The One Fund for Boston at Iota

Howdy Dear Reader(s),

I know, I know, I know, I have slacked. I have no excuse, work, school, life….it gets in the way of art. A hard, sad truth, I need to pay the rent, I need food, and I need to pay my student loans, that’s life. That said, I swear I am working on many a song. I’ve got several new compositions, and an actual country song…written on a plane no less! I am fairly certain that the lady sitting next to me thought I was a crazy person…moving on.

In the mean time, I want to talk about the fantastic show that I played on May 2nd at IOTA for the One Fund Boston. Matt Tarka kicked it off with a great acoustic set, I followed (see my videos below) followed by Flo Anito, Rachel Levitin, Wes Tucker, South Rail , Jonny Grave, and  the Highballers, closed out the show! The night was a complete success, we heard some great tunes, and raised some money for a fantastic cause.

Here are some videos that The Highballers took of my set!

Concepts, Ramblings, and… Baron von Munchausen?

chair in an empty room

Courtesy of wiki commons

Howdy my dear readers (or reader, yea you know who you are and I thank you kindly for keeping up). I am so sorry for my absence. I’ve have been feeling lethargic of late, and slightly uninspired. But that all changes now, I am moving forward, pushing through the malaise, and working like a busy bee! I swear friend(s). I have been a slacker, I admit it. The truth is that I may have set overly ambitious goals for the Songwriting Project. I think I am going to maintain expectations and state that I must complete at least 20 songs in one year. In fact, if I want to go with a song every two weeks, I will complete 26 songs. I have 4 so far and it’s only February so I am not doing to poorly. Plus, the real purpose of this project was to get me to practice and write regularly so in that way, I think it has been successful. I think I may be lacking the discipline because I don’t have the impetus of shame driving me to meet an arbitrary deadline. So, I implore you dear reader, to shame me into submission! Yell at me via email, comment, facebook status, twitter, carrier pigeon, etc. and I will give you freebies. What could she possibly have to offer, you may say, well how about a free signed album and a personal video to you.

What the Hell have you been doing all this time?

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So, again I say: I have tunes but no lyrics, this is what I have been saying for a month. I am working on a couple of different concepts which I will outline in this post and track the progress of the songs as they develop (in no particular order). Who knows, maybe by the time I’m done with the process I will have 3 new songs right away! That will make up for the lack of progress over the past few weeks.

Concepts or something like them

1) Watching life like a movie, from the outside and getting lost in stories to escape life.

So clearly not the most cheery of ideas, that said, I have been doing this a lot lately, and I think it warrants some exploring. I am sure through therapy or something but that’s not the type of exploring  I am talking about for this song. I am not looking at my personal “why?” I know why I do this, you know why you do this, it doesn’t take a genius to figure that out. I would rather unpack the actually feelings that this type of escape invoke. I am searching for the “how” of it, not the “why”. Here is what I have come up with so far, escaping into a fantasy world makes me feel like I am part of something extraordinary. My experience is that of a watcher, I am on the outside, not part of the fantasy but somehow intricate, all the intimate experience without the commitment of ever having to share myself. It’s liberating. I want to capture that in song. This is going to be a challenge, I’m sure. I was toying around with the idea of me being a Firefly (paying quick homage to one of my favorite shows as well). We will see how that pans out. I may or may not resolve the song by reminding the listener that we do this to escape life…we shall see.

baron-munchausen

2) The Ballad of Baron von Munchausen.

So you may be thinking…what in the fuck are you talking about? Yup it’s true. I am totally writing this song!! It will take months to get it right but this shit is happening. If for nothing else, it seems like a challenge of grandiose proportions and I am fairly certain, if google is correct, that there is nary a song written about the lovely Baron, though I gather there are some old-timey European ballads or folk songs about him, there has to be, but they prove quite difficult to find… Anyway, I am thinking the walking blues consisting of many verses, a chorus, with a very basic rhythm/melody.  Basically it’s going to be an epic ballad of the man who was so blown out of proportion that he became a legend, hell there is even a mental illness named after him! That’s worth writing about dontcha think?

3) The unbelievable story of no one.

