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Lights. Camera. Action!

The last two weekends we have held shoots for the music video we are working on. The song is called “Radio” and will be released on the next Cousin Affect record set to be out late winter.

The amazing thing about this is that these extras have all volunteered their time to come help our cause. I included these two group shots from each shoot so you could all see these wonderful folks. Both shoots took about a half a day with lots and lots of standing around. Unfortunately, there just isn’t a way around that. But we have heard no complaints. We have been amazed at how flexible they have been with helping us our realize our vision for this video. On top of that, we have heard resounding consensus that everyone had a great time at both shoots. There really is no bigger honor than having the music I write bring people together. That is what’s happening at these shoots. People from all different backgrounds, different colors, sexual orientations, even a relatively wide range of ages have been coming together to have a great time and help us shoot this video. For this, Kenney and I are so much more than the word grateful describes.

Two shoots down. Eight shoots remain. The vision is grand, and sometimes it seems impossible, but we have been hacking away. By the time we are finished, we will have brought 200 strangers together to help spread the positive vibes of Cousin Affect to the world through the power of video. I can’t wait to see the finished product…more because I’m a fan than anything else.

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Bear Down

I can only imagine how much you all have missed me! I know you just hang on every word of this blog, so I must apologize for my extended absence. But I am here to assure you that I am back! So fear not and rest assured and any other cliches you see fit.

I took a trip home to my beloved Phoenix for a friend’s wedding and for a few shows with the Cousins. The weather was immaculate (of course), and it made it difficult to come back to Chicago. On Friday, October 19, we played a show in Tucson on the mall at the University of Arizona. Having gone to school there, this was a special experience for me. I’ve always had a special place in my heart for that city, and it’s really where I cultivated this dream that is now Cousin Affect. To go back and jam there felt quite full circle. These are just a few pictures from the show at U of A.

After the show, I ended up watching a close friend play with his band at the Hotel Congress. They are on tour and just happened to be in Tucson the same night. I ate at the Subway I must have eaten at a million times during college. I drove by the places I used to live. It was really cool being back in that city. I loved going to school down there. I will be posting some video from the show this week or next so stay tuned. We also have lots to update you on regarding the music video we are getting ready to shoot. The first of many shoots is this coming Saturday. It has morphed into quite the production so wish us luck. This is our first go around with this grand of an idea for a video. We have that feeling you get when you are slowly going up to the highest peak of the roller coaster…weeee!!

Happy Halloweeeeen!

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Extended Family

The Cousins are playing tonight in Prescott, AZ for the first time since the IndieFest in Vegas on April 28th. I have been in Chicago working on new music and other creative ideas to further the Cousin Affect project since the beginning of May, and I never could have been prepared for how much I would miss playing with these six people. Over the years, we have had some different lineups come and go, but these people you see here…this is Cousin Affect. I can’t begin to describe in words how much I enjoy playing music in the live setting. On top of that, to be able to share that experience with the unbelievably talented people in my group is almost unreal.

Scotty C. is one of the most talented kids I know. His energy and charisma on stage make it impossible for our fans to not have a good time watching us play. He’s my longest friend in the group and it’s been incredible building so much musical chemistry over the years. When I first started producing music on my own, I was always jumping at the opportunity to get Scotty C. on a track. The kid always kills it.

I’m not sure I would do her singing ability justice by trying to contain it with the English language. Jessica is soul. She’s an unbelievable talent, and I’m lucky enough to now call her one of my best friends. She has an awesome husband and two wonderful kids, and their family has been so much a part of Cousin Affect. There’s nothing better than writing lyrics knowing that Jess is going to be the one singing them in the final product.

Sax man is one of the best people I know. He has been an extremely positive role model to me and to the rest of the Cousins. Dan and his wife Denise have done so much for this project and my appreciation for that is endless. He puts in long hours for the success of this project and doesn’t get nearly the credit he deserves. Aside from that, he is the most talented musician in our group. Sax man can take over a show. I feel so lucky to be able to play shows with that level of talent and call him one of my closest friends.

Timo. We’ve been playing shows for about 4 years now, and I’m not sure any of us could find a time when Timo messed up. He just doesn’t ever mess up. He’s such a rock on the low end for us. I always feel like his talent isn’t recognized enough. Timo on the bass is a huge part of why Cousin Affect sounds like Cousin Affect. I knew from the second I saw him pick up the bass that he was perfect for our sound.

D believed in this project when no one else did. He was there in the beginning. He was the one up on stage with me embarrassing ourselves at our first few shows. He has always believed. That’s given me so much confidence and strength spearheading this project forward. He’s an ill emcee and a fantastic writer. He’s a great story of perseverance. When this project gains the success I know it will, D will be there.

The first experience I have of Meche is him dunking all over my face on a fast break in a men’s recreational basketball league. And to make it worse, he was so nice about it. So I couldn’t even secretly hate him inside. Tragedy. He’s also an incredible talent on the drums, a good man, husband, and a solid father to his kids. He may play it cool back there on the drums but trust me, he’s having the time of his life. Don’t be fooled.

