Monday, December 24, 2012

Holiday Music Update: Goodies for you!!


Hi Folks!

Happy holidays!! I wanted to share some videos I recently posted as well invite you to some exciting shows I have coming up in the new year!


TREE TOWN SOUND CHRISTMAS SHOW

Recently, I was invited to play a few christmas songs live on-air on 107.1fm's Tree Town Sound hosted by Matthew Altruda. I went old-school for the evening and performed "The Christmas Song" and "Jingle Bell Rock"!








Check out the video here:




JEFF BUCKLEY TRIBUTE VIDEO

Also, I was lucky enough to have a professional quality video of a song I performed at the 15th Annual Jeff Buckley Tribute show at Uncommon Ground this past November sent to me recently. Thanks to Chuck Harris for the footage!! Check out my cover of "So Real" here:

;

Can't get enough Buckley? I've also been writing a blog series about my experience with his music here:

Jeff Buckley & The Chaos We've Become (Pt.1)

Jeff Buckley & The Chaos We've Become (Pt. 2)

CRAZY WISDOM JAN. 11th: 2-SET SOLO SHOW

On Jan. 11th, I will be back at one of my favorite local venues, Crazy Wisdom, for a two-set solo show! I would love to see you there. : ) These are some of my favorite types of performances. It's like we're all just hanging out in a fancy living room! Come be a part of it and I might play you a special song. Please spread the word and share the facebook event!

Spencer Michaud @ Crazy Wisdom Tearoom 1/11/13, 8pm

FOLK THE POLICE JAN. 27th, THE BLIND PIG

Last, but not least, my good friend Matthew Altruda is putting together a MEGA-SHOW at the end of January at the Blind Pig that I will be a part of! FOLK THE POLICE is an annual event held the Sunday night of the Ann Arbor Folk Festival at the Blind Pig. All of the artists play two hip hop/rap songs in the style of folk/roots music.


ARTISTS INCLUDE:
The Ragbirds, Black Jake & The Carnies, Joshua Davis, Dan Henig,
Ben Daniels Band, Abigail Stauffer, Back Forty, Dragon Wagon,
Joe Hertler, Wolfie Complex, Anna Lee's Company, Nicole P'Simer,
Nathan K, Christopher Norman, Spencer Michaud & Finer Things



















1/27/13 BLIND PIG (Last Year Sold Out in advance)
$12 ADV / $12 Door 18+ 8PM
LINK FOR TICKETS:

http://www.etix.com/ticket/online/performanceSearch.jsp?performance_id=1681489

Tickets are also available at the 8Ball below the Blind Pig.

"LIKE" FOLK THE POLICE PAGE
https://www.facebook.com/FolkThePolice

I've got some tricks in my back pocket for this years show!! It's going to be a great time. : )

Hope you all are having a great holiday! I'm grateful for all of your support and am looking forward to seeing you all soon! : )

<3

-Spencer

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happy Holidays!!

Happy Holidays Everyone! Thought you might like to see a video of a few christmas songs I performed live on 107.1fm's Tree Town Sound with Matthew Altruda! Hope that you all are having a safe and merry holiday season! : )

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Jeff Buckley & The Chaos We've Become (Pt. 2)

There is a box in my closet affectionately labelled “Sentimental”. Over the years, it's become a resting space for old letters, post cards, photographs and anything else that I felt too attached to throw away. It's a place where my memories go to ferment, to age like a fine wine and wait to be re-discovered years later. I have trouble letting go of things.

Dream Brother
In the summer of 2001, I was having trouble letting go of Jeff Buckley. I had been introduced to his music by a first love not less than a year earlier. (read PT 1. here) The impact was sizemic. I became absorbed in Jeff's mythology as much as in his music. Sometimes when we lose folks at a young age their story takes on extra weight. They cease to be mere mortals and loom large in our mind as deities. It is a cruel twist of fate to fall in love with something only to simultaneously learn of it's tragic passing. My experience with Jeff Buckley has always been bittersweet.

In my quest for all things Buckley, I came across the book Dream Brother by David Browne. In it Browne weaves a grimm-like fairytale of both the life and death of Jeff and his father Tim Buckley. While the historical accuracy of Browne's book is debatable, it proved to be a treasure map of sorts, filling in the details of Jeff's final days in Memphis. For an obsessed fan, it was biblical. But, it raised as many questions as it did provide answers.

