Songwriting

I’m Not Stuck in the Past

I turned into one of those annoying friends or coworkers who seems to have a story to tell for every topic or conversation. Folks make fun of me and I have a sense of humor about it. I started off trying to write an ironic tune about what it might be like to be that guy who’s really trying to relive his glory days. The end result, this song, was far sadder than I intended it to be. This was my first venture into anything “folk.”

I first wrote this song for February Album Writing Month (FAWM) 2019. Listen to the 2019 FAWM Demo:

 

What is “Normal” anyways?

Watch me play an acoustic version of “Normal Day,” a song I wrote for my band The New Limits. This song has been a staple of the band’s live set for the last couple of years but has yet to be recorded. The song, written long before the COVID-19 pandemic, is just a wish for the mundane and uneventful. It served as a bit of a response to the cliche punk song praying away the 9-to-5. I wrote it in the midst of a particularly chaotic and stressful week at work.

The last thing I want right now is a return to “the way things were.” If we don’t walk away from this with better healthcare, stronger unions, and a stronger public safety net, we’ll have learned nothing.

February Album Writing Month Cover Art

What I Learned During February Album Writing Month

I… I… I did it?

This year I participated in February Album Writing Month. The goal is to write 14 songs in 28 days. And, I met the goal!

Now, admittedly, a handful of the songs I wrote in that period were built from ideas, hooks, riffs, and lyrics I had kicking around before February 2019. However, the month-long challenge was my motivation for finishing them. (more…)

Songwriting and Work Ethic Wisdom from Irving Berlin

Berlin has said that he “does not believe in inspiration,” and feels that although he may be gifted in certain areas, his “most successful compositions were the “result of work.” He said that he did most of his work under pressure. He would typically begin writing after dinner and continue until 4 or 5 in the morning.

This is wikipedia so I take it with a grain of salt, however, the sentiment still speaks to me. I would never dare compare my songwriting to that of Irving Berlin. However, I’m acutely aware that songs that don’t materialize out of thin air. (more…)

The Best Bass Line: A Tribute to Bernie Worrell

Photo By Manfred Werner / Tsui (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

I played air bass in high school. Not in the air guitar championship sense (yes, that’s a thing), but when all of my friends were playing air guitar or air drums, I was playing air bass. I don’t remember when exactly I started, but it would have been somewhere between 6th and 9th grade. I couldn’t tell you why I chose bass. Something about bass lines in songs immediately grabbed me and it was what I wanted to imitate in the safety of my bedroom walls.

Parliament Funk EssentialsThere were three songs in particular that I used to loop ad nauseam and never quite lose interest in “playing.” One of these songs was the classic funk song “Flash Light” by Parliament. I don’t remember exactly when I first heard it, but I know that I was first introduced to Parliament, and P-Funk in general, at summer camp between 9th and 10th grade (Thanks, Matt!). I returned home and started collecting. My first CD was a greatest hits collection with “Flash Light” opening the album. I was hooked. Somehow the 5-minute jam (or the 10-minute mix from another compilation) wasn’t enough. Parliament had become one of my favorite bands with an unquestionable favorite tune. (more…)

Alissia and the Funkateers Perform at the 2015 Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival

Alissia Benveniste Funks Me Back to High School

This past Saturday I attended the Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival. I first caught this festival back in 2012 when I first moved to Boston but hadn’t been back since. At the last minute, a friend of ours asked if we were attending. Thankfully I had the day free. (more…)

New Release: The New Limits’ “Pressure Up”

I am excited to announce that after almost a year of hard work, my band Boston ska band The New Limits has released our debut four-song EP entitled “Pressure Up.” The bulk of the credit goes to our keyboard player and engineer Matt MacLeod. He handled this recording from start to finish, from painstakingly positioning microphones to mixing. That is to say, he’s the guy who had to listen to these tracks over and over again. Mastering detail was handled by the skilled and talented King Django. Given how busy we all are with jobs, I am particularly proud of how great this EP came out. The horns shine, the rhythm makes me want to move, and I can’t ask for too much more. (more…)