Friday, December 31, 2010

Please

Don't be putting me on a pedestal. I will disappoint you.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

25 Years

Recognized for 25 years employment at Community Alliance

When I start to write about this I get lost. Half of my life has been spent at this agency. So much has happened, I have learned so much and experienced so many things.

Monday, November 29, 2010

More sounds and new music


I recently signed up for Soundcloud, another music sharing site. I like to manipulate sound and create audio pictures that can be psychedelic or disorienting. hard to explain why this appeals to me but I started doing this for my own listening pleasure. You could say it's because of the LSD I used to take, but I liked stuff like this as a child, long before drugs. I'd like to encourage you to take an audio trip with me. Here's the link: http://soundcloud.com/dereck-higgins
You'll also find two recent music recordings that I am happy to share. A new version of "Glass" recorded during Thanksgiving, and a version of the song "High Spirits" with drums played by Gary Foster. Sure hope some of you take a listen. The artwork in the accompanying photo is by Derek Pressnall.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thankful

Thinking about the holiday coming up I am focusing on what I have to be grateful for, which is quite a bit. I won't worry about being politically correct as I share.
I am thankful for all of the opportunities I've had to do music and art. I thank Joe Knapp for asking me to play in Son Ambulance. I thank Nik Fackler for working with me on so many things. I thank Rich Madsen for being a real friend and for dealing with my angry side. I thank Nils Erickson for being patient with me as I blew off debts to him for years. I could thank everyone I know for something but I wanted to at least express these thanks. I am thankful for being born black and in the United States. I am thankful for the path that my life is on.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Thoughts while on tour


So I am presently in New York with a few days off. The tour has been and continues to be quite an adventure with many challenges and triumphs. The expense of touring is probably the biggest disadvantage. Nowadays everyone plays music and finding an audience willing to pay is tough. With that said, the actual making of the music is one of the saving graces. It beats the humdrum of a daily job, although I have to give thanks for that source of income. I would not be able to do this without the damned job.
Not having personal space is also a huge challenge and even the best of friends will get on each others nerves now and then. I feel fortunate that I like the people in the Cleemann band. Networking is also cool, meeting and playing with other artists is always interesting and sometimes quite fun. I do not miss home so much as wish I could have a space of my own for the sake of my sanity. It's cool, all in all.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Music



So enough of my pontification. I need to listen to the news a lot less.
I am scheduled to start another US tour with Cleemann in a week. We have about a month's worth of dates culminating in New York. I am so looking forward to this. The day to day business of touring is tiring and hard, but the total experience outweighs the tedium. Having everything you do be about playing music is just the best.
The lineup will be different again. This will be my third round of playing dates with Gunnar Cleemann. The first time we played he had a pianist named Michael travel with him from Denmark. This spring we went out with a drummer, my good friend Gary Foster. It looks like we'll be going out as a trio with a pianist named Andy Butler. I think I've met him but don't quite remember.
I have truly been enjoying playing Gunnar's songs with him. Even though I am in fact working, it is such a joy to play music.
I'm also quite happy about my ongoing music work with Nik Fackler, the film director. His debut album is about to be released on Team Love records and I play on several tracks. It remains to be seen what all will transpire with this project. I know I am open to touring with Nik. We recently played some of the album live and it worked pretty well.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Statement

I greatly dislike how the media frame their words from the point of view that assumes everyone has money lust.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Humility

I heard a story on NPR today about an autistic college student. I feel a lot like that student. Present but detached.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I am aware that I sound like an idiot to some people.

Monday, August 16, 2010

today's thoughts


I am dumbfounded how people can still believe that organized religion offers any real solutions to man's problems. I guess someone with this outlook must not be aware that reality is mostly perception, that each person really lives in his mind rather than in a concrete reality where everyone thinks and feels the same thing. I guess a person with super strong religious beliefs is unable to look at life from another perspective. Frankly, I am of the opinion that organized religion is just another obstacle to real solutions. I attempt to accept each and every person just as they are. This doesn't mean I approve of everything they do. It just means that I accept their existence. Like many people I do sometimes wish that I could make people see what I see but I know this is not possible. I guess unconditional love and acceptance is asking too much of the average person.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

definition

Blogging is like journaling is like talking to yourself. It's a release with the possibility that it will be read by someone else. That possibility in itself feels like a connection to the world.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lawn mower


My lawnmower gave up the ghost this weekend. I've had it for almost 20 years ans it was given to me used. It might seem odd to write about this but it has been with me for a long time. A reminder of how I mostly avoid making practical purchases like this as much as humanly possible. The mower was electric, by the way. I contemplate wanting to stay with an electric and what will cost. Thankfully it is a purchase I can make.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Post Birthday Thoughts


