7.25.2010

10 Minutes - I Am Suspending Posts for One (1) Week for a Good Reason

Hi. It's Joe.

I am going on RAGBRAI next week. That's going to mean very little opportunity to synchronize my brain with the massive global Internet brain, so I am going to have to suspend blog posts until I return.

But the up side is that when I return, I will have many excellent tales to tell.

RAGBRAI is a fun social bicycle ride across the state of Iowa. Although it goes for a full seven (7) days, my bicycle team is not doing the full ride. I should say, collectively, the team is not doing the full ride. I am doing a good five (5) days of it, Monday 7/26 through Friday 7/30.

It's really the funnest time you will ever have on two (2) wheels. It's difficult to explain how amazingly awesome it is, other than to say if you ride all or part of a RAGBRAI, you will be hooked. That is, if you like to ride a bicycle and socialize with about 10,000 other like minded people, totally isolated from civilization and your "other life." It's unbridled freedom, which THE MAN hates, but can do nothing about.

Anyway, I will be too busy biking and partying to write blog posts, even if I did have access to the Internet.

Honestly, I don't want to be connected with anything while on RAGBRAI. It's a total escapist vacation. What happens on RAGBRAI stays on RAGBRAI, to steal a cliche.

I am only bringing my Blackberry so that my friend Bryon can connect with us on Tuesday of RAGBRAI to party in Clear Lake IA. I may also use the BB to travelogue the highlights of RAGBRAI to Facebook.

After all, that's why I got the goddam Blackberry, for more efficient integration of my brain to the collective consciousness. I may as well make it worth the monthly fee I pay for the thing.

I will have my journal with me, and from time to time I will jot down some RAGBRAI thoughts in it. Then I might share these with you here after I get back. I have been so very diligent about my writing lately, it should be no problem.

Tonight, my awesome rock-n-roll band, GUPPY EFFECT, played a private party on a Pirate Ship. It was simply exquisite. Such great people and such a good time. The weather even cooperated.

I will miss rocking for a week, but I am bringing my acoustic guitar with me, so I should be able to rock some at night on RAGBRAI.

On an unrelated note, it saddens me when people I know create dramas to entertain themselves at other people's expense, simply because they are unhappy with their own lives. I wish everyone could be IMPECCABLE in their speech. I don't participate in dramas based on negativity and rumors, because they poison everyone involved. Thus, I am immune (much to the consternation of the drama mongers), but I still feel bad for the people who create their own angsty hell on earth by failing to be impeccable in their speech. It is so self destructive and that makes me sad for them.

My time is up.

7.21.2010

10 Minutes - A Social Bicycle Ride Called "Bike With Melinda" For a Dumb Reason

Hi. It's Joe.

By the time you read this, I will no longer be up north at the cabin. At best, I will be most of the way back home to Cambridge WI. At worst, it will be tomorrow afternoon (if you're an RSS subscriber).

But if you are lucky, you will read it. I know the stresses of the day make it tempting to skip one of my daily 10 minute posts. This is one that illustrates why that is always a bad idea.

Today I am going to tell you about the bicycle ride I am organizing for the Labor Day weekend, up at the cabin. It's a fun, social, get-away-from-it-all time.

I call it "Bike With Melinda" for a super dumb reason. On RAGBRAI in 1999, I met my friend Melinda. She had just finished biking around the country, and I thought that was pretty cool. So I came up with the idea to organize a bike ride around the "celebrity status" I associated with a person taking to America's back roads for several months to cruise around the country on a bike.

Nowawadays everybody and their uncle bikes across the country, sometimes twice! So it's not such a big deal anymore. It turns out, Melinda didn't even bike all the way across the country. She just did a few states.

Anyway, we planned the first "Bike With Melinda" for Labor Day weekend of 1999, and it was a relative success. We got a handful of people to go. I have hosted it every year since, although I don't think Melinda ever made it to one after the second one in 2000. I kept the name, "Bike With Melinda," because it sounds cool. I've tried having the ride in other locations besides up at the cabin, and it has always been kind of a disaster. There's just something about getting far far away from it all and biking with friends in the remotest part of the Wisconsin northwoods.

Not to mention the fact that there's a CABIN here we can stay at for free, and a lake right outside the door, and lots of fun stuff to do in addition to biking. My mom even cooks us food.

Like I said yesterday, the lake up here has Native American healing powers. There's also a family of grey foxes living underneath the cottage next door, a bald eagle, and possibly even a black bear with her cubs, if eye witness reports are to be believed.

I have to get going, but I will give more details on "Bike With Melinda" soon. Suffice to say, it will be Labor Day weekend 2010. The bike ride itself will be on Sunday, so people can arrive and socialize on Saturday, the easiest driving day of the weekend.

