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I live in Brooklyn, NY and I love it here.  I came here for my career in 2009 and haven't once looked back. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cornelia Street Cafe...

The concert tonight at Cornelia Street Cafe went really really well.  It's funny how after three performances of Moon, Tides, Cycles, there are still technical difficulties that come up but fortunately, I've been getting better and better at troubleshooting under pressure.  Plus, we've been getting better at performing the piece together.

The night begins with me arriving early and having to wait upstairs since the previous show was still going on and the venue was packed.  So, I'm thinking already, it's going to be pretty small downstairs.  Old West Village building, tiny staircase leading to basement performance space.  I sat drinking my wine at the bar upstairs trying to imagine how little space we'd have to set up.  When Tania arrived, the downstairs was emptying so we wiggled our way downstairs, me with all of my equipment taking up the whole width of the stairs practically, making it near impossible for people to get out.  So that took a bit.

When I came to the bottom of the stairs and through the doorway into the space, I saw that it was, in fact, fairly long with many tables lining the walls with a full service bar just to the right as you walk in the door.  The stage, though small, fit a baby grand piano with just enough space for me to tuck myself into the corner with one of the tables from the dining area to set up all of my equipment on top of, and still have room to stand comfortably without knocking anything over.  No rickety music stand for my laptop this time either.

Once I finished setting up my equipment, we tested the sound.  Our sound guy, a Bulgarian as well, hit it off with Tania right away.  In fact, they were conversing in rapid-fire Bulgarian from the moment they were acquainted leaving yours truly half confused as to what they were discussing.  He was very helpful though when it came to setting up my equipment and understood all of my requests without questioning me or seeming confused.

So, I was pretty confident from the beginning that, barring any problems with my equipment, we'd at least get good sound.  However, upon powering up the M Audio Axiom 25 that Lacy gave me, I realized it wasn't talking to my audio interface.  Instead of freaking out, (okay, I freaked out a little), I used the track pad on the laptop to twist some knobs so we could at least test the audio, while the place was empty.  After that I tried talking to my equipment a little until it occurred to me to use their wifi to download the manual for the keyboard and figure out how to do a hard reset.  I remembered that the other night, while we were rehearsing, I may have hit some buttons and changed some settings inadvertently.  I was trying to get the USB cable to function (which it won't because I stupid broke it…long story) because I didn't have my  MIDI cable with me that night and in the process I was aware that some of the things I was doing to test it might need to be undone.  Luckily, I had the presence of mind to remember that little episode so, I knew exactly what to look up in the manual: how to do a hard reset.  After clicking on a few articles, I learned all one must do is hold the + and - buttons while powering up the keyboard.  Easy.

After that, I twiddled the knobs to check it was working, solicited a high five from the sound guy and slipped out to use the restroom.  On the way out, I overheard someone in the ticket line coming in saying they had heard about this event in the paper.  Wow!  I thought. Then I looked at the crowd and realized that they were mostly comprised of people who looked as though they either were regulars there or just walked in off the street for dinner and a show.  A co worker of mine also showed up along with a lot of Tania's friends whom I've met before.  So overall a great turnout.  I think it was even one of the best turnouts we've had, other than the Metropolitan Room.  I, unfortunately, had to come right in here to work on the overnight so I didn't get to socialize a whole lot with the audience and Tania's friends but I did get to chat a bit before leaving.  But I did get to hear some compliments and talk with one of Tania's friends about the software that I use.  

There's been some talk about us doing this again in Boston but now I'm looking forward to the next piece that we will perform together, a new longer version of a piano sketch that I'm turning into a piano and electronics piece.  This should be pretty awesome…I will say more about it in another blog soon hopefully.  For now, I must get back to work.  Good night! Pictures from the concert are coming soon!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Get ready...

