My heart is broken…

Literally. I had a heart attack last week.

I don’t normally talk about the details of my personal life much on here, but as you can see if you look, I have been absent from here a while. I felt too busy to take time to write, with a variety of things happening that were already pretty challenging.

So, now, I am feeling that if I don’t make time to do the things I know I want to, like communicate to the world about my journey as a songwriter here, well I might just run out of time.

Before we get too dramatic, here are the details:

  • I awoke early Monday morning with severe aching pain in both my arms, shoulders and back, and felt dizzy. I suspected heart trouble and took aspirin, but when the symptoms did not subside after an hour and a half, I ended up in the emergency room.
  • I did not have a blockage, as would be likely in these situations. Instead, I have a dissection, a tear in an artery, and that it not something you can quite repair. It will take genetic testing to try to figure out the cause.
  • The treatment is to keep my blood pressure low, and so far that is it, just taking the medications and getting used to them (they can make you dizzy). I will be living a “heart-healthy” lifestyle from now on.

So, what does this mean for my music schedule?

  • No gigs were impacted by this, although I missed Songsters night at Lamp Club Light Shop that night.
  • I am still scheduled for two hour gigs at Gusto’s Bar in Barre on August 30th, September 27th and October 26th. Radio Bean is October 3rd.
  • I was invited back to The Open Door in Hillsborough, New Hampshire for a 15 minute spot. I ended up signing up for April 2020, as I saw my friends Dan & Faith will be headlining.
  • I am more determined than ever to complete the recording of the final songs selected for my next release, Common Man Blues. More on this in my next posts.
  • I will be doing as many open mics as possible.

Keep trying, before we are dying…

I am also trying, once again, to re-commit to this blog and try to make it relevant to what’s happening for me musically. I hope you feel free to comment on any post new or old, write me with feedback or suggestions, link and repost anything here.

Note: I did write a song since facing death, and it’s about the fear of death of course! Not sure it’s all that great a song… 😉

Talk to you again soon,

Jason Baker

Burlington Songwriters News!

It’s official! Burlington Songwriters has a new home!

Our next meeting is Tuesday, March 26th, 7 p.m. at the C.O.R.E. Center at 20 Allen Street.

We have greatly appreciated the generosity and our association with Big Heavy World. When they moved to their new space, however, the location and schedule just wasn’t going to work for many of our active members.

So, for the past couple of months, we have been searching for a new meeting place. That search eventually led us to talk to Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront. Specifically, we met with Candice Holbrook, the program manager, about possible meeting space at the Center of Recreation & Education (CORE). Our group seemed like a good match, and Candice suggested that we partner with Burlington Parks & Rec, which allows us to meet at the CORE center.

The Center of Recreation & Education (CORE)

The CORE center is the old Catholic school at 20 Allen Street, across from St. Joseph’s church.

There is a parking lot entrance on North Street. There may also be street parking on Allen Street. Either way, you should plan to enter through the main door in the front and center of the building.

The CORE center is on the second floor–one set of stairs up from the street level. Our room assignment will appear on the chalkboard in the main hallway, but I’ve been told that we can plan to meet regularly in the “Community Room”. That’s where the senior meals program is hosted. That means that tables and chairs will be available for our open mic’s! Perhaps this also means that there will be a local community to invite to those open mic’s. I’ve very excited about the possibilities here.

It’s typical, lately, to have some business to discuss, but this should otherwise be a regular song sharing session. Remember, please bring copies of your lyrics to share. Mostly, I expect we’ll take the first couple of meetings to get used to the new space, and to work out the logistics for our open mic sessions.

Looking forward to it!

Oh yeah it’s 2019

Yes I forgot about my blog

So sue me. I am going to see if I can do at least a few posts over the next few days to catch things up. Perhaps after that, weekly wouldn’t be too much of a challenge.

Who plans that far ahead?

I am talking about seeing festival lineups for summer gigs already. Some of these you have to submit now for 2020!

Not all obviously, and I am throwing my hat in where I can: I just applied to play the Philadelphia Folk Festival for example, and I am excited!

Next is Kerrville and Falcon Ridge “Grassy Hill” showcases. Wish me luck!

I just wish it was easier to get gigs like those.

Gigs in Vermont

For now, I do have a pretty solid gig schedule through June, but am always looking to add more!

Goal #1 make list of goals

So, yeah I am late to formalizing my songwriting goals for the year, but I do know #1 will be to write as many songs as possible.

As a performing artist, I’d surely like to play new places, as I noted.

I am writing songs for a second album now so recording that is a goal.

I may revisit some songs from America Dreams in new arrangements or with alternate instruments and see if I want to release that as an album, or maybe in another way (video album?).

What else should be a songwriting or performance goal for 2019? What are your goals? Please let me know in the comments!

More to come…

As I stated, I will be catching up with events, look for a post a day for a few days to find out what I have been up to, see my latest video, and find out what’s new and what’s next.

The Satisfaction Of Being Understood

Why write songs for yourself?

Theoretically, we write songs either for ourselves, or for an audience, but to some extent that narrative precludes it being both. To write for commercial airplay, one should be studying recent musical trends, following closely the songs and artists at the top of the charts, and thinking about clever audio production. Lyrical meaning… not so much.

Don’t kid yourself

So a lot of people write songs that are really written for themselves, which is logical: make the music you want to hear if you don’t hear it. Professional songwriters will invariably say that is not how to get a cut, and they are probably right. This really points out the problems of the music industry more than a problem with songwriters. One thing that IS something songwriters should really get to understand though: the song you love will likely not be loved by a music industry that values broad appeal above all else, and you need to stop complaining about that. If you want a cut, write what you think they want to hear, not what you think is good.

Somebody is better than nobody

If you want to write what you want to say, be ready for a limited audience. But there CAN be an audience for it. Just be realistic, you are unlikely to become famous or rich.

So why write songs for yourself at all? Well, because there will be SOME audience, and the quality of that audience may make all the difference.

The payoff

Twice this week, people who are essentially total strangers expressed how they liked the ideas in 2 different songs I wrote and added to my website and ReverbNation profile, in anticipation of releasing a digital album.

Basically, they made it clear they listened closely enough to hear the lyrics, and that they UNDERSTOOD what I was saying, AND liked it! One lovely person said: “I get you!” Wow!

If I can reach a couple people this week, maybe I will reach more people with these songs, and these ideas will be transmitted, and these thoughts will be felt, and will not die, but become part of the world community.