Do It Your F'n Self

...Because no one else will
September 20th 2014 (Just droppin' N)

Trouble is looming and I find myself ignoring the inevitable.  I will be homeless on September 26th.  Why oh why do I get myself in these predicaments!   OK OK, it's not as bad as it sounds.  Here's the scoop.  

Not such a bad place to be homeless!
One can find anything on the internet these days, correct?  Well not when you are looking for a place to stay on Catalina Island!  For those unfamiliar with Catalina (as I was), according to Wikipedia it is a rocky island off the coast of California, located about 22 miles south-southwest of L.A.  I'm going for the Catalina Film Festival which I'm overly stoked about!  Ya my documentary will screen again, but I'm all about the wine tastings, red carpet events, cruise boat galas and more that the festival has organized.    But what I didn't realize is it's difficult and nearly impossible to go back and forth from the island to L.A.  So I'm forced to stay on the island for a weekend which is not a terrible thing, only I don't have a place to stay and everything is booked with a week left to go (unless I want to drop 400/night like I'm Nicholas Cage).  I actually bring up Nicholas Cage because he is being honored with and award at the festival.  Even more reason to get excited, eh!?  Other attendees include Emmy Rossum, Jordin Sparks (who I'm told is a singer?), and Danielle Fishel (who I had a crush on as a kid).  I suck when it comes to knowing who celebrities are but everyone in L.A. is a celebrity, right!?  And of everyone on Catalina Island I will most likely be the token homeless guy.  I am trying to fix the situation by reaching out to filmmakers that may be attending for the screening of their films and asking if they have any space so I can crash on their hotel floor.  I hope this doesn't come across too weird?  But I'm desperate!  The reprecussion of me asking is I could become "that guy" everyone is pointing their finger at and whispering what a creep I am.   I'll keep you posted on the developments & incorporate this into a full adventure blog of a homeless guy!

Docuwest Film Festival - Denver CO - September 16th 2014 (Blog Post 3)

Things are off to a rough start to say the least.  Missing your flight is never a good thing. 
My mom always tells me this story of how as a kid I would throw my toys against the wall and she would tell me that if I did it again I would get punished.   I guess as a kid I couldn't help myself so I'd keep throwing the toys.   Now that I'm older I can kinda relate to that kid I was.  I love throwing toys against the wall, but it doesn't really get me anywhere.  Still, I can't help myself.

So I miss my flight because the bar code on my ticket didn't scan properly and the airline staff apparently peaced out early so no one could print me another. I'm livid.  You don't want to be around me at this point.  I'm that guy that would embarrass you at the airport =/  In all this rage, Jiminy Cricket appears on my right shoulder and wisely reminds me that you catch more flies with honey..But I don't listen.  I'm looking for that toy to throw.  So I lay in to the "floor supervisor", Jasmine and I'm scoring no points.  Apparently using the term bullshit in a polite way is offensive, no matter the context?  I mean she is calling me a liar.  Remember I AM THE CUSTOMER.  At one point I ask her what she has against me and that I need to speak with someone else.  She says she is the only supervisor and there is no one to talk to and I have to pay more money if I want to get on another flight.  She actually tells me there is a flight a little later but she didn't know when, (which ended up being a lie) just to trick me into waiting. Yeah right I say!  Well actually I think half the words from there on were cuss words.  If they do record those phone calls, I'd never be able to run for public office.   So I won't bore you with the rest of this story as I'm sure everyone has experienced these types of situations.  Ill just say that I got the last laugh.   Call back + talking to another floor supe Ken + honey = TAKE THAT JASMINE!  I got another flight for free.  But nothing is for free right?

I hope Jasmine never reads this because she may have gotten the last laugh.  The odds are slim as I'm not sure if anyone will ever read this far!!!  I have forgotten my outfit I was going to wear for the screening!  Do you knew how much this sux?  And to make things worse I forgot my belt, which is like a 2 year old losing his teddy.  And while I really have no one to blame but myself, I continue blaming Jasmine as all this rage from yesterday is still lingering. The only thing that can possibly calm me out of this funk is coffee...


