Welcome to Band News
Bobby Dunn Band A.G.E.S.
July 13, 2017
We played as the first act of a double band evening last night! Fun!
2017 has been a great year for myself and the band. We have written a lots of new songs and made incredible leaps forward from a performance perspective. At least that is what people have told me who have seen us play. I feel it too! I feel more confident and capable on stage...never had so much fun, in fact. Having good songs is the key...it is also important to have good musicans. I write good songs with my guitarist, Kevin...but if we play them like amateurs, people won't get into it. That is one reason I don't play much guitar in the band. I am an amateur guitarist. It is as frustrating to admit it as it is to work at being better. I do work at playing better but I am only a better amateur. Kevin is a professional guitarist and pretty much the star attraction of our band. But we all have something to add to the music and that is why we are having so much fun. Kevin provides a solid musical leadership, Vincent is a good musican and Quentin is a multi-instrumentalist. I am the writer of the words to the songs, I can accompany Kevin with a harmonica and I can sing OK. We all sing together pretty well also; that feels good!
Kevin has found his composition feet and produces some fantastic musical imagery that easily evoke stories for me. I write with pictures (in my head). I like to see a landscape in music when I write. It may be a prison, a train rolling across a horizon, human fear and desperation or love. There are so many facettes of this world to see and I have the joyful pleasure of being able to see some of them and put them into words. Apparently, not everyone can do this. Some can do it better than others. But I am not measuring myself against anyone. I really enjoy the writing process and trying to hear what the music is showing me and whispering to me. Sometimes it is so soft that it takes days to hear it.
I write the words to songs by trying to hear what the composer of the song feels when s/he plays the music. At present, I write the words to Kevin's compositions. I ask him how he feels when he plays the chords; does he see anything happening? More often now, he can tell me what he wants the story to be about. He is beginning to feel my process and as he composes, he visualises. The last song we wrote together, he murmured words without really saying anything...just a feeling of a melody. This song took quite some time to finally reveal itself. I enjoyed very much writing it but I wrote about 5 versions of it before finding what the music really wanted to say. I also got some help from bouncing the melody and words off friends to hear if I was on track; to see if what they heard was pleasing and coherent.
This latest creation is called 'Nights Away' and is about a musican who spends a lot of time on the road but "feels home in his bones" when he returns. The chorus captures his joy and desperate desire to feel home through the caress of his woman "who is like sunshine in his arms".
One aspect of song writing that is super important for me is that my words need to be true to me. I hate to say things just so they'll rhyme. It is often better to say something truthful than to write blindly rhyming whatever easy words present themselves. Writing, in this way, isn't necessarily easy. I have to measure myself and think about how I really feel about something. Measuring words and the sentiment those words carry is a key part of my pleasure in song writing.
April 20, 2017
Day after our LIVE on the radio gig
When I started playing music at 15, I was afraid to leave my room. Then I played portions of songs in the company of friends where there was little risk of criticism because no one else played an instrument...even as badly as I played. So it was just for fun and we sang hits songs of the time (70's) like CSNY 'Our House', Seals & Crofts ' 'Summer Breeze', Cat Stevens (anything off the Tea For The Tillerman' album). I recall it being great fun even though I could almost never finish a whole song or remember the words; niether could anyone else! So again, not much risk there!
It took a while, but now I have a band and we play LIVE. We are all about LIVE. Thanks to my writing partner, Kevin Weiss, I learned that music is about playing in front of people, to see their faces and their emotions, to feel their support for what you are doing or their scorn (in case you need to change what you're doing!) and to exalt in the sensation of performance. It is simply thrilling and, again, thanks to Kevin Weiss (our very experienced guitarist), and the band he pulled together for us, I am learning who I am as a performing artist of music. All I need to do is trust the band and they allow me the freedom to go beyond my fear, to not worry about perfection...to leave that isolated 'room of fear' where I was never going to be good enough.
This installation of Band News is a recap of our radio gig. It went fantastic and was so far our best concert (in my humble opinion). Each concert has gotten better. The music improves each time we play LIVE and our complicity tightens after each rehearsal. I really want to hear the recording of the radio gig to hear if it was as good as it felt because it felt sooo awesome. That will be soon....and I will share it on bobbydunn.com!!
The truly exciting thing about the radio gig was that people could go on the web and listen to us LIVE anywhere in the world. My Mother listened to the show in Oregon! Other people said they would listen but not many could. That is OK because we are only playing music. We haven't discovered the cure for cancer! But the technology that exists now heightens the stakes and performing for the 'world' is much different than playing with a bunch of friends at the beach in the dark where no can see the words in the book and I can't remember the chords! Having too much fun!