This is a concept that shot out of my brilliant husband and song writing partners brain at lightning speed. In a similar spirit to the Baron Von Muchausen (this link is different than the first one) song, this will be a couple of fantastical tales that could never happen to anyone. This also may be the title of the new album, because it’s freaking brilliant!

image of many books open and closed

courtesy of wiki commons

What it all means, if anything at all…

As I have explained in past blogs, my mission is to tell stories, to illustrate a tale of, well anything, in such a way that you can see the movie in your head. You can set the scene yourself, be a part of it or watch it from the outside. That is what folk music is, that is what entertainment and art is for that matter ,telling the story in whatever medium you choose. Naming the album The Unbelievable Story of No One, could also be the story of everyone. Yes, the title track will be fantastical tales, but the songs I am writing didn’t happen to me, they may have happened to someone, but it’s not specifically about me, a welcomed change from past albums, I must say. Maybe they are things I have observed or spin offs on experiences that I actually had, but they are all tales, tall, short, fantasy, or reality, they are stories. I am a writer at heart, that is what I do, I started with short stories when I was a kid, then with poetry as an angsty teen and early adult, and now it’s songs. Fully developing this idea that I am a story teller took years. It took self awareness and reflection. It took sweat and tears, anger and pain, happiness and, honestly, routine. It took the lifetime that I have lived to become the ever changing person that I am. That is why telling these stories will never get old for me. I will always attack and approach with a fresh perspective because my focus and sight is ever shifting and evolving.

Some developments…

In other news, I am going to start a crowd sourcing campaign to record my next album (the fruits of the songwriting projects labor). The thing is that we need to buy the recording gear and the Mac ProBook. Apparently recording gear costs about $3000, including the computer…money that we would have had, if we didn’t have to shell out almost $5000 this year for our taxes!! What the “F” is that about?!? I will launch this on February 28th and hope that I can get enough moolah to pay for it. I will be giving away freebies as incentives for donations as well so stay tuned.

Better Late than Never…

So, I apologize for my tardiness dear readers (reader) but here is the new song up on youtube. It’s called Heartbreak, though it’s not really about heartbreak at all… FYI, I am not slacking, I promise! I have several tunes written, the lyrics are proving to be the challenging part. For what it’s worth, see the Not What was intended…post for more info on this song. Hope you enjoy!!!

Songwriting Project part IV – Not what was intended but no less loved…

image of guitar top and hand writing on staff paper

Courtesy of Shutterstock

Welcome back!

Howdy dear readers (or reader) we continue this week with some surprising activity. First of all, you may have noticed that I am not posting every week…good observation! Well, it’s because I am not nearly as prolific as I thought I would be. However, I am writing, writing, writing all the time, it’s just music and not lyrics so it’s difficult to talk to you all…or just you my lonely reader, about the musical composition of the song (especially since I am writing folk music). The post would consist of “KPO 3rd fret, Dm to A”…etc and no one really wants to here about that stuff.

FYI, it’s FREAKING DIFFICULT TO WRITE A SONG A WEEK. Seriously guys, no joke. This shit’s not easy, but I won’t let that get me down.

Surprise!

So I started off last week writing something of a punkier song…which is still it the works, however, yesterday I was hit by inspiration. I am not sure where it came from, I am still working out what the song means to me, and I don’t think it’s a song to play live, though it may be for the new album, and of course I will video it and slap it up on YouTube and on the blog. That said, it flowed out of me at a pace of a little over 3 hours (give or take). I haven’t had a moment like that in years. What’s more, it does not sound like any other song that I have writen. Mike calls it adult contemporary…though, if you notice in wikipedia the source of all things that must be true because they’re on the interwebs, the picture that pops up is of Celine Dion and fuck no, I don’t sound like her. Don’t get me wrong, she has an amazing voice but the music that she sings is just not my cup o’tea.

I like to think of it as more of a folksy soul tune. It’s somber, not gonna lie, I think I am calling it “Heartbreak”, though it’s not about actual heartbreak so don’t be alarmed. If I had to compare this song to another artist, I would say that I was inspired by Fiona Apple and Eva Cassidy. The thing I love about Fiona is that she makes no excuses for the music she produces, popularity is not the goal, she does it because she has to, because she can’t make anything else except what comes out, and I appreciate that. Eva’s voice was just so warm and lovely that you would melt with her. In the spirit of that type of creativity, artistic nature, and vocal prowess, I wrote this song. Though I didn’t realize that was what I was channeling at the time. In fact, I didn’t have any clear goal in mind. It just pored out of me like water (more possibilities included pored out of me like 2 day old tacos and choice others that were far grosser…but I refrained…somewhat).

image of silhouetted people at a concert with blue background

Courtesy of Creative Commons

It can not be helped that as a musician you emulate what you are listening to at the moment. It helps you grow, it stunts you, it opens your horizons, it set limits. Though there are always two sides, the more music I discover, the more I listen, the more I break it down lyrically & instrumentally, the more I grow. This is why I listen to such an eclectic mix of music. But I think all musicians are fans at heart first. In early lessons, I was not writing my own songs, I was playing others, though according to my mom, I would sing my actions with a chorus so…who knows.

Back to the point please!!

