Category Archives: guitar

New Project: Head Of The Class

At the start of summer I had a change in my work schedule, and found myself with my mornings mostly free.  I had decided that I would take it easier this summer (less working, less partying, more sleep), but I’ve also been thinking about all of the resources that I have around me.  I mean, I know so many talented people, I might as well learn something from them, right?

I really committed to this last year with what I jokingly called the Tracy Chapman Project (to be a black acoustic guitarist who sings emotional folk songs), but I’m amping it up with a new acting class and several dance classes.  Woohoo! I figure, guitar lessons have been going so well, why not use my free time productively instead of sitting around the house eating entire boxes of strawberry Newtons (yeah, it’s happened).

Me and my babies!

My acting class will focus on film acting, and will last for twelve weeks.  Hopefully I’ll stretch myself as an actor and learn more about myself.  Those will be my main goals for the class.  I’ll be posting here about my progress.

I was their age when I started dancing. I promptly quit. Then I came back. I wanted out too, kids.

For dance classes, I’m going to be focusing primarily on jazz and ballet (the two forms I started with as a wee babe).  I might be looking in to tap, but I seriously dislike doing it (LOVE watching it!), so that is doubtful at this point.  On the dance front, my focus will be improving my technique and flexibility.  I’d also like to get better at picking up choreography.  Before I moved to Orlando I was taking class weekly (and I was getting pretty good, too!), but I’ve been mad lazy. So, for the rest of the year I’m recommitted to ze dance.  BOOM! KACK!

You might be wondering why I’m doing this (let alone why I’m telling you).  It’s simple:  I found myself, after several years working as a performer, becoming stagnant.  I wasn’t really learning and growing as a performer.  True, I have been making connections and learning about the business, but the feeling of progress and feeling like I was constantly improving wasn’t there.  For someone like me that can lead to unhappiness pretty quickly.  I’ve gotta feel like I’m moving forward or I feel like I can’t breathe.  It’s easy to get complacent as an actor when you’re working, but that’s the last thing I ever wanted to do.  This is not a profession where you can ever rest on your laurels.

So, I’m making a change.   How about you?  How are you working towards your best self?  I know that sounds super self-helpy, but I mean it!  Let’s discuss in the comments below.  Have a great day, all! xx


Music Monday: Justin Nozuka

Hey everybody! Hope you’re enjoying your Monday morning. I’m nursing my MTV Movie Awards Hangover ( I overdosed on the internet last night after Robert Pattinson’s epic FAIL of a speech for Reese Witherspoon), but today’s MM artist is helping me get back to normal.

His name is Justin Nozuka, and he’s a Canadian singer-songwriter. You might remember his 2007 single “After Tonight” off his album Holly. That single had some success here and abroad, but Nozuka has sort of been kicking around the underground since then. He’s just released a new EP titled Blue Velvet Sea, which is a collection of live/ stripped versions of tracks from his 2010 album You I Wind Land and Sea.

Born to a Japanese father and American mother, Justin Nozuka is one of seven kids. He’d been writing songs since the age of twelve, but it wasn’t until some high school friends taught him guitar that he started writing songs that would eventually become Holly. Nozuka, who was just nineteen when Holly was released, has said that he is influenced by Soul legends like Marvin Gaye and Lauryn Hill.

That influence is obvious on Blue Velvet– from the ’70s groove of “You I Wind Land And Sea”, to the haunting, tribal drumbeat of “Gray.” This EP (and the LP its acoustic sessions were based on) coolly has a cool mix of earthy blues with folk sensibility. And Nozuka’s voice is raspy perfection. He’s like a more riff-tastic Jason Mraz. Check out this bananas live version of “My Heart is Yours” from Land and Sea:

My favorite YouTube comment on that vid:

Justin makes it seems so effortless. Singing, playing the guitar, walking, and looking cute all at the same time. How does he do it?!?!

I dunno, girl. I dunno.

