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Damn the Torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead…

P1010318   The choices in the business at hand are always considered either that of wisdom or folly.   I’ve immersed myself fairly deep in my latest venture… and we’ll see if it turns out wise.

Recording as a Tribute Artist is always a topic of hot debate.   Even to myself, it seems folly unless we can do something meaningful with these songs.  Simply reproducing precisely what is done by the original artist seems dumb.  Just doing a sloppy job of it, also pointless… as in both cases, why wouldn’t a person just try to find an album by the original artist?  I’d love to be able to elevate an old song to some new relevance without disrespecting the original arrangement.   Having someone tell me I achieved THAT would be the ultimate motivator to do more.  These are the instructions to the Mixing and Mastering Engineer.  A tall order when the 1977 Rumours album, the 8th best selling album of all time (Over 40 million copies sold) took a year to produce and probably a million dollars in studio time.

Most of the vocals are “in the can” and we only have a few more bits of saxophone, mandolin, violins and other strings, and pedal steel guitar to add to the tracks.  I didn’t write a single one of these songs… but I still feel like it’s a work of art that I’ve been able to have a hand in.  I’ve tasted working in a big well equipped studio with absolute A-List musicians…. and it’s a really really wonderful flavor.

As Christmas 2012 approaches and I think about the wisdom of my choices, I try to think philosophically  about these things.  From an article I read recently, “A wise person sees both sides of a matter.  The fool sees only one.  The origin of the word “wizard” is wise-ard. It means wise man. Nothing more.

The wise-ards of the Christmas Story followed a star, had an adventure, made a discovery and leaped onto the pages of history. What did they talk about along the way? Who did the cooking? What pressing issues did they leave unattended back home? Did they do anything really big with the rest of their lives? Where, when, and how did each of them pass?

We know only that they followed a star everyone else was content to ignore… that they were nonconformists with strange beliefs who had the courage of their convictions.  They took action. They left home and found the thing they sought.”

This is what gets me out of bed in the morning.  How about you?   Will you run with the big dogs or sit on the porch and bark at the postman?  Talk is cheap, the buzzing of flies.    What are we trying to accomplish?   How will we measure progress-to-goal?   Do I know what needs to happen next?    Which star do you follow?

An encounter with the wise man in the woods is part of every hero’s journey.  Athena was the wise man in the woods for Odysseus. When Obi-Wan was gone, Luke went to Dagobah and Yoda became his wise man. Mr. Miyagi was wise-ard for the Karate Kid. Morpheus for Neo. Galadriel for Frodo.

When you’re in the darkness of the forest – the belly of the whale – look around for the wise-ard who will help you complete your journey. The wise man in the woods exists only to assist the hero on his or her adventure.  I’d love to be that hero….

“As I bow at the waist and back slowly off the page, I pass along these carefully crafted words from heroes who carved their names deeply in the tree of life.”

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a Ride!'”
– Hunter S. Thompson

“If your life’s work can be accomplished in your lifetime, you’re not thinking big enough.”
– Wes Jackson

2013 awaits,

Julie C Myers

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The Boys of Summer…

In my high school years, I always took all things musical very seriously.  Many times it was at the expense of my school work.  I tried to be a good student but I would stay at the dance studio until late at night and put off doing my home work.  High school was boring because it was an all girl private Catholic School and I had a hard time concentrating on my work… especially when boys started entering the picture.  I was a little boy-crazy and I really knew how to pick ’em.   Not gonna mention any names here cause one of them ended up being seriously dangerous in the end!   This guy was my first real “boy-friend” and I dated him through high school and into my first year of College.  I had a few crushes earlier on but nothing major.   This guy went crazy on me at some point and I haven’t seen him since … other than a little “stalking” incident a few years later in Hollywood.  My dating relationship, dance, and music pretty much consumed all of my time.  By now I was majoring in theater and I was impatiently waiting for the future to unfold.  I eventually got through all that and was off to spread my wings, be on my own, and hopefully support myself.  I landed a dance position with a show in Hot Springs Arkansas.  I met a young guitar player there by the name of Jimmy Craig, and started a new friendship with him.  We had our dreams in common and we hung out more and more… eventually becoming romantically involved.  He was a good boy friend and even though it didn’t last, he’s a good friend to this day.  Somewhat later he became friends with my brother Phillip because of their shared musical aspirations.  He’s a very talented musician and someday, if things work out, I’d like to do something musical with him again as well.

Risky Business…

I’ve heard that “the person who achieves spectacular failure has at least attempted something bold.   Failure is a temporary condition.  Success is likewise temporary.  Life, itself, is temporary.”   I think I’ve lived my life taking chances… but not probably really BIG chances.   I have people telling me to go out on a limb.   I know that  “mediocrity comes from having perfectly implemented tried and true, traditional wisdom”.  I am venturing into uncharted territory right now.

  The frightening thing is that outcome is the only thing that separates confidence    from hubris. If your bold idea succeeds, you were a confident visionary. If your bold idea fails, the walking dead will accuse you of being full of yourself. “It was hubris,” they will say.

