Tuesday, December 08, 2009

BloG #41: Thoughts 'From The Road'

Cool title, yeah? hahaha.... Yep, life on the ol' road. Okay, so I'm not on the road, as it were. But, one of my daughters observed last night that I am on somewhat of a tour with this Fall series of concerts, so there you go.

Here are the Fall 09 tour dates that have been keeping me occupied:
12/17/2009 Christmas Performance
Venue: Eagle Public Library
*Location: 600 Broadway; Eagle, CO - 7:00 pm

12/13/2009 Showcase Performance
Venue: Carbondale Community United Methodist Church
*Location: 385 S 2nd St; Carbondale, CO - 4:00 pm

--featuring guest performances by: Soprano Soloist Bridget Baker, Rod & Trish Andersen, Emily Van Devender, Grace Van Devender, Soprano Soloist Annie Lee
12/06/2009 Showcase Performance
Venue: Rifle United Methodist-Presbyterian Church
*Location: 200 E 4th St; Rifle, CO - 7:00 pm

--featuring guest performances by: ArtillumA: (Jordon Churchill, Blair Bracken, Landon Churchill, Taylor Churchill, Michael Churchill), Joe Napier, Emily Van Devender, Grace Van Devender, Soprano Soloist Annie Lee
11/29/2009 Showcase Performance
Venue: All Saints Episcopal Church
*Location: 150 Sipprelle Drive; Battlement Mesa, CO - 4:00
--featuring guest performances by: Emily Van Devender, Grace Van Devender, Soprano Soloist Annie Lee
11/21/2009 Vendor Sale/Showcase Performance
Venue: Rifle United Methodist-Presbyterian Church-Lovell building
*Location: 200 E 4th St; Rifle, CO - 7:00 pm
11/15/2009 Showcase Performance
Venue: First United Methodist Church
*Location: 824 Cooper Av; Glenwood Springs, CO - 4:30
--featuring guest performances by: Grace Van Devender, Emily Van Devender, Kyle Snyder, Methodist Youth Jam: (Kyle Snyder, Kevin Snyder, Angela Frale, Joel Dane, Melanie Rossow), Stefani Maurice, Steve Shute, Jan Shute
10/24/2009 Open Mic Headline Performance
New Castle River Center Shalom Ministries
*Location: Downtown New Castle, CO - 7:00pm

This particular leg of the journey is winding down but I have the desire to share a few thoughts before it wraps up, so here goes.

I feel blessed!
This 'tour' has been invigorating on so many levels. Each showcase performance date has been arranged to include fellow musicians/performers from that particular locale where the performance is set. I set it up that way for several reasons. Key among them is an item in the mission statement for JavaMusiK. "...To foster and encourage fellowship through music." Here's what I have seen happening with that: An underlying dialogue begins to take place. This happens in the planning stages, but also during the concert itself. A synergy between the performers builds prior to the show and spills over into the performance and is eventually experienced in harmony with the audience. As the instigator, I feel totally energized by this. To witness the fellowship/relationship building that takes place as a result of my efforts and music is fulfilling and inspiring. To see all these people take time out of their routine and come together to share in a moment of nothing but music for a little while makes me happy.

I feel humbled.
As of this writing, the number of musicians/performers who have contributed &/or taken part in the concerts I've organized has been right at 20 over the course of 4 showcase concerts, several of whom have appeared at multiple dates. The talent that has been involved is so diverse and inspiring. Each individual/group has brought something unique and positive to the table giving each show a flavor of it's own and bringing much joy and quality entertainment to the audience. To follow these musicicans and performers has required me to step up my own game and hopefully make me better. The talent that I have had the priviledge to witness at each stop is a testament to what is out there and I am glad that this series is giving them an opportunity to shine and share their light with others. That, in & of itself, makes these concerts worthwhile.

I feel tired.
Truly, I do. Unfortunately, this particualr series is happening and doubling right during my school concert season. The same week I had my first showcase concert, I had four separate school concerts with two different groups. This week is bookmarked by two of my own shows with two school concerts in the middle. Each event is physically and mentally demanding on it's own accord. To organize and be responsible for each program is exhausting. So much work goes into the planning, rehearsing & performance of the show. Then, the actual performance takes you so high. To come down the other side after it is finished takes the wind out of you for a while. This concert season has forced me to turn around and get right back on the horse the next day. No time or rest for the wicked, as they say. Nice idea, but here's my quandary. I have long been blessed with the curse of being a night owl. After a full day at work, time with family, etc., I just need time for myself. Clear the thoughts, etc.. During the time leading up to a concert, my mind races so much that I cannot sleep. Then, I may get exhausted enough after a concert to sleep well the night following a show, but I often spend so much time analyzing what took place that sleep will be somewhat disrupted for the successive several nights thereafter. During this current concert season, my legs are struggling to keep up with the schedule and I'm feeling it. We won't even discuss the accompanying migraines...

I feel inspired.
To watch and listen to each individual/group that has participated in these events has been a gift for me. To see and hear how these events have touched other people is a gift for me. To have my daughters involved and performing at each event has been a gift for me. To see people actually buy my cd's and tell me later they play them all the time is a gift to me. To see the smiles on people, to see them close their eyes and just listen, to hear them laugh at my stories or stupid jokes and to just have them there is a gift for me. Each one of these items inspires me and makes me wish to continue this ministry. I truly love doing this.

