Thursday, February 24, 2011

Report: Zak Live on StreamJam ep. XVI (02.23.11)


Last night's show on StreamJam was fan-freakin-tastic.

There aren't many details that need explaining. We had a lively crowd full of Zaksters, and I used the occasion to debut three brand new original songs I'd never performed live before. My voice and guitar were mostly behaving, and the new tunes came out better than I would have expected for a trial run.

Happy Happy Joy Joy!

I enjoy getting over the hump of Humpday with some good friends and good tunes. Photo by Kat.

SJ #16 Set List...

Shine (Zak Claxton)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
*Perfect Girl (Zak Claxton)
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
*Look Out for Me (Zak Claxton)
Go Easy on Me (Zak Claxton)
Fade Away (Zak Claxton)
*The Other Way (Zak Claxton)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Black Phoebe (Zak Claxton)
Triana (Zak Claxton)

*Indicates the first time I've performed this song live.

Massive thanks to my great friends/fans who keep coming to the shows! You all rock!

Monday, February 21, 2011

This Week in ZakLand

"ZakLand" isn't a real place. It's more like a state of mind.

Anyway, happy Monday to you! Many folks seem to have today off work or school or whatever it is that they do. I, on the other hand, am a small business owner, and we small business owners take days off about as often as Glen Beck votes for Democrats. Therefore, I'll make this brief, and get back to earning a living, which I'll spend most of today and Tuesday doing.

We have an interesting week planned nonetheless. On the evening of Wednesday February 23 at 7PM Pacific (10PM EST), I'll be doing my bi-weekly StreamJam show on Facebook, but this one should be extra-cool. It's the worldwide debut of three new original songs: "Perfect Girl", "The Other Way", and "Look Out for Me". None of these tunes have even been recorded yet, beyond rudimentary demos for my bandmates to learn the songs, and I've never played any of them for a live audience beyond my darling Kat. So, come to the show on Wednesday night to check them out. As always, my StreamJam shows are free, and I tend to think they are fun as well. You can see the live video feed of the show by going here and clicking my name on Wednesday evening.

Zak rocks while you dance around and be a little cartoon person. What, you had better plans for a Wednesday night?

On Thursday night, our great friend from Second Life Triana Caldera is flying out from Minnesota to come hang out with Kat and I. Triana has been one of our best friends since we met over four years ago at her weekly SL-based event, Triana's Music Trivia. It's Second Life's longest-running trivia game, and we spend every Sunday night hanging out with her in the virtual world. Triana has visited us here in the LA area twice before, and it's always a good time.

Triana, Kat and Zak in 2009.

Triana isn't just coming out here to see us, though that would be fine if it were the case. Instead, she's joining Kat and I the following morning (Friday Feb. 25) and driving a couple of hours south to San Diego, where the first annual San Diego SL Music Jam and Meetup is taking place. I am really looking forward to this three-day event! Some of SL's coolest musicians are coming in to jam together, and as I've said in earlier posts, you'll be able to check it out live, in Second Life or on live video via Ustream.

The event will be going on from Friday through Sunday, and having watched one SL jam event from afar before, I can tell you that it's terrific fun being a fly on the wall, seeing Second Life folks interacting in the real world, and watching some musicians who you've probably only seen in pixel form playing in the flesh!

So, that's this week in ZakLand. Good times ahead.

Friday, February 18, 2011

More news on the San Diego SL Jam (Feb 25-27)!

Ready to rock? The SL San Diego Jam is just a week away!

We are just one week away from what's shaping up to be an AWESOME weekend of live music and fun. As I previously wrote, I'm taking part in the San Diego SL Jam & Meetup, which starts just one week from today on Friday Feb 25. Here are some fun facts about the event:

1. DATES: February 25-27, 2011.

2. WHO IS PERFORMING: Confirmed artists include Tamra Hayden, Taunter Goodnight, Zak Claxton, Duncan Ramer, Grif Bamaisin, Eva Moon, Lyndon Heart, Max Kleene, Mankind Tracer, Raspbury Rearwin, and Dakota7z7 Pluto.

3. WHAT'S ON THE SCHEDULE: A bunch of SL musicians getting together, many for the first time, to have fun and make music together. On the evening of Saturday 2/26 from 6PM-midnight, the artists will also be putting on individual shows covering a wide range of musical and performance styles. Other times will include jams between various SL artists, with lots of unpredictable and fun times.

4. HOW TO SEE IT IN PERSON: The entire event will happen at The Hampton Inn, 3888 Greenwood St., San Diego, CA 92110. Tickets for the whole weekend are just $50, and special tickets for Saturday night's series of shows which are open to the public and media are just $10 at the door. All tickets may be purchased here:

5. HOW TO SEE IT IN SL: Appropriately, the event will be held in SL at the San Diego City sim! Here's your LM for the whole shebang:

6. HOW TO SEE IT ON LIVE VIDEO: Much of the event will be broadcast live on Ustream, and can be viewed for free by anyone who wants to check it out. Here's the Ustream link for the event:

I will also be doing occasional live updates on my Twitter and Facebook feeds, so stay tuned to find out more about what's happening and when!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Four New Songs That You Can't Hear... Yet

Me, enjoying an IBC Black Cherry soda and thinking about new songs.

I haven't written much about the new album I'm working on... mostly because I haven't been.

Yes, we went into the studio last May, raring to roll on the next Zak Claxton album. We recorded a couple of songs I think will turn out great: "Shine" and "Time Never Waits for You". But the reality of the situation is that both of those songs had been written before my last album was even released. Ultimately, while I had a bunch of ideas and snippets going back to mid-2009, for whatever reason, my muse wasn't working with me, and I didn't feel inspired to finish the songs.

Until now.