I turned 55 yesterday. Both of my parents were deceased by the age of 53. Writing the words cannot convey the experience of this reality I live. I am so thankful to still be alive.
Yesterday score upon score of friends contacted me mainly through the internet to wish me a happy birthday. I remain humbled by the love I feel from everyone.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I live according to a code I've chosen for myself. Having gone through several religions I have been operating under the premise that none of them really knows what they are talking about. I take exception to the idea that I need someone to represent me to god. It doesn't make sense to me that I am separate from god. The heaven and hell thing seems a bit much to take. I cannot fathom why a person would need to be eternally punished. We're only alive for about 70 years. Burn forever? The idea of hell sounds completely human and self serving.
No one has to read this blog so I am just taking a moment to write these thoughts that I have been thinking for a long time.
One more thought. I muse constantly on how uncivilized man acts in the name of beliefs. To me it is obvious that there are many ways of interpreting reality, and yet we speak to each other as though our perspectives were fact. The continuing wars around the globe are direct testimony to this folly. Blindly following traditions and systems of belief, creating conflict with those who choose differently. It's hard to verbally express what I'm thinking and feeling.
Part of me feels like an idiot for bothering to try and write this at all. And yet I have not lost the view I developed as a child that wants to see what is really going on around me. I continue to conclude that western culture is based on lies and deception, all in the name of someone's personal gain. It also appears that the game has been going on for a long time and the players never really change. Is that what they call old money? And that this is what has been going on all over this world for the longest.
This indeed relates to my earlier thoughts on religion. It all seems to be set up to manipulate the masses while the ruling parties continue the party.
Broken record syndrome here maybe? What I'm saying is nothing new. Why do I even bother? It is likely something to do with depression.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Recording at Ashley's






Returned home last night after spending the weekend recording and mixing Nik Fackler's upcoming debut album. We did it at Ashley Miller's private studio located in the country right outside of Kansas City. The situation was ideal. I loved knowing the mixing console of the studio was originally owned and customized by Bruce Swedian, who worked on Michael Jackson's Thriller. Ashley even had a platinum Thriller disc signed by Michael on display. Really fun stuff.
Nik and Ashley were/are great to work with because everyone is in a create mode and ideas fly constantly and many things are tried. Everyone is honest too and handles reciprocating honesty in a refreshingly sane manner.
Nik's record was inspired by the breakup he went through with a girl he fell for hard. The songs really capture the range and intensity of feelings one goes through when this happens. Many times while listening to the final mixes I remarked to myself that what we had done is the kind of music I look for as a collector. I'm pretty jazzed about it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

thoughts



Use the blog dammit. Well I'm excited and distracted having found out that touring with Cleemann is on for this fall. It really has been a high point in my life to play music with this guy. It also has been a saving grace that I have been able to play so much music in general and travel so much doing it. Even though I am approaching my 55th birthday I dare to look ahead at a point where I am a full time paid artist. I can't waste time regretting not doing certain things sooner in my life. Everything happens in its own time. I'm thankful and I believe that is part of the blessing.

Monday, May 10, 2010

after the tour

videoTouring and working intertwined is tough. Switching back and forth between the mindsets was harsh on the body but well worth it. Getting to know Gunnar Cleemmann better was very refreshing. That might seem like an odd description but it really encapsulates the total of the experience. I don't know what it is like for anyone else, but part of the way I experience everything is as a reflection of who I am. I see lessons in most things, not that I can always learn these lessons but I get the information. Gunnar is a deep feeling artist and silly prankster and everything in between. His natural inclination to lose himself in each moment was very encouraging. This openness to the human experience comes through the music strongly as well. Traveling to places such as New York for the first time, to play this music was just amazing. The fact that I could share the whole experience with an old and true friend, Gary Foster, made it all the more enjoyable and rewarding. It was so much fun shopping for records with Gary let alone playing music with him. Cleemann's music is so fine and minimal all you have to do is hear him/us play it live. Consistently on the tour I experienced people being moved by the music, really connecting. These incredible moments and memories make the hard work involved so worthwhile. I could go on about what it took for Gary and I to make the tour, but the lingering effect of the music and friendship shared is too strong.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cleemann 2010


So Gunnar is back and on tour. We have played five shows together so far and each one has been memorable. When I play Gunnar's songs I feel a real connection with him. I look at him as we're playing and I see a reflection. It is very satisfying playing music with someone else who gets lost in the sound.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Winter

