year of no fear

When You Don’t Know Anybody and Nobody Knows You

By | just do it, year of no fear | No Comments

Week 2, Open Mic 1. The goal was to visit 1 Open Mic every day (Monday thru Thursday) for a month to begin learning the music scene in Philly. But I already know I won’t be accomplishing this because I’m on the road for 1/2 of this month and because I really just don’t want to go to an open mic every single night. when I’m in town. That gets tiring.

As soon as I walked into Second State Lounge (formerly Lickety Split) I nearly walked out. I hate going places by myself…even though that’s essentially what i do for a living. But there’s nothing more sucky than sitting in the back of a bar by yourself drinking a glass of water ( i don’t drink) and then talking to no one…and also avoiding your phone because there is 1% battery left and you wouldn’t be doing anything on it anyhow except pretending that you don’t care you’re by yourself! Haha!

BUT tonight was successful! In hindsight Id like to think of it as an exercise in extrovertism (#fakeword). Hehe. Upon arriving I found a chick named Lisa who hosted the night. I got there signed up for a slot, which was originally for 12:15. Did I really want to sit for 2 hours by myself just to play 3 songs after midnight? No. But I drove a long way. Well…it wasnt really a long way, but it felt like it because there was traffic – ridiculous amounts of traffic on the way and the trip took near 40 minutes when it should have only been 20 (my disapproval of Philly traffic is another rant for another time).  But just as I was signing up, another songwriter came up, said she was leaving, and scratched her name off the list. I got her 11pm slot thus reducing my 2-hours of angsty aloneness to only 1!!! :)

The set went well. Just a few songs that i normally play at shows.  But playing on stage is funny because its sort of the time when you’re allowed to be an extrovert…even if you’re not one. Rules of the game, I guess. And it opens the door for holding conversations after you get off stage. So i basically talked about coming to Philly, being new, being shy, and wanting to know of places to play. After my set I got a chance to talk to alot of people, pass out a few business cards, book an Open Mic featured spot, and learn about a few locals that i should get in contact with. Thanks to Lisa who was sooooo nice and made the night better. I’m telling you – its all about the host. They always set the tone of the night and Lisa did a great job!

The whole night I was thinking of a post I just put up on my Music Marketing blog this week. It was a contributed post by my friend Jerzy Jung. She says this:

My ultimate goal involves success, but lately I’m thinking that my small goals every day should all involve feeling scared and unsure and sucky. But breathlessly, thrillingly sucky, because at least I had the balls to move, to act, and to do my part to create the momentum I want.

I would rather feel scared and unsure and sucky while making an effort to reach my crazy goals than feel accomplished because I did the same old safe thing that will get me absolutely nowhere.  [read Jerzys whole post here]

I love her words because it made me think about how Open Mic in and of itself is arguably a waste of time. But every good thing must start small and in order to make the progress you want you have to start from the ground up – which means going to Open Mic after Open Mic, meeting people, learning how things works, and taking the time to invest in the future by preparing for it now.

Anyhow, Ill be hitting up 2 other open mics this week and I’m looking forward to meeting more people and connecting with the scene a bit more! Maybe another blog will come out of it :)

the end.




Leaving Pittsburgh…

By | life, year of no fear | 5 Comments

2014-07-04 13.49.17

Dear Friends,

It’s with a bit of sadness and a lot of anticipation and excitement that I announce that I will be moving to Philadelphia at the end of this Summer. I actually don’t know where to start but I thought I should let you all know.

Earlier this year I felt strongly that things would be changing, but I wasn’t sure what that meant. I wrestled with the idea of leaving Pittsburgh but tossed the idea out pretty quickly for a number of reason. On one account, I’ve become accustomed to this routine I have – leave for a few days or a few weeks, come home and reconnect with friends, family and my church community, then leave again. It’s a back-and-forth that’s been pretty predictable and fairly comfortable all at the same time. Ironically it’s also incredibly unpredictable as every day on the road is different from the next. But somehow both lifestyles have found a way to work together while being polar opposites to each other. And in working together, they have become very comfortable.

