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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

San Diego to L.A.: Part 5, The Conclusion

The Pontiac Firebird Trans Am I did not
drive to California, or buy (yet)
So I don't know if you've noticed yet, but this is a 5-part series about my move from San Diego to Los Angeles, we're up to the final part here, and I STILL haven't told you anything about the actual move yet.

I also haven't really told you WHY I moved to L.A.  I told you a bunch of stories about stuff that happened in San Diego and L.A. in August of 2013.

A new friend of mine here in L.A. of course knew that I had recently moved here from San Diego.  But she also recently found out that I have moved A LOT in my life.  Several times within my home state of Maine.  Maine to Washington, D.C.  Washington, D.C. back to Maine.  Then did those 2 moves each a second time.  Then Maine to Athens, Ohio.  Athens, Ohio to Cincinnati.  Cincinnati to New York City.  New York City back to Cincinnati.  Cincinnati back to New York City!  New York City to New Hampshire.  New Hampshire back to Maine.  Maine to San Diego.  And lastly San Diego to L.A. Whew!  A lotta, lotta moves.

So my new friend asked me four questions:

1) Why have I done so many of these big moves in my life?

2) Was it scary when I did these big moves?

3) What did I do to prepare myself for them?

4) What advice would I have for other people who wanted to do a big move, and/or were seriously considering one?

With my friend Misty Dawn Jordan while getting my Master
of Arts degree in Theatre at The University of Maine

I'll give the simple answers first:

1) To follow my dreams

2) Yes

3) Not much - although I did get better at having money saved up and/or a new source of income in the new place BEFORE I did the move

4) DO IT!! (even if you're REALLY scared!)

All the stuff that happened in August 2013 was really just a bunch of awesome things echoing or reminding me of something deep inside myself.  Since I was a little kid, I had always wanted to live in Los Angeles, deep down.  I don't know exactly why.  What seemed to spark it was when I went to see Star Wars (Episode IV, the original) in the movie theater when it was first released, and I found out that a man named George Lucas did this for a living.  He made movies.  That was his job.
Backstage while acting in Once in a Lifetime with
my friend and co-star Rich Fromm,
at The Monomoy Theatre on Cape Cod

I thought Star Wars was the best thing ever made, ever.  So I decided I wanted to do that, make movies.  And I heard somewhere that everyone who made movies lived in L.A., and all the jobs for making movies were there.  And then I heard that there was a college called UCLA, and it had a film school you could go to.  You would learn about making movies, then you would live in L.A. and make movies and be very, very happy.  (I assumed for years that Lucas and Steven Spielberg had gone to film school at UCLA, years later I found out they went to USC.)

So I decided my whole plan for life.  I was going to get a summer job when I was in high school, and save all of my money.  I was going to buy my own Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, drive to L.A., go to UCLA Film School, become a filmmaker, settle in L.A., and live happily ever after.  I remember telling my Grampa Soucy this and him thinking this was really great.  He told everyone else in my family about my grand plan.  He thought it was fantastic that I had it all figured out.

Me and My Classmates from my Master of Fine Arts in
Acting Program at Ohio University
Now I didn't do anything close to that plan.  As I grew up and the years went by, my heart and soul issued a bunch of different callings to me, and I answered them all by following wherever they led. I  In high school, I thought I wanted to be a lawyer or a history professor, so I went to college starting to focus on those things.

Then when I got to college, I got interested in politics, journalism, and theater.  So I ran for Student Government President and won, and became President of the College Democrats on campus.  I won an internship working in the U.S. Senate in Washington, D.C., and worked on campaigns for people running for the state legislature and Congress.  I took a course in writing for the media and wrote articles for the campus newspaper.  I took classes on playwriting, directing plays and acting, and did all of those things.

When I was doing my internship in Washington, my heart really wanted me to get more into theater.  So I went and got a Master's degree in theater, wrote and directed more plays, and did more acting.  By the end of that program, I really wanted to focus specifically on acting.  I thought of moving to New York or L.A. and just diving in, but I wanted more experience and training before doing that.  So I went and got a Master of Fine Arts degree in Acting, and got exactly what I wanted - a resume full of roles, training and experience on stage.

