Taking Stock, Part II

As I started out saying yesterday, several situations have caused me to want to reevaluate aspects of my career and attempt to define where I am and where I want to go. The first situation, investigated ad naseum in yesterday’s post, was the request to submit a bio. Second, my entire website had to be taken down over the weekend due to being overcome by malware. I don’t know why people, or internet bots are constantly trying to hack into my website, but they are. It’s crazy. Now that I’ve gotten a little bit savvy about website security, I can see that there have already been almost one hundred attempts to hack my website. As if there’s something of value under the hood. You want to spam my mailing list that badly? Whatever. Trying to stay up on it now. Anyway, in that process I’ve had to build a new website. I do it myself. It’s easy now with WordPress software. But since I’ve built my own site from scratch in that past I get incredibly picky about every minute detail. If you’re reading this, you’re probably looking at my website now and, for a DIY job, you gotta admit it’s not terrible.

So building a website is interesting. What do I want my online presence to be? I know with social media the personal website can be a little less important than it was ten years ago, but still this is the place people go who want to book me or my band, want lessons or clinics, or need a bio or a photo for a gig they’ve already booked me on. As I mentioned yesterday, I’m trying to transition from private journaling to public blogging and it’s not that easy. After writing yesterday’s entry, I went back and read a couple of my private posts from last month and earlier this month and I realize a lot of it is appropriate for public consumption – just remove a couple of curse words here, use an alias for someone I’m complaining about there and, “voila” instant blog post. Plus I found that I can back date posts so for travel related posts, I can make it look like it was posted on the day it was written. Look for that in the “travel” category soon.

So the question that arises when planning and developing the new site is “who am I?” and/or “who do I want the world to see?” and the tension between these two questions is a third question: “how vulnerable can I be”. I have a tremendous respect for people who post everyday on line. Friends of mine like Mike Ledonne, the great pianist, Corey Wallace the trombonist, and saxophonist Bruce Williams are very active and it is extremely impressive. It takes a lot of time, and sometimes I see them getting into some seriously heated discussions on line which takes even more time and I think to myself, “do I really want to get into it like that?” Do I want to stumble into some argument that takes me away from playing music? The answer to all these questions is, “we’ll see”. Just like listening to old recordings of myself, I find distance makes me less critical and less afraid if people hear it. To that end I’ve already posted a couple of clips from YouTube from a few years ago and I am much more enthusiastic about people listening to them now than I was when they were first posted. Having this huge backlog of private journal entries will afford me the opportunity to go back and clean up some of these writings and post them here.

The third situation that is causing me to seriously reflect on what I value is the opportunity I have later this month to record my own “record”. I’ve got many ideas about what I can record, what I “should” record and what I want to record. I’ve got a bunch of original tunes from the past 5 or six years since I’ve recorded. I have a lot of trio repertoire (chordless) from my 6 years of Wednesday jam session house bands, and then all sorts of music and styles and ideas from the wide variety of musicians I’ve had the honor of creating with over that time. So there’s a lot to draw from and again the question “who am I” becomes very significant in this process of music making. Like writing a bio, this can be a painful self-investigation that bumps into and hopefully flushes out the thought patterns that have hindered me from presenting my own sound vigorously.

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