most sports for that matter), but I watched Bert’s son’s game, and I enjoyed it.

Caldwell isn’t a very interesting place right now. The downtown is halfway rebuilt. The rest is run down and looks like a ghost town, but Bert is currently in the process of securing a building in which he hopes to build an event center. He has some good ideas for boosting the local economy in Caldwell, one of them being the events center. He hopes that will bring more people into the town and encourage local business.

The radio interview was in Boise proper, so Bert and I drove down, and I had the fortune of finally meeting Eric Gilbert of Finn Riggins. He conducted the interview, he played a recording of one of my new songs, and then I played a song live. We were there for about a half hour and then went for a walk around town. We ended up eating lunch at a Vietnamese place and talking about how much we hate church politics.

In the evening, Bert and his roommates made dinner for everybody: barbecued pork, and chicken for the kosher members of Fleet Street Klezmer Band. The salad was dressed with a homemade blackberry vinaigrette, and for a side dish we had garlic mashed potatoes. The flavors of the meal were perfectly balanced between sweet and savory, and they made so much food that nobody felt guilty about going back for seconds.

Two of the opening bands (Fleet Street Klezmer Band and Bamboo Spork) had the sort of charming and folksy Eastern European flare that I find inspirational. The third opener, The Green Zoo, were more on the indie/new emo end of the spectrum. I exchanged CDs with them and really enjoyed listening to their album on the way to Huntsville, UT. It is a concept album that mixes songs and dramatic dialogue in an attempt to explore existential ideas. I thought this was a risky and ambitious undertaking for a first album, but the disk was well put together.

Well, I don’t want to give you too much to read at once. I’ll try and come back to this tomorrow and fill you in on more of what has been going on. I’ve got plenty more to say about the last couple of nights, and I’m looking forward to the show tonight. Just sitting in the coffee shop and trying to catch up on stuff right now. I’ll try to send a few postcards back home. In the mean time, keep me updated on what’s going on back home. I’m sorry to be missing so many things that are going on in all of your lives this summer: weddings, parties, people moving into newly bought homes, and all other sorts or transitions. I miss all y’all in Moscow, but I know this summer will go quickly, and I’ll be home soon.

Until next time,
Jeremiah

P.S. Is “until next time” a tagline for the end of some 90s cartoon? I kind of feel like it is. If you know, tell me. This is going to bug me now.

Summer Tour Begins!

Hey friends, fam, and fans!

Thanks for checking out the blog. I am getting pretty excited for summer tour, and I have my first pre-tour dates coming up this weekend. One is at The Filling Station in Bozeman, Montana on Friday, May 18th at 9:00 PM with Blue Voodoo. The other is at the 406 Club in Great Falls, Montana on Saturday, May 19th at 9:00 PM. If you live in either of those areas, please come. It will be well worth your time.

Now to get to the more exciting part. I would greatly appreciate it if some of you who are well-traveled in the states would take a look at my schedule on www.jeremiahakinmusic.com and, in a reply to this post, tell me something exciting about any city with which you are familiar. There should be no time for boredom on this trip. I will be updating this blog all summer with exciting tales from tour, and you can help to make this adventure even more exciting.

Finally, the money plug: this is my first tour and I know it’s going to take a serious toll on my wallet. This being the case, I will be taking donations of any amount for tour. I will give a CD and a t-shirt to anyone in the Moscow, ID area who donates $30 or more. Just click the PayPal link below, enter the amount you would like to give, put your t-shirt size and your shipping information in the information box, and I will put the gift in the mail directly.

Thanks again for reading! Please subscribe, and check back soon for “Tales from Montana.”

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Tour Updates and Blog Welcome

Hey all. Looks like I’ve just started the blog. I’ll be updating over the next few months while I’m on tour. Pretty excited for the adventures and the random encounters. Hope you are as well. I’ll keep you posted with pictures from all over the country. Who knows? I might even end up in your neck of the woods! Check the tour schedule to find out. It’s under shows at www.jeremiahakinmusic.com

Check often. We still have a lot of dates to fill, and I wouldn’t want to miss the chance of having an adventure with any fans!

Thank you all once again for your support. I have been very busy trying to keep up with school and work while getting this tour together. I don’t know that I’ll have the new album together by June, but we’re planning on at least having an EP out by the time tour rolls around. Keep checking back for exciting updates!