I was the featured artist in NAC’s newsletter this month – here’s some of it, click the link at the bottom to read it in full, and subscribe there to get their monthly news about arts events that are happening!
Exclusive interview with Dale Tippett Jr.
“It’s shaping up to be an extremely exciting year,” Dale says when asked about his plans for his solo project, Dale Tippett Jr featuring Tin Lolita. “We’re on track to have a new song released every month this year, an EP for the summer and a full-length release in the fall.” Dale’s music is best described as “sultry blues rock, peppered with a little jazz influence.” Dale and Tin Lolita (Ezra Lange, bass, and Auggie Jaramillo, drums,) will be making appearances at several festivals and neighborhood events in Chicago this year.
Putting out a new song every month seems like it would be challenging. How has the experience been so far?
Honestly, not that bad. I laid out a large-scale plan, but there’s still room for improvising. In January, for example, I released a video and free mp3 download of “We Shall Overcome” with my friend Eric McGhee. I knew the plan, and that the song would happen – but I didn’t know exactly what the execution would look like until the day of the session. Eric didn’t even know exactly what was going on until I was setting up the camera! The music and video for the February release, Lonely for You, had been done for a couple years already, so I didn’t sweat much over that.
So, can you give us a sneak peek of what you’re working on for March?
I just recorded a pop-punk version of ‘Oh Danny Boy’ with Rich Aszling from 5 minus X. It was a fun session. It should be out before St Patrick’s Day.
I got chills, they’re multiplying
And I’m losing all control
And the power that you’re supplying
So I figured that it would be best for me to get one of these up before this became ancient history:
Have a good day – AND Keep an eye out for the new single from myself and Richard Aszling from 5 minus X – like them on Facebook, and show a little support, yeah?
No, not really… Well, kinda. Shakespearean actors joined me in a fun rendition of “This Little Light of Mine” alongside our hostess, Rev Katherine Paisley at IPUMC’s arts gala, March 1, 2014. Here’s the video, shot by Justin Eisenbraun from UpBeat Music and Arts. Check his original music out and LIKE his page for Ancient Seas. Here’s the vid:
The night overall was a blast, other than the cold weather. I played two sets, one at six, and one at nine – but because of the weather (even if the weather was great, I’d blame the weather) nobody was there, so we took some time to hang out, get to know each other, and shoot a few videos – since we had this great church space to work with as a backdrop.
Joining me was Rev Katherine Paisley, the pastor of Irving Park United Methodist Church. It’s a swell place, and they host the Irving Park Food Pantry, where I play a couple times per year for folks – especially at Christmastime when there are a LOT of people in line.
This event was the 2nd Annual Arts Gala, a fundraiser for the church and a networking event for artists and performers. Overall, a very cool show, with lots of great people. The Shakespeare All-Stars, who joined Rev Katherine and I in the video were great for hopping in with us, and they put on one hell of a show – you really should check them out, LIKE them on Facebook, and all that jazz.
My late set was much better attended, and since everyone was so great to hang out with, we were all able to laugh, tell stories, and BOY do I wish I had video of EVERYBODY missing their cue to sing on Sweet Home Chicago – yeah, these things do happen.
Northwest Arts Connection was well represented, and Alderman John Arena and his wife were in attendance. They rocked out and also missed their cue in Sweet Home Chicago – but don’t judge – like I said: EVERYBODY did.
WHO WANTS A ST PATRICK’S DAY SINGLE?
Coming up next: a “Quick” recording session with Rich from 5 minus X will be up on iTunes shortly!
I’ve got the problem. Really, like THE problem. The artist’s problem, the one that stops us all dead in our tracks, probably the most deep-rooted, stomach-wrenching, ulcer-inducing confidence-crushing disease that I call the PROBLEM. I don’t know if I believe in myself right now. I don’t know if what I have to say is worth hearing. I don’t know that what I write was written well enough. Every mistake is magnified and suddenly VERY significant.
We all go through it, I know. It usually manifests itself in some sort of stage-fright, or performance anxiety. I know guys that have been playing for as long as I have, in the same capacities, that take medication for it – legal medication, even!