In the end, I feel invigorated.
Have I mentioned I love doing this?
Every single thing about JavaMusiK brings happiness to me. I absolutely love it. If I could figure out a way to increase it's revenue stream to where I could quit my job, I would give it some serious consideration because I do love it so much. It is my own creation and nobody else's. It originates from me. (I hesitate to say there is divine intervention involved, though I would like to think that there is. This topic, I will save for a future writing however. Only because I have many thoughts about that and this writing is going long the way it is. Suffice it to say, that I do believe my Creator is involved and deserves all due credit & He is not forgotten. Just not sure my music is worthy to hold such a distinction.) I don't punch in to a time clock. I don't have to answer to a boss. If I don't like something, I can throw it out and not have to tell anyone why I did so. It is all about my music. I choose everything involved with it. Every decision is made by me. Every sale, person that comes to listen to a concert, person who chooses to listen to my music at a given time of day, company that chooses to use my music for their project, etc., is a validation of the efforts that have gone into this project. The growth of JavaMusiK has been slow, but continual. The body of work is something that brings me absolute pride and joy. From these things, I truly feel invigorated and blessed because JavaMusiK is completely about the music. The possibilities are endless!

I look forward to continuing this next year and am excited about the possibilities. The release of 'Don't Ever Forget' has brought a feverish pace to the last couple of months. If I don't get out & promote, no one becomes aware of my music & the product doesn't sell. Meanwhile, it is because of the music that new directions and positive developments can move forward. I like that.

I hope I get to see you along the way. In the meantime, discover your passion and stay happy!

Jeff Van Devender

Saturday, November 14, 2009

BloG #40: Whose Piano Is It Anyway?

With this being the eve of a Fall series of new release concerts in promotion of my new cd Don't Ever Forget, I'm going to attempt to answer a question I commonly get asked.

The question usually focuses on my piano influences. Who do I listen to? Do I emulate anyone in particular? Or... Just who am I trying to play like?

Great questions all of these and I'm glad I asked them. Seems someone asked me at least one of them sometime, somewhere. I bet someone else might even ask me again.

So... a little background here..

I started taking piano lessons in 3rd grade. Up to that point, we had a piano in the house and I would often sit and amuse (and sometimes amaze) myself at my ability to just come up with a melody that truly sounded pleasing to me. I enjoyed that. But then I essentially repressed that memory until fairly recently when I began to put some thought into why I have chosen to follow this passion all these years later. What continues to drive me to do this?

Another memory I have stems from just a few short years later. Sunday mornings before church, when the childrens choir my mother directed & I sang in wasn't singing, I would often have a little time to kill before the service started. We would arrive early so my parents' adult choir could practice. So, I would find my way to an empty Sunday school room that had a piano and sit down & start playing on it. I was taking lessons, so it wasn't just noise like I get from so many children who wish to play the keys on the piano in my music classroom. No... I was playing music, and doing it for the pure enjoyment of it.

Around this same time, however, practicing for lessons was truly becoming a chore and I was hating it. I did not wish to continue. So, I eventually stopped.

This was a sad day, because looking back I can remember being so excited to start lessons. I was ready & couldn't wait! Now, it was a chore & I couldn't take it anymore.

But something else happened right at this same juncture. A calling was approaching me over the airwaves that I could not ignore. I began to hear these awesome songs over a year's time that spoke to me beyond the words he was singing. The artist in question kept releasing tunes that were bringing out this spiritual awakening in me driving me back to the piano bench where I had just left!

The first song I ever heard by this artist, I only heard once in an older neighbor boy's car, when he offered me a ride. I thought it was cool & specifically remember the clever lyrics & playful accompanying piano line throughout. I couldn't wait to hear it again because it sounded so great on his car stereo but it was another year or two before I heard it again. I remembered the name of the singer/player though because it was so unique.

Next, over the summer months of 1973, came a full on rocker by this singer that was fun, but didn't push my piano buttons so I essentially ignored that one. But 3 or 4 months later into the fall season, the classic that got my juices flowing again hit the airwaves. Every time I heard this one, I would stop everything and just find myself in another place. This one ended up being one of my first two 45 records that I would buy with birthday/Christmas gift money from my uncle. The other 45 was Rock On by David Essex.

Springtime led to another fun song by this artist with some cool studio effects thrown in. The next hit that followed in the summer months finally sealed my retirement coffin. I could stay away from piano no more. I had to learn how to play this song! So, I went to the local music store and was pleased to find the sheet music - first one I ever bought! Took it home and struggled through the first couple measures. Over the next several days, I was worn down to the realization that lessons could maybe give me the skills and pathway to actually emulate this player.

Who was it? And what were the songs? If you know my age, you may have already figured it out.
Elton John was the culprit. And he wouldn't stop! The pieces kept on coming!!

The first song listed above was Honky Cat. Lyrics, piano, horns, syncopation...great piece!
Next came Saturday Night's Alright (for fighting) and I wasn't a fan yet, so it was fun but didn't take me there.

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was the clincher. I was sucked in by this one. So very cool. Loved it & couldn't wait to hear more. Then came Bennie & The Jets - so cool with the electric boots & mohair suit, etc..

Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me just grabbed my soul & became the anthem that I had to learn. I absolutely loved every note of that song. The piano. Elton's vocal performance. Ray's tambourine. Davey's guitar. Nigel's drum fills. Dee's subtle bass lines. The background vocals and the horns. And Bernie's lyrics! All conspired to create a completely perfect song! That hot summer, the steam from that particular song perpetrated a following for this artist that I have weathered through thick & thin for 35-plus years.

