Wednesday, April 25, 2012

It's good to be busy

Part 87.

  I have a very busy week behind me, and another one just started. And guess what? I am loving it :-) We had two concerts with JPKALLIO.COM. On Thursday we were over in the Submarine bar in Crumlin. This is well known Sports bar, but to my surprise it is amazing venue as well. There was a small case of unsuitability though, I'd assume most bands playing in the venue usually are either more folky or indie rock. There is a decibel meter on top of the bar facing a stage and as soon as we started it maxed out and stayed like that until the end of our set :-D. But hey, everyone seemed to enjoy it.

  On Friday we were in Swords and in the Slaughtered Lamb. This is a quite busy battle of the bands. There was eight acts on the night and we were the second last to get on the stage. The Slaughtered lamb had a nice set up, but we were starting to feel the hanging around and two late nights. In all fairness, it is a part of the job and something I am well used to with Sliotar, in the famous words of Charlie Watts on the 25th  anniversary of the Rolling Stones he was asked what the 25 years had been like he said: “Five years of playing and 20 years of hanging around”. It never really gets easy, but I think with time you learn to deal with it better. I think the biggest thing to keep in mind in a moments like these is that you are not alone, all your band mates and the other bands on the night are in the same situation, so moaning about it does not make any ones life any easier. It can also hard on your concentration. After waiting for four hours, you get up and play, it can feel like it sneaks up on you and sooner than you think the gig is over. There is something I do and find it helpful. After setting up and just before I play. I try to just clear my mind and slow down my breath. If you do this even for like 30 seconds, it can have surprising effect on your performance. So try it out the next time;-)

  Then on Saturday and Sunday I was busy with Sliotar. The pressure is on with the summer tours starting on in mid May. There is always some car maintenance before the tours, which I am very happy Des, the drummer in Sliotar takes a good care of. Also before any tour I look through all my guitar set ups and at the moment I am going through some changes in my acoustic guitar rig. For years I disliked acoustic guitar amps, even to the point that it might have been over 10 years since I tried one. But a friend of mine gave me a lend of Marshall AS50D which I used on the Sunday gig. I must say I was very impressed! There is definitely a reaction between the guitar and an amp that I think I have been missing with the acoustic guitar. It felt like it all made sense lot more once again. So now I am looking what else there is out on the market:-). I have met people who tell me they are very happy with their instrument set up. Personally for me, I have been a professional musician for the past 15 years now and I have constant need to improve on my sound. I think the day I stop trying to improve my sound, is the day I should call it a day... But still, all the nice toys in the world won't change what your fingers do, that's where the real magic is and that's why still after 15 years I practice almost every day.

  Now this week JPKALLIO.COM will be in the basement of Sweeney's tonight (Wednesday the 25th of April). We'll be the first on at 9.30pm. This is the first of the Music Mediums rock/Metal nights, which they are hoping to have once a month. In all fairness it was about the time Sweeney's had a dedicated night for the harder side of the music spectrum;-) There are some great bands on tonight, and If Sweeney's basement had a decibel meter, I'm sure it would stay up all night;-)

  Then Tomorrow the 26th of April we'll be in the Pint once again. There is always an excellent sound in the Pint and we're really looking forward to this one as well. There is a

  And this weekend I'll be in the Porterthouse with Sliotar again on Saturday and Sunday. So yep, busy week;-). And you know, when you are independent musician, busy is good. It is almost always better to be playing than not. The only way to get better at what you do is do it a lot. No amount of rehearsals will never get you the experience you get from playing live. And it is the best way to spread the word of your band As well.  Hope to see you at one of the shows.

Glory to the World - Single - J.P. Kallio

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Part 86

  So last Friday we headed over to Sligo to play in the OpenTrades-Club in the Adelaide bar. As you know our first concert with Patryk got canceled few weeks back, so we had been dying for this one :-). It was great to see a collective of this sort doing so well. The basement of the Adelaide bar had been out of action night club, that the bar had given to the use of the Open Trades-Club. There was an ongoing art exhibition and quite few events lined up as well. We really felt like we were in a middle of a community of music lovers and Jasper from the Poo Promotions made us feel really welcomed. The night was filled with some excellent music!

