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The Rebirth of Tenderness and Joy

I was talking with Eric Gulliksen, the producer of my forthcoming album and he mentioned that he had discovered my album musical Tenderness and Joy from 2008-2009 and commented that there were some nice things on there. I had buried Tenderness feeling that although I worked on it for two years, it still needed a lot more work and it was recorded in my previous quick and dirty fashion with Chris Billius at Bristol Studios in Boston. But it can't be worked on if it stays buried and it was studio produced, after all. So this week I have decided to resurrect it for listening and downloading on Bandcamp.

The basic idea was to set a musical in an alternative newspaper setting around four friends working there: the office manager, the star reporter, another beat reporter and the newspaper editor. I borrowed their personalities from some close friends including myself. I wrote a script to go along with the songs. It would be fun to produce it with appropriate revising and editing by someone more professional than I at doing this. For now, it can just be there for the listening. Check it out if you have a few minutes to do so. The album link is here: https://mgutierrezmay.bandcamp.com/album/tenderness-and-joy

A lot has happened in the past year and a half

It's been a year and a half since I have written a blog post here, way too long. It's been hard to focus on artistic career maintenance. I work six days a week, I spend much of my free time with my partner, Diane, I don't get the chance to be at my desk very often these days. And an entire presidential nomination and election process has come and gone, resulting in the elevation of a real (fill in blank) of a human being, Donald Trump being elected as president. I feel most sorry for those years younger than myself, that my baby boomer generation did not have the decency to elect a highly talented, brilliant and capable woman, Hillary Clinton to be president. Instead we sent you this (fill in blank).You can fool some of the people some of the time. But those not fooled marched the day after inauguration in the millions across the country and around the world. It was good to see that.

Almost Memorial Day Weekend

One of my first serious songs was titled "Memorial Day", written way back in 1979 after the end of the Vietnam War. My approach to the song was somewhat angry: why are we honoring people who died such violent deaths? Should we not be promoting peace and an end to all wars? I was in my ideological period, which ended when I finished graduate school at BC and started the somber task of working in child welfare. Now it is 2015 and the anger at soldiers and the military that was palpable in the 1970's has been reframed into honoring soldiers who are performing the sometimes thankless task of defending the security of the United States while more properly questioning why the wars themselves are being waged. This is the one true legacy of Vietnam.

Getting ready for the FAWM

It's become an annual ritual. The last days of January, I start to prepare myself for doing the February Album Writing Month at FAWM.org. I met FAWM's director, Burr Settles for the first time last summer and was very impressed with his quiet steadiness and willingness to get downright goofy on occasion. When I went to FAWMstock this past July on the heels of my employment crisis at the time, I got to meet several FAWM folks in person whom I never could have met otherwise, notably the Canadian gang. FAWM has become part of my life over the past seven years. It has brought me much happiness.

Two years of darkness?

November,2014 brought out the grumpy people, more so than the happy people and as a result, the Congress of the United States will be serving the forces of darkness, cruelty, despair, disenfranchisement and greed for the next two years. My nickname for it is America 2.0 and I do believe it is temporary. But as a artist, this is a challenge. You don't need to be overtly political, although sometimes I am. But you do have something of a responsibility to speak truth to power as lies and misrepresentation become more commonplace. If we are songwriters, we need to write good songs which reflect and touch people's lives. We need the kind of angry and powerful songs that the listener can find all over the first two Crosby, Stills and Nash albums (with a nod to Neil Young for Ohio). But we also have to communicate in a way that people can listen and not be so angry and loud and self-righteous that the messenger overwhelms the message. This can be a challenge. But look at Lorde-she's doing it right. More of us can do the same.

 

It's a New Place, A New Life

Almost six months since a blog entry and that's been way too long. But May, June and July, 2014 have been transformational, life changing months in my life. I left the South Shore at the end of May, moved here to Uxbridge to be with Diane, starting working two new part-time jobs and rented my condo in Weymouth to a very nice young woman who moved up to the area from Rhode Island to work at REI at Derby Street Shoppes in Hingham. The World Cup and Wimbledon have come and gone. Lots of stuff happening on the South Shore with music that makes me wish I were still living there. Not enough time so far to appreciate my new environment. That will come, I believe,

To Everything, Turn, Turn, Turn..

