An in-depth look at ‘Savior’

Every time I play out somewhere and perform one of my songs, “Savior”, I notice a bit of a pattern: I notice the amount of engagement goes up and nearly every time after a show of mine, people ask me for the backstory behind the writing process of it (What inspired me, context, story, etc.), So, today, I’m giving an inside look on “Savior”.

I started writing this song in 2013 during my “Song a Day” challenge that I presented myself, and this took place around the time where the momentum was beginning to stop and I was going through a mental block. My head was in a roller coaster state of depression at the time, so I was left frustrated when I was hitting a dry spell with song ideas. I remember going to sleep on that night and I started having this dream……..

I was in a corridor that seemed like it was endless; I could see nothing but smoke and spiders all along the walls. I kept getting battered and knocked down by loose bricks on the foundation and it felt like the floor was about to cave in on me…… but then I saw a light.

It was very faint and was probably at least ten miles away, but I could see it. In this darkened place, it felt like no light could ever pass through and it almost became a figment of my imagination.  Trust me, the dream was THAT endless.

So, when I saw it, I started running toward it. I didn’t care that I could practically die in one false footstep, but I had the motivation to keep going. After about two or three steps, I woke up. I couldn’t believe what I just conjured up in my head, so I decided that I needed to write some of this imagery down. I didn’t know what I could do with it, but the amount of detail in my vision fascinated me.

While typing on my laptop, I decided to flesh out the story a little bit, having the song be a tale of rising up against the odds and obstacles against you, even if it’s yourself. To me, it’s always a positive to have faith and something to believe in (whether it’s religion, an idol, etc.). It can help invigorate the soul and provide the proper motivation to keep going and finish what you started. It was around that time I started to realize this, and I decided to make a song out of it to try to  motivate others out of their sorrow.

Everything has a silver lining, and if you keep climbing and going through all of the rough patches, you will find the true peace and resolution that you’re looking for. It’s all a part of life, and I hope that “Savior” can help motivate you the way that writing it motivated me.

Thank you all for reading, here’s a link to the music video!


See the new recording of “Savior” here: 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxYzFXKRbgs

 

Updates, Updates, Updates!

Hey everyone!

 

Sorry that I haven’t done a post in a while, it’s been a hectic past couple of days. The highlight of it all was the opportunity to open up for Bret Michaels with an awesome hard rock band, D.M.K.! I will be sure to post a journal log on that really soon, as I have quite a few funny stories to tell.

As for right now though, well, I’m going to be heading off to Ocean City in the morning and I won’t be able to have full time to update anything until Saturday morning, so on Saturday you will see a new blog post along with a couple more this coming week to make up for the slight lapse.

Thank you all for reading, I hope that you all have a wonderful night/day and I will see you all soon, take care!

While the Flag Stands Tall….

Yesterday, I took a road trip down to Hanover, PA and I noticed that there were so many american flags lined up along the sides of the road. With Memorial day being close by, I could perfectly understand that. This is a time to remember our fallen heroes and the people who have risked their lives to fight for us and maintain order for us everywhere.

In my opinion, we shouldn’t rely on just one day to bring that gratitude and memorial into public attention. I understand that people have various ways of honoring and remembering, but the service and dedication that these men and women have provided for us should have more significance than just one day on the calendar (Ok ,ok, Veteran’s Day is kind of a second day, but it doesn’t result in people being grateful for ACTIVE members most of the time). You can’t forget sacrifice, and the people that have given that deserve more respect.

So, with all of this being said. Let us take today to remember the people who have given their lives for our freedom, continue to fight to preserve our freedom, and who are constantly on the line helping to keep us safe. Thank you all, your acts are not going unnoticed, and we are really proud and honored to keep you all in our hearts.

Top Five Live Albums That I Own!

“ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT WORLD WIDE WEB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

YOUUUUUUU WANTED THE BEST, YOUUUUU’VE GOT THE BEST!

THE HOTTEST SITE IN THE LAND, MARSHALL STONE MUSIC!!”

Thank you…… mysterious announcer. Huh.

Welcome everyone!! I’m sorry for the delay of this week’s blog, I had a ton of stuff scheduled throughout the last few days, but I’m back on track now. So let’s get down to business!

