New music love.

Last night I went to see Ingrid Michaelson at the Fillmore. While she sang brilliantly (when she DID sing) it was a good show. However, the best art of the show was the opening act.

these guys.

I’m a sucker for simplicity.
Holy crap. SO awesome. Just two guys alternating between their instruments: a guitar, a Ukelele, a keyboard and some sort of bass kick drum thingy that one of them stamped on while playing the guitar.

Beautifully executed harmonies and no fear of singing in percussive gibberish, even a sing-allong (another weakness of mine)!

I must start looking into a loop station or one of those bass drum kick thingies for myself. How much fun would that be? stay tuned and enjoy Guggenheim Grotto!


Hotel Utah and the World Series

Last night, Ryan and I performed with some good friends at the Hotel Utah in San Francisco. Due to the second game of the world series (betwen Texas and our beautiful home town of San Francisco) our start time had been pushed back an hour. This was completely fine with us. What a freaking awesome game.

picture from the balcony courtesy of Andrew Balmat
We were skeptical at first about weather playing on game night was a blessing or a curse. We thought everyone would file out after the game or continue sloppily cheering over our efforts. To our surprise, many folks decided to hang around. And, while there was some great post game discussion during the set, we found ourselves being able to play on just fine. We had a fine combined group of close friends and family (and the occasional new spectator) and all were pumped.

One inebriated individual even bought both of my parents a drink. Thanks dude!

I believe Ryan and I reached another level of understanding and professionalism as I completely forgot how to finish one of my songs (getting perpetually stuck in the bridge) and poor Ryan had to follow me until I figured my way home. He was flawless and nobody noticed.


Anyhow, we got an encore call 🙂

After passing the stage off to our friends Bigelow’s Treehouse, they tore it up and had people dancing in whatever space they could find.

Zinc Finger also had them jumping up and up and up.

So, the Giants won and gave us some ridiculous Karma.

Thank you San Francisco.

Let’s do it again sometime.

Motivating the Muse

Having no formal songwriting criteria or method, I’m still surprised I have as many coherent(or semi-coherent) pieces of music as I do today. There really aren’t any schools for this discipline.  I’ve managed to insert myself into a couple of really amazing songwriting communities.  But they don’t have syllabi.

So, how is it that I have the modest library of material that I do?

There are songs that I have retired (or at least temporarily so).  There are songs that I still play from years ago.  There are the freshly finished song that I still hum in my head at work.

Then there are the half songs, poems, one-liners and curious words scattered about in journals and folders all over my car, apartment, closet…etc.  There are even some snippets of sound bites recorded in my cell phone.  I know they’re in there, I just have to find them.

Where did they all come from?

I have thoughts all the time of random (even crazy) things.  What is the difference between being inspired enough to write something down and careless enough to let it dissipate into the ether?

I remember waking up at all odd hours of the night, jumping out of bed to find a paper and pen and then not being able to get back to sleep because I’m so buzzed about my sudden discovery.

Now, I wake up roll over lazily to the pen and journal stacked on my window sill and scribble whatever woke me up down without even turning on the lamp.  Pass out.

My muse is definitely sleeping.  I most certainly have to poke her with a stick to get her to pay attention. In fact, sometimes it’s as though our roles are reversed.

Does that sound odd?  It certainly feels odd.

It’s like we’re WELL past our honeymoon phase and on to the “dishes, Dear” portion of our time together.  I remember writing furiously when I first started.  It was like everything I experienced was slipping into my pen in some form of written inspiration.

Lately I’ve been going to see performances of every type to try to get her to pay attention.  Good friends who are also musicians are always great for the creative juju.  Seeing people I very strongly admire (Brandi Carlile, Ani DiFranco, etc.) give me something to strive for.  A “mark” if you will.

Sometimes she perks up.  We share a smile and write something down (like old times).

Travel does wonders. I often come back from a short trip and play my guitar until I pass out.

Imagine how much we could accomplish with an extended vacation?!

I guess I can’t blame her really.

I have a fairly stimulating day job.  She doesn’t.

I believe we still have something special and I have no plans to quit anytime soon.

I’ll keep working on the little things that seem to make her happy.

Cause when she’s happy, my whole world sings.

Emily Zisman & Ryan Avery at Hotel Utah, 06/23/10 8:30pm

Porkchop Express with The Hollyfelds and Emily Zisman & Ryan Avery
I’ll be teaming up with Ryan Avery to play some of the new electronica songs we’ve released over the past year:
This will be the first time we play these songs live, so be sure to check it out!

We’re stoked to join Porkchop Express and The Hollyfelds at the Hotel Utah, a San Francisco music staple.

For only $7 you get all of this great music:
8:30pm – Emily Zisman & Ryan Avery
9:30pm – Porkchop Express
10:30pm – The Hollyfelds

Hotel Utah Saloon
500 4th Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 546-6300

See you there!