Pencil it in.

My time is up.

7.20.2010

10 Minutes - I Have a "Scorched Earth" Policy When It Comes to Weed Wacking

Hi. It's Joe.

I'm up at the cabin.

You know what the greatest thing about making a living without a job is?

Well, there are many possible answers to that question. But the one I am favoring right now is being able to take a vacation Monday through Wednesday knowing there is not a goddam thing THE MAN can do about it.

It's priceless. I am up here with my mom and dad, my cell phone turned off (It doesn't get any reception anyway, and why would I want to incur roaming charges? The world can wait until I am back. It's not going anywhere.) and nothing to do but relax and enjoy the northwoods ambience.

Truth be told, I did do some work this morning. Yard work, ha ha! I helped my dad mow and weed wack and clear some brush between the cabin and the lake it is on, so it is easier to walk down to the lake to swim - which I also did, after we got done with yard work, to rinse off the bits of nature clinging to my skin.

I think the lake here has some kind of Native American healing powers. It is spring fed, so even in the middle of July the water stays fairly chilly and very clean (low temperature means less algal growth). After I go swimming in the lake water, I am overcome with feelings of pure contentment, unlike anything else I have felt before. It's not the same as taking a shower or jumping in a pool. I actually feel like I am "rejuvenated."

So that's why I don't tell anyone how to get to the lake, except once a year around Labor Day when I bring a few friends up to bike ride and hang out. The healing powers would be diluted if too many people exploited them. So the lake needs to be protected and used only sparingly.

I think I like the symbolism of being able to take a vacation Monday through Wednesday if I so please. When I worked for THE MAN, my boss was a tool who used to make my life a living hell, and one of the ways he did so was to control when we had to be at work. The 9 to 5, Monday through Friday, is a soul sucking enterprise used only to drain employees of the will to live, so as to keep them docile.

I am living like I have never lived before right now, and I would not trade it for anything.

Indeed, I actually make a lot less money working for myself, and I even have to do a lot of my work on the weekends, as I described yesterday.

But the thing is, I am my own boss now, and the work that I do is not only exactly what I want to do, but it's fun and almost 100% productive. And that's kickass.

In corporate America, the boss made the work very unfun and his soul sucking ways made the work only about 20% productive at best. I was wasting my life there, and it's good to be done with that. I am so glad I fired my boss.

My time is up.

7.19.2010

10 Minutes - A Brief Respite

Hi. It's Joe.

My life is going full speed ahead right now and the throttle is jammed wide open.

It's a little scary, but it's damn thrilling.

Over the weekend I covered the Lake Mills Arts Festival on Saturday as a freelance reporter for the local newspaper in Lake Mills, the Leader. I went to the fest in the morning and checked it out, interviewing a few artists, volunteers, and spectators.

Around noon, I had to leave for a three (3) hour drive to Viroqua WI, where People Brothers Band was performing a show at the Harmony Hills Music Festival later in the afternoon. After the rock show, I hung out at the hippie fest for a little while, listening to Elf Lettuce. Then I had to drive back to Cambridge that same night to let my dog Buddy out. I didn't have anyone to sit for him, and I also didn't want to spend any money hiring someone to sit for him, or putting him in the kennel.

So that made for a long day, but after I got home I still worked on some writing stuff, because I love to write, as you can plainly see. I was not able to sleep in very much on Sunday morning, because I wanted to squeeze in an interview with Sherry Misener, one of the organizers of the Lake Mills Arts Festival, over breakfast and coffee. Since I had to leave the arts fest for Viroqua before it was over the previous day, I wanted to get her take on the rest of the festival and how it went. With that interview I was able to fill in the remaining details of the arts fest for the article I planned to write up Sunday night, which was due to the Lake Mills Leader newspaper on Monday morning.

But before I could write the piece, I had to race off to another rock-n-roll show. This time it was GUPPY EFFECT, performing at the End Zone Sports Bar in Delavan WI from 2 to 6 PM on Sunday afternoon. I was running a little late for the show, because the interview with Sherry had gone over a bit. I am always late for shows, so it was not a big deal.

But I got to the show only to find that our drummer had decided not to show up at all. He had not called me or my guitarist, Stefan, to let us know. He just didn't come. It was consternating.

Luckily, Stefan and I rock so hard as a semi-acoustic rock-n-roll duo that the sympathetic crowd still loved us and even said we didn't sound like we needed a drummer. True. But I still had to do a lot more percussive style playing on the bass to make it sound good. I was able to sell one of the two remaining GUPPY EFFECT women's thongs after the performance.