Pointing the way on the plains of Illinois
Shortly after reading Browne's book, I serendipidously crossed paths with the band Maggie, Pierce and EJ, who's lead singer had befriended Jeff. It felt like a reuinion of sorts. Enraptured by her stories, I devoured any information she could give that would fill in the missing pieces of his legend. But, the experience was solemn. For me it was a myth, but for Maggie it was a real person she was grieving. There was sadness in her eyes when she talked about him and very real pain in her voice. She gave me the album For that her band wrote about and dedicated to Jeff in their own effort to come to terms with his passing. I often find that the way to de-mystify things is to experience them first-hand, so when Maggie invited me to visit her on tour in Memphis, I jumped at the chance.

Packing up my rusted out Honda, I embarked on a 10 hour solo journey from Michigan, through the endless plains of Illinois, down to the Mississippi delta in the middle of a July heat-wave. It was equal parts Kerouac and crazy. The summer humidity of the southern delta was something I wasn't prepared for. Suffocating and oppressive, it left me in a shamanic-like trance. I arrived to a giant bronze statue of Elvis, rested at his feet and chuckled to myself thinking about how many folks had probably made a similar pilgrammage to see “The King”.


The King
Trusty “Dream Brother bible” in hand, I first retraced the steps to the house Jeff stayed at while recovering from the pressures of New York and burgeoning stardom. What I found was a humble looking white one-story on North Rembert St. flanked by pink flowering bushes. Although, this was my Graceland, I stopped short of knocking on the door. There were no guided tours here, no jungle rooms or peanutbutter & banana sandwiches. Just a small house that looked eerily similar to the one I was renting at the time in Kalamazoo. I took a picture for posterity and moved on.

Jeff's house on North Rembert st.



As I headed towards the Wolf River, I imagined what kind of folks might be living there now. Did they know who had walked the halls before them? Could they hear faint whispers of “New Year's Prayer” when the floor boards creaked? Had they even heard of Jeff Buckley? Maybe it was better if they didn't know. Jeff's music was haunting enough to those who heard it. The mind boggles at what energetic imprint he may have left behind in a physical space.

Part 3: Coming Soon!!

Check out Pt. 1 Here:

http://www.spencermichaud.com/2012/11/jeff-buckley-chaos-weve-become-pt-1.html#.ULgK69PjnFk

Monday, November 19, 2012

SHOW TONIGHT: LIVE in A2 w/ Charlene Kaye, Doors @ 7:30pm

Hi Friends!

SHOW TONIGHT:

Just wanted to give you a quick heads up that I will be performing tonight at LIVE in Ann Arbor with my good friend Charlene Kaye from New York!! This is an ALL AGES show, so bring the whole family!! Doors are at 7:30pm, $5 cover. Hope to see you all there!!

http://www.facebook.com/events/509225945763767/?fref=ts

 JEFF BUCKLEY TRIBUTE:

Also, I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU to all my new friends from the Jeff Buckley Tribute I recently played at Uncommon Ground in Chicago!! I had a great time and appreciate these events more and more every year. You can read a new blog post about my first experience with Jeff Buckley's music here:

http://www.spencermichaud.com/2012/11/jeff-buckley-chaos-weve-become-pt-1.html


Jeff Buckley Tributers, Class of 2012!!

FACEBOOK / TWITTER:

Let's hang out on social media!! Be sure to "like" my facebook page and subscribe to me on twitter for exclusive music updates and satirical photos & videos : ) 

Facebook:

 http://www.facebook.com/spencermichaudmusic

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/SpencerMichaud

 Hope you all have a great Turkey day!!

: )

-Spencer







Saturday, November 10, 2012

Jeff Buckley & The Chaos We've Become (Pt. 1)


Every November since 2005, I have been fortunate enough to be asked to play The Jeff Buckley Tribute Concert held annually at Uncommon Ground in Chicago, IL. As we near this year's tribute, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what Jeff Buckley's music means to me and tell you a story of a musical pilgrimage that eventually became immortalized in the song “The Chaos We've Become”.

