Today, I’m writing about something that Michael Teager and I have really grappled with where our follow-up studio recording is concerned. We’ve got quite a bit of really good recorded music ‘in the can’, but there’s been a tentativeness around what statement we’re looking to make with our second studio recording.

For my part, I’m prone to overthinking my creative work, and frequently I get in my own way, but if there’s one thing that I’ve learned it’s that you can’t force things. That’s state of mind that I was in when I took to writing the piece, Force….

The artist doesn’t force things. Whether it’s inspiration or
a project that just won’t come together.

Force is never an option.


Because the artist knows that the only thing that comes from force is pushing something to a place that it’s not ready to go.

Does frustration get the best of the artist sometimes? Yes.

Ultimately, though, the artist knows that they must submit their will to greater forces, move on, leave things alone, take a break or some combination of all of these.

Creativity is beat down by force.

No master work was ever created under self-imposed duress.

Force is in direct opposition to the freedom, openness and the liberty that has the artist taking up the creative work to begin with.

If that’s not enough, there’s the quote from the Tao Te Ching that aptly captures the problem with force: “When you force a project to completion, you ruin a fruit that was almost ripe.”

Alesis Nanoverb 2 Review

alesis_nanoverb2 Alright, so, first things first. I’m putting this up here for anybody who may be thinking about buying the Alesis Nanoverb 2, specifically, those folks who’ve used the original, and somewhat harder to get, original Nanoverb and think that the 2, at least, must be as good! Let’s stop right there.



This isn’t a true review in any real sense of the word, but having a website with pretty good search ranking I decided that I had to share my experience. I’ve used the original Nanoverb, the same unit that I bought in 1997, consistently for the last 17 years (read my lovefest post about my Alesis Nanoverb here). I’ve used at every show I’ve played since then, hundreds of shows. I still use it, but the power supply is a little shorted so I just use it in the studio now. I bought the Nanoverb 2 with the hope that it would be, at least, as good as the original Nanoverb. Oh, it is not…  I tried to find gear reviews and YouTube tutorials, but couldn’t find anything, so here goes that didn’t just quote product specs… If you think that Nanoverb 2 is worth taking a chance on, DO NOT DO THIS. It is not even an allusion to the original Nanoverb. It’s cheaper than the Nanoverb was nearly 20 years ago, that should probably say something right there, but alas, I took the chance. nanoaa First off, the unit is twice the width of the original nanoverb and twice the height… Not so freakin’ “nano” anymore… The knobs are smaller and one of the things that I loved about the Original Nanoverb is that it had true pots, but the Nanoverb 2 has some weird crappy digital selector that interrupts/pauses the sound between each selection. Majorly sucky in that regard. Gone are the days of live sound tweaking with the Adjust and Mix knobs… And, oh yeah, they got rid of the Mix knob with the Nanoverb 2 and replaced them with a bunch uber shitty presets that you can’t alter and have very little variation, thus making them worthless. Fortunately, I’ve returned this piece of junk, which says a lot, as I’m certainly prone to “eating” crummy gear because I experiment with so much. Do not experiment with this unless you’re looking for something to practice your shotputting skills with, which actually, with it’s increased weight and footprint, might be the one thing that the Nanoverb 2 is actually good for.

On the other hand, and this would be the microreview for the person who has never used the original Alesis Nanoverb, the Alesis Nanoverb 2 is a functional reverb unit for vocals, acoustic guitars, studio work and the like. It’s not great, but for under 100 bones, it’ll do just fine. Especially, if you find a single setting you like and stick with that. Otherwise, don’t waste your time. And for Alesis, whose products, I still use a lot… For shame… You created fantastic products pre-2000, which reminds me that all of my Alesis gear that’s good is from the 1990s… what happened? Are you trying to appeal to some low cost segment who prefer price over quality? If that’s true, who wouldn’t pay an extra 15 bucks for the Original Nanoverb and all that it offers rather than buying the crummy 2…

Truly, what happened. Alesis, as your name, used to mean something. Honestly, that’s probably why I took a chance on this Nanoverb 2… that’s a mistake I won’t make again and I had to post this so others were aware. Except where noted, I can’t recommend buying the Alesis Nanoverb 2… Go and buy the Original Nanoverb off eBay, you’ll be much happier… that’s my next step. In hindsight, I should have bought about four of these bad boys and stuck in my closet for a rainy day…


Every creative person hits a plateau sometime.

It’s a natural part of the growth process; you ascend, expand, move forward and move further out towards the edges.

Plateau’s can be dark, scary and frustrating.

But if you wait them out they’ll pass and you’ll be back creating inspired work again in no time.

You can also try engage yourself and seek out the inspiration. This may work and it may not. For me, it just makes things harder.

Don’t let the plateau hinder you, though. Seek out new things that resonate with you and then come back to your original work. Often, coming back with fresh eyes is just the break that we need to get the creative work going again.

Being the voice of your work

The artist knows that they’re the one that must give a voice to their work.

There is nothing more depressing than meeting the artist who is sitting alone, in their apartment toiling away in obscurity waiting to be discovered.

To be discovered means that somebody must be looking for something. However, if truly original work is being created then the searcher has no idea what they’re looking for. It’s up to the artist to show them, to put it in context and to be the voice for their work.