Playing with Cleemann last year at Clawfoot House, Lincoln, Nebraska.
Getting through this winter is a daily challenge. It's been a long time since we've had such an unrelenting cold season. it's been my official reason for not booking gigs or going to many shows. Really looking forward to spring as I think most people in my area are.
Looking forward to doing some touring as a musician in the coming months. I am scheduled to play bass for Cleemann, who will be coming from Denmark to tour the US. At first I oped to play all of his shows but due to time and lack of funds I will not be able to travel to the west coast for the dates in Washington. I am still working on being able to fulfill most or all of the east coast dates. Cleemann has dates in New York spanning over a weeks' time. If anyone wishes to listen to his exquisite music you can do it at www.myspace.com/cleemann

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Chicago


Just spent the weekend in Chicago with my friend Gary Foster. he was gracious enough to buy me a ticket to see Pierre Boulez conduct the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. We saw the Saturday program of a week long series of events celebrating Boulez's upcoming 85th birthday. Gary and I are music freaks with different central focuses, but we share a deep love for classical music. It was extraordinary to experience Boulez conducting Bartok, Stravinsky and one of his own pieces with someone who truly gets the power of music. We had a great time at the concert as well as going shopping for records, definitely one of my favorite things to do.
But back to Boulez, I was able to visualize meeting him although there was no reason to think such a thing would occur. While waiting for the curtain Gary showed me the insert in the evening's program that said Boulez would be signing cds after the concert. great! Everyone was so formal and distant as they approached Pierre one by one to get an autograph. I just knew it would be cool so when it was my turn I asked him for a picture. of course he said "sure". We even shared a little laugh as I dropped my program trying to hurry out of the next person's way. he said "you got the picture but don't forget that."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

So back to what is my sustaining focus

Music is the sustaining force in this household. I recently had a nice session with my brother Patrick, working on some original material. Here is a short clip of him warming up to record some solos on his track 'Pat's Tune'. That's me on bass on the backing track. We're in my music room.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Thank you


I want to thank everyone that responded to my last post. That was really cool to hear from Michael, who I met in Austria while on tour last year. I'm fine today and was yesterday. I will continue to do the work that I do. If anything, I look at the communication I generated from the post as a needed tune up. People are always warning against revealing too much about yourself online and I understand. But I am going to share that I have always had difficulty getting to a point of intimacy with another human being, thus I am single and alone. The post was my way of asking for some loving attention. I seem to be good at giving it in the context of my job or as a good friend, but I am frightened (literally) of getting too close to anyone. So I am saying thanks again for those that accept me. For those that think I'm whining or being negative, it's just too bad that you don't understand. I resist the urge to be vindictive.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I am an outsider


My depression is really kicking my ass this winter, more than I've experienced in well over ten years. The shitty thing about this depression is that it isn't situational. I just have to ride it out. There are issues that feed my anger but those issues aren't going to change so I cope with them. I hope I don't end up sounding crazy but I need to get some thoughts out. Nobody reads this anyway.
One of the things that keeps me feeling like an outsider is my job. The place I work is so conservative. I worked there a long time before taking almost a year off to do music and film. Sometimes the body language of people in administration there send me the message that "you're being watched. better watch your step. don't make waves." It could just be me but I know that I am a pretty good observer of human behavior. The reason it bothers me is that I know I do good work, some would say that I am one of the secret weapons (of strength) of the agency, and yet I feel scrutinized like I'm some kind of invader. And the situation is just typical of history. Outsiders are not understood usually until they are dead and rediscovered in a new context where their actions suddenly make sense. Call me grandiose but that's how I feel. Here in Nebraska, conformity is practically demanded. Unfortunately the values that the midwest pushes on everybody exclude real sensitivity to different cultures. Let me just be blunt, the midwest is white-bread and blind to this fact. I am sent subliminal messages constantly by local media and the way I am regarded when shopping that being black is still a problem for Nebraska unless I am an athlete. It just happened to me. I was at a restaurant minding my own business when this older man stops and says "you're a ball player aren't you? You got the height for it." He had no idea how insulting his comment was. I listen every morning to the news on KFAB and am angered every day by the judgmental bigoted comments that come from their announcers. I used to call and complain. They will not take my calls anymore. What the hell is that about?!
One more issue. I am a fairly well known musician in Omaha. I've done a lot of things over the years but I notice how I can easily get gigs when I'm playing with the young white folks but doors are not open when it's just me trying to get my music heard. I don't think I am imagining these things. Bottom line is that it hurts. It hurts so bad I can't even get tears to come out. It would be so helpful if someone just said they understood what I'm saying.

Monday, January 4, 2010