Searching for Inspiration

From Manchester, NH to Cambridge, MA – my go-to place of inspiration, is about an hour.  The drive passed by quickly thanks to a phone conversation with my son. And now I’m here – French Roast in cup, croissant in it’s temporary brown bag – it’s time to tap into the 1369 Cafe well of artistic waters and transform them into my own. So familiar, the sounds of alternative punk and progressive anger sprinkled with an angelic voice. The scent of brewing coffee and about 20 people who have chosen to be alone in a group setting. Perfect.

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The Art of Conviction and Confidence

Tapping into creative waters can be difficult enough. We’re often trying to extract music, prose, photography, etc. from what sometimes feels like a muddy, or even dry, stream. So it’s a brilliant feat of magic when we can see our inspirations and artistic ideas come to fruition. But what happens next can determine whether we create art, or turn away from it.

As artists, we often have the desire to share our art – sometimes to get feedback or an opinion from someone we trust, or someone whose perspective we value. Whereas there’s nothing wrong with asking for feedback, how many times have we shifted our creative process, approach to the piece, or even abandoned it altogether when that feedback is negative? In that case, we have taken our highly personal statement and convictions and replaced it with a desire to please. Or worse yet, that feedback made us stop believing in our original artistic idea. Great art can be reflective of many things, but we must not allow it to be so fragile that it can’t survive a critical blow. Some of the most successful artists had to endure reviews and critics calling their art “bad” or worse. If the extremely successful band Black Sabbath listened to their nay-sayers, they might have never left Birmingham.

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Album Perspective: Deep Purple’s “Who Do We Think We Are”

I’ve been a Deep Purple fan since the first time I heard Hush in 1968. However, it was the Mk II version of the band that captured by heart and soul. Every member of that band was indispensable, in my opinion, and it was Ritchie Blackmore who would inspire me to pick up the guitar in earnest. Every Mk II album was a discovery of musical excellence and further inspiration into my own musical endeavors. And then it happened . . . a new album! “Who Do We Think We Are” was released and nearly everyone, including the band themselves, dismissed it as a poor offering. Of course, the previous studio release was the near-perfect “Machine Head,” followed by the hugely successful “Made in Japan” live album – tough acts to follow indeed. And, the band was dissolving internally – so it’s now wonder those involved had a tainted perspective. But my friend Chris Parker and I were so excited to the hear the new music, we didn’t care what others were saying. By then, “Woman from Tokyo” was already filling the airwaves and we loved that song.

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The Artform Formally Known as Prints

Print is dead! Isn’t it? We’ve all heard it hundreds of times. Well, is it? I’m here to say NO. In fact, print will always be a part of the branding and marketing fabric. But what about the internet? Let me ask you this; what would a YouTube “unboxing” be like without the box – fully7 resplendent in print?  Common assertions sometimes have little basis in fact  . . . well, that’s an understatement, isn’t it?

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Grateful and Human

On this eve of Thanksgiving, I’m thinking about what this day is really about. Other than eating to capacity (and beyond), we are also focused on what we’re grateful for. We celebrate with family, friends, and other loved-ones, and sometimes people we’ve just met. If that was all, it would seem plenty to be thankful for. But this year, I hope for more. This Thanksgiving, I want to focus on not only my blessings and what I have to be grateful for, but what has been lost for others, the pain some are feeling, and the difficulties we can sometimes bring on ourselves.

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Video is More Than Just Video

To say we are in the age of video would be a gross understatement. Videos are one of the best tools we have for single-direction communicating. I’m talking about video that is planned, authored, shot, and produced for deployment at a later date. Streaming video and teleconferencing (remember that word?) is a different animal entirely – we’ll discuss that in a future article. So what is it that makes video so engaging and indispensable in today’s business world?  For starters, video is more than just video!

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Why Do Words Matter?

In this crowded environment of media channels, we have to compete with a lot of noise. It’s everywhere you go. Some of it is promotional, some of it is entertainment, and then there’s the 24/7 news cycle that can often seem like both. Social media adds yet another dimension to the noisy landscape. So, how do you slice through it all and motivate your target audience? In the end, it comes down to words.

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Reinventing Yourself

We are reluctantly evolving beings. Creatures of habit. But, there comes a time, even with the most stubborn among us, to shift gears and turn the wheel. Sometimes, that new direction feels dramatic and revolutionary – into unfamiliar and uncertain territory. Other times, the change is subtle and feels almost “corrective” – like staying in your lane. And, of course, there are all points in-between.  For me, I felt the need to re-invent myself. Nothing major, just a slight update . . . Mike Pascarella 2.0, if you will. Cool, right? Well, sometimes new versions attempting to fix bugs and introduce features can introduce new bugs – or worse yet – crash the entire system. 

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When is Virtual no longer Virtual?

From Novelty to Usable

Over the past two decades, virtual instruments have evolved. Originally, these instruments were designed as pseudo software versions of pianos, synthesizers, drums, horns, and other traditional instruments. At first, these virtual instruments (VIs) were stand-alone applications with high-latency and high-CPU usage, making them difficult to play and integrate into existing workflows. We could see the future, and it looked promising.  These VIs evolved into plugins that could integrate directly into our Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs). And as our lowly computers became more powerful, it became possible to use multiple instances of these VI’s . . . in real-time. The future was here, and it was good.

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