The tag on my Yogi Tea bag says, "Work, but don't forget to live."  Which is exactly what I need to hear right now.  It's Christmas Eve and I pretty much have been working all day long.  I had my laptop out at work during my down time so I could do some research and think up a plan of action for the start of the new year.  What am I researching, you ask?  Production companies, ad agencies and talent agencies.  Yes, I'm trying really hard to hit the ground running with a much more effective strategy come next week.  Proactive is the watchword, something I haven't really been.  It's quite frankly been a few cautious half starts for the past year and a half with this VO thing and, while I have been building slowly and making progress with my voice, I feel like I haven't really done the brunt work of truly marketing myself.  It's like I've essentially been just dropping business cards in midtown hoping that some ad agency employee will pick it up off the ground and call me.

Anyway, I've spent the better part of the day on this plan, opening up my laptop again upon finishing dinner and continuing the hunt, while admittedly sitting in front of the television.  Now it's about 10pm and I've cut myself off.  But I did want to type up a blog since it's been a bit, minus the blurb about the concert from the other day.

It's also getting excruciatingly close to the end of the year and you know how I get.  Reflective.  Reflecting? Reflect-y?  I think I was right the first time.  Anyway, I always start to look back and see how far I've come and size up where I am, when the new year rolls around.   I like putting things in perspective.  Life just sort of starts to run together unless you mark time and parse out events and check your progress.  It helps to assign meaning to what's going on and remember why I'm doing what I do.  

I've also kind of been thinking about something some snooty guy said to me during the first few months I was here in 2009.  "It takes about three years to really get it together here.  That's the general rule."  Whatever that is.  Define "getting it together."  Who's rule is that?  Anyway, despite not fully being there and to some extent still working on what "there" is, I do feel pretty accomplished.  In fact, this newfound vigor with which I've been approaching the VO career is actually inspired by a sense of momentum with my overall career, in both music and film, and not by any sense of urgency to make something happen by that three year mark that could be defined as "getting it together" or "having gotten it together."  At the beginning of last year, I had this sort of existential "I'm turning 30" thing driving my reevaluation of my career.  It was a sort of franticness that didn't wholly lend itself to results, just a lot of flailing around…controlled flailing around, mind you, yet flailing nonetheless.  I job hunted, I reconsidered my approach to voice over, I considered a dozen different scenarios to make more money than I'm making now.  But it was all too rushed.

Now, I'm suddenly struck by a focused and rigid tenacity that's driving me to finally do something I haven't really truly been doing (at least not to any high degree).  And that is truly betting on myself.  A month ago I finished my new narration demo, taking some cuts from the old one, and also finished a documentary demo both of which I'm satisfied with, perhaps even proud of.  And now, I'm ready to get out there and really promote myself.  

On top of that, I have music and film jobs lining up, (two on the docket and maybe two more lined up), Tania and I have several collaborations planned and I'm starting off the new year with a recording session in Philadelphia for Lacy's new album.  I'm feeling pretty excited.  A new year and I feel poised to really take some steps forward.  So step back and watch out because 2012 is going to pretty awesome.  Merry Christmas all!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Concert on Monday...

I'm typing tonight to promote a concert I'll be performing in on Monday, December 26th at Cornelia Street Cafe.  Here's a link to the Facebook invite.  Tania and I have performed the piece Moon, Tides, Cycles that I wrote last year twice now, this being the third performance.  The other pieces being performed range from Satie to Ginastera to Mason Bates to all sorts of Bulgarian composers.  Guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser as Ms. Stavreva is an extremely talented pianist.

There is a $10 cover and a $10 food/drink minimum.  Here's a video of the performance from December 3rd at Waltz-Astoria Cafe in Astoria, Queens.



Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cousins...

I don't have any pictures yet but the visit with Cousin Kelley and her husband Brice was pretty fun.  Of course, yours truly had to work through most of it but I did get to spend a little time playing tour guide, mostly this afternoon.  

