Ryan Welton

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Category Archives: songwriting

Ryan’s Playlist No. 5: Nothin’ But Damned Great Music

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The month of October has came and went, and just like that we’re faced with the onset of 2020. What a wacky year it’s going to be.

But it’s another chance to offer up some good music, perhaps something you hadn’t heard of or hadn’t listened to enough. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a chronic Shazam-er. I Shazam everything.

And then I go back and listen to what caught my ear and pass the most interesting along to you.

My first selection is a song from Cincinnati band The National. It’s called Rylan, and it first caught my attention because that’s the name of the daughter of a friend of mine. It’s such a unique name that I had to listen to it — and it’s quite an odd song.

But it draws me in. I’m not sure that I get it. But I think I have to acknowledge that I quite like it.


This second song is one of the most depressing I’ve ever heard, and it’s a brilliant example of the power of storytelling. It’s The Unifics, a late-60s band from Washington, D.C., and this is “Beginning Of My End,” a tune that peaked at No. 36 in 1968.

I’ve got SiriusXM Soul Town, Ch. 49, locked in on my car stereo, and I find that it’s an education on a bevy of lower-charting tracks from the 60s and 70s. The  lyrics are desperately mournful, and the music fits it like a glove.

Heretofore, I had thought the saddest song ever was Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “Alone Again,” but Lord-have-mercy does this tune take you to a sad place. This is some lyrical mastery right here.


Sufjan Stevens
is hit-or-miss for me, but on 2005’s “The Man Of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts,” he’s sounding like a hipster Dan Fogelberg, and I’m here for it.


This next one is from St. Paul & The Broken Bones, one of the best bands on the planet right now. Paul Janeway’s vocals and the horns from Allen Branstetter (trumpet), Amari Ansari (saxophone), and Chad Fisher (trombone) have this Birmingham, Ala., octet at the top of their blue-eyed soul game.

Here’s “LivWithoutU:”


Speaking of musicians who turn my head every time they come on the radio, there’s Maryland’s own Maggie Rogers. Discovered by Pharrell Williams as part of a class at NYU, Rogers has leap-frogged into critical acclaim if not worldwide popularity. Anytime I hear one of her songs, I’m walloped by how much talent she has. Great ear. Great production. She’s like a modern-day Nicolette Larson, a reference that totally confirms my age. #Olds Yeah.


Sometimes when I see songs pop up on the SiriusXM, I don’t know which is the title and which is the artist. Such was the case with “Sofia” by Clairo. The artist is Claire Cottrill, the daughter of a marketing exec from Boston. I like to read the stories behind artists and musicians mostly to find out what base they were born on.

But I think this is groovy as heck, so there.


California trio Sir Sly shows off their funky stylings and Beck-styled sensibilities in the 2017 track, “High.” Needs to go onto my running playlist. BTW, this dude totally listens to Beck. I’m sure of it.


I’m a sucker for an awesome music video. Hey, I’m a child of the 80s. I remember when MTV was born! And this 2015 tune from British band Nothing But Thieves doesn’t strike me until the chorus, but it’s an earworm after that. And an eyeworm.


It seems like a lot of the tunes on this list are from 2015. I’m late to the party, but even with a blog post like this, you don’t know when somebody will hear or see something. “Postcard” is a 2015 track from Washington, D.C., trio Jukebox The Ghost. I don’t know that I love this one, but it’s catchyAF and I’m not sure why they’re not huge. As a musician, I sense that this one is a fun one to play live, too.


And now I save the best for last from The Avett Brothers. It took me so long to come onboard their groove, but “High Steppin’,” I think is sheer brilliance. Listen to the lyrics. Watch the video. This is fantastic songwriting, and I think they’re one of the most interesting bands on the planet.

The secret to small-channel YouTube growth? More about ‘subscriber’ than ‘creator’

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Combing through my October reports on YouTube, and one thing is clear: I did something right last month.

I’m a small-channel creator on YouTube. I have 755 subscribers as of this morning, and while we’re all chasing the elusive 1,000 mark for monetization (which is only part of that equation), we’re all chasing growth.

I’ve tried YouTube’s ad capabilities. It’s good for garnering mass amounts of views on the cheap, views from real people — but views without serious targeting and views with virtually no engagements.

