Say Hello 2 Heaven

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Temple of the Dog, Philly Night 2

Waking up unusually early this morning something didn’t feel right. As I learned about the passing of Chris Cornell… it feels so wrong to type that… I can’t seem to fathom what’s been loss. A father, friend and inspiration to so many.

It was partially because of my consistent begging for Soundgarden records that I got a job at my record store. I went home and bought a bass after the Temple of the Dog tour. It was always clear Chris had personal demons, and I only wish that he is now at peace.

My brain can’t stop thinking about how all of his closest friends and family feel. Or about the fact that he will never be able to be present for his own Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. I am absolutely gutted, and once again face the aftermath of death that our culture doesn’t really have a guide for.

 

Rest in peace to one of the greatest, and thank you for changing my life.

My Second Job at the Local Record Store

Naturally, if you love music as much as me, you want to be surrounded by it as often as possible. Although I am teaching myself to play bass and frequently attend concerts, they alone aren’t enough to fulfill and balance my hobby with my student life at school. So I got a second job… again.

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This isn’t the first time I’ve held multiple jobs at once. I already know how overwhelming it can be whilst trying to balance a course load and a social life… which is why I really wasn’t looking for anything. But when an opportunity basically falls into your lap, it feels like blatantly ignoring fate to deny it.

“You’re here every day anyway… would you be interested in a job if I told you it involved free music and dogs?”

After visiting my local record store so many times and becoming a valued customer, the owner picked up on my communication skills and music knowledge (AKA I can talk to people and I know a lot about music made before I was born.) Now, where my paycheck was once being drained has been replaced by free records for a few hours of labor and an the company of an adorable store dog named Chewbacca.

My music addiction is being  supported and my heart feels free. I have a little less free time, but it never feels like work. Finding old pictures and notes hidden away in our store’s books and sorting through other’s vinyl collections to decide what to keep is endlessly interesting. Music and novels are such a personal journey, and working with a diverse group of people’s belongings all day feels like I get to take peeks into other’s hidden worlds.  (And now I get dibs on Record Store Day Deals, bless.)

Find what you love and chase it friends.

Lessons Danny Clinch taught me indirectly

It takes a very certain type of person to inspire me. Usually, it’s someone who doesn’t intend to be inspirational at all, but rather someone who leads by example and lives with zeal. That’s why when I visited Danny Clinch‘s gallery in Asbury Park, and felt passion in the room the same way cigarette smoke lingers, I knew I would walk away with something meaningful. And I did. Here’s some things I learned from Danny just through observation:

  • We’re just ordinary people

*Humming- “we don’t know which way to go”*.  Danny Clinch has probably photographed you, your mom, and eclectic uncle’s favorite musicians. Seriously- the list is endless. Yet, despite the obvious cool-factor of listening, playing, and photographing music he gives everyone the same attention. Whether you’re Grammy-award winning talent, or a weirdo fan from NJ, Danny remains professional and kind. He seems to see people for what they really are, which is probably why some very well-known people can consider him a friend.  This showed me the value of character and being humble no matter where you’re at in life.

  • Harmonicas are a badass instrument

I seriously didn’t recognize this until I saw Danny go to town.

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I wish I could upload this snapchat
  • Hats are cool

Self-explanatory. Went out and bought my own in less than 24 hours of taking this picture. (I’m convinced it’s made me a better bass player?)

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#invisiblejazzcigarette
  • Kindness is the new black

Honestly, Danny didn’t have to give me the time of day. But he joked with me, signed his book for me, and made me feel like an old friend. When I told him I wasn’t going to be able to attend his band’s sold-out show, he even offered to try and help get me tickets (which I politely declined when I saw how insanely busy he was.) Between juggling two shows and a gallery at the same time he was still thoughtful. That really resonated with me. If you are capable of making someone’s day a little better, why wouldn’t you? The golden rule people… it’s still alive and well.

