Follow up on Artistic Relevance in a Trump Presidency

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Follow up on Artistic Relevance in a Trump Presidency

I'm writing this post with many of the same feelings I held last week. I’m confused by what's happening in America, and I’m baffled by the actions President Trump is taking. Everything is changing at a turbocharged pace and it's hard to keep up. This blog included.

Last week I wrote about U2's now scrapped new album and artistic relevance in a Trump presidency. I didn't get around to posting the blog until Friday. Within an hour, the topic shifted out of my focus as Trump signed an executive order banning immigrants from seven countries for 90 days and refugees in general for 120 days. It's hard to keep up a conversation on art when executive orders like that are issued. But I did have an experience that made me want to revisit the subject of artistic relevance this week. It builds on my previous post, so check that out here if you didn’t have a chance to read it.

This past weekend I travelled to Tampa to see some friends. While down there, I went to a museum that features a permanent collection of Salvador Dali paintings and an exhibition of the Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo. I found myself paying close attention to works from certain historic eras and events: Post World War I, World War II, the dropping of the atomic bomb, the rise of communism, etc. I've seen some of these paintings before, but this time they took on a new meaning to me given the context of the world today. It's not as if I ever underestimated the importance of those events, and we're certainly living in our own unique time. But the feelings of chaos, doubt, and questioning were so present and relatable. There were many other pieces in the gallery that exuded more positive concepts of optimism, inner peace, and personal growth. While not as striking, they still presented a welcome reminder of what else is important in life. A friend, Cyndi Rice, commented to me in response to last week's post that sometimes art of hope and acceptance can inspire just as much and bring out strength and confidence. I could definitely relate to the sentiment in that moment.

With the encounter at the museum, I answered a lot of the questions I posed last week. U2 (and other artists) shouldn't be worrying about whether their art is relevant right now or not. In the modern music industry it's easy to get caught up in the notion that music is at it's height when it's released and only matters at that time. But music and art can take on meaning at any occasion. What's most important is to create in the moment and put something out there that gives off pure emotion. I realize that’s a pretty basic tenant of art for me to arrive at as a conclusion. But sometimes even basic philosophies need to be examined and rebuffed when there’s so much going on in the world.

Finally, I wanted to end this week's post with a story of something that inspired me last week. I was working Thursday evening and ran into stand still traffic at the intersection of Broad and Walnut in central Philadelphia. I could see the road ahead had been closed. A significant amount of people were marching towards city hall with signs protesting Donald Trump and his presence in town that day. I parked my car, got out, and walked down to the end of the block to take it all in. The chants, the atmosphere, and the messages of the crowd were all so passionate and authentic. I could breathe a little easier that night from bearing witness to the courage and vocal opposition of everyone in that moment. As much as art can inspire, so can people's actions in our everyday lives.

 

Picture: "Salvador Dali with Babou, the Ocelot" by Roger Higgins

 

 

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U2 and Artistic Relevance in a Trump Presidency

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U2 and Artistic Relevance in a Trump Presidency

It's been a crazy week. Since I last wrote, Donald Trump has been sworn in as President, record crowds gathered in cities across the world in support of women, and I spent a week holed up working on new songs with the Mike "Landy" Landolt at his studio in Columbus. It's baffling how fast the world is changing, and with that, songs that were written one or two years ago for Digisaurus have taken on a whole new context as we've been working on them. They're sounding darker, more aggressive and faster paced. There's a sense of urgency and resistance taking over. While some of it feels preemptive, yielding to those emotions doesn't seem like such a terrible idea either.

Before I dive into things, I do want to say how proud I am to know so many people who are standing up for what they believe in and recognize the struggle that so many people in this country face. As I'm writing this, Donald Trump is arriving in Philadelphia to meet GOP leaders for a retreat at the Loews hotel (seriously, only he would hold a retreat at a luxury hotel in the middle of a major city.) With the presence of a Trump presidency weighing down on myself and others, I wanted to explore something I read about this week in regards to the arts. While you may be expecting something about Trump's proposed budget cuts to arts and humanities programs, this is about something more important and pressing: U2 scrapping their new album in the wake of Trump's election.

In an interview with Rolling Stone earlier this month, U2 guitarist, The Edge, detailed how the band finished up a new album, Songs of Experience, in the middle of 2016. Release plans were in motion, but then Trump was elected President. As a result, U2 decided to delay the album’s release indefinitely. The Edge had this to say in the interview: "We just went, 'Hold on a second – we've got to give ourselves a moment to think about this record and about how it relates to what's going on in the world.' That's because it was written mostly, I mean, 80 percent of it was started before 2016, but most of it was written in the early part of 2016, and now, as I think you'd agree, the world is a different place."

My emphasis on the importance of a new U2 album should be taken with a healthy dose of sarcasm. However, I did find the whole sentiment quite relatable. Having just been in the studio working on songs started pre-election, I was lucky (well, lucky as a songwriter...unlucky as a human) to be at a point in the process where it was easy for me to re-frame their context and breathe a different life into them. Hell, I needed to do that just to get excited about recording them. And even though I feel indifferent about U2, I think they've definitely earned the right to take as long as they want to write, re-frame, and hone an album until they think it portrays the statement they want to make. If we're being honest, it's about time they did that given what they've put out over the past decade.

However, not everyone agrees. When listening to the CD Baby DIY Musicians Podcast on my way back from Columbus, hosts Kevin Bruenner and Chris Bolton expressed complete frustration at the decision. I think they might like U2 quite a bit more than myself, and they come to their conclusion more as fans and quasi industry analysts: The album's recorded and done. U2 should put it out. If their philosophy is the times must match the context of a record, and given how much lead time U2 typically has between record completion and release, how will they ever be in a position to release new music? Music = relevance. If you can't release new music, you're no longer relevant. U2 is copping out and basically admitting to a lack of relevance. 

The argument's go deeper on the industry side, and you can check out the episode here. So what do you think? If your favorite band was in a similar situation, would you want them to release the album? Is that an album you'd even want to hear right now? If you're an artist, do you think you could stomach promoting and touring a record that you wrote pre-election while knowing the world is such a different place? Let me know in the comments below, Facebook or Twitter, and I'll revisit this next week. 

Picture: Helge Øverås

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Recording this Week. Find us on Instagram!

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Recording this Week. Find us on Instagram!

Hey everyone. Unfortunately, I'm getting ready to head back in the studio this week to work with Mr. Mike Landolt on a new EP at Curry House Studios. I wasn't able to get a blog together this week, but I will be documenting our time in the studio on our Instagram profile for the next 5 days. Go ahead and follow @digisaurusmusic and I'll give you some peeks into what we've got cooking.

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Welcome to 2017

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Welcome to 2017

2017. Something different. A chance to start anew.

While 2017 signifies the departure from a year that most hold in a negative view, it's a little bit more than that to me. It means that I've officially been working Digisaurus full-time for a year now. I'm older, wiser, and not a total nEwb.