The first time I moved to New York City, I got a powerful lesson in the next thing I needed to work on - getting my financial house in order.  I had been in college and grad school for years, and hadn't really learned how to take good care of my finances.  So I moved back to Cincinnati, where I had finished my Acting degree and made lots of friends, and where life was a lot less expensive!  I worked really hard for two years there, still acting and writing plays on the side...and that's when I really started to realize I could write songs, and that I really enjoyed writing songs.
Performing on tour with
Victor Bravo in Dayton, Ohio

Once I got my finances in great shape, I moved back to New York City - I thought at first to get back into theater.  But soon after, my passion for songwriting took over, and I started my punk rock band, Victor Bravo.  That band, as you may know, had an exciting six-year run, making records, playing New York and Boston constantly, and touring across the U.S. multiple times.  In what turned out to be the last year of Victor Bravo, I started a second band, Atomic Shotgun, which had a great couple of years together.  During that time, I lived another dream, taking four months and traveling all around the U.S. by myself, doing solo shows and experiencing many parts of the country I lived in for the first time.

After a year of regrouping, reflecting and recharging back in my home state of Maine - and the first fun-filled season of my livestreaming music show LIVE from The Basement, I at first thought I wanted to finally live the dream I had when I was a kid, and go to live in Los Angeles.  But after recently leaving the largest city in the U.S. after eight wonderful years, I just wasn't ready to move to the second largest city in the U.S.  I needed a transition period, and had heard amazing things about San Diego.
Performing on tour with Atomic Shotgun in Washington, D.C.

So I moved to San Diego and all the amazing things I had heard were true!  It was beautiful, calm, relaxing, and friendly.  I made lots of great friends and did a ton of performing, doing open mics all over the area.  I wrote a lot more songs and was ready for the next chapter of my life...until that weekend in L.A. with Mike.

I realized what I had experienced in L.A. that weekend was really a reminder from my heart and soul that I had at least one more great calling to fulfill in my life.  I couldn't go be an undergraduate film student at UCLA, and I bought a 2002 Honda Civic, not a 1989 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am.  But I could definitely go build a life in the City of Angels.

With amazing help and support from many friends, both in San Diego and L.A., I moved to L.A. on October 25, 2013.  Since then, I have commenced building this exciting next chapter, making money, finding my first home here with my great housemate Kelli and my two feline friends Frankie and Mister.  I've been learning my way around, making friends, going to see some great musicians, and exploring the many things L.A. has to offer.  I did a second full season of LIVE from The Basement, and wrote many new songs which I've posted here and on my YouTube channel.
Performing solo on tour in Vancouver, Washington

And now my next full album is written, and I am working hard on raising the money needed to bring it to a fully realized set of songs for you.  I can't wait to start recording it.

I can say quite honestly that I love my new life here in Los Angeles, and I continue to be excited about whatever happens next.  I am living proof that if you follow those inner callings from your heart and soul, you will get a fun, exciting life filled with the friends, fun and experiences you truly desire.  Nothing may go exactly as planned, and there probably will be many surprises along the way, but that's a big part of what makes this life great and worth really living.  Even if a bunch of other callings have happened, and a lot of time seems to have passed, it is never too late to go follow a dream.

I suspect my new friend who asked me the four questions above asked me because she has a dream within herself.  Something her own heart and soul is telling her to do, that might bring her great joy and fulfillment if she takes the plunge.  But she may be experiencing some fear and resistance to following this dream, as we all do.

With my pal Stephanie at DisneyLand in
in Anaheim, California

My friends will tell you - I am a brave guy who has taken a lot of chances and done a lot of risky things, but they did not happen without fear and resistance!  I had a lot of fear about moving to New York, moving to San Diego, moving to L.A.  I had fear about getting my degree in Acting, about taking my band on stage in New York City for the first time, and then across the country.  I had fear about traveling all across the U.S. completely by myself.  But each time, I felt the fear and did it anyway.

So to my new friend who asked me those great four questions, and to you reading this right now, I say: GO!  Do that thing you dream of doing.  Take that risk.  Go for it!  Yes, you may need a reasonable amount of preparation.  But don't try to prepare perfectly, there's no way to do that.  And don't keep putting it off with the excuse, "I'm still preparing, I'm just not ready yet."  It may not go at all as you planned, but if it's a calling that comes from your heart and soul, you can't go wrong.  Feel the fear and do it anyway.