My musical and spiritual journey with Jeff Buckley began back in the early 00's. I was 20 years old. A young college kid skipping around from one major to another, an aspiring renaissance man, who despite incredible enthusiasm, still lacked a tangible direction. I loved music, but was apprehensive about my voice. Like many fledgling artists, my confidence came and went.

At the beginning of my junior year, I moved into my first apartment; a majestic old blue and red victorian home in the heart of Kalamazoo that had been unceremoniously split into four separate units. Upstairs lived a beautiful & mysterious raven-haired woman from who's apartment came all sorts of wonderful sounds and smells. For a kid use to living on ramen noodles and cafeteria food, the smell of saffron and sauteed red bell peppers was as hypnotic as her enormous cat-like sapphire eyes. Needless to say, I was smitten. We eventually became friends. We would spend hours on the porch discussing the meaning of life and all things magical. She was the definition of a muse.

One night she pulled out a CD from her collection that sported on the cover; a glitter jacket-clad man clutching an old fashioned Frank Sinatra-style microphone. He looked pensive or at least distant in some way, like he was lost deep in thought. “Have you ever heard Jeff Buckley before?” she asked. I shook my head no and watched her eyes narrow and a thin knowing smile cross her face as she put the disc in the stereo and pushed play. A soft falsetto wafted in over the speakers as the opening seconds of “Mojo Pin” started penetrating my brain. The voice was un-like any I had ever heard before. It was at once ethereal and feral, like a beautiful angel cursed by the full moon into lycanthropic madness.

The song kept building, chords accumulating like storm clouds, Jeff moving through all five gears of his elastic tenor voice into a thunder-clap of emotional orgasm. It was thrilling, dangerous and beautiful. It was like he was singing everything that I was feeling. Angst, longing, and fear blended seamlessly into the ecstasy, magic and wonder. He transmuted pain into a rose, but never let you forget about the thorns.

I borrowed her copy of Grace and had it on an endless loop for months. I was obsessed. Every note became etched into the far corners of my consciousness. I went hoarse trying to mimic the sweeping screams while also trying to absorb the more subtle points of the album's essence. Certain music often become the soundtrack of our lives and Jeff Buckley's Grace will forever be associated with my coming of age and falling in love.

Check out Pt. 2 Here:

http://www.spencermichaud.com/2012/11/jeff-buckley-chaos-weve-become-pt-2.html

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Evil Easter Bunny

In a house of innocence, a harmless ode about rabbits starts to go terribly wrong...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Songwriting 101: Writing From Experience / Object Writing


The Creamy Nougat of Inspiration
By Spencer Michaud

Over my many years of teaching songwriting, I consistently hear one thing in a certain ear-grating tone: “Ughhh, I don't know what to write about” You know the voice. That whiney toddler in us all rears it's ugly head and refuses to play nice. We've gone to the grocery store of ideas and been told we can't have a candy bar. A total creative meltdown usually ensues. This is a common occurrence among fledgling songwriters. But why does it happen? What is stopping us from attaining that creamy nougat of creative inspiration? What secret spell will jog it all loose?

Well, much like a developing human, the developing artist usually starts out with a frame of reference that rarely extends beyond themselves and how they are feeling at that given moment. Like a baby, they lack the ability to focus beyond the breast or the bottle that is a mere few inches in front of them. The key is in expanding your awareness. Start thinking like an observer. Use your senses to interact with the world. Let the external details (AKA: sensory input) of the world inform the internal details (AKA: emotions) that you write about. Find a balance between the two. In the life cycle, we start with a very subjective view of the universe and hopefully start expanding outward into greater and greater objectivity. Use that knowledge to your advantage when coming up with creative ideas.

One of the exercises I like to use in my college songwriting classes is called “object writing” . I borrowed this idea from Berklee School of music instructor Pat Pattison and his book Writing Better Lyrics. Object writing involves taking a tangible object / noun (person, place, or thing) and doing a “free write” or prose piece about it using all five of your normal senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch) and two generally less thought of ones, your organic sense (how your body feels, ie: “Butterflies in your stomach”) and your kinesthetic sense (how your body moves in or relates to space, ie: “The room was spinning”). 