We forget sometimes that YouTube is both a search engine and a social network.

One of the tactics Gary Vaynerchuk has always preached relative to Instagram is the ‘grind’ required to build audience by being a good platform participant — meaning that to grow an audience that provides your channel with real, quality engagement, you have to take the first step. You have to get into the comments.

You can’t just create for your platform.

You have to use it like a madman.

For the month of October, I got 4,165 views on youtube.com/ryanweltonmusic — up from 1,919, 1,418 and 2,053 the previous three months. On YouTube, however, “watch time” is the more important metric. My watch time for October was 4,207 minutes, up from 3,108, 1,703 and 3,288 the previous three months, respectively.

There are a couple of ways to increase watch time, the most obvious of which is to drive the number of views you get. That could mean creating more videos, more often. Another tactic is to create longer videos. But you can’t just create lengthier videos for the mere sake of doing so: folks won’t watch unless they’re getting value from your content.

Value can be information or entertainment, either or both.

What was a bit odd in my measurements for October was that my average duration-length-per-person was actually down — 1:00 versus 1:37, 1:12 and 1:36 respectively for the three months previous. That’s not as important as watch time overall is because YouTube’s mission is to cause folks to stay on the platform for more time each day.

Makes sense, right?

So, what did I do to drive that? First, I lucked out with a tutorial video. I created a “How to play ‘Rosanna’ by Toto” video that did really well for me. Despite the fact that five people smashed the “dislike” button, more than 1,550 people have watched the video at this point, and it has garnered a lot of minutes of watch time and, I suspect, provided some value to at least some viewers.

It helps to create content often and to create longer-form content. Check, check, check.

But it was what I started doing mid-month that really moved the needle both in terms of views, watch time and subscribes. Oh, let’s talk subscribes for a moment: I gained 28 new subscribers in October, my biggest gain probably ever. The previous three months, it had been -2, +3 and -2.

That felt really stagnant.

What I did was real simple, too. I became a YouTube junkie. I started looking for other musicians and songwriters, identifying compositions and performances I really liked — and then I did something utterly crazy.

I complimented them. Kindness.

So crazy it might work.

If I really liked their content, I subscribed. I didn’t ask for a subscription back, but I did try to provide value in my comment. That might mean that I made them feel good or that I gave them a tip. On one person’s channel, I ended up being their first subscriber. I subscribed, let them know I had done so and then offered some encouragement and a couple YouTube tips.

YouTube is a search engine. Your creations are index-able, and so are your comments.

The subscribes started pouring in.

But you know what else started to happen? I started gaining new YouTube friends. Like every other social media platform on the planet, that’s ultimately what their creators seek — the development of a community of users.

If you’re stuck on YouTube with no growth or slow growth, I’m here to tell you — your challenge might not be all about your content. It might be about how you use the platform. Spending 30 minutes a day participating as a viewer and commenter on other videos will do you a world of wonder on YouTube.

It is guaranteed to work. It’s natural. It’s totally aboveboard — and dare I say, it’s the way we’re supposed to do it all along.

Last but not least, here are my Top 10 videos for the month of October, in order of “watch time:”

youtube-top10-october-2018

YouTube songwriter discovery (Oct. 28): Emily Schultz, Andy Tunstall, Bill Fonner + more!

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Life as a YouTube creator has at least two parts: the creation and the participation. To grow a channel in 2018, one has to be as good a participator as they are a creator.

And that means commenting on other videos.

Being part of the community.

However, it can’t be shallow and spammy either. As a songwriter, I try to devote an hour or so every week to finding other songwriters on YouTube, and I’d like to start introducing you to them on my blog as well. I make it a point to only offer positive comments and only do so on songs or channels I really enjoy, as a means of offering other artists encouragement.

What you end up finding are a whole bunch of talented folks. Let me start you with my favorite find of the entire week, a young woman named Emily Schultz.

I’m just guessing that Emily already lives in Nashville or L.A. Vocally, she’s a lot like Colbie Caillat or something you’d hear in Little Big Town. However, my first impression of her was the same as when I saw Amy Winehouse or Tori Kelly for the first time — an immense talent. How she only has 70 subscribers on YouTube is shocking to me.

