A Fresh Start

I won’t bore you with all the details, so I’ll skip ahead to my current situation, but to give some sense of time, I’ll start with this.

For roughly seven years, I’ve been trying to answer the question of what I want to do as a career. For a long time my dream was to be a full-time musician, but to get to the point where I could consistently make a living solely from my music realistically could take five, ten, or even fifteen years. Even after all that time there’s still no guarantee of where I would be financially. As a husband and hopefully a father some day, I can’t justify giving that much time to an unsure endeavor. That’s not fair to my wife, and I’m not loving her well by putting the pressure on her to provide financially in the real world while I play around all day in dream land.

let me make a brief aside. I don’t want this to discourage my friends who are pursuing their dreams of being a full-time musician or artist. I know many people who are making their dreams a reality. Be encouraged to press on if your situation allows or even calls for it. Everyone’s circumstances, personalities, ambitions, relationships, and a multitude of other factors are different.

With all that being said, I’ve decided to stop pursuing music as a full-time career, but I’ll never stop making music and sharing it with people.

I have other interests, so who knows, maybe a new dream with start to unfold for me. Hopefully it will continue to unfold as I begin the next chapter in my life. That next chapter is to go back to school. I’ll be going to Ivy Tech in the Fall. I haven’t decided on my specific focus at this time. It will either be motorsports technology or a general automotive route.

Some of you know I’ve been into motorcycles pretty heavily for the past year, but their are roots that go further back than that. My dad has been a high school teacher for the past 42 years. As technology has changed he’s taught things like drafting, wood shop, small engines, design processes, Autocad, robotics, and many others. I’ve been surrounded by this man and these things my whole life. In junior high and high school, my dad and I would watch the show “American Chopper.” We both loved to see the bikes go from concept to design to mock up to final assembly. I’ve always wanted to learn more about cars and what’s going on under the hood, but never really had the drive to take the time to learn. At the time, I was focused on my visual art and my music, since that’s what I wanted to do as a career.

I’m excited to finally learn about something I’ve admired from afar for so many years. I’m excited to find a career and not just another job to pay the bills. I can’t say for sure, but I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited about school.

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Erwin “Cannon Ball” Baker

Who’s Erwin “Cannon Ball” Baker? After this blog post you’ll be asking the greater question. Why have I never heard of him? If you’re ahead of the game and know all about Baker, then you’re either really into history, Indiana, or motorcycles.

I got my first taste of Baker from an IndyStar article published a couple weeks ago. I was blown away my this man, and even more so that he slipped under my radar for so long. Here are some facts I found interesting about Baker.

  • He lived in Garfield Park just a stone’s throw away from where I used to live when I first got married, and since moving, now only about a mile and a half away.
  • He won the first motorized race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1909, which was a 10-mile motorcycle race. Side note: the first race ever at the IMS was a balloon race.
  • He also raced in the Indianapolis 500 in 1922 and finished 11th.
  • He made more than 143 attempts at a variety of timed, long-distance records. One of his most noteworthy transcontinental rides was in 1914 when he rode from San Diego to New York City in 11 days, 12 hours, and 10 minutes.
  • He rode and drove roughly 5.5 million miles from 1908 to 1933.
  • He is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.

These are just a few facts that sparked my attention. It just so happens that we are in the midst of the 103rd anniversary of his record-setting 1914 ride. He began on May 3, 1914 (today is May 4) and finished May 14, 1914.

I found a website that has Baker’s journal notes from his 1914 trip. It was such a wondrous story, I had to write a song about it. I just finished it today, so I thought I would  share the lyrics with you. I typically don’t like to share the lyrics right after finishing a song, but it seemed fitting.

Verse 1:
Headed East from San Diego
to the City of New York.
For a record-setting ride,
I filled my canteen to the cork.
The sand pushed me to the limit
as I pushed my two-speed horse.
With only a few paved miles laid out,
I would have to set the course.

Verse 2:
Spent the morning in the desert
at triple-digit degrees.
By the time I called it quits,
I rode a mile above the sea.
I worked my way toward the valley
full of bleached-white cattle bones.
Would this machine keep me alive,
or would it become my tombstone?

Verse 3:
Took all day to cross the river
that was swollen on all sides.
I looked for a shallow answer,
but learned the depth of my pride.
I had thousands of miles ahead
with no easy route in sight.
I worried about tomorrow
before I made it to tonight.

Verse 4:
Tried to not let the storm catch me,
so I mounted my machine.
With no time to stop for breakfast,
the thought of mud was my caffeine.
I rode atop the railroad ties
to escape the tough terrain.
“Clear the road: I am a-coming”
was the native-spread refrain.

