The Start Of My Piano Playing Exploits

On October 17th I did something that I had wanted to do for a very long time but either never had the skill or, the confidence to do

I played a song on keyboards in front of an audience.

This was done at the Open Mic @ The Dan, the song was the Annie Lennox classic “Why” and for me it was a bit of a turning point in my musical development.

Ever since I could remember I have wanted to play the piano, to write songs and perform them on instrument other than a guitar and finally, I made it happen.

It’s a wonderful feeling achieving a lifelong goal such as this and I intend to keep on kicking goals for as long as I can.

Being able to know my way around a piano keyboard has given me a lot more to play in the area of writing songs.

Expect a lot more piano pieces in the future.

Peace,

Corey :)

Taking My First Steps Towards Authenticity

Since my CD launch on October 14th, there have been a lot of realisations and changes happening in my life. Some I have initiated and some have just happened whether I liked it or not.

As I mentioned in an earlier post “The Post CD Launch Blues” I said that the CD launch changed my life because “… for the first time in my music career I was laying it all out on the line in front of an audience, promoting something that came from within me rather than something I was just a part of.”

Looking back on my life I’ve noticed that I have spent my time hiding behind the projects of others. I suppose this is because it was a lot easier and less risky to be part of something than to be responsible for something.

Because of this I concluded that deep down I’m just a scared little boy who is terrified of failure and criticism and to compensate for those fears I had manufactured my life to shield myself from them.

But at the end of the day, it’s not really living, is it?

Now that I have proven to myself that I can step out from behind the protective barrier I’ve created for my life I want to embrace what it is to be me and my own voice that comes with it.

I was greatly inspired by this video of musician Trey Gunn giving a talk on how to find your own voice. Watch it and you’ll see what I mean.

Trey Gunn speaks on "Original Voice"

Trey talks about the key to presenting and selling what you do once you begin to walk the path of finding your original voice as BFA. In the video this stands for Be Fucking Amazing but personally, I think it should also mean…

Be Fucking Authentic

Now when I hear the word “authentic” used in this context I think of all the self help books I’ve read or all of the seminars I’ve attended and I immediately dismiss the word as just “self help jargon” but what does the word really mean?

Thanks to the online dictionary, the word “authentic” means… “not false or copied; genuine; real”

That’s what I want my life to be, a direct representation of who I really am.

I figure that if I can take the ultimate risk and create, record, produce, manufacture, market and launch a musical product of my own design then I can do anything.

Over the last six weeks I have been inspired to make the following changes and decisions in my life.

So, from now on I am…

  1. Re-affirming my commitment to music. I am a songwriter/musician first and foremost.
  2. No longer taking on any more web design work. I am my one and only web client.
  3. Taking control over my health. I have been living on autopilot for far too long.
  4. Finding my way back to the right path. I want to experience again the joys of being centred.
  5. Re-addressing the balance in my life. My life to date has been focussed on too much work and not enough play

I’ll be using this blog to keep track of my progress in all of these areas however, for the time being, I’m just really happy to be where I am at this very moment.

Wish me luck.

Peace,

Corey :)

The “Seeing Stars” Songbook

In the spirit of keeping you all in the loop with what I’m doing, I just wanted to run something by you all… It’s an idea for a different type of product or merchandise?

It will be called the “Seeing Stars” Songbook.

It would be a book with the lyrics and chords for all of the songs on my “Seeing Stars” CD on one page and a detailed description of what the song is about and how it was written on the other page.

I reckon it would be something a bit different to have available at the CD launch however, what do you think about this idea?

  • Is there anything else you’d like to see in the songbook?
  • Would this be something you’d be interested in owning?
  • If so, how much would you be willing to pay for such a product?

I’m looking forward to your honest and candid feedback as always…

Peace,

Corey :)

My Trip Down (Data) Memory Lane

Recently I’ve been clearing out all of my external hard-drives and sorting out my audio and visual archives and I’ve been having a really wonderful time doing it.