March 21, 2017
The recent concert at the Camionneur (which means 'The Trucker' in French), was a lot of fun and for that reason we consider it a grand success! We really had fun with the crowd and we had funny things happen to us on stage that we couldn't anticipate. We just let it all roll into the act as though it was planned. The first thing that occured was that Kevin proposed the idea of starting with one of my brand new songs which I had originally put at the end of the set list. It is a song where I play guitar alone with my harmonica and sing while the band backs me as vocalists. It was very unexpected. No one knew what we were going to do. It was so unexpected that I forgot to look at the set list for the details of what we all need to do on that particular song! I just made sure everyone was in place but forgot my harmonica. Then, when I got to third chord of the song, I realized the guitar was tuned with a dropped D (the low E was tuned to a D) which is for a song that Kevin played during the sound check with my guitar. So I stopped and handed the guitar to Kev because he tunes faster than me. Then, I started again. I got to the same chord and it was not right again. So I stopped again and used my tuner to get it just right. Somebody yelled out, " It's a sketch!!" and everyone laughed! I just said "God, I wish it was; it would be funnier for me!" So, a bit nervous, I started the song again only realizing I forgot my harmonica when the part rolled around where I was supposed to play it. I didn't know what to do...I was singing but I knew the moment would come that I would not be able to play the harmonica and I suddenly forgot the next verse which follows the harmonica! So, no one knew...I just faded out the song. Perfect! It hurt so bad. But it was a good laugh later and a good lesson!
November 21, 2016
The Concert went fantastic!
Throughout rehearsals leading up to our first concert, we all knew we were making progress. But there are other factors involved in performing music that don't necessarily occur during rehearsal...(and I speak for myself here as a relatively inexperienced performer)...that can eventually cause problems on stage. The most obvious problem is FEAR! Where there is FEAR, there is always the possibility for failure. OK, failure can happen on a variety of scales (e.g. forgetting the lyrics, forgetting chords, stressing out about the possibility of forgetting stuff, or having a complete melt-down on stage where you just want to leave!). I have failed on all these levels so far in my short performing experience. I don't want to be too cliché here but you have to learn from mistakes and move on. Everyone, if they are learning, fails. That's OK. But if you aren't learning from your failures and improving, that is failure that is difficult to come back from and it might be time to look at yourself in the mirror and ask the question, "Am I cut out for this?"
I feel I have learned from my personal failures and I have had lovely and sensitive guidance from people I have paid and from people who just like me and from people who have a little stake in my succeeding. All have helped and I am grateful for the help I've received.
Our concert was a success for all of us but I can only speak for myself on personal matters such as FEAR. I was successful personally because I confronted my own personal FEAR. I knew what to do from rehearsals and I just needed to do what we rehearsed. It sounds simple...and it is if you don't allow yourself to trip out. On stage, you are a spectacle. People are staring at you to see what you are going to do and if you are going to do it well! Through rehearsal, you learn to do what people expect of you but you are only as good at anything as you want to be (as you've rehearsed!). For me, playing music in front of people is easy when there are no stakes (around a BBQ, for example). People's expectations aren't very high in this situation. But when people spend their time (and maybe their money!) to come see you perform, the stakes are higher and you simply have to be better...not perfect...but certainly worthy of their time to come see you. On our first concert, we were worth the trouble people took to come see us. Everyone present said they had a good time and I am pleased for this. Hopefully they will come again and we will surely improve because this band is very motivated. Our expectations for ourselves are high!! We expect to have the most fun possible each time and that is our musical philosophy. We are all about having fun and I think we showed that clearly in our first concert.
There was professionally shot video by a good friend of mine that will soon be posted, so stay in touch and check back with Band News soon!
November 16, 2016
Hey, glad to be back to you with some great news. We've been writing and rehearsing for almost a year now and I am happy to report that things are going very well in our musical universe. This project, which we unofficially call: The Bobby Dunn Composition Project, has come into bloom through dedication and hard-work on the part of all involved intimately with the project. We are not professionals in music (except Kevin), but through creative energy, perserverance, lots of laughter and just pure pleasure, we have arrived at a point where we can feel good about performing our music.
I say 'our music' because it belongs to all of us in the band. Even though Kevin and I , at the moment, are the main composers of the music and I write all the lyrics, Vincent has made a very successful proposition of a song which he wrote in his second language, English. It is called Mrs. Greeneyes. It is a touching account of a relationship lost to a lack of communication and frustration but ends with still wanting to be friends. I rewrote the chords of this song but the melody and the words are primarily his own and we all encourage each other to contribute to the creation of 'our music'.
We have essentially written more than a new album...way more! To us, that means choices and it is always good to have choices!! Through playing the songs, they begin to become what we want them to be and not simply what we wrote. Playing music is a huge part of writing the music because inspiration is always just a few notes away and an idea short of being something special if it was not written that way in it's inkling.