Who remembers their first live concert? Mine was Kix at Rams Head Live in Baltimore around 2008 or so. That show was a high-energy performance of non-stop thrills, and on that night, I left with a huge smile on my face!

Since I can’t go to concerts all of the time though, I always love listening to live albums to try and experience that energy, and I’ve compiled a list of my favorite live albums that I own. Now before I go on, I have a few rules:
1. One album per artist, and one album per label (MTV Unplugged, Storytellers, etc.)
2. The album must be comprised of one show or two shows and not an entire spread out selection of tour dates.

So, with that being said, here we go!

5. Jimmy Buffett: Live in Anguilla (2007)

I’ve already talked about this album on my “Top 5 albums that I’m currently listening to” countdown, so I’ll keep this really brief.

I’m indifferent to Jimmy Buffett’s studio material, and like I said before, it was the live shows that really stuck out to me. This was my first live album that I purchased of his, and I definitely don’t regret it! His backing group of musicians, The Coral Reefer band is in top-form and you can definitely feel the atmosphere of the album as you’re listening to it! Now, the only reason that this isn’t higher up is because even though there are a lot of songs, there are some definite low points with some of them. In reality though, it’s not enough to kill my enjoyment of this album. If you’re a Buffett fan, it’s a must-have in your collection!

4. KISS: Alive! (1975)

Yeah, you knew this was coming from the intro!

Alive is one of those albums that just oozes with a ton of high energy, and hearing some of these tracks on a ‘best of’ CD made me want to snag this album in a heartbeat. I didn’t really know what to make of KISS when I first heard about them, but their stage persona drew me in, so I decided to listen to the songs and give them a chance.

No one kill me for this, but I actually drifted off to sleep after the first few songs…..

Hold on, hold on! It wasn’t that the music was boring, I really was tired on that day. I thought the songs were really great, but then I heard the mood change when the crowd started………

“Wait a minute……” I thought.

“Am I listening to a different band?”

Turns out that I wasn’t, and those live songs were awesome! There was a certain grittiness and raw power to the performances that catapulted it all up, and I think that’s what drew a lot of people into KISS. This album turned out to be their breakthrough, and after finally getting a copy a couple of years back, I can understand why!

Killer vocals, flowing rhythm section, and stellar guitarwork…. what’s not to like? I can’t think of much, this is a treat from start to finish!

3. Fleetwood Mac: The Dance (1997)

Just hearing the intro of this album’s opening track, “The Chain” really takes me back! It’s funny how something like the simple kickmotion of the bass pedal can really set the mood for the song. Anyway, if I got analytical on every song on this album, we’d be here all day, so I’ll cut to the chase!

This album features the classic lineup of Christine McVie (Vocals, Piano, songwriter), Stevie Nicks(Vocals, Songwriter) , Lindsey Buckingham (Vocals, Guitar, Songwriter, plus banjo player for one song on this album, fun fact!), John McVie (Bass), and Mick Fleetwood (Drums).

OK!!! OK!!!! It’s not the ORIGINAL Fleetwood Mac, but that’s a different sound and a different discussion for another time.

Now about The Dance: It’s another live album that I enjoy from start to finish. Fleetwood Mac is one of my favorite bands for a few reasons, and here are the two of the most important aspects to me: Diversity and vocal talent. The songs that are on this album perfectly represent the evolution of each key songwriter with them tackling different styles and sometimes subject matters, especially with Buckingham and Nicks. And as for the singing, I don’t really have a favorite between Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, and Christine McVie. I love them all for different reasons! This album was one of my first introductions to live music as a child, and it holds a special place in my heart.

2. Alice In Chains: Unplugged (1996)

Now here’s a band I haven’t really talked about a lot! If I had to rank some of my favorite music from the 90′s, Alice In Chains would be pretty close to the top. You have Layne Staley’s vocals, Jerry Cantrell’s amazing guitarwork and songwriting, the list goes on with things to like!