Shocking. Go subscribe now!

This is the song that caught my attention, and it showed up this week using the search term, “original song.”

That’s just fantastic. She’s clearly a pro. All three of them; the harmony is tremendous.

I’m guessing that most of the original songs I feature I out here aren’t written by “pros,” meaning not by people who make their living in music. I could be wrong though. Oh, before I forget, the other female singer and guitarist on the song is Alexandra Willett, and the young fellow is Jordan Hart.

The next tune I’m featuring is a song called, “I Break,” by a singer-songwriter named Andy Tunstall.

He’s based in the United Kingdom, but I was feeling a strong Kenny Loggins vibe. Kristi was sensing more of an Oasis’ Gallagher vibe.

Bill Fonner posted this one recently, a tune called “This Fire.” I really enjoyed the musicianship and his vocals, which remind me strongly of Gary LeVox from Rascal Flatts.

Speaking of soundalikes, I sensed a strong Darius Rucker-vibe from singer-songwriter Graham O’Connell. Of all the videos I stumbled upon in my new “original song” queries this week, his was the most developed. The tune is called, “Get A Life.”

There aren’t many original country writers on YouTube, not at least that I’ve found. I stumbled upon one guy who impressed me quite a bit both with his musicianship and vocals. The writing of all these people here is solid to boot.

The name = Chris Munson. The tune = “Let Her Be.”

Last but not least is a young guy named Matthew Robinson, and I ended up being his very first YouTube subscriber. Listening to his original song, “Stories of Dragons” evoked images of Ed Sheeran in my brain. I was particularly impressed with Matthew’s lyrical ability.

Is it a memory
Or Is it etched here in stone
Was it carved by our mother or one of our brothers
We couldn’t be here alone

So when the lights go out, what will you leave
you think you’re all alone, that’s way too hard to believe
when you stand on stone you didn’t lay

even told stories of dragons you didn’t slay

As for me, the little bit of positive participation on YouTube netted me 10-15 new subscriptions. It’s by a mile the most effective tactic I’ve ever used to build my audience on YouTube in a short period of time.

By a mile.

You can’t go into this effort expecting the people you say nice things about to subscribe to you, quid pro quo. In fact, you probably won’t even know who subscribed to you.

Instead, you have to go into this with the mindset of spreading positive influence on other creators worthy of a good word. That encouragement can be a big deal to somebody! It’s the right thing to do as a member of the YouTube community.

Ryan Welton just watched the Cleveland Browns lose again this week, which could be compounded by the Thunder starting 0-5 and the Dodgers being eliminated by Boston in the World Series. Not a great sports week — but it’s been an awesome week for him on YouTube. You can check him out at youtube.com/ryanweltonmusic

My 10 favorite songs from the most awesome band in the world, Barenaked Ladies

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Before I made the trek from Tulsa to Oklahoma City the other night, one of my colleagues at the station in T-town noted on Facebook how “One Week” wasn’t nearly the best Barenaked Ladies song.

And I totally agree.

But his post set me off on a 90-minute BNL listening-fest on the way home, and it inspired this blog post where I’m going to try to rank my Top 10 Barenaked Ladies songs. It’s not that tough to narrow to ten, but ranking them from there is really tough.

I wouldn’t boot a one of ’em.

My relationship with this Canadian band goes back to my days working at Insite Interactive in Dallas, where my buddy Danny turned me on to Steven Page, Ed Robertston and their classics. With Barenaked Ladies, you’ve got a batch of early quirky acoustic classics and the more modern pop gems. This was right about the time “One Week” became popular. It was that tune that put the band on the broader map, although I think I’d argue that it was “The Old Apartment” that separated their acoustic era from the pop one.

One of the things that has always appealed to me about Barenaked Ladies is how positive their songs are, even amid the band’s own turmoil. Steven Page left or was fired a few years ago due to drug problems and bi-polar disorder, as I understand it, and it was kind of heartbreaking for fans who washed themselves in their uber-optimistic vibe. They were sort of the last band you’d expect this from, and it was kind of like seeing your favorite married couple get a divorce.

