Monday, November 28, 2011

Golan Eilde's Non-Birthday Party (11.28.11)

As most of you undoubtedly know, the majority of my shows in Second Life are held at venues that are open to the public, and are at places designated specifically for live music. However, once in a blue moon, someone (obviously a person of excellent taste) will hire me to perform at a private party. And let me tell you, you will find no better musician/clown (or is it the other way around?) for your personal event. In any case, my manager Maali Beck alerted me last week that I'd been hired for just such an event, and the first thing I did was to get in touch with the person hosting the event, Deb Tigerfish, to find out what it was all about.

It turns out that it was a surprise party for the Deb's significant other, and I'd been recommended by a good friend and long-time Zakster, Diana Renoir. Well, once I found out Di had been the one to suggest me as the entertainment, I knew things would be great. Things got even greater once I found out that the person for whom the party was being thrown was Golan Eilde, a guy who'd seen me play a good number of times before. The only fear for a performer in a situation like this one is that the hosts may be expecting an entirely different kind of musician than you, but once I was aware that the party was for Golan, all concerns in that regard vanished.

Don't call it a birthday party. Photos by Kat.

It turned out to be a really fun show. Deb, Golan, and all of their guests seemed to be having a really good time. At first, I was under the impression that it was Golan's birthday, but there was literally signage that stated in no uncertain terms that it was indeed not so. We therefore dubbed it Golan's Non-Birthday Party, or -- as I occasionally called it during the show -- Golan Day 2011, whatever that means. In that regard, I also added Golan's name to a number of songs I did (i.e., instead of "Broken Day", I'd sing "Golan Day" and so on), which was fun for all of us.

The man of the hour, Golan Eilde, rocks at his party. Photos by Kat.

Good times at the Love Factory. Photos by Kat.

Golan's Non-Birthday Party Set List...
Big Yellow Taxi (Joni Mitchell)
1979 (Smashing Pumpkins)
Broken Day (Zak Claxton)
†Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic (The Police)
Accidents Will Happen (Elvis Costello)
Come Around (Zak Claxton)
The Needle and the Damage Done (Neil Young)
Landslide (Fleetwood Mac)
Behind Blue Eyes (The Who)
What I Got (Sublime)
Nowhere Man (Beatles)
Space Oddity (David Bowie)
Save It For Later (English Beat)

†Last performance of "ELTSDIM": June 27, 2008 at SL5B

Thanks to Deb Tigerfish, Diana Renoir, my manager Maali Beck, and the non-birthday boy Golan Eilde for letting me entertain you!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Key West (11.23.11)

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

As I've done about once per month since March, I had a show at Key West in Second Life last night, and once again it proved to be one of the very best places for live music in all of SL. The credit for Key West being so admired by the musicians and fans of live music in SL lies squarely on owner Liz Harley. It's hard to say exactly what separates the best venues in SL from the mediocre ones, but several factors are readily apparent:

• Liz always seems to pull in a terrific crowd. The gathering of people for a show in SL is always a cooperative task, and under the best of circumstances, the artist and his/her management do their best to bring in fans, while the venue itself makes every effort to help supplement that crowd via their own promotions, both inside and outside of SL. Liz is terrific at this.

• Why is it important for musicians to have a flow of new people coming to their shows? It's always an opportunity to develop new fans and new friends, and at a place like Key West, SL music lovers are just about guaranteed to find artists that they enjoy who they hadn't heard before.

• Which brings us to the final point: Liz has stated many times, in many ways, that her #1 consideration for artists who play at Key West is that she truly loves their music. In her words, "I book artists whose artistry and music move me and who I respect... period."

I often find that the bigger the crowd, the more inspired I am to play well. Photos by Kat.

There isn't a long list of live music venues in SL whose priorities are that focused on the music itself, and let me tell you: there isn't a single SL musician I've ever met who doesn't respect and admire Liz and Key West as a result. It's become one of the places I most look forward to playing... not for the money, but for the fact that I know my music is being truly appreciated there. The result is that I tend to give some of my best performances there, and last night's show was certainly an example of that.

