Change doesn't take effort, it takes action. (and a big deep breath)
One of my favorite things to do before starting something is to think about it. Thinking and planning are two different animals. I can become consumed with the details and imagining what could happen, so much so that I do not take action because I lose track of where to start. I think it to be too big and then I get stuck in waiting for the right time/moment/catalyst.
With being aware of this, I have learned that taking action and getting started is half the battle. Whether it is a creative project or more technical, I just start by writing down your goal - throw in a deadline to keep yourself motivated. I trust myself to do great things! It's so simple that it hurts. Remember that people want to help you achieve your greatness. Asking for help can help others feel that they are achieving their purpose.
I bet there is something that you are longing to accomplish. Is it a book, a song, a new business, is it taking time to play? Is it meeting someone new who? No matter the goal, take THIS moment and apply yourself. Do 1 thing, take 1 step toward that goal and keep it going. Allow life to unfold and create the path for your feet.
A cool tool for planning and actioning is a Passion Planner. If you haven't seen it, you can check it out below. This is a TedTalk from the CEO of Passion Planner. I just bought my next one which I will be using to plan out my next creative project - in turn they are donating 3 planners. How's that for paying it forward?
Now that you are inspired, go be you and inspire others!
Love & Light - Crystal Lee Morgan
Knowing your worth and self esteem are the subjects of countless conversations, articles, books and songs. Music is arguably the most powerful tool for communication. In the course of 3 to 5 minutes, a song can tell a story, get to the heart of an issue. Wow - just think of that phrase...
One style of music that I have come to love is worship/gospel music. In it's simplest form, it is an acknowledgement of being loved and being love.
If I turn on the radio, I flip through the stations constantly to avoid commercials. One of the stations that plays the most music is K-Love. The tag line is "Positive, Encouraging K-Love". When I listen, I hear the message of hope. I hear the artists telling me that I am not alone in my feelings (good and bad). I can truly connect with the music and surrender the burdens of feeling separate.
I hear from so many people that they feel alone or feel like they are the only person struggling with an issue, but that issue is so common. Common enough that I dare say we all struggle at times with these exact same issues, like Loss, Career Troubles, Feeling Blue or Alone, Financial Issues - sound familiar?
Music is a tool that reminds us to listen to another's story and reflect upon our own emotions. Music is a language that expresses our most heartfelt needs and our deepest longings. It's a place where we can dive into the ocean of sound and allow a little part of us to move toward healing.
I am grateful for the music in my life. I am grateful for the spirit inside of me that helps me to connect with others authentically. It amplifies my heart and my feeling of self worth, because I can stop comparing myself to a standard and -if only for a few minutes- feel connected to something greater than myself. True worth is being a piece of a puzzle, a moving part with purpose to the world. I don't need to be the most important or the richest person in the world to matter. I just need to be me. You just need to be you. We just need to be there for one another for the highs and the lows. Doing onto others as we would have others do onto us. Paying it forward. I think you can get where I am going with this.
Love & Light - Crystal
I was dining out last week and someone said "Enjoy!" This single word triggered an entire thought train. Read more below.
The etymology of enjoy = to give joy or to rejoice.
I thought about joy for a moment. I thought about my food, then I thought back to joy. I thought about enjoying what I do. Enjoying good company. I realized that enjoy is not a sit back and soak it in verb like I had been applying it. Enjoy is an action word. Give joy.
It brings me back to my mindset that I am a creator. I create my experience. I create art, I create friendship and I can create my experience with my positive or negative approach. I ask, "Am I bringing joy to my work environment? When I work on a project, am I a joy to work with?" Another thought, I have always said that I enjoy playing music. Now the question is, "Am I giving joy to myself or to others?"
I finished my dinner and enjoyed the rest of my evening, participating with life and giving joy!
In January, I fell down a complete flight of stairs and tore something like tendon connected to my thumb. Since that time, it has been difficult to play the guitar. I was apprehensive about the show since I'm still nursing the injury.
Today was beautiful because I used a Parlor sized Martin for my set at the Layer Cake Music and Arts Festival. The weight is substantially lighter and the action was easier, while maintaining the quality sound of that I rely on from Martin.
I love playing the uke, but there's something special about the sound of the guitar. I even pulled out a couple of older songs to share at the festival.
I hope the other 169 bands have had as much fun as I did this year.