In my heyday, when I toured Europe on my own, I was in an airport in Amsterdam and I grabbed my bag to board my flight only to find it's sopping wet on the bottom and oozing this nasty brown gooey drink.  Only it smells less like coffee and more like carpet that has never been cleaned after being shat on.  It seeps through and stains some of my clothes and don't you just HATE ruining or forgetting clothes when traveling!  Who could just leave this mess?!  And I wonder what I did to deserve this?  I'm a good person right?  Well actually I don't consider myself a good person, but that is to be discussed in another blog (or just read the previous paragraph).

Flash forward 5 years (to today) and I FINALLY realize why this happened to me.  Reverse karma, baby!!!   
I hate when people tell me I'm getting what I deserve because karma has caught up to me.  Ok, mostly mean people tell me that and it's crushing to my spirit and probably says more about myself as to why people feel they can open their mouth and tell me such a rude thing!  I digress.  But now I realize it's different.  I JUST NOW SPILT MY COFFEE.  I could have cleaned it or left a note but I was mad and needed to replace this coffee.  I'll just grab a new coffee and then come do the right thing.  5 minutes later I see a lady sitting there and her bag is smack dab in the middle of this huge puddle of coffee!  And my karma revelation hits me.  So now when something bad happens to me I won't try and think of a similar situation where I wronged someone.  I'll know that it's because I'm going to unknowingly wrong someone in the future.

Ok so here I am finally on board to Denver.  Writing this all out is quite cathartic for me as I've finally calmed down.  Although it could also be the coffee.  Life is truly so much better with coffee.  I wish I would have at least started drinking it in college.  Maybe I would have been less angry...Although I blame my anger on the alcohol.  I used to think I was a lush drunk but my friends said I was an angry one.  Maybe the tides are turning and I will have the last laugh instead of Jasmine!  Stay tuned...


It's my first time to Denver.  First impression is that the airport is reaaallllly far from the city.  Like reallllly far!  I actually thought my Lyft driver was taking me the back way just to add time onto the ride to make more expensive.  He was cool though.  He dropped me off at a book store called Tattered Cover where I met Sam who blogs for Your Older Brother's Music Blog.  This felt less like an interview and more like catching up with an old friend as we kicked it over coffee and geeked out over music.  I even had my first opportunity to confess my new found obsession with Big Audio Dynamite and how I'm going to have the Noise Revival cover The Bottom Line in Japan!  If anyone ever finds a B.A.D hat, I'll buy it for any price!  Two hours later, I had a new friend and I definitely plan on keeping in touch with Sam and his writings.

Docuwest is the 5th or 6th film festival that I've attended.  While not the biggest film festival, it had this certain charm that came off as if it wasn't trying to be a poser.  It seemed to created an environment that made for more genuine relationships.  Wade, the director, was a hoot and really made you feel special.  In the total D.I.Y style that I'm accustomed to, he hosted a handful of directors at his house.  Apparently he made the offer on his FB page which is a bummer because I don't have a FB anymore.  Otherwise I would have jumped on that opportunity!  Instead I was staying at a house that our producer, Denise, rented.  So after the end of the first night when everyone went to Wade's place, I started looking for a LYFT ride.  Being a prime time hour for LYFT requests, the price was 75% higher than normal, so I took the advice of Peter (director of The King of Size) and walked a few blocks while the price went down.  A few blocks turned into ten and then twenty.  I stopped in a 7-Eleven for a water, that I never got because I had left my credit card at the bar, and the woman inside said I was only about a 15 minute walk away from the address I showed her (1234 Clarkson).  If I can ride a bike 60 miles in Iceland and hours across Copenhagen in the middle of the night, then I can surely make my way in Denver!  And she was correct, it only took 15 minutes!  BUT I wouldn't be writing about my walk home if there was a twist would I?  So I get to the house and there is no number on it.  I was warned about this and instructed to walk around the house and through the back fence and down to a basement.  So I start trying to jump over the fence because I can't find a door in the dark.  Eventually I realize the fence is too high for me and I get frustrated and then spooked as some passerbyers probably start to wonder if I'm trying to break in.  So I walk back to the street and check my phone to see if I have the right address.  All of a sudden I notice this little "S" in front of the "1234".  My heart sinks.  I re-enter the address in my navigation app, with an "S" this time, and my heart sinks even more.  I'm 59 minutes away now!  By this time I've already been walking for 2 hours so I put myself out of my misery and just call LYFT.  Thankfully there wasn't a 75% added fee at 4 in the morning!