2016 was the year I flew by the seat of my pants. I hit the reset button and started over while committing to grandiose adventures on the road. I came out of it with a lot of great memories, but it was very stressful as someone who's not used to living so spontaneously. After taking a year to get adjusted, I'm much more relaxed than I was at this point last January. 

To start off the new year, I spent a week in the studio expanding on some ideas, arrangements, and lyrics that have been piling up over the past couple of months. Now I have an arsenal of new songs. While the release details won't be clear for a while, the best way to ensure you hear them is to check out a show. And there will be plenty of those this year.

But releasing new songs and touring isn’t anything new for Digisaurus. So what will be different? You'll be seeing a lot more content coming out via our Soundcloud and Youtube account in 2017 (Follow us here if you're not already: Soundcloud/Youtube). Expect remixes, music videos, covers, tour diaries, live streams, and the occasional tutorial for the gear heads. First up, I'll be debuting a series of remixes for "I Don't Feel Alright," by American Science, Black Esther, and Osea Merdis (DJ Moxy's new project) in the next few weeks, followed by a music video I shot with director, Evan Spencer Brace.

In the past I’ve usually tried to keep things quiet before they come out, but there's a reason I'm telling you about everything I want to do in advance this time. It's because I want to be held accountable, and I want my friends and fans to help me do that. I also want to know what your goals are for this year. E-mail me at info@digisaurusmusic.com and tell me about them. Maybe there’s some way I can help. Maybe there isn’t. But at the very least we can hold each other to our word. It’s also an opportunity for me to tackle my New Years resolution of communicating more positively and directly with people. When I see you at a show, I want to be able to say, "hey, great to see you! How are your Yoga classes going?" and you can say "Namaste James, they’re going great...but how come I haven't seen any footage from your tour so far?"

It's a new year, and a new opportunity for us to be the best versions of ourselves. Happy 2017!

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Happy Holidays

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Happy Holidays

Photo Credit: Mitchell Multimedia

Ah, the holidays. Usually the only part of Winter I can actually put up with in the Northern Hemisphere. While the temperatures are dropping and the weather is popping, all the lights and festivities make it somewhat joyous to gather with friends and keep things humorous...okay, maybe the rhyming stuff gets annoying. But all in all, we get to encounter one last dish of positivity before we head into the inevitable depression of January, February, and sometimes March.

I don't have time to do a well thought out post this week, but I did want to say thanks to everyone who made it out to our Columbus show last week at A&R Music Bar. Despite the cold, the heat not working, and the tragic passing of a local music stalwart that day, it was really nice to be able to gather with friends and loved ones and play for you all. And really, getting together and supporting each other is what the holidays is really all about. Big thanks to Cherry Chrome, The Odds of Being Born, CD102.5, and Promowest for helping out with the show.

I do have one more show going down this year in New York City at Piano's upstairs. It's this Friday and it's a free show, so if you're in the area, come get one final night of Digisaurus in 2016. Other than great, have a great holidays and I'll see you soon.

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A Columbus Love Letter

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A Columbus Love Letter

In 2016 I’ve had a changing relationship with the city I’ve called home for the past ten years. I recently moved to Philadelphia with my girlfriend and I was on tour for about 150 days. However, I still think I’ve spent the better part of my year in Columbus so I’ve been slightly hesitant to relinquish this city as my home...and maybe I never will. I'm finding a lot of reasons to keep coming back.

If you live in Columbus, you constantly hear about how much the city's growing. That's true of the music scene too...so much so that groups and think tanks have formed in order to help push the discussion of that growth on a larger scale. At times, I've found the conversation to be somewhat counterproductive to what artists should actually be focusing on (making good art). But it has shed light on how much this city has expanded as an artistic hub. There's so much talent and so many resources available to inspire creativity. I’ve seen a lot of people move away over the last few years who’ve kept studios, bands, and other facets of their music careers going in Columbus so they can stay involved. And now I’m one of those people. I've been back four times since I moved in September, and each time I've had a full docket of writing sessions, recording sessions, shows, etc.

On top of being a great place to get creative, I feel like there’s also been a shift in attitude when it comes to pushing artists out into the world. When I first started playing music here, it felt like there was an insecurity complex when it came to musicians and artists exploring opportunities in other places. Now I finally feel like a value has been put on that and is encouraged by the city and it’s people. Going to other areas, whether it be for touring, residencies, collaborations, or even to live, is essential for musicians to broaden their horizons, gain perspective, and in turn create better art. Retaining talent and growing as a city is important, but it should never come at the sacrifice of an artist reaching their fullest potential.

A lot of what I’m getting at here is gearing up to the fact that I have a show in Columbus this Friday (A&R Music Bar at 7PM with the Odds of Being Born and Cherry Chrome). If you're in Columbus, I want you to come. So yeah, maybe I’m sucking up a bit by bigging up this city. But I also want you to know how important its been to me and how much its helped me this year. The Greater Columbus Arts Council awarded me a performing artist travel grant to help out with tour costs while I was on the road. CD102.5 is playing Digisaurus over the airwaves and is helping present our show this Friday. The Independent’s Day festival included us as part of a kick ass line up that included Cloud Nothings, Speedy Ortiz, and Eskimeaux. And the other two shows we played in Columbus this year were easily our largest attended performances of 2016.

I’m residing in a new city now, but Columbus still very much feels like home for me.  I think anyone who creates should be cognizant of this place, and I’m really proud to introduce us as “Digisaurus from Columbus, Ohio” when I’m on stage in other places. I’m excited to be playing in town again this Friday, so if you’re in Columbus, please come out. It’s going to be a great time. And if you’re not in Columbus, just know how much of an awesome city it is. I'll see you soon.

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Digisaurus’ Top 5 Music Tools of 2016

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Digisaurus’ Top 5 Music Tools of 2016

I knew I wanted to do a year end list of sorts. But what to rank? I could go the normal route of best albums, songs, etc. But I’m doing my top ten albums for another outlet, and I recently switched from Apple Music to Spotify. Without access to my top played songs of the year, I’m actually kind of lost.

So, I’m gonna do my own list: Digisaurus’ Top 5 Music Tools of 2016. I’ve done our show over 150 times this year and been recording a bunch. There’s some definite go to pieces of gear/programs/apps that have worked wonders for me. This one’s for the nerds out there and anyone who needs gift ideas for said nerds:

1. Ableton Live 9

Starting out with the obvious, but a good DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) is central to my entire operation. If I have an idea I need to get out, I need a DAW that can keep up with my brain as its spewing whatever.  Logic and Garageband are great for getting up and running in a pinch. But having the right tools to mess around, manipulate, and open up those ideas after is important too. That’s where Ableton shines. Warping, sampling, slicing, the instruments and anything MIDI related is easy peasy. It’s also the best DAW out there for live shows in terms of triggering samples, tracks, and automating effects.