Ladies, FYI - we have one (1) remaining women's thong available, and it is a size small. I will sell it for $10 on a first come, first served basis. Just E-MAIL ME if you want it. It's a collector's item. We probably won't make any more, and even if we do, they will be a different style. So when we are famous, don't blame us that you don't own a small GUPPY EFFECT women's thong worth millions of dollars at auction.

Still, it was a bit anti-climactic knowing that I would have to "fire" our drummer for laming on a show.

When I got home, I had to do a few chores before I could settle in to writing the article for the Lake Mills Leader about the arts festival. I was up pretty late doing it, so on Monday morning I got a late start heading up to the cottage in northern Wisconsin where I am now.

Tomorrow I will help my folks with some much needed yard work around the cottage, and then I will cruise home Wednesday. Although I am non-stop rocking on life right now, it is nice to be up north with no cell phone or other distractions of life.

My time is up.

7.16.2010

30 Minutes - Let Me Explain This "Buy Joe a Cup o' Joe" Thing

Hi. It's Joe.

It's Friday.

Back when I used to work for THE MAN, I used to be glad when Friday came along. I still like Fridays, but not for the same reasons. When I worked for THE MAN, Friday represented a respite from his soul-sucking ways. Now that I work for myself, Friday actually represents the START of my intense work schedule.

You see, part of making a living without a job, for me, is playing live music on the weekends. While the hours are fairly short, they are intensive and they take a lot of physical and mental energy. It is the GOOD kind of stess, and I love doing it, but it takes a lot out of me and puts me on a weird diurnal rhythm that is sort of like working second shift for most employed people.

I've adjusted. I just follow this schedule most of the rest of the days of the week, to be consistent. I usually reserve my mornings for personal time. If I don't sleep in (which is hard to do, when you are self employed), I usually relax, practice piano, do a lesson of THE CHALLENGE, go for a bike ride, or read. Sometimes I go work on the CSA farm, which is like a workout. Then I start my business day around noon or so, applying Internet Marketing lessons from THE CHALLENGE to my online business activities, soliciting freelance jobs, and generally writing as much as I can.

Then my work day ends around 2 AM. And I repeat this cycle just about daily. I do take a day off here and there to rejuvenate myself. What would be the point of self-employment if I couldn't dictate my own schedule, right? Still, I probably average about 80 hours per week of actual, productive work. I like the feeling of being productive, even if the pay is low. When I worked in corporate America, it was the opposite - high pay and very low productivity.

This 10 minute blog post each day is essentially "training" to be a good writer. The only rule of good writing is that your readers want to keep reading. That's it.

Are you still reading?

QED. I'm a half-way decent writer (because I am only about half way done with this post, and I know full well I might lose you before the end). Notice, I haven't really written about anything substantial or useful, but you continue to read because my writing is good and you can appreciate the aesthetic of it.

That is sort of a segway (segue?) into why I call this blog BUY JOE A CUP O' JOE.

The whole thing about buying me a cup of coffee is kind of like a TIP JAR. It's totally an optional suggested donation of $3.50, every cent of which goes to FUELING my creative efforts, often driven by caffeine (though I like to think it's not essential, it is). But at least it's not speed, or cocaine.

In fact, I want everyone to know I don't drink, smoke, or do drugs. I am not trying to toot my own horn, I just want people to know that coffee is my main vice, and people should know that any endorsement of ME through coffee donations on this site only goes to good things aimed at making the world better.

When I play a rock-n-roll show, with one of my rock bands, even if we are getting paid by the venue to perform, I will often put out a TIP JAR.

That way, if people think we have rocked above and beyond the call of duty, they can give us an extra little bit of praise with dollars (or in some cases cents...).

It's the same deal with this blog. Hopefully, it entertains you (are you still with me?). I don't expect anything more than your gratitude. But if it really entertains you and you think I have gone the extra mile to make your life a bit sunnier and happier, and you have some discretionary spending money, then you have the option to "throw me a bone" in the form of a coffee donation.

Granted, the donations go into the general coffer that fuels my creative and rock-n-roll enterprises. But buying coffee regularly is one of those necessary things I need to make this all happen. I can assure you that my coffee consumption FAR exceeds the donations I have received here (and thank you to EVERYONE who has ever donated - multiple donations are accepted!). So you know your donations are not going to waste.

In fact, I am at almost 100% efficiency in my endeavors these days. When I first "fired" my boss and started on this journey to be a free agent in the universe, while teaching others how to do it too, I experimented with a lot of different things, and I finally realized that the best way to go is pursuing things you LOVE to do.

So I tried a lot of things I hated, like band booking, and finally decided to commit heart and soul to songwriting, music performance, and writing (the normal, non-songwriting kind). There is no way a human being can work 80 hours a week on something they hate without losing a lot of soul, no matter how good the pay is.