But to me, when they decided to do an MTV unplugged special, I thought that was  a wonderful idea. It showed that underneath the heavy alternative/metal sound, there was a vulnerable and melodic edge to the band that was represented in two of their previous EPs, Sap and Jar of Flies. Some personal highlights include “Nutshell”, “No Excuses”,  “Down In a Hole”, “Got Me Wrong”, and one of my favorite songs of theirs, “Would?”. I don’t know how else to describe this album other than the fact that it showcased AIC’s diversity and qualities in the best ways possible. It’s one of my favorite albums ever, and for good reason! Check out if you get a chance!

1. Carreras, Domingo, Pavarotti, The Three Tenors In Concert (1990)

I can just picture the response now:
“WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA???????? BLASPHEMY!!!!!! NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!!!!”

Well, it’s the truth. I love this album and this performance. I never used to listen to a lot of classical music, but this changed everything.

Let’s start with the obvious, The Three Tenors concerts are incredible.

All three singers, Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras, and Luciano Pavarotti are at top form and perfectly nail each piece to the point of sheer beauty. That’s really the way to perfectly describe this concert: beautiful. I always feel at peace while listening to this, the orchestra and voices compliment each other really nicely. All I can really say is that this is a flawless performance with three of the best tenors ever known. I’m sorry that I can’t really go into too much detail with this CD, but it really is something that you need to listen to believe.

Thank you everyone for reading! Feel free to make a list of your own in the comment section, I’d love to see them! Until then, keep rocking, and I’ll see you all next time.

Baltimore: The Uprising

I have a confession to make.

And no, this isn’t going to lead up to a joke…. this is a serious, genuine feeling that I had a little while back.

So, if anyone kept up with the news within the past few weeks, you probably heard about the unrest that was happening in Baltimore with the Freddie Gray case and the resulting riots. I’m not going to go into specifics, because I’m not writing a New York Times article, but when all of this happened, I practically froze up.

I consider Baltimore to be a second home of mine. The community that I have been around is filled with accepting and wonderful people. So, before I found out more details about everything that happened leading up to these riots, I was in disbelief. I had read about unrest and rioting in several other cities, and felt genuine sorrow for them, but the pain doesn’t hit as hard as when it happens so close to home. I realized this, and it opened my eyes up.

There are still people around the Baltimore area that are scared to leave their homes due to the uncertainty that they feel, but I’m here to tell you this: it will be ok.

Baltimore is a strong city. It will not fall because of this. I have already seen signs of things improving for the better. The recent protests have been advocating for the violence to stop; there are communities uniting to protect their police officers. To all of these officers along with the national guard, fire departments, and any law enforcement helping protect the city: thank you. Your hard work is paying off, I can see it.

Today, I invite everyone near or in the Baltimore area to come to The Gathering Food Truck Festival at Power Plant Live today. I will be performing a solo set at 5pm with the band Under the Covers to follow me right afterwards. Let’s use this time to rebuild, regroup, and change things for the better. We need a break from the tension, so let’s celebrate with some great food vendors! It’s free admission and the music will last from 5 to 10pm.

Get it? Got it?

Good.

Let’s rock!

Food Truck Gathering

Artist Spotlight: Steven Tyler

From time to time, I get asked questions in the realm of my favorite singers, bands, and genres of music. Those are great questions, but the problem is that I really have too many to name!

This is why you haven’t seen any top 5 or 10 lists on singers or bands from me. Honestly, if I had to choose, I would need at least a top 25 list. It’s really that hard for me to keep my mind together and to narrow down true standouts from all of my favorites. Compare it to choosing your favorite child…. sure, that’s a bit of a stretch with this category, but:
1. I don’t have any children yet.
2. Music is my passion, something that I truly admire in many aspects.

So, instead, I’m going to start doing a special Artist Spotlight at least once a month to showcase my favorite performers in the music industry. And what better way to start things off than to talk about one of rock and roll’s wildest party animals, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith.

When I started listening to Aerosmith, I was 12 or 13 at the time. My fascination for music was more casual because even though I was raised on classic rock, I didn’t have a singer truly trance or fascinate me quite yet. Behold, my first instance of this!

Now, a decade later, I can analyze my fascinations that really hooked me into one of my favorite vocalists of all time. The first thing to really point out is Steven Tyler’s energy. It’s like I said before: at the time, I had listened to a lot of quality classic rock bands, but this was the first instance of mine where the frontman truly separated himself in the best way possible.