So, we have a concert prepared for this coming Saturday night (November 19, 2016) when we will take the stage at a music café in a town not far away to see where the music is now. This is exciting because no matter how much we rehearse, it won't come out perfect and we don't want it to either. We want the concert to be beautiful and to be an expression of the passion that fills us collectively for what we've been working on for the past year. But perfection isn't necessary.
There are lots of irons in the fire and I hope your interest will be piqued to check back to my Band News once in a while. I cannot write everyday because that would be too tedious. Think of my Band News as a post card from a lovely place that we are visiting. We are truly having a great time! Check back please!
November 20, 2015
Since creating the album Dusty Attic Memories, Gilles Guigue (guitariste) and I have amically parted ways as he became a father and moved to the family home in the region of Ardeche. I, in turn, have had the good fortune to meet and collaborate with a new guitariste named Kevin Weiss. Since January 2015, we have played a concert almost every month and have written enough songs for a new album. Kevin and I have multiple arrangements for each new song. We can play as a duo of two acoustic guitars/ harmonica. Or we can play as a group with a drummer and bassist and Kevin on his electric guitar.
These are exciting times for me and I think the fellas are enjoying our progress as well. We are, at this moment, creating our demo to use as a marketing tool for the band as a quartet. I have other recordings by Kevin and myself for the marketing of the duo.
Check-in here once in a while to read the latest of Bobby Dunn Acoustic Grooves Band news. We are on the move!!
December 27, 2015
Kevin (the guitarist) and I were greatly moved and inspired as composers and songwriters to create a song in hommage to those who not only lost their lives in the terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015, but also for those who still suffer from the loss of loved ones, friends and colleagues. We both feel (and it is a well-discussed topic of conversation) these terrorists aim to change our lives. They desire that we live in fear of our neighbors and those who are unknown to us. They want our freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of movement and freedom to love be aspects of life that encourage fear rather than independence.
This new single is not yet recorded but has been written and is being arranged for a group of 4. The title of the song is 'Terrorize this!' and addresses my perception of terrorists and how their barbaric and brutal acts motivate us all to fight for who we are. We fight for the freedoms that our ancestors won and established in law. We must fight also for those who found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time and whose freedom has been lost forever. Alas, we must also fight for those who are afraid to risk living outside the security of their homes.
There will be a video clip for this powerful song once funding has been secured. The clip version of the song, 'Terrorize this!', will be recorded on January 3, 2016.
April 18, 2016
The complications of getting things done in my 'hobby-ist' musical life can sometimes be disappointing. Even with friends as owners of recording studios, appointments can get broken for paying customers, for other real-world work, or for fatigue from the daily struggle of inching toward your dreams...whatever they may be.
In short, my vocal recording of my new song 'Terrorize this!' was put on the back-burner by the recording engineer for a paying client and the development of his own projects...which is understandable. I generally prefer to pay (even though I request a friend discount!) for recording studio time so the studio thinks twice about cancelling which seems to happen more often than not.
Bent but not broken, myself and my musical colleagues forge on in rehearsals...each time a song is arranged, I am so happy that the recording is not finished because music takes time to create. It is the time it takes that makes music the splendid experience that it is; the ideas that pop-up after months of rehearsal and the energy expended by each musician in the group to carve his part into the arrangement. True, at a given moment, it is necessary to stop the creative process and be satisfied with the results...but that moment is generally agreed upon by the band or by the leader of the band. In this case, it is a shared experience even though most of the songs are mine and Kevin's.
Kevin Weiss is the musical director of my group, Bobby Dunn Acoustic Grooves. We played together in concerts as a duo, we create songs together, and we laugh our asses off during sessions of improvisation. Kevin has given me the taste for fun in music and although everyone gets teased a bit, laughing is a part of every rehearsal. And it is not because we are all stoned! Our rehearsals are sober and effective and that is what makes them fun for me...We are all at our best and everyone is very present.
Another change that felt like a stick in our spokes occured when Kevin's neighbor above his store where we play after his working hours, complained about too much noise. OK, we are an electrified band with amps, and drums. We never played past 10pm once a week, out of respect for this neighbor. But the noise was too much for him and he requested that there be no noise after the closing of the store at 7pm. There are electric guitars being played all day long in that store so I can really understand his need for quiet in the evening. Our young drummer, Quentin, has offered his basement where he keeps his drums set-up. It is further than I really wanted to go because Kevin's store was only 30 seconds from my house by car...but there are constraints to having a band as a hobby and having a rehearsal room is a big one! This week is the first time we'll rehearse in Quentin's basement.
Check-in for 'Band News' of Bobby Dunn Acoustic Grooves...to read about how rehearsals are going and what we have planned in the near future. It is just so much fun!