 When doing an object writing you want to make sure you set yourself a time limit, say 10 minutes or so, and STOP writing when the timer goes off. Don't be obsessed with structure or rhyme, open up as an uninhibited channel while doing this exercise. The revision will come later. Regular training with this technique will allow you to access your own personal pool of sense memories faster and more consistently. Remember, no one has experienced the world quite the same way as you have. Two people thrown into the exact same circumstance will relate to it totally differently based on the accumulated life experiences and subjective preferences they bring to that moment. This is your key to creating an original voice all your own.

Here is excerpt from an object writing I did before I wrote the song “Tightrope Walker”, which was inspired by the movie Man on Wire, the true story of a man who tightrope walked across the twin towers in 1974:


The wind tousles his wild bramble of red hair as a small smile cracks his lips. He takes a knee and sprawls backwards, staring up at nothing but sky, an endless blue expansion, the jupiter infinity. A gull swoops by and tips it's wing in recognition. They are one, flying side by side, surfing the gentle wind, manifesting a dream. There is chaos at both ends of the tower and below. Voices echos through bullhorns, while their feet stay firmly planted away from the edge. He rises and spins, playing with his audience like a magician. Toying with their emotions, he holds their breath in the palm of his hand and blows it away like the the top of a dandelion...watching it float away into a curling invisible stream, wondering where it will land next.

As you can see, the point of this exercise is not perfect grammar or punctuation. We're not trying to write a polished piece, we're trying to jog loose imagery and open up the flow of creative ideas. When choosing a subject for an object writing, make sure it is something concrete rather than abstract. For example, a “wedding ring” is more concrete than “marriage”. It is a symbol of an abstract idea. This helps us create imagery in the listener's mind, making it instantly more memorable and relatable. Use that object as a prompt for telling a story, take us to that moment by allowing us to see and hear what is going on around you. Show us rather than tell us. Once you have created a world that we can inhabit, search for images and phrases that stand out. Cull them for lines in your songs.

Here is the chorus from the song “Tightrope Walker”:

Now he's a Tightrope Walker
Up between the towers
Toying with the crowd
Like a circus clown
Side by side with the seagulls and the sky
Walking off into eternity

If you look closely, you can see that I took imagery directly from the object writing I did above. Like a jigsaw puzzle, I moved the pieces to fit and changed some phrases so they could sing, but the essence I uncovered in the original prose is there. Do this before and after writing your first song draft. Write multiple object writings on your song topic. Sometimes you will come up with the line you need the second or third time around. Be fearless when doing these exercises. Embrace your beginner's mind, that creative toddler in you will be up and running before you know it!

What are some techniques that you use to find creative inspiration? I appreciate your feedback and welcome your comments!!

Need more help with your songwriting or creative process? Click the lessons & coaching links above for more info!

Like this article? check out part 1 of my songwriting 101 articles:

Songwriting 101: The Will To Start / Showing Up For Your Art


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Crazy Wisdom / Holler Fest / EP Update #2


Hello Friends,

Hope you are all having a great summer! I just wanted to drop you all a line and tell you about a few shows I have coming up this month:

CRAZY WISDOM

THIS FRIDAY 8/10, I will be performing a two-set solo show at the Crazy Wisdom Tearoom in Ann Arbor starting at 8:30pm. This is a FREE / ALL AGES show! You can find out all the details here:

http://www.facebook.com/events/401464509903138/ 

HOLLER FEST

On Sunday 8/26, I will once again be perfoming with my band at this years Holler Fest! Holler Fest is a three day festival in Brooklyn, MI at Frog Holler Organic Farm. I had a wonderful time last year and am looking forward to another amazing experience. I'll be at the Second Holler Stage SUNDAY 8/26 @ 2:30pm. You can find out the full line-up and buy tickets here:

http://hollerfest.com/

EP UPDATE

I also wanted to give you a little update on the EP recording I'm working on! We've been making slow, but steady progress on the EP over the course of this year. Turns out making records takes longer than I anticipated, but I appreciate your patience and hope to have music in your hands soon. I'd say we are about 75% done with a big push toward the finish line happening this month and the next.  So far this summer I've had guest spots on the album ranging from the horn and saw talents of Zach Nichols of Frontier Ruckus to the soulful violin of Erin Zindle from The Ragbirds. Check out their bands here:

http://www.frontierruckus.com/ 

http://www.theragbirds.com/

I feel very fortunate to be working with such talented folks! The album is shaping up to be quite an ecclectic collection of songs. I've been flexing my arrangement muscles and trying to craft mini-pop symphonies. : ) I will be sure to let you all know when they are ready for the light of day!!