So back to the festival.  A highlight for me included "No No a Dockumentary", that was a film about Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis who is known for having thrown a no hitter on LSD.  It was about much more than that.  Simply a beautiful well put together story.  And it got me thinking how much I love baseball and it's the one thing that my brother and I share a passion for.  Since we were kids we have always made a point to like the opposite of each other, but not baseball.  Maybe I'm getting sentimental, but it's making me realize my brother needs to come see more Dodgers games and I need to see more Mets games (yes I hate the Yankees!) next year and throw back a few cold ones.  I also enjoyed a doc about a bank robber called The Evolution of a Criminal by Darius Monroe, whom I got to meet and hang out with.  I saw a handful of other great films and I also got bummed out because I didn't get to see some films of other new friends I met!!!  I also enjoyed the enthusiastic response to our film, The Curse & the Symphony, but I still can't stand seeing myself on a big screen!!!   Towards the end the festival, the Narc, also know as Richard Bert (yes he really was a narc in NYC back in the 80's for some of the biggest drug busts!!! and he took the B&W photos in this post) said "We need to have a reunion one day".  That's to show you the degree that our friendships were developing in such a short span.  And even as snobby as most film directors can be there was even a Snakes on a Plane positive reference!  

I'm left reflecting whether or not we will have a reunion.  And maybe the beauty of this experience is better left in this moment in time.  Moments like this have been something I've been trying to wrap my head around for years now.  Ever since my experience living in a castle in Denmark (which I'll post a blog about for an upcoming Throw Back Thursday this month).  I struggled for years handing my emotions with amazing connections you can have and have that chance that you may never hear or see from that person again.  But that's the beauty i'm starting to realize, that in that moment you had something special and it'll always stay in that moment.  Nothing can change it.

P.S. - If you know me well, when I fall in love with someone's story, I preach it to the world, even though most of the time no one cares.  Like that one time I met the lifeguard that woke from a coma after 15 years!   So I met a director, Michael Galinski, who had an amazing story (IMO).  Michael and I (pic below of the 2 of us) first shared tour stories of crashing on floors and the amazing adventures we'd get into after every show on the road.  Then he told me he and a friend took this trip in 1989 and shot people in malls all across the US (And I want all the clothes everyone was wearing in those photos).  He never did anything with them as the trip was tainted after their car was broken into in SF.  But 22 years later he posted those photos on FB and they went viral!  Every major publication posted them and they were reposted and reddit'd millions of times.  It even got published.  Isn't that amazing?  At the least, you gotta check out the photos HERE

September 10th 2014 (Blog Post 2)

I'm heading to Denver tomorrow for the screening of the documentary about my symphony at the Docuwest Film Festival but I can't get Asia off my mind!   So in honor of finding out this week that I'm touring Japan and Taiwan this fall I thought I'd post my story of touring China in 2012.  I thought it was my last tour and a glorious tour it was!  I haven't played in a band since as I've gone full force into composing for orchestra (and a little film), but I must say that I am most ecstatic about performing on stage!  And going to freakin' Japan!   So here is a flashback...