Yesterday, we managed to get up to the Highline Park together during my break, after they spent most of the morning and afternoon in Central Park and then midtown checking out window displays.  When I left work later that night, we all met at 5 Napkin Burger, one of the best burger joints in NYC in my humble opinion.  I discovered that they have gluten free buns there too so I was psyched to safely devour a nice greasy burger, smothered in aioli mayonnaise, caramelized onions and gruyere cheese.   Unfortunately, later in the evening I accidentally broke my gluten free streak by inadvertently sipping Katrina's beer at Heartland Brewery while she was in the bathroom.  Oops!  I laughed it off.  Shit happens!

Today, after they went to the MET we all converged on Carnegie to see the American Symphony Orchestra.  Katrina was working the concert so she got us all free tickets.  Orchestra seats with a clear view of the pianist's hands!  We didn't stay to hear Liszt's Faust Symphony but we did enjoy a piano concerto by Busoni.  Both pieces were around an hour long so we opted not to stay past intermission so they could pack in some more sight seeing.

I knew that Brice was keen on getting some decent pizza in and seeing the World Trade Center.  So, I figured I would take them to the Village and see about either Risotteria if we had time or Joe's if we didn't.  At 6:30 they needed to be at the Minskoff Theater for The Lion King.  Which got me thinking…dinner first? Or should we head straight on to Chambers Street?  Despite not having eaten since breakfast they chose WTC first.

It was the perfect time of day to be down there, too, with the sunlight fading and illuminating the glass of the buildings a pinkish-orange hue.  After circling the site, passing Zucotti park which was mostly empty save for some police officers and barriers and one guy shouting about Tylenol, we wound down to Greenwich street trying to get a closer look at the Memorial Site.  Right next to this mural, was a man engaging all the passersby with anecdotes and historical facts about the site and the attacks, showing them his photo album from the WTC site.  He was a wealth of info so we listened in for a bit until he mentioned the Sphere, a sculpture that used to sit in the plaza of the old World Trade Center that was salvaged after the attacks.  The sculpture now sits in Battery Park, a short walk away from where we were.  I suggested we go see it and we managed to arrive in Battery Park city, a few blocks south, just as the sun was setting over the harbor.  So that was nice timing.  After viewing the sculpture and then snapping a few pictures at the water's edge, we headed back to the Village, hoping to have time to sit down and eat some pizza at Risotteria before they had to head up to midtown for their show.

Luckily, Risotteria was able to seat us right away and we had plenty of time to enjoy our meal.  We even had time to snag Brice a cannoli at Rocco's Pastry shop on Bleeker Street.  On top of that, while standing outside scanning for a cab they got to experience a little slice of New York when a police car turned a corner in front of us, trying to break through the traffic on Bleeker.  Getting on the loudspeaker, the officer instructed the car in front of him to pull to the right so he could slide through in the bike lane.  When the driver of the car instead opted to try and pull up on the curb on the left side of the street, the officer said, "Okay, pal, maybe in your country!"

So we got a good laugh about that.  Then, I took them over to Carmine Street to give a little lesson in hailing a cab and sent them on their way to the musical.  And of course, I went home and tried to sleep it all off before the overnight…where I now sit typing this blog entry.  

Tonight, I'm going to be working on a theme for George's pilot episode of "The Life."  More on that as it unfolds.  There's no real deadline for this but I'm working on a driving rock song to accompany the mood of that series he's hoping to develop.  On top of that, I'm working on an accordion driven piece for Mohammad's film reel, talking with my new friend Steve, the cinematographer from Sides of the Track about scoring his film reel and potentially collaborating with Chad, a co worker of mine who is the D.P. for "The Life" on some small side projects.  So, there's a lot of opportunity coming up in the next few weeks to months.  Tania and I will be performing again on the 26th of this month at the Cornelia Street Cafe in the Village and I'll be sure to let you all know about that.  So long for now!  Gotta get to work!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The night...

I wasn't sure if this would still work or not but I told myself at 745 this morning as I lay down in bed after the overnight shift, "You will sleep until your alarm goes off."  I took me until now, walking back from the laundromat, to realize that I actually did manage to sleep solid up until my alarm went off at 2pm.  Not too shabby. 