For what it’s worth, Page did reunite with the band for the band’s 2018 induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, and it might portend further reunions. Page told The Globe and Mail that the decision to let him perform with vocal partner Ed Robertson and the rest of the group was up to them.

One never knows what the dynamics were that caused the split, and addiction takes a toll on behavior and relationships, many of which can’t be repaired, especially at a professional level. However, if I could wave a magic wand, I’d love to see these guys roll into their 50s and 60s back together, making crafty new pop music.

They’re the musical heroes the world needs right now, to be perfectly honest.

Well, here goes nothing — my Top 10 Barenaked Ladies songs:

10. Be My Yoko Ono

Favorite line:
I mean if I was John and you were Yoko I would gladly give up musical genius
Just to have you as my very own personal Venus

 

9. It’s All Been Done

Favorite line:
Alone and bored on a thirtieth-century night
Will I see you on The Price Is Right?
Will I cry? Will I smile?
As you run down the aisle?

 

8. Brian Wilson

Favorite line:
You can call me Pavlov’s Dog
Ring a bell and I’ll salivate
How’d you like that?
Dr. Landy tell me you’re not just a pedagogue

 

7. Too Little, Too Late

Favorite line:
I’m gaining strength, trying to learn to pull my own weight
But I’m gaining pounds at the precipice of too late

 

6. One Week

Favorite line: the whole damned song. It is lyrically odd and brilliant. Make no mistake, this is a wonderful tune.

 

5. Falling For The First Time

Favorite line:
I’m so thrilled to finally be failing
I’m so done, turn me over cause it feels just like I’m falling for the first time

 

4. Get Back Up

I really, deeply love this song. It was recorded and released well after Steven Page left the band, and it feels like Ed Robertson wrote this as encouragement to himself and the band. Plus, he references one of my favorite movies, “Moneyball.”

Favorite lines, two of them:
Now I’m ready for the big rebound
I know you can’t win them all, but I’m swingin’ like Pitt gettin’ hits in Moneyball

Standing eight and I’m on the ropes
Knees givin’ but I wont lose hope
Not the second coming of Muhammad Ali, but can I get a “WOOT” for the boxing imagery?

 

3. Pinch Me

As I understand it, this is a tune Ed Robertson wrote largely about feeling down when the band returned to Canada after first having big success in the United States. As always, and as I’m apt to do in my writing as well, BNL makes it all feel upbeat.

Favorite line is really a favorite verse:
On an evening such as this
It’s hard to tell if I exist
If I pack the car and leave this town
Who’ll notice that I’m not around
I could hide out under there
I just made you say “underwear”
I could leave but I’ll just stay
All my stuff’s here anyway

 

2. Odds Are

Truth be told, this is my favorite Barenaked Ladies song — and like “Get Back Up,” it was released after the great Steven Page left the band. This is catchy, clever, positive and 100 percent true. I wish people would listen to this song more often because, truly, regardless of what one is going through, the odds are that it’s gonna be alright.

Favorite line is, again, a whole verse:
Hit by the A-Train, crashed in an airplane
I wouldn’t recommend either one
Killed by a Great White or a meteorite
I guess there ain’t no way to go that’s fun
But somewhere in the world someone is gonna fall in love by the end of this song
So get up, get up
No it’s never gonna let up so you might as well sing along

 

1. If I Had $1,000,000

It’s hard to discount anybody’s opinions; they’re just opinions. But I’d guesstimate that at least 90 percent of BNL fans would list this as their favorite. The way I’d describe it is that, to me, clearly, this is the most beloved classic in their discography and it’s the reason we all fell in love with ’em.

My favorite line, and there’s so many to pick from:
Well I’d buy you some art (a Picasso or a Garfunkel)

It’s like their success has given the rest of us songwriters permission to let our inner nerd shine.

Shine on.

You can find my music at youtube.com/ryanweltonmusic

By en:User:TheHYPO – Uploaded as en:Image:Golf11.jpg, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Ready to get a new keyboard, considering a Korg Kronos

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It’s been nearly two decades since I’ve bought a new keyboard. Seriously. I think I got my Yamaha S90 in Dallas back in the early 2000s, and I think I remember lugging that bad boy around to Bella La Blue gigs.