Even with the studio recordings of Aerosmith, I could hear a difference in tone, style, and vocal flexibility compared to other singers, which really hooked me in. By the time I started listening to Aerosmith’s live material, I could see that identity that was forged in those recordings, but it was enhanced even more with Tyler’s passion and drive in concerts, especially in the band’s 70s heyday.

Imagine being a child and being exposed to the wildness of an Aerosmith concert…. I would be jealous of you because I have never been to an Aerosmith concert. The only way I was able to see their live footage at the time (I didn’t know about YouTube until around the beginning of 2007) was through a compilation videotape  known as Aerosmith: Video Scrapbook. This not only featured live performances, but also snippets of interviews and music videos that I hadn’t seen before. Why am I bringing this up? It was here that I learned about Steven Tyler’s character on and off the stage. I saw a Jekkyl and Hyde-like personality: calm, cool and collected offstage, and a wild vocal banshee onstage that moved around like a ferocious tornado.

By seeing this, it helped me learn that I shouldn’t try to be similar to everyone else, that there was no real ‘normal’ category to label yourself into. Otherwise, you’re just fooling yourself into being held back from your true passion in life. We all need that craziness,  that quirkiness, or even as simple as that personality to separate ourselves, otherwise we’d all just have the depth of a piece of paper.

Anyway, I’m getting offtrack right now, back to Steven Tyler. Vocalwise, what do I like about him?
Is it the Rolling Stones-ish influence on his delivery? Yes.
Is it the channeling of blues and r&b singers in his vocal prowess? Yes.
Is it the energetic live performances? Definitely.
And finally, does it all come together in the best way? Without a doubt.

All of these combined result in a pretty dynamic, hellishly crazy (but in a good way) frontman who could carry a performance all on his own if he wanted to! Steven Tyler goes down in my book as one of my favorite performers of all-time, but what about Aerosmith as a whole? That’s a tale for another day! Thank you all for reading, keep rocking out, and blast Rocks or Toys In The Attic for me, both really amazing albums!

 

 

Performance Log: One Hot Weekend in Ocean City, Maryland! (Part 3)

WE NOW CONCLUDE THIS SAGA OF A TREACHEROUS JOURNEY THROUGH MORDOR WITH MY SUPREME ARMIES OF-
Oh wait, I’m not dreaming.

Ok then.

…………………..The End.

I’m just kidding!!! Don’t worry, let’s talk about the last show!

I’m going to skip ahead to actually arriving at our Saturday show at Johnny’s Pizza and Pub in Ocean City. We got out of our car and it was snowing! (It was almost April, try to figure that one out. We sure couldn’t!) Dusting aside, C.J. and I decided that we’d quickly load up and get everything inside the venue so that we didn’t have to deal with blustery conditions later in the night.

After we got ourselves situated with the equipment and with helping Johnny with his drum kit, I took some time to look over our surroundings as we were setting up. The place looked really nice; it was an intimate space with a long corridor and had plenty of seating available! Since we were busy setting up the sound and the instruments, we didn’t have time to eat, so we started our set immediately.

Everything was flowing seamlessly; we were playing song after song without faltering or losing our energy. We even had a couple of guys try to challenge us by throwing songs up for requests out of the blue. When we played all of the ones they offered, I still remember the look of disbelief on one of their faces. I can imagine his thoughts were: “Wow, they’re rolling with everything we have!” It seemed like they were trying to heckle us at first, but after talking to them, we learned that they were really nice guys and just wanted to have a little bit of fun with us, and I can respect that.

Now for a few song highlights!

Someone in the crowd wanted to hear “Stand By Me”, so we played it and that seemed to turn a lot of heads toward us. Don’t get me wrong, we had the attention of most of the patrons, but that addition glued nearly everyone’s eyes toward us, and that felt great!

The next one…… wow, I didn’t even think we would do this one. So, C.J. started playing the theme to the 1960′s Batman show, and I decided to follow him along with it, because we love to improvise with each other. The energy in that song was wild because we turned that song into a faster, Ramones-ish version of the song and it was a blast! I may not have seen it coming, but I’m glad that he added it in.

