Hello! How are you? I hope this message finds you well. It's been a while. My last newsletter was shortly after the election. Somehow, it's already February, meaning that, while we're all used to writing "17" at the end of the date, winter still insists on reminding us that it's a long time till spring. Meanwhile, Pumpkin Man is testing the sinister limits of his power, while millions gather to challenge that power and affirm the values of peace and inclusion. As for me? I'm playing lots of music.
I'm writing to give you a general update. I'll probably ramble a bit. But as a first order of business, let me tell you about the gigs I have coming up.
1) Every Wednesday - Jam with Seattle Jazz Quartet @ Paragon
8:00 pm to 11:00 pm - 2125 Queen Anne Ave N
A reliably fun time. Lately the house band has been switching off between Dean Schmidt and Osama Afifi, two of the best bassists in the city!
2) Every Thursday - solo piano @ La Spiga
7:00 pm to 9:30 pm - 1429 12th Ave
I am happy to announce that I now play weekly at La Spiga, and I also book the music for Saturdays! For this, I owe a debt of gratitude to my partner Erin—who worked at La Spiga last year and constantly put in a good word about my playing—and to Pietro and Sabrina, the visionary team behind La Spiga's magic, who have been so kind to me in general, and specifically so by entrusting me with this job.
3) Friday, February 3rd - with Jordan Wiegert and Olivia Hamilton @ Sullivan's Steakhouse
6:30 pm to 10:30 pm - 621 Union St
Come down and eat a slab o' meat while we play you some tunes!
4) Saturday, February 4th - with Ryan Donnelly @ Cork & Tap Wine and Beer
5:00 pm to 7:00 pm - 10116 NE 8th St., Bellevue (inside QFC)
Inside a giant grocery store though this gig may be... you have GOT to hear Ryan Donnelly play the bass. This guy is unbelievable!
5) Friday, February 10th - with Zeppy Zittle and Olivia Hamilton @ Sullivan's Steakhouse
6:30 pm to 10:30 pm - 621 Union St
Come eat another slab o' meat!
6) Saturday, February 25th - with a player to be named later @ La Spiga
8:00 pm to 10:30 pm - 1429 12th Ave
Will I be joined by a singer? A horn player? A bassist and drummer? A sousaphonist and glockenspieler? Come find out!
I imagine a few more gigs will pop up before the month is over, and I'll be sure to alert you if anything exciting does. Now, for that ramble...
Though it's February, I feel compelled to reflect a bit on 2016. More than anything else, here's what I've learned: I'm in the right business. I've had lots of other jobs—selling things, cleaning things, writing things, helping people, teaching people—and they were all draining, in one way or another. That's not to say they weren't rewarding or stimulating; many of them were. But even with the jobs that made me feel good about myself, when quitting time came around, I was past ready to leave. Not so with music. This job actually gives me energy. It fires me up. Often, I want to keep playing when it's time to go, or at least linger after the set ends. What's more, I get to work with people I admire and respect, who inspire me with their passion and creativity. I get to do something that feels positive because it is positive. It's constructive, and peaceful. It's inclusive. In other words, I've found my path.
In truth, that's an oversimplification. Music is not a path, it's a world. It contains millions of paths. Currently, my path through my musical life is in a jazz phase. Most of all, these days, I'm a professional jazz pianist. In the longer term that is not something I necessarily hope remains true. I want to write and perform original music that, though it might be influenced by jazz, makes room for folk, bluegrass, rock, and pop influences as well. I want to develop my singing and my bass playing. I have all kinds of visions. It's not always clear how my current jazz-heavy life will lead to these other places, and indeed maybe it won't. But I do know that music begets music. The more I keep playing, the more opportunities I'll get to play, and the more variation there will be among those opportunities. That has proven true so far, and it's all starting to build on itself. So I'm going to keep on trusting the path.
I will say that playing jazz piano for a living is not a bad life. And I got to do a lot more of it in my first full year in Seattle than I expected. I remember when I first moved to town, I met a drummer, who has since become a good friend. He teaches and gigs full time; he tours with several bands, often internationally; in other words, he is "the real deal." After I met him, I was checking out his website when I noticed his year-in-review post from a couple years back. In it he mentioned that he'd played over 150 gigs that year. I was very impressed. That's almost every other night! I remember thinking it would probably take years for me to get to that point. Well, I am happy, and still a bit surprised, to report that in 2016 I played 110 gigs! Now, to be fair, some of them paid next to nothing, some were hardly attended at all, some were informal things I threw together with friends... Still. I'm proud, and encouraged.
And grateful. Beyond grateful, really. I have been so welcomingly embraced by the Seattle music community. The folks I've met in the Seattle scene have, to a person, been kind and supportive. They've called me for gigs and put me in touch with good people to know and given me invaluable advice. They've been up for jamming and rehearsing and trying things out. They're the only reason I've been able to do this professional musician thing.
It drives home the deep lesson that no one does anything alone. We depend on one another. Community is greater than the sum of individuals. This is something many of us know, and already endeavor to put into practice daily, but I still feel it as a profound lesson, the implications of which are as far-reaching as anything. I am hopeful that our larger communities—city, state, nation, world—can coalesce, more or less, around this truth. Lately we've had plenty of reasons to be both discouraged and encouraged in this regard. I'm a helpless optimist, and I have to think we'll pull through.
OK, that is more than enough rambling, by several paragraphs. Thanks for reading. Remember that thing I said about no one doing anything alone? I certainly couldn't do what I do without YOU! That's true whether you're a fellow musician, a music-lover in the audience, a dancer, a photographer, a business owner, a chef, a philanthropist, a journalist, a feminist, a Republican, a hippie, a skeptic... a human being! We are a community! Thanks for being here with me.
With more hope than ever,