Yay for August! The past few weeks have been filled with all sorts of music-related goodness. Some highlights:
what a beauty :)
it’s actually “pencil marks,” not “question marks,” but oh well…
-I started a new moleskin! After 1.5 years of writing, the old one just won’t hold any more words. So behold the new container for my lyrical ramblings: a limited edition John Mayer ‘Born and Raised’ moleskin (because I’m such a JMayer fanboy woooohoooooo). It cost me a pretty penny, but I see it as a symbol of commitment to that song-a-week goal I set for myself earlier this year (which is on track, btw). And it’s so fun to write in! Moleskins have such an amazing feel to them; I highly recommend getting one if you need to write but don’t feel inspired by your current writing setup. But yeah, I’ve got several songs in development that I’m really excited about; some will definitely be ready by the next online concert (more on that below).
-I may be on the verge of having a cover band business on the side. I’ve been starting to play the wine bar about every two weeks with my awesome drummer friend, and we might branch out into other venues. At a show last Friday, a manager of a restaurant in town put his business card in my tip jar and told me to call him. I’m gonna talk with him later this week, hopefully it becomes a regular gig.
-Speaking of last Friday’s show, it was awesome. Although we went in without a proper rehearsal, my talented drummer and I locked in amazingly well. And we totally got people on the dance floor with some energized renditions of the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction”, The Beatles’ “Day Tripper”, and Van Morrison’s “Moondance”, among other jams. Getting to play with such an great musician was really refreshing and made the whole experience so much more enjoyable.
-On a more personal note,I also helped my brother move into his dorm room at college. After getting to spend so much time with him over the past couple of months, I am pretty sad that he’s no longer around. I’ll miss getting to hang out with him. But I’m excited for him — it’s his fourth year, and no doubt he’s gonna have a lot of wonderful learning experiences.
It’s definitely been a challenge to juggle my commitments to work and family, writing for my next EP, and the cover band stuff. But at the same time, it’s teaching me how to let go of the things I can’t control and just enjoy each and every moment, no matter how it turns out. Life is messy, and who knows what will come to pass in 1, 5, or 10 years…If you told me 2 years ago I would be back home working for my parents and playing in a band with one of my closest friends, I wouldn’t have believed you. But here I am, and strangely enough, it’s exactly what I needed. I’m slowly beginning to understand that it really is the journey that matters, and I’m so grateful for all the roads that have led me to where I am today. Here’s to more journeying :)
P.S. My next online concert will be on
Wednesday, September 26 @ 8:00 PM Pacific
Can’t wait to share more new songs with you :) Google+ just revamped some of their audio features in their Hangouts, so I may be going that route instead of livestream.com. Will keep ya posted. Also, I’ll be raffling off two more of those spiffy Andrew Plan t-shirts to those in the audience, so make sure to tune in!
Coming back home, I never thought I’d be moonlighting as a wine bar singer, but that’s exactly what I got to do last Friday.
The venue was Vines and Friends, a classy new bar here in town and conveniently located just minutes away from my house. A few weeks ago, a good friend of mine and fellow musician introduced me to the place, and we both ended up auditioning for the manager on the spot. Thankfully, we got the nod of approval, and I scheduled a solo show for June 29.
Fast forward to the 29th: I arrive at the venue running a little late from work, with gear piled in the back seat and my bro in the passenger seat as my faithful roadie. After a few technical difficulties, which involved running home to grab a new mic to replace a faulty one and securing said mic to the stand with a plethora of hair bands, I was ready to go. What followed was a bit of a blur, as I sang and strummed through ever cover I knew (and several I didn’t) over a 3.5 hour marathon set.