  The Excuses kicked off the proceeding and they kicked things of with a storm! They played straight forward, honest punk rock and they got us exited from the get go.

Next it was our turn to grace the stage. All those rehearsals had to count for something ;-). It felt great to be playing live after our break. And the band were in flying form. Big thank you to Bartek for driving us to Sligo, hanging around with us and filming the video clip below. The sound quality is not the best, but you get the feeling:-)

After us there was Joy of Six, from Fermanagh. A six piece covers band that knew how to get the crowd of their feet.

  The night was wrapped up with Dirty Love, a punk band from London, who had absolutely no plans to take any prisoners in Sligo. From the get go, it was drums, bass, guitar and lots of attitude!

They even got Patryk up dancing ;-)

  Of course not to forget that it was Sebastians birthday as well, which was celebrated with biscuits and pints.

  Once again, big thanks to Jasper for having us. We look forward to coming back some day:-)

  So now, the hunger to play live is strong again and this week we will be playing in the Submarine bar in Crumlin on Thursday the 19th of April and in the Slaughtered Lamb in Swords on Friday the 20th. Next week it's Sweeneys brand new MMetaL night on 25th and the Pint on 26th . Come along and support us in our quest to play our socks off in the next few weeks ;-)

Glory to the World - Single - J.P. Kallio

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Taking care of your most important instrument, your hands.

Part 85

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   Bit over 15 years a go I was playing Bouzouki in a folk/trad band called Tre. This was my first band that actually turned in to a full time job. It was also the first time I found my self playing live at least four days a week, every week. I am sure if you take your music seriously, you practice most days of the week, but there is something completely different about playing live two hour gigs. It does put lot of stress on your hands (and legs if you're a drummer). Back in those days, I was young and eager. I didn't pay too much attention on things like how relaxed my muscles where in my hands and arms, shoulders, neck and even lower back. Thinking back now, I'd say they were pretty stiff :-D. After the bands quick success, we all went our separate ways. I joined Sliotar and swapped over to guitar. As a result I got lots of session work in the Dublin trad scene. This was great, I was playing most days of the week. But eventually I found my self playing between four and six hours a day, six days a week. At this point I had to become more aware of taking care of my body as part of my tools. Most of the sessions, musicians would sit down while playing tunes. For a guitar player this can be a bit of a problem, without most of us even noticing it. It did took me a while to realize that when ever possible I'd be better standing while playing. Sitting down playing acoustic guitar you end up hunching over the instrument, and definitely put your back in a very unnatural position. Of course playing classical guitar is completely different story, where the players are seated in a position with a foot rest that wont put as much pressure on your back and wrists, but for me standing up is still the best position. Now in the past three years, I have concentrated more playing with Sliotar and JPKALLIO.COM. Over the years I have had few times pains in my wrists and occasional shooting pain in my left hand fingers. I must say I have calluses in the fingers that by now go quite deep, and what I think causes the shooting pain is actually the underside of the callus pressing nerve, not fun... But one thing I have learned, if you have pain, take a break! Now I don't mean actual muscle pain in your fingers from practicing, this is bit like having sore muscles after a session in a gym, and is only sign of your fingers getting an exercise. But if you get any sharp pains in your fingers, joints, wrists or along your arms, take a break. Maybe even for a few days, until the pain goes a way. If it does not, or keeps coming back regularly, go to doctor! Your hands are your instruments, you need to take care of them! Never play through pain, this is a sure way to early retirement. Also you might think practicing a difficult piece some times does hurt. The fact is, if you get a sharp pains, that is your body's way of saying something is wrong. And another thing, this can really escalate, if you have a pain lets say in your wrist and you keep on playing, there are other muscles that will try to compensate for this, and they will get stiff and sore, which in turn slows down your development as a player. Playing through pain does not prove you're a man, it proves you are an idiot who does not care about their most important part of their playing, your hands! The most fanciest instrument can't make your hands play better if they are in pain, but healthy hands can make even cheap instrument sing.

