What I'm doing Now

(I got this idea from Derek Sivers, who, with Gregory Brown, started The /now page movement. See nownownow.com.)

Right now, most of my income comes from Plum Blossom Music, a service I started that provides music for events. My reputation has mostly been built on the Plum Blossom String Quartet, which is really just any number of fine musicians that I manage to recruit to form string quartets, trios, duos, and also to play solo, performing mostly classical music and arrangements of pop songs for specific events, mostly wedding ceremonies and cocktail hours. I usually perform on cello with these groups, although if the client wants a soloist I sometimes play solo violin.

I also have Classical Hillbillies, which typically starts out as a strings group very similar to the Plum Blossom String Quartet (or trio or duo) for ceremonies but switches instruments for cocktail hours and plays bluegrass and old-time (and jazz and pop). I usually play cello or viola for the ceremonies and guitar or upright bass for cocktail hours.

And then there's the Early Grove String Band, which is my old-time and bluegrass band. I typically play fiddle, guitar and/or upright bass in this group.

If I'm otherwise engaged at a time when somebody wants one of these groups, I can almost always accommodate them by putting together a group to play without me. None of these groups have a set membership. I'm fortunate enough to have a large pool of very talented musicians from which to draw. Typically I do most of the client relations, coordination with musicians, selection of repertoire, maintenance of sheet music, web site -- pretty much all of the behind-the-scenes administrative work. Right now I have about as much work as I can handle, but I'm working on training some of my musicians to do more of the administrative work that I do so that we can handle even more events and expand the business in such a way that hopefully leaves me more time for creative work.

I offer to my clients the option of bringing and setting up a sound system with wireless microphones for the officiant and anybody else who may be speaking during the ceremony, or for a volume boost for the musicians during the cocktail hour. I also offer to do custom string arrangements as an added value for clients who are interested in having a song performed for which the sheet music cannot be found. I'm working on developing a service where I compose custom processionals and recessionals for wedding ceremonies. I've been developing a couple of original compositions for string quartet as samples of my work. I've been quite inspired by this work. I'm looking forward to recording these compositions with some of my favorite musicians.

I also started a rock group, Love Me Do, that takes the early, happy Beatles love songs, gives them a more modern, danceable beat, and extends them with instrumental sections. My original intention was to have this group play wedding receptions, but I'm open to whatever future this band forges. I love the fact that I'm in a band that has a positive message and makes people want to dance. I sing lead on most of the songs and play some keyboards, electric violin, and guitar.

As I write this in January of 2016, this is pretty much the off-season for weddings -- although a lot of bookings are coming in. So I'm trying to make time for creative work while things are slow. I try to practice the following every day: cello, piano, violin, viola, dancing, and singing.

I'm trying to go through my stuff to clear out space in the house so I can have a studio where I can set up my newly acquired drum set and record demos of songs I write and arrange. After many years of being known for writing funny, quirky, angry songs, now I'm working on writing funny, quirky, positive songs. I'm also trying to come up with radical arrangements for well-known Beatles songs.

And I'm keeping my mind open for completely new creations. For example, I'm considering recording Bach's first unaccompanied cello suite with a dance beat and creating a video for it that features positive messages and choreography created and performed by me, along with footage of me playing cello and hopefully some wildly entertaining stuff that I haven't yet conceived.

I say an affirmation and meditate and exercise and journal and read every day. Right now I'm reading Bradshaw On: The Family by John Bradshaw. I barter for violin lessons (I give her t'ai chi lessons) and voice lessons (I give her guitar lessons). I barter with Universal Electronic Repairs a few hours a week to help them fix other people's stuff in exchange for them helping me fix my stuff. I get together with a couple of guys once a week to talk about our careers and our lives. I Skype with my life coach twice a month. Many of my lunches come from a giant salad I make once or twice a week, with lots of kale and raw garlic. For dinner my sweetie and I often make and eat soft tacos and watch an episode of Get Smart on DVD. We like to walk downtown, sometimes to eat, sometimes for no reason. On Sunday we usually go to church at TJMC-UU, although I've enjoyed services at Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church. They tend to focus on gratitude, which I very much appreciate.