singersongwriter

How to Love: #Disneyormusicvideo (Day 2)

In the beginning of my Day 1 blog, I explained the phrase, “Screw the shoot – let’s go to Disneyland,” shared by Dave and I, and definitely desired by all three of us. It’s the type of thing you joke about doing (putting aside what you actually have to do and indulging in an irrational decision) and play out in your head how much fun it’d be to attempt, but don’t actually try because you’re a realistic and rational human being. We’ll come back to that later.

The day began with meeting the incredibly helpful Daniel for some Chick-Fil-A breakfast (you have to start off a full day right) and going over camera details and instructions on how we should get footage to him. Daniel ended up being the nicest guy and had no ulterior motive to helping us out, other than just being a friend to some strangers from out of town with the same passions. We were blessed to have the opportunity to meet him and become friends with him.

Driving was the name of the game for Day 2. A lot of the film called for driving scenes, so we drove around Los Angeles for several hours, trying to get B-Roll of the city as well as shots with the city in the backdrop of myself or Jessica and myself in the car. If you are familiar with Los Angeles, you know how much driving plays a part in life over there, so you can imagine how much I was over driving by the end of our stay. We collected some solid film and turned the car around toward Glendora, gearing up for the evening’s group scene.

After Jessica was dropped off, we went to In-N-Out to talk out the film plan (that being our second time at In-N-Out in two days). The plan was laid out as the following: everyone was going to rendezvous with us at the bottom of the mountain at 5:45, leaving there closer to 6:00, and beginning our short jaunt from the parking spots to the location. That would leave us at least thirty minutes before sunset (at 7:08), and we could get some great footage at the golden hour. That was the plan.

Andreos, Dave, and I waited at the rendezvous spot for 15 minutes before discovering that traffic had waylaid a few extras. That’s okay, we thought – we built in that buffer of time for things like that. So the three of us headed up and sent our location to the rest of the folks so they would know where to park.

After leaving thirty minutes passed the projected departure time, Jessica and the crew finally made it up the mountain, reaching more questions than points on a map. After numerous calls and confused u-turns, they finally made it to the turnoff, and the sun was almost completely behind the hills. We had to adapt quickly, and transformed the vision of a scene at dusk to that of moonlight. Portable lights we packed along for the trip were well worth lugging around at this point.

Originally I had envisioned a group of people partying near an overlook of the city, playing around a fire for this scene. The overlook was incredible – the lights of the city shone like their own electric stars beneath the sky. Being in Southern California presented other complications when it came to the fire we wanted to create. There was a drought at this time, so we had to be inventive around the construction of the fire for this scene. In order to keep my government record unmarred, you’ll have to see the video for more details.

After a lot of stress, work, and my terrible acting, we finished the scene and called it a wrap. The shots didn’t go quite the way we had planned, but we were pleased with what we were able to accomplish and climbed down the hill with starlit smiles on our faces.

Driving down Glendora hills, we ran into Foothill Boulevard, and a rush of nostalgia washed over me with the sweet aroma of donuts. I lived just south of Glendora for two years during college, and facing Foothill head-on brought to mind my youthful indulgence: Donut Man.

Dave, Andreos and I rushed over to the tiny hut that holds the sweetest of treats, and jumped into the line that consumed the parking lot. While in line, Dave – being himself – struck up a conversation with the students in front of us, discovering that one of them was an employee at Disneyland. Dave and I both gave a sidelong look at each other and returned to the conversation. By the time we had retrieved our heavenly pastries, we began to part ways and the Disney employee, Nick, told us, “Hey, this is random, but you guys are really cool, and I know you’re only in town for a few days, but if you have time and want to come to Disneyland for free, you’re welcome to use my guest passes.”

Did you just read that? Because when I heard that sentence from Nick, I had to ask him to repeat it. I shook my head in disbelief and started laughing with Dave, as we both remembered one of our first conversations on the trip: “Screw the video – let’s just go to Disneyland!” That idea had never been realistic until this moment. We couldn’t believe it, and both set our donuts aside so we could properly laugh at the irony of the moment.

The day was a success: the three of us were full of sweets and heading back to Northridge for the night. The next day held Oceanside, and, potentially, a day at Disney.

#Disneyormusicvideo

Catching Up in Portland

Life doesn’t seem to care how old you are – it throws twists, turns, challenges, and joys whether you are 25, 45, or 65.