The pay isn't very good for my passions. But I do them well and I have no plans to stop. The only necessary task I do that is not optimal is balancing my books as a small business enterprise. I don't hate it, but I don't like it. It just has to be done.

I even report all your kind coffee donations to the IRS, as sad and pathetic as that is.

So thanks for reading, and I really appreciate your love and support everyone!

Time.

p.s. Another way you can support my efforts is by listening to some of my songs at www.broadjam.com/guppyeffect. They are free to stream and only $0.99 to download. You can also search "guppy effect" and "cactus joe" on AMAZON or iTUNES.

7.15.2010

10 Minutes - Top 10 Radio Songs This Week

Hi. It's Joe.

In one of my recent posts, I mentioned wanting to get GUPPY EFFECT rock song "Becca" into the top 20 songs this week.

It wasn't so much because we really wanted "Becca" to make it into the top 20 songs this week. It was more to do with getting a lot of Web traffic to this site, so that people could listen to the song and maybe even download it.

The idea was to create a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. When people would search Google for "top 20 songs this week," as a keyword phrase, this blog would appear in the results list, probably in the top 10 because of the SEO nature of that particular phrase (that's why I chose it). Then a handful of those people would click through to this blog and a handful of those might even listen to "Becca." And of those, one or two might even download it. I know that's a lot to expect, but supposedly that is how the Web works.

That's also why I titled this post "Top 10 Radio Songs This Week." As titles go, there is very little competition among Web pages for the phrases "top 10 songs this week" and "top 10 radio songs." So I combined the two in the title in hopes of attracting Google's attention with regard to people searching these phrases.

This all probably makes very little sense to you, but I am currently taking a free online Internet Marketing course called THE CHALLENGE, and it is all about understanding how the Internet responds to input from the humans using it.

I think it will bring me closer to my goal of full assimilation between my brain and the Internet brain, at least with regard to the topics that interest me, such as sugar gliders as pets (no thanks!), and 500 free business cards (yes please!).

So, if you got past all that boring stuff, on to better things. GUPPY EFFECT, Wisconsin's most rocking band, is playing a somewhat earlier than usual show tonight at Windwood of Watertown. I have to leave here at 5 PM to set up for the show, which runs 7 to 10 PM.

CLICK HERE for a map if you wanna come.

That means I need to squeeze in a RAGBRAI training bike ride (back link alert!), including a stop at the bank and the Lake Mills Leader newspaper (I'm going to be a part time writer for them, yea!), before then - and still leave some time for loading gear and showering.

I'll bet it's a scorcher out there today. I had better get moving.

Time.

7.14.2010

5 Minutes - A Sugar Glider Cage?

Hi. It's Joe.

I had no idea that there is a huge market for keeping sugar gliders as pets.

According to Wikipedia, "The sugar glider (Petaurus breviceps) is a small gliding marsupial native to eastern and northern mainland Australia, New Guinea, and the Bismarck Archipelago" (whatever that is).

Now don't get me wrong, I like pets. But why would you keep a sugar glider as a pet? These creatures are so cute and rascally, they don't belong in a cage. They belong in nature, and maybe on NatGeo Channel.



They sort of resemble miniature ferrets that can fly, like a flying squirrel. However, they are unrelated to squirrels. It's just an example of convergent evolution. They are more closely related to kangaroos. They have pouches in which they raise their young.

There's one thing anyone who is considering a sugar glider as a pet should know. They bark. LOUD.



They also make a screaming noise called CRABING. This may be one of the most annoying sounds ever...



No thanks. Nature, I say. Nature for sugar gliders.

No sugar glider cages. No sugar glider pets.

Time.

7.13.2010

10 Minutes - School of Audio Engineering Book

Hi. It's Joe.

I've been pretty good about sticking to my plan to bike every day in the month of July, as I work on habit development, as per Leo Babauta's "The Power of Less."

I've also been more or less keeping up with the free online Internet Marketing course "The Challenge." It's very cool. One of the most important things to understand about Internet Marketing is that it isn't about the product or service you are promoting. In fact, The Challenge gives the least amount of time to products. What is most important is doing market research to see if there is even a need for the thing you want to sell online, and ample web traffic. You can have the greatest product or service in the world, but if no one needs it or no one comes to your web site, it won't go anywhere.

I'm going over to the CSA farm this morning. I was going to go up to the cottage yesterday, but I did a long bike ride instead. Then I was really tired. Plus, PEOPLE BROTHERS BAND wants to record this afternoon. I am going to take the evening off, because I have been working way too hard. My 500 Free Business Cards AdWords campaign is doing well again.

CHECK IT OUT HERE.