Verse 5:
Made up my mind I would not stop
till I touched the city streets.
As my journey came to a close,
it all felt so bittersweet.
I came in strong though late at night
upon my seven-horse steed.
Little did I know that I’d be called
the pioneer of speed.

 

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Music Videos

While I’m saving money in order to record my next album, I still want to be producing new content. You know, for my “fans.” So far, I’ve made two videos. The first is what I call a music videoette for the song Victory. The second was a near-full-length video for Dwell.

IMG_2565Both videos were shot on my iPhone 6s using a Osmo mobile stabilizer and edited with iMovie. Pretty primitive equipment compared to the gear that’s on the market today, but if I don’t have the money to record an album, I definitely don’t have the money to spend on video equipment.

The simplicity and limitations of these videos parallel my music nicely. If someone commissioned me to write and record an album entirely with an acoustic guitar and my vocals, without any kind of layering, I would be ok with that. That’s how all my songs start out anyways.

I plan to make at least two more music videos. I’m just waiting for the sun to come out and the temperature to rise.

Click the links above to watch. Please like, share, tweet, blog, etc.

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Janus Motorcycles

If you follow me on Instagram, you might have noticed the motorcycle sketches sprinkled in the past few months amongst the overwhelming amount of dog photos, but what can I say my dog is a great source of entertainment. Roughly the past seven months, motorcycles have also been a great source of entertainment. The crazy thing is that I don’t even know how to ride one yet. Side note, I hope to take a riding course in the next few months. Regardless, there are other aspects that draw me to motorcycles. Let me romanticize a bit for you.

The rider gets to conduct this beautiful, mechanical orchestra that’s happening on two wheels. He must maintain the many moving pieces. He’s the maestro of the machine: signaling the clutch to accent specific beats, and giving the shifter it’s cue whether to play on the upstroke or downstroke. He takes note when the throttle needs to crescendo, and when it needs an eighth note-rest.
The maestro is not exempt from taking cues of his own though. He is also one of the musicians in a jazz trio. With a song’s terrain able to be altered in an instant, he must adapt to remain upright and in sync. Only the most proficient musicians can create the illusion of making improvisation appear to be notated.

That is the imagery and beauty of Janus Motorcycles. Devin Biek and Richard Worsham are the co-founders of JM. They are located in Goshen, Indiana. The majority of their bike components are made within a 20 mile radius of their shop.
Being a life-long Hoosier, I’m very proud of local craftsmen in Indiana (I’ll mention some others in a moment). I boldly proclaim they are based in Indiana, and tend to live vicariously through them.
In order for local businesses to succeed, they need our support. By supporting them, we allow them to stay in business, continue creating their product, and they can keep representing us. With pride we will let them.

Janus walks to the beat of their own drum. They aren’t trying to be the whole band, but simply care about playing their instrument to perfection. They have written two songs for us so far. Those songs being Halcyon and Phoenix. You can be the maestro of these songs, and conduct the orchestra in your own interpretation by visiting the shop on their website.
If you’ve never sang a note in your life, but had a distant admiration to try, I would suggest starting here. These are simple yet well-written tunes for all to sing.

Here are a few other small Indiana businesses and craftsmen: guitars, swords, soft goods, leather goods, tobacco pipes, and apparel.

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Full-Time Musician

The title says it all. I’m officially a full-time musician. After being laid

off from my full-time job, my wife and I made the decision for me to

pursue my music. I’ve never done anything this unsure and unstable.

It’s like I’m in the ocean, and there’s no land in sight. I don’t know

which way to swim, if I’m surrounded by sharks, or if I’ll ever be

rescued. Right now I’m looking for land, for shallow water, for a boat,

and anything that floats. I’m not drowning, but a bit overwhelmed at

the moment.

Here are a couple simple ways you can be a life vest at the moment:

  1. You can like/ follow me on social media (links below). It might
    not feel like much but it means a lot.

    1. Facebook: to stay up-to-date.
    2. Instagram: to stay up-to-date with cool visuals.
    3. Twitter: to stay up-to-date with what the kids are doing.
  2. You can invite your friends to like/ follow as well.

 

That’s all for now. The game is afoot.

 

 

 

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Avenoo Blues – Song 2

My second song is about Indiana Avenue, and the music

scene during the early to mid 1900s. Blues was one of

the popular genres during the Avenue’s heydays. The

song is written from the perspective of someone who

knew the saloons, bars, and juke joints during its golden

years, which is why they are singing the blues. They miss

the greatness that once was. I also did my darnedest to make

it sound as if it was recorded during that time period. Give it

a listen here.