For me, there’s nothing like a trip down memory lane from time to time (in other words, a good bloody spring cleaning) to show me some perspective to my life.

It’s been very enlightening experience.

From this nostalgia trip I’ve learnt a few things about myself.

First of all, I’ve amassed quite a collection of photos and recorded music, more than what I first thought. The amount of rediscovering I was doing was awesome.

This rediscovery has also proven to me that I have come a long way in my music in a relatively short space of time, something to which I’m quite proud of.

I have also realised that the path I have chosen to take, that of being an independent songwriter/musician/blogger is the right one for me.

In fact, I’ve been enjoying the journey so much I’ve decided to create an archives section on this website where I can put up all of my past for all to see and hear.

Hopefully it will give you all a better understanding of who I am, where I’ve come from and where I’m going.

I hope to be putting up the first of my archival material in the next few days so watch this space. It wont necessarily be in chronological order, just in the order of rediscovery.

I’ve been looking forward to sharing this with you all.

This is going to be fun…

Peace,

Corey :)

Learning To Love The Gigs Again

I officially ended my holidays by playing my first gig for 2012 at the Hotel Royal last night and you know what… I was enjoying getting back in to the groove after a much needed break.

By the end of it all I was getting to the stage where I was starting to actually miss the gigs again, I realised that it’s amazing how much your perspective changes after taking some time off.

Last nights gig was awesome… The songs sounded better, the voice was in great shape, the guitar played easier, the audiences were more friendly plus, the venue and its staff seemed more accommodating.

One of the key things I did was making a point of incorporating a whole bunch of new songs into the repertoire and they all worked, I was really proud of myself and it made me want to play the songs.

No, I would go so far as saying that it made me want to perform again.

I was looking back on what I did over the last 18 months and I was amazed that I did 253 shows in that time.

Now that’s insane…

No wonder that by the end of last year I felt that I had just about enough with the gigs.

With my new found energy I’ve spent most of the last week learning new covers, re-charting the old covers, playing the guitar, practicing the piano, writing some songs and reconnecting with a whole bunch of people.

All in all I’ve been just getting back into the swing of things again and I’ve been loving it.

This coming week the Open Mics at the Daniel O’Connell Hotel and The Brunswick Hotel start up again which signifies to me that life is just about to get a whole lot busier.

All I can say is “Bring It On…”

Peace,

Corey :)

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The Joy Of Learning New Songs

For my first official day back from the Xmas/New Year break I spent the good part of yesterday compiling a list of covers that I wanted to learn and integrate into my Corey Stewart Solo and FIGJAM Duo/Band song-lists for 2012.

I figured that the time between now and my first gig on January 18th will be best spent sorting out my covers. This has been something that I’ve been trying to do for ages but had never found the time to do.

After a few years of making changes to my covers repertoire in a sporadic and haphazard manner, I thought it was time to put some process into place because at the end of the day, I love learning new songs and I wanted to add new material on a more purposeful and consistent basis.

I love learning new songs because it expands my musical palette and forces me to experience new songs and genres that I’m not used to.

It also enables me to sharpen up my listening skills, hone my music and guitar chord theory knowledge plus it gives me a reason (as if I really needed one in the first place) to pick up my acoustic guitar and just play it.

Most importantly however, the reason why I love learning new songs is that by mucking around with covers, I actually come up with new songwriting ideas of my own.

This happened on four occasions yesterday and these were immediately recorded onto the iPhone for future reference.

It’s amazing what happens when you just go off on a bit of a tangent in the middle of learning something. Songwriting ideas can come from anywhere…

Even from other songs.

Peace,

Corey :)

Goals For 2012 – #1 Get Healthy (and Happy)

Now with the haze that is the Xmas and New Year’s festivities out of the way, the realisation has hit me that 2012 is finally here. I’m now back in the land of the living which means it’s time to get back to work.