I would love to hear your feedback on how I can improve the site. Please note that I developed that money making site totally for FREE, using Blogger. It's awesome.

Last night I whipped together a blog post reviewing the book "Home Recording for Musicians for Dummies." I use this book a lot and it has really improved my diy music recordings, to the extent that now I am only limited by musicianship. I tell you that only by way of back linking to the other post, but if you are a musician or songwriter who does home studio recording, you might want to glance at the blog HERE.

Time.

7.11.2010

10 Minutes - "Becca" in the Top 20 Songs This Week (10% Off!)

Hi. It's Joe.

DOWNLOAD "BECCA" by GUPPY EFFECT - one of the top 20 songs this week.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

"Becca" by GUPPY EFFECT is downloadable for just $0.89 - 10% off the usual download price.

This is an experiment in direct Internet marketing of my band's music.

You see, I did a little research and it turns out there are almost 600 searches each day for the keyword phrase "top 20 songs this week." Plus, there are only about 2,500 total web pages that contain this phrase, and only 214 (or 215 as soon as I post this) web pages with "top 20 songs this week" in the title.

So it is kind of like a self-fulfilling prophecy. People will search for "top 20 songs this week" in Google or some other search engine, and this post will very likely appear on the first page of results returned, if all goes well.

Then people will click through to the song, preview it for free, love it, and subsequently download it. In a very short time, the song "Becca" will become one of the top 20 songs this week, validating this experiment.

Isn't that transcendent? It's clever too.

If it works...

Try it for yourself. Go to Google and search "top 20 songs this week" in quotes into the search bar.

Did it work? I sure hope so.

(Editor's Note Post Facto: Actually, after I published this blog post, I went to Google and found that this post does indeed rank 7th on the first page of Google results returned for "top 20 songs this week." Yea!)

Even if we make it into the top 40 songs this week, that would be fine. Besides, even if we aren't on the Billboard Top 40 songs this week, we might still end up on somebody's top 40 or top 20 songs. And really, isn't that what it is all about, getting our songs into the hands of the people who WANT our brand of high energy rock-n-roll?

GUPPY EFFECT rocked RockFest in Delavan WI today. It was great fun. We were by far the awesomest band there. Not that the other bands weren't good, but our mantra is "Thrice the rocking power of other name bands," and we are true to that.

I've noticed that many local bands have tried so hard to standardize their sound to the mainstream sound they think audiences are looking for that they have become totally generic and sterile. One thing GUPPY EFFECT will never be is generic and sterile. Everything we play has a unique, raw sound, and it is different every time we play it. It's also always evolving, not toward some bland, candy-like pop, but in expansive new ways, whatever that means. I guess it means you will never hear the same GUPPY EFFECT show twice.

What is the point of completely neutralizing your creativity to meet some arbitrary standard sound you think everyone is looking for. It takes all the fun right out of the music.

So anyway, go DOWNLOAD "BECCA" by GUPPY EFFECT right now, and help us put it in the top 20 songs this week.

Power to the People.

Time.

7.08.2010

30 Minutes - The 5 Habits of a Highly Ineffective Joe

Hi. It's Joe.

I am reading Leo Babauta's "The Power of Less."

It's a book about living frugally and escaping enslavement to debt, and thus THE MAN.

In this book he encourages developing good habits, and describes what he believes is the best approach to good habit development. He says, once you decide on the habit you want to develop, set a goal to perform the habitual behavior every day for 30 days, limiting it to a realistic amount of time and effort.

He adamantly advises people to focus on only one habit at a time, to ensure they aren't overwhelmed with habits they are trying to achieve.

I have five (5) habits in various stages of development that I would like to solidify. I think I can focus on one per month (30 days), and have them all honed to a fine point before the holidays at the end of the year. The habits I want to make second nature are as follows.

1. Exercise Daily - I am going to focus on this one now, in the month of July, for the simple reason that I am riding RAGBRAI the last week of this month, and I have already been going on a daily bike ride to train for it. This one will be fairly easy. The trick is always getting out on the bike at the right time of day, and before it is too late. As soon as I finish this post, I am going to ride my bike to the CSA farm so I can time how long it takes. Then I will probably continue on to Fort Atkinson WI to get a few hills in the course. When it is bad weather, I can put my bike on the indoor trainer that my mom donated to me a few weeks ago. I have no excuse not to ride the bike daily, although I will admit I HATE exercising indoors. But maybe if I have music and something to read, or a TV show to watch on HULU on my laptop, it will be OK.