  So here are few practical tricks. Play in front of a mirror, or video your self playing. Pay attention on how you sit, how tensed your muscles are. If you play guitar, you don't need to press the strings down with crazy amount of force, that puts pressure on your fingers, hands, wrists and arms. Figure out how little it takes to get a clean note and pay attention to this while you practice. For drummers holding on to a stick is bit of a same thing, you don't need to squeeze them to death, just enough to hold on to them:-) Also gently shake your hands between songs, this will help them relax. Warming up is essential for avoiding injuries. Stretch your shoulders, back and neck. I am not going to give you a lecture on how to live your life, but some exercise does help to loosen those tensed up back muscles. Swimming is one of the best things you can do. When we are on a tour with Sliotar, we are always on a look out for a pool:-)

  OK, that's that. Now back to other updates. JPKALLIO.COM have quite few concerts coming up in the next few weeks. First we are in Adelaide bar in Sligo this Friday, the 13th of April, next week we are in the Submarine bar in Crumlin on Thursday the 19th, and in the Slaughtered lamb in Swords on Friday the 20th. The following week we are in the Sweeneys on Wednesday the 25th and in the Pint on 26th. Then in May we are organizing an album fundraiser concert in the Thomas House on Friday the 4th of May, but more on that later. For now, have a great week!


Glory to the World - Single - J.P. Kallio

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Concert cancellation and how to deal with it

Part 84

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  In this weeks blog I'd like to talk about when things go wrong. Last night we were supposed to have the JPKALLIO.COM's first concert of the year and our first concert as a four piece. We had been practicing a lot to get Patryk up to speed with the songs and it was all sounding great. We decided to have one more rehearsal in the afternoon before the gig and every one turned up at the rehearsal rooms. While playing the songs, I started to feel pretty confident. Our hard work had payed off, the band was playing well, all the elements joined together in to one unit. These moments are rare, but when they come by it feels great. We had rehearsed 10 songs so far, that Patryk had put his own flare to and we were ready to go out and play live. We had done all our promotional work as well. We blogged, twittered and promoted the concert on facebook. We sent text messages to all our friends and followers on our mailing list. We had told every one about the show. I was also hoping to capture some video from the show, as to document our first show as four piece.

   Then the bad news came in... Two hours before the show time, tonight's concert was canceled. My heart sank... This was not supposed to be part of the plan. Not sure of the details exactly but I could hear from the promoters tone of voice that things were not going to his way and he promised to put on few weeks down the line. What followed was frantic texting and posting on social media, trying to let people know that the gig was canceled. I can tell you, it is not a nice situation to be in. You do feel like you are letting everyone down, even when it is out of your hands.

   In my 15 year career as a musician, I could probably count with my fingers how many times this has happened. So what do you do when this happens? Do you go on a rant on how you will never work with this venue/ Promoter? Do you curl in a ball and cry? No, you will get on with it. Be understanding to the promoter, they obviously are not having a great day and what ever frustration you are feeling, I'm pretty sure they are feeling it ten times more. If this happens regularly with the same venue or promoter, then it is different story. I personally think it is the responsibility of every one involved to try to get the message to as many people as possible, to avoid people making the trip for nothing. But at the same time, there is only so much you can do. So you get on with things, like we did. Instead we played a longer rehearsal and after went for a pint first time as a band all four of us. Most of all, we concentrated on the next concert, which by the way is in the Adelaide bar in Sligo on the 13th of April. Any one fancy a road trip? Also we were supposed to be playing last night with the wonderful Kerouac, but now we will be playing together in the Thomas House on the 4th of May, this is going to be a great night:-)

   The point is, music is very turbulent business and things will go wrong. When they do, you pick your self up and go again. What does not kill you, only makes you stronger!

   Once again, our apologies for any one who did not get the news in time and made the trip for nothing. We hope to see you all soon at one of our shows soon.


Glory to the World - Single - J.P. Kallio