What Is The Word – Year End 2013 Edition

Usually the end of the year (in this case, a 2013 year in review) means different things : best-of lists, gym memberships, diets, resolutions etc. but, for me, it’s time to look back at what I’ve achieved and a look to the future. I need to perform some sort of ‘musical inventory’ to put everything into perspective. I don’t think I’ve done anything close to this in my life yet, I’m tackling this for music. A lot happened this year and I have to make sense of everything that happened. I guess I’ll be creating my own report card. I also have to prepare for 2014. Still a lot to be planned for the new year. I have a lot of work ahead of me. It’ll also be a lot of fun.The more I work, the more I find out what I can do. It’s an interesting personal journey. I’ve visualized a lot of goals but I also need to write them down.


In the meantime, there is a lot more to offer to you, the reader, on this site. A lot : audio and video posts, new tunes, old tunes, cover tunes and whatever else comes across my mind. If you’ve been on this site, you’ll notice I will try different things to keep it interesting for me and, hopefully, for you. There is more to do. Some things you may have seen before, maybe not. It’s my job to be different, to keep you interested. I’m not re-inventing the wheel but I’ve learned the artists who succeed are the ones who create their own ideas. Follow their own path.


I don’t think of everything I do as a timeline (days, weeks, months). For me, its a road. A journey. I hope you enjoy everything that happens here. You may not like everything but, I will try and make it interesting.

So, You Wanna Be A Rock N Roll Star (pt.2)

Knowledge. Besides playing, writing, networking, recording, and on top of regular work and life duties, I have to work on the business of music. Knowledge is power. I read a lot on the web but I also listen to a lot of podcasts. I have a job that allows me to listen to my mp3 device while I work. On average, it’s 3 hours a day that I can cram in podcasts. Some are music related and others are not. I’ve found some podcasts on my own and have had some recommended by fellow musicians/friends. I look at this time as bonus studying. I thought I would share some of the podcasts I enjoy :

Brian Thompson – Brian is better known as his on-line name ‘Thorny Bleeder‘. He has 3 podcasts :

  • DIY Daily – a daily podcast that focuses on self-motivation and positivity
  • Music Biz Weekly (co-hosting with Michael Brandvold) – usually covers advice and topics on all facets of the music industry
  • Rock Start Branding Podcast (with Michael Brandvold and musician Greg Kihn) – discussing the marketing/branding of your music, image and more

You can hear the podcasts on Brian’s site here.


The Upward Spiral – Music professionals discussing many aspects of the music business. Listen here.


Sodajerker – Two songwriters from the UK who talk to fellow songwriters (Johnny Marr, Paul Williams, Ron Sexsmith and more) and discuss all things songwriting. Well thought out questions and really in-depth. If you’re a songwriter or enjoy the art of songwriting, it’s worth your time. Listen here.


Marketing Over Coffee – Two hosts, John J. Wall and Christopher Penn, discuss marketing tips and tricks. Very smart. Listen here.


99% Invisible – host Roman Mars discusses architecture, design and more. If you ask yourself ‘why did someone build something THIS way’, chances are 99% Invisible has an answer. Listen here.


Music Marketing Dot Com – hosts David Hooper and Wendy Wallace discuss practical and no BS straight talk advice on making it in the music business industry. Listen here.


These are a few of the podcasts on my radar. If you have any recommendations, drop me a line via social media.



What Is The Word – November 19, 2013 Edition

Most of you may know that the ‘what is the word’ section of the website is the part where i tell you the comings and goings and more in the land of Heartbreak A Stranger. If you follow me on social media, you know I’ve been in the studio recording some new tunes for a new project. There is a lot of different things to do between now and when the project is done. A lot of work and a lot to tell you. I’ll post some here but I’m also going to post a lot of what we’ll call ‘insider news’ on my mailing list. I’m going to document a lot more on the mailing list first, a lot of ‘first to you’ stuff and stuff I’m not going to post on the site. It’s going to be a long process. I am essentially two days in studio work but there is also artwork, marketing, videos, acoustic/demo versions, a diary of the comings and goings of the project and much, much more. If you want to see the ‘inside track’ stuff of how a project starts from ground zero to fruition, sign up for the mailing list (sign-up is on the right hand side of the main page screen) . I use mailchimp email services. They have rules to follow if you use their service. Here is their privacy policy. I’m looking forward to the next project. I want you to be a part of it.