He was born the same year as my father. I always remembered that. I met him briefly in person two or three times. I wrote a song many years ago called "All My Working Life" dedicated to all musician activists. I got to perform it in front of him at PMN in the mid-80's and he came backstage to say " I really liked your song." I'll always remember that. He was encouraging to me and to countless others musicians and songwriters.

The Wild and The Innocent-40 Years On

Discussing my favorite all-time album is pure self-indulgence, but that is why we blog, right? I am using my late night burst of energy to write my thoughts from the perspective of a songwriter and also from someone who was coming of age just as this album was being released. There is a wikipedia page on the album here which lists its release as September 11, 1973 but there is a mild controversy about this as the more official release month, acknowledged on Bruce's Facebook page, is generally recognized as November, 1973. The album was produced by Bruce's former manager Mike Appel and his partner, Jim Cretecos and recorded at the 914 Sound Studios in Blauvelt, NY over the six month period between March and September, 1973. Bruce's performing band was ever to be known as the E Street Band after this album, as his first album Greetings was really a solo songwriter album. As the page acknowledges, the name E Street came from the family home of David Sancious in Belmar, NJ, something I discovered by accident when I was living in New Jersey between 1978-1980.

Hiatus or Semi-Hiatus (I'm not sure)

For the next few months, I will not be actively seeking performing gigs. This is due to my upcoming move to South Central Mass and moving into a new job, but it is also recognizing that I will be starting a new life when I get there. Diane and I have been together over three years and we are moving in together and making our partnership more official. I also want to devote time and effort to writing a screenplay with some professional guidance and to do this, I have to let my music sit on the sidelines for a little while. I have always had a few different writing passions and songwriting is the furthest I have taken any of them. I've had a great time and I want to do more. But perhaps it is now time for a breather.

I will remain active in seeing other musician friends at performances and cheering them on. This website will remain active for any new news or developments. My next planned events are in February with the annual February Album Writing Month and an open mike feature at Catbird Cafe on February 8th. I will see you around the different performance venues-all for the moment.

Feedback-The Crowd Review

I recently submitted two songs to Reverb Nation's Crowd Review, You Don't Know My World, a song I wrote and performed and then Taliesen, the song I wrote the lyrics for, performed by Chip Withrow and Kristian Borresen. I did the 50 reviews the first time, read them and then went back for some more punishment with Taliesen, but only asked for 20 reviews. The results are worth sharing and gave me a few things to think about. For the purposes of this blog, I will divide some of the crowd comments for both song into three categories: the good, the bad and the ugly. Anyone else who is on Reverb should try this out, but believe me when I say 20 reviews is plenty.

Mini-Blog #1

Sometimes I don't have enough news or thoughts to fill up a decent sized blog. At those times, you, dear reader are likely to see this: the Mini-Blog. My effort to keep things current.

You might not know that for the last year or two, I have had my songs played on what was known as jango.com and is now known as radioairplay.com. It costs about $30 per month but for me, it is worth it as I have been getting a steady stream of listeners and some fans and e-mail addresses. As I am figuring out what to do next with my music career, building the fan base, even if those fans are far away is a good thing. It also gives me an idea of what songs resonate most with people. My song, I Will Miss You When You Go is doing the best with the most likes and the most listens followed by Sunday Afternoon 5pm and Taliesen.

Songwriting showcases and thoughts

On Sunday, June 23rd, I will be participating in my first songwriter/solo artist showcase at the Midway Cafe in Jamaica Plain, Mass between 4pm and 8pm (I will be going on at 6:30 pm). The showcase is sponsored by a Colorado-based organization called Bridging the Music and they are actually having three showcases on Sunday afternoons during the month of June. At the end, votes will be tallied and someone will be declared winner and get advice and support on their career from this organization. I am expected to sell tickets, at least 15 of them. My ego was challenged and I took the bait but the deal seemed reasonable. So I signed on.

One Month Later

It has already been a month.