There is more to the Elton John story, but since the original question asks in the plural form, I will move on & save Elton for another future writing.

Billy Joel never did it for me. That is until the Fall of 1981, I heard Say Goodbye To Hollywood followed by pieces from The Nylon Curtain the subsequent year. I enjoyed those songs, but not much else. He always seems to be trying too hard or something. Maybe I just appreciate English artists more. (I also felt that way about the Do They Know It's Christmas/We Are The World debacle) I don't know...

I actually enjoyed a few Barry Manilow songs & even scored one out for the Jr. High chorus to sing background with me at piano & lead vocals. That was fun. Corny I know, but consider the time period folks. I remember seeing him play on tv back then & liked how he sat on a stool that put him a little higher above the piano than the average player.

Anyway, the next pianist that really caught my attention was Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. After acquiring a job at the grocery store, I became immersed in talking music with co-workers, while earning enough money to finally purchase a decent turntable. So, the new Technics direct drive turntable and ELP Works Volume 1 LP were purchased on the same day & I proceeded to be blown away on the first & every subsequent listen since. Side one of this double album features Keith with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Once again, I couldn't get enough! And what a way to break in the new turntable!

There was a Christian artist band that was around in the 70's & early 80's who I was turned on to for awhile. Their name was 2nd Chapter of Acts and Annie Herring wrote most of their music, played piano & sang. I was drawn to her percussive/melodic style of playing and actually played with a group that played their music for a couple years. Some of my playing style still reflects what I gained from that influence. And, btw - Matthew Ward's vocals are incredible! Loved seeing them live. Special times, they were...

Did you ever see the movie On Golden Pond? Dave Grusin did the soundtrack and I absolutely loved it. Haven't listened to it for years. I wonder if I can find a recording of it somewhere. Would be nice to check in again.

During the Spring of 1983, a friend turned me on to Pat Metheny. I think this is where I finally began to really hear music w/out words and just get it. I bought Offramp and played it over & over again. Lyle Mays on the keys was taking me to that next level beyond the pop & classical sound that I needed. I use the term jazz loosely here, because it really isn't jazz in my mind. I say that as a positive. Having jazz driven into me throughout school/college, I really got sick of it. But Lyle Mays & Pat Metheny had their own style that cut through the crap as I saw/heard it. Seeing them live over the next few years including at Red Rocks was very special to me. The Red Rocks show was during the same tour that Travels was recorded from. Pure magic!

Spending the summer of '83 in Colorado opened me up to some other musical directions I had not really been previously aware of. One of those directions became an influence that has stuck with me ever since. I suppose you could say George Winston's piano playing drove down the middle road between what I was hearing from Lyle Mays & Keith Emerson. Not jazz/fusion. Not rock. Not classical. It was being referred to as New Age, which seems to drum up so many negative connotations, partly based on the confusion created by the polytheistic religious associations. I hate that. I just want to hear the music. George Winston's music draws mental images for me. I like that. I also loved the packaging. So much so that my JavaMusiK Label somewhat emulates the packaging by Windham Hill. Seeing George Winston in concert with his relaxed demeanor wearing socks, jeans & flannel shirt juxtaposed against his precise playing was blowing my mind. I've been a fan ever since.

The following summer, a friend and I drove my 1970 Dodge Charger back out to Colorado for an impromptu vacation. After breaking down late at night in a Nebraska college town & spending all our money getting the car fixed the following morning, I took a nap in the back seat of the car heading west on I 80. When I woke up, my friend had a tape playing of solo piano music I had never heard before. This artist seemed to develop his themes from the smallest of ideas or even mistakes. And then he would just go with it. As I layed in the back seat pretending to sleep, I was getting so lost in where this player was taking me. He would hum-sing over parts he was really getting in to. It was all so raw and fantastic! Recorded live in front of an audience, you could feel the energy just pouring out in his performance. You felt like the smallest mistake would take his music into a brilliantly new direction. We were listening to Keith Jarrett's The Moth And The Flame that day. That, and his Koln Concert have provided me much inspiration over the years.

The most recent pianist to get my juices flowing would have to be Jon Schmidt from Utah. I have enjoyed my listens and find myself checking back from time to time. I encourage you to visit www.jonschmidt.com and hear for yourself. I'm venturing to say you'll easily see what I mean!

Those are the biggies. Limited in scope, I know. There are many others, but none prominent enough in my own mind to be thought of and given a paragraph here. I would list David Lanz and Jim Brickman both as having some influence. I also liked what Kate Bush & Peter Gabriel were doing with keyboards & piano. Meanwhile, if something else comes to mind, I will add it in later, b/c thinking back over the last 35-plus years is draining, especially at 2:30 am. I'll prbobaly look through my music collection later & wonder to myself how I could have possibly left whoever I left out. Meanwhile, buy my cd's and let me know who you think I may sound like to you. Hopefully, you'll say I have a very unique and lovely sound all of my own.


Thursday, October 08, 2009

Blog #39: New Release - Don't Ever Forget

New Solo Piano release 'Don't Ever Forget' finally saw the light of day today. I cannot tell you the excitement I felt arriving home & finding the box loads waiting on my doorstep!

After several years of already having the music composed, waiting to finally finish the masters degree, moving & starting a new job, finding a place to record, then finally rounding up enough scratch....the waiting is FINALLY over!!! It is here!

