steve the drummer

I’ve met a number of excellent and friendly musicians since moving to Nashville just over a year ago.  They really are everywhere.

Before we made the move I got in touch with a drummer with whom I’d only been casually acquainted; I’d met him a couple of times when we played on the same bills in the Bay Area.  We talked about what it was like to live and work in Nashville and he sent me a detailed description of each neighborhood.  It was quite helpful, and over the past year we’ve struck up a bit of a friendship.

Turns out, he really likes being helpful and does it quite well.  He started a website and a blog to offer his thoughts, insight and experience to musicians.  There are some real gems of wisdom; it’s worth a read for musicians and non musicians alike.  Check ‘im out:



BMI Award

I suppose if there’s anything worth blogging about, it’s probably this.

I received a BMI Film and TV award!  Here’s a picture of all of the 2013 winners.


You can read more about it here, if you’d like:



Ol’ Danny Barnes

I worked as an assistant at a studio in Burbank for a while.  It was, without any doubt, one of the best musical experiences I’ve ever had.  I learned lessons that I didn’t even know I learned; they come to me from time to time like a whale breaching the water’s surface.  I’m using that analogy because the lessons are so large, and often hidden deep in the dark ocean of my subconscious…eh, never mind.

The point is, the little bit of exposure I had to great artists, musicians, engineers and producers taught me a lot.  I’m still learning from the things I learned, if that makes any sense at all.  

Okay.  The real point is, I worked on a Danny Barnes project; John Alagia produced, Matt Chamberlain played drums and weird stuff, etc., etc.  It was amazing.  

Danny is a world-class musician, a genuine artist and, from what I could tell, a true gentleman.  Judging from my little experience, he’s also a wise and thoughtful person.  That’s why I think it might be worthwhile to read what he has to say on the subject of making a living in music.

Here’s the link to his blog:


It’s worth a read, whether you’re just starting out or a 30 year veteran.


Congratulations to Katie and Michael

Last year, Katie Campbell and Michael Werner made a great environmental documentary called ‘Undamming the Elwha’, which airs on KCTS9 in Seattle and on other public tv stations around the Northwest.  I just learned that it won a regional Emmy for ‘Best Topical Documentary’.  

Congrats to Katie and Michael!

Oh yeah…I provided the music : )

The film can be seen in its entirety on Vimeo:

Undamming the Elwha on Vimeo


Failure to Communicate

People make mistakes.  We all do.  It’s rarely worth getting upset about.

This week has taught me a lesson in managing a situation when it takes an unexpected turn for the worse.  If (or when) I make some silly error that winds up affecting my customers in a major way, I will go out of my way to communicate clearly and directly in a way that makes them feel understood and appreciated.

I use recording software called Pro Tools which is made by a company called Avid.  In order to protect their software from piracy, Avid chooses to use a company called Pace to manage their license authorization.  

Pace uses a little usb thing called an ilok.  In order to use your software you must store your license on this device; you plug it in to your computer, the computer sees that you are the authorized user, you start up your software and away you go.  It’s sort of like a car key.

Anyway, Pace made some changes to their infrastructure.  I don’t know what they did, exactly, or why, but for some reason when they rolled out their new system it flopped.  There were major issues with the new software they used to manage all of their customers’ licenses, and many people couldn’t use Pro Tools or any other ilok-protected software.  Pace effectively lost the keys to all of our cars.

Due to this I lost several days of work.  Being a self-employed freelancer means that if I don’t work I don’t get paid.  I spent hours and hours troubleshooting and scouring internet forums looking for a solution.  I think my rig is finally up and running, but it took days to get things sorted out.

You would think that, if you were in Pace’s position, you might reach out to your customers.  Maybe let them know that you’ve made an error, and give them some ideas about how to fix the situation.  Maybe you’d update them with your progress and give them an idea of the repair timeline.

Pace did next to nothing.  They gave no warning to unsuspecting customers and, once a customer’s account was affected, they did very little to help or communicate.  Their customer support is limited to email and the link to email them is buried deep in the pages of their website.  When my rig went down I emailed them and got a form letter response which said “We’re having problems.  Thanks for your patience.”  They offered no suggestions whatsoever.  I emailed again the next day and got a similar response with no suggestions.  In their response they gave me a link to a page on their site that was supposed to have information and updates.  The only information on the page was basically “We’re having problems.  Thanks for your patience.”

Again, I know companies make mistakes.  Sometimes they make big ones.  It doesn’t mean they’re bad people and it’s usually not the end of the world.  The thing is, as a vendor it’s not that hard to make your customers feel a little better when you screw something up.  Talk to them.  Comfort them.  Keep them in the loop.  Offer helpful suggestions.  Fess up and be humble in your communications.  People like that.  It helps.  

I learned this lesson working in a pizza parlor when I was 16.  When you burn a customer’s pie you give them free sodas and maybe some breadsticks, you rush their order to the front of the line and you do it with a smile.  Maybe they will still leave unhappy but they will probably come back.



Productivity #2

Here’s an article by Oliver Burkeman about the ‘Slow Web’ movement, something I hadn’t heard of until yesterday.  Apparently, techie folks have developed all sorts of tech-based solutions to the compulsive internetting problem.  While I don’t see myself visiting websites that force me to watch waves crash for no less than two minutes, I did find some of the author’s insights and suggestions to be helpful.

This is the way most days start around here.

This is the way most days start around here.



I’ve been working like crazy.  Lately I wake up sometime between 4:30 and 6 am, make some coffee and head downstairs to the studio.  I work until 7 or 8 pm, or whenever my brain starts going into sleep mode.  

With all the hours I’ve been putting in you’d think I would be turning out a ton of work.  Actually, I feel my productivity slipping a little bit every day.  

I’m sure it boils down to a few things; focus, discipline, time management, energy, etc.  Every time I sit down to write I go through a totally involuntary and distracting routine of email-checking, web-browsing, gear-lusting… 

So I guess I need to get myself in better work shape.  Who has tips to share?

Knobs and faders

Knobs and faders


Nashville based songwriter, composer, producer, engineer.