Full Time Blues

The oh too typical after work scene: It's 6pm, I'm sitting at my computer tired, looking at bullshit. My dog (Huxley) and cat (Danger) are play fighting around the room. I glimpse over at my guitar and amp. They sit there, lonely, begging to be touched. I want to play, I really do, but I'm too damned tired. 

Full disclosure: I started teaching full time for the first time in 5 years this fall. I love my students but getting back to the 9-5 grind (waking up at 6am) has taken its toll on my creative output. I've found myself going weeks only playing the guitar for kids at school and during the lessons I teach. I feel as if I'm watching my creative self starve, and doing nothing about it. 

This isn't news to anyone who's ever had to juggle a full time job and full time dream. Not to mention trying to achieve it all in one of the world's most expensive cities, NYC. I'm not complaining, at least I'm trying not to. I'm actually taking some of my own advice and turning a negative into a positive. If I'm feeling a lack of creativity I'll write a blog post about it. Maybe you all have suggestions as to how you do the juggling act. 

My advice to myself and others in my predicament is to just keep going. For example: right before I wrote this I picked up my strat and sang and played through some of my newest material. Granted it is Sunday and I'm not as tired as I assume I'll be tomorrow, but it's a start. Pursuing music or any artistic endeavor is about building habits. Just make sure the good out pace the bad. 


Rolling With The Punches

Last Saturday I played a gig in a small town a few hours north of the city. This was my 2nd time playing this cafe. The first gig was a success, I went acoustic and folks liked it. They bought CD's and even a few t-shirts. This time around I decided to bring my strat. Lately I've been trying to focus more on my electric guitar. Anyway, I show up with my strat, my Marshall solid state amp, pedals and all the cables that come along with all that. Even brought my mic and new mic stand. When I got to the venue, I realized the sound equipment was not the same as the first time. No biggie, we can hook this up. After trying to set things up for a while I realize, I can't make this happen.

At this point I realize, there's no way to amplify my voice and I only have an electric guitar. This was some what of an "oh shit!" moment. After freaking out in my head for about 45 seconds, I remember I am quite a loud mouth, and the space was not that big. So my solution? I'll play my electric guitar with my amp behind me so the crowd isn't getting blasted by my sweet riffs, and I'll belt out my lyrics as best as I can. Now, this might make some audiophiles cringe but it worked out surprisingly well. The crowd heard me and my guitar well, I could actually hear myself (which doesn't always happen when my voice is amplified and the monitors aren't great).

In the end, this crowd was bigger and more enthused than the first. Because I played my electric I showed off a little more of my guitar skills and the crowd appreciated that. And because I had to sing over my electric, multiple people in the audience told me my voice was great. So the point of this post is, sometimes things don't work out...most times things don't work out, and it's best to be fluid and improvise on the spot.

to poorly paraphrase one of Aesop's Fables...When a strong wind blows, the reeds bend and bow, but the oak tree snaps.

A Night Out at Unit J

Education Reform from Above

Education Reform from Above

Last night I caught a show at the newly renamed Unit J (formerly known as The Brooklyn Warehouse) in Bushwick. My drummer Jon Wert curated a night of "powerful sounds" as he put it.

Unit J is a warehouse dwelling that houses 6 artistic individuals. They've turned their apartment into a pretty awesome live performance, and audio/video recording venue. Last night's show included 3 bands (Sorry Dru Cutler, I missed your opening set), Woodhead, Pseudo-Sentai, and Education Reform. Each band brought quite the ruckus. Lots of guitar pedals, lots of noise, not enough dancing for me, but that's on the patrons not the bands.

Between Jon and I, our tastes in music are close but very different. I must say that while the bands were more on the "experimental" side of things than I like due to their usage of compound meters in their rhythm, distortion of voices and other instruments, I really did enjoy them. Woodhead was able to go from out of this world rhythmic changes to a straight forward 4/4 funky jam like this ditty...LISTEN.

For Power Ranger themed rockin, Pseudo-Sentai is the band for you. I met Addie, and Scott at another event but never got the chance to hear them play. Last night hey did not disappoint. First, they had the 1995 Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie playing behind their set the entire time. Each member of the band was dressed in corresponding colors to their respective Power Ranger. Besides being distracted by the awesome 1995 movie graphics, the movie went along with the "Universe saving" hard driven riffs of Pseudo-Sentai. Peep their tune Bansheeface.

Jon Wert is the best drummer there is!!!! With that being said, Education Reform was my favorite band of the night. After Pseudo-Sentai blew our minds and possible some of our ear drums, Education Reform started with a slow, soft, ambient build up. the lead singer and keyboard player Aaron Kruzik distorts his voice to the point where the vocals work as an added sonic layer to the already lush, and intricate sound. Now back to Jon Wert. Man, that boy can play. I know I'm biased because he also plays with me but I was captivated by his playing last night. He can go from balls breaking beating on the drums to the most gentle percussive additions. I've never heard a more melodic drummer than Jon. I don't remember if they played this one last night but I know it's one of my favorites of theirs. LISTEN

Overall a successful night out. There was no cover, just showed love to the venue and bands by giving to the tip jar. I also ended up leaving with music from every band there. Unit J also has a bar where you can buy drinks, but most folks just BYOB. It's a great time. Next time you're in or around the Bushwick area and looking for a good show/party, check their website and see what they've got planned.

till next time, #bandidos this is Bandit saying Peace out.

Dylan Black #1

Like I promised, I've got a new cover of Bob Dylan's "One More Cup Of Coffee." As a part of my Dylan Black series, "Coffee..." is the first of many Dylan covers. I was first introduced to this song by The White Stripes. Their heavily distorted, straight rock n' roll rendition had me hooked from the first listen.

I decided to take a minimalist approach to this track. Simple percussion track, with sparse synths, and harmonies from my good friend The Beege to round it all out.

What we have is a tale of a band of Gypsies, originally told by one of the greats, given new life from a new perspective.

Click below to hear...

One More Cup of Coffee

And We're Off

I'm excited to share all the new things I've been working on. I just got the opportunity to record at the Converse Rubber Tracks studio in Brooklyn, NY. I went into the studio with less than a week of rehearsals on 6 songs with my band The Bandits (Jon Wert, Patrick Meyer, Steve Capecci). It was a great experience and I look forward to sharing those recordings with y'all soon.

I've been working on a series of Bob Dylan covers with the title "Dylan Black." Those will be released as singles, hopefully accompanied by music videos. The first release is a Dylan song that I was introduced to by the White Stripes. I'll let you guess. Once the song is ready for release you'll be the first to know. In the meantime, check out the new website, sign up for the mailing list, listen to some music and share the experience.


Bandit, out.


Welcome to my new website! This will be the homebase for all my online musical escapades. Sign up for our mailing list and get a free download of "Brooklyn Bound."

Ryan-O'Neil is a musician/music educator, singer/songwriter, guitarist, DJ, MC, and all around cool guy. He lives in Brooklyn, NY with his girlfriend, artist/photographer Laurel Wood and their loving pitbull Huxley.

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