Farmers’ Markets and LaHave Folk Festival

Since returning to land life, I have picked myself a nifty little touring vehicle (my first car in over 5 years!!) And so, this month I have been travelling Nova Scotia, playing primarily at farmers’ markets. These are among my favourite types of gigs, because there are cheery people of all ages and walks of life, eating great food and perusing amazing local handcrafts.

I’ve been to New Glasgow, Hubbards, and Tatamagouche. This weekend will see me in New Ross.

The weekend of September 2 and 3 will be jam packed with goodness. Saturday morning I will play the Hubbards Farmers’ Market and then later in the evening I will perform right across the road at the beautiful Trellis Cafe!

September 3 will provide an even bigger treat as I will be a part of the 12th annual LaHave Folk Festival at the the Fort Point Museum (below). Details can be found here:

https://www.facebook.com/LaHave-Folk-Festival-150728081620069/

Enjoy the rest of your summer and hopefully see you soon!

It’s Good to Be Home!

I must say I am loving being back on land, specifically in Nova Scotia and I can’t wait to be doing a few shows around the province this month! I’m going to be an early riser this month as 4 of my 6 shows are farmers’ markets but I don’t mind because they’re some of the funnest gigs around. It’s almost impossible to be sad at a farmers’ market and there’s always good coffee and treats. Road, here I come!

A New Beginning

The past 16 months has seen me log tens of thousands of ocean kilometres and over a thousand hours of stage time. I have met countless cruise ship passengers and visited about 20 beautiful ports from Miami to Aruba to Cozumel to Long Beach. I weathered hurricane Matthew and a few other tropical storms, visited Mayan ruins, strolled the Hollywood Walk of Fame, toured the Queen Mary, wrote 30 songs and saw way more lizards than I ever thought I would.

But while that was exciting, it is not quite as exciting as my returning to performing in Nova Scotia with a fresh new perspective.

As some of my followers on facebook will have noticed, playing cover songs 6 nights a week (i.e. being a “human jukebox”) wore heavily on me. Though I always felt deep gratitude and kept up my professional face, sometimes the thought of playing Piano Man for the millionth time filled me with dread.

I’ve had conversations with musicians and listeners many times about playing what the audience wants to hear. And opinions vary wildly. Some believe entertainers have a duty to play what a crowd wants. Some believe artists should play whatever they please and let listeners take it or leave it. And that’s the rub: as performers we are some combination of “entertainer” and “artist”. The entertainer entertains and the artist makes art. (The venue also plays a part in this, but I won’t get into that too deeply)

I have always aimed to balance entertainment and art. As such, I always felt that many of the venues I played called for a balance of original materials and cover songs. And because I was limited geographically and wanted to play lots of shows, I took gigs that called for lots of cover songs.

However, after my experience of playing almost exclusively cover songs for tourists, I realized that I was selling out my art. And so, I have decided to focus entirely on my own music.

This may mean fewer shows, but the bottom line is that if an “audience” does not want to hear my songs, they are not really MY audience. But they are probably someone else’s audience. So, if I play a show and the venue doesn’t want me back, it just means that is someone else’s audience.

By being more authentic in my art, I hope that I will build an even more authentic army of friends, supporters and co-creators that will propel my music forward!

Mike Goes to Hollywood

I couldn’t be in the LA area without at least a brief stop in Hollywood. Very touristy, but at least I can say I was there!

The Requisite
The Requisite
PANAMA!!
PANAMA!!
Oh, no, it wasn't the airplanes. It was Beauty killed the Beast.
Oh, no, it wasn’t the airplanes. It was Beauty killed the Beast.
Screw you King Kong, I got me a star
Screw you King Kong, I got me a star
Hold still, Johnny, I wanna get a picture
Hold still, Johnny, I wanna get a picture
Fab Star
Fab Star
The end is near
The end is near
Kimmel don't like trespassers
Kimmel don’t like trespassers
I am not extinct
I am not extinct
The religion of CHAMPIONS!
The religion of CHAMPIONS!
You don't get rich writing science fiction. If you want to get rich, start a religion. - L. Ron Hubbard
You don’t get rich writing science fiction. If you want to get rich, start a religion. – L. Ron Hubbard

Free Bird!!!

