On Being an Artist

palletteWhether you are painting a picture or singing a song the drive is strange at best. Most people don’t understand you or what it is you are trying to convey. As artists, we see and hear things differently than people that aren’t artistic. Colors are brighter, songs are more meaningful, even the way we perceive simple everyday things is different. We see and hear things in a completely different light. Is there an explanation for it?

On a fundamental level, our brains are probably wired differently. I can’t really explain it. The best way is to describe my process. Since I was really little I have always been drawn to sound and colors. I loved colors, the difference between dark and light, the sound of certain songs would entice me and capture my attention. I could get engulfed for hours looking at something that I thought was beautiful, pretty or unique.

I wasn’t drawn to normal, the sound or image had to be unique. The colors had to be so vast as to be indescribable. There weren’t the colors in my palate to paint what I saw. There weren’t enough strings on the guitar to explain what I heard. I paint pictures that are considered normal to most people because most of the time I am working with a new medium, it’s the same with music. What I really like and listen to is completely different than what I convey. Most of what I actually like most people wouldn’t like or understand. So, I do like most artists, I try to play and paint conventional.

Conventionality is the rule of thumb when it comes to presenting music or art. People really don’t like what they don’t get. If I painted what I really see I feel it would probably scare most people. If I sang what I really like most people would not want to hear. Most of what I see and hear is pretty dark at the end of the day. Who wants to see a painting of a guy laying on the floor with his heart blown out of his chest with a 30.06 rifle and blood and bone matter scattered all over the wall. They would much rather see flowers and happiness. No one wants to face ugly.

I paint things that are happy and conventional at the end of the day because I want to be appreciated, as everyone does, but in reality, I can’t paint what I really see or feel. It’s the same with music. I can throw an obscure song in here and there but at the end of the day if you don’t play music that people can relate to they don’t want to hear it, no matter how well you do. Please don’t paint or play music that is unconventional, we won’t like you.

Sometimes I get tired of trying to fit the mold that everyone expects, you know the saying, eating shit politely with a knife and a fork. That’s what we do as an artist at the end of the day and it sucks. But, reality bites. Someday I will be gone and then maybe, just maybe, someone will appreciate what I was trying to convey as a musician and an artist.

 

 

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Shopping on Black Friday! Are You Crazy?!?

o-xmas-570The Thanksgiving turkey has been gobbled down, everyone is fat and happy, good feelings abound, and then… Someone ultimately makes the decision to go out the Friday after a pleasant family dinner to enter a war zone. Why do we as humans do that to ourselves? You would think with the advent of technology we would know better than to enter the human frenzy affectionately known as Black Friday.

To begin with, people’s driving skills over the last few years are worse than ever. Traffic jams, especially at this time of year, are horrendous and infuriating because obviously, you are in a bigger hurry to get that great “deal” and need to beat the next person to the store. This is where the fun begins. You find yourself gripping the steering wheel, leaning forward and if you look in the mirror you will see you have turned into a raving lunatic with burning red eyes.

Now enter the parking zone. The parking zone is somewhere between the Twilight Zone and the 9th level of Hell. If you haven’t already lost your mind in traffic just wait for it. You have only begun to sense the insanity that is known as Black Friday. First of all, you should just resign yourself to parking in the back nine, unless of course, you got up before the butt crack of the butt crack of dawn. Next up…the driver in front of you who either don’t know how to drive, can’t make up their mind, drives slower than molasses in a frozen tundra, or they are complete morons. All this excitement and you haven’t even entered the store yet.

Before leaving your vehicle don’t forget to put on your combat helmet, football shoulder pads and tie everyone in your party to a tether so that you don’t need to form a hunting party to find little Tommy or Janey who has disappeared into the toy aisle somewhere in the 4th circle of Hell. Now you’re ready! The front doors make a wooshing sound as you enter the smash of bodies shopping on Black Friday. Welcome to Hell!