Key West is also laid out very well, allowing for many people in the audience and yet still imparting an intimate, casual, and laid-back vibe. Photos by Kat.

The first thing I said to Kat last night after signing off the stream and turning over the stage to Skye Galaxy, aka Sean Ryan (the artist who followed me) was, "Holy shit, my voice could do no wrong tonight." It was true; my voice doesn't always cooperate with me the way I'd like it to, but every note I sang last night was right on the money. I don't know why; I wish I could package whatever combination of factors that allows me to sing at my best and have it around whenever I wanted it. But I'm happy to take it when it magically arrives, and it had good timing; Skye is quite the popular young artist in SL, and I enjoyed being able to make some good music for both my fans and his flock of admirers as they arrived.

On the day before Thanksgiving, you're bound to have some folks getting into the spirit of things. Here's Stace Silvercloud, Cicadetta Stillwater, and Triana Caldera in their best turkey apparel. Photos by Kat.

I put together a set list that felt appropriate for the autumn season, and it seemed to work out very well.

Key West Set List...
Northern Sky (Nick Drake)
California (Joni Mitchell)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Don't Let It Bring You Down (Neil Young)
Day After Day (Badfinger)
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
Sour Girl (Stone Temple Pilots)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Daniel (Elton John)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
After the Goldrush (Neil Young)
Broken Day (Zak Claxton)

Huge thanks to everyone who made this show at Key West amazing, especially those who helped support my show!
Willow Yorcliffe, MoonDog Roecastle, Triana Caldera, Sassy Nitely, mikial Bazno, TheaDee, Cicadetta Stillwater, Christine Haiku, Aurelie Chenaux, Tommy Cult, Kat Claxton, my terrific manager Maali Beck, and (most of all) Key West owner Liz Harley!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Cuddler's Cove (11.19.11)

First of all, let's start today's show report by mentioning that the last time I performed live at Cuddlers Cove in Second Life was April 25, 2008... three and a half years ago, crazily enough. There's no particular reason that I stopped playing there. Did you ever have one of those circumstances where you have a friend, but for whatever reason you lose touch with them and one day realize that years had gone by since your last connection? Well, it's more like one of those situations. Suka Nishi and Quinton Whitman who run the place are terrific people, and I'm very glad that today I was able to get back to Cuddler's and do a show.

Apparently there's a whole world of people in SL who are up earlier than me on weekends. Who knew? Photo by Kat.

But wait... there's a catch (isn't there always a catch?). Cuddler's Cove does most of their events on Saturday mornings, and since Suka and Quinton are based on the East Coast in real life, the shows start kinda... early. This morning's lineup had Quinton himelf starting out at 7AM, followed by the always-terrific Mash Rhode at 8AM. The third and final act of the day was Yours Truly. Well, unlike those fellas, 9AM in SL really means 9AM in my real life, so I am happy to report that this morning was my official earliest gig of my entire life as a performing musician!

I had no idea how that would work out, but it really ended up being fine. I woke up at 7 (which is ordinarily an hour I try and avoid on weekends), hopped in the shower and immediately began warming up my voice in the steam. Had some coffee -- perhaps too much, by the spastic results it inspired in my personality during the show -- ate a banana for breakfast, strummed a few chords on the Martin, and boom! It was time to play.

Three lovely Zakster ladies: Kat (top), Aurelie (middle), and Diana (bottom) boogie down at my Saturday morning funfest. Photos by Kat.

The show itself was really good. We had a nice-sized crowd there, and surprisingly, despite the early hour, my voice and guitar both felt great. Song-wise, it was a pretty typical mix of my originals and covers, mostly picked out by Kat since I was too groggy to think of what to play.