I’m just wrapping up writing a spoof to “Free Bird”, poking fun at the douchebags that yell “Free Bird” at music shows. It has been said that performers who get upset by people yelling it are just the type of pretentious artist the joke is meant to target. I must say that I don’t ever truly get upset. It’s a minor annoyance that most performers have had to deal with. And most people don’t mean it as an offense. They just think they are being funny.

But I will say that it is a bit offensive, and though I always deal with it gracefully, I always experience a brief grit-your-teeth flash of anger when it happens. There is a subtle implication is that your show is dull or that your music sucks, or at least that was the initial intent of the joke 100 years ago. It has evolved into something that is simply embedded into popular culture, perpetuated by drunks who don’t know any better.

At least this minor annoyance has kept me being creative for another day. On to bigger and more important things!

I Met Me a Fer Realz Alien

Smiley-Face-Funny-Alien-Image

Yesterday I was walking down the street and bumped in to a real, honest-to-Pete alien with big bulgy eyes and a huge head, the works. And he asked, “Why is there war here?”

I said, “I don’t know, man. But maybe some people just want a bigger piece of the pie.”

He said, “There’s pie??”

“No, that’s just a metaphor”, I said.

“Shazbut”

“…but I know where we can get pie.”

So over coconut creme pie, he asked me again why there is war on Earth. I said, “I think it all boils down to human insecurity. We feel that there isn’t enough to go around. We fear scarcity. We alienate (no offense) certain groups of people because of their religion, their ideas, their culture, their sexuality, their skin colour, and we make them an enemy because they are supposedly different. But that’s only a justification. It’s all about a mindset of lack and fear and mistrust.”

The alien played with the whipped cream on his pie as he considered this. “Don’t they know that the sun provides ample energy to support you all, and that cooperation is better than fighting?”

“I guess not”

“Good pie, though”, he said.

The Importance of Perseverance

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I usually don’t succumb to depression. I had a big enough dose of that in my thirties, and I promised myself I would never let myself go down that dark road again. But to say that I am immune to it would be kidding myself. There is unfortunately much sadness in this life, in our own lives and at the world at large.

Sometimes you just have to lay down and feel the sadness. Just don’t do it for too long. Despite what some people think, forcing yourself to feel good all the time is a burden. It is important to keep a positive outlook, as this is how you attract more good into your life. However, feeling good all the time is impossible and trying to impose it on yourself is setting yourself up for failure.

Feel the sadness if it is there. But have faith that it is temporary. Take care of yourself, but persevere. Nothing great was ever achieved by laying down and giving up. But there is nothing wrong with laying down for a while to recharge.

Back on the Water

catalina

I’m back to cruising the seas, this time on the Pacific Ocean for the first time (though I once dipped my toes in when I was nine years old). Though SoCal and northern Mexico are “suffering” the coldest spring in recent history, I’m grateful to see the sun most days, and a sweatshirt is better than a winter coat any day!

This time around, I am not writing quite as much but I will be recording some more demo videos of songs that I wrote on my last journey. So be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel for future tunes!

https://www.youtube.com/mikeaubemusic

Micro-Songs

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In the 5 months between August 13, 2016 and January 15, 2017, I set myself the goal to write 30 songs. This was an unprecedented level of prolificness for me (I would typically write 3-4 songs during that period). To give me a fighting chance to achieve this goal, I allowed myself to write songs of anything length. As a consequence, I ended up writing a handful of very short songs, from 30 to 90 seconds long. I became intrigued with this medium, which I now call micro-songs, and they are becoming a significant part of my artistic palette.

I have always loved short forms of writing. I appreciate the ability of writers to pack great beauty, imagery and emotion in a short piece, such as a haiku or a short story of only a few thousand words. I thought, why can’t this apply to popular music? Has the radio formatting of the latter part of the 20th century ingrained in us the expectation that a song must be roughly three minutes long?

Of course, micro-songs not a novel idea. One of my songwriting heroes, Steve Poltz, released an album of micro-songs that he recorded on his answering machine (and thus had to be 60 seconds or less). So, while I’m not the first, I am nonetheless excited to integrate these tunes in my performances. I believe they will bring vibrancy and dynamic tension to my shows.

Here’s an example, which I release on Valentine’s Day – a little love song, partly inspired by the poetry of Rumi:

Love is Nature (You Tube)