To sum everything up, it was one of the best shows that I have ever played with Los Swamp Monsters. While we were wrapping everything up, Johnny (the owner) talked highly of us and even gave us a complimentary pizza to have at our condo (Thanks again, Johnny!!).

To anyone traveling to Ocean City, Maryland, if you haven’t been to Johnny’s Pizza yet, go visit there! The food is great, they have an awesome drink selection and top-tier staff. We’ll be playing another show down there next week on April 30th, so if you can stop by, we’d love to have you!!

Thank you everyone for reading this three part journal into the weekend of Ocean City shows. It was a fun few days and I’m glad that I can talk about them through here. Have a great day everyone and I’ll be back next week with a new entry. Rock and Roll!!!!!

Performance Log: One Hot Weekend in Ocean City! (Part 2)

Here’s Part 2!

But first, a minor correction from the last post.

The condo that we stayed at wasn’t in Wilmington, DW, it was in Milford, DW.

On we go!

So, by the time that CJ and I got out of the House of Rock, it was after 1am and we had a little near an hour’s worth of driving time to get to the condo that we had provided for us. We hightailed it out, but we were both feeling the wear and tear of being up without rest for a good while. When I felt myself drifting off, I started talking to C.J. about the show, future plans, and cracking a few jokes between each other along the way. Before I knew it, I was wide awake and I’m pretty sure that this helped CJ since he was driving.

It was 2:19am or so when we arrived at the complex in Milford, but we couldn’t find the location. It turns out that both my phone GPS and CJ’s GPS entered the wrong house number for the place, so even though we arrived, we had no idea where to go. Imagine the relief on my face when I saw that we were only a block or so off from where we needed to be. After we pulled up, I looked on the instructions that were provided for us. There was a spare key that he kept hid in the area (he had a radio show that night and didn’t show up until later on), so we followed the guidelines and looked in the area that he said, BUT IT WASN’T THERE!!!!

IT JUST. WASN’T. THERE!!!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!-ANYWAY………….

Our process went like this: Look here, nothing. Search there, nothing. Two nervous breakdowns here, still nothing.

With the temperature falling to the low 20s, we dreaded the idea of having to sleep in the car until Johnny pulled up. So, we each took breaks and went to the car when it got cold, with each of us looking in separate places. We tried this twice, but came up empty.

When my hope was at its lowest point, CJ shouted “Found the little sucker!” (It was nearly 3am from two to three weeks ago, I don’t remember exact words!) I was ecstatic inside but I let out a very breathy, emotionless “Yesssss”.

Before I knew it, we were in the house and I was on the couch and ready to sleep. I was still in disbelief that we took this long to find a key, but at this point, I was happy to get some sleep.

As I drifted off, I was relaxing and looking forward to what the next day would provide. What did it give? I’ll tell you in the conclusion of this saga! Have a great night, everyone!

Performance Log: One Hot Weekend in Ocean City, Maryland! (Part 1)

Hey everyone!

Sorry that I haven’t posted anything in a couple of weeks, I went through a ton of writer’s block and I decided that I needed to step away for a while.

But now that I’m here, it’s time to talk about a trip of mine that happened a couple of weeks back on the weekend of March 27th through the 29th.

It all started with a message from my friend and fellow bandmate from Los Swamp Monsters, C.J. Benoit. He mentioned that the page had a message that presented a gig opportunity for us at the House of Rock .

When he mentioned that it was in Ocean City, I got excited! Even before I decided to become a musician as a child, I had always wanted to perform a real show in Ocean City, and with that chance coming, it was really hard to pass this offer up. So, I said yes.

My head was swelling with anticipation, and by the time Friday arrived, I was psyched beyond relief!

I know what you’re thinking: “Marshall, how can you be psyched over a long road trip involving just one show?”

FEAR NOT! For I have the answer right now!

Through the help of a family friend, C.J. also had us booked to play over at Johnny’s Pizza and Pub. At first, I didn’t know what to think because I hadn’t been through that part of Ocean City in a while, but then when I saw the logo of the place, it made me really happy. Johnny’s Pizza was one of those places that I always wanted to visit since I was a kid, but I never had the chance. I had heard a lot of great things, so the fact that I was able to go there for a performance was an added bonus.