One More Song (China Tour - Summer 2012)
I won’t lie.  After the 1st show, I’m a bit nervous about the rest of the tour in China.  I’ve only been here for a little over 24 hours.  Stepping off the plane I felt like I walked into a scene from Fritz Lang's Metropolis.  The airport dwarfed even the bigger stadiums I’ve visited in the US.  Skyscrapers engulf the skylines for miles.  For me it stimulated a child-like imagination.  With the simplest of tasks getting lost in translation, I knew I was on my own to observe, learn, and soak up this fascinating culture.  Oh…and avoiding the crazy drivers and bikers was a real life Frogger experience!
There wasn’t much time to waste after getting checked in to our hotel.  A quick dinner, meet & greet with Chinese Noise Revivalers, & it was off to bed for an early call time to rehearse.  4 hours of rehearsing in a dungeon with no A/C was trying but exhilarating, hearing our Chinese drummer, Tyler, blaze through the songs and destroy his kit, like Animal from the Muppets.  I sensed a high-energy explosion at Yiyitang that night!  We walked to the club & briefly sound checked with our horn section and additional cellist.  Wall of sound!
It’s show time.  We left it all on the stage.  The crowd screamed, the cheered, the danced and we delivered with an energy like no other Noise Revival show ever!  8 songs in what seemed like a blink of an eye.  I’ll never forget the crowd.  The moment.  The love.  Walking off stage and hearing a slightly lisp-y chant of “One More Song” that sounded more like “Juan Mo Sawg”.  Why!  If only we had rehearsed an extra song!  Who knows why it ended like that?  The club owner put it best.  “Next Time”.
Busking in Shanghai
Talk about getting out of your comfort zone!  But what a joy it was to walk around the tiny alleys in Shanghai and play 3 or 4 songs, then walk to another corner and do the same.  EVERY time we played crowds stopped.  And not just 5 or 10 people.  At least 25-30 each time & a lot of times 50-60.  And who know how many camera’s have our “mugs” on them!   I love that about the Chinese and how they get so excited and take photos of everything.  We even made money.  The 1st night we made enough to have a feast at an amazing Japanese restaurant.  The 2nd night photos of the group playing on the subway made a blog and eventually landed us on the front page of the Shanghai Post on the internet!  It was retweeted over and over and eventually the Chinese government chimed in!  They said to look at this as an example of what not to do on the subway and to make sure to follow the rules!  Gotta love it!
There is no better feeling that representing your city.  Being from one of the most creative and vibrant cities in the world is something I am proud of.  Being able to grow up in Austin and then be a music ambassador is something I’ll cherish forever.
I had the privilege of meeting members of the Foreign affairs office in Shanghai.  My involvement in The House of Songs and the numerous meetings and events with City and State officials, diplomats, ambassadors, etc really prepared me to talk about collaborative possibilities between the 2 creative cities.  I was also fortunate to be escorted to the National Flag Museum in Shanghai.  I was treated like royalty and I owe a lot to Troy Campbell & Don Pitts for these opportunities.
5,000 Miles
Like most, I’ve made the mistake of over packing on trips.  It tends to be something unavoidable.  So over the years I decided I’d comprise certain luxuries for a healthier spine!  Last year I learned not to pack a pair of shoes that is a size too small!  Getting blisters after a few days was one thing, but having to walk with them for a month longer was a lesson well learned!  Riding a bike 60 miles in one day was another good example of a lesson well learned!  So this year I decided that I was going to pack the least amount of clothes possible and see where it gets me.  5 shirts; 2 jeans, 7 socks, 7 boxer briefs, 1 jacket and 1 pair of shoes.  Half way into the trip, I’m already thinking how to better prepare for next time.
Thirty One:
I always seem to start all my posts while sitting on a plane reminiscing on my past travels and pondering my future adventures, which after a glorious week in Shanghai, they look to be all over the world in hand with my amazing angel by my side.   This post should have started sitting on a train to Wuhan, but it now begins in transit in a cab traveling across Shanghai.  Guess why?  Yep!  Half of the group missed our train to Wuhan, which happened to be the only one of the day!  Lost in China!   So how did we get here?  Well, let’s just say that everything is moving slower here in Shanghai.  I’m awe of the structures, the nooks and crannies of stores, the hole in the walls around every corner.  I’m in no rush.  I take every moment to breathe in the smog, to smell the pollution, to gag at the dog on the menu….ok!  I’m going too far!  But it’s all there!  I’m sharing the whole city with hands locked and hearts in tune, which is the real reason for strolling instead of speeding,.  No experience compares.  But this experience is the basis for why we missed our train.  Oops!  Maybe we should have walked a little faster to the metro.  Packed the night before.  You get it.  10 minutes to get to the train, 1 escalator, 400 Chinese people in the way (Did I mention the pace of the people here?) and 100 pounds of luggage each.  We tried.  We sweat.  We really sweat.  We failed.  Only two made it.  Now we are altering our plan and rushing to the airport hoping to get flights to make the show!  Damage Control indeed!  Mission accomplished?  I’ll follow up with another post.  Did I mention it’s my birthday?
Here’s the follow-up to my birthday!  As you can tell, we made the show!  The crowd in Wuhan was amazing.  So was the band in more ways than you think.  I walk off the stage and the crowd screams for an encore.  Of course we have no extra songs.  I hear Josh get on the mic and start to tell the crowd it’s my birthday & the crowd goes wild!  At this point I’m in the crowd and they are rockin’ & a rollin’ “Happy Birthday!”  From the crowd I jump on stage and encourage the crowd to jump on stage.  Ten to fifteen people climb the rail and start dancing and bobbing their heads.  I get a chant of “Wuuu – Hon … Wuuu – Hon” going!  This was the best birthday I’ve ever had.  We danced the night away for hours and truly lived it up!  Thank you Wuhon!  Thank you Josh, Anita, Vince, Tyler, & Michael!