That Yamaha is the best performance keyboard I’ve ever had. The action on the keys is better than many pianos, and the sound, too. However, over the years, I’ve worn out the keys.

It’s time for a new musical play-thing, although I’m not going to trash the Yamaha!

I called around tonight, and I’ve found several people and businesses that can help me get the Yamaha S90 into tip-top shape again. It has a handful of keys in the lower register that stick. It’s still a terrific player piano, and it would make an awesome MIDI keyboard into my laptop using FL Studio or Logic Pro X.

Here are the recommendations I got for repairs in the Oklahoma City area:

  • Honest Ron
  • Protronics
  • Gear Exchange

But I’m in the market for a new keyboard, and I’m focused on a workstation. The three top-end workstations are the Yamaha Motif, the Roland Juno and the Korg Kronos. I’ve done some research on each, and I’m leaning strongly toward the Kronos. It’s not only because the 88-key model has weighted keys. It’s not only because it has digital out and the ability to import backing tracks.

It’s because I’ve been a life-long Korg user. I’ve owned an M1, an M3, a Trinity and a Triton — and when I say life-long, I mean since 1990. I’ve recorded dozens of songs on Korgs, and I got to where my production skills were quite good on the Korg, which has a workstation built in.

Back in the day, you just popped a hard disk into the board and saved your sequences there. I’m not sure how you do it now.

From a music production perspective, as a workstation, Korg has the reputation of having the absolute best sounds and the most studio-ready production combinations and patterns. It’s the Mac of keyboards.

It’s also $3,700.

If I weren’t confident that I’d be able to do some serious musical damage on that bad boy, I’d never consider getting it. Here are some of the tracks I did on my Triton, all posted to my YouTube channel:

“Anaheim Blonde”

“Cool Like Kelsey”

“Groovehappy People”

“Caribe”

I’m still going to get that Yamaha S90 fixed, but I’m pretty sure a new Korg Kronos is in my future.

Soon. Soon as we get Mom’s house sold!

Songwriter’s notebook: Perfection is the enemy of good

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Perfection is the enemy of good. Perfection is the enemy of good. Repeat it and repeat it.

It’s not that creatives don’t strive for greatness; it’s just that many of us nitpick our own work to the point that our quantity of production is minimal with no tangible improvement in quality. Some of the time, production for the sake of production is tantamount to a repetition that gets us closer to the significant improvement we desire.

As a songwriter, I try to be prolific. I try to churn out the tunes.

Sometimes, I go about a song as if it were a long-term project. Heck, I have one song that I’ve dummy-titled “Joy” that I’ve been sitting on musically for five or six years, waiting for the perfectly open day when I could devote all of it to its lyrics.

If you’re waiting for the perfect time, for anything, you’ll be waiting forever.

Trust.

Sometimes, I knock it out super fast, knowing that the music and subject matter isn’t so much “throw away” but that it’s not in the realm of something I consider seriously to be good. Truth be told, some of the times, however, I end up with my best work when I don’t think about it so much.

Take last Saturday when I decided I was going to conceive both the music for a new song and its lyrics in a three-hour window, whatever it took to accomplish. That type of setup can be too much pressure on some days, and I end up on the couch watching baseball or surfing the interwebs.

What I do is start pounding the keys. I typically start with something funky and see if a brave new c-jazz or Steely Dan-esque progression emerges. Barring that, I find myself rerouted toward something that’s more yacht rock or 80s pop. I’ll go back and forth and forth and back until a riff and a melody emerges.

If one doesn’t after 20-30 minutes, I get up from the bench and do something. Sit on the porch. Read a book. Mow the yard. Run a mile. Eat. Maybe not eat; I don’t like to be all belchy before I record.

Periodically, I force myself to go basic on the progressions and focus on 1-4-5 type of songs. Keeping things to three chords can force a meandering brain like mine to keep things simple enough that I can focus on developing a melody.

That’s what I did this weekend with my new song, “Wandering, Wandering Me (The Container Store Song).”

Although it’s not technically 1-4-5 (it’s 1-6-4-5, I believe — F to Dm to Bb to C in the verse), it’s still super simple. In terms of inspiration, I was trying to channel a little bit of Glen Campbell or Jerry Jeff Walker, especially in the chorus. It might not surprise you to know that I loved Glen Campbell, but it might shock you to know how much I love Jerry Jeff Walker, especially this song, which lyrically was kind of an inspiration for this song.