Now, I'm about to get to work on a few voice auditions.  After Saturday's mixer, I'm wanting to attack this thing with a whole new vigor and intensity.  You may remember that I had the New York Voiceover Mixer to go to along with my concert last Saturday night.  The mixer unfortunately didn't manage to meet my expectations of at least meeting a few casting agents and production people.  No, I mostly met other voice actors at varying stages of their careers but this alone was valuable and made the night worth it, even though I couldn't stay the whole time. 

When I arrived there was a relatively short line snaking down the sidewalk and I only had to wait a few minutes to get inside, long enough to wonder if I'd see my coaches there whose names were on the guest list, to wonder if I'd be alone most of the night or if it would be easy to meet total strangers and to witness to younger people in front of me get booted from the line because they were underage.  Yes, there was a cash bar.  And at $12 for a glass of wine, I was partially glad I wasn't staying all night.

Once inside we waited on a long line to get name tags and to submit our business cards for the raffle, which took almost 15 minutes.  The crowd was packed pretty tightly too but it wasn't long before I had a drink in my hand and was inching my way through the crowd, scanning for familiar faces.  I was only really sure I'd see two.  I managed to make my way across the room to the other bar where I took up a spot leaning against it.  Thankfully, I didn't have too much time to think of how to approach anyone in the room because people began introducing themselves almost immediately.  I met a handful of people from New York, one from Philly, one from DC and exchanged business cards with everyone.  The conversation took a similar route with each person, always starting with "do you do voiceover? what kind of stuff? how long have you been in it?" and progressing to various questions about how they've come to find success with various avenues and whether they have agents, etc. 

Around the time raffle drawings started I started nervously check the time.  Luckily, it wasn't too long before they did the drawing for the one item I was most interested in: The Harlan Hogan Signature microphone.  I did not win.  So, I said farewell to the last of my new friends and skipped back to work to grab my equipment and rush back to Astoria for the concert.

The Waltz-Astoria is a little cafe in the unlikeliest of places on a quiet stretch of Ditmars Blvd around 23rd Street.  They serve sandwiches wine and beer and program all kinds of music from singer songwriter stuff to classical like our concert and even host an open mic that Lacy and I have performed at recently.  Pedro Gonzalez, the Emcee and part owner of the venue also curates a lot of the talent and is hosting a singer songwriter competition pretty soon.  I got to meet and chat with his wife, Song, who is a piano player as well during Natti Vogel's set after Tania's.   Overall it's a great venue...much better than the Metropolitan Room this summer.  But I hardly need to say that as I may have already expressed our dissatisfaction with their hospitality and their sound system.  Pedro has a very nice Bose tower to plug up to that sounded amazing with the electronics.  Well, hear and see for yourself:



Yes, we also had a much more reliable videographer this time around.  My friend Chad Heird from work at NY1 offered, since he lives so close by and was free that evening, to come by and shoot our performance. 


The performance, I feel, went very well and I was mostly satisfied with it.  There was a spot of technical difficulty which yields a great anecdote about non-technical people and technical people.  While I was prematurely freaking out about why their was no sound coming out of my audio interface (I had barely gotten through checking all the typical things you check when troubleshooting something like this...maybe it was the pressure of time constraints since Tania showed up a little late and there was a limited amount of time for us to perform), Tania, who would be the first to say she's not technically inclined at all, comes over
and says, "Tim, calm down, think.  How did it work at my place the other night?"  Of course, even though she probably had no idea how to fix the problem, she knew exactly what to say.  The issue?  When I rehearse, I set the output of the program to be the laptop speakers and always have to remember that when I go to perform it I need to actually go into Preferences in Mainstage and tell it to use my audio interface as the output.  That's why it was working at rehearsal and wouldn't work at the venue.  Duh!  Problem solved and we tested it and got underway with the concert, the rest of which should be posted on youtube very soon. 

For now, I have to pickup my laundry and start recording my voice!