I used to think being comfortable was a good  thing;  and I’m not saying that it’s not (we all have our comforts), but comfortable for me has become fairly stagnant and stale over the past few years. I’ve been in Pittsburgh my whole life…or at least the greater part of it (since age 5) and you guys have treated me so well – welcomed me with open arms and helped me grow as a person and as an artist. Pittsburgh is an awesome place to be an artist!!! The last time I listened to my first album I cringed. It’s so terrible!  I can’t even believe you let it see the light of day…and kept listening! haha!  Some of you have been around since Day 1 – as encouragers, committed show attendees, financial supporters, word-of-mouthers and so much more! So I owe much to the people, and music/art scene in this town for helping me to become better, for sticking with me all these years (9 in total) and helping me to get to the next level.

Which brings me to this so-called new Chapter:
I’ve never had a 5-year plan. Or a 10-year. Don’t think I ever will. I like 1-year plans. I like looking at the past 12 months, seeing how I grew, what I could have done better, and then making realistic goals to shoot for in the next 12 months. This year, I felt strongly that staying where I’ve been (in the literal sense) would keep me in a holding pattern. So it’s been a restless season, full of uncertainties and not knowing what’s next.  I still don’t know :)

The few people I told in advance asked me if I’m moving to Philly for the music scene, for a life change, or to be with my sister, Peace. My answer was Yes. Yes to all 3 – primarily and simply for change. But the fact that my sister lives there sealed the deal (we’ll be living together). Regarding music: to be honest, I don’t really understand how the music piece fits into my life. It has always seemed like a foreign object that just set up shop in my life…and so somehow I let it stay. I still, believe it or not, feel like a fish out of water. I still don’t feel like a musician. I still don’t know why I’m doing music except that it is the gift God has given me to share with those around me. And at this point in my life I have become completely ok with it being just that. I am always expecting it to change. I am always expecting it to someday not be there (or at least to change its form in my life). But for now it is still around and so I am going to do it the best that I can! So if you thought I was going to announce a career change- that’s not happening…yet…or anytime soon as far as I know! :)

Aaaall that to say, being in Philly does make being a musician alot easier. I don’t have to be on the road for 2 weeks at a time because DC, Lancaster, Baltimore, NYC…etc are all 90 minutes-to 2.5 hours away instead of 4-7 hours.  That’s a huge perk. But of course I will still be traveling to the Midwest and going down south, so there will be long tours on the books as usual.

For years I told myself that I would/could never live in Philadelphia. The traffic alone was enough to make me pull my hair out! And the people…well they aint Pittsburghers (but you didn’t read that here)! hehe. But I guess I’ll just deal! :)  I honestly wish I could say that God told me to go there. I’d feel more confident about the move if that were the case. But I’m just making a move and trusting that he will honor it and keep opening doors.  I guess that’s how it works, right? You can either stay put and stick to what you know or venture out and discover all the possibilities. You’ll never know what you don’t know unless you get out of the box!  In any case, I strongly believe Philadelphia is just a stepping stone. Definitely not the end game!

Last but not least, deciding to move was especially hard when i thought about Samuel & Emmanuel – my two 4-year old recently adopted brothers who have become the light of my life.  I won’t lie – I’ve shed alot of tears on that one and if there’s anything that would make me change my mind, it would be them.. But I’ll be passing through Pittsburgh as much as possible  to stay connected. And i should also mention that I will of course be swinging through Pittsburgh for occasional shows.

And so…
If you are in Pittsburgh, thank you for the part you have played in my life over the years.
If you are in Philadelphia, I’m looking forward to getting to know you better!
If you’re somewhere else, I’ll see you on the road!

That is all.
With love,


p.s. one final shows in Pittsburgh before I leave! Its free and with the band
AUG 21: Rodef Shalom Garden Party!



#328 This year I will not fear…

By | year of no fear | No Comments

So I’ve been talking about how 2014 is the Year of No Fear for me! And I’ve had a number of other people say they’re going to join in on the journy and claim that for their year as well. Someone, who will remain nameless, sent me this list a few days ago and I thought it worth sharing. If you have any Fear-less experiences, or a “No Fear” list or goals or whatever, send them my way and they might just end up on this blog :)

The opinions of others.
My gifts.
The unknown.
The potential of making something that’s not very good.
The possibility of what could be if I don’t fear.
Saying no.
Being in situations I don’t know how to handle.
Not having an answer to a question.
Answering hard questions people ask me as their leader.
Challenging people.