  • Follow Your Bliss

I don’t think I need to elaborate on how difficult it is to make it in both the music and art worlds. Our society discourages most from even trying at least three times a day. As someone who plays bass and paints for fun, seeing Danny’s happiness and his dedication was the reminder I needed to follow my heart. When you love a hobby that hard, it’s going to love you back. This re-affirmation to avoid wasting my life couldn’t have come at a better time.

Thanks for the reminder to chase what I love even if it’s not easy Danny… you’ve probably just saved me a ton of “what ifs.”

 

Stay gold,

The weirdo music fan from NJ

 

 

Brittany learns bass

Want to humble yourself in under a minute? Pick up an instrument. No- seriously.

I saved up my pennies, many, many pennies, and bought myself a standard jazz Fender bass a  few months ago (Mexican not American because my purchase already emptied my wallet let’s be real.)

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I started self-teaching myself tabs to songs I’ve always wanted to learn (i.e. Dead Kennedys, Pearl Jam, Cream, etc.) and thought it was all going really well. Then, just to solidify my progress I asked for two real lessons at my local music shop for Christmas. It only took half an hour there to realize how wrong I was about almost everything.

“I love how much you’ve learned! Now I need you to forget literally everything and do it right.” – an actual quote from my teacher.

I won’t continue lessons but it was a completely humbling experience to learn about correct form and how to really read music. I do everything by ear, but I can now see the value of actually reading music to prevent a plateau in development.

Words of advice given to me from a fellow bass player was, “know your strengths and weaknesses so you can own them and progress.” I thought that was brilliant. I understand that as a beginner what I may still lack in form and aggressiveness/confidence of playing, I share with an excess of passion, inspiration and rhythm. This instrument provides endless grooves and feels like a brand new outlet for me to express myself. (Side note- I just find it really hard to control my pinky fingers. They seriously have a mind of their own and it’s where all the stress in my hands filters to.)

If you’re thinking about picking up an instrument, please do it. But, like me, be prepared to suck for a bit. Perfectionists beware- I basically went numb when I realized I was doing almost everything wrong, and when I realized 5 year olds were better than I’ll be for a while. However, you practice more than just music. You enhance your determination, your focus and your passion. The notes begin to feel like your actual voice… pretty enlightening honestly.

If you’re thinking about picking up a bass, I suggest watching videos of Jaco Pastorious to see what awesome looks like, and joining the many resources available to you such as Scott’s Bass Lessons. It’s an online community of tons of bass players from all over the world helping each other- it restores your faith in humanity while helping you sound better.

If you play bass and have anything you’d like to share- message me!

-Britt

 

So I Took a Trip to Temple of the Dog…

Even if you’re not overly-obsessed with Seattle’s music scene from the nineties like I am, there’s still a good chance you heard about the Temple of the Dog reunion. Chris Cornell, Jeff Ament, Mike McCready, Stone Gossard and Matt Cameron joined forces once more for the 25th anniversary of the band that formed in the aftermath of Andrew Wood’s passing.

You also might’ve heard how incredibly difficult it was to score tickets. By some miracle I was able to obtain two row 11 tickets to Philly’s night two show… I know… how I pulled that off I’m still not sure.

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I had a countdown going for this since the announcement of the tour was released, so let me just say I’m so biased they could’ve played show tunes and I wouldn’t have cared. (That’s a lie, but seriously, that’s how excited I was.)

I got lost in Upper Darby and caught the locals poking fun at our crowd, “what the hell are all these crazy white people lining up around the block for?” I couldn’t even take the slightest offense to it though, because the amount of dads in 25 year old band t-shirts discussing possible setlist changes was pretty absurd. (However, it was also pretty awesome.)

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The band didn’t change their setlist much throughout the tour, but my concert was the first night they played the Mad Season cover, “River of Deceit” and previously unreleased TOTD song “Missing”… so that had my heart fluttering with excitement. I was getting to hear so many songs I never thought I would be able to hear live because of my age.

