I have two distinct, very different, musical personalities. Two very different facets of my musical persona that are sometimes slightly at odds with each other. First and foremost, I consider myself a guitar player. I started taking guitar lessons when I was twelve, long before I started seriously pursuing the craft of songwriting. I love playing long, extended improvised guitar solos. I love playing blues, jazz, fusion, jam rock, etc. I can spend hours getting lost in long, improvised guitar solos over something as simple as a two-chord progression.
On the other hand, I have a deep love and passion for songwriting. This was a passion that I developed several years after I began learning to play guitar. I write a fairly diverse range of songs, stylistically. But if I had to sum up the kind of music I write the most, I guess I would describe it as a combination of “singer/songwriter/folk/rock”. I tend to write songs that are fairly simple harmonically, with an emphasis on lyrics and story-telling. Simple, yet, I like to think, catchy songs.
I tend to alternate back and forth between phases where I focus on songwriting and phases where I focus on developing as a guitar player. If I spend too long only writing songs, I start to get worried that I’m getting rusty as a guitar player and vice versa. Lately, I’ve been practicing guitar more than writing new material, although I sill have several new songs in progress.
When I’m writing and recording music for something like licensing, playing long, elaborate guitar solos is usually not appropriate or required. In fact, I’ve turned in songs where I’ve been told by my publisher to “tone down” the guitar solos. Licensing music is more about writing music that has the most “commercial appeal” and sensibility and as you’ve probably noticed somewhere in the last decade or two, playing guitar really well seemed to fall out of fashion. Although there’s clearly still a market for great guitar playing in the context of pop music. John Mayer, for example, does a great job of both writing amazing pop/rock songs but also shredding on guitar when needed. Check out the studio version of “I Guess I Just Feel Like” for a great example of a great, current pop song with some really tasty guitar playing.
To satisfy my love for both guitar playing and songwriting, I both play live and spend a lot of time writing and recording for licensing projects, and just for the love of making music. When I perform live, I’m able to stretch out more on the guitar and really put all my years of practicing and learning to play guitar to work. Conversely, when I’m in the studio recording material for licensing or just recording music in general, I’m able to put my love for the craft of songwriting to work and develop my songwriting and production skills.
It would be hard to pick which aspect of making music I enjoy more. Fortunately, I don’t have to. It’s fair to say I enjoy both playing guitar and writing music equally, but for different reasons. Writing music is more about expressing something I want to express emotionally through music. Whether it’s writing about something I’ve experienced or expressing myself through a story in the form of a song, songwriting to me is akin to therapy in the sense that I’m able to articulate and process things I’ve gone through or am going through, in the context of a song. Playing guitar on the other hand, especially improvising and “jamming”, is just plain fun!
Here’s my latest song release on Spotify. A song called “We’re Only Human” I recorded with Michael James.
Here’s an instrumental guitar piece from my new all instrumental guitar album, called "Radio Floyd".
And finally, here's a compilation of a few of my favorite solos from last weekend during my reunion with my friends in the "Bandits Of The Apocalypse".