The Marathon bombing is the first successful act of terror on American soil since September 11, 2001. That particular day, I was driving to see Peg Waller, my LICSW supervisor from my home in Taunton to Brookline. Our appointment was for 9am and just before I got to Peg's house, I heard Kim Zandy on PRO-FM say over the radio " A plane just hit the World Trade Center, I kid you not." The rest of that day was incredibly surreal and I can only imagine what it was like for people living in New York City. I have talked to a couple people from NYC about their experiences from that day and they still really can't talk about it for very long. That is what it is like when your fundamental feelings of safety are shaken at the core.

Spring-Call Me Maybe?

Hello again. I fear we are entering another ambivalent Spring here in New England. Living here, I never know if Spring is actually going to happen or will the winter weather drag on into June like it has done so many years in the past. It's probably the thing I miss most about living down in Virginia where I originally come from. Come March and April, spring was definitely happening. Cripes, you knew that even in New Jersey. Up here, not so much. Last year with the mild winter was an exception to this often too dreary rule. This year, who the heck knows?

FAWM over for 2013-lots of winners!

This year's February Album Writing Month (FAWM) was very productive for me and many others on the site. I wrote 17 songs and I think I could have done more, but 17 is a good prime number. This is my 6th FAWM and this year, I actually wrote songs that might fit together on an album. If you do FAWM often enough, you can learn to do that and you are not worried about meeting the goal of 14 songs. You know you will get there if you wish and you just need to decide on your journey path. 

Welcome 2013-who the heck are Muffin and Cuppycake?

So I begin the New Year with an attempt to answer that most vexing of questions, for me at least: Who the Heck are Muffin and Cuppycake and are they still together and for the rest of their lives? There they are on my webpage photo sitting right below my right hand. The photo was taken at the Scargo Tower in Dennis, Mass on the Cape. Were they summer visitors? Were they eaten by sharks in Chatham? 

Text from Springsteen and I video (long form)

Ah, Bruce. We do go back a long way. I think it was the Summer of 74. I had just been severely humbled and deservedly so by a woman I was pursuing in college. It was the shipwreck summer I started therapy, individual and group. I was listening to the radio for theme songs. It was a bubblegummy period of music, by and large, but some good stuff was percolating through as well. 

I think my first song of yours was Spirit In the Night. I had started playing guitar and I was determined to figure out the chords. Wasn't hard and it was fun to play. I like songs in minor keys. "like a spirit in the night, all night.." So I went to my local 5 and 10 store, it might have been a Woolworth's and found the first two albums there. Only had money for one so I bought "Greetings" with Spirit on it. Definitely a fun album with the oversized postcard and all that. And the songs: Spirit In The Night, For You, Growing Up, Blinded by the Light, Hard to Be a Saint. Still..I decided I had to have the other album, too.

Shelter From The Storm

I grew up with hurricanes in South Florida (lived there three years). One hurricane, Hurricane Cleo, split the tree in our front yard and blew out car through the carport. Hurricanes are both awesome and destructive as heck. I am hoping we are not going to experience something like South Florida went through with Hurricane Andrew many years ago or New Orleans and Mississippi went through with Hurricane Katrina. I am typing this as I am watching the nonstop television coverage, interspersed of course with political commercials. To be partisan, I hope Scott Brown gets blown out of office come Tuesday, November 6th by the most excellent Elizabeth Warren. Elizabeth got the all-important Boston Globe endorsement earlier today (my local Patriot ledger endorsed Brown but had nice words for Elizabeth while doing so). How often do you get to elect a political candidate you will be proud of? We have that opportunity in about a week or so. I think it is going to happen. In the war of Rove vs Warren, Warren is winning. And Brown never deserved to be a US Senator, anyway.

September arrives, Fall not far behind

As the Boston area is so attuned to the circadian rhythms of students arriving for their studies every September (and in 1980, I was one of them), September is pretty much the start of the performing season. I have two gigs this month and I would love to average two gigs a month where I am a feature or share the spotlight this coming year. So consider this a general invite to anyone who comes across this site-I am ready and willing for performance employment. I don't go over very well in noisy bars but if you need someone to perform some original songs for an event or luncheon or coffeehouse opener or social club, I will be happy to answer your call. The best way to reach me is email at Mikegtz@aol.com and from there I can give you my cellphone number or home number. 