The cd features a couple classical/hymn covers:
-Bach's Prelude in C
-Be Thou My Vision

There is also a couple up-tempo original pieces:
-Rocky Mountain Rag

This cd again follows the classic JavaMusiK format with the appearance of white border, lower case lettering and nature photography by my daughters, Emily & Grace. The cover steps away from the old jewel case and utilizes the newer digipak design featuring the sleek cardstock cover so popular among newer releases.

Synchronyze moves forward with being the second in a three part thematic series started by Synyrgyze! on Bending Chords. Part three will find it's way on the next JavaMusiK release of new Jeffrey van D material.

Imagine Jim Brickman introducing George Winston to Elton John. This might be a possible outcome.

Track Listing...

01 Prelude In C
02 Lost Minuet
03 Alpine Road
04 Rocky Mountain Rag
05 Be Thou My Vision
06 Through The Shadows
07 In His Light
08 Sunken Garden
09 Synchronyze!
10 Final Farewell

We hope you choose to order this cd. We think it will stay in your rotation for awhile!

Ordering information is posted at www.JavaMusiK.com . Use the PayPal links. If you'd prefer to pay by check, contact us by e-mail & we'll gladly make it work for you!



Sunday, August 16, 2009

Blog #38: Let's see if I can remember...

all the concerts I have attended through the years. hmmm....

(This post may get edited and added to as my recollections gain clarity.)

So, last night I attended a Green Day concert in Denver with my daughters, which upon later reflection during the drive home, caused me to give pause and try to recall all the various bands and artists I have seen/heard through the years. I will attempt to see how well they can be remembered here.

Before I begin the list, it is worth noting that this was the first real mosh pit I have ever stood in at the front & due to the mad crush with my daughters and I being well...crushed in the mosh, we opted to be lifted over the barriers & refrain from further crush. We were fortunate to be close enough to the front to where we could get out of there. Billy Joe Armstrong called for everyone to come in closer, then implored everyone to start jumping up & down. The heat generated on the floor down front from the friction of so many bodies so close was excruciating. If you have any sort of claustrophobic tendencies, stay away from the mosh! After regrouping, we reconvened for the remainder of the concert at the back of the floor in the arena.

Here is my list of concerts attended through the years (most recent listed first):

Artist Location Date

Green Day (w/ Franz Ferdinand) Denver Pepsi Center 8.16.09

Elton John/Billy Joel Chicago Wrigley Field 7.16.09

Taylor Swift Salt Lake City Energy Solutions Arena 5.26.09

Elton John solo Colorado Springs World Arena 4.04.09

Van Halen Denver Pepsi Center 2.01.08

The Police (w/ Fiction Plane) Denver Pepsi Center 6.07.07

Elton John solo Anaheim, CA Convention Center 10.26.06

Elton John Denver Pepsi Center 5.03.05

Elton John Red Piano Las Vegas, NV Caesar's Palace 3.25.04

Richie Havens Carbondale, CO May 2001

Elton John/Billy Joel Denver Pepsi Center 4.09.01

Elton John/Billy Joel Salt Lake City Delta Center 1.29.01

Joe Cocker Jazz Aspen Snowmass, CO 9.03.00

Lyle Lovett Jazz Aspen Snowmass, CO 9.02.00

The Allman Brothers Jazz Aspen Snowmass, CO 9.01.00

George Winston Grand Junction, CO April 2000

Elton John Denver Fiddlers Green 8.24.98

Elton John Ames Hilton Coliseum 10.24.97

Annie Herring Blue Earth, MN Jan., 1998

U2 w/ Fun Lovin' Criminals Chicago Soldiers Field 6.27.97

Annie Herring Estherville, IA Nov., 1996

Elton John w/ Ray Cooper Denver Fiddlers Green 9.13.94

Elton John Denver Fiddlers Green 9.02.92

Elton John Denver Fiddlers Green 8.22.89

John Denver Milwaukee Riverside Theater 11.16.88

Elton John Milwaukee Marcus Amphitheater 9.18.88

Sting Milwaukee Marcus Amphitheater 7.10.88

David Lee Roth w/Tesla Milwaukee Mecca Arena 04/27/88

Sting Milwaukee Riverside Theater 1.03.88

Pat Metheny Milwaukee Performing Arts Center 1987

Alice Cooper Milwaukee, WI Mecca Arena 10.2.87

David Bowie w/ Peter Frampton Milwaukee Marcus Amphitheater 9.11.87

Suzanne Vega Milwaukee, WI Performing Arts Center 7.14.87

Stevie Wonder Milwaukee, WI Summerfest 1987 or 1988

John Denver w/ Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Milwaukee Marcus Amphitheater 7.04.87

Iron Maiden Milwaukee, WI Mecca Arena 03/10/87

David Lee Roth w/Poison Milwaukee Mecca Arena 02/09/87

Elton John Denver McNichols Arena 1986

George Winston Des Moines, IA Civic Center May 1985

Joan Jett Kirksville, MO NMSU 1985

Pat Metheny St. Louis, MO Fox Theater 1984

Elton John Iowa City, IA 1984

Elton John Ames, IA 1984

Amy Grant/Phil Driscoll YMCA of the Rockies Estes Prk, CO August 1983

John Denver Red Rocks Morrison, CO 1983

Pat Metheny Red Rocks Morrison, CO 1983

U2 Red Rocks Morrison, CO 1983

Elton John w/ Quarterflash Kansas City, MO Starlight Theater 7.07.82

Maynard Ferguson Kirksville, MO NMSU April 1982

Second Chapter of Acts St. Louis, MO April 1982

Second Chapter of Acts St. Louis, MO September 1981

Second Chapter of Acts Des Moines, IA Aug 1981

Styx Kansas City, MO Kemper Arena 3.17.81

Elton John Ames, IA Sept. 1980

Second Chapter of Acts Des Moines, IA Aug 1979

Monday, June 22, 2009

Blog #36: Previews of Newly Recorded Rough Drafts Posted

This widget contains recordings of a few of my old gems mixed in with some newly released studio takes from recent sessions. Enjoy!