Thanks so much for visiting and reading.  I truly appreciate it more than I can express.

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

San Diego to L.A.: Part 4

Really quickly I just want to mention that the site here hit 30,000 page views yesterday.  That is amazing to me, and I just want to thank each and every person for coming and looking at and reading my stuff here.  If you're a fan, a friend, a family member, or a stranger who wandered here off a web search, thank you so much.  Any artist needs an audience, so thank you for being mine.  Now, back to the story!

My 4-day weekend in L.A. hanging out with my friend Mike Wamser in August of 2013 was a surprising whirlwind of exploring, hanging out with great creative people and just plain fun.

The Party at Claire's House, L to R: Isaac Nippert,
Shannon Michael "Mike" Wamser, Stephen Eshenbaugh,
Corey Landis, Yours Truly
My first night there was the Magneta Lane show at The Viper Room on Sunset Boulevard.  I got there early and found the drummer Nadia, the guitarist/singer Lexi, and their friend, Lindsay Michelle Becker, an awesome rock journalist from Toronto who made the trip down to California with the band.  They invited me to sit with them, and I had an incredible time just hanging out with them.  It was even more strange than the San Diego show the weekend before.  This time, not only was I seeing them play live, I was just sitting around talking with them like it was no big deal.

At one point, Lexi and I were talking about songwriting, and I told her how much I loved the Gambling with God record, and she shared with me her own thoughts about what she was satisfied with and what she wasn't totally happy about the songs on it.  It was a "pinch me" moment for me, I was like, I have loved this band for years and years, and here is the lead singer and songwriter talking to me like an equal.  And then I was like, well, this is how it should be, really...I am a rock songwriter too and I've written a lot of songs and made records, and I knew exactly what she was talking about.  It was still super-cool.

At the Dodgers-Red Sox Game at Dodger Stadium,
L to R: Yours Truly, Mike Wamser, Katie O'Brien,
Andrew Goulet, Dave Holstein
I watched the whole show standing next to Lindsay, who was also a huge Magneta Lane fan, so it was cool to have someone to share in the glory with.  The band played an amazing set, I could have watched them play for another two hours.  The highlight of the show for me was a kickass performance of their song "22," my favorite of theirs.  I was in Rock Heaven.

The next night, Mike and I had a party at his friend Claire's house where he was staying for the month.  I went on Facebook and invited everyone I knew who lived in L.A.  A ton of people showed up and all had a fantastic time.

I met Mike's friend Katie O'Brien, a delightful actor, writer and producer.  I heard all about the comedy film project Mike, Katie, and their other friend Mike Piccirillo were working on.  I hung out with my friend Corey Landis, an amazing musician and actor.

A bunch of us went to go see the Boston Red Sox (my team) play the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.  I was having conversations about theater, film and music non-stop for four days.  At the baseball game, I came up with an idea for a new play I wanted to write, and talked about it with Mike.
Yours Truly with Larry Bates and Mike Wamser

Then Mike and I went and hung out with our mutual actor friend, Larry Bates.  I had just recently reconnected with Larry after keeping in touch on Facebook, but not having seen him in person for 12 years.  Larry was in an amazing production of the play The Mountaintop about Martin Luther King, Jr. at San Diego Repertory Theatre.  He and I hung out a couple of times in San Diego during the run of that show.  But I believe Mike hadn't seen him since working with him as an actor 12 years ago.  Larry is a great guy and the three of us had a blast hanging out.

Driving back to San Diego, I was absolutely buzzing from all the fun I had enjoyed in L.A.  At first, I still assumed I would continue to live in San Diego, and maybe try to make a point of visiting L.A. on some sort of regular basis.  But in the days following that amazing weekend, something started to shift within me...

Read the conclusion of the story in Part 5!  Thanks so much for visiting and reading!

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Monday, May 18, 2015

San Diego to L.A.: Part 3

So when the weekend rolled around for Indie Fest 8 in San Diego, I was very excited.  I purchased a multi-day pass that let me see any band I wanted to over the 2 days of the festival.  I went on the Indie Fest website beforehand to check out the bands that would be playing.  Magneta Lane was the only band I knew, so I checked out the other descriptions and made my best guesses as to the other artists I might dig.