 

I’ve heard that some people had issues with the covers they played, but how one could be disappointed with Cornell screaming Zeppelin and Ament jamming to The Cure is beyond me. Another complaint by many was the fact that Eddie Vedder didn’t show up to help sing the band’s well-known tune Hunger Strike. I must admit I felt a twang of sadness when I realized the crowd was going to have to scream his part, but after experiencing it, to that statement I answer a little louder for the people in the back- get over it. Vedder and Cornell on stage would have been undoubtedly epic, but that’s not what this tour was about. TOTD was formed to mourn the loss of a friend who most of the members were close with. It was a project of healing, and maybe that’s why the lyrics to so many songs resonate with an audience so strongly even after all these years. We’ve all felt pain, most of us have experienced loss, and the catharsis that comes with jamming out with peers who get it is unmatched.

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Disclaimer- I totally charged the stage and made it to front row on the last song. I briefly held up a sign to tell Jeff Ament he inspires me, because he’s the reason I started playing bass, and (I think) he saw it. But McCready pointed me out and smiled, and someone on Facebook happened to capture most of the moment on film, and sent it to me to keep forever. Isn’t technology bonkers? 

Overall, Temple of the Dog was truly wonderful, and I hope everyone who didn’t get the chance to experience the show gets to in the near future.

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How Following My Favorite Band Around the Country Alone Changed My Life

I’ve been obsessed with Pearl Jam since I was 11 years old. I’m still not sure how I got into the band, no one in my family or age group was a fan, but being born in 1995 had always made me feel cheated somehow. Not being able to experience the band’s younger, angrier and intimate shows because of my age drove me crazy. It furthered my desire to make up for lost time by going to as many concerts I could afford. At age 16 I finally was able to go to my first PJ show and dragged my dad along. He wasn’t the happiest parental chaperone when, even before the band came on, two people behind us were already throwing up and another reached in front of him to offer me a joint. He hated every second, but it was everything I  hoped for and more.

Flash forward four years and I am still obsessed with all the music that guides my emotions daily. When I saw the 2016 tour dates released, I knew this was my year to finally get another live experience. At 20 years old I clearly don’t need a chaperone anymore, but none of my friends wanted to go along with me to see the shows either. At first I was hesitant about going alone, but after the recent death of a friend who valued living in the moment, I knew it was an experience I couldn’t pass up. I wanted to see the world while I still could and hear my idols play along the way. Here are my memories from each of my trips:

 

  • Nashville- Pearl Jam played a show at Third Man Records with Jack White and I happened to be on a family vacation in the area. I wasn’t lucky enough to get inside, but I hopped on the back of a bike wagon and sped to the recording studio. The biker thought I was crazy and adored me for it as I shouted out directions from my iPhone “Turn left! Please pedal like your life depends on it, if you’re tired I can take over!” I got there just in time to see the band as they left the studio, and got to meet new friends who let me see their memorabilia like the private show’s setlist. My craziness to get a piece of the musical action allowed me to see a part of the city I never would have otherwise.

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  • Fenway- Driving to and from Boston for 10 hours in a day couldn’t have been more worth it. Night one of Fenway was hot, crowded and wonderful. The passion in the air was contagious and as Eddie belted “the waiting drove me mad” every single person was bouncing along to Corduroy like their life depended on it. As the lights twinkled from thousands of phones across the stadium to Better Man I knew it couldn’t be the last Pearl Jam experience of my summer. The pinnacle of my musical existence was in the works knowing Wrigley was just around the corner… and I was going GA.