While in Portland, I had the pleasure of speaking with a good friend of mine who toured with a band for fifteen or twenty years, stopped for a bit to raise a family, and is now a book buyer at Powell’s in Beaverton. Greg has lived in a music-filled world his whole live, moving years ago from California to a small town in Oregon to focus on family and get into songwriting, then relocating to Portland when his kids outgrew their parents’ home and he could pursue his guitar craft in a new way. Embarking on an educational journey, Greg dove into higher education a few years ago, aiming at a music degree, while honing his guitar playing with dreams of another small ensemble to be created at some point. I got to have an incredible conversation with Greg about life and its unexpected turns and surprises.

Greg and I talked a lot about Nashville, how my experience has been, and how much I miss Portland. He has been to Nashville multiple times on tour in the years with his band, and knows of the immense country scene (which I try to ignore as much as possible) and the calibre of players in the city. The thing that struck me most were his thoughts on enjoying life, and choosing not to strive in vain. There is a difference between selfishly focused striving, which brings little long-term fulfillment, and striving toward a goal without losing sight of those around you. The community I’ve found myself in is incredibly unique, unlike any I’ve experienced. My reliability on this community gleans both challenges and solutions. It’s an incredible feeling to belong to a group of people that is diverse and unbreakable. Having friends you can go to at any time with any need or celebration is a security that is very rare. That security piece also creates a comfort that sometimes keeps me from working as hard as I should. I am comfortable and satisfied in the context of this community, so the need for something more wanes, and it becomes even more paramount to stay focused on what I want to accomplish in life, which is where the striving comes in.

Greg also spoke about his goal reorientation. The last five years or so, he’s focused on becoming the best guitar player he can be, in hopes to find a few others with those chops under their belts and create an ensemble with them. In his progress towards this goal, Greg has discovered that he won’t reach the level he’s aiming at for a long time, which, at his age, he’s deemed is a potentially unworthy use of his time. In our discussion, Greg uncovered a somewhat recent realization, which is a return to what comes naturally for him: songwriting. He worked very diligently at the singer/songwriter route while raising his kids, without much return. Despite his goals ultimately being unmet, songwriting fulfilled him and was an outlet that made sense and came innately. It reminded me how important it is to utilize the strengths we have and try to stay centered around what we do best. When we reach outside of what we’re built to do, it aids us in improving character, but drains us and leaves us wanting. Balance is key.

“Are you enjoying it down there?” Greg ultimately asked me. And isn’t that the important thing? 

Life is challenging now, working full-time at my day job, writing at night, emailing, networking, developing my website on my days off…it’s a grind. But the striving is worth the moments of joy, the small successes, and the progress toward my musical goals. Greg also understands the balance of enjoying life and taking time to acknowledge the blessings we have, while trying to answer that other side of the brain that asks, “Is there more to life? What do I do with these feelings, thoughts, and creativity?” Life is good, and it’s a huge blessing to learn from someone who has experienced more life than I have, but is still wrestling with the essential questions of life. I guess we are all doing the same in one way or another.

1️⃣📷 Salt & Straw // Division
2️⃣📷 Evers House // Summertime

How to Love: Divine Orchestration

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March seemed to fly by with anxiety and anticipation. My mind was filled every moment leading to the 19th, when Andreos Chunaco and I would fly from Nashville to Los Angeles. As soon as we began to cross the country’s airstreams, it dawned on me that what had been dormant for months in my thoughts was finally waking from its slumber and looming over my entire being. Investing so much into a single project began to take its toll on my heart. I could feel the weight of what was to come begin to sink deep into the bones of me. I should have already known that God would show His hand in my life as He always does.

A week before takeoff, Andreos (my friend and director for the project) and I took an opportunity to try filming a series of scenes at a location in Nashville we thought would suit the video, even though we planned on filming the rest in Los Angeles. Andreos reached out to another filmmaker he had met on a few occasions, Dave Altizer. Dave has had experience in low-budget, indie-style music videos of the same realm that we set out to make. He gave priceless advice as to camera selection, style choice, and gear options. Little did we know this advice would glean a much greater return than a good day’s shoot.

Andreos and I began scrambling to iron out the details of our trip to Los Angeles: itinerary, locations, gear rental, talent and extras, lodging, food, and a million other particulars that we never seemed to remember when we needed to. As days began to close in on the trip, Andreos came to me with the subject we continually wrestled with: to approach this video correctly, we needed to hire a small film crew. A director simply can’t film, and direct, and produce, while still maintaining a high quality of work. However, to stay at a budget close to that of someone who can’t even afford his own room, we were being forced to pass on elements that were going to take the video from simply being completed to actually being successful. We came to a crossroads, with only forty-eight hours until we reached Los Angeles.

That same night of our financial–practical reckoning, I happened to run into Dave at my day job. He flagged me down with a huge grin, introduced me to his wife, and we talked for a moment. He had really helped us out the week before, so I made sure to let him know how valuable his time and assistance was. Dave asked how the project was panning out, and, despite my feigned smile, I’m sure he could see through to the fear beginning to grow in my heart.