In the past couple of weeks, I've finished four, count them, FOUR new songs. All of them will be recorded soon enough at Sound Sanctuary Recording Studios, with the same group of misfits and malcontents that we used on the last album (namely Phil O'Keefe, Bunny Knutson, and Ken Lee). I have a session coming up on March 19, and we're in the process of choosing two of the new songs to do that day, and scheduling another session on top of that one as quickly as possible to record the others.

Anyway, by refining some of the musical themes I'd had and writing lyrics, there are four new ZC songs that hardly anyone has heard yet:

• Change the Night
• Look Out for Me
• Perfect Girl
• The Other Way

I'm very excited about each of them. Many songwriters will tell you that songs are like children, and you can't pick and choose favorites. That's fucking bullshit. I know that some of my songs are stronger than others. It's a tangible thing, like looking at two of your kids and realizing one is taller than the other. However, I do like each of my songs for different reasons, and that's as true of these four new tunes as it is of any I've ever written.

That having been said, I really believe that three of these new songs -- I won't say which ones -- are among the best pop tunes I've ever written in my life. As a typical indie singer-songwriter, you don't want to get to excited about the potential for a song's success... there are just too many variables involved to say with any honesty, "This will definitely be a hit!"

But what you can do is put everything you have into each song so that the potential for success is there, and with a few of the new ones, I firmly believe that to be true. I'll probably get even more excited about them when we get into the studio and they take on something new with the addition of my friends Phil, Bunny, and Ken making their contributions.

Writing new songs makes me thirsty.

What Are These Songs Like?
I hate trying to describe music in words. I can tell you that all of them will be immediately recognizable as Zak Claxton songs, but some of my other strong influences from artists like the Police, the Foo Fighters, Nirvana, the Cars, Weezer, and others will be noticeable with some of the tunes.

As I mentioned, we'll be recording two of them on March 19, and at that point I'll be happy to share the songs with you as usual. Also, I'll be doing live performances of these songs at upcoming shows in Second Life and on StreamJam, so be sure to catch me when you can.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Report: Zak Live on StreamJam ep. XV (02.09.11)

First off, my apologies for there being no audio/video record of this show. When I signed off my video stream at the end of my show, I was semi-delirious as usual after performing, and somehow I hit a button that said, "Sure, go ahead and erase all the shit you just recorded, you freakin' idiot." In any case, it's probably a good thing... not because it was a bad show (it definitely wasn't), but because I did debut a brand new song, and one's first performance of a tune isn't exactly the one you want captured for all time.

But enough of all that. Last night's StreamJam show was fantastic. One of the things I like the most about doing live shows in an environment as pervasive and accessible as Facebook is the fact that just about everyone can come to the show. Obviously there's the aspect of having attendees from disparate locations around the globe, but since just about everyone has a Facebook account, it's possible for just about anyone -- schoolmates, former teenage hoodlums, old co-workers, and current pals -- to come check out a Zak Claxton show.

I awoke yesterday a little concerned about a soreness in my throat -- we've had a bug rampaging around the neighborhood, inflicting my son with a case of bronchitis -- but by showtime last night, I felt fine, and had no problems hitting the notes I needed. The guitar was cooperating as well. I have no complaints at all, and the thrown-together set list worked out nicely. As previously mentioned, it was also the worldwide live debut of my newest song, "Change the Night", which I'm starting to like a lot.

SJ #15 Set List...
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Shine (Zak Claxton)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
*Change the Night (Zak Claxton)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
Black Phoebe (Zak Claxton)
Triana (Zak Claxton)
Come Around (Zak Claxton)
Lines on Your Eyes (Zak Claxton)

*Indicates my first ever performance of this song.

Giant thanks to all the great friends/fans who spent some of their Wednesday night with me and my music!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Coming soon: San Diego SL Jam & Meetup (Feb 25-27)


A few months ago, I started hearing the whispers of plans being made for a Second Life music jam and meetup in San Diego, CA. Well, I was interested on a number of levels.

There have been a number of meetups and jam sessions for SL musicians, but none have them have been in places that are easily accessible for me. As a full-time Dad and a small business owner, it's no mean feat for me to take time off and galavant about the country in order to rock with people. Still, one previous event in particular really grabbed my attention: the fall 2009 SL jam in Texas. It looked like a whole lot of fun, and there were a number of SL musicians there who I'd been friendly with over the years. Since they broadcast the event both in SL and on video via Ustream, it was very fun watching the real-life personas of my musician friends rocking together on a little stage.

Since then, there have been other SL jams that I'd have loved to attend, but were too far away to really consider. But this time, the event is only a two-hour drive south of here. So, I've confirmed my appearance there, and my lady Kat and pal Triana Caldera will be joining me there. Triana, in fact, is flying out from Minnesota just for this rockfest. That's dedication!

Why Don't You Come Too?
Trust me: no matter where you are in late February, San Diego is going to be better. If you think that hanging out near the Pacific ocean while some of your favorite SL musicians play live right in front of you sounds fun, here's your chance to find out for sure! While final arrangements and schedules are still being made, you can register for the event here, and get hotel and other info as well.

The current list of confirmed musicians as of this date are as follows:

• Tamra Hayden (Tamra Sands)
• Taunter Goodnight
• Zak Claxton
• Duncan Ramer
• Grif Bamaisin
• Eva Moon
• Lyndon Heart
• Max Kleene
• Mankind Tracer
• Raspbury Rearwin
• Dakota7z7 Pluto

Along with a bunch of SL music fans!

If You Can't Come In Person...
It's still going to be a lot of fun. Like the Texas jam, the San Diego event will be a big in-world three-day concert which will also be broadcast in audio/video. I'll make sure to update you with any info on this as it becomes available. Keep your weekend plans for Friday Feb 25 through Sunday Feb 27 open!