I am trying to convince myself to ignore the zombies.  Life is risk and risk is life.  The only death is mediocrity.  It’s still hard to fling myself into something uncertain…. and I can tell you that the view from the edge is spectacular!   Zombies invented the lie that curiosity killed the cat.   But it wasn’t curiosity that did her in.  I think it was boredom.  Boredom killed the cat.

Security, boredom and a bloodless life are all the zombies have to offer.   I’m putting my faith into the advice of friends and advisors… and following that advice into the “Forest of Uncertainty”, I’m going to ask directions of angels, anticipating they’ll answer by opening doors I never knew were there.   I hope to “kiss the hand of Serendipity as I gaze upwards into her face”.   I hope she smiles….

My experience is that Zombies tell many lies under the guise of sound advice.  The most famous of which I’ve found is that “If you give your money to financial experts they will grow it into a fortune”.  Strangely, this lie is partly true. But often, the only fortune those experts will grow your money into is their own.  Invest in the things you know.  Invest in yourself, is my advice.   I’ve been a performer all my life and that is what I know.   I’ve been convinced to do some recording… and today, I just completed day one of working on a video.   We’ll likely be shooting the rest of the week. Seems risky to me right now… but wow, what a blast!  The view from the edge is spectacular…

If our Healthcare System is so great, why this…

March 27, 2012.  Today my energy and emotional fortitude is all but drained from my body.  My initiative for things creative is in the gutter.  My brother’s condition is sapping me of anything I might give to those around me.  He’s fallen gravely ill and I’m doing my best to make a quick trip out to Florida to see him while he is yet conscious.  The health care system seems to be failing him so very badly.  It is explained to me that the tumor on his pancreas is preventing him from making digestive enzymes needed to turn food into energy and he is wasting away.  He barely has the energy to walk anymore and I’m afraid he will starve if there is no intervention.  They never keep him in the hospital when he’s there for tests and yet he is on death’s door.  I’m not medically trained but anyone I talk to says he should be fed intravenously if he cannot absorb nutrition the usual way.  He’s been told to get stronger and gain weight to be in shape to survive an operation… but shouldn’t they be helping that to happen??  I feel so hopeless in all of this… …and being in Canada now, for all the talk in the US about how “the Canadian Free Public Healthcare System is so inferior”, I know for a FACT Phillip would be checked into a hospital and everything that could be done for him WOULD be.  NOBODY, not even a homeless person gets left to die on the street…

New addition to my original post.  April 26, 2012.  I’m grieving the loss of my dear brother Phillip.  As my sister Dina wrote,  “Our hearts are broken into pieces. Our dear brother, son, father, soul mate, uncle and friend, Phillip Myers, passed away this morning at 3:30 a.m. There was no kinder, compassionate, beautiful and talented man. He would help anyone in need, no matter how difficult the task. I had the privilege of holding his hand during his last few hours. Phil, we will miss you more than you will ever know but you will live in our hearts forever. It pains me to have to let his friends know the sad news and I know it is probably a shock to many of you. Phillip was a very private person and didn’t want to burden people with his illness but I know you would all want to know.”   He will be greatly missed indeed.

I feel like the healthcare system failed him somehow.  I’m not a medical professional so my opinions may not be count.  I just know that in the town I call home, there’s a man going about his business who hasn’t had a working pancreas for years by now.  He has to wear a “back-pack” with special “food” in it that is somehow automatically fed into his digestive system through a special port on his side.   He functions well and appears totally “normal” in every other way.   Apparently this is the only method by which you can survive without the digestive enezimes normally made by your pancreas.  Phillip basically died of starvation.  A pretty horrible way to go.  He was unable to eat anything due to the digestive problems created by his pancreas not working.  I’d like to learn more about this problem and would love to see other people going through this better helped.  My heart is so very broken right now….

The Formative Years:

I was born Julie Clare to Joseph Frank and Peggy Anne Myers in Memphis TN.  I was their fifth and last child, a bit of an afterthought or possible mistake… as there was five years between myself and my older sister Dina.   I’m told I was a precocious child, slightly hyper active, and physically adventurous.  Apparently I was always tumbling or dancing to music, that was virtually always playing in our home, from the day I could stand holding onto the sides of my crib and playpen.  As a five or six year old I mastered the technique of climbing up the walls of a hallway or door frame by using both my hands and feet to put pressure on the opposing sides.  My mother took pleasure in my physical adventures and enrolled me in ballet, tap, and jazz dance classes when I was very young.  Even before all that, I wanted to be on a stage badly enough that at five, I lied about my age at an audition to land the roll of the “Fairy” in Peter Pan.  I can’t believe I made it in there because I couldn’t even say the name of the Catholic Private school, “Immaculate Conception”, I was supposedly attending as I had no front teeth!  I was in Grade one when I brought my much older brother David to school to accompany me on guitar as I sang “I’m Leavin’ on a Jet Plane” at the school talent show.  I won for the Grades 1 through 5 category and I’m not certain if I wasn’t allowed to enter again or why it is that I don’t remember another talent show in all my Grade School years.   Perhaps they wanted to make sure more people had the opportunity to win these things and had rules to help make that happen.  It wasn’t long before my mother added acrobatic and gymnastic classes on top of it all.   I realized when I was older that my mother lived vicariously through my exploits of the things she got me involved in.   My entire family was very supportive and I loved all that stuff.   It was also years later that I found out that the reason my brother’s friends would ask me to do back hand-springs across the back yard all the time was because they would be on drugs and they loved the trippy effect of seeing that under the influence.  I lived it all day long and dreamt about it every night.   One of the things that stands out as a great memory is the Mid-South Fair.  Here, some of my best friends and myself were doing all kinds of dance, dance mixed with acrobatics, and/or solo singing.  It was all a big competition and I had to work hard to win a spot on these stages.  Music and dance has always been huge in Memphis.  One really great memory that stands out is a dance group I belonged to winning first place one year. Christmas shows, recitals, and performances were great and most of it came easy.  I always looked forward to anything on a stage…except for gymnastic meets.  They made me so very nervous.  Maybe it was that there were bigger expectations on me than those I had of myself…I’m not sure.  Music and dance proved to have the bigger pull on me and there was a lot of time when that was all I wanted to do.