2. Nord Lead 2

Up until 2013 I was still mostly using pre-sets on synthesizers. I struggled for a couple of years to really grasp synths and a big part of it was it was the lack of an easy to understand layout of knobs, sliders etc. on a machine or virtual synth. Not only does the Nord Lead 2 sound great (it’s my main keyboard in the live show), but it was the first machine that laid out the engine in a way that made sense to me. It comes with an excellent manual on subtractive synthesis to help you study the concepts too.

3. TC Helicon Mic Mechanic 2

During our shows in 2015, I was running most of my vocals into a computer so I could have full access to a plethora of effects. It didn’t really work. I had so many issues with feedback, compression, and delay compensation. So I decided to take the vocals back out of the box. This little pedal (I use it with my hands) has such great natural sounding reverb and delay and resolved a lot issues for me. It’s not as expansive on effects as I would like, but I’m planning on upgrading to a VoiceLive Play or VoiceLive 3 sometime in the future so I can really push things live.

4. Origin Effects Cali 76

I’ll definitely give the Cali 76 “pedal of the year” props when it comes to Digisaurus recordings released in 2015. “I Don’t Feel Alright,” and “Not a Chance in Hell,” were both dancy numbers that needed a tight percussive guitar tone to help emulate that Chic funk/disco sound. This pedal was a titan in helping us pursue that. The standard pedal we used is now out of production, but they put out a re-issue  and a bunch of compact models if you’re looking to up your compression game.

5. Waldoorf Nave Synth (iPad app)

Before getting into the production of the first Digisaurus live show, I really wanted some sort of wireless MIDI controller to trigger samples. The one I was looking at proved to be just as expensive as a used iPad 3, which I could use with the Lemur app and a daemon network to create my own wireless controller interface. Anyway, before I could fully realize all that nerdy shit, I ended up downloading a few synth apps and the iPad became a synth engine. The Waldorf Nave is my primary go to and features two wavetable oscillators, a modulation matrix, and kick ass filters that bathe your ears with angelic tones. I find it works especially well for more ethereal ambience than lead parts, but you can build some straight up incredibleness for about $20 with this app.

And there you have it. The definitive top five musical tools for Digisaurus in 2016. I’m also putting together my Christmas list. If you’ve got a great piece of gear, app or plug-in you can’t live without, drop a comment below and let me know.

 

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Getting Off the Road

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Getting Off the Road

Getting off tour is an adjustment. I pretty much go from a regimented schedule of being at certain places at certain times every single day to having the freedom to do whatever I want in a very short amount of time. Over the past forty five days, I think I had one day to roam free.

However, I feel very lucky to have experienced the tour life again and to have a home to come back to. This week, I’m going to write about getting off the road and my process for adjusting back to life at home.

Go somewhere to relax

Usually, there’s so much pressure to get going again as soon as I get back... Mostly due to my own anxiety about "what’s next." After the Summer tour, I launched right back into my routine at home, screwed up my neck, got sick, and ended up being bedridden for a week. My body just simply wanted me to take a break. After this last Fall tour, I got to go stay with family for a bit for Thanksgiving. It was nice to have a transitional period where I spent time in an environment with no pressure to do anything. I felt so refreshed going back to Philly after.

Transition and Prioritize

When I actually get home, it usually takes a few days to get used to it. There’s about a three day period until I start feeling comfortable in my own bed, stop living out of a suitcase (I still haven’t unpacked), get my basement studio set up, etc. I use this time to go through everything in my personal life and Digisaurus world. There’s things that fall by the wayside when I’m tour, so this is my time to put band-aids on things and prioritize. I build up a big to do list to tackle, and figure out a clear plan forward. But first...

Process Experiences

I need a couple of days to process my thoughts. The world is essentially moving through me on tour, and it can be hard to keep up. I meet a lot of people, see a lot of places, and a lot in the world just changes (especially over the last couple of months). Now I take some time to myself after to focus on everything and figure out what it all means to me. I can’t really make meaningful music again before I take the time to do this. (For more on why this is important, see my blog a few weeks back)

Welcome Back!

Now I’m adjusted and back in my routine. My studio is set up and ready to go, and I’ve got a fresh perspective as an artist to guide what I want to work on musically. Next it’s just a task of balancing making music with the giant list of priorities to tackle on the booking, content, marketing, and technical side. But I’m feeling good. I’ve already completed my first task: Writing this blog.

I'm back home and making music again, but there’s still a few shows left for Digisaurus in 2016! Take a look at our Live section for specifics, but if you’re in Ohio, New York, or Philadelphia, I’m excited to see you again soon. 

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Happy Thanksgiving

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Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. As an English person, Thanksgiving didn't come naturally to me at first. But I've spent two thirds of my life in the US now. The longer I've lived here, the more I've appreciated the holiday as a time I get to spend with people I care about...even if the original premise seems a little flawed to me. 

The tour finished up over the weekend, but I went down to Nashville for a couple nights to work on something really special with some super dope folks (more on that later). I just got back to Philadelphia last night, and today I'm heading to my girlfriend's parent's house in New Jersey for the feast. I've been traveling non stop for about 45 days now, but I'm more than willing to do it a couple more times to get in the celebrations.

Just a short post this week, but I do want to say thanks to everyone who came out to the shows, bought a CD, put our stickers up high on lamp posts, fed us, let us crash at your place, or showed us some hospitality in any form. I don't think you could possibly fathom how much any gesture meant to us as we were so far from home. And a big big thanks to Eric and Jeff for being the most bad ass rhythm section on this planet and for another great tour. We're pretty much around each other all day and then sleeping in the same room at night on the road. Things get cozy, and these guys are very patient, insightful, and talented. I can't imagine two better people to have done so much touring with this year.

I've got a few more shows coming up to round out 2016, including a big homecoming to Columbus at the A&R Music Bar with The Odds of Being Born & Cherry Chrome on December 16th. We'll be doing a Cyber Monday sale on the website next Monday for fee-free pre-sale tickets to that show with some Digisaurus swag, so keep an eye out for that. Otherwise, enjoy your holiday and we'll see you soon.

 

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Overload

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Overload

Thinking about a topic for "Digital Minds” the past couple of weeks has been tough. There’s so many things I want to write about in terms of creativity, the tour, and the new single we put out. However, last week there was only one relevant topic: the election and what it means. And you know what? It still feels like the only relevant topic. 

While there's a lot for me to reflect on personally, I do want to try and push Digisaurus past it. I've gotten to the point of overload online, and I want to steer the conversation of this blog back to being an artist in 2016. I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback on here the last couple of weeks and it’s become clear to me that a lot of people who read this are also creative in various mediums. So I'm going to use this weeks post to write about picking your platforms. 

As the cliche goes, there’s so much more to being an independent music artist outside of just making music. There’s the obvious support activities of making videos, making artwork, booking, marketing, etc. But the biggest thing that pushes music is the story and personality of it’s creator or creators. Crafting and pushing that context can be really easy or really hard depending on one question: How much of yourself are you willing to expose to people?