I do feel refreshed after my little break however, I also feel a lot heavier and a lot more sluggish from all of the excesses and over-indulgences of the past 12 days since my last blog post just before Xmas day.

I must do something about that.

The first (and most important) goal that I want to set myself for 2012 is to “Get Healthy.”

But what does that really mean?

Getting my health back to an optimum level is my number one priority for this year as I’ve come to the conclusion (through having a shocking 2011 health-wise) that none of my other goals will become fully realised if my health is not taken care of first and foremost.

I know that “Get Healthy” is a bit of a nebulous statement and nebulous goals of this nature are really easy to break so I want to take this time to define what getting healthy really means to me.

It means…

1. Going Back To The Gym
A couple of months ago I joined the EFM Fitness Centres network and started going to their gym in Brompton two to three times a week.

Things were going well until I started experiencing the side effects of expelling a lot of toxins from my body resulting in some nasty infections which required a severe course of antibiotics which prevented me from going to the gym.

Then came Xmas and New Year…

Even though getting the routine back is going to be difficult I’m more determined to go back to the gym because when I was there I really enjoyed it.

I might even consider getting some personal training once I reclaim some level of fitness.

2. Finding More Ways To Be Active
I have noticed that I spend most of my time sitting down and this needs to change.

While I might not be able to change the sitting down component of my work I can find more reasons to get up from the chair and do something else for a while like go for a walk, use the treadmill, get out in the garden or play some tennis/squash.

The list of things to do is as endless as my imagination.

Experts say that being active for 30 minutes to an hour every day is essential. I’m sure I can find some time to become a more active person in-between gym sessions.

3. Giving Myself Some ‘Me’ Time
Meditation, contemplation, naval gazing, whatever I want to call it I need to give myself the permission to experience it every day.

It seems that my brain runs at a million miles an hour all the time and this year I want to be able to find a way to slow it down so it wont chatter so much. Maybe then I can get some more sleep and perhaps be a better person to be around without being so preoccupied with what’s going on in my own head.

Taking some time out to ‘just be’ is something that frightens me. Even thinking about brings up feelings of guilt because I should be using that time to ‘do something’ hence why I have never read a book cover to cover for pleasure.

Now there’s a great way to start things off…

4. Paying Attention To My Diet
I love my junk food way too much, especially pizza and ice cream… Now there’s my downfall.

I’m addicted to dairy products and I’ve got to do something to control these junk food cravings. I’ve been able to give up smoking so surely I can do something about my diet.

I’m certain that preparing and cooking more food at home plus being more mindful of my food portions will be a really good start.

5. Maintaining A Positive/Optimistic Attitude To Life
It would be impossible to eliminate stress from my life however, changing the way I work with and react to stress is something that I can do something about.

One of the ways I can work with and react to the everyday stresses of life a whole lot better is by maintaining a positive and optimistic attitude towards it.

Thankfully, I’ve always considered myself a “glass-is-half-full” kind of person so I think that maintaining this kind of attitude won’t be too hard but when things get a little too intense I can slip into negative territory pretty quickly.

It’s all about being mindful of my thoughts and my actions and whether they are congruent with my overall attitude.

All in all I’m really excited about what opportunities 2012 can bring to my life, my music and to the hopes and dreams of my friends and loved ones. I know that together we can make this year work for all of us.

May you have a happy and safe 2012.

Peace,

Corey :)

Speeding Towards 2012

Last night I played my final gig for 2011 and with that out of the way I now have three weeks off, the first time I’ve had a gig-free break this long for years and let me tell you… I really need it.

2011 has been a very, very busy year for me. It’s allowed me the opportunity to consolidate on what I’ve already achieved and really cement in my own mind what I’m going to be doing for myself from now on.

Right now I’m excited but then again, I always seem to be excited around this time of year.

As you’ve probably already gathered I have an almost pathological obsession of wiping the slate clean and starting things again but nevertheless, 2012 is a fresh new year with fresh new opportunities to explore and grab with both hands.