How many of my friends have I helped through this? How many times have I watched you play, tell you what you did well, what you needed to improve? How many people have asked for my help – or just expressed this kind of fear to me? How many times have I played coach, and who’s gonna coach me? I don’t know. I probably just need my own advice, my own experiences and my own medicine to get through this – I’ll work it out here, but you gotta promise that this stays between you and me, ok? I don’t want it getting out that I got performance anxiety… Happens to everybody, right? Right?
When I take a casual look at my personal creations, my writing, my live performances, I typically feel fine about them, but when it comes time to take the critical look – I only see the cracks. I see the pressure of production schedules, budgetary concerns, the minutia of arrangements, the details and nuances I’m trying to capture in my guitar work – and that nuts-and-bolts kind of stuff is one kind of pressure – when I look critically, I have to be honest with myself. I don’t put in the necessary hours. I don’t feel deeply connected with the material. I don’t feel… like myself? Is that how I should put it?
In the end though, a lot of it comes down to a few things that I say to people who come to me with these problems.
Once you’ve decided to (I hate this phrase) “put yourself out there”, you have to come to peace with the fact that this is happening. If you falter slightly along the way, you’ve got to push through and keep going forward. In a three-and-a-half minute song, you have plenty of opportunities to miss a note, blow a phrase or forget a lyric. It’s going to happen, and what will separate the amateur from the pro is whether or not you can recover on the fly, and not let it affect the rest of your performance.
The most common trigger I encounter with self conscious musicians goes a little something like this: “I only played two shows last year, and one of them SUCKED. I have a 50% failure rate. SADFACE.” If you rarely play, each performance is a huge percentage of your body of work, which has a major influence on what your general attitude is going to be toward your self-image. I play a minimum of fifteen times monthly, so if a song doesn’t go off the way I wanted, I have another chance. If a whole gig goes south, I’m not bouncing off the walls, but I’ll be ok. If a bad pattern develops… well, I haven’t had to go there recently, but one can still fall into a funk – hence this post.
Learn your triggers and respect them. If I’m not rehearsing regularly, I lose connection with my material, become self-conscious and very sensitive to criticism. If I’m not keeping up with learning new business practices, I become dull-witted and have trouble tracking ideas and it really stresses me out when I’m con fronted with them. If I’m not actively recording, I end up with a slight fear of microphones. See where I’m going? Not doing breeds not wanting to do. Getting out of a spiral is very important, and sometimes very difficult. Understand what you perceive to be your failures to be and address them – ask for help, if necessary. Having a close support structure for your emotional stability could be the fix for what ails you. Other times, you just gotta go play.
Failure is part of the job. If you’ve never failed, you’ve never had to try sufficiently hard enough at something to make it worth your while. Safety is for scrubs. If you screw it up, take some notes and figure out how to do it better. Sometimes we’re going to take long-shots, and when we do, we need to take them boldly and proudly. If you can’t get #3 taken care of, you increase your chances of failure.
If you’ve got problems getting motivated, putting pen to paper, or picking up your instrument, this is the best advice I can come up with right now. I arranged the list in order of external to internal problems – but if you want a more action-oriented, causally connected list, take this:
Play more often – This will ease your fears, and give you a larger body of work – your success rates will increase, giving you a chance to learn how to work through small mis-steps along the way. Do not dwell on mistakes along the way – this will be a direct result of playing more often. The last two (do not fear failure/know thyself) become intertwined with playing more often and reducing the effect of small mistakes. Throughout your performances, pay attention to how you feel. Pay attention in between gigs to what slows you down spiritually. What makes you lazy? What makes you afraid? Being self-aware throughout the writing/rehearsal/performance process will teach you how you need to interact with yourself and others, so that you can feel empowered and energized by engaging in your art.
Hope this was helpful! I’ll let you know if it works for me!