This relates a bit to what I talked about a couple of weeks ago about not being honest with myself as an artist. However, this time it deals with being honest with an audience. If you're not all in about being open with your audience, I think it's going to be very difficult to get anyone interested in your art. But the hardest thing for music artists to do in 2016 is figure out the right ways to provide that voice. We live in a world dominated by social media platforms that encourage reactionary and off the cuff personalities. We've gotten to the point where these mediums sometimes feel like the only option, and there's a lot of musicians I know who on participating in it. But if I’m going to be honest with you (see what I did there?), it’s not me. Participating makes me judgmental of others based on surface level reactions, and in turn, self conscious about how others might judge me. I’m pretty calculated as a person, and as my bass player, Eric, and I both discussed this past week, far too existential for my own good. 

So how else can artists convey their message?  For Digisaurus, I've created this blog with a format that I dictate. I’m in the habit of posting here on Thursday’s, and I have a whole week to collect thoughts, reflect, revise, and let you know my story. Obviously, Digisaurus is still on social media. But it’s not a platform for my main narrative. It's to point people to places that do a better job of conveying it, like the music, videos, art, pictures, and this website. On top of the music and everything online, the biggest sticking point for conveying my message is still on a stage and talking to people in person. That’s a big reason why Digisaurus has started touring so much this year and will continue to do so in 2017.

It’s taken a while for me to find my voice and consistently practice the things that work. But I’ve definitely noticed how much providing context drives my music with listeners. If you're feeling overwhelmed, don't despair. Get out of the idea of being pigeon-holed to just a few options and figure out what works to progress your story.

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The Day After...

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The Day After...

I’m not one to make reactionary comments or post my snap thoughts. I like to process everything, take in opinions, and then after a week or two figure out a path forward. So yeah... I really really hate having to write this blog right now. But I told myself I was going to do it weekly, and I’m going to hold myself to that. As I said, I haven’t processed everything about the election. I don’t want to offer up thoughts on what went wrong, who to blame, why we’re here and how to fix it. So I’m just going to write about my past 36 hours and how I’ve felt.

I woke up yesterday after spending a night in a hotel room in Boise, Idaho watching the election results and drinking a half pint of whiskey. By the time the bottle was empty, I was watching Trump’s victory speech.

I went to bed thinking, “This is it. You’re going to have to wake up tomorrow and be a better person than you have ever been in your entire life to help fix this.” But I woke up, and I was still in shock. I didn’t know what to do. I went out to the gym to distract myself. I saw hispanics, women in hijabs, and other women who I couldn’t help but feel so miserable for. I went back to our hotel. I had two phone interviews scheduled to talk about our new single and also a show later in the evening. It just seemed so inappropriate to do anything with or talk about music in that moment. The phone interviews pulled me out of my current state and back into a familiar place for 15 minutes at a time. But reality was certainly still there when I hung up the phone.

We played a brewery gig that night. These are usually pretty laid back affairs that typically involve a dinner crowd and us being slightly more than glorified background music. For these types of gigs we also have to do this thing where we play our one hour set two-three times to fulfill the time we need to play. All I could think during our entire first set was that I’m obligated to be here as my job…but how are all these other people out here eating, drinking, and generally going about life like it was the same as yesterday?

I was pretty jaded for our entire first set. After, I decided I just wasn’t ready to get back on my horse yet and got a beer. I drank half a very strong doppelbock and it helped me open up a bit for the second set. The lyrics to a lot of these songs I’d written over the past couple years all took on a completely different meaning as I was contemplating everything going on in my head. When I introduced our song “Two Steps,” I told the crowd that it was a song about going two steps forward, and on days like today, also 8 steps backwards. It got a few applause from some audience members and it lifted my spirits knowing there were people in the crowd that shared my sentiment. It made performing a whole lot easier.

After the set, the brewery gave us dinner and we just talked about beer for a half hour. They were a good brewery and good people, and it was nice to have this taste of what life was like just the day before. We went back to the hotel well taken care of and watched the new South Park before hitting the sack early for a long drive today.

Normalcy will creep back into our every day lives, especially for me as a straight white male. However, that hasn’t changed anything that happened and I don’t want complacency to take hold. Trump is President. I have so much uncertainty about what that means. I know not everyone who voted for him believes in the xenophobic, homophobic, racist, and misogynistic things he said on the campaign. And there’s certainly a lot of issues for these people that are not being acknowledged in my social media echo chambers. But there’s a lot of groups out there who will feel validated in their negative treatment of black people, muslims, LGBTQ, hispanics, and women while Trump’s in office. I'm scared for a lot of the people I know and love.

For those who share in grieving, hopefully we’ll be over this soon. History isn’t made in the short term or a sprint. We really need to get back to uniting so we can keep the marathon going and fix things for the long term. I love you all and I want to continue helping making this country great.

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"I Don't Feel Alright"

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"I Don't Feel Alright"

We're about half way through our tour right now and things are getting interesting. On Monday we premiered a new single called, "I Don't Feel Alright," via the Northern Transmissions blog. It features Fran Litterski of Kid Runner, and current touring keyboardist for Magic Man, on vocals, and the always illustrious Jeff Martin on drums. I detail out the recording process of the song in the Northern Transmissions premiere, but I wanted to share a bit more about the origins of the song and how it came about here.

In late 2015 I became very frustrated with where I was as an artist and musician. I felt like creatively I had slowed down and that I wasn't putting my time and energy into music the way I wanted to. I looked at everything around me: my house, my studio, my job, etc. I decided if I really wanted to get on with it, I was going to have to let a lot of those things go. It took a bit of time and finagling, but everything came to fruition on New Years eve of 2015 when I worked the last day of my marketing job of four years. Shortly after, I drove out to my girlfriend’s place in Philadelphia to spend my first month as a full time musician there.

I was going on my first tour in three months and I was supposed to have an hours worth of material. At the time I had about 35 minutes, so I needed to get writing. The first week went by, and I came up with nothing. The second week went by...nothing. The third week went by, and while I’d scraped together a couple of ideas, deep down I knew they were rubbish. The further I went down this rabbit hole of creative stagnation, the more I began distracting myself with all the useless marketing stuff I thought mattered as a musician. 

I started to figure out something was wrong when I came back to Ohio after a month. I met up with my mentor and old studio partner, Tony. I played some songs for him that I’d been working on, and after he turned to me and said, “That’s it?” We didn’t dwindle on the subject for long, but inside my stomach was turning and I couldn’t get the disappointed tone of the statement out of my head. 

A week with my co-producer, Mike, in his studio didn’t help either. We’d worked through some of the back-log of tracks we had, but overall I was completely in the dumps and totally uninspired. When I went back to Philadelphia, I was filled with self-doubt. Had I grossly over-estimated my abilities when it came to writing songs? Had I really just walked away from a nice practical life by all standards for something I was totally unprepared for?

I began to reflect on all the decisions I’d made over the past year and realized that a bigger issue than all of those externalities was that I just wasn’t at all in touch with my emotions. I was so wound up in becoming a full-time musician that I'd forgotten how to be one. It didn’t come back instantly, but more and more I started to learn to be more honest with myself again. I was worried and uncomfortable with my new routine. As soon as I focused on those feelings and tapped into them, that’s when the hooks and lyrics started popping in my head. Soon after, I had the full arrangement of “I Don’t Feel Alright" ready to go. 