Monday, June 08, 2009

Blog #35: Showcase in the Mountains: June 9 at YMCA of The Rockies; The only scheduled pre cd-release concert

Following this concert in the mountains of Estes Park, CO, Van Devender will return to a studio for the first time in 7 years to record his 3rd cd for The JavaMusiK Label. A projected Fall '09 release will feature new compositions and arrangements developed since the release of Bending Chords in 2002.

Attendees of this concert will be treated to many of the standby's from Ascend & Bending Chords along with a few new nuggets in preparation for the upcoming studio sessions. According to Jeff, "Several pieces will be seeing their first performance for anyone besides myself at this concert!"

"I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of audience response these new pieces will generate," Van Devender shares. "In addition, playing them in front of an audience prior to going into a studio aids in building necessary confidence for once the take is live. Otherwise, no matter how many times I've played for myself, playing for posterity is somewhat daunting."

This free concert promises to give the audience a refreshing showcase of piano music. The show marks Van Devender's 10 year anniversary since his debut at YMCA of The Rockies as a featured performer for Summerfest. Since then, he has returned nearly every summer and found it to be a great place to showcase.

Showtime: 7:30 pm; Tuesday, June 9
Venue: Hempel Auditorium; YMCA Of The Rockies
City, State: Estes Park, CO

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Blog #34: Testing the Twitter Waters....

So after fighting it & calling it ridiculous, I'm now going to give twitter the obligatory test drive. Seeing as how you cannot turn on a tv or surf the net w/out hearing/reading the word twitter, and seeing as how I am about to embark on a 3rd cd release and can use all the promotion I can get.... I'm going for it.

There's just one slight little detail that I have yet to wrap my brain around. Finding subscribers who are going to give a hoot about any/every little thought that pops out of my messed up head. I can barely think of anyone I care to subscribe to for that purpose, so it seems a little silly to expect anyone to find their way to my domain and expect them to care. And, so it goes... the evolutionary process.

I made a comment somewhere (and I'm sure it's been observed elsewhere & regurgitated all over the place) to the effect of, first came blogging (here we are with THAT one) followed by facebook (not mentioning the myspace trainwreck) and now here's twitter.

I heard on the news this week that twitter execs are looking at an upcoming surcharge for twitter usage. If that's the case, then my twitter use will be shortlived at best. They don't charge me to blog & now 5 years into it, I'm still limping along with that technology. Thousands of words typed & I still haven't said a damn thing worth reading.

So, here's your invitation to come, join in & watch my twitter trainwreck at http://twitter.com/JavaMusiK . I truly have no clue what I'm doing, so it should be a real hoot. Meanwhile, you can be on the lookout for twitter updates on my upcoming cd recording throughout the month of June.



Sunday, May 03, 2009

BloG #33: It has been quite slow as of late...

This was originally posted exclusively on my MySpace page, but since I still consider this my blogging home...

The last year has seen me focused on settling myself into a new job, new house and new bigger church that I'm playing organ & piano for this year. While that has meant a general improvement in my life as a whole, it has also meant I have just needed to basically keep my nose to the grindstone for awhile and hold fast to whatever I have as still being concrete.

Change is often good, but can easily remove you from the familiar, which can sometimes be unsettling. Toss into the mix the depths and peaks associated with the recent loss of my father and finishing my masters degree, and the plot thickens.

Some might say a musician's music takes a back seat during times like these. While the jury is still out on my perspective with this idea, I prefer to see it as a development of future repertoire not yet composed. The suppression and release of emotions associated with all the change, highs and lows can only lead to more flavor in the context of what is yet to be created.

When composing, I can only explain the process as a feeling that I am merely an observer to what is transpiring, even though the transaction is taking place through my fingers. This may be a reflection and release of the suppressed responses built up over time finally constructing into musical expression. Then again, I'm probably just full of crap and speaking complete jibberish here.

JavaMusiK will see a presentation of my music in the Colorado mountains near Estes Park at YMCA of the Rockies June 9. I always enjoy these shows. This will be followed by some possible studio time in Iowa. We remain hopeful that a 3rd release will finally begin to take shape. Money is currently the biggest factor. Fingers crossed. Visit JavaMusiK.com to stay up to date on this front.

In addition, Alpine Road Publishing has been patiently waiting for my computer which has become infirmed recently. Files of sheet music transcriptions are being held hostage b/c my short-sightedness led me to not necessarily back-up those files before the laptop went on hiatus. Hope remains that data will be safe. Look for new transcriptions to be added to the fold sometime mid summer. Currently, 2 composition transcriptions (Alpine Road & The Awakening) are available at our lulu.com store.