One band that sounded cool was Of Verona.  They were going to play Friday night.  I got to the festival early and was one of the few people there when an electronic music/DJ-type group did their show.  The sun began to set and other acts played.  I walked around and listened to some of the other bands from time to time.  Then it finally got dark and the stage crew set up for Of Verona.

Of Verona performing at Indie Fest 8

Of Verona's set had a very profound effect on me.  I really felt like something magical was happening, and I couldn't quite put my finger on it.  The stage was beautifully set up, with all sorts of pretty lights that played perfectly off the darkness surrounding us.  Of Verona's music was a rich, lush musical tapestry, blending electronic elements with alternative rock.  I felt swept away.

After their set was over, I had planned to just go home.  They were the last band I wanted to see that night, and I had had a full day.  But something made me hang around for a bit.  I walked outside the audience area of the main stage while the crew set up for the next band.  Then for some reason I walked back into the area for the audience - the entrance was far at the back.  And there were the three members of Of Verona, just hanging out.  To my own surprise, I walked up to them and started talking to them.  They were all super-cool.  I told them how awesome and amazing I thought their set was, and they were humble and appreciative.  I asked them to autograph a piece of paper I had with me, and they all signed it.  I asked them were they were from, and they said L.A.

Autographs of all 3 members of Of Verona

I drove back home, my head buzzing with delight.  And I was even more excited for the next day, when I would finally see one of my all-time favorite bands, Magneta Lane, play live, years and years after seeing them for the first time in New York City.

The next day, Saturday, I went back to Indie Fest.  I caught a couple of acts and walked around some of the display booths that were set up.  I hung out with my friend Krystal for a bit - she is an amazing painter I met doing an open mic one night in Pacific Beach.  I have to write a whole blog post all about her and her amazing art sometime soon!  Then it was time for Magenta Lane.

I actually caught Nadia, the drummer, a bit before their set, just walking around.  I went up and introduced myself, and told her what a huge fan I was, and how I couldn't believe they were playing San Diego, where I lived!  She was amazingly nice and cool and thanked me for coming, and told me that French, the bassist, was walking around somewhere, I should say hello to her, too, if I saw her.  So a few moments later I saw French and walked up to her.  I introduced myself, told her I was a big fan.  French was also extremely nice and very cool.  It was awesome to meet these incredibly talented women, but very strange, too...listening to their records for years and years and never knowing if I would ever see them play live again.  Then here we all are, on a gorgeous sunny day in San Diego, just all hanging out pre-show.

Lexi, the lead singer, guitarist and primary songwriter, was busy getting accustomed to the guitar and amp she had borrowed from someone locally to play the gig.  But I managed to snap a photo of her tuning back stage and post it to Twitter.

Eventually the show started and there I was, seeing Magneta Lane perform live.  I had bought their 2009 album Gambling with God and their just-released, 4-song EP Witchrock online, and wore both of those out as well, so I knew every song.  They played great, I rocked out under the San Diego sun, and life was very, very good.

I finally meet Lexi very quickly and say hi to Nadia and French again after the show, but I think they had to leave soon after.  I did get them to all autograph the CD cover of my copy of the Witchrock EP.  I told them I would be in L.A. to see them play The Viper Room on the famed Sunset Strip, and headed back home.

Autographed CD Cover of Witchrock EP: French - Bass (Left),
Lexi - Guitar/Vocals (Center), Nadia - Drums (Right)

The next weekend, I would head up the 5 to Los Angeles for my 4-day weekend visiting my friend Mike Wamser, thinking it would just be a visit, a nice getaway from my new hometown of San Diego.

CONTINUED IN PART 4!  Thanks so much for stopping by and reading.  You're awesome and I appreciate it!!

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

San Diego to L.A.: Part 2

Magneta Lane 2013 Tour Poster
I have to back up just a bit and explain how the awesome bands Magneta Lane and Of Verona played into my move from San Diego to L.A.

The weekend before I was planning to go visit my friend Mike Wamser in L.A., there was a music festival in San Diego called IndieFest.  I found out about it because of a Facebook post from the band Magneta Lane.

