Blog #3- My late drop in to surfing and music

This blog is about my late discoveries into the world of music and surfing. It is definitely never too late to learn something,and in my opinion finding hobbies/passions that invigorate you is one of the keys to leading a happy life. 

By now- depending on which social media app we have connected on, or if we are real life friends, you probably know that music and surfing are my two greatest passions. What you may not know is  that I had a crippling fear of swimming in the bay and the ocean from the time I was approximately 20 to the time I was 40.  Also, I did not play an instrument until I was 28 years old. This blog is about my two greatest passions, and the major influence they have had on my life, despite being introduced to me in my adult years. 

When I was younger, I would go boogie boarding in the ocean every day of the summer. I am not sure what/if anything happened to instill this new fear in me when I was twenty, but it happened. From fears of clogged ears, to what is lurking beneath the dark waters, I had decided that the water was not for me-despite my LOVE for being at the beach. There would be days when I would play hours of beach volleyball in 95 degree weather, and while my friends were cooling off in the ocean in between games, I would be at the shore line trying to put water in my hands to throw on my head. This went on for 2 decades, until one of my friends kept insisting that I try paddleboarding with him. I explained to him my phobia(s), and he would try to explain how/why I needed to do it to get over my fears. I am not sure what exactly made me trust him enough to try it, but I did...and honestly- it didn’t go too well lol. We went for a leisurely paddle in the bay, and I paddled out on my knees like a true beginner. We paddled across to a marsh which is where I had my first fall off a paddleboard...into a muddy marsh-probably the worst place I could land in all of the bay. I got back on the board, on my knees, and told my friend we need to go back to shore now. I KNEW paddleboarding was not for me. It was not an easy paddle back either, as we were against the wind and there were times when I did not think I would be able to make it back without assistance from a boater. I was 38 years old, and I vowed to never try paddle boarding again…Sidenote-I had been practicing yoga for about a year before this paddleboarding adventure. It was helping me in so many areas,(in hindsight it is probably what gave me the courage to try paddleboarding in the first place) and I was taking yoga classes 5-6 days a week.  One year after my first terrible paddle boarding experience on the bay, I was now 39 and on a trip to visit my parents in Florida. I saw some people doing yoga on a Stand up Paddle Board in a canal with crystal clear waters. I hesitantly went on groupon and purchased a paddle tour package in the canals of South Florida. I began to feel comfortable on the board immediately,(yoga had definitely helped) and by the end of the day, when the instructor asked who wanted to learn how to do a headstand on the paddleboard, I tried it..and nailed it!...and I have not looked back since. I went home and purchased a board from a local shop and began to tour some serene spots on Long Island. Unfortunately, recording this album has somehow allowed yoga and most other activities to cease, and this is a problem that I must fix. I must find that healthy balance that I once had, and I will write more on this later in the blog. 

After about a year, the same friend who had gotten me on the water for the first time somehow convinced me to try paddle surfing.  I have always been a person who loves the outdoors and especially mountain biking. Surfing has provided me with an entirely different appreciation for Mother Nature. I surf all year long here on Long Island, even through the hurricanes and cold winters. It still amazes me that I was able to shake my phobia, seemingly without even really trying. 

This seems to be a good place to segue into the start of my music career at age 28. The relative element of fear occurred when I was 30 and taking the stage at my first open mic nights.  Before I tell some of these stories from the early days, let me start from when I was 28 and my mom got me my first electric guitar from a garage sale. I was attending graduate school to become a teacher, and I had always wanted to learn an instrument, but never really had the time. I was very low on funds at the time, and I would go to the local book store- (before the advent of youtube), and I would sit down and write out the chords from guitar books. I’d then take these notes home and begin to make the shapes happen on the guitar. I did this 5-6 times a week, and would practice every single minute that I could. I was totally obsessed with the guitar, and I was getting better each day. Although my voice was dreadful at the time, I would try to sing and play the guitar, mostly for practice. If I ever did decide to release this audio of  my singing voice at the time, which I won't:), you probably would not believe it was me. Which is even more reason why I can’t believe I chose to do my first open mic night, at The Nutty Irishman in Farmingdale, 2 years after I began to learn guitar. I think my fist open mic may go down as one of THE nerve-wrecking days of my life. (If not for the birth of my beautiful daughter 1 week ago, it may have been number 1- but that is a story for my next blog.) In any event, at the open mic night I performed half of 2 different songs, and stopped completely abruptly in the  middle of  each song- apologizing to the audience for my mistakes. This “routine,” would continue for about a year. Each time I would go to the open mic, I did notice I would get a little bit better/more confident on the guitar. Additionally, I began to take guitar lessons. I always took pride in teaching myself for the first two years but I realized I was beginning to plateau and it was time to take lessons. This played a tremendous role in my career. After 5 years of learning guitar through lessons, I had my instructor then teach me bass guitar. Then piano, drums, ukulele, and saxophone. I would drive to work from Hampton Bays to Glen Cove and learn harmonica as I played along to a cd in my car. My passion for music was relentless and my progress was happening rather speedily. Over the years I had learned about the recording process as well. The  thing about music is that it is essentially infinite. I will never be a total master at any of these things I have mentioned, but the beauty of it is that it does not matter. Simply being able to create music is a gift that I am so thankful for.  