As this project moves forward, I’m not sure if the lineup will always stay exactly the same. That’s something I’ve learned about the business. It’s a tough industry. Unfortunately, it forces you to make a lot of poor life decisions in order to even have a chance for success. I know because I’ve made them. Not everyone has the opportunity to put themselves out there like that. I understand that. I have so much appreciation for these six people for embodying this project and believing in it. In a perfect world, the seven of us will play to sold out arenas all over the world. I have hope because sometimes things work out perfectly. But even if the lineup changes in the coming years, I will never forget these six people. We share something indescribable. If you’ve been to a show, I hope you’ve felt it. I’ve been in the music business for a long time, and I’ve seen countless bands play live music. I’ve never seen a group have more fun on stage than us. At the end of the day, as cliche as it sounds, that’s what it’s all about.

We’re playing a few shows in Arizona in October. I will keep everyone posted. And I’m going to try and post some video from the Prescott show in my next blog entry. Show day.

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4 Pictures Are Worth…Lots of Words

I must admit that I have been on a slight writing drought since I moved to Chicago. Not that I haven’t been spending time doing it, just that I haven’t been particularly enthused by any of the overall packages of lyrics I’ve produced. Sometimes that’s just how it goes. I can go weeks without writing something I wouldn’t eventually change significantly, and then I can write 3 or 4 full songs in the span of a couple days. However, I find it just as important to write through the off times as I do through the on times. Sometimes I feel like I’m emptying out my pencil of all its bad ideas so I can get to the good ones faster. Quitting when it’s not coming easily sets a precedent for yourself as a writer. You limit yourself to what writers call “divine inspiration.” When all the pieces fall together and everything makes more sense than you planned. When I’m able to discipline myself to continue writing through 15 bars of useless lyrics, it often leads me to an idea I wasn’t expecting to develop. And lots of times I will draw an aggressive “X” through the first 15 lines, use the 16th line as a starting point, and begin a completely new set of lyrics.

Another thing I do to break out of a slump is called train of thought writing. You put your pencil to the page, and you start writing, and you don’t stop until you fill up the entire page. With my microscopic writing, it’s a tall task. It seems quite simple. The real challenge is not stopping. The idea is to free your mind absolutely and completely of worrying whatsoever about any semblance of sense that you are able to continue moving your pencil when you “run out of things to say.” Maybe it sounds easy. Try it. You will stop. I am always very excited when I’m able to fill up the blank page with my mind’s garbage. And it usually goes a long way towards breaking a slump. I’m sure you can guess the quality of this style of writing is rarely top notch, but I thought it would be cool to share the most recent one I did. I’m not sure where it ranks (I’ve done this thousands of times), but it’s certainly an uninterrupted look into my mind at that exact moment in time. I’m going out on a limb sharing it with everyone. I’m a perfectionist, and this is light years from that. I know it’s long, but enjoy it if you are at all intrigued…

I fell out of the habit of loving you and I know that’s rubbing you the wrong way but if I was an old tape player you’d keep rewinding and pressing play if for no other reason than to hear what I had to say. But what I have to say is way more than you want to hear because in your heart I still feel near and close but in reality I’m close to gone and on to something new. You were one of the few that stuck me in my tracks so thank you for that. Stopping me to smell the roses as they say but it’s time for another journey. Learning as I stop as much as learning as I go to one more time in the sheets are cold and I won’t stop again for you even if I struggle with where to point my nose. Flowing as smoothly as the river of your tears. I’m upstream and lost my paddle. I only have these words to rattle off and hope that they will be enough to cushion the rough fall you’ve been taking for years. But tears can be slippery when they find their way to the floor and fears can be typically what’s in store when the next few suns disappear into the ground. But a new star will light the way tomorrow and maybe it will take a closer listen to your wishes.

Leave a comment. I love hearing honest reactions!

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InstaChicago

I’m slightly addicted to Instagram, and I’m not afraid to admit it. These are some of the very specific Chicago pictures I’ve taken since I’ve moved and felt it appropriate to share them with you all. The one frustrating thing about Instagram is the inability to zoom in on the pictures. Click the image thumbnails here to see an enlarged file. Some of them turned out very cool. Phones these days…

1. Dimo’s Pizza – If you want to party on pizza dough, come to Chicago and eat at Dimo’s. Boom.
2. The view from the top story of the Metra train. This is often my ride to and from visiting the Peterson family (my sister and brother-in-law for those of you who don’t know) in Northbrook.
3. Taken just outside of Union Station downtown.
4. I saw so much of Wrigley Field on WGN with my brother Kevin growing up. Being there in person was surreal. A.J. Burnett throwing 23 hitless outs before giving one up in the 8th wasn’t bad either.
5. There was a model doing a shoot in front of the bean in Millennium Park. I thought I’d be one of the 500 people taking a picture of her on my phone.
6. The Willis Tower. Although our boat tour guide refused to depart from the original name, the Sears Tower. Either way, it’s decently lengthy in the vertical sort of way.
7. The Blue Man Group. One of the best shows going. If you haven’t seen it, stop being lame.
8. The bean again. I’m almost positive I’m the first person that has ever had this idea for a picture there. I’m certain. Nice hand(s), V.
9. This was also taken in the Metra. It’s cool when that many lines of perspective are all leading to the same place.
10. Outside of Union Station. A sidewalk divided.
11. Blackhawks Hockey Camp with Jack Peterson. He’s focused enough for the both of them so the other kid’s over it.
12. Just. Chicago.

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