This song was all I needed to open up the floodgates creatively. It’s become therapeutic in a sense and serves as a reminder to look inwards before we start focusing on external forces if we’re in a rut. I know that won’t be the last time I go through something like that, so it’s nice to have this snapshot that can remind me that it’s never permanent if you shift the focus. I hope you enjoy the song as much as I do.

Listen to "I Don't Feel Alright:"

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New Single Coming and Fall Tour So Far

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New Single Coming and Fall Tour So Far

I’m sitting in a hotel room in Santa Fe right now. The Cubs/Indians game is on, and Eric is glued to the television. I have no stakes in this game, or really the entire sport of baseball. But I love rooting for Ohio teams when I can (except football, I’m all Giants there...disappointed in them on the management side this past week though) and it’s great to see them 3 up right now.

We’re two weeks into the tour and things have been going exactly as they usually have. Rousing shows Thursday-Saturday, hits or misses on Sundays & Wednesdays, and full on questioning of what exactly I’m doing with my life on Mondays & Tuesdays. While the micro view of the emotional rollercoaster that is year one of DIY touring can be tough, the macro is always encouraging and we’ve had some really fun shows so far. I may have even swayed a couple of people voting for Trump in Arkansas to not do that (jk, they totally are because e-mails).

We’ve got three and a half more weeks on the road, and you can see the dates we’ve got left at the bottom of this post. But also of great importance, I’m really happy to announce we’ve got a new single coming out next week. It’s called “I Don’t Feel Alright,” and it features Fran Litterski from Kid Runner and current touring keyboardist for Magic Man on the track. I think it’s the first Digisaurus track I’ve written by myself, and I wrote it at a pretty anxious time for me at the beginning of this year. I’ll have more on that and the song for you next week. For now, marvel in the incredible artwork by my good childhood friend and ex-Blastronauts partner, Jacob Halpern

See you soon...

2016 FALL/WINTER TOUR DATES

10/27 • Phoenix, AZ • The Lost Loft
10/28 • Boulder City, NV • Boulder Dam Brewing
10/29 • Paso Robles, CA • The  Pour House
10/30 • Hayward, CA • The Bistro
10/30 • Alameda, CA • The Black Pug Cafe
11/1 • Santa Cruz, CA • Bocci's Cellar
11/2 • Medford, OR • Jonny B's Rocking Diner
11/3 • Eugene, OR • The Wandering Goat
11/4 • Seattle, WA • The Central Saloon
11/5 • Port Townsend, WA • Sirens
11/6 • Seattle, WA • Bourbon Bar
11/7 • Moscow, ID • One World Cafe
11/8 • Spokane, WA • Checkerboard Bar
11/9 • Boise, ID • Edge Brewing Co.
11/10 • Bozeman, MT • Wild Joe's Coffee House
11/11 • Ogden, UT • Alleged
11/12 • Pueblo, CO • Reserved
11/13 • Lubbock, TX • BarPM
11/14 • Norman, OK • Red Brick Bar
11/15 • Lincoln, NE • Duffy's Tavern
11/16 • Ames, IA • DG's Tap House
11/17 • Iowa City, IA • Uptown Bill's
11/18 • Trempealeau, WI • Trempealeau Hotel
11/19 • Bloomington, IL • The Bistro

11/22 • Canton, OH • Buzzbin

12/16 • Columbus, OH • A&R Music Bar

12/17 • Bowling Green, OH • Howard’s Club H

12/20 • Philadelphia, PA • The Barbary

12/23 • New York, NY • Piano’s

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Top 5 Podcasts to Listen to on the Road

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Top 5 Podcasts to Listen to on the Road

Digisaurus's Fall Tour of 2016 is off and running, so I'm back to blogging again. I'm kinda done highlighting each city we're going to since we're hitting up a lot of the same places we did over the summer. So I'm gonna switch the focus to some different aspects of life on the road and more emotional stuff.

To get things poppin' though, we'll start with something light. As I’m writing this, we’re driving through Oklahoma for a show in Dallas tonight. I love the people of the Midwest, but God-damn these drives are boring. With so much time spent in the van, I’ve found podcasts tend to speed things up. So this week, I thought I’d highlight my top 5 podcasts and let you know what we're listening to.

1. Super Duty: Tough Work

Columbus rapper’s, Blueprint & Illogic, hold it down each with “dope” conversations that highlight creativity, the music industry, and hip hop culture. I originally started listening to this for tips on touring, inspiration, and releasing music. But more recent episodes on hip hop’s role in society and social justice movements has opened up a new perspective on what all artists can be doing with their influence. This podcast is a fascinating dive into the hip hop genre, and the camaraderie between Blueprint and Illogic make it easy to feel like you’re part of the discussion.

Recommended episodes: “How to Travel Without Killing Yourself and Everybody Else,” “Top Ten Reasons Why Nobody Respeck’s Birdman’s Name”

2. My Dad Wrote a Porno

I'll admit that conversations with my Father about his post-retirement plans have yielded the possibility of him becoming an erotic novelist. But Jamie Morton’s Dad has actually gone and done it, and this podcast has afforded me a theoretical peek into what that future might hold. Each week, Jamie, Alice Levine, and James Cooper read a chapter of “Belinda Blinked,” which combines stories of sexual prowess and business acumen as Belinda Blumenthal navigates her “path” as Sales Director for a leading company in the pots and pans industry. The hosts rousing (arousing?) commentary provides the perfect compliment to my utter bewilderment of the story.

Recommended Episodes: You should really listen to this in order, but “The Maze/The First Client,” is definitely where things start to get interesting ;)

3.  Song Exploder

If you want a general kick in the ass for motivating your creativity, Song Exploder definitely takes the cake. Hosted by Hrishikesh Hirway, each episode covers a piece of music and outlines its creation process. Featuring interviews with the artists and producers, early demo’s, stem tracks, and other good stuff, Song Exploder provides an in depth look into the writing/recording process that’s rarely revealed. Be aware, I do think this podcast might be more for musicians than fans. My non-musician girlfriend told me that Song Exploder actually ruined the fantastical imagery of her favorite song after she heard how it was made.

Recommended Episodes: MGMT - Time to Pretend, Grimes - Kill V. Maim, Spoon - Inside Out

4.  Fantasy Focus Podcast

This one is seasonal, but we’re listening to this podcast daily on the Fall tour. Eric and I are both playing fantasy football and I’ll be damned if we’re not gonna wreck our leagues this year. Before you tell me, “ugh, sports,” let me just say that fantasy football replaces the machoism of football and directly replaces it with inherent nerdism. I barely even watch the games, but I can tell you stat after stat after potential match up after stat thanks to Matthew Berry, Stephania Bell, and Field Yates. It does take a bit to catch on to all the underlying inside jokes, but once you’ve broken that barrier, you’re part of the family.