Hope you all are having a fun and productive summer! Looking forward to seeing your smiling faces soon!

: )

-Spencer

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

EP Update: Drums & Bass Recorded!!

Hi Friends!

Just wanted to give you a quick update on our progress here with the EP.  I know I have been quiet since the kickstarter funding ended, but don't mistake my silence for lack of progress! The band and I have been working very hard in pre-production the past few months and recently recorded drums and bass tracks this past Friday at Backseat Productions with the magic man himself Jim Roll.


The Jimmer

Our meticulous preparation paid off in the most efficient recording session we could have hoped for!!  We got a total of 5 songs recorded in just over 6 hours!!! I have the pleasure of working with two very talented and dedicated musicians in Gabriel Craft and Graham Lapp.  These guys are pros and sounded AMAZING! I am very excited for the foundation we laid for the rest of the tracks.

Where the magic happens!!

Right now we are working out guitar parts and will soon be doing vocals.  Recording can be a long process, but I think taking our time and doing it right will be the best way towards success. Patience does have its rewards!!

video

I will try and keep you guys more in the loop as we get further along in the process. I hope to have an album in your hands by the time the snow melts!! Thanks again for helping me to live this long-held dream. I couldn't have started this project without all of you!! I hope this is just the beginning of great things to come. : )

The Joy of Living The Dream

Xoxo,

-Spencer


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Songwriting 101: The Will To Start / Showing Up For Your Art

Here is the first in a series of "Songwriting 101" articles I have written to add a little encouragement in the collective ether.  Enjoy!!

Article #1:

Songwriting 101: The Will To Start / Showing Up For Your Art
by Spencer Michaud

So, the day has come. You've heard enough auto-tuned pop masterpieces and seen enough off-key Youtube Bob Dylans to say to yourself “You know what?, I've got talent!! The world needs my charming wit and poignant philosophical observations!!” The pain of NOT putting yourself out there has finally become greater than actually doing it. Congratulations!! You've got the first ingredient in becoming a successful songwriter: The Will to Start.

Whether you are motivated by the magic of listening to your favorite song or the righteous indignation of one you can't stand, the point is you are ready to throw your hat into the ring! The will to start is half the battle. One of the key ingredients to success in life is simply showing up for it. It's easy to recognize the need to show up for a job or for a doctor's appointment, but do you show up for your art?

Richard Rodgers (of the famed duo Rodgers & Hammerstein, you know “The Sound of Music” guys) use to set aside a time each morning to sit down at the piano and write. This was a man with a wife and two small children running around the house, but they all knew that for two hours each morning, Dad was off limits. Rodgers protected that time religiously and showed up each and every morning at his ebony and ivory temple. The muse rewarded him with over 900 published songs and 40 finished musicals over the course of a six-decade-long career. 


I hear a lot of folks say that they just don't have time to write or that they are only inspired at certain times of the day or year. Whatever the excuse, the fact is: you can only receive the songs that you show up for at your instrument or the page. Neil Young used to have 1000 songs for every ten that made it on one of his albums. Was every song a masterpiece? Absolutely not, but he increased his odds ten-fold by being consistently prolific.


So, how do you fit a little creative time into a life that is crammed with full-time jobs / school, family obligations, and an unrelenting stream of technological distractions? Start with making an honest appraisal of how you spend your time. Do you plop your butt down in front of the television or spend endless hours updating your facebook or twitter accounts? 

If you do, don't beat yourself up, most of us live in a virtual hurricane that is constantly threatening to engulf us in a tidal wave of distraction. But ask yourself if the way you are spending your free time is moving you forward towards your creative goals or keeping you stuck in the same never-ending loop of “what-if's”. 

Start with something small, 20 minutes each day (the equivalent time of less than one TV sitcom) where you turn off the phone, step away from the computer / TV, pick up your instrument and just be with yourself.  Listen. When the muse speaks, pay attention and make sure to take notes!

Check out part 2 of the Songwriting 101 series here:

Songwriting 101: Writing From Experience / Object Writing