Getting to catch up with high school friends
My parents and family friends coming out to support me
Finding out my high school wrestling teammate was the chef of the bar
Serenading adorable couples and “setting the mood” ;)
Chit-chatting with my brother and other patrons in between sets
Improvising a cover of “Freebird” twice (!!!) for a warm group of classic-rock lovers
Hearing a whole bar sing “sha la la la la” during Van Morrison’s “Brown-Eyed Girl”
Tackling “Someone Like You” in a lower register and doing it justice
Debutting a new song, which got a positive reception
The smiles of patrons as they came up to drop a few dollars in the tip jar
Experimenting with my lower register, especially on Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love,” Magnetic Fields’ “Book of Love,” and John Mayer’s “A Face to Call Home”
Duetting with one of the waitresses during Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours”
The couple at the end of the night that had especially awesome taste, requesting Ray Lamontgne and Ryan Adams
Playing guitar as a fellow California transplant belted Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here”
The gracious patrons that came up to me to compliment my performance
Meeting the owner of the venue, who enjoyed my performance
Getting a delicious turkey panini on the house
Earning $148 in tips and feeling totally humbled and grateful in the process
All in all, it was a truly wonderful night and a great learning experience. I’m so grateful to have found such a warm and welcoming venue to perform in :) I look forward to honing my performance craft at Vines and Friends over the next year — I’ve already booked a couple of shows in August with the gracious manager at the venue, Bee, and I’ll be doing a jazz jam with my friend next week. But most of all, it’s great to be reminded of the immense joy to be found in sharing music with others. At the end of the day, it’s all about the love of good music and its incredible power to bring people together.
Till next time…
P.S.: I’ve got an online concert coming up next week, Wednesday, June 11, 8 PM PST at livestream.com — just tune into http://livestream.com/andrewplanmusic when it’s game time and I will be right there on your screen and in your monitors, serenading you in real time. I’ll also be raffling off two limited edition Andrew Plan t-shirts during the concert :) Hope to see you there!
hanging out with friends at Stanford my last weekend in Cali :)
Greetings from Longview, Texas! After an intensely awesome 10-week stint studying songwriting, voice and guitar in Los Angeles, I’m back home in getting into the groove of homelife. I’m gonna be spending the next year helping out my parents at their clinic as well as putting together a batch of songs for an EP I plan to record this time next year. Before too much time passes by, I figured it’d be a good to look back and document what I actually accomplished. Here goes…
Musical stuff I accomplished in LA:
Broke through writer’s block: wrote ~1 new song a week (9 songs total)
While accomplishments are great and all, the best part of being in LA was definitely the amazing and kindhearted artists and writers I met. I really treasure all the friendships I’ve made through my classes at The Songwriting School of Los Angeles and the connections I’ve made with all the teachers there. Even though I’m hundreds of miles away in Texas, I feel like I have a wonderful musical community supporting me in this journey of mine. To the many amazing people I’ve met and reconnected with in LA: I thank you from the bottom of my heart, and wish you the best in life, music and otherwise :) Please keep in touch!
Also, if you’re reading this and want to be updated on my latest blog posts, upcoming online concerts (livestream.com baby!), etc., you can subscribe to my mailing list at http://www.andrewplan.com. Take care, and all good things to you!
wooohoooo living the dream!! my cozy room in Alhambra. on bed: cwddles the dog and pwandy jr. and sr.
I can’t believe it’s only been three weeks since I made the big move to LA. It already feels like another life to me. But that’s a good thing, because, well…
Being a musician is the best.
Seriously. You get to create your own schedule, write songs, play shows, see live music on a weekly basis, hang out with other musicians, and write with amazing songwriters (not yet, but hopefully in the coming weeks).
My typical day looks like this:
Morning: It’s all about those 10,000 hours of practice. I start the day off with prayer and reflection, then do a series of guitar drills and vocal exercises, followed by rehearsal of original songs and covers.
Afternoon: I head over to the gym to clear my head and stay healthy. Afterwards, I write for 1-2 hours and do some work for my parents’ clinic (I use a service called LogMeIn that allows me to work remotely).
Evening: Here’s where it gets really exciting. Not only are all of my songwriting classes in the evenings, but there’s just so much going on in LA! Just this week, I attended an open forum on self-marketing hosted by the school I’m taking classes at, The Songwriting School of Los Angeles, went to my first class at the school, and played at a songwriters’ competition hosted by the West Coast Songwriters organization. Of course, I can’t (and shouldn’t) be going out every night — I also spend evenings working on songs and logging more hours of work for my parents.
(oh and I eat too, don’t worry!)
the flyer for the songwriters’ competition — there’s me in the middle!