5. Snap Judgment

I had to get at least one short stories podcast in here. “Storytelling, with a BEAT” is Snap Judgement’s motto, and Glynn Washington and his crew provide some of the best stories this side of Oz each week. With sound design and beats by Leon Morimoto and Renzo Gorrio, the tales are pushed to an alternate reality that make it feel like you’re reading a graphic novel in your mind. The raw emotions I feel when listening to this podcast are unparalleled. I’ve caught myself on more than one occasion with tears trickling down my face. The stories are really REAL man.

Recommended Episodes: Overthrow: This is the story of an American brought to Libya to play professional basketball on Colonel Gaddafi’s basketball team, and the resulting revolution he found himself caught up in.

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Digi Summer Tour: The Southwest & California

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Digi Summer Tour: The Southwest & California

Leaving Texas, I remember thinking on our 13 hour car ride to Santa Fe, “Shit…this is a long drive.” Up next was a series of duo shows for Eric and I. Our marathon trek across ALL of Texas could have been better organized logistically. But the timing was great. Our entrance into New Mexico brought us up a long stretch of highway through the mountains at sunset. We were welcomed to Santa Fe with deep purple skies and some epic mountain scenery.

As soon as we got out of the van we noticed the dramatic shift in climate. Dry air and a cool breeze brought the temperature down into the low 60’s and got my energy flowing. We played at a cool spot that night called “The Boxcar," with a couple of experimental synth and pop solo acts before us. A lot of venues we play at seem to be breaking the mold of their usual local cover bands by booking shows for us, and it's exciting to see the shows be well received. Kudos to Tate and Sylwia at Boxcar for doing something different.

The next night, Eric and I wandered around Santa Fe and got lunch and a beer downtown. The Pueblo style architecture is so present there, and it’s one of the nicest and cleanest cities I think I’ve ever been too. We trekked 40 minutes down the road to the remote town of Madrid (pronounced Mah-drid) for the show that night. Madrid is an old mining town with a population of about 600 and a strip of jewelry shops, coffee shops, galleries, and a couple bars. We played at the Mineshaft Tavern and chatted it up with a lot of the locals who pointed out all the haunted areas and closed up mine shafts around town. At about 3 in the morning I found myself wondering up a hill into the mountains and getting one of the best views of the stars I think I’ve ever had in my entire life.

Arizona brought us through a couple apocalyptic type drives with huge dust storms in the middle of the desert. We could barely see about 5 feet in front of us on the highway, and I felt like I was rolling as part of the "Mad Max" crew. We had a productive weekend playing in Tucson at Skybar and Rogue Bar in Scottsdale. Skybar was a spaced themed venue that had telescopes you could use to look at the night sky. Unfortunately (although not for Arizona), it rained, so no telescoping for us. We were treated to great sets from Dutch Holly, a percussive synth duo, and the Royal Agaves, a baroque pop trio with a smooth sounding vocalist named Juliana. 

The next night’s show in Vegas was in a part of Vegas I’ve never seen before. Outside  the main strip in the industrial light, we had a good time with Joey Hines and the Semi Aquatic Anthropoids for a casual Monday show. Eric and I ventured down to the strip after the show and spent about an hour at the Rio. I lost 25 bucks, but got 4 free drinks, so you tell me who really won. We met back up with Jeff the next day in LA and played a touristy spot in Newport Beach before heading up the coast.

After a stop over in Atascadero, we found ourselves going over a giant hill outside of San Francisco to land in Bolinas in Mirrin county. If you’ve ever wondered where they film all the car commercials of new vehicles zipping down a winding foggy road, this is where it happens. Like, we actually saw them filming one. The town of Bolinas is a small getaway on the water, and we played at a charming saloon named Smiley Schooner’s. They gave us some lodging upstairs in the Captain’s Quarters, and we met some folks who found us on Spotify. We had a remarkable night hanging out with them. Apologies for thinking we were locked out on our balcony for ten minutes when the door was just in fact a little bit stuck. 

Our final stop in California took us outside Sacramento to the YOLO Brewing Co. For those of you not in the know, YOLO is a county around Sacramento, and it has nothing to do with the infamous acronym. A couple of school teachers we met in Bolinas the night before who were venturing up the west coast ended up stopping by, which was a treat. We had some great hospitality and beer and called it an early night for our drive up through the Redwoods the next day.

We had a great jaunt through an area of the country I haven’t spent much time in, but I’m even more excited for the Pacific Northwest, where I’ve spent absolutely zero time in. YOLO!

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Digi Summer Tour: Texas

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Digi Summer Tour: Texas

Ah, Texas. The state is God damned massive. We started out on the west side in Lubbock, home to Texas Tech. While school was out for summer, we played a few sets at BarPM to an ever shifting crowd throughout the evening. What’s becoming really cool about this tour is going to places and knowing we’re now coming back there this Fall. I think we’ve got two dates in Lubbock at BarPM in October/November. I’m really excited about the people we met there and to start getting to know the place more.

A coffee shop gig in Amarillo the next night yielded a fantastic response from two middle school aged uber Digisaurus fans. We also finally found a few hours to do some exploring and went for a hike in the Palo Duro Canyon, the US’s second largest canyon. It was bonkers epic, and the dry heat made it at least somewhat reasonable to wander around. I definitely had a moment of closing my eyes, breathing in, and having a feeling of complete peace wash over me.

The next day we made a long 10 hour drive over to Houston. It was hot in Houston, like sticky humid hot, but the gig was a little lukewarm after two bands bailed. Austin and Killeen the next couple of nights proved to be standard mid-week gigs, and then we got to Dallas on Friday. We ended up playing after “bike night,” and the venue was exactly how you might imagine a place with “bike night” to be. We pulled off on the side of the road in a whirlwind of dust, and sent Eric into the venue to figure out load in. As soon as he entered, the music stopped and all these rough guys in leather jackets and vests turn their head to look at Eric…in his deepest V. I walk in next in my red pants and pink shirt, and order a glass of milk. Just kidding. A lot of the bikers, staffers, and other patrons were fantastic people. We chatted it up with the chapter leader, 20/20, and ended up with a lifetime of stories for any potential future offspring.

Southeast Texas yielded some memorable stops too. Downtown Bar & Grill (although they didn’t serve food) in Victoria, TX had a cool stage and room. We were joined by the fabulous Supersonic Lips out of Dallas who reminded me of Guerilla Toss. Energetic guitars, synth, bass and drums with a wild front woman named YaYa yipping and wailing over top. She ended up joining us during our set for a torching rendition of “I Need You.”

The next night we were in Harlingen which I think is about 10 miles from the Mexican border. We played at a venue called the Prelude run by two amazing souls named Angel and Rachel. It’s a big room with a big stage. They sell local music merch, coffee and snacks. They also do lessons, instrument repairs, classes on advancing your music career, and other things to assist musicians. We were sandwiched between the open mic and another band called Ideophonic, Man, I was blown away by a lot of these people. Harlingen isn’t the biggest city, but you could really see how this spot was fostering a potentially great music scene by nurturing and encouraging young talent. They made us feel right at home too by taking us out to IHOP after the show too. Highly recommend playing or checking out a show here if you’re passing through.