This might be as important as the work itself, but not more so.

Musicians Wanted…

I exchanged emails with a guy I met on Craig’s List. We’re both looking for musicians. He’s interested in a lot of the same stuff I am, but he’s into his own thing. I think that he plays guitar. They all play guitar. I play guitar. He talks to me about Obituary, Overkill, Megadeth, Pantera and early Metallica, as well as a bunch of other bands I don’t recognize, fortunately, the last one I know very well. This isn’t going anywhere, though. We’re cordial. Conversation dies slowly. I accept it. We both want something. We don’t see eye to eye, though, on what it takes to get there.

I exchanged emails with another guy I met on Craig’s List. We’re both looking for musicians. We have similar ideas about what we want to do, but again don’t agree on how to get there. We both love Bluegrass and acoustic music, but he doesn’t want to do anything post-1950, I only want to do stuff post-1950, hell, post-1970, even. He’s old timey, that’s what he calls it. I’m thinking something else, like narrow minded or something. I’m a snob. I get that. I want to do new stuff. I don’t want to play Little Maggie or Hot Corn, Cold Corn for the millionth time. I want to jam and gain new ground in a Bluegrass context. JD Crowe and the New South, but an even newer south, Chris Thile or something. The guy’s not interested.

I exchanged emails with another guy I met on Craig’s List. We’re both looking for musicians. We have similar tastes, but he wants to give up his family of four kids and an underwhelming job to go on the road. I get the dream. I’m no square. I’ve been around. I want this just as bad as him, but abandoning my family to live in a a Ford Econoline that smells like ass and feet with exhaust seeping in the cab, as they so frequently do, doesn’t really sound like a solid plan. Apparently, I’m not dedicated enough. Ok. Not sure where that dude ended up. I imagine he’s trucking down some highway in North Dakota right on his way to the next dream gig playing for donations. We never even got to the music part.

One time I met this gal, a new age type through an ad. She was a singer and guitar player channeling some kind of earth mother vibe. I like the Grateful Dead. I can dig it. We talked a bit. We had similar interests, musically. We met to jam. She didn’t know any chords, but played her shitty acoustic with her pointer and middle finger, which would have been cool if it didn’t sound like ass, but what rhymes with ass, but alas, and alas it did sound like ass. That was the end of the jam. She was embarrassed. I was embarrassed. Little was said. I used to smoke cigarettes then and we smoked a cigarette on the porch of her duplex and talked about Shawn Colvin. I never cared for Shawn Colvin. That was a long conversation. Longest smoke ever. I packed my guitar. Jam over, man.

This other time, I exchanged emails with a guy, a jazz fusion bassist. Whoa! He was good. He could tap, and slap and pop and rock out a solid groove. He was good. He was like a James Jamerson meets Mahavishnu Orchestra. I was impressed. I was thinking that this guy could really jam it out. He asked if I was into jazz. I told him I was. He beat through a forty-seven chord vamp and asked if I wanted to jam on it, apparently it was a new tune he was working on.  About thirty too many chords for me, man. I was better than the Ramones, but I couldn’t hang with all these chords, augmented, dimished, minor, major with sustained octaves and sliding harmonics. Jaco Pastorious on a speed ball. Damn, he was good.  He looked at me the way I’m sure that I looked at the earth loving Shawn Colvin fan. I couldn’t blame him. I knew what was next. I packed my guitar and left.

I met this guy through an ad. We had similar interests. He was nice. We talked about our love for funk, and DC punk, ala Dischord, Fugazi, Smart Went Crazy, Embrace, etc… He plays bass and like’s Flea and old Chili Peppers. I’m digging the vibe. We make a plan to play some music. We don’t just yet, because he’s in between basses. Ahh. We talk on the phone. Soon, I’m picking him up to meet for coffee and talk about our would-be band practices… if he had a bass. I like this guy. He talks a good game, but nothing’s happening. I’m becoming impatient. We have a few more chats, but meanwhile I’m getting something else going on. This is going nowhere.

A couple months pass.

One night he calls me up. Tells me he got a bass. Well he’s supposed to get a bass, a nice one, graphite composite or some such. There’s a lot of noise on his end, beeping and stuff. Looking at the caller ID I realize I don’t recognize the number he’s calling from and so I ask him about it. “Where are you at?” I ask. “The hospital” He says. “The hospital,” I ask, “why’s that?” “Oh, no real reason,” He says. Curious now, I ask: “Are you a patient?” “Yeah, sort of” He says. “I tried to off myself today” ‘Off yourself…?’ I said out loud. Really. Did he just say that? “Off yourself?” I asked. “Yeah,” he said, “I took some pills, and they pumped my stomach,” he said non-nonchalantly. Feeling some combination of speechlessness, concern and disbelief, I ask “Are you alright, man?” “Yeah, yeah, I’m fine,” He says, “Look, I should go… ” He said, “Doctor just came in…” “Ok,” I said, “Good luck.” “Yeah, Matt, thanks, I should have the bass real soon,” Unsure of what to say, I say Ok, and he hangs up. I never heard back from him.

I’ve met a lot of people in ‘musician’s wanted’ ads. This isn’t even 1/100th of them.

Lots of stories.

Always an adventure…

Musician | Producer | Writer