The sun began to conspire against us, as time passed faster than ever the day before we left. My phone rang at work, and a text followed that said, “Call me ASAP.” Andreos picked up and said a series of unbelievable statements: he had randomly thought of Dave that morning, so Andreos called him and asked if he was interested in going to L.A. with us. Dave told Andreos that he was actually thinking about moving out there in the future, and had been looking for an opportunity to check out the city. Dave also happened to be free for the weekend, and wanted to help out with the video for much less than what he should have charged. Sitting on my break, my head spun and something Andreos had said to me before formed over the ringing in my ears: If we were going to fly to Los Angeles to make my vision come to life, we better be sure we’re doing it right. Just like that, I bought Dave’s ticket, and he met us in Los Angeles the following night.

The filming hadn’t even begun, but we had acquired a Director of Photography that had knowledge of the camera we were to use, had gear he brought along, and experience filming videos of the same quality. The facts that I had seen him days before, that he had been wanting to check out L.A., and happened to be free for the weekend all pointed to a divine setting of the stage. It’s not normal for me to be able to see God’s work in my life, but this was too clear to ignore. Anxiety, like morning clouds burned away by midday sun, began to subside. Los Angeles held a weekend of adventure and creation.


Photo by Andreos Chunaco.

Nashville visit

I returned from Nashville one week ago with excitement, anticipation, and hope, leaving (most of) my anxiety at outstanding restaurants like The Wild Cow, PM, and The Pharmacy. 

CATCHING UP

For those of you who are jumping in on this text with no knowledge of what I’m talking about, let me fill you in on the last six months:

  • I published Let Go and Forget, my first full-length album, in July, 2013.
  • My job as Interim Worship Pastor came to its fulfillment on November 10 as a new pastor was hired and they threw a killer sendoff for me (of which I’m still tearfully reminiscing).
  • As I’m now a “free” or “unshackled” (AKA unemployed) musician, I’m planning to move to Nashville, Tennessee, with my brother and two friends in February.
  • I visited Nashville from November 11-15 and left my heart there.

HIGHLIGHTS

Nashville is surprisingly a lot like Portland, which I’m stoked about. Built on a river, filled with coffee shops, and home to eclectic and delicious food choices. Even better than these things, I was able to meet dozens of people who are genuinely kind and sincerely friendly. 

My hostess typified what my experience was like. Whitney is the niece of my former boss/pastor, and told me I could crash at her house while I’m scouting out the city. As she picked me up from the airport (which she offered to do), she told me: 1) she would be staying in her roommate's room, letting me stay in her room, saving me from a couch, and 2) I would be driving her to work on two of the days she was scheduled, so that I could take her car around the city and check stuff out. She wouldn’t budge on these points despite my protests, and that was the type of mi casa es su casa attitude that everyone had. 

Whitney is a Pro Nashvillian. She introduced me to a bunch of her friends from Ethos church, and I got to sit in on some of their studio time as they recorded a Worship EP for their church to take home in the Christmas season. These were the nicest people, all giving up their free time to volunteer on this album. Tight.

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The next day I met this rad guy named Ben. He lives in a loft owned by his former roommate’s parents (…okay, yeah that makes sense). He has been in bands and toured and tons of fun stuff, but now he engineers/writes/produces pop music with various artists. Apparently he lives next door to the producer for Rascal Flatts. No bigs. Also tight.

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COFFEE

“Coffee snob” is not uncommonly used to describe me (mostly by my mother). Quality beans combined with a quality pour-over are ingredients to make Jared happy. I found such a place at both Frothy Monkey and Crema. Both had very Portland-ish vibes (a good start) and pretty upstanding coffee. Coffee + Sunset = extra good.

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BRINGING HOME TO THE SOUTH

On the last day of my visit, I tracked down the nearest forest park (about 15 minutes out of town) and took a little walk on a trail that prohibited picnics, pets, food, and any sort of diversion from the trail. Not a lot like Portland in that regard…but it was nice to be back in the middle of a forest.

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OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS

Nashville is pretty stinkin’ rad. I met some awesome people who are very genuine and friendly, saw some great areas that we can rent a house in, and a myriad of restaurants to satisfy my inner foodie. Heck, I even found a group of friends to play Settlers of Catan with me…I think that aided in taking away any amount of doubt or anxiety in me :)

WHAT’S NEXT

Looks like the move to Tennessee will take place sometime between the end of January and beginning of February! Money, weather, and house availability will play into the timing. The other guys (Joel Evers, Joseph Starr, and Kevin Howard) are all getting pumped for the move. Check back soon for the next update!