When the pandemic happened, like most of us, I was fearful of leaving the house and this was the perfect time to begin recording the album. While it was the perfect time to get lost in my music, my daily exercise went from daily to weekly to monthly…to whenever there were waves and that was it. My mission became to finish this album before the baby, and I am happy to say this was a success. I was essentially working two full time jobs, and I found it impossible to maintain a healthy balance. As I finish up the final touches of my 3 years of work that went into my next album ‘Rocks and Roots,’ I am starting to feel the release of all the pressure from  completing this massive project. I am confident that all of the work that I have put into this project will pay off.  This “pay off,”may come in the form of streams for my songs, followers on my pages, recording other artists at Flowstream Studio, writing songs for other artists…who knows?!! What I do know is that my love for music runs deep, and I have re-discovered my passion. Now that my 3 year project is in its final stages, it is clear to me what I need to do next. With the birth of my daughter, it is now time to shift my focus on my family and my health. Surfing and music were two of the best things that have ever happened to me, and now I have recently added 2 more; marrying my wife and having our daughter, to that list. The timing for all of this is perfect and I am ready to find my balance again. 

Since  the Pandemic began almost 3 years ago, I have launched my studio, “Flowstream Studio,” recorded and released two albums worth of music, in addition to learning how to fully operate my own business as an independent musician. I somehow have this feeling that this is just the beginning of my musical career even though it has been twenty years.  This is the launching pad that I have been wanting to build for years, and have finally discovered how to navigate all of the intricate details in this business. My new single, “This Wave'' will be coming out in just a few hours- at 12AM on Friday, February 18th.  Please support me by following me on youtube/spotify- or wherever you stream your music.  



Blog #2- Patience is key!

With my new single Alive Awake! coming out in just a few days I am finally beginning to see the finish line at the end of a long, incredibly valuable, learning experience. I will be releasing three more singles following Alive Awake!, before my new album ‘Rocks and Roots’ is released on March 11, 2022.  During the two years of recording this album, the thing that I learned the most, is that in music, as in life-you have to learn to be patient with the whole process. There was a time during my career as an indie musician where I lost an entire album of music on a hard drive that crapped out on me.  I should have had the back up, backed up….in other words, If you only have it on one hard drive, it’s not really backed up. If we learn from our mistakes, we minimize that from happening, so whenever something like this does occur, I try to remain as patient as possible and know that there will be something to learn from it. It is all a marathon rather than a sprint, and we can all get there with patience. 

While I thankfully did not lose any files during the recording of my new album ‘Rocks and Roots,’ I did wind up re-recording the entire album 3-4 times. I would either hear things during playback of a recording that I didn't like, or I may have learned a new/better technique that I knew would sound better on the recording. If you listen to my last album, Indie Tale, you will hear these types of mistakes made frequesntly throughout the album. I didn’t want this to happen on this album. I have learned too much to settle for average, when I was capable of doing better. 

The patience that I have learned during this process continues to pay off. Some time back last February, I had put out a couple of social media posts that I was going to be releasing an album in the next two months. If I would have stuck to that word, I would have put out another album with a sound quality similar to my last one. Furthermore, and probably most importantly, I would have done all of this work in the studio, to release an album that probably would not reach many listeners.  To this point, I am currently in the process of studying how to advertise and market my music. I have never done this before, so I am excited to see if it will produce results by way of more music streams. (and if it doesn't- that’s ok’s still a learning process). In my first blog, I mentioned that I had spent an incredible amount of hours watching video tutorials of how to mix and master music. I would watch some videos 10 times to make sure that everything that I had learned would stick with me.  As soon as I finished the album, I was ready to release it two months later, when the “patience” factor kicked in.  I had read somewhere in one of my indie magazine resources about the importance of understanding  the IMPORTANCE of your album release. The article was a wake up call for me because it was so true….I had put thousands of hours into recording all of these songs- was I just going to tell a few people on facebook about them and hope that everyone around the world would hear it? If I had released it two months later as I had intended- it certainly would not have reached anywhere near the amount of people as it would with some old fashioned marketing and promotion….and this brings me to where I am at today. 