As you make your way slowly down the aisles here’s the joy you will find. After searching the neatly labeled aisles for the place that holds that perfect gift you dodge the other shoppers in a mad frenzy to get to the aisle of your dreams. Once there you find a plethora of other shoppers looking for that exact same item. What’s worse is the person who decides they should park their cart dead center in the aisle so that no one can pass them on either side. For some odd reason, this person lives in a fantasy world where only they exist. There’s probably some sort of medication for this self-absorbed person and you really wish they’d take it.

Five hours later you are sweating from the heat in the store, you have a raging migraine, the kids are crying, hungry and cranky. You have found every last gift on your list and are now ready to enter the 5th circle of Hell, the checkout. You can’t see the cashier but you know the back of the line starts somewhere back in electronics and weaves it’s way past women’s clothing, the jewelry counter, and finally to the pearly gates in checkout. Now would be a good time to take a nap, call your financial planner and set up a college fund for the kids, or simply wait in a mindless river of other shoppers feeling exactly the same as you do.

It’s finally over, you have achieved success and purchased all your neatly packaged items all waiting to be wrapped. Ah, but it’s not over at all. As you enter the fresh air from the stifling heat of the store you realize you have forgotten where you parked your car. Once found, you are now ready to experience the 7th circle of Hell. Trying to get out of the parking lot is like trying to remove a stubborn cork out of a wine bottle.

By the time you enter back into the traffic jams and insanity of drivers who tailgate and cut other people off with a speed so reckless that your head is spinning as you wave your fist or finger in anger. Your face has reached a level of red never seen before and the look in your eyes is that of madness. Once home you pop a Zanex and lock yourself in a closet. Oh, the joys of shopping on Black Friday!

Save yourself! Shop early and use the internet. eBay is your friend, Amazon is a long lost relative. Anything you want, in any color and just about any price you want is available online and it will save you from having to be locked up in a rubber room or sedated for 2 months after the shopping nightmare is over. Shop early, technology and all its wonders will save you from yourself and you don’t need therapy when all is said and done.

It’s Been a Crazy Summer LOL

I am actually looking forward to some down time. We have played so many festivals all over the state and driving from point A to B, I’m exhausted. This has been an amazing summer for a duo. We have visited some of the most beautiful places and seen some amazing sights. At the end of the day, our life is rich. Mike is working for himself, which is exhausting, and so am I.

We come home at the end of the week and have to ask ourselves, “Is the week over?” There are times it feels it is never going to end.

 

I am currently working on an Idaho series of paintings. I want to show people that we, “Idaho”, are much more than potatoes. Music is going very good. Our last gigs have been stellar with a good feed back from the audience. We do our original music, however, we find that reaching the crowd is easier when you play covers. We are both very tired LOL. Mike is running his own business, as am I. A little exhausting but nice to set your own hours and rate.

 

What a GREAT summer. We have 2 festivals left for this season and then we are down to a couple of regular gigs. Time for us to chill and maybe do some writing? Thank you to everyone that has supported us this summer. It’s been amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Cheers,

Jaz and Mike Fagan

ASCAP, BMI, SESAC and GMR-Beneficial or Coercive Extortion

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“The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) is an American not-for-profit performance rights organization (PRO) that protects its members’ musical copyrights by monitoring public performances of their music, whether via a broadcast or live performance and compensating them accordingly.

ASCAP collects licensing fees from users of music created by ASCAP members then distributes them back to its members as royalties. In effect, the arrangement is the product of a compromise: when a song is played, the user does not have to pay the copyright holder directly, nor does the music creator have to bill a radio station for use of a song.

In 2012, ASCAP collected over $941 million in licensing fees and distributed $828.7 million in royalties to its members, with an 11.6 percent operating expense ratio. As of July 2013, ASCAP membership included over 460,000 songwriters, composers, and music publishers.

In the United States, ASCAP competes with three other PRO’s – Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), the Society of European Stage Authors and Composers (SESAC), and Global Music Rights (GMR).” Source Wikipedia.