2. Complete THE CHALLENGE - This is a free online course on Internet Marketing (formerly known as the "30 Day Challenge") that I want to do so I can be more effective in promoting cool products online, and make lots of money so that I do not have to work for THE MAN. This one will be difficult to do in one 30 day period for a couple of reasons. First, it is a 49 day course now (it used to be 30 days). Second, it is taught seven days ON and seven days OFF, so it is really more like 91 days (not counting the final seven days OFF, obviously, since that is technically the end...). So I don't know what to do here. But I think I am going to cheat on this one and just do it while I am doing other habits, even though Leo Babauta says not to do that. But I will treat it like taking a class in school and not really a technical "habit."

Yamaha YPG-635 88-Key Weighted Portable Grand Piano3. Daily Piano Practice - A few years ago, I scored a sweet Yamaha YPG-635 digital grand piano. It's a sweet instrument, with 88 weighted hammer-action keys, and sampled grand piano sound (as well as hundreds of other sampled instruments). It's fun to just dick around on the piano, but I really want to get better at playing real songs and reading music. I want to practice for 30 minutes each day. Since I am only working on one habit every 30 days, I will focus on this one in September. However, I will try to squeeze in 30 minutes of piano practice when I can before September.

4. Write 10 Minute Blog Posts Daily - I think it is safe to say I have already accomplished this habit, with a few minor stumbling blocks here and there. I've been doing it diligently for a long time now. So I will just keep on doing it, and because it is already a well established habit for me, it doesn't really detract from the new habits above that I am trying to strengthen and solidify. I think Leo Babauta would allow it.

5. Write One Commercially Viable Article Daily - I am going to focus on this habit in August, since July is biking and September is piano, and also because I need to make more money at writing during August, because my economic circumstances are evolving. I already have opportunities available to do this, I just haven't been doing it. Right now my focus is on some other things, including live music performances and getting ready for RAGBRAI. But August is perfect for this. I am a writer for LiveStrong.com, a freelance position that is "work-at-your-own-pace." The articles they need are short 400-500 word pieces. Each one doesn't pay a whole lot, but if I do one every day it will add up. I'm also a writer on Elance.com, and I will bid on writing projects I want to do there. These opportunities probably won't arise daily, but they can fill in between the LiveStrong.com stuff. I will also work on my book too. Can I shamelessly back link to the keywords Lance Armstrong and Sheryl Crow here? Too late...

I'll update you on how everything is going on the habit development. Meanwhile, pick up Leo Babauta's "The Power of Less" at the library. It is a very cool read. Very Zen.

Time.

7.07.2010

1 Minute - Some Good Songwriter Action in Lake Mills WI on Thursday 7/8

Hi. It's Joe.

Just real quick, I saw that there is a songwriter's circle going down at Waterhouse Cafe in Lake Mills WI on Thursday night, July 8th, which is tomorrow night as I write this, but probably tonight as you read it.

It's from 7 to 9 PM and I encourage everyone who can go to go. Dave Schindele and Paul Stiegler will be there, in addition to Rich Baumann and a couple other great Madison area songwriters. It will be very fun and you can sip icy beverages too.

I should put my money where my mouth is and go, but I have a PEOPLE BROTHERS BAND practice that I simply cannot miss. I want other people to go because local live music needs our support or it will atrophy, wither, and die.

That cannot be allowed to happen.

10 Minutes - Playing Catch Up Obviously

Hi. It's Joe.

Again.

Normally I would not do two (2) 10 minute blog posts in a day. But I got a little behind because of the marathon of rock-n-roll over the weekend. Plus, I am in a contemplative phase, and writing helps me think.

So, PEOPLE BROTHERS played an awesome rock-n-roll show on Saturday night, July 3. It wasn't quite as awesome as the Hay Market show in Decorah IA, like I said before. But it was damn good.

On Sunday, Independence Day, I had to get up kind of early to clean my house, because I had scheduled a HOUSE CONCERT at my house for 3 to 6 PM that day. I cleaned and set up all the music gear. The concert was well-attended. People brought food and Stefan joined me for a semi-acoustic GUPPY EFFECT concert that everyone loved.

After the house concert, Stefan and I chilled a while, ate some leftover food from the visitors, and then we made our way to nearby Fort Atkinson WI where I had booked a show at the Bolt Inn, a small but cool bar where they appreciate good music. We rocked a second semi-acoustic GUPPY EFFECT set there. A couple of people from the house concert even showed up, because they dug the music so much.

I thought the Bolt Inn show was going to conclude the weekend marathon of rock, but on Monday, after I got up early and worked the morning shift at the CSA farm, I got a text from Tim of PEOPLE BROTHERS BAND asking me if I would be so kind as to host the Come Back Inn open mic night that he usually hosts on Mondays, and get paid for it. Get paid to watch other people rock? Hell yes!