Bright.  Lights.  Sleek.  Exhilarating.   Too bad we only had the opportunity to stay in Changsha for 1 night.  Every building was trying to out “light” the next with crazy flashing neon signs.  It enthralled my senses like I was in Blade Runner.  I swear that movies backdrop was based off of Changsha.  Around 8:30 pm we squeeze into the venue.  Literally!  I could barely get up the winding stairs without hitting my head every turn.  We set up and the speakers don’t work right as we are supposed to begin playing (9:30).  The crowd is quiet and to themselves but I assume they are antsy.  An hour later we grace this tiny stage called the Freedom House and the crowd came forward.  The room looks as if it holds 100 people max, but the owner said they could fit twice that.  We tonight the floor shook and the stage almost caved in.  I forced this crowd to come up on stage for our encore.  (Yes!  We finally rehearsed an old Lil Blokes song, Rolling, for an encore!)  They finally let loose and danced, jumped, and even moshed!  Their appreciation soon followed as we stayed on stage and they lined up for photos for almost an hour!  Thank you Changsha!  TNRO loves you!!!
Chongqing & Chengdu
Chongqing & Chengdu were nuts!  Crazy times in China I tell you!  I can’t emphasize how much more difficult & longer it takes to get around China with a language & reading barrier, especially in these lesser-known cities.  I had heard and even assumed that we would see westerners everywhere, but that was not the case.  It was 99.9% Chinese all the time.  So we missed our early trains both days!  We had to rush to the venues for quick sound-checks, check into our hotels, & we were lucky to get a bite of food before taking the stage.  But that’s all ok.  Because the stage is where we belong.  Where we feel at home.  Where for 40 minutes there is no language barrier.  The Chongqing crowd danced, clapped, did the wave, and came on stage for our encore.  After the show a 30-minute photo session ensued.  Michael was told by 2 Chinese girls that they loved him.  Josh was offered a Chinese fathers’ youngest daughter.  Chengdu was even crazier.  We showed up & only had 30 minutes before we had to play.  We were dirty and had our luggage and just fumbling about.  Little Bar was packed.  The crowd was more relaxed but let us hear it louder than any crowd, after each song.   It was the only city we didn’t get an encore, but it was my favorite crowd.  I knew they were loving it because I had their full attention with every word.  I was saddened that we had to rush out to make it in time for our hostel reservation.  I would have loved to hang out with the crowd.   Now I’m off to Beijing for the finale.  I’m overwhelmed by the crowds.  The new fans.  The new admirers.   I love the New Noise Revival!
Beijing – The Final Transformation
My friend Fernando lived in China for 5 years.  He called me when he heard I was touring in China.  While excited for me he said he didn’t think my music would go over well in China.   Well, we took China by storm!  Like a flaming chariot!  Beijing was the final litmus test.  Every city we played we won the crowd over the moment we walked in the venue.  Beijing was more foreigners and they were all sitting.  3 songs in and they were charmed.  They danced more than any other crowd and this was the final transformation.  This tour was the most exciting tour I’ve ever been on.  We bonded as a band in a special way.  Who would have thought that our metal drummer, Tyler, from Shanghai would have worked for the Noise Revival Orchestra?  Well it was the perfect ingredient.  Most likely the missing ingredient that Fernando didn’t know we had up our sleeve.  Our stage presence and charm sucked them in and our music sent them home smiling.  I see a brand new rock n roll record in the future…and I see a lot more of China in the future as well!
Special thanks to Tyler Bowa who was more than just our drummer.  Without him I can’t imagine how we would have communicated or not gotten lost.  Nichols & Zangnan Promotions for doing all the preplanning and being the main catalyst for our coming to China.    Rose for being cool.  Michael & Todd for playing horns with us in Shanghai.  Troy for letting me work abroad and follow my calling.  My beautiful baby Anita for capturing all the content for the band and putting up with the hectic touring schedule.  24/7 for the amazing interview.  Clement for the hospitality at Temple Bar in Beijing.  German guy at the hostel who acted as our translator and waited forever as we tried to book flights on the phone our last night.   Shanghai Post for putting us on the cover.  The TNRO fans from Austin that are now living in Shanghai and came to support.  Not the guy who gave Josh chocolate at Temple Bar.  All the people who helped us get a bass guitar for Michael in every city!  The organizer in Changsha who took us out to eat late night after our show.  Josh & Vince who took the risk in me and in the tour…wasn’t it the trip of a lifetime guys!  For Michael for being in on the China trip from the get go!   All the promoters and people who helped spread the word!   The lady who warned us before we were about to eat cat!  Kaye at Lazy Bone who was the most friendly host ever!  We hope you get to visit the UK & the US one day!  Don Pitts, Troy Campbell, Ashley Buchanan, & Charlotte Huskey who provided me with the opportunity to be an ambassador for Austin and it’s sister city of Shanghai.  Sarah Kendel for running my Facebook and the bands FB while I was in China.   Clayton Lillard for having my back in Austin.  My sisters M.I.T roommate, Erin, for supporting with such last notice.  I love connecting the dots around the world!  My beautiful Anita again.  This time for still going to The Great Wall after I spilt juice all over her 1 minute before the bus was leaving :/  Tyler Bowa again!  This time for putting up with me being a diva.   I’m sure I forgot a few, so I’ll continue to update this blog as the memories pop up in my head!