Cuddler's Cove Set List...
Everyday I Write the Book (Elvis Costello)
Broken Day (Zak Claxton)
Big Yellow Taxi (Joni Mitchell)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
Six Underground (Sneaker Pimps)
Perfect Girl (Zak Claxton)
Walk on the Ocean (Toad the Wet Sprocket)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
After the Goldrush (Neil Young)
I Am A Child (Neil Young)
Jane (Barenaked Ladies)

Humungous thanks to everyone at Cuddler's Cove, especially the following folks who helped support my show!
Robert69 Little, Diana Renoir, Katja Runo, Catherinne Earnshaw, Klementina Bernheim, Kat Claxton, Aurelie Chenaux, Steluna Silverspar, Mash Rhode, TheaDee, and Cuddler's Cove owners Quinton Whitman and Suka Nishi!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Me on "The Stream Scene" TV Show


As a medium-sized fish in a rather small pond, I tend to appreciate any extra attention I get in my career (and I use that term lightly) as a virtual rock star. That's why I was particularly pleased in September when the producers of The Stream Scene contacted me to see if I could do a live performance for their online TV show. I had a show scheduled at Crystal Gardens that week, and the Stream Scene people came out to record it.

The Stream Scene is now part of, an online "network" that produces and airs a number of excellent shows about virtual worlds.

To be honest, I pretty much forgot about it after that... there's always a lot going on in my life (virtual and otherwise), so by the time I received a note last week from Twstd Ruggles that the show would debut on Sunday November 13, it was like a whole new happy surprise. I'm not sure what I was expecting; I did the Stream Scene show once before, in 2010, but this time, the producers did something way super extra sweet: they basically read my entire bio as the lead-in to my live performance. I grimaced a little bit with anticipatory nervousness when my song came on; they chose to use the recording of my tune "Thanks Anyway", and I know there are a few high notes in there that I occasionally either overshoot or miss on the flat side, but all in all, I think it was a really decent rendition of the song. No complaints at all, from me anyway.

Anyway, if you haven't done so yet, check out the show! My spot is first, and then there are also good performances by Cylindiran Rutabaga and Hazideon Zarco, as well as a cool machinima music video from a song by my pal EvaMoon Ember.

Special thanks go out to Twstd Ruggles as well as segment producer Chuck McMasters and co-host Miles Eleventhauer for once again giving me the opportunity to perform on The Stream Scene!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Molaskey's Pub w/Lyndon Heart (11.10.11)

Hello to you all, and let's begin today's post with an unnecessary apology: I haven't blogged for over a week. No one notices or cares about this except me, but still, I feel compelled to mention that sometimes work and life overwhelm my ability to spend even the few minutes it takes to write a blog post. So there we have it. Also, I have a good reason for today's post: to tell you about the show I did last night along with my pal Lyndon Heart at Molaskey's Pub in Second Life.

The backsides of Diana and Triana, watching me rock at Molaskey's. Photo by Triana. Top photo by Diana.

This was the third dual-streaming show I've done with Lyndon in three consecutive months (see the posts about the September and October shows if you want). Last night, it was my turn to be "on top" (meaning that I was in the top position on the stream, and therefore handled lead vocals and rhythm guitar while Lyndon took vocal harmonies and guitar leads). As has been our pattern, I sent Lyndon a list of potential songs earlier that day, and he picked out 6-7 tunes he felt might be good to perform together.

Me, trying out some new material on the Molaskey's crowd. Photo by Triana.

I started out the evening, and did a selection of songs including a couple of debuts of cover tunes I hadn't done before. Then, about 45 minutes in, Lyndon hopped up on the stage and we did our jamming together for a half hour, and then Lyndon wrapped up the remaining 45 minutes with his own solo show. One of the things I like most about this whole setup is that my fans have become acquainted with Lyndon's performances, and his with mine. Lyndon and I are very similar styles of performers; we both write our own material, but we also enjoy doing covers as well. It's a nice commonality that our respective fans can appreciate in each of us.

Me (left) and Lyndon (right), having too much fun. Photo by Diana.

In any case, the whole show was a lot of fun for Lyndon and I, and hopefully our audience felt the same. I find that I'm really looking forward to the next one as well!