So the marathon of rock really didn't end until the wee early morning hours of Tuesday. I went to bed finally hoping to get a full night's rest, but then a whole bunch of crap unrelated to music broke loose and that's another story, which I probably won't relate here.

Time.

10 Minutes - Funny Bicycle Crashes on the Tour de France

Hi. It's Joe.

So yesterday, I posted about the first leg of the marathon of rock-n-roll that transpired last weekend. To wit, PEOPLE BROTHERS BAND rocked an amazing show to a packed house at the Hay Market in Decorah IA. We made enough bank on the gig to cover gas expenses and still pay the band, even though we would have performed for a loss to get that kind of awesome response. Plus, our lodging was free, and across the street from the gig. So everyone got to party.

On Saturday morning, after the gig, I got up and asked our host, Lynnette Perry, where a guy could get a stiff cup of coffee near her place. She referred me to a coffee shop a block away, so I walked up the street and was delighted to find that they also had breakfast-type foods. I ordered a breakfast burrito with my coffee and took it back to Lynnette's, where I ate it as my band mates slept. Man, they sure slept a long time. As much fun as we had, I was kind of eager to get on the road back to Madison, even though there was no urgency. We had lots of time to get back before our Saturday night show at the Come Back Inn in Madison.

They eventually got up and we loaded our gear and hit the road. I got back home in time to shower and then cruise over to Todd and Sherry's house where I fed and walked their three (3) Boston terriers, in exchange for them letting my dog Buddy out whilst I was in Decorah the night before.

We rocked a good show at the Come Back Inn, still kind of high on life from the Hay Market show in Decorah. But it still wasn't even close to the awesomeness of the Iowa show. As I mentioned in the previous post, Madison music audiences are a bit lackluster at best. Our die hard fans were right out in front having a blast, and God bless them each and every one. But the random passersby in the bar that night seemed like they could take it or leave it. There were a few exceptions, like a couple of hippie looking girls who really threw down on the dance floor. You know who you are, and we thank you for rocking hard.

I don't blame Madison audiences for not rocking. They have a huge selection of good music to choose from, which they totally take for granted. That makes them jaded and reserved when they see a band they have not seen before. It's just the way of the world. It's like how rich people can't really relate to how poor people live. They have no conception of it.

It's also kind of like Lance Armstrong riding the Tour de France again. People are like, "Why is he doing it again after supposedly retiring from it for two years?"

It's because he knows nothing else. He tried for a while to live a normal life like other people. He even did the big week-long bike ride across Iowa called RAGBRAI, which I will be riding in a couple of weeks, to try to see if he could ride a bike SOCIALLY (like most people), rather than COMPETITIVELY (like Tour de France racing bike people).

He couldn't. So he's back where he belongs, cranking his bike up and down treacherous alpine roads in France. I have to admit, I enjoy the Tour de France bicycle crashes a great deal, more so than the incredible cycling ability of these bicyclists.



NOTE: Some of these bicycle crashes are not funny, and the soundtrack contains ADULT language. You have been warned...It's painful to watch. And you know you will watch every second, just like I did. OUCH!

Time.

10 Minutes - Iowa Rocks!

Hi. It's Joe.

This is the first installment of several posts about my marathon of rock-n-roll last weekend.

PEOPLE BROTHERS BAND headed out to Decorah, IA on Friday afternoon. We had a show to perform at the Hay Market bar in this remote little college town in the northeast part of Iowa.

The drive was fairly smooth, even though we had to take four (4) vehicles, which is a foolishly wasteful way to travel for road gigs. I was driving with guitarist Tom. When we got to Decorah, we pulled up at the Hay Market and parked. Our host, Lynnette Perry, lives in an apartment kitty corner to the bar.

She used to live about 8 miles out of town, and when PEOPLE BROTHERS BAND cruised out there last February for a Hay Market gig and Festivus celebration, it was a real pain to have to drive out to her place on snowy icy roads after the gig.

But now, her place was pretty much a "green room" of hospitality right across the street from where we'd be rocking. And rock we did.

After eating a mess o' pizza at Lynnette's, we loaded our gear into the Hay Market and set up. There was a $4 cover charge to get in. My head was telling me there was no way we were going to draw a good crowd to the show that night. The college was out for summer and in a recession, a $4 cover might make people seek out other alternatives for entertainment.

But, luckily, in Decorah IA there are no viable alternatives. The Hay Market is THE PLACE.

Lynnette had done a lot of pre-show publicity for us and the word on the streets was that the last time we played there (see above) it was insane (and it was). So we somehow managed to pack the Hay Market that night. There were so many people that you could barely move around and we even had people standing on the clearing of floor that served as our stage.