For many local performing musicians ASCAP, BMI, and other organizations have become known as the music police. Many performers play cover songs or songs written by other artists. There are very few, if any, groups out there that can perform 4 hours worth of music of their own writing. Most gigs in the Idaho area tend to run from 3 to 4 hours. What this means for a musician that doesn’t write all of their own songs is that they have to perform anywhere from 36 to 65 songs at any one given performance and most of these, if not all, will be cover songs.

Many venues, bar and lounge owners that have live music are being approached by these organizations and told that they have to pay a licensing fee or get sued. The fees are huge for many venue owners. These fees range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand, depending on the venue. Is this extortion? On one hand, if the royalties are actually being paid to the artists and their estates like they claim, then no, not really. However, on the other hand, for the musicians that perform the songs by other artists, shouldn’t they also be getting royalties for promoting that particular musician’s songs and their groups?

Some venue owners have stopped having live music altogether because of the heavy fees. This not only affects the local music industry, it also affects the owners themselves because they lose revenue from beverage and food sales because they refuse to or can’t afford to pay these heavy fees. Some owners have said they should charge the fees back to the musicians that perform at their venues. This would never work because it would only cause the musicians to raise their performance rates to cover the additional costs. Musicians don’t get paid nearly enough as it is.

So who loses in the end? At the end of the day, as is usually the case, the little guy. The venues lose out on really good local musicians if they don’t pay the fees, the customers lose out because there isn’t live music, and the musicians lose out because the number of venues to perform at becoming less and less. It begs the question, is it really such a good thing these organizations are doing or is it just a form of strong-armed extortion?

The 49th Annual Caldwell Basque Dinner & Fundraiser Set for Saturday, January 14th, 2017 at 5:30 PM

There are many food drives in our valley that strive to provide food to families in need in the Treasure Valley. The Basque community stands out for their 5-star events to raise money for meat as well as other food staples and needs. Their love of music and dance is seconded only by their deep love of family and the community they live in. If you have never attended a Basque event before you don’t know what you are missing. The food is amazing and these are the friendliest and warmest people!

Each year the Caldwell Basque Charity Group holds a dance and dinner to raise money for meat, food and other goods for the people in need in Canyon County. This has been happening for 49 years as of this year and has raised more than $2 million in donations for meat, food and other practical needs for families in Canyon County.

Lisa Gabiola-Weitz, the group’s representative, along with around 25 volunteers helped to deliver more than 9,000 lbs of chicken and pork to various churches in Parma, Marsing, Caldwell, Nampa, and Homedale. “We really try to help those people who have fallen through the cracks of the community,” she said. “we really try to seek out those individuals who have been really hard working citizens and have hit hard times, whether they have lost their jobs, been diagnosed with cancer, come down with  a serious illness, or elderly people who aren’t self-sufficient.”

Caldwell Basque Charities is a charity organization that for nearly 50 years, has used their Basque Culture and Festivities to help raise money to distribute back to the community. They are a group of volunteers that have a deep love of their history and a passion to help the community. Several people in the group are second and third generation members.
They participate in the Caldwell Night Light Christmas Parade, Caldwell Basque Charities Annual Meat Drive, and the Annual Caldwell Basque Dinner/ Dance which is their main fundraiser for the year.

You don’t have to be of Basque heritage to receive help from their group. They take applications for help and determine the best way to help the applicants. Over the years they have bought eyeglasses, artificial limbs, medical procedures, and wheelchairs and mobility equipment. They have also paid rents, bought water heaters, groceries, and things like travel expenses for a parent to accompany a loved one to medical procedures. There are many ways they give back to the community including their Annual Christmas Meat Drive which gives $8000 of meat products to the community.

This year’s event is $35 per person pre-sold. This includes dinner from 6-7:30 p.m., a no-host bar, Herribatza Dantzariak & Oinkari Basque Dancers, athletic exhibits, a silent and live auction, and to top off the evening a DJ with dancing. This wonderful event will be held at the Caldwell Event Center, O’Connor Field House, 2207 Blaine St., Caldwell.

If you would like tickets or for more information, please call Lisa Gabiola-Weitz at 208-880-1952.

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