Playing at a hookah lounge in San Antonio the next night left me with a bit of a headache, although we did make a new friend who broadcast most of our show on Periscope. Shout outs to Scream_Wax for highlighting the power of social media. We spent the next two days by the Gulf coast in Corpus Christi/Rockport. It was great to get some beach time in, but unfortunately I got food poisoning from some fish and couldn’t make the gig at Texas House of Rock. One final stop at Super Happy Fun Land in Houston helped redeem the scene there for me. Super Happy Fun Land can give you the heebiest of jeebies with bizarre art, doll collections, and roaming cats scattering the DIY warehouse space. But it also made for a super unique show and we met some really cool and interesting people. We’ve moved on to the Southwest now, which I’ll share more about next week...but I’ll miss the friends we made in Texas. I’m looking forward to making the trek back in the Fall.

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Digi Summer Tour: The Midwest

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Digi Summer Tour: The Midwest

Photo Credit: James Rogg

Ah, summertime. It’s hot. Very hot. So hot that the press is saying the middle of the country has a "heat dome" over it. Not sure what it is, but it sounds monstrous. I didn’t think we’d have to go to Texas to escape that this Summer, but that’s what we’re doing!

While I’m happy to be getting out of the Midwest for the latest heatwave, I can’t say that I haven’t enjoyed our first run of shows through here. We officially started the Digisaurus Summer Tour of 2016 two weeks ago, and what a run of shows it’s been.  I’ve got an extremely talented rhythm section joining me for most of this tour: Jeff Martin on the drums, and Eric Groseclose on the bass. Both have been involved with Digisaurus for a long time. Jeff’s played drums on most of the recordings, and Eric has been part of the live set-up since our first shows in 2015. The energy they’re adding to the shows has been infectious and I’m very lucky to have them on the road with me.

We found our footing with three shows in Indiana, and we started hitting our stride by the fourth stop at “The Bistro” in Bloomington, IL. This historic gay club had a stage flanked by dancing cages and it made a great scene for the rowdy crowd. I tried to get it in a cage (despite all my rage), but unfortunately was blocked by a bunch of PA equipment. I think this was the first weekend of “Pokémon GO” and the crowd may have been there because the bartender set off a lure. But there was more than enough dancing going around for us to get down and the owner, affectionately named “Momma,” bought us tons of shots after we were done.

After a quick stop in Minneapolis with our friends, Fort Wilson Riot/Pornonono, at a fantastic DIY space called “Licorice Beach,” we played our first house show of the tour in Lincoln, NE at 2SMOOV. I’ve been somewhat baffled by the this place’s name for months after continuously referring to it (phonetically) as “too ess moov”...even on the show posters. Someone finally filled me in on the blindingly obvious phrasing of the name, and I felt like a right fool. Either way, what a great Monday night! Hosts Joe, Alex, and Lewie had a neighborhood barbecue type event and the hot meal was a God send. After experimental trio, “The Mighty Vitamins” performed in the living room, we played to a small packed basement of fun individuals. The night was capped off by the “Multi-Dimensional Cowboy” who looped various instruments dressed in full-on Sun God garb as everyone sat cross-legged in a meditative trance.

We played shows in Lawrence, KS and Iowa City, IA next, both of which were a little sleepy while school was out of session, before landing in Des Moines last Thursday. The Des Moines Social Club has been one of my favorite venues so far this year. It’s a tri-level space with a rooftop patio, theater on the main floor, and a basement stage. We were in the basement as former American Idol winner, Lee Dewyze (Deweezy?), played in the blackbox style theater upstairs. A good crowd and support from Pink Kodiak and The Fuss made for a great night. After our set, Eric ventured off to a place called Zombie Burger and came back with a monstrosity that had two patties and used two giant Mac N’ Cheese bites for buns. Eric swears he never eats this much, but dear god I’ve seen him scarf down some nasty stuff on this tour. Somehow, he still has the figure of a gymnast. Bizarre.

We made a lot of good friends and caught some rad Pokémon in Wichita, KS and Norman, OK. All I can say is the rumors are true…everyone in the Midwest is incredibly nice. While the corn field drives lose their endearment after a couple of days, it’s pretty amazing to see the vast amounts of agriculture, land, and budding music scenes that sit in this area of the country. We’ve got 10 days in Texas next. Let’s see what the cowboys got.

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Digi Solo Spring Tour: End of the Road

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Digi Solo Spring Tour: End of the Road

The Digi Solo Spring Tour has been over for a little more than a week now, and I think I’ve finally decompressed. I’m adjusting back into a routine of writing, recording, and the usual business stuff. I'm also re-learning to relax a bit. Getting off the road hasn’t been this deep sigh of instant relief that I imagined it to be. It’s actually been quite restless and somewhat confusing. A lot of the last week of the tour was spent fantasizing about sleeping in my own bed. The reality was that after I climbed into my bed, I was still laying there awake three hours later staring at the ceiling. Either way, it’s good to be home (really in a couple of different homes right now between Columbus and Philadelphia) and I’ve never felt more passionate or honest about who I am as a musician.

We spent the last four days of the tour making our way back to Ohio through Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. I bumped into another artist at the show in Johnson City, TN who I share a booking agent with named “Alli and I.” It was funny talking to someone who’s been on a similar route and path as me for the past month and trading quick stories about where we’d been. He mentioned that he’d kept seeing my posters up at the venues he was playing and I definitely recalled seeing some of his. I had kinda felt like Zach and I were in our own little world on this tour. Instead of thinking of us traveling to all these different places, it kind of felt like we were in the same spot and all these places were traveling through us. It seemed like we were alone in this world a lot of the time, but getting to talk to Andrew was a nice reminder that we weren't. He was just usually only a few days in front or behind us.

In Virginia I played at a small record/arts/vintage store named The Bazaar in Roanoke to kick off the weekend. Definitely a unique venue and a cool place to stop in and play for some genuine music lovers. However, the next night in Staunton, VA proved to be one of my favorite of the tour. I played at a place called “The Pompei Lounge” which was located above a fancy Italian Restaurant called “Emilio’s Place.” Above the first floor restaurant is a series of small bars and lounges on the second, third and fourth floors. The whole building reminded me of something out of a Wes Anderson movie, and I wasn’t entirely convinced that you ended up in the same place any time you took the same set of stairs twice. We ended up playing on the top floor which proved to be a challenge for loading in and out. But the hard work was worth it. The doors and windows opened up to a cool rooftop patio and the music flowed out into a fantastic Spring evening. Lots of little groups and dance parties travelled through the lounge and I got to do my first ever DJ set to keep the night going.