The Carrots and Geese arrive!

A quick blog entry to acknowledge that my new Live album Carrots, Geese and the Dead Leprechaun is now here and available on ITunes, Amazon.com, CD Baby and Bandcamp. A couple of the songs can also be found on Myxer (Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups) and the August 2, 2012 Intricate Spaces podcast from NetQast.com (Puerto Rican On The Moon). You can buy it as a whole or by single selection. It is a download only album. Come visit and have fun listening.I wanted to make these songs available to all those who have come to know and love them. 

The CD Baby link is here: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/michaelgutierrezmay3. ALyrics for these songs can be found on the Ne Album page which is attached to this webpage.

It's 2012 Already

A brief entry as I have not written anything since the end of last November and a few new things have happened since then. Once again this year, I completed the February Album Writing Month with 18 songs. Several friends on the site have come up with new CD Product since the beginning of the year, in particular Jodi Arlyn, Flo Paris, Mike Skliar, Debs and Errol and Jacqui and Geoff.  Other projects are also in process from Kristian Borresen and Leslie Stahl and my new local friend Beth De Sombre. What is particularly nice to see is all the collaborative work going on and people from the site helping others, much like people helped me out last May. Fifty Miles Away turns one year old next month and I now have copies in paper stock which I can actually sign for people. 

Carrots, Geese and The Dead Leprechaun

So the title of my "funny songs" album came to me this past Thanksgiving weekend. So far in my recent performing career, I have two genuine hits, The Carrot Song and I Hate Geese. The Dead Leprechaun, of course, is irresistable, inspired by my friend Robyn MacKenzie (the wonderfully talented violinist on Gabrielle) and a song she wrote for 5090 in 2010. I am thinking of 12 songs for this album and I would like them all to be live recordings from my home base, the fabulous Catbird Cafe in South Weymouth, Mass.I have Eric (Snake) Gulliksen working with me on this. Since last March, all the Catbird shows have been unobtrusively recorded for posterity by Snake. Many of the songs for this album should come from my May 27th concert and some of the songs are more recent. Hopefully I can pull this together in the next month or two.

Falling into Fall, 2011

The rains are falling as I write this, the temperature is edging ever cooler and I have just come back from a wonderful week's vacation in Southwest Virginia, where I got to visit Floyd, home of the annual Woodstock-esque Floydfest that happens there every July. I didn't get to see my friend Phil Norman in performance, but I did see this unique individual calling himself Joe Buck Yourself who is a talent to watch. combining traditional country songs with his original punk material. He was once a sideman for Hank Williams III (you know, the guy who was ready for some football but not quite ready for prime time on his views of Barack Obama). He plays a mean guitar.

The Birth of Fifty Miles Away

  •  Big News for those who don't know-I expect to receive the first shipment of my five song EP, Fifty Miles Away next week. It's cheap, only $7.99 on CD Baby for physical copy, $6.99 for digital album download and $5.00 from me in person. I am hoping everyone will want their own copy, which features the remarkable contributions of Deborah Linden (Fifty Miles Away, Gabrielle), Stephen Martin and Colette O'Connor (Albino and Transvestite, Groucho), Nancy Rost (Albino and Transvestite), Jacqui Carnall (Tea and Aspirin) and Robyn MacKenzie (Gabrielle). Discmasters outdid themselves on the inside cover art and I think you will want it.

    This is a watershed moment for me. I've been writing songs for a long time but getting this together, which actually happened pretty quickly is not something I have been able to do in the past. Much of the credit belongs to February Album Writing Month where I have participated for the past four years in the challenge and many exceptional collaborations. I have been successful with the challenge all four years and my songwriting acumen is so much better as a result.

    I also want to thank Stephen, Eric (Snake) and the Catbird Cafe here in South Weymouth for resurrecting my performing self. Here I got to meet Stephen Martin and Colette O'Connor and if you go to Colette's page, you will see her pay a similar tribute to a performance space which believes in its performers and their potential to take on the world. The entire South Shore songwriter community, currently growing by leaps and bounds, owes Catbird a debt of gratitude.

    Stay tuned, world, you will be hearing much more from us and hopefully also from me.

    MGM

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