What I learned from a Hottie Band

February 6, 2008 at 12:40 pm | Posted in Bria, career, creativity, inspiration, music, writing, young adult | 6 Comments

Not long ago I heard a bunch of bands play out at a club and got a valuable lesson in writing (not to mention hotties.)

The first band came on – a bunch guys in their teens. Not bad. The sounded like a garage band and I think the sound guy was doing them a disservice in the still empty bar by having them amped so high the singers words were indistinguishable. But I enjoyed the show.

The second band came on, guys in their late 30’s/early 40’s. It was obvious they were all good at what they did. The made the band before them sound even more unfocused – the were a lot of fun and their set flew by.

The third –First Ave – band came on next. These guys had it going on the moment they started their individual sound checks. I turned to my friend and said, we’re going to like these guys, I know it.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote my vows to my craft, and one of the things I swore was that “I will behave professionally when representing my writing and myself and I will work at it as though I am already being paid.”  These guys did that.

The got on the stage and worked it like they were already rock stars (but not in an obnoxious way.) Individually they sounded great, coming together as a band, the sounded well  – I don’t know the music term for it, but if I was reading a novel, I would say “Their writing was tight.”

The worked the stage at every angle: Good music, professional (ok, rock star, but that’s what they’re striving to be) and hard work.

Hard work? How in the world could you know they were putting in hard work, Bria?

No one, no matter what their craft, gets their sound (words/paragraphs/chapters to us) that tight without a lot of focus, practice and dedication. I just wish I could bottle their charisma too!

I challenge you to check them out HERE and find your own new form of inspiration. What makes you think about your writing in a new way, who really challenges you?

Go Look inside and then Go Write,
-bria

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Stopping your Inner Grinch

December 14, 2007 at 3:16 pm | Posted in Meg, movies, music | Leave a comment

Ah, the holiday season is in full swing. Caroling, baking candy cane cookies with the kids, decorating, attending holiday office parties. Fun stuff. Shopping, wrapping, finding parking spaces and fighting holiday traffic. Not fun. I seem to be using a tremendous amount of energy this month trying to reduce the stress that prevents my enjoying the festivities. And since I’m a wellness coach in my other life, I feel a responsibility to handle the stress and maintain the Christmas spirit or at least appear as I am. Usually I fail. So I have a ready list of my favorite holiday things to help me cope and I thought I’d share them with you in case you are struggling to keep that jolly feeling this year as well. The suggestions are broken down into moments of little stress (running out of wrapping paper a week before Christmas) and big stress (running out of paper at eleven o’clock on Christmas Eve):

–Turn on only the Christmas lights and listen to:
1. Dan Fogelberg‘s Old Lang Syne (there’s something about this song that gives me goosebumps) (Editor’s note: Two days after this post was written, Dan Fogelberg passed away. My thoughts go out to his family and friends.)

2. Jon Bon Jovi’s Please Be Home for Christmas
3. Any version of I’ll Be Home for Christmas
4. Joni Mitchell’s River <>

However in moments of big stress, these songs are a necessity:
5. Adam Sandler’s The Chanukah song (every version)
6. The 12 Pains of Christmas– there’s something about the poor guy hanging up the lights or the little kid yelling about Transformers that reminds me we’re all in this crazy hectic time together
7. The drunk lady singing about the 12 days of Christmas– if you’ve ever heard this song, you don’t need me to explain it’s value in holiday stress management
8. Dominic the Donkey

–Remind yourself of the beauty of the Christmas Special. Here are my must-sees:
1. Year Without a Santa Claus- the Snowmiser and Heatmiser ARE Christmas
2. Twas the Night Before Christmas- there’s just something about the ‘Christmas bells are calling Santa, Santa’ that brings tears to my eyes
3. Santa Claus is Coming to Town- love the penguin in the “Put One Foot in Front of the Other’ song
4. Nestor the Long Eared Donkey- probably the most obscure special, but one that always makes me cry

In moments of big stress, sing these songs at the top of your lungs or quote them in everyday conversation.

–Surround yourself with pleasant smells that remind you of the good things of the holidays: mulberry, evergreen, gingerbread coffee, cloves, etc.

During big stress, try not to eat any of these (except for the coffee). Instead, climb under your Christmas tree for the aromatherapy and take a nap.

–Eat something that will remind you of special traditions like Dunkin Donut sprinkled munchkins, eggnog, my mom’s Italian cookies, etc.