Thank-you for your interest and support. Our music is always available for your listening pleasure at CD Baby and iTunes, as well as royalty-free licensing. You can also find some pretty cool JavaMusiK merchandise at our CafePress website. Go take a look! My music is available for live presentations and event bookings through JMK Ceremony Music. Inquiries are invited. Contact info can be located in the article or through our official website's contact page. Stop by and say hello.

Jeff Van Devender

Monday, March 30, 2009

BloG #32: Recent & Upcoming Concerts 4 My Guilty Pleasure

Okay, I'll admit. My musical tastes fall into the somewhat lame category. I said somewhat. Not totally. Compared to many, I'm quite MOR in my tastes. But then, I see others & wonder....

So, the last couple years have been quite cool for those of us who had an appreciation for super groups that disintegrated in the mid 80's. In fact, many including me, finally gave up & thought these reunions just plain would never happen!

I'm speaking of course of The Police & Van Halen. These 2 ruled the roost & no other band were in their league at the time of their demise. Unfortunately, I just never got my act together to get to one of their shows during their ascendancy to oblivion.

I did make it to see Sting & David Lee Roth a couple times each over the next couple years, but as fun as it was, I always left wishing their bands that made them famous were still on the stage with them. Did get to meet Steve Vai following one of the DLR shows. Still have the autograph. Was amazed how physically small he was in real life. He was very kind & patient as he spoke with us.

The Police had just struck out on their first tour in 24 years, and I got a floor seat at the Pepsi Center in Denver June 7,'07 on Sting's side of the stage. Sat next to people who flew over from San Diego just to see the show. Our section sang every word of every song & loved every moment of the show. I finally got to experience a Police show live without a TV screen providing the perspective for me. Cool!!

Then, February 1,'08 saw the Van Halen reunion I had waited so long for, minus Michael Anthony, due to biological VH family member Wolfgang replacing him. If that's what helped bring Eddie to getting back with Dave & wearing a smile while doing it, then more power to em. My cousin had just moved to Colorado & was in the midst of a nasty divorce, so what better way to take his mind off of the bs than to 'Dance The Night Away' with a few decibels behind some great tunage. Their smiles were infectious & the music felt so good.

October 26,'06 saw my family head to an AARP convention in Anaheim, CA. And if you're not totally laughing your ass off at this little deal, you're just not paying attention! We noticed Elton John was going to be playing for this event (omg, I AM getting old!!) & the ticket prices were such that we could order enough for the whole family to go. Normally, when I see him one ticket is more than what we paid for 4 for this show! So, despite sitting amongst many who weren't necessarily his biggest fans, we had a great fall weekend in Cali. Even got some sun & surf while it was snowing back home in the CO mountains.

This weekend on April 4, we are going to see Elton solo in Colorado Springs. I am hoping the average attendee age will be somewhat lower than the Anaheim show. I love being able to take my daughters to see Elton, b/c I hope that they can get a glimpse of what once inspired me to keep going in music all those years ago. Amazingly, I still get inspired when I see him now.

Next comes Chicago. Elton John & Billy Joel will be playing two nights at Wrigley Field. I'll be there July 21. I saw them twice together January & April,'01 in Salt Lake City & Denver. Great shows & worth revisiting again. Price is sky high, but what an opportunity! I go by the thought that these guys aren't getting any younger. If you have any desire, see them now! Youth is fleeting & once it's gone, well....

I actually got to meet Jeff Hornacek (Iowa State alum.) of Utah Jazz fame at the Salt Lake show. Still have that autograph too! I've also met Ben Stiller, Rosie O'Donnell and John Elway at various Elton gigs. Still have the autographs of all but Elway, even though i was the one who had a pen to loan him for all the signing he did. He had nothing better to do since he was waiting for his then-wife Janet at the facilities following the show. As for Rosie & Ben, I was sitting arms reach away at a Vegas Red Piano concert. 6th row aisle in front of Elton.

Anyway, many other past concerts could be cussed & discussed here, but my fingers are wearing thin along with possibly your patience, so we'll save some of it for a future writing. I will mention before closing that the U2 Red Rocks concert in '83 was more incredible than the movie & we were so lucky to actually be there. More on that in the next writing about this topic.

Meanwhile, wish me and the 7 other people I'll be going with this weekend lots of fun at Elton solo in Colorado Springs.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

BloG #31: Boston Conservatory Welcome address by Karl Paulnack

Discovered & reposted from the trentalange blog at this link: http://trentalange.tumblr.com/post/82322799/boston-conservatory-welcome-address-by-karl-paulnack#disqus_thread

Boston Conservatory Welcome address by Karl Paulnack

Subject: In times of financial crisis, this might be important to remember

Welcome address to freshman class at Boston Conservatory given by Karl Paulnack, pianist and director of music division at Boston Conservatory

“One of my parents’ deepest fears, I suspect, is that society would not properly value me as a musician, that I wouldn’t be appreciated. I had very good grades in high school, I was good in science and math, and they imagined that as a doctor or a research chemist or an engineer, I might be more appreciated than I would be as a musician. I still remember my mother’s remark when I announced my decision to apply to music school-she said, “You’re WASTING your SAT scores.” On some level, I think, my parents were not sure themselves what the value of music was, what its purpose was. And they LOVED music, they listened to classical music all the time. They just weren’t really clear about its function. So let me talk about that a little bit, because we live in a society that puts music in the “arts and entertainment” section of the newspaper, and serious music, the kind your kids are about to engage in, has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with entertainment, in fact it’s the opposite of entertainment. Let me talk a little bit about music, and how it works.