Musically, it’s quite different.

The title for the tune just started coming to me, “Wandering, Wandering Me.” I don’t know where it came from. I think I was THINKING about Warren Zevon and “Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me” when I was riffing with the chords. However, I liked the title, and as my process goes, I rolled with it.

And then I get to writing lyrics.

I had an afternoon appointment to make, so I needed to boogie and get words to paper. My process is pretty simple. I start rhyming and see how the story develops. It’s as if I don’t even know what I’m going to write when I do, searching instead for interesting phrasing or well-crafted rhymes.

Once I get a verse, I immediately get to a chorus, even foregoing a pre-chorus until a second- or third-take.

At this point, you know kind of what the story is about, and if you’re feeling traditional, you try to develop that story. Advance the story is what my far-more-experienced songwriter friends call it.

However, I don’t let curve balls or crazy ideas throw me. In this case, I was writing about the week after Mom had died and the trips I took back-and-forth to Henryetta. There was no Texas. It was a metaphor (or just an excuse to mention the great Lone Star State). In the third verse, I talked about wanting to settle down, which I’m presently doing (details soon), while at once maintaining my freedom.

In my case, that mostly means freedom to create (content creation, songwriting) and freedom to “Ryan.” Ryaning is the name I give to the process of me taking a whole day to work on projects of interest to me, which typically includes household errands, cleaning and organization. So, I wrote my truth and then faced a conundrum.

How do I explain, “How to write some songs and organize?”

Does he mean organize such as in a union or as in a community organizer? Is he an activist?

That’s where I threw in the line about The Container Store.

And just like that, I’ve explained what was an extraordinarily satisfying afternoon of songwriting, fighting the urge to review and edit and take months to produce a piece of content. Truly, if somebody came along and said, “Great concept. Would you mind hooking up with a co-writer for some collaboration?” then I’d do that in a heartbeat.

Yet the sooner that you finish one song, you can get to the next.

I don’t necessarily apply this to all pursuits, and it’s definitely not an excuse for sloppiness. But I find that striving for perfection is just a recipe to quash production.

Strive for good. There is no perfect. Check out my new song, “Wandering, Wandering Me” and read the lyrics, below. You can find more from me at youtube.com/ryanweltonmusic


“Wandering, Wandering Me”
Copyright 2018, Ryan Welton

Verse:
I have a hard time trying to stay in one place
One day I’m here then I’m gone with no trace
Though it might be hard to swallow
I do not want to be followed
It’s just wandering, wandering me

I like to take the back roads Into small country towns
One minute I’m your neighbor then I’m never around
If you think it’s cause I’m flaky
You can take me at my word
It’s just wandering wandering me

Chorus:
Baby, I remember Tulsa, Oklahoma
Summer nights of harmless fun
Then I packed my bags and drove to Texas
With the sun
Put a lot of miles on
Never took a day off
Saddle up, and there I’d go
And there’s not a single minute
Hardly even seconds
I’m not missing you so

Verse:
It’s mostly human nature as I know it to be
I wanna settle down, but I want to be free
Free to write some songs and organize
But end my day deep in your eyes
It’s wandering wandering me

 

Best new contemporary jazz sound comes from sax player Justin Young

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This is a totally self-serving post.

But if you enjoy contemporary jazz or smooth jazz and haven’t given saxophonist Justin Young a listen, do yourself a favor and check out his new album, “Blue Soul.” You’ll get to hear three tunes I wrote as well.

There’s the self-serving part!

Justin is currently based in Seattle, but I got to know him when he and his wife, Rachel, lived in Oklahoma City. She and I worked together at a TV station in town (not the one where I currently work). As soon as I found out that Rachel’s husband played sax, I sought out his music and was blown away — not only by his technical skill but also by his sound, which I found quite compatible with mine. When I write instrumentals, it’s often with a sax lead in mind, and I usually have had players like Dave Koz, Jeff Kashiwa, Steve Cole and many more in mind.

Luckily, I met Justin.