It’s been crazy but incredibly fun and, most importantly, fulfilling. I haven’t been this inspired and energized in a long time. After so much time spent living in fear and trying to fit a predetermined career path, I realize that there is a deep truth in following one’s passion. I am so blessed to be able to live this life of music, and I genuinely hope that you find the same sense of fulfillment in your own life. Your dream is out there; go chase it :)
A few weeks ago I ordered The Ballad of Paper Ships, a collection of gorgeous moody folk songs by Odessa Chen, a super-talented Bay Area singer-songwriter. She even took the time to write a note!
yay free shipping! Doesn’t that just make you feel all warm and fuzzy? You can’t replicate this sort of experience on iTunes or Spotify. Odessa’s album is supposed to come out sometime before the year ends. Keep your ears peeled :) In the meantime, enjoy this performance of “Made Up My Mind,” my favorite tune from her album:
A few months ago I entered a performing songwriter competition held by the organizers of the Texas Independent Music Expo (TIME) in Dallas, Texas. Ultimately, I wasn’t chosen as one of the ten finalists (but I got honorable menton woot!) but I thought it would be fun to attend the actual expo.
My dad and I headed out early morning Saturday to start our 3 hour trek to Dallas. Along the way, we picked up my little brother from his college in Tyler since he wanted to come along as well. We arrived at Sons of Hermann Hall, the venue of the Expo, around 1 PM; unfortunately, this meant we missed out on the vocal warm-up workshop. We did, however, arrive just in time for performances from the finalists in the performing songwriter competition. It was a pretty eclectic bunch of performers, from Taylor Swift-esque troubadours to country singers to dudes that echoed Josh Ritter, Jason Mraz and even delta blues! My favorite was a guy named Ramoth-Gilead, who absolutely slayed the crowd with his deeply soulful vocals and his potent blending of R&B, gospel and hip-hop.
one of the Performing Songwriter Contest Performances
After the performances, the rest of the afternoon alternated between music industry workshops and other performances from various singer-songwriters. The workshops were pretty helpful, ranging from copyright law, getting song placements on film and TV, and song analysis.
I had also signed up to have my song “Believe” critiqued by a panel of judges. My major goal for the next 12 months is to become a better songwriter, so I thought it would be a good idea to get song feedback from more seasoned folk. My panel consisted of the president of the Dallas Songwriters Association (DSA) and a local music attorney; needless to say, I was a bit intimidated. My anxiety went through the roof when the CD I brought wasn’t able to play on either a boombox or a laptop; with no way to play the CD, I ended up having to sing “Believe” acapella. What a super-weird experience — it felt like I was auditioning for American Idol or X Factor. To my surprise, the first thing the panelists said when I finished was that I had a great voice; guess all those vocal warm ups are paying off. Then they started into the criticism; they thought the song was a great start, but it needed more focus in the lyrics and song structure. The super-stubborn part of me was yelling: ”I like the song as it is!” But who knows…if I try and tweak the song according to their suggestions, I might like it even more. Never hurts to try :) So I’ll be revisiting “Believe” in the coming weeks and months to see if I can tighten it up. Overall, my song critique experience was a very valuable experience and taught me a lot about my inner songwriter.
After my song critique I grabbed some free pizza courtesy of the Expo and sat through a few more workshops and performances. Then it was time for the first open mic event of the night! It had been almost two months since I last performed, so I was both excited and scared to get back on stage, especially in the presence of so many talented performing songwriters.
James Michael Taylor
I was the last performer scheduled; when my time came, I strapped on my dad’s old classical guitar and walked over to the stage. I sang two of my originals,”16” and “Last of the Cowboys” (you can watch below):
The performance felt really good, and it seemed like I was able to connect with people, which is the most amazing feeling. It was incredibly validating when people came up to me afterwards to complement my performance. I even made friends with a fellow songwriter (David Stewart, in one of the pics above) and exchanged business cards.
I’m glad I went to the Expo. I could have just stayed in my comfort zone, tinkering with songs at home, but I took a chance and ended up learning a lot, things I wouldn’t have learned as quickly on my own. Being around such talented and kind songwriters really inspired me to step up my craft.
Time to start working on those songs…
P.S. If you’re in the Dallas area, definitely hit up Alligator Cafe. Great cajun food and some rockin’ bread puddin’ (makes me weak in the knees, sooooo goood!).
P.P.S.: Bread Pudding Lovers Association = best association ever. Ima start the Halo-Halo Lovers Association (HHLA). holla!
Wooo! A music post! Yes, I still play music, and lovin’ it! :)
Last Tuesday, I played at the monthly FOLK U! showcase, subtitled “Backless to School” and held at Route 196. FOLK U! is an amazing haven for singer-songwriters who desire a safe space and attentive listeners to share their original music with. It’s definitely one of the things that I will miss when I leave Manila in 5 weeks time (!!!)