Love & Light - Crystal Lee Morgan
Last week, I had a splendid opportunity to sit down with a new friend named Brian in the River Talk Extra session. Brian is a local music aficionado in Pittsburgh and provides the only station where you can hear Pittsburgh Music exclusively 24/7. We talked specifically about the upcoming Layer Cake Festival which will feature music and art across 4 venues and multiple floors. This is also my first show since last October, when I officially called a time out for my pregnancy. All of this and discussion about music festivals across the USA, the status of indy music and curious speculation of what could be in Pittsburgh. See the interview below.
Love & Light - Crystal Lee Morgan
A Story of Forgiving myself
I had the pleasure of hosting an Open Stage at Club Café in Pittsburgh. Some of my favorite artists, friends and memories have shared that stage.
On my way into the building, I grabbed my guitar and the ukulele. Like a bird of paradise, my ukulele went flying through the air and landed hard on the concrete. I knew there was damage. I could hear the breakage. Without a second thought, I picked up my instrument and placed it back in the bag. Despite the wailing that was waiting in my chest, I kept my composure and went inside the building to get setup.
Coco - my ukulele - played beautifully through the night but I felt so guilty playing her strings. I kept thinking "How could I forget that the case was open".
It took a few extra minutes and a few slip ups while playing but I realized that at some point I had to let this go. No matter how angry I was with myself, it wasn't going to change what had happened.
I took several deep breaths, smiled and promised myself that I would take Coco into a shop for repair. Forgiving myself helped me to have a better night.
Is there anything going on in your life that you need to forgive? A teacher once told me that each person should spend time each day thinking about any feelings they have that were unpleasant. Then forgive the feelings, the situation or person. Doing this daily helped her to lead a happier life.
Though I'm far from the perfect example of someone who practices this everyday, dropping the uke did play an important role in reminding me about the importance of forgiveness.
Love & Light - Crystal Lee Morgan
That feeling when everything is just too loud. Your brain is a 500 person marching band, and each musician is playing a different song. Do you know that feeling? I do.
I think I figured out a solution. I'm serious.
Singing really loud in the car to any song on the radio. Just making noise and making it from the most childlike part of the soul. It's fabulous. It's undeniably silly and it takes away so much stress.
When I started caraoke (my version of car - karaoke), I felt silly. I was so used to singing really well and knowing all of the words. It was a homage to my perfectionism as a musician. One day, I was just tired. Bone tired. A song was on and I loved the chorus "Oh oh oh oh oh, this is gonna be the best day of my life, my liiiiiiiife". I still don't know all of the lyrics but I just made up words or played with the sounds. It was an outlet for my inner creative to just be itself. No end game. No expectations. Just silly car singing.
I hope you will try it. I hope it helps. If you really want to have some fun Tweet me your caraoke song!
Love & Light - Crystal Lee Morgan
So many incredible memories are waiting to be shared and I am writing a few new posts today to document some of the great moments of 2015. There were killer performances and fun experiences with The Commonheart and Black Little Birds. Did I mention that I was pregnant through most of the year. This mama has the funk!
In the fall of 2015, The Commonheart released a few videos during that time. Memory was performed on the Gateway Clipper right after our 3 Hour Tour show with Wreck Loose, Round Black Ghosts, Nameless in August, Andre Costello and the Cool Minors and more. The video does a great job of featuring the beauty of the city. Check the video out here. Credit to Carson at Base Camp Productions.
One of my favorite experiences of last year was playing the Thrival Festival with The Commonheart, lead by the enigmatic and soulful Clinton Clegg. Pittsburgh Magazine covered the event in the article below. The Blind Faith tickets for the 2016 Festival taking place Sept 20-24 just went on sale too, so I posted a link to the Thrival site.
The Pittsburgh City Paper covered the first Layer Cake Festival, created by Ziggy Sawdust Productions. Last year's festival was a total success. As it comes up for round two, I wanted to share the previous article so that you know exactly how much fun this is going to be!
(Photo Credit: Timothy Cox Photography)
The first Layer Cake Music and Art Festival features a full day of music, comedians and live painters “There are some really great people involved.”By Andrew Woehrel
When considering a music festival, certain images might spring to mind: hot mid-summer days in West Coast locales; big-name electronic acts and DJs playing all night, for days and days, in the desert; exorbitantly high ticket prices and corporate sponsorships. The Layer Cake Festival, happening Oct. 3 at the James Street Gastropub, on the North Side, isn’t quite on that scale. But what it does have in common is a plethora of live musical acts and a selection of visual artists who will be painting in real time, alongside the performing musicians.