In any case, I think you’ll be into this laid-back Canadian’s sweet tunes. They’re perfect for the summer. Give “Heartless” a listen and see if you agree:

Must have tracks:

“Carried You”

“Gray”

“Heartless”

Justin Nozuka’s EP, Blue Velvet Sea: The Sessions, is on iTunes now. Pick it up, along with his other two albums, and tell me what you think. I love comments! They are like little virtual high-fives! Have a great day! xx


Music Monday: Jake Shimabukuro

Photo by Danny Clinch, from jakeshimabukuro.com

So, I bought an ukulele yesterday.  I was up late Saturday night, practicing guitar and cruising GuitarCenter.com for a new deal when I clicked the link for ukuleles.  I’d been thinking about picking one up for a while, since it’s supposed to be easy to play- and easier still if you play the guitar.  Plus, I’m from Hawaii and everyone and their aunty plays, so I thought I’d better get on board (finally).

Let me tell you guys:  it rocks!  I’m still a novice guitarist, but I found the ukulele really easy and fun to play.  I’m definitely going to keep at it while I fine tune my guitar skills.

While I was looking for songs to learn, I remembered one of Hawaii’s great uke players, Jake Shimabukuro.  This guy has been a part of Hawaii’s music scene since 1998 when his band, Pure Heart, snagged several Na Hoku Hanohano awards (Hawaii’s Grammy).  As a solo act, he won international acclaim when a video of him performing a cover of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” went viral on YouTube.

Shimabukuro is another genre-buster who takes this traditional Hawaiian instrument and applies it to jazz, funk, rock, and classical music.  He’s got lightning-fast fingers, too.  Just check out his cover of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody:”

Bonkers, right?  It’s no wonder that he’s traveled the world over performing with super stars like Bette Middler, Yo-Yo Ma, Cyndi Lauper, and Ziggy Marley.  He’s so fun to listen to because it really sounds like he’s playing with– not just playing on the instrument.  His music can really kick start a lazy Sunday morning!

Must have tracks:

“Bohemian Rhapsody”

“143(Kelly’s Song)”

“Hallelujah”

Pick up “Peace Love Ukulele,” Jake Shimabukuro’s new album, on iTunes now!  It is so amazing what he can do with just four strings.  I’ll keep you posted on my progress with my little uke.  Let me know if you have any song requests!  xx


Music Monday: Clara C

I first heard about today’s MM artist when I happened upon her sweet, creative covers on YouTube.    I was into her music right away;  another tragic screamer she is not.  Clara C (the “C” is for Chung) is a musical whiz kid with a soulful, dreamy voice.

With the release of her debut album, “The Art in My Heart,”  Clara showcases her gift for catchy melodies and quirky instrumentation.  The songs are produced by Grammy winner Tom Weir, who’s worked with megastars like No Doubt, Weezer, and Eric Clapton.  They’re also mostly about love , filled with earnest lyrics and a cheerful outlook.

Check out the video for her debut single, “Offbeat:”

And here’s her cover of Far East Movement’s “Rocketeer.”  It’s gorge McGeorge:

She seriously plays a ton of instruments (including the melodica!  Love it!) and is adorable.  I’ve listened to Art quite a bit; I think if you like Sara Bareilles and Colbie Caillat you’ll dig Clara C a lot.

Must have tracks:

“Heartstrings”

“Fool’s Gold”

“Dear Daphne”

Pick up Clara C’s “The Art in My Heart” on iTunes now!  And if you’re in LA, Seattle, or San Diego check her out in concert.  Have a wonderful day (and if you’re here in FL, enjoy the sunshine!) xx


Taylor Swift Doesn’t Know What She’s Talking About


That's not your kid. The jig is up.

OK.  Before you Taylor Lovers (Swiffers?  Tay-zers?  I’m spitballin’ here) light your torches, let me start by saying that I like Taylor Swift.  I think she’s adorable, and I want one of her bedazzled guitars for my own.

I also, like everyone else in America, felt really bad for her last year after Kanye went all vigilante on her VMA win.  While I really could have given two craps about her music, I suddenly became hyper-aware of her, and bobbed my head when her songs came on the radio.