I play sing-a-longs at retirement communities. It’s usually a super easy, mellow type of gig. Lots of laughing. Familiar songs. Mrs B tells me that her dry cleaner used to have a hanging in the window that says “his eye is on the sparrow”. One lady claps along to EVERY song, whether it’s appropriate or not. There’s one lady who hates all the clapping, and tries to get the clapping lady to stop. There are two friends – an asian woman and a white lady – who laugh at that spectacle.
This week I was interrupted by a nurse who told me that nearby there was a woman who was “actively dying”, and her family heard me playing and hoped I would come sing “On Eagles Wings” for her. She loved guitar music, and they thought it would bring her some comfort.
Here’s a resource that was tasteful and helpful: Stuff You Should Know: How Dying Works
So I cut my show a few minutes short – I had another performance to be at after this one – and a nurse took me to the lady’s room. It was a small room – like the smallest bedroom of a 3 bedroom apartment in Chicago. There was the twin bed where the lady lay – I never got her name – I assume it was her son to her right, two ladies and another gentleman seated on her left. I sat at the foot of the bed. Two nurses followed me in.
I always feel awkward in the presence of grieving families. I suppose one shouldn’t be at ease in a situation like this, but you’d figure I’d get a handle on it. Lots of sad people in a confined space is… I dunno, know what I mean? Kind of overpowering. Then I played for them.
“You sounded great!”
Thanks – and I’m so sorry for your loss
I never got the lady’s name. The family has my info. She passed away that night. I played her one of the last bits of live music she heard in this world. That’s a powerful and humbling thought. I hope she liked it.
Be good, you guys.
Before I begin, here’s a link to the iTunes store. Each sale gets me like 80 cents.
A couple years ago I made this video:
I was living on the church grounds in lieu of salary, which was a sweet deal except for the occasional problem with people parking me in. Eventually it became the type of thing for me to use for my own entertainment, and with this video, over 90k other people.
I was writing a LOT of music at the time. Seems to me that these things really do come in waves. There’s a TED talk with Billy Collins where he lets loose that he doesn’t believe in writer’s block – there are merely periods where you’re not writing. This was not a period where I wasn’t writing.
When I shot the video – (if you watch it, you’ll get all the reasons I made the thing) the last step in editing it was dropping some music into it – not to be featured, but rather to make it less boring. I mean to say “who want’s to watch me sit in a chair and smoke for a few minutes?” If it turns out that people are into that sort of thing, I’ll re-evaluate my career path. But until then, let me get back on point: I needed a song that was just under 5 min long and didn’t feel like getting the audio stripped from the video for some kind of copyright issue. So I dug through my iTunes library and found the demo for Lonely for You – which of course is now available on iTunes, Amazon, and just about anywhere, I think.
I decided to release it sometime last year, after I realized that folks were interested in getting a copy. That was cool and all, but I had lost the hard drive with the recording session on it and wouldn’t be able to clean it up or sand off any rough edges. In the end, all I had was my little demo version, so that’s what’s released.
Really, I think this is a thing where not doing something – like not throwing a little throwaway song into the iTunes store – makes all the difference. 80 cents of a difference, but I’m happy with the little things.
Be proud of the small things along the way, you guys.
Check this out:
Now, I don’t typically form too many opinions on music immediately after I hear it, or while I’m listening, so I won’t do any real music criticism on the song itself. If you’re a Dream Theater fan, I figure you’ll immediately like the song.
But would you look at that guitar!! It’s freakin’ gorgeous!!!
John Petrucci has the sweetest guitars, I swear. They play forever. And I mean it. You can play on these things for hours and not get tired. Seriously I don’t have much else to say. I just needed to get my fanboy on.
Baby Abby is learning how to crawl. Apparently it is very frustrating – she does a bunch pushup-type motions, rocks back and forth, cries and coos, then falls over, sometimes getting her face better acquainted with the floor. I’m feeling about the same, learning how to really update my website, make posts look the way that I want, and in general un-christmas my web presence.
So Abby is getting there, about as quick as I am. Fun times. There’s a new/old demo on the homepage media player – I just learned how to do that! Now that Nikki’s computer is up and running so she can make with the designs, I had the time/gumption to figure that out without asking her to just do the thing for me. That means I’m growing as a person, right?