Sorry, I digress, but I always seem to huh? Anyway, as I said, last week I was writing a punkier song with the concept of the cult of celebrity vs. the working musician…the song that came out yesterday, not even remotely close to this platform, but sometimes it happens that way. I have been attempting to maintain this structure, this story telling, to expand my abilities as a writer in general and more specifically as a songwriter. This song seemed to harken back to some of my earlier stream of consciousness pieces. I began to recognize this so I took preventative action, I expelled the concept, the lyrics that were flowing, and then I revised.  You see I have always been a writer, a poet, an essayist. I work at this craft year after year to hone my skills.

Image of a rock

Courtesy of WikiCommons

One of my favorite professors told me that the best writers to explain themselves in as few words as possible. With this tenet in mind, I approach my lyrics in a few different ways: sense (touch, taste, smell), place (space, surrounding), and emotion.   For example, in this new song, I wanted to express that something that was unmovable , that wouldn’t yield or change. Then I thought about a physical thing that would never really evolve.  A rock, it’s generally the same for 1000 or more years right. The line became: “sitting here silent like a stone as the decades slide by, you can’t move me, I’ve made up my mind”. This paints the picture in your head of the rock of course, but clearly it’s not about the rock at all.

The more I play with this daunting project, the more I solidify my mission so to speak. Mission sounds to pretentious, let’s revise, I am learning a valuable skill for my songwriting style. I want the listener to see the images in their head, not just hear the song. Those of you who know me, know that I am a reader, avid some may say. Hell, I listen to audiobooks while a work, mostly because I am always in school so the only physical books that I have time to sit down and read are about instructional technology, but, again I digress. The only, and I mean only books that I like to read draw me in so that I can see it as a movie in my head. Including historical non-fiction, David McCullough is the master of painting the picture in historical non-fiction by the by. This is how I have always felt about reading and writing. I never thought this deeply about the concept when I was younger and writing a lot of poetry, but the best poems that I wrote, the ones that were published (yes shameless plug I know), were the ones that you could visualize what ever was going on. This is how I approach my songwriting. I was calling it story telling, implying that each song would have a plot, a theme, an intro, climax, a change of some sort, and a conclusion, the basics of story telling. So let’s make another revision, some songs tell an actual story, and some paint the picture, which tells a story in its own way.

image of thomas edison with quote " genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration"

Courtesy of WikiCommons

The deeper I dive into this project the more I learn about myself which is a surprising element. Furthermore, I am gaining more skills, becoming a better musician and player, a better singer, a better writer and a more thoughtful story teller/songwriter. All and all this endeavor, though daunting and far more difficult than I imaged, is proving to be the most valuable thing I have done as an artist. I am sure that it’s because it forces me to practice daily and reach outside of my comfort zone. By creating these arbitrary yet necessary deadlines for myself, I am forced to produce something for you, dear reader/listener, mostly because the shame of failure is not something I enjoy, though I know it well. So the adage is true: success (or Genius as Edison put it, though I am not one) is 1 % inspiration and 99% perspiration. Doing the work truly pays off.

First interview…but not the last (mwaaaahhh) – Caryn Sever Discusses Folk, Rock, and Murder

Check me out on Unified Pop Theory!!

Caryn Sever chats with the awesomely brilliant dudes at Unifed Pop Theory about how songs are crafted, how to score gigs, and how musicians are empowering themselves….and MURDER!!!

Check out the full article and pod cast here: Caryn Sever at Unified Pop Theory.

Velvet Lounge Show – January 15 Caryn Sever with Freeform Radio and M.R.Smith

Guess what! I have another DC show coming up on January 15, 2013!!

Here is the Facebook Event Caryn Sever with Freeform Radio and M.R.Smith

 

Caryn Sever w/ Freeform Radio & M.R. SmithHey everyone, come see us at the Velvet Lounge on Tuesday, January 15. Show starts at 9 p.m. 21+ $8 cover.

915 U Street NW DC
www.velvetloungedc.com/

Freeform Radio
From the ashes of wonk rock band J Street, a new band was formed. Wikipedia describes freeform radio as “a radio station programming format in which the disc jockey is given total control over what music to play, regardless of music genre or commercial interests.” Mick Jagger was probably talking about us when he said, “It’s only rock n’ roll, but I like it.”
https://www.facebook.com/jstreetband
(new website coming soon!)

Caryn Sever
Caryn Sever rediscovered her love of folk music while busking on the street corners in Portland, Oregon. A classically trained singer, she brings fluid emotion to her own brand of acoustic folk rock. Unique and melodic, Caryn’s voice combines the raw power of soul with quirky arioso like touches that create her distinctive style of folk rock.
http://www.carynsever.com/

M.R. Smith

A passionate artist based out of northern New Jersey. He released his first EP in the summer of 2011 and is now working on a new album that will be released in 2013. With the new band rolling and the new album coming you are going to start seeing a lot more of M.R.Smith on the east coast and beyond!
http://www.reverbnation.com/officialmrsmith