Last of the Cowboys
Unfortunately I didn’t get video but there were cameras all over the place — I’ll update the post if anything pops up. But the set is the same as my Red Couch concert back at Stanford if you haven’t seen the vid yet; I’m really proud of it :) Watch here!
Pics of my performance, taken by Piya Constantino:
P.S. the writing on my guitar is from Freddie Aguilar. He wrote it in Filipino - “Mabuhay ang musica” - but it roughly translates to “long live music.”
-Watching Fando and Liz perform. They have such cinematic songs. And Ledh, the singer, also is the one who puts on FOLK U! Thanks Ledh for inviting me time and time again :)
-The Pittsburgh med students coming in for the last song of my set. They were a fun bunch to hang out with!
-The singer-songwriter Kate Torralba, who had some really great songs with a Regina Spector vibe. Her song “Video” has this rad piano-electric bass interplay with JM Quiblat that makes me want to boooooooogie in an angsty way.
-Another singer-songwriter, Miro Nicolai Capistrano Valera, who totally had this 90s-alt-rock-ballad-Creed thing going on, but had a killer voice and catchy melodies.
-The host, Kristine, who was hilarious and energetic, even though I couldn’t catch half of her Tagalog (ok, more like 80% of it). She remembered me from the last FOLK U! and mocked my deep voice hehe, all in good fun :)
Man, I write my posts like I’m the screenplay writer for Memento. So this actually happened the day before I left for Palawan; Friday, June 17th was the scheduled day for the last of the on-site trainings and orientations for the worms project I’m assisting with at the NIH, taking place in Cavite.
Cavite is a province two hours southwest of Manila, just past Tagaytay (a popular tourist destination in Luzon). Everything is much more spread out in Cavite, though there are still pockets of commercial clusters — just look for the SMs or Robinson’s, or visit Dasmariñas City. The main road that passes through Cavite is very narrow, which blows traffic to epic proportions come rush hour.
The morning of the orientation, I piled into a big ol’ 12 passenger van along with the other RAs and the Pittsburgh med students. The med students were tagging along to observe and to make contact with Cavite health staff, since part of their research takes in Cavite. After picking up a mountain of Chow King food for lunch, we made it to the Korean hospital where the orientation was to take place.
Setting up was made a lot easier with the med students, who helped put up tables and arranged chairs. Otherwise, the orientation went pretty similarly to the other orientations (see here for the typical flow of events), so I won’t bore you with that. But here are some pics:
me doin’ my MC thang.
speaking: the provincial epidemiologist of Cavite.
the attendees: a mix of Department of Health officials, local government health workers from the health centers, and DepEd staff.
a lecture on parasitology with the medical technologists, who will be examining study participants’ stools for worms.
The other RA and I explain how to obtain consent from potential study participants.
Medical technologists practice identifying worms under the microscope.
The other RA and I demonstrate how to take height measurements using the “height measuring apparatus” we designed for the study.
What I didn’t expect was the culture shock I experienced with the medical students. Don’t get me wrong, I love ‘em, they’re really nice and passionate peeps. And the shock wasn’t positive or negative, just surprising; I was getting a huge dose of America interacting with them, and it served to highlight for me all the little things that the Philippines had changed in me. Haha, it’s difficult to word this delicately…being in the Philippines has taught me the benefits of speaking subtly, of patience. For me this has manifested itself into a sort of soft-spoken introverted-ness (and it doesn’t help that I get super shy about speaking in Tagalog). But interacting with Americans, it’s like a different self was emerging, maybe my old self — cracking American jokes, talking in strong American cadences about American things (San Francisco! American med schools! American fast food!). So it was interesting, to be made aware of that dichotomy in myself. But I guess that comes with the territory — as a Filipino-American, I am not quite Filipino and not quite American. And I’m figuring out what balance of the two I want for myself.
After the orientation, we headed back. Traffic at the end of a Friday = krrrrrraaazy! But we eventually got to Manila around 6 PM, where I jetted pretty quick since I had to prepare for a show later on that night at Conspiracy Garden Cafe (more on that another time)…
Next up on the blog queue: FOLK U! (i’m talking about a concert, promise ;P)