The first people to understand how music really works were the ancient Greeks. And this is going to fascinate you; the Greeks said that music and astronomy were two sides of the same coin. Astronomy was seen as the study of relationships between observable, permanent, external objects, and music was seen as the study of relationships between invisible, internal, hidden objects. Music has a way of finding the big, invisible moving pieces inside our hearts and souls and helping us figure out the position of things inside us. Let me give you some examples of how this works.

One of the most profound musical compositions of all time is the Quartet for the End of Time written by French composer Olivier Messiaen in 1940. Messiaen was 31 years old when France entered the war against Nazi Germany. He was captured by the Germans in June of 1940, sent across Germany in a cattle car and imprisoned in a concentration camp.

He was fortunate to find a sympathetic prison guard who gave him paper and a place to compose. There were three other musicians in the camp, a cellist, a violinist, and a clarinetist, and Messiaen wrote his quartet with these specific players in mind. It was performed in January 1941 for four thousand prisoners and guards in the prison camp. Today it is one of the most famous masterworks in the repertoire.

Given what we have since learned about life in the concentration camps, why would anyone in his right mind waste time and energy writing or playing music? There was barely enough energy on a good day to find food and water, to avoid a beating, to stay warm, to escape torture-why would anyone bother with music? And yet-from the camps, we have poetry, we have music, we have visual art; it wasn’t just this one fanatic Messiaen; many, many people created art. Why? Well, in a place where people are only focused on survival, on the bare necessities, the obvious conclusion is that art must
be, somehow, essential for life. The camps were without money, without hope, without commerce, without recreation, without basic respect, but they were not without art. Art is part of survival; art is part of the human spirit, an unquenchable expression of who we are. Art is one of the ways in which we say, “I am alive, and my life has meaning.”

On September 12, 2001 I was a resident of Manhattan. That morning I reached a new understanding of my art and its relationship to the world. I sat down at the piano that morning at 10 AM to practice as was my daily routine; I did it by force of habit, without thinking about it. I lifted the cover on the keyboard, and opened my music, and put my hands on the keys and took my hands off the keys. And I sat there and thought, does this even matter? Isn’t this completely irrelevant? Playing the piano right now, given what happened in this city yesterday, seems silly, absurd, irreverent, pointless. Why am I here? What place has a musician in this moment in time? Who needs a piano player right now? I was completely lost.

And then I, along with the rest of New York, went through the journey of getting through that week. I did not play the piano that day, and in fact I contemplated briefly whether I would ever want to play the piano again. And then I observed how we got through the day.

At least in my neighborhood, we didn’t shoot hoops or play Scrabble. We didn’t play cards to pass the time, we didn’t watch TV, we didn’t shop, we most certainly did not go to the mall. The first organized activity that I saw in New York, that same day, was singing. People sang. People sang around fire houses, people sang “We Shall Overcome”. Lots of people sang America the Beautiful. The first organized public event that I remember was the Brahms Requiem, later that week, at Lincoln Center, with the New York Philharmonic. The first organized public expression of grief, our first
communal response to that historic event, was a concert. That was the beginning of a sense that life might go on. The US Military secured the airspace, but recovery was led by the arts, and by music in particular, that very night.

From these two experiences, I have come to understand that music is not part of “arts and entertainment” as the newspaper section would have us believe. It’s not a luxury, a lavish thing that we fund from leftovers of our budgets, not a plaything or an amusement or a pass time. Music is a basic need of human survival. Music is one of the ways we make sense of our lives, one of the ways in which we express feelings when we have no words, a way for us to understand things with our hearts when we can’t with our minds.

Some of you may know Samuel Barber’s heartwrenchingly beautiful piece Adagio for Strings. If you don’t know it by that name, then some of you may know it as the background music which accompanied the Oliver Stone movie Platoon, a film about the Vietnam War. If you know that piece of music either way, you know it has the ability to crack your heart open like a walnut; it can make you cry over sadness you didn’t know you had. Music can slip beneath our conscious reality to get at what’s really going on inside us the way a good therapist does.

I bet that you have never been to a wedding where there was absolutely no music. There might have been only a little music, there might have been some really bad music, but I bet you there was some music. And something very predictable happens at weddings-people get all pent up with all kinds of emotions, and then there’s some musical moment where the action of the wedding stops and someone sings or plays the flute or something. And even if the music is lame, even if the quality isn’t good, predictably 30 or 40 percent of the people who are going to cry at a wedding cry a couple of moments after the music starts. Why? The Greeks. Music allows us to move
around those big invisible pieces of ourselves and rearrange our insides so that we can express what we feel even when we can’t talk about it. Can you imagine watching Indiana Jones or Superman or Star Wars with the dialogue but no music? What is it about the music swelling up at just the right moment in ET so that all the softies in the audience start crying at exactly the same moment? I guarantee you if you showed the movie with the music stripped out, it wouldn’t happen that way. The Greeks: Music is the understanding of the relationship between invisible internal objects.

I’ll give you one more example, the story of the most important concert of my life. I must tell you I have played a little less than a thousand concerts in my life so far. I have played in places that I thought were important. I like playing in Carnegie Hall; I enjoyed playing in Paris; it made me very happy to please the critics in St. Petersburg. I have played for people I thought were important; music critics of major newspapers, foreign heads of state. The most important concert of my entire life took
place in a nursing home in Fargo, ND, about 4 years ago.