I immediately started combing through all my recordings in hopes of putting together a demo CD for him. The hope was that, maybe, someday, he might record one or two of them. It turned out that he liked many of them, and he and his dad hooked me up with recording equipment to start writing more, some of which you can hear on my SoundCloud channel.

That was an incredible opportunity for me because it allowed me to learn Logic Pro. I got pretty good at it, although I’m not a Mac guy and will probably have to start over with FL Studio soon on my new laptop.

Justin went into the studio, and I knew that he might use one or two of my tunes, but I didn’t know which ones. He ended up picking three, and was pleasantly surprised by two of the three he picked. The one I knew he’d pick was called “Sweet Release,” a tune I first put together about 15 years ago. He did an amazing job with it.

The first version here is the track I put together in Logic Pro, not the original original of this song that I did back in 2003. But I still kind of liked what I did. This was after only a week of tinkering around in Logic.

But then Justin killed it on the album version. Yowsa:

The first of the two tracks that surprised me was a song he ended up calling “Razzmajazz.” I called it “Moment of Indecision” when I wrote it 18 years ago. I’ll put my original up first and then his, and you can see just how much he and his team of musicians and producers livened it up. Wonderful job.

“Moment of Indecision”

“Razzmajazz”

And then the third track he included on the album is the title track, “Blue Soul,” a song I called “Night Things” when I originally put it together in 2000 or so. I wasn’t expecting this one to get picked, but Justin heard something in this composition and again blew it away on the album.

My version of “Night Things” here:

And then what Justin did as he turned it into “Blue Soul.” Amazing.

If you see this post, do me a favor and go follow him on Facebook or pay him a visit at justinyoungsax.com. If you happen to have Sirius XM, you can also hear Justin on Ch. 66, Watercolors.

 

This YouTuber kills it with a Casio on ‘Cheat Codes’

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My dad used to tell me you’re only as good as the piano you’re playing on.

Tell that to Stefan Abingdon — ST£FAN — on YouTube, whose fine work I discovered tonight — namely this awesome composition called “Cheat Codes,” done all with a Casio keyboard and a pocket operator.

The good stuff starts at :21. The guy has terrific flow and lyrical abilities, and he knows his video games to boot!

This video has only 2,130 views, which is the big problem with YouTube for non-corporate types these days. Stefan’s work is greatness and it’s been out there a month, and only 2,130 views. But like I wrote in my post about YouTube and community building, it takes way more than just posting music videos to cut through the noise on YouTube.

Marketing. Community building. Interaction. Social. Rinse, repeat, over and over.

As with any good rabbit hole, I started kicking the tires on Stefan’s channel and figured out pretty quick that he’s a hyper-talented dude. The “Cheat Codes” track wasn’t a one-trick pony. Take this song he plays with his dad called “Uncredible.” Stefan is a damned good musician (and so is his pops).

Side note: I’m totally buying a tambourine for my left foot.

I hope you’ll give his channel a visit and a subscription. I’ve been doing my ‘community work’ on YouTube for a couple days now, and he’s the first musician who’s inspired my creativity.

As always, I hope you’ll include me in your next YouTube rabbit hole. You can find me at youtube.com/RyanWeltonMusic

 

 

Ticket To Fly: #TBT ‘Smooth Jazz’ tune I had completely forgotten (video)

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I’ve failed to keep up with my YouTube comments and with the subject of this very blog, half of which is ‘Smooth Jazz.’ On the other hand, I did achieve what I set out to do at the beginning of the year — and that’s to re-start this blogging endeavor that I had so enjoyed some 10-15 years ago.

But it was a comment from a YouTuber named Hector that caught my attention tonight. He wrote on one song of mine that he was responsible for at least 50 of the 362 views of an original tune I posted called “Ticket To Fly.”

So, I responded with gratitude for sure…but then I had to listen to the song. To remember it.

This is “Ticket To Fly,” and I wrote it seven years ago. I’m not sure whether it’s more Steely Dan influenced or more akin to something I’ve heard from more straight ahead smooth jazzers such as Acoustic Alchemy, The Rippingtons or something like the Brand New Heavies.

Hope you enjoy it as much as Hector has, and I’d love it if you’d come check out my YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/soonerryan2000

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