But while I was bobbing, something just wasn’t . . . right.  Her songs made me feel kinda funny, and I couldn’t figure out why.  Then, I was watching “The Sing Off” last year and I saw this video:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

That’s “Maxx Factor,” a barbershop quartet of soccer moms or something.  It’s not the best thing I’ve ever heard, but it is really sweet.  And it makes sense, because the song sounds like it’s something they could have actually lived.  Admit it, the line, “We were both young when I first saw you/ I close my eyes and the flashback starts” sounds a lot truer coming from a couple middle-aged broads than a 19-year old waif.

I love that Swift writes her own hits.  I love that she tells big stories in a 4-minute song.  I just don’t love it when she puts out a single that is too big for its britches (I’m bringing that phrase back, y’all.  My granny would be proud).  Part of enjoying an artist’s music is that you feel like you get a peek into his or her story.  In the case of “Love Story,”  I just feel like she wanted to sing about “Romeo and Juliet” but her manager was like, “Girl, that’s mad depressing.  Change the ending and throw in some stuff about flashbacks. Do you have a banjo?  Throw that up in there, too!”  (I don’t know why her manager talks like Diddy. . . just go with it)

She’s only 20.  Why does she have to be in such a rush to sing about stuff she couldn’t possibly have lived yet?  Like the video for “Mine.”  She’s got kids and shiz.  I’m sure her dad was  like, “WTF, Tay?  Kids?  You trying to give he a heart attack?!”

Can’t you just picture this video starring Martina McBride or somebody?  I dunno. Who’s hot in Country these days that’s not still a fetus?  Maybe I’m over thinking it.  I get that she wants to tell romantic love stories, I just like her better when she’s singing about short shorts and sneakers, or whatever.

So am I crazy?  Is Taylor a little girl playing lyrical Dress Up?  Or are these the best songs of all time?  ALL TIME!  (See what I did there?!)


Music Monday: Pop! Goes the Acoustic Cover

I’m baaack!  I’ve had a wonderful break back home in Hawaii.  The wedding (my boyfriend was the Best Man) was beautiful and so much fun.  I can’t believe it’s already over.  But back to real life.  And back to blogging!  I’ll post some of the highlights of my trip later, but for now it’s Monday!  You know what that means. . .

This week I’m going to do something a little different.  Instead of bringing you info about a newer artist, I’m going to bring you several amazing covers.  If you don’t know, I have a deep love of Pop music, so I lourve to hear my favorite club bangers* and radio hits  done in a new acoustic way.

First up, it’s Tiffany Eugenio with her take on Usher’s “OMG.”  This multi-talented Canadian takes the edge off this club hit by stripping it down to just her and a guitar (she also plays piano on other covers).  Her voice has a kind of Sarah MacLachlan vibe that transforms “OMG” from Hip-Hop to an almost ethereal ballad.  Long story short:  It’s really pretty.

 


Karmin

 

Next, my obsession, “Karmin” does a badass rendition of Rihanna’s “Only Girl in the World.”  Seriously, it’s fire.  With Amy on vocals/ guitar and Nick on the cajon, this cover is probably better than the original.  Check it out, then watch their other rad covers (a favorite is   Enjoy:

Support Karmin by picking up their EP on iTunes!

You’ve probably heard of Boyce Avenue.  Their the most watched channel on YouTube, or something.  Anywho, they put up this version of Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite” a few days ago, and I’m a fan of it.  It features bandmemember Alejandro singing and playing all instruments- cajon, piano, and guitar.  Me likey.

Btw, is it just me, or is cajon the most fun word ever?  Sounds kinda dirty, right?  Anywhoo. . .

Finally, it’s George Azzi with an amazing cover Timbaland and Justin Timberlake’s  “Carryout.”  Not only can he play his brains out, but I’m pretty sure that he’s wasted in this vid.  Just sayin’.  This vid is a part of his “Undress A Cover” series, featuring acoustic covers of kinda ridiculous pop songs.  I think it’s the best one.

You can get Azzi’s EP, “Dark Rooms Have No Corners” on iTunes now!

*This is not my term.  I would never make up something so ridiculous.

What did you think?  Are these cover-artists the business or what?!  Or should I take another long vacation so I can get it together?  Let me know!


Cute!

I know these chords!  Yes!  I’m so on the road to being Tracy Chapman. . .


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