I saw Magneta Lane for the first time at the Mercury Lounge in the East Village in New York City in 2006 or 2007.  I took my then-Victor-Bravo-bandmate Dan, his girlfriend Isabelle, and my then-girlfriend-now-ex-girlfriend Marcella to see Silversun Pickups.  They were a band from L.A. I had discovered and seen play an amazing set at the CMJ Music Marathon in NYC the year before.  Now they were playing NYC again, and I was super-psyched to see them, and introduce my friend to them.

I had never heard of Magneta Lane, and had no idea that they would be opening for Silversun Pickups.  They were a 3-woman indie/punk rock band from Toronto, and they blew the doors off the Mercury Lounge.  Silversun Pickups were also amazing that night, I should say.  I remember seeing Lexi, the singer/guitarist for Magneta Lane, loading her guitar case into the back of some car - I think it might have been a Subaru - after the show.  Isabelle went up to her and gushed at how fantastic their set had been.  Pretty sure I wanted to say something similar, and either said nothing, or said something like "Yeah, it was great!"

I promptly bought both of the CD's Magneta Lane had released up to that point, Dancing with Daggers and The Constant Lover.  I fell in love with every single track and played them incessantly.  I was so excited to see them live again.  I followed them, first on MySpace and then on Facebook and Twitter.  And they never set foot in the United States again.

I would see posts for Magneta Lane show after Magneta Lane Canada.  Year after year went by.  Eventually, I just resigned myself to the fact that I was probably going to have to save up some money and take a vacation trip to Toronto someday just to see my second Magneta Lane show.

Then suddenly, and seemingly out of nowhere, I saw a poster for an upcoming Magneta Lane tour posted with dates and cities.  To my shock and astonishment, two cities on the list popped out: SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA.  LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA.  WATTTTTT????  I could not contain myself.  I was going to get to see not ONE, but TWO Magneta Lane shows in ONE WEEK?? After not seeing ANY shows for 6 or 7 YEARS??? HOLY S@#*!!!!

To be continued in Part 3!  Thanks so much for visiting my page and reading!!

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

San Diego to L.A.: Part 1

Performing in San Diego, May 2013
I just checked, and it looks like the last time I provided any information about what's going on in my life was about two years ago, in May of 2013.  Although, as ever, I have many wonderful things on my plate right now, things have calmed down just a bit.  So I thought I would give a little update for you.

I had moved to San Diego in December of 2012, and as far as I knew, was going to live there for a long, long time.  I had a dream since I was a little kid of living in Los Angeles, and I had strongly considered moving there in 2010 and again in 2012.  But after 8 years in New York City, I just wasn't in the mood to live in a big mega-city again.  With that I mean absolutely nothing against New York.  I fell totally in love with that wonderful place, it did only great things for me, and I still have only love for it.  But as many people who live or have lived in NYC know, it can take it outta ya.

I was yearning for a city where life was a little more relaxed, a little more peaceful, where life could be managed a bit more easily.  I think after all my years in New York and a year of transition back in my home territory of New England, I wanted to settle in a place where I could re-gather myself with a bit of ease.

My year in San Diego was incredible.  It is an incredibly beautiful place, and I made many, many wonderful friends there.  As I chronicled here, I did a stint of 30 solo open mics in 60 days, which was a ton of fun, and a time I will remember happily forever.  I wrote a lot more songs, and started building the next great chapter of my life.

Blame - or credit - my good friend Shannon Michael Wamser (I call him Mike) for lighting the spark that finally got me to Los Angeles, where I had dreamed of living since I was a kid.  For the entire month of August of 2013, Mike did an apartment-house swap with his L.A. pal Claire.  Claire went to New York and stayed in Mike's apartment, and Mike came out west and stayed in Claire's house in L.A.  I took a long weekend and went up to L.A. to hang out with Mike.

Continued in Part 2!  Thanks so much for visiting and reading!

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Saturday, March 21, 2015

New Song Demo: Before I Take Your Hand

I just finished working on this demo of a new song today, I'm excited to share it. Hope you enjoy!!

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Sunday, February 23, 2014

New Song: Beautiful Screaming

This is a demo of a new song I just wrote called "Beautiful Screaming."  To be more accurate, I wrote the verse guitar part in February of 2009, the chorus and bridge guitar parts in March of 2011, and all of the lyrics over the past weekend.  I put it all together and laid this demo down on Saturday.  

If you like it, please share it with others you think might dig it.  

Thanks for visiting my blog today and listening to this song.

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