Summer 2014 (Blog Post 1)


A teacher once told me that if you you are thinking something during class, chances are that many others are thinking the same thing.  Well I can't really seem to find a composer that thinks the same way as I am thinking.

I read on every damn composer's site that they are an "award winning" composer and paint this picture of success.  Then you listen to what they are doing and...  

Well I've never won an award for anything besides a creative writing contest in high school that my journalism teacher entered me in, without telling me.  I threw away the award..

And don't get me wrong, I've definitely experienced some amazing things in life because of music so it really paid off to learn a few instruments!  Although now people tell me that I have certain successes because of my personality?  WTF!  I guess I have my moments, because I certainly love people and I love listening to stories.  I think I have my moments where I really connect with people because I'm also certain there is a list of people that would say my personality does not attract people but more-so turns them off.

Back to music...so eventually I learned that any ole' Joe can pick up a guitar. That's why I hated playing guitar once I was in college.  I needed a new fix.  I hit the road touring the U.S. with my brother and best friends in a tribute to the D.I.Y touring culture of the 80's.  This was a blast and I highly recommend this to anyone coming out of college.  Why get a job when you can travel, play music, get in trouble, have adventures, and see all the unique pockets our country has to offer.  After 3 or so years o this I started growing and transitioning into a cinematic sound and outgrew our little punk band.  I started a large orchestra based band and eventually started composing for film and now symphony orchestra.  It took around 8 years to make that transition and even now I'm facing new challenges.  The challenge of academia.  Maybe I'm too amateur?  But it's comparable to being in the twilight zone or in a bar of "independent" minded people all wearing the same black outfits.  I mean, every composer I meet that has gone through the academic route in learning composition thinks, acts, and sounds the same.  They have to know this right?  I even hear the same with film composing in that the music or sounds composers use as they sound obviously sampled and will eventually sound dated.

Maybe everyone has it figured out but I don't. I'm still on the journey but maybe one day I can look back and truly answer that question.  I hope with this blog that someone else out there can benefit from what I have to say.  Although I'm not really sure what I have to say.  But who cares.  It's the wild wild west out there and the world keeps spinning.  Someone else might have the deal or the money or the popularity but if you read between the lines I just described Milli Vanilli, Backstreet Boys, David Cassidy, etc!  Make the music and do everything your self...

I'll rant here and there to keep things spicy.  I tend to stick my foot in mouth but sometimes I'll also try to be politically correct just in case I decide to run for president one day.  Don't expect perfect punctuation but do expect a ton of run ons!  I'm about producing and less about waiting until something is perfect.  That's why my family calls me the rabbit.  Oh, and I meant what I said about loving stories!  So if you actually scroll this far and want to tell me your story, please do!  I would love to hear from you