Now- I have placed the instruments down for the time being, and I have once again started watching video tutorials- this time on subjects like; 

How to promote on Instagram/Facebook,youtube etc., 

How to pitch your songs to music supervisors 

How to get your songs onto spotify/apple music playlists... and so much more! 

Keep your ears open for Alive Awake! I really think you’re going to like it:) I am proud to say that my hard work has begun to show, in the form of some great placements for the song. It will be getting airplay on various FM radio stations, and has been placed on various Spotify Playlists. I’d love to make the Spotify/YouTube Algorithm go wild, so if you have some free time, please play that song on replay if you do indeed enjoy it. My final request is that you listen to the song all the way through. It may sound strange, but streaming services like Spotify will place it on more playlists based on listening time...and feel free to share away!! Thanks so much for reading, and I really hope you enjoy the end product of my work!

Blog #1

Behind the scenes of my new album 'Rocks and Roots.' 

If you know me, or if we are connected on social media-, you know that I have a deep passion for creating music. What you may not know is that this passion was not ignited until my late 20’s...28 to be exact. It started off when I received a guitar as a gift for my birthday, and eighteen years later, I find my love for creating music is greater than ever.  I am proud to say that I am a true “independent musician-” every recording you have ever heard of mine, was me from start to finish. This includes; songwriting, music, recording, mixing, mastering, marketing, amongst many other intricate facets which are involved. The “job,” as an independent musician has been a tedious love/hate relationship, which I am happy to say that I have learned to love much more- (more on this in my next blog). 

I am very excited  to announce that I have created an album called Rocks and Roots, which will be released on 3/11/22. This blog will focus on some of the work that went into creating this album.  Musically speaking, I have probably learned more over the past 2 years, than in all 18 years that I have been playing music. But before I discuss this album, let me discuss how the idea was created. 

I honestly thought that I was done with doing any serious recording, as I had become so frustrated with the process after my album Indie Tale in 2014. Prior to making the last album, I had just begun dabbling with bass guitar, keys, and drums. My limited musical ability on these instruments, combined with my limited audio engineering knowledge, resulted in an album that was a great accomplishment for me at the time, but the audio recordings are far from perfect. As a songwriter, I love all those songs, and I look forward to re-recording them...but the sound quality and instrumentation is not where it needs to be, and I look forward to re-recording these tracks in the future. In any event, I finished Indie Tale,  and over the course of the next 4 years, my recording equipment would essentially remain untouched. I would  go into my studio to jam with friends- maybe once every couple of months. I did continue to play live shows, but recording was no longer  on my radar. Until the pandemic… 

Once the pandemic rattled the world, I naturally wanted to stay indoors. As things began shutting down something instinctively told me this is the time to go for it. Musically, I began to research each piece of equipment that I had. I watched countless hours of youtube videos recording, mixing and mastering. I have always had minimal knowledge with these tools, but now I was taking masterclasses online.  Additionally, I was watching drum,piano and bass lessons online, and practicing 2-3 hours each day.. I began to “dial in” my studio, and I was beginning to hear a much better quality of sound.  I bought a few new instruments and pieces of recording equipment, and approximately one year into the pandemic, I knew it was time to put all of this training and equipment to good use. I mapped out my days around music. I would record in the early morning hours, watch tutorial videos in the mid-day hours, and in the afternoon/evening, I  would hone my audio engineering skills. The pandemic essentially allowed me to temporarily have my dream job as a full time musician, and hopefully this will transfer over to reality now that we are approaching a return to normalcy. I recorded all of the instruments for the 11 tracks on my new album, and as I began mixing them, I ran into a problem that many musicians often do...I listened back and I knew I could do better. While things like this can be incredibly tedious at times, it is important to understand that anything important to us should be viewed much more as a marathon than a sprint.

I truly believe in the music I have created for ‘Rocks and Roots,’ and I hope you will feel the same way when you hear it. Please follow along on my journey, and support in any way you find you are able. Simply streaming my music goes a long way as it begins to “wake up” the spotify/YouTube algorithm which will help to get me featured on more playlists. If you’d like to take it a step further, share my social media posts and videos. Any and all support is greatly appreciated! 

Thanks for reading!