I took my first trip to Atlanta over the weekend to play at a birthday event. First of all, nobody warned me that Atlanta gets so muggy! I stepped off the plane and was immediately smacked in the face with heat and humidity! Lesson learned for next time. Atlanta’s a beautiful area, I’ll just have make sure to be better prepared for the weather next time.
So, the first night I was in town, I stopped by a jazz lounge called Kat’s Café and played a song with the house band. That was fun - those musicians were really talented! If you ever find yourself in downtown Atlanta on a Thursday night, make sure to stop by Kat’s Cafe off of Piedmont Avenue. Try to show up by 9pm as that’s when the band kicks off. The next day was the birthday event. This event was a birthday celebration mixed in with a tribute to the late Chuck Brown, who I learned, put “go-go” music on the map. Being from the West Coast, I’ve never heard of go-go music - apparently it started in D.C. and quickly spread out east, but it’s a pretty cool style of music. During the event I was able to play alongside Josh Vietti, a hip hop violinist, and Kyshona Armstrong, a vocalist. The event was fun and the venue, The Tabernacle, filled up quickly.
After the event I had a free day before flying back to LA, so I did a little sight seeing. I checked out the Georgia Aquarium (apparently the world’s largest aquarium), and saw the CNN and Coca-Cola buildings. I had no idea so many company headquarters were based in Atlanta. I also went past the Falcons’ and the Braves’ stadiums.
One of the wildest things about Atlanta was its real estate! Huge homes for dirt cheap! I’m talking homes that would be priced 3 to 4 times higher if they were in California - it was madness. I enjoyed my stay in Atlanta and look forward to going back in the near future.
I just got back from spending a week in New York with the Playground team. I was able to meet our new developer out of Utah, Sean, as well as work alongside the crew in the office, which is always nice. There’s only a handful of us on the team so it’s very important, as with any startup, to develop the culture of the company early on, as well as build the team chemistry. The more time we get to spend working together, the better. Truth be told, I never imagined I’d be part of a startup but I’m glad that I am - I love every element of it, especially considering this particular startup is doing something centered around music! It’s exciting to know that we’re building something from the ground up. The handful of us involved get to share all the wins and losses that any company encounters when it’s starting from scratch. It’s all fun to me.
There are a lot of exciting things coming up soon with Playground, some of which include added features and functionality, as well as new partnerships. I’m really excited about the rest of the year for the company and I look forward to sharing things with you, as they roll out. Stay tuned!
Over the weekend I had the privilege of teaching a class at the VocalizeU Summer Artist Intensive at Mount Saint Mary’s University, in Los Angeles. The Artist Intensive is a camp that singers of all ages attend to learn about everything from songwriting to dancing and singing on stage. Going to the camp, I had no idea what to expect. The overall experience was reminiscent to my college days as everyone at the camp stayed in the dorms on campus. The ages of the students in attendance ranged from about 7 (with their parents, of course), to people in their 40s.
Each night at the camp there was a performance. The first night featured Terry Ellis from En Vogue and David Pack. Every night after that a handful of students would take the stage and perform along with a band (I posted some footage of a couple performances on my Vine). That first night I realized how good those kids were! I was very impressed and loved every performance. On the first night of performances I actually got to be one of the judges on the judges’ panel, alongside Terry Ellis, Nikola Bedingfield, Shane Adams, and Wendy Parr.
The class that I taught was on chords, chord progressions, and how you can use the two to create melodies. I loved teaching this class because it showed the singers that the chords didn’t only have to be used to accompany their vocals, but they could also be used to create their vocal melodies. Many of the students were surprised at how easily they could build melodies just by playing different chord progressions. Along with this lesson, I also showed the kids Playground Sessions and allowed for them to play on it. They all enjoyed the program, some of them even spent the entire class playing it. After my classes I had a few kids come up to me and thank me for teaching them about chords and chord progressions, some saying they never fully understood how they worked until my class. That’s always great to hear as an instructor.
The only downside to the weekend was that I had to leave the camp early. The camp runs for just over a week but I could only spend the first few days with there. I gotta say, the thing that impressed me the most about this camp was that people came from all over the world to take part in it. There were people who flew out from London, Mexico, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, and various states within America.
Despite the short stay I had a great time at the VocalizeU Artist Intensive and if you’re a singer looking for a workshop, I strongly suggest you check it out!
Yesterday I had the honor of playing at my very first Dodger baseball game. It wasn’t a formal “concert,” it was more of a “cocktail hour” performance, but it was still a lot of fun. It’s always rewarding to see people, both - children and parents, walk by and sneak a picture or some video footage, or stop by and share a compliment while I’m playing. What isn’t so fun is when people stop by and try to have a conversation with me mid performance, but luckily I didn’t have any of that happen (trust me, it’s happened plenty of times before).
Aside from a free Dodger shirt and a free Dodger hat, I was given an all-access pass to walk around the stadium and see some of the historic images and items that were displayed in different rooms. I picked up some footage that you can check out on my Vine.
Here are a few pictures that I got as well:
As for the game, I got to watch the Dodgers beat the Phillies 6-1. This was only the second baseball game I’ve been to, but I had a lot of fun so it probably won’t be the last.
I got my hands on Final Cut Pro X a few weeks ago, and I finally put it to the test today. As a former iMovie user, working in Final Cut Pro X is a very nice upgrade. I figured out how to use some of its features on the go, but thankfully there are a lot of YouTube video tutorials for the things I don’t know how to do. I picked up Compressor 4 as well, so I guess I’ll have to work my way around to using that program as well. I know I have a ways to go before I’m proficient with these programs, but I look forward to learning all there is to learn. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll make my own little short film. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting a fellow pianist, emily bear, in Las Vegas. Today she dropped her new album, “Diversity”!!! To celebrate the launch of her new album, Playground Sessions will be offering 50% off of quarterly subscriptions for the next 24 hours if her page reaches 12,000 likes by the end of the day! Let’s help get Emily to 12,000 likes: https://www.facebook.com/EmilyBearPiano
Some of Emily’s new songs will be featured in the Playground Sessions library, so stay tuned! In the meantime, check out “Diversity” on iTunes and Amazon: http://bit.ly/11QiW3o and http://amzn.to/11fwf2h.
v-aste asked: You probably get hundreds of people telling you this, but you are actually my inspiration. I started playing piano when I was 7, but I began to hate it, I dreaded playing for years. But then one day I came across the video of you playing Apologize - One Republic. I was 10. I remember being in complete awe of you, so I learnt that song. I copied every note you played, I memorised the entire song. To this day, I still play that song every single time I sit down at the piano. I have you to thank.
I’m glad you like my arrangement and I’m happy that you still play it to this day! Thanks for your support.
hbhaskar asked: Happy birthday David! Big fan of your music, best of luck with Playground Sessions and all your other endeavours!
Thanks! I appreciate it.