The first time I ever got a flat tire on my bicycle it happened in front of Jr Seau’s house. It was last autumn on the day of the biggest swell to hit Oceanside in years. Jr’s house had taken a beating the night before; waves pushing sand into his garage door, crumpling it like a piece of tin foil. He and his buddies were busy in his driveway bagging sand to prepare for the next high tide. I’d driven over someone’s house key when my tire farted and squeeked like a balloon, dumbing down to a depressing flat. And I’d met Jr. a few times at music related events, so he welcomed me without a double take into his driveway to contemplate the changing the tube and survey the damage and rescue of his beach house. He and his buddies took a much deserved break for small talk after bagging what looked like 100 bags easy. We joked about paddling out in the giant surf but no one had the balls. It was 10’ closeout after 10’ closeout with a nasty current.
I’d never changed out a tube before. I’d seen it done a few times so I wasn’t going in blind. Still, Jr continually made fun of me trying and kept recommending I go to the bike shop. He and his buddies kept offering me beer and I obliged. It was warm out and the giant swell had attracted people to the beach like it was a holiday. It felt good to be there. Jr busted out his Ukulele and entertained us with strumming and humility. He was well-known in Oceanside for his Aloha nights, family and friend gatherings with food, music and debauchery. I was never able to attend, but hanging out in his driveway that afternoon on that sunny day gave me the experience I sought.
He was a funny and foolish man, and was also very, very kind. Aloha was his style. And Mahalo was his genuine attitude.
The last time I saw him was at Jitter’s, our local coffee shop. I was lucky to be a part of an unofficial ukulele club that spontaneously gathered there to strum over morning coffee and vegan pastries. Andy Powers had met me there to share a new Taylor Ukulele and he and I, along with Pops Gilley and Jr, went round and round improvising songs and reviving a few classics on our big sounding tiny instruments. Jr was a giant man who could pick his big smiley teeth with ukuleles if he wanted, but he held it ever so gently. He himself a big instrument with a tiny sound, hunched over the Uke, focused on his fingering.
He always listened to music and stories in awe; the sign of a curious mystic. I imagine Jr has gone on to a more mystical plane because somewhere in his heart he felt it was a higher calling. And I can’t be mad at him for that.
The reason it hurts so bad when someone passes away is because we lose the ability to tell them we love them.
He was a cool dude, a music lover, and a friend to many. A great sportsman and an all weather surfer who never wore a wetsuit in the winter. He will be missed greatly, and always remembered.
While waiting for the elevator yesterday a woman turned her head towards me and her eyes lit up while projecting crumbs of some kind from her parting lips. She was busy rapidly eating something, but was not concerned about choking. OMG. She said. You’re… Bruno Mars!…
Whenever I check into a hotel I use an alias name so I won’t be bothered. But sometimes the hotel peeps don’t make a note of it and when I lock myself out of my room, which I do often, they refuse me access until I can prove to them that I am who I said I am. I’m sorry I tell them, I don’t have any ID that proves I’m Kenny G, you have to trust me.
Today I even used a fake address when checking in, where upon handing the paperwork over to the hotel clerk he cordially replied, Thank You Mr Magoo, enjoy your stay.
Whoever lives at 11-22 Boogie Woogie Avenue in Freakanicsburg Vagina can expect a holiday card from the Movenpick Hotel.
I’m on the Pacific Surfliner, the coastal train that makes several daily trips from San Diego to Los Angeles Union Station. Train travel is probably my favorite form of transportation… after bicycles, scooters, motorcycles, piggyback rides, and tour buses. Railroads are smooth. And quiet. And people pack light. And there is no traffic to be attentive to. No seat belts. No possibility of a water landing. And you get to watch the world whir by. Or type.
I’m headed to LA for some acupuncture to treat my laryngitis. Whether or not I actually have laryngitis is not confirmed, but one thing is for certain; I don’t sound very healthy. Losing my voice is due in part to losing my mind mid week last week. It happens. It wasn’t a bad version of losing my mind. There was no sadness or pain, just lunacy.
Similar to laryngitis, but inexcusable, are all the names that were misspelled or left out of the liner notes on the new album that came out last week. Oops.
For instance, my friend Niki Paige-Hadany gave me a cd of my old demos, in addition to lots of encouraging conversation, mid way thru the album process. Listening to her thoughts and my old ways gave me insight on how to compose I’m Coming Over, 93 Mil, and I Won’t Give Up. Were it not for her, my album would sound a lot different. But alas, I forgot to thank her on the album.
Same goes for Amanda Harrison, who tirelessly connects me to communities all over the world. She’s the google map to my dropped pin. Without her, we’d be lost. And yet, I somehow lost her name when liner notes were drafted and reviewed 15 times.
How about my agent, Jonathan Adelman? A man whose birthday is only 2 days apart from mine. I guess sometimes people are so close to your heart your forget to recognize them, just as I failed to recognize him in the thank yous. Thank you Jonathan.
And there’s Sacha Skarbek, the man with whom I penned “In Your Hands” in his garden after we ran a 10k around Hampstead Heath. Sacha and I have written many songs together: Up, This Is What Our Love Looks Like, Only Human, Love For A Child, If It Kills Me, They Shaped My Life, and about 20 more you may or may not ever hear. Either way, you will hear me say THANK YOU SACHA, you handsome devil.