I was playing with a very dear friend of mine who is a violinist. We began, as we often do, with Aaron Copland’s Sonata, which was written during World War II and dedicated to a young friend of Copland’s, a young pilot who was shot down during the war. Now we often talk to our audiences about the pieces we are going to play rather than providing them with written program notes. But in this case, because we began the concert with this piece, we decided to talk about the piece later in the program and to just come out and play the music without explanation.

Midway through the piece, an elderly man seated in a wheelchair near the front of the concert hall began to weep. This man, whom I later met, was clearly a soldier-even in his 70’s, it was clear from his buzz-cut hair, square jaw and general demeanor that he had spent a good deal of his life in the military. I thought it a little bit odd that someone would be moved to tears by that particular movement of that particular piece, but it wasn’t the first time I’ve heard crying in a concert and we went on with the
concert and finished the piece.

When we came out to play the next piece on the program, we decided to talk about both the first and second pieces, and we described the circumstances in which the Copland was written and mentioned its dedication to a downed pilot. The man in the front of the audience became so disturbed that he had to leave the auditorium. I honestly figured that we would not see him again, but he did come backstage afterwards, tears and all, to explain himself.

What he told us was this: “During World War II, I was a pilot, and I was in an aerial combat situation where one of my team’s planes was hit. I watched my friend bail out, and watched his parachute open, but the Japanese planes which had engaged us returned and machine gunned across the parachute chords so as to separate the parachute from the pilot, and I watched my friend drop away into the ocean, realizing that he was lost. I have not thought about this for many years, but during that first piece of music you played, this memory returned to me so vividly that it was as though I was reliving it. I didn’t understand why this was happening, why now, but then when you came out to explain that this piece of music was written to commemorate a lost pilot, it was a little more than I could handle. How does the music do that? How did it find those feelings and those memories in me?

Remember the Greeks: music is the study of invisible relationships between internal objects. This concert in Fargo was the most important work I have ever done. For me to play for this old soldier and help him connect, somehow, with Aaron Copland, and to connect their memories of their lost friends, to help him remember and mourn his friend, this is my work. This is why music matters.

What follows is part of the talk I will give to this year’s freshman class when I welcome them a few days from now. The responsibility I will charge your sons and daughters with is this: “If we were a medical school, and you were here as a med student practicing appendectomies, you’d take your work very seriously because you would imagine that some night at two AM someone is going to waltz into your emergency room and you’re going to have to save their life. Well, my friends, someday at 8 PM someone is going to walk into your concert hall and bring you a mind that is confused, a heart that is overwhelmed, a soul that is weary. Whether they go out whole again will depend partly on how well you do your craft.

You’re not here to become an entertainer, and you don’t have to sell yourself. The truth is you don’t have anything to sell; being a musician isn’t about dispensing a product, like selling used Chevies. I’m not an entertainer; I’m a lot closer to a paramedic, a firefighter, a rescue worker. You’re here to become a sort of therapist for the human soul, a spiritual version of a chiropractor, physical therapist, someone who works with our insides to see if they get things to line up, to see if we can come into harmony with ourselves and be healthy and happy and well.

Frankly, ladies and gentlemen, I expect you not only to master music; I expect you to save the planet. If there is a future wave of wellness on this planet, of harmony, of peace, of an end to war, of mutual understanding, of equality, of fairness, I don’t expect it will come from a government, a military force or a corporation. I no longer even expect it to come from the religions of the world, which together seem to have brought us as much war as they have peace. If there is a future of peace for humankind, if there is to be an understanding of how these invisible, internal things should fit together, I expect it will come from the artists, because that’s what we

As in the concentration camp and the evening of 9/11, the artists are the ones who might be able to help us with our internal, invisible lives.”

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

BloG #30: Official Launch of Alpine Road Publishing

Given the new spirit of change and re-direction in the air, JavaMusiK is taking this opportunity to roll out a new direction as well.

In response to repeated requests, one of our stated goals has been to release transcriptions of my music compositions as they become available. Recently, this has become a priority that we are working hard to chip away at. When I play live, we always get requests for written versions of the music, so we realize it can help increase our market share considerably, thus improving our bottom line. So, here it is!

Our newest subsidiary is officially being launched to handle the printed works associated with our music. Alpine Road Publishing will primarily be involved in the marketing and distribution of written music transcriptions recorded on JavaMusiK as well as other written works. Presently, two transcriptions are completed and more will be finished soon.

Our publishing is being handled by two online outlets:

1. Alpine Road Publishing at lulu.com. All written works will be available here, as well as recordings of any pieces to be distributed.

2. Alpine Road Publishing at sibeliusmusic.com. Music transcriptions are written on Sibelius software, so this site hosts the originals directly from the software, as opposed to pdf versions hosted and distributed elsewhere. A free download of Scorch software will need to be downloaded from the site to preview transcriptions.

In retrospect,this brings JavaMusiK into a new and exciting direction. Up to this point, the JavaMusiK umbrella has consisted of:

1. JavaMusiK, which is primarily concerned with the marketing and distribution of the recorded works (and merchandise) of Jeff Van Devender.

2. JMK Ceremony Music, responsible for providing live music for various occasions.

Now, we officially add:
3. Alpine Road Publishing, responsible for marketing & distribution of all written works associated with JavaMusiK &/or and of it's subsidiaries.

Please consider helping support our ventures by purchasing a product. Links to all of our products can be accessed at www.JavaMusiK.com.