An Experience to Remember…

Okay, debriefing from the Dallas Symphony show has taken me a little longer than I’d hoped.  It was an experience of a life time, to be sure!  Wow… I just loved the power of the Horn Section during the cries in Rhiannon.   A totally different dynamic to a performance like that than even a band that’s really cranked up.  Interestingly, the volume is actually somewhat lower on stage but the intensity of the huge number of instruments all SEEM to add up to something bigger than life!  I just loved it!!

I’ve been sitting in my Hot Tub here at home a couple of times reflecting on things and I have to say I did find the the demographics at the shows to be a little puzzling.  There were some younger people there… as young as 10 years old, but not that many.  You WOULD expect there to be a larger proportion of elderly people as they are the major demographic holding season’s tickets…AND, I DO know symphonies book a Rock show like this to help diversify their audience base, and yet, I don’t think they advertised the show to anyone but their seasons ticket holders.  Even though the shows were very well attended, it sort of seemed to defeat their desired out come, I should think.   Not my problem I suppose… but none the less, puzzling.

There would be a few things I’d do differently, if I ever had an opportunity to do this again.  I’d like to address the symphony as a group to jump start a bit of a relationship with them, right up front.  Just to get everyone on the same footing.  In a group that size, sometimes the feature artist is looked on with a bit of disdain as you are seen to be there to usurp their moment in the spot light.  This is very counter-productive to getting a good show together in short order.   I’m no diva and I need to be sure it doesn’t take me all weekend to let these people know I am soooo unbelievably honored to be performing with THEM…. with an emphasis on “with” and “them”.  In the end, it was all good.  The audience was never the question.   They loved the show and were very appreciative…  For me, it will be a memory to last a life time.

Aside

This week has b…

This week has been an emotional roller coaster ride!  I was brought crashing down from the high of the biggest gig of my career by a call telling me my brother Philip had been diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer earlier this week.  Wow. I think that might be terminal.  I’m told that he’s “lucky” in that he has a tumor in his pancreas and not his entire pancreas is cancerous… but where’s the luck in that?  We ARE all hanging on to the hope that an operation will remove it and that the cancer has not metastasized to the rest of his body.  Do the really great times in life make the down times seem that much worse?

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I’ve had my share of heartache in my life.   My middle brother died when I was 18 when a drunk driver hopped the curb and ran him down walking down the street.  His wife, my sister in law, was gunned down when caught in the cross fire of a convenience store hold up she walked into less than a year later.  My first husband died of a drug overdose in 1993.  He was bipolar and was fine with his medications on board but, as is so often the case, when he was fine he would decide he didn’t NEED his medications and this could have catastrophic consequences.  My father passed away due to the complications of Alzheimer’s in 2007.  I’m not sure I could handle loosing another brother… and I just KNOW my mother would loose the will to live if my brother wouldn’t pull through this.

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Philip, myself, and brother Joe at my wedding January 7, 2012…

I’m not sure if a blog or FaceBook or twitter are appropriate places to ask people to pray for situations like this… but I guess that’s what I’d really like to do. Please pray for guidance for his doctors and for healing in his body.  Pray for my families emotional well-being in all of this as well.

The roller coaster had another twist in the ride in that my husband’s daughter Kristen gave birth to a baby boy in Africa right about the same time we heard about Philip!  This is her third child and his name is Isaiah David John… a brother to Zechariah, almost 3, and sister Maisha, 4 and a half.  Kristen and her husband Kevin are group tour hosts in North Africa for groups from North America.  They speak several languages and two of their children have been born in North African hospitals.  I am not Kristen’s mother and to her children, I am “Aunty Julie”… or “Aunty Joe-Lulia”.  We had hoped to head out to Africa for a short visit after the baby was born but travel plans are on hold while Philip’s treatment plan is still uncertain.  Kristen’s mom, Jocelyn, is out there right now helping out the newly expanded family.  We hope this gets settled with Philip so we can head out there for a bit as well.  I’m in Boston for a show on April 7th so it would be wonderful if we could do that shortly after….

Such is life…

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Little Zechariah sharing his toy car with newborn Isaiah…