Also, I have immense gratitude for Jon Marro for sharing the fabulous LOVE shapes that started this revolution. He’s always been a huge inspiration, but only his name showed up in the liner notes. Not enough acknowledgement in my opinion.
The funniest and perhaps most ironic flub on the album package relates to spelling of a few in my band. I’m even quoted as saying, “I’ve read their names in classic album liner notes for years, so it’s an honor to have them in mine.” And yet, when they did appear in mine, we spelled their names wrong. Fortunately, they are bigger than that and thought it was funny. We’re still gonna fix it. Thanks Matt Chamberlain and Justin Meldal-Johnsen.
These names and more will be added, repaired, revised or deleted in future printings of the album, which may or may not make the current version of the album a collector’s item.
I should probably also thank Lionel Richie. Just in case.
3 years ago I was riding on the wheels and heels of We Sing We Dance We Steal Things, touring the world at the height I’m Yours’ success when I made a stop in Vancouver, meeting some extraordinary individuals who make up one extraordinary team: Free The Children. This team of young people inspire millions of youth across North America to think and act as global citizens and have been doing so since they were 12; fighting against child labor, providing schools and supplies, offering funding, friendship and drinking water to youth less fortunate all over the world. Free The Children is the world’s largest organization of kids helping kids – and they get things done.
It was working alongside Free The Children and being introduced to their grace that I realized I too could think and act in ways to help others on a much larger scale. I knew music already provided a sense of relatedness, comfort and relief, and is a powerful fundraising tool, but I was also garnering resources and making connections all over the world that enabled me to help in ways I hadn’t before. Thus, my own foundation was born thanks to the inspiring introduction to Free The Children and their co-founders Craig & Marc Kielburger.
This week, FTC launched #RedefinePossible, a campaign centered around Spencer West, one of the organizations most inspiring teachers, who will be climbing Mt Kilimanjaro in effort to raise $750,000 for drought relief programs in East Africa. While that climb is by itself incredible, what’s even more incredible is that Spencer has no legs. What!?
Spencer and I had a chance to rap a few times backstage in Toronto and Vancouver and he’s as inspiring offstage as he is on, where he travels the globe as a motivational speaker, reminding everyone that we can redefine our own potential, no matter what challenges we face. Often times, the only thing stopping us, is us.
Thank you Spencer. You have my support.
You too can support Spencer’s climb here. Or follow along. Help raise him to the top of Mt Kilimanjaro and help him raise the water levels for those who need it most. He’ll be posting vids and updating us throughout his journey to the top.
As a music maker I always imagine my songs serving a greater purpose. I’ve had the pleasure of sharing music at weddings, anniversaries, hospitals, hospice care and funerals. I’ve always believed music plays a huge role in the healing process. I personally have been affected by music’s transformative power on numerous occasions, and the video below is just another reminder of why it’s important to keep listening and/or sharing your favorite music with those you love.
As glamorous as being on tour seems, it is also about accepting a certain life of solitude. Most of the people I know who commit to a life of travel find this aspect to be the most satisfying and romantic. What other job pays you to sit and reflect on your life from cafes and picturesque street corners all over the world? Distance creates yearning, which is never a bad thing, and the differences in language only bring peace and music to mind when parked in a crowded plaza. I am grateful for my life and all of life, for what I see and what I don’t see, but I have a dog-eared passport to remind me I’ve seen a lot.
Tonight I am grateful for those I currently travel with as much as for those I once traveled with who made it possible for me to be where I am. I was introduced to my manager Bill along with friends Jerry and Justin 13 years ago today. I couldn’t have told you how my life would turn out back then, but I trusted in their warm and inviting friendship and I could see how much potential they saw in me. I knew it wise to stick close to them for they saw my own greatness before I.
A few years later in the coffee shop era, I met a bass player at an open mic, Ian Sheridan. He was playing bass while a DJ spun breaks and beats. I sensed he could use a band and I needed a bass player. I told him I had a stack of songs and a record deal to sway his interest rather quickly. We hit if off and toured together for years; starting in his truck before we could afford to invest in a touring van.
I have seldom taken the time to acknowledge band members outside of a general onstage introduction and I am sorry I have let that slide for so many years. I’ve had the pleasure of playing with many many MANY talented musicians. Dozens in fact, if you include all the different studio session players and touring artists I’ve mixed and mingled with over the past decade. Ian was a soft spoken player who always showed up with a smile, a great attitude, and a willingness to teach whichever new players came to the table who had to learn the catalog fast. He wasn’t much for onstage banter but I occasionally got him to agree with me or laugh at my jokes, calling him “The Lover of the Low End” for hundreds of shows in hundreds of cities. Offstage he had plenty to say and his stories are still cherished by those of us who traveled far and wide with him. His is a style uniquely his own.
That said, Ian recently released a new album with his satirical pseudo-slut-band Richie Aldente; whose name in Italian means “firm, but not hard” is the fitting nomenclature for this all too sexy, but non-threatening act. I had these guys play at a house party a few years ago and they blew everyone away. Since then I’ve seen them many times and it’s always a heart warming good time in the audience. If you like dancing, you’re gonna like this band. If you like making love, you’re gonna love it.