That made it a little difficult to perform at times, but with a response like we got there, we could not complain. This show was 500 times better than any show we ever performed in Madison WI, which has lame audiences by comparison to Decorah IA.

It's nothing personal with Madison. It is just that Madison has a huge music scene and so many options to choose from. So people are spoiled and jaded, and they take live music for granted in Madison, even when the band plays awesome rock-n-roll like PEOPLE BROTHERS BAND does.

But in Decorah, they are starved for good music. So when an out of town band that already has a good reputation on the streets comes to town, people want to be where the action is. And it was at the Hay Market last Friday night.

I think also in Madison, because there are so many choices, people have a kind of "fear paralysis." They have so many live music options to choose from that they get anxiety about which one to choose and if it is the right one to choose. Then they just stay home for fear of making the wrong choice.

But I will tell you something very important, Madison. You can never ever go wrong seeing GUPPY EFFECT or PEOPLE BROTHERS BAND. The experience is never the same twice and it always rocks. There is something for everyone.

Plus, a thorough rocking is guaranteed. If you are not fully satisfied, your next show is FREE.

Time.


7.06.2010

1 Minute - This is Filler, But You Should Stay Tuned...

Hi. It's Joe.

I just finished up a massive marathon of rock-n-roll and assorted other activities that began last Friday. As such, I didn't keep up on my 10 minute blog posts.

Also, I am about to go on a bike ride. So even though I really want to tell you all about my kickass fun weekend, I'm not going to right now. I'm just going to send you this "filler" post as a teaser. I am building the anticipation.

I'm probably going to have to break the travelogue down into 3 or 4 different posts, because there is a lot of fun to share. It's nice though to have a backlog of things to write about, so that way I am not struggling to pull stuff out of thin air like I so often do.

And you love it anyway.

Time.

7.01.2010

15 Minutes - A Dilemma of Rock

Hi. It's Joe.

My dilemma is that I like to gig on Thursday nights, but that is PEOPLE BROTHERS BAND practice night. I make my money from music, in part, and there's demand for music on Thursday nights, thus paid gigs. But it's also the only night PEOPLE BROTHERS BAND can practice, and they have provided me a lot of paid gigs too, just not on Thursdays. While I make more money playing solo on Thursdays, I play more frequently with PEOPLE BROTHERS, so it is a toss up. But I'd still like to gig on Thursdays, and have PEOPLE BROTHERS BAND practice a different day. But then that just Fs up someone else's schedule, so its a no win situation.

I tried to get them to switch practice to Tuesdays, so I could gig on Thursdays, but that didn't work. The compromise I came up with is that I told them I have to have one (1) Thursday off per month to gig, and in July (HAPPY JULY by the way!) it looks like it will be Thursday July 15, when I have a GUPPY EFFECT awesome rock-n-roll show at Windwood in Watertown.

The irony of it all is that I could totally get PEOPLE BROTHERS BAND a gig there on a Thursday night. It wouldn't pay much, only about $250, but that is better than ZERO which is what having band practice gets us. PEOPLE BROTHERS doesn't like to do "live practices" because they aren't really practices where we can learn new material. They just fall on the same night as practice, but are really shows. I get that. I'd just rather gig.

I don't feel too bad though. I have a Wednesday night gig hosting open mic that is pretty easy and doesn't keep me up to all hours, at least through August. And just about every Friday and Saturday through August has a GUPPY EFFECT or PEOPLE BROTHERS BAND show. So I am set for summer.

Tracy will be back in September, so hopefully she and I can sketch out a business plan for rocking through Halloween and then songwriting most of the winter and making riches via Internet Marketing and book selling.

I am thinking about getting DOWNLOAD CARDS from CD BABY for my album "Inspirado," as an alternative to CDs.

These are like little pre-pay cards with a unique code that lets people download the album digitally via CD BABY from a computer. I like the 21st century quality of that. I won't lie, I hate CDs. These cute little cards only cost $0.59 each. So even if I sell the full album for just $1, I would still make a 40% profit margin. And then my music fans can get my entire album onto their iPods as MP3s for just a buck. That's win-win.

If I sell CDs, even at cost, I have to charge about $5 just to break even, much less make a profit. That's highway robbery, and I don't want to rob anyone, least of all MYSELF.

In honor of this idea, I made CACTUS JOE'S "INSPIRADO" available in its entirety for just $1 at cdbaby.com/cactusjoe. That's right - starting right now you can get all 11 of my kickass rock-n-roll songs from INSPIRADO for just $1.

This will be good through Monday, July 5th. So visit cdbaby.com/cactusjoe TODAY and download it for just a buck!

If you do, you don't even have to buy me a coffee today, OK?

(NOTE: You can preview the songs free first to see if you like it. But I know you will...)

Time.