<>Bad stress-eat whatever you can get your hands on. Okay, bad idea. Bake something good. Okay, even worse idea. Hmm, in moments of bad stress, the only good suggestion in terms of eating is to eat something healthy. Yeah, I know. Boring. Sorry.–Stay warm. Curl up on the couch with a good cup of tea or coffee and cuddle under a flannel blanket. I have one of those warming things that you heat in the microwave- love it!

Big stress- Spike that tea or coffee with something extra and cuddle under that blanket with someone hot!

–While you’re shopping, try to imagine the looks on your children’s faces when they open their gifts.

In big stress, try to forget that Santa will get all the credit. So make sure you keep all the GOOD presents to give to them yourself!

–If you have to deal with stressful office parties or family get-togethers, remember it’s only once a year and you are lucky- you could either work with your family forty hours a week or be related to your co-workers.

During big stressful parties, try to keep an eye on whomever is drinking the most. Chances are they will be a laugh riot in an hour or two- get them to photocopy their bottom or start up a conga line. Or have a drink yourself. After a few adult beverages, everyone else will seem like a laugh riot and you can be the conga line leader. (okay, this is not a good recommendation in practice, but it’s funny in theory)

Okay, as you can see, the stress in creeping in and I can’t even write up a serious piece on stress management. My fall back to humor and sarcasm is showing so I’m going to stop here and put some of the techniques above to use (hmm guess which ones!). I’d love to hear how you deal with the holiday stress!

-Meg

Cover Me!

December 12, 2007 at 12:51 pm | Posted in Bria, music, writing | 4 Comments

Continuing in our “December: A month of Favorites” I give you: The Cover List. 

A couple years ago I got stuck at this Bachelorette Party – one of those where you truly wonder why you’re there and where the bride’s real friends are.   My friend and I were left waiting an hour sitting outside one of those bars – all the guys were wearing khaki’s and a blue shirt and all the girls wore, well, not much – and not in the good way. The only positive thing that came out of the evening was hearing one of the best cover bands I ever encountered.  

Please note: Redemption Song is not on the list. People – some things just should not be messed with. 

So, without further ado, a list of some of my favorite cover songs in no particular order – – – I’m sure a lot of people will disagree — feel free! 

1.           Ok, I’ll start out with my favorite – so disregard the “no particular order” for number one: I Need Love by ll Cool J – remade by Luka Bloom – I mean, the live acoustic version of the song done by an Irish folk-rocker. It doesn’t get any better.

2.           Jolene by Dolly Parton – remade by Natalie Merchant. I can’t find a clip or copy of this anywhere, but I found a ton of other people who saw her do it out at the fort in Newport with Billy Bragg. A+

3.           Speaking of that show in Newport —- Are You Experienced by Jimi Hendrix – remade by Belly — one of the few Hendrix remakes I like — I’m sure people will disagree. Oh well, it’s my blog

4.           But, speaking of Hendrix —- All Along The Watchtower by Bob Dylan – remade by Jimi Hendrix

5.           Hazy Shade of Winter by Simon and Garfunkel – remade by The Bangles – from a duo who took themselves too seriously to a group who thought no one took them seriously enough

6.           Sticking with the remade for movies idea — about half of The Commitments soundtrack

7.           This one is a good “did you know” – Me and Bobby McGee – by Kris Kristofferson – remade by Janis Joplin. I don’t think I’ll hear any arguments on this one

8.           I Fought the Law by The Crickets – remade by The Clash. I’m a fan of The Clash, so this one was a given

9.           Proud Mary by CCR – remade by Ike & Tina Turner – she blows me away with this

10.       What’s so Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding by Nick Lowe – remade by Elvis Costello — filed under songs you didn’t know were remakes

11.       Sweet Jane by Lou Reed – remade by Cowboy Junkies – when a great group remakes a great song by a great singer/song writer – well, you hope for something as good as this

12.       Always On My Mind by Willie Nelson – remade by The Pet Shop Boys – my parents are huge old school country fans and I grew up listening to it – this remake was vindication for my father constantly singing it around the house.

13.       Killing Me Softly by Roberta Flack – remade by the Fugees — kept the emotional feel but gave it a great new feel —- if that made any sense

14.       Walk This Way by Aerosmith – remade by Aerosmith and Run DMC – I was young, but I remember the big deal this was – plus the remake outshines the original 10 times

15.       Respect by Otis Redding – remade by Aretha Franklin – let’s be honest. She owns this song. Enough said 

16.   Last but not least – Wild Horses by The Rolling Stones – remade by The Sundays — one of my favorite examples of a cover perfectly redone.

Like I said, no specific order – but I’d love to hear your thoughts. And then get off Youtube and Go Write
-bria

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