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Victory – Song 1

I can’t believe this is my first post of the new year.

On the other hand, I’ve been living my life more in

the real world instead of online, so I guess I can believe

it.

 

My most recent and exciting endeavor is my 10-week

music residency at the Harrison Center for the Arts. I’m

in the middle of my third week, and I have to write and

record one song per week. Each song must be placed-based,

so it has to be about Indianapolis in some way. My first song,

which you can listen to here, is about Lady Victory atop the

Soldiers and Sailors Monument.

 

This is my first attempt at recording all by myself, so it’s

not perfect but it’s a great learning experience. With that

said, it turned out pretty good. I definitely have a greater

respect for sound engineers. Make sure to give it a listen

and stay tuned for the next 9 songs.

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Life Update

It’s been almost a month since my last post. I left off

by breaking down each song of my new “LA” EP. I released

it almost one month ago, and then I fell of the face of the

earth. Sorry about that. I lost my job, was looking for a new one,

and the EP took a backseat. I’d like to play the EP at some shows/

house shows around Indy, but I’m still trying to figure out what kind

of instrumentation to use. Also, it would be great to get a couple

other people to play with me in order to add more layers.

 

Hopefully I’ll be posting regularly again now that life is becoming

a little more regular. I’ll have to play it by ear for now. Until then,

pick up my EP from raywyatt.bandcamp.com. It’s only $5, so get

yourself a digital stocking stuffer.

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Song 5 and 6 “Boss Angeles” and “LAX

I figured I would combine the last two songs

into one blog post just to keep it brief. I won’t

say much about “Boss Angeles.” It’s similar

to “City of Angels” but slightly different. “City

of Angles” is meant to be ironic, and “Boss Angeles”

is meant to be satirical. That’s all I’ll say about it.

Go ahead and listen to the songs, and you’ll see what

I mean.

 

“LAX” is the most uplifting, happy, and resolved song

on the EP. Every other song is full of questions, doubt,

darkness, uncertainty, and ends on an unresolved note

musically. This song has no questions or uncertainty,

just a sense of longing and waiting. But it’s not the kind

of waiting that causes doubt, uncertainty, strife, and

uneasiness. Like when you go to the doctor to have major

tests done, and you’re anxiously waiting for the results

for the results. It’s a waiting filled with trust, certainty,

rest, and patience. Like when you’re sick and tired of winter

and you long for spring. You know spring will come, the

snow will melt, the sun will come out, and the temperature

will rise.

 

This is the kind of longing found in this song. It’s the

resolution we’ve been waiting for the whole EP. The

peace we’ve been seeking for the previous five tracks.

Just as the first five songs long to be resolved and the

tension dismissed by the sixth, so to do our souls long

to be resolved, the tension dismissed, and wholeness

ushered in.

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Artist Statement

I plan to do some revisions and tightening up on this artist statement, but this will do for now. I had people read this at the listening party a couple nights ago. It seemed to aid them in their listening and interpretation of the EP.

For a little context and back-story, I wrote five of the six tracks on January 6, 2014, and the sixth track was written a few days before them. I had some preplanned themes for each song, but no music or lyrics were written before hand. This EP was an in-the-moment creation where I wrote, critiqued, rewrote, and fine-tuned in a compact time frame. Normally I’ll critique and rewrite one song over a number of weeks or months, so to do all of this for five songs in one day was a new experience to say the least. Please take this into account as you digest these songs.

Now onto the EP itself, Los Angeles is a mask, filler, and a stand-in. By inserting the word Los Angeles, it gives a face and identity to generic pronouns. This allows the listener to better identify with what would have previously been labeled as he, she, you, it, them, etc.

We all know Los Angeles, either from first hand travels or media stereotypes, we all have a picture of Los Angeles in our mind’s eye. My picture probably doesn’t look exactly the same as yours, but there is most likely overlap along the way.

Sounds a lot like life doesn’t it? No two lives are exactly the same, but we share many similarities: characteristics, attributes, emotions, desires, needs, and values. We’re not all that different even though we live in such an independent and self-reliant culture. We all want to make a name for ourselves just as Los Angeles has made a name for itself, so much so that even the initials, L.A., conjure up hundreds of connotations.

I cover themes of home, place, self-image, self-awareness, excess, culture, love and multiple sub-themes. Everyone has different definitions for these themes, which is why each listener will have an independent experience, all the while knowing others near you will hold similar thoughts and feel similar emotions. They may come at different times during the song or on a different song altogether. It all depends how you answer the question and fill in the blank.

What’s your LA?

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