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  • Wrigley- Do you ever feel more accepted by strangers than peers who have known you for years? That was my entire Chicago experience. Even before boarding the airplane I found myself trading show stories with people I had never met but instantly connected with because of the concert t-shirts they were wearing. People gave me their numbers and were sending me advice of where to go while visiting all week. I explored the Cubby Bear, had my first deep dish pizza at midnight, and flirted with the guy dressed up like a pirate on a sailboat. Every day leading up to the show I met new friends in the Pearl Jam community. We waited outside of Murphy’s for hours as the band recorded on the bar’s rooftop. People waited in merchandise lines for entire chunks of the day. And then before I knew it, the night I had been thinking about for months was about to happen… Night one of Pearl Jam at Wrigley field.
    • I sprung from my bed at 7:30 a.m., and would’ve woken even earlier if it wasn’t for an email saying fans couldn’t start lining up before 9 a.m. Most people would probably think that standing alone all day in the torrential rain would sound awful, but I was trembling with excitement. By the time I arrived I was about 40 people back in line. I brought two ponchos, a folding chair, a protein bar, and a book. The first hour I was shy and reserved. I didn’t talk much and listened to the amazing stories of those around me. But as the hours went by, I realized I was sitting with friends. People were offering snacks and beer, extra ponchos when the other was soaked, holding each other’s places in line, and talking about experiences they had with the band that changed all of our lives. I was sitting next to people from California, South Africa, Oregon, Colorado, and Texas. It wasn’t until half way through the day that my friends realized I was there alone. When I shared my age I was naturally met with “Aw you’re such a baby!” comments. But to my surprise, that quickly turned into respect for what I was doing. My group of new friends took me under their wing and said we would all stay together. I was having heart to hearts with people I just met, in a city I had never been to before, and I couldn’t have been more content.
    • Come showtime we rushed to the stage. We were greeted with more rain but at that point everyone was so excited that, as long as the band could still perform, it didn’t even matter. When Pearl Jam took the stage my heart was full. The energy in the air of 40,000 friends coming together for music was intoxicating. I pointed at Mike as he shred on the guitar throughout the night cheering him on, and when he pointed back I was in such shock that he nodded and laughed assuring that yes-it actually did just happen. I got great videos of Mike playing behind his head in front of me and Eddie screaming the lyrics to Porch above our cheering heads. I even was able to throw myself to the ground fast enough to get one of Mike’s guitar picks. Because I got such good footage (it must be a millennial cellphone thing) everyone around me gave me their emails to exchange concert videos. I left with a smile from ear to ear and friends of all ages to text about the awesomeness we just witnessed. In the following days, my friends that were lucky enough to go to night two as well sent me tons of updates and livestreams so I could feel like I was there.

I had never been to Chicago but I immediately fell in love. It almost hurt to leave and go back to New Jersey… there’s so much of the world I want to see. I knew it was risky to go to all of these places at my age, but they were without a doubt some of the best days of my life thus far. I still keep in touch with my fellow Pearl Jam fan friends and we plan to meet up at future shows. One of my videos even made it to the band’s official re-cap video! The entire experience showed me the importance of really living. If you want to do something, do it. Besides obviously needing money the only thing you truly need is passion. Life is too short to be afraid to go out and explore or to live without vigor and excitement. Don’t stay stagnate and just go through the motions. Go follow your favorite band, meet people, discover new places, and live a life you won’t regret.Screen Shot 2016-09-11 at 11.24.05 PM.png

Alt-J and Phantogram

I finally went to a concert I have been waiting three years for. Alt-J! Not only did I get to see them but Phantogram opened, and their music is always just as delightful. (Funny side note though-my roommate’s sister slept with the guy in the band after meeting him at a music festival and told us a hysterical behind the scenes story, so I was non-stop giggling when he first appeared on stage).

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Anyway…Aaron had gotten me the tickets as a Christmas present and I couldn’t be more grateful. We might have been far from the stage, but just hearing the songs live that have gotten me through so much (and have continuously served as the centerpiece for so many of my fondest memories) was breathtaking.

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Afterwards, I ran into my best childhood friend that I have not seen in five years. Got to love New York right? The crowded city that never sleeps has a way of making you reconnect with people you never thought you would.

XO,

Brittany