Goodbye Lou Reed


Last week I was sad to hear about the passing of Lou Reed. I heard reports that he was not well but, still, surprised me. Everyone has a starting point for an artist. Most people know the song ‘Walk On The Wild Side‘. I guess for me the New York album was my first introduction to this discography. Top to bottom, every song grabbed me. Next was Songs For Drella, then Magic & Loss. The words of a poet, telling stories of New York City, sexuality, drug use and more. Stories from another world. Then you go back to the earlier albums: Transformer, Berlin, Coney Island Baby, The Blue Mask. Even albums that get panned have a few great tunes (i.e. ‘Kill Your Sons‘). Then going back to his first band, The Velvet Underground. Launched a thousand bands. Punk, experimental, glam, new wave musical styles. Lou taught me you don’t have to use a lot of chords. Keep it simple. I can hear his influence on my songwriting. Little turn of a phrase. Its weird for me to hear an influence.

I mentioned this on my social media feeds but years ago I released an EP entitled ‘Hello, It’s Me’. It was named after the Lou Reed/John Cale song from Songs For Drella.


Thanks Lou.


So, You Wanna Be A Rock N Roll Star (Pt.1)

In this post, I wanted to, as accurately as i could describe, the feeling of ‘so you want to be a rock n roll star?’ reality check to those not in the music profession. It’s a reality check on your life, your ego and anything you want to do in any profession.

– You need to play. You’ll have to go to an open mic. You put your name on a list, waiting in line to play. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a chance to play. Depending on the popularity of the open mic, you may not get a chance to play. I’ve been to some open mics where you have to arrive HOURS (i’m not kidding) to put your name on a list to perform.

– when you perform, know this : most folks at the venue are not going to listen to you. You’re background noise, at best. They don’t care if you’re song is about the girl/man who broke up, your dog, your political views, anything. You’re the equivalent of the TV in the corner showing the sports game, etc. In a sense, that’s YOUR competition for attention.

– try and win the heart of the crowd? good luck. Try to 1) play for yourself 2) win the attention of someone watching you perform. It’s like someone with ADD x 1000. It’s an uphill battle, depending on the venue. Some venues, folks are there to hear you.

– it’s times like this where you earn your stripes. you build up a little ‘tough skin’ or ‘grit’. You’ll need it. I always say the worse thing to happen is to be ignored. It can be worse. Much worse.

– every band starts in the same spot. the bands/acts you know and love all have stories of open mics/shows where NO ONE is listening or paying attention. it’s not for the faint of heart or ego. Buckle up.

– no one is there to see you. your girlfriend/boyfriend/friends don’t want to hang out late at night to hear songs they don’t know/don’t want to hear again. Ok, they’ll hear you once, but you can’t ask every time for them to attend. If you’re lucky, someone is at the bar/coffee shop to hang out.

– sing your heart out. sing for yourself. you might win someone over in the crowd. maybe.

– do it again. and again. and again.



That’s the basic structure to start out from nothing. I’ll see you in 5 years when you start to break even, in monetary terms. Good luck. That’s the mendoza line. That’s where everyone starts. I won’t lie, its not easy. It takes a lot to just get THIS far. This is one night. Multiple this by 5 years. It’s not for the faint of heart.






Happy Birthday – Bob Mould Edition

For those that follow me on social media, i tend to celebrate two birthdays : March 16 (my birthday) and October 16. October 16 is Bob Mould’s birthday. I’m sure most of you are aware of my fondness for all things Bob Mould. He has been a pretty big influence on my music taste (hence the name Heartbreak A Stranger). Now would seem a good time to introduce you to his music. Below, you can hear his first solo album ‘Workbook’ and see if this is something you would enjoy as much as i enjoy his music.




Music For Seasons

I don’t know if it’s just me, the inner music nerd, but i will change my music listening to fit the season (this is beyond listening to Christmas music or any holiday music). For myself, when the weather changes i will adjust my music. There’s certain artists that I tend not to play. There’s an inner music clock which says ‘ok, time to put ______________ on the shelf ’til a later date’. I have certain artists that are more ‘summer weather’ music and others are more ‘fall season’. Warmer weather = happier, sunnier music. Colder weather = more introspective music. I don’t think the artist has written their music to reflect the season. I certainly don’t write for seasons. I think most people will change music depending on their mood. I wonder what I would do if I live in an area where the climate never changed? Would it change my writing style? Would my music habits change? I wonder….