Our last show of the tour brought us to Thomas, West Virginia, a small mountain town with a tiny population and fraught with tourists for parts of the year. We played at a venue called The Purple Fiddle where the owner gave us the rundown of the many artists and creatives who’d flocked from the big cities to settle in Thomas. We ended up staying in the hostel above the venue, and spent our final night drinking whiskey and playing pool with a couple of the tenants. We were even treated to a little Fiddle performance from Spooky The Fiddler, a member of Strung Like a Horse, who had played the Purple Fiddle the night before.

Zach and I were more than a bit exhausted driving back the next day, but it was a fine ending to a long stretch on the road. So, was the whole thing worth it? I can say that the high’s and low’s of a relatively unknown artist on the road can be mentally challenging. But, looking back I don’t think I’ve ever made such an impact as a musician, and some of the fruits of my labor are starting to trickle in from the most unexpected of places. I learned so much and I’m really excited about what we’ve got planned for the second tour this Summer. For now, I have to dig myself into a hole and focus on getting some new recordings done. Stay tuned for some more announcements soon and stay digital!

 

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Digi Solo Spring Tour: The Final Frontier

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Digi Solo Spring Tour: The Final Frontier

Whelp, we’ve done it…almost. This week is my last on the road for the Spring with my tour manager, Zach. We’ve just left Florida and are starting to make our way back north towards Tennessee. It’s been a crazy week in the South. We finally had our first vehicle issues in Alabama as our alternator gave out…albeit in the most convenient place: outside a motel in the very town we were playing in that night. Zach handled the situation like a champ and we were ready to roll the next day to Mobile. I played a great show there at the Blind Mule and met a bunch of really friendly locals. They taught me the proper way to eat crawfish and helped me prep for my birthday morning feast the next day by the Gulf shores.

Last Thursday I had one of my favorite shows of the tour at the Avondale Towne Cinema outside Atlanta. The venue is exactly what it sounds like: A movie theater turned into a really cool performance space/rock club. They gave us some of the best sound and support acts we’ve had on this tour. Nobody’s Darlings and Koden (formerly Misery Loves Chachi) showed off some dynamic song-writing abilities combined with soaring melodies to create a some great tunes. I even got treated to some ghost stories from the owner, a former tour crew member for Sister Hazel.

We finally hit our most southern point this weekend in Florida, where the tour started to take a more self-reflective tone. Zach and I picked up an old comrade, Derek, to join us for the shows. Derek lives in Tampa now, but he is a past collaborator and actually played bass on all of the tracks on the “No More Room for Love” EP. Although he was playing the role of casual observer and supporter this weekend, it was great to have some new company and perspective.

The hardest thing to do at the tail end of this tour has been to keep myself focused on the current shows and not let my mind wander to what’s next. I’m not just getting feedback from audiences anymore. I’m starting to see metrics and statistics trickle in from all over the place. I’d be straight up lying if I said I wasn’t already thinking about the next tour and what I’m going to do with my two months in between to make the performances better. I’ve done the show over thirty times on this run and it’s easy to get lost in the routine, complacent, and stuck in my ways. However, hearing some of Derek’s feedback and just having him there helped bring me back to a first-time viewer’s perspective again.

There’s still new people to play for and some nitty gritty’s to work on. We’re winding down on the road, and it feels weird to say, but pretty soon I won’t have the opportunity to do this for a couple of months. I’m going to have a lot to write about over the next few weeks about what this tour meant, it’s effects, and all the highs and lows. But for now, It’s the last week of the Digi Solo Spring tour. I’ve got five more shows to perform for people and for myself and I’m lucky to have the opportunity to do that. And finally...May the 4th be with you!

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Digi Solo Spring Tour: North Carolina

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Digi Solo Spring Tour: North Carolina

My last post regarding Prince’s death was a pretty somber moment for this blog. So, I’m happy to report that the past week has entered a more positive tone for the Digisaurus Solo Spring Tour. The south has brought us clear skies, warm weather, and smiling faces all around. Seriously, the people down here are some of the nicest I’ve ever met. Not that anyone has been particularly mean to us on this tour, but I can’t believe how positive and chatty everyone is. It’s definitely rubbed off on me, and I’ve noticed a little twang in my speech on more than one occasion.

We ended last week with a couple of shows in North Carolina. Now before I get into the shows and my experiences there, I want to address something about North Carolina. This state is going through some stuff right now with HB2, and it’s a proposal that I’m fundamentally against. I can’t imagine what it feels like to be unfairly targeted with discrimination from your government, and I think it’s an awful bill. A lot of big musical acts, businesses, and other local governments have reacted to this proposal in various ways by canceling shows, moving jobs/investment, and canceling travel. I applaud them for using their large platforms and influence for addressing the issues in such a public manner and bringing attention to it. For me as a young artist, I felt like I could make a stronger impact by going to the state and showing some solidarity with those who are fighting with their state government to get HB2 repealed, and even engaging in discussion with people I don’t agree with. I have to say I had some great conversations and I’m glad I went. There’s a lot of people fighting the good fight, and I encourage you to help them in whatever way you think is best.

This was my first time in North Carolina, and driving through I was struck by the beauty of scenery. It’s rolling mountains and hills were lush and green, and my curiosity was instantly peaked.  My first stop was in Asheville at the Altamont Brewing Company. It was fitting to be playing a brewery in a place fighting for the title of “Beer City USA.” The libations were quenching and the folks were forward thinking and very talkative. We stayed at a campground that night which helped amplify the mountainous surroundings of the city.

The next day we did some exploring around the town after breakfast and ended up taking a tour of the Moog Synthesizer factory. What a remarkable experience. I don’t own a moog, but Bob Moog is the father of the synthesizer and to see all these people building these historic machines by hand was mesmerizing. I felt like Charlie in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. The most striking part was the team of three people working on the huge modular synth systems. I think they make them in lots of threes and it takes them about a month to complete. The waiting list is over a year and will run you as much as a a decent new car. This one was reportedly being made for Massive Attack:

Moog Modular Synthesizer

Moog Modular Synthesizer

That night we made a quick stop in Gastonia at Zoe's Coffee House for a ashow. A man named “Too Short” dressed in a leather jacket and a leather cowboy hat came storming in right before my set as I was blasting “Kiss” by Prince over the PA. He busted out some spectacular moves throughout my entire set, and the whole routine left me in awe.

I’ll give you a further update later this week on my past weekend in Alabama. For now, I’ll leave you with a bit about my show last night at the World Famous Milestone in Charlotte. The Milestone has been around since 1969 and is housed in a building that hasn’t been touched since it was built a hundred years ago. It’s a charming dive haunt scrawled with graffiti and band stickers all over the walls, ceilings, bathrooms...wherever. The venue is beloved on the DIY tour circuit and has hosted some huge bands before they took off (rumor has it Kurt Cobain slept on the floor after Nirvana’s show there in 1990). Anyway, we had a great little Tuesday night show there with some new friends, but the place is in desperate need of some new renovations. They’ve got a Gofundme campaign running to help repair and buy the building. If you get a chance, check out their story and consider helping this place to keep going.

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