Molaskey's Set List...
Solo Set:
*Northern Sky (Nick Drake)
Broken Day (Zak Claxton)
*Lovesong (The Cure)
Perfect Girl (Zak Claxton)
Court & Spark (Joni Mitchell)
Tangerine (Led Zeppelin)
After the Goldrush (Neil Young)
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)

With Lyndon:
*Daniel (Elton John)
*California Dreamin' (The Mamas & the Papas)
Waterloo Sunset (The Kinks)
Our House (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
Love Hurts (Everly Brothers)
You've Got to Hide Your Love Away (Beatles)

*Indicates the first time I've performed this song in Second Life.

Big thanks to everyone who came to the Zak & Lyndon show last night, especially those who helped support the show!
Mia Kitchensink, Woodstock Burleigh, Diana Renoir, Thinkerer Melville, CathyWyo1 Haystack, Alexis Fairlady, Trouble Streeter, Cicadetta Stillwater, Xerxes Ninetails, Triana Caldera, Syzygy Merlin, my (and Lyndon's) terrific manager Maali Beck, and the whole Molaskey's staff including owners Katydid Something and Apple MacKay!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Observations on a Strange Day

The cat is licking the chair. I can hear her sandpaper tongue scraping the mesh fabric. Suddenly, she's standing on my head.

I think she learned two new words in the English language over the past few days. One is "no", the other is "down". And yet, she's on my head again. I think it's purposeful disobedience rather than ignorance. I have too much faith in this animal's intellect to rationalize away her behavior as "not knowing better". She knows, and disregards. I suppose this is cat-like.

I walk outside, trying to find out if the feeling of direct sunlight on my head would make my brain feel any better (it doesn't). While I am there, I see a middle-aged woman standing in one place, staring intently at a tree while holding her hand on the side of her head. At first I think that she might be having a stroke... an aneurysm... some kind of brain event. I grow concerned. She is motionless for maybe a full minute. I consider walking toward her to inquire if she needs assistance. When she lowers her hand and I see that she is merely holding a phone to her ear, I find myself simultaneously relieved and disappointed.

An old man rides by on a bicycle. He seems in very good shape for a man who looks to be sixty or more. Still, I stop breathing for a moment until the breeze generated by his speedy passing has settled. I don't want to breathe any essence of sweaty old man.

I come back in and sit down. The cat jumps on my head. I have no choice other than to put the cat in the hall and close my door.

Just a few minutes later, though, I wonder what the cat is doing. Is she still in the hall, waiting for me to open the door, perchance to jump on my head again? If I open the door to find out, she'll just jump on my head. At the moment, however, she has much in common with Erwin Schrödinger's famous feline. She exists in a state of uncertainty, bringing to mind Heisenberg's principles as well. I can say, "I'm sure she's fine," but that's really a load of crap, isn't it? I have no idea. I can't see or hear the cat. What I actually mean is that I assume that odds are high that she is fine, and past experience tells me that cats are quite self-sufficient, and that my house isn't fraught with peril -- not much peril, anyway -- and that the cat is probably still in the hall, or in my bedroom, or my son's, or downstairs in the living room.

I can't take the suspense, and open the door. The cat runs in and jumps on my head. I put her down, gently. It's the cat's nature to want to look down upon the world, and my head is the highest point in the room. The fact that my body is attached to it means nothing to the cat. Once on the floor, the cat goes seemingly insane, jumping from my head to the desk to the chair to the floor to the printer/fax/scanner and then back to my head, all in under three seconds. She's talking, making a continuous series of blerrrrt sounds while running at full speed around this small room. I reach for her again; this time, she bites me. Since I am allergic to cats, it eventually leaves a bright red welt on my wrist that itches. Then she curls into a ball and begins licking her foot, purring.

I don't know why. I'm not a cat, and even if I were, I might not understand what she was doing. You're a person, presumably; do you always understand what other people are doing?

I didn't think so.