The inaugural Layer Cake Festival boasts three stages: one in the gastropub’s “speakeasy,” one on the ground floor and one in the second-floor ballroom. Each floor will be hosted by a local comedian, including Stoph Edison, who’ll emcee the speakeasy stage. “I’m super-excited to be part of the Layer Cake Fest,” says Edison. “There are some really great people involved and it’s an honor to have been pulled into the fray.”
The Layer Cake Festival focuses heavily on local musical acts, including Grand Piano, Weird Paul, Decaffeinated Grapefruit, Chet Vincent, Bat Zuppel, Crystal Lee Morgan, The Me Toos, Isada Tariq, Flock of Walri and more. The festival will be sponsored by Brooklyn Brewery, which will treat festival attendees to free beer tastings all day, and a $5 draft special. The Layer Cake Festival is also brought to fans with the cooperation of the national campaign for Bernie Sanders 2016.
“The campaign for Bernie Sanders reached out to me several weeks ago in regards to having a table at the event,” explains the festival’s organizer, an artist who goes by the alias Ziggy Sawdust, and operates Ziggy Sawdust Productions. Though Sanders won’t actually be at the festival, volunteers will handing out information on the presidential hopeful and registering people to vote. But don’t worry if Sanders (or politics in general) isn’t your thing. As Sawdust notes, “These candidates are reflections of my own personal political views, but do not necessarily reflect the views of everyone involved with the festival.”
Many great things have happened since I last updated my blog. The most front and center is that we are expecting a little girl in January.
In the time that I've been absent from my music, I have participated in incredible music projects, where I was part of a group that shared Stages with Lights, FUN!, The Manchester Orchestra and more. I have been very blessed. My partner and musical counterpart has seen me through some trying health issues which I am still working through.
The lesson that I have taken away from this summer and fall season is to slow down, focus on the love and let life breathe a little. I plan to release some new material for the holidays and look forward to sharing it with all of my loyal friends online.
This is a thank you note to each person who voted, who helped, who judged, who's attended a live show, especially the RAW Showcases when I have performed. I work harder than anyone else that I know because I truly can see my present work leading to a successful future in the music business. The photo below says "Na matter where you go, go with all of your heart." I am doing that and also including a healthy daily dose of hard work!
Your additional vote of confidence humbles me in ways that I can hardly explain. Thank you for letting me perform for you. Thank you for listening and supporting me as I go out on my own with my original music. The RAWards are judged by Industry Veterans who will be reviewing my music and content. Just being in the finals is a huge and incredible step for my career. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
One of the judges posted this really cool article on playing festivals and more importantly promoting yourself with professionalism. Mr. Lou Plaia wrote it and it inspired me. Maybe it will inspire you in your journey!
Love & Light - CLM
THE BEST EMAIL I RECEIVED ALL DAY! <3
RAWards Semi-finalists Announced!
Hello RAW artists,
Semi-finalists have been announced!
Thank you to all of the RAW artists who have promoted and participated this RAWards voting season! We're very excited to announce the semi-finalists!
The local RAWards judges will vote over the next few days to narrow our semi-finalists to finalists in each city. Once all judge votes are cast, RAWards finalists will be announced Sunday, February 15th.
Thank you all and best of luck!
RAW CEO & Founder
Catch me with my friends of The Commonheart, as I sing backing vocals for their EP Release show. It's going to be amazing! Andy Mulkerin did a sweet mention below in the Pittsburgh City Paper!
The Commonheart is a band of notable locals — members of bands like Silencio and Velvet Heat — headed up by the velvet-voiced Clinton Clegg; Cannonball is the group's debut. Smooth organs and a laidback rhythm section establish a Southern-soul base, and Clegg's Otis Redding-via-Ray Lamontagne vocals seal the deal with grace. An excellent first effort from the new group of established names; this will be one to watch in 2015.
— Andy Mulkerin
THE COMMONHEART EP RELEASE with ANDRE COSTELLO AND THE COOL MINORS. 7 p.m. Fri., Jan. 23. Club Café, 56 S. 12th St., South Side. $10. 412-431-4950 or www.clubcafelive.com