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What I'm doing Now

Updated 5/20/19

(I got this idea from Derek Sivers, who, with Gregory Brown, started The /now page movement. See nownownow.com.)

Right now, most of my income comes from Plum Blossom Music, a service I started that provides music for events. My reputation has mostly been built on the Plum Blossom String Quartet, which is really just any number of fine musicians that I manage to recruit to form string quartets, trios, duos, and also to play solo, performing mostly classical music and arrangements of pop songs for specific events, mostly wedding ceremonies and cocktail hours. I usually perform on cello with these groups, although if the client wants a soloist I sometimes play solo violin.

I also have Classical Hillbillies, which typically starts out as a strings group very similar to the Plum Blossom String Quartet (or trio or duo) for ceremonies but switches instruments for cocktail hours and plays bluegrass and old-time (and jazz and pop). I usually play cello or viola for the ceremonies and guitar or upright bass for cocktail hours.

And then there's the Early Grove String Band, which is my old-time and bluegrass band. I typically play fiddle, guitar and/or upright bass in this group.

If I'm otherwise engaged at a time when somebody wants one of these groups, I can almost always accommodate them by putting together a group to play without me. None of these groups have a set membership. I'm fortunate enough to have a large pool of very talented musicians from which to draw. Typically I do most of the client relations, coordination with musicians, selection of repertoire, maintenance of sheet music, web site -- pretty much all of the behind-the-scenes administrative work.

As long as there was demand for my work, I was raising my prices on a regular basis and started getting fewer gigs per year but because my prices were higher, my income didn't really decline. This gave me more time for other pursuits.

That changed this year. Business is down and, while I have taken steps to become more visible to potential wedding clients, my biggest push is to do what my heart desires, and right now that's creating my first rock opera (more on that below).

I also started a rock group, Love Me Do, that takes the early, happy Beatles love songs, gives them a more modern, danceable beat, and extends them with instrumental sections. My original intention was to have this group play wedding receptions, but I'm open to whatever future this band forges. I love the fact that I'm in a band that has a positive message and makes people want to dance. I sing lead on many of the songs and play some keyboards and violin.

In the past couple of years, I've become obsessed with craft chocolate. I've discoverd that there is a whole class of fine chocolate that is a level above most of the "good" chocolate that's available at, say, my local Whole Foods. It costs quite a bit more but the taste is amazing and, unlike the biggest chocolate companies, craft chocolate companies make sure that the growers of the cacao that they use are treated fairly. I have a daily ritual where I sit outside watching the birds and let one piece from each of three plain dark chocolate bars melt in my mouth while I take notes on the taste of each one. The Slow Melt podcast really helped me get my start.

So, about this rock opera. I've written songs since I was 11 but I've always wanted to write a larger work and started to do so a few times in my life. I've had a bit of writer's block, ironically, since about the time I started making a living as a musician. But now it seems to be over and I've written most of four songs and the beginnings of a plot outline. It's about a greedy corporate mogul falling in love, and as a result, going through a transformation and becoming an agent of positive change. And it's about craft chocolate...

I say an affirmation and meditate and exercise and journal and read every day. I've worked part time for barter and/or money at Universal Electronic Repairs since 2006. I get together with a couple of guys once a week to talk about our careers and our lives. Many of my meals consist of spinach salad with chicken or fish and raw garlic. My sweetie and I eloped in December of 2017. We got a foster dog a few months ago. Most Sundays I play bass guitar at Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church. They tend to focus on gratitude, which I find very uplifting.