I’m going to use the next three weeks to map out my goals plus I’ll be preparing and implementing my CD release strategy for 2012 and beyond. Launching my CD and marketing it is the main thing that I’ll be concentrating on in the new year.

You might have already noticed that I’ve redesigned the website which is the first step in creating a more consistent marketing message for me and my music. I’m really proud of the new look and functionality of it all and the comments I’ve been getting have been very encouraging.

Finally, I want to wish everyone a wonderful festive season (no matter how you celebrate it) and a fantastic New Year and a huge THANK YOU to anyone who has turned up at a gig, put in their two cents, bought me a drink and crossed paths with me on my journey through 2011.

I hope that 2012 gives you everything that you want it to (and a whole lot more).

See you all on the flipside…

Peace,

Corey :)

Finally, AFL Is Over For Another Year

For me, this time of year between the end of the AFL season and the beginning of the Cricket season is absolutely wonderful.

As a professional musician who plays in pubs where there are huge flatscreen televisions pumping out some kind or sport in all directions, I don’t have to compete for the attention of the punters so much.

That’s a refreshing change.

Personally, I don’t understand the concept of pubs with so many TV’s as it seems to defeat the whole purpose of going to a pub in the first place.

I see it time and time again, a pub full of people but no-one talking to each other. All eyes are glued to the sport, or the TAB or whatever else is flashing up on the multitude of screens around the place.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike sport. I just think there’s a time and place for everything.

Lately I’ve been experiencing a disturbing trend of being hired solely as a defacto jukebox politely playing in the background while the punters are watching TV or, rudely texting on their mobiles.

It seems that a lack of ambient background noise/images is the enemy and I have no idea why.

Another thing I’ve noticed lately is that no-one claps anymore (not even politely) and trying to communicate to people through live music is becoming harder and harder to achieve.

I don’t want to sound like I’m having a whinge, I really love what I do, playing music for a living and of course with every occupation there are good days and not so good days to experience.

I get that.

However, I just want live music to be seen (and heard) as something that makes a difference in peoples lives rather than a functional accompaniment to watching sport on the TV.

Is that too much to ask?

Oh well, AFL is over for another year and Summer is just around the corner. Things are already looking up.

Peace,

Corey :)

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What Have I Been Doing Lately?

“Hey Corey, what have  you been doing lately?”

Now I like being busy but I’ve noticed that over the past three months I’ve been getting busier and busier and looking at my diary for the next three months it’s even busier again.

My normal response to being asked that question is “what haven’t I been doing lately” however, since my last full post “Absence Makes The (Blogging) Heart Grow Fonder” on July 29th, it’s safe to say that I’ve been doing a lot of activity.

Activities such as:

  • Working on my CD Project
  • Learning news songs for FIGJAM and my solo shows
  • Writing more songs with Adrian Miller and Jeff Smith
  • Starting up the Open Mic @ The Brunswick Hotel
  • Completing my 2010/2011 APRA Live Performance Return
  • Completing my 2010/2011 Tax paperwork
  • Competing in FOOM 2011
  • Entering in the UK Songwriting Competition (with Adrian Miller)
  • Playing Bass with Joe Man Murphy at the Semaphore Music Festival
  • Auditioning for Australia’s Got Talent

Of course, in between all of this I have been playing loads of gigs (as you can tell with my CS Gigs updates) at night and working through the day at Pro Advanced Media.

“When do you sleep?” I hear you ask… Hmmm, no wonder my blogging has been few and far between of late.

I had a profound realisation recently. I rediscovered the fact that our lives are essentially the sum total of all of the choices that we’ve made and will continue to make until we die.

With that in mind, this would mean that right now, I am the way I am because I’ve made it that way, not through some external influence.

My hectic life is my choice and therefore I can also choose a less hectic life. How I achieve this is another story however, I’m in love with the idea of a more balanced life.

I’ll see what I can do to make it happen.

Peace,

Corey :)

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