So, we pretty much played a rock and roll version of Tetris when we loaded the car up, but somehow everything fit JUST enough, and we were off! It was smooth sailing for the most part, but when we ran into traffic jams from hell, we decided to go straight to the first venue because we were afraid that we’d be cutting it too close if we stopped at the condo that we had arranged in Wilmington, DW.

When we arrived at the place, I almost had to do a double take. My GPS put us in a strip area that had me thinking that we were going to be stranded at a farmer’s market. All that we saw was a liquor store and a pizza place jointed next to it. The thing that was a little suspicious though was the purple alleyway. I thought to myself: “There is no way that THIS is the place!” But to my surprise, after CJ called the guy that offered us the show, he confirmed my wild assumption.

I was afraid to look on the inside, but I was about to be floored.

The Ocean City House of Rock had an amazing atmosphere! There were rock mementos everywhere and the stage reminded me of a 1980′s arena rock atmosphere! The drums had an amazing design on them and the stage was very sizable. The environment had me excited after my moment of doubt a little while ago.

So…. friendly staff, wild environment, awesome touches, it sounds like the recipe for a great build up for the show, right? Well…. overall you would be right.

However, we ended up getting delayed for a little while because the venue had trouble with its lighting rig, so that ended up delaying ourselves from performing on that stage for at least 15 to 30 minutes.

Once we did get up there though, it was pretty smooth sailing! C.J. and I complemented each other well in our song choices, and the set turned a lot of heads in the audience to our direction. What I DIDN’T expect though was for someone to leap on the drum kit, and when the owner of the place climbed up and started accompanying our songs midway through the set, I felt a mixture of hilarity, adrenaline, and confusion.

I can honestly say that this has never happened to me before in terms of a full-fledged performance, but it was a welcome change of pace! Once the mixed emotions kicked away, we were all jamming out and having a great time. By the time the set was finished, I felt really satisfied with how we did. It was a great welcome to Ocean City and I couldn’t wait to do the next show!

But even with that momentum that was given to us on that night, let’s just say that not everything went as smooth as I thought it would. While we were watching the headliner perform, two things happened unexpectedly:
1. The guitarist’s amp went out on him. (Ok, not a big deal, shouldn’t be that big of a problem, and it wasn’t.)
2, There was a bar fight (PROBLEM.)

Problem #2 resulted in having the authorities come by and force the show to end early, which was a shame, because the night was right and felt really good! Aside from the few snags that happened, the first show was fantastic!

I’ll talk about the next show tomorrow, so stay tuned and keep rocking out! But if you hear sirens, you may be rocking out a little TOO much……. Have a great day everyone!

Nashville Entries (Part 3)

Hey everyone!!

Today we conclude the  chronicles of my journey through Music City…….

And the sooner I stop talking like a action-fantasy movie, the better.

Wait a minute, maybe I should stick with that!

Through the dark times of the day, I arose my head to search for the beacon of light that would keep my travels afloat….. never mind.

Anyway, I talked about the songwriting sessions that I had during my visit, but I didn’t really talk much about the rest of the downtime that I had. So I figure I’d fill you all in on that…. why not?

So, do you remember how in my first post about Nashville, I talked about how part of my visit was spent being a sight-seeing tourist? Well, during my downtime after my songwriting sessions, that was still true!

After going to all of the different places to eat during my stay, sometimes I’d randomly get my guitar and perform at Maxwell’s Lounge, located at the Millennium Maxwell House (my hotel).

All of the staff and the patrons over there were really nice and provided me with a friendly environment! I really need to thank each and every one of them who listened to me. These were the ultimate “improv” shows and I’m happy that I performed them!

The way that I can sum up my journey in Nashville is that it was a very positive experience. I learned a lot about the industry, worked with some great people, and met a lot of people that helped provide a silver lining on certain days that were harder than others. Going to a new place provides a lot of perspective on where you came from, and I’m going to use my knowledge to help make each day a better stepping stone for my career.

Thank you to everyone for reading, I hope you all enjoyed my summaries/journal entries about my trip. I can definitely promise you that I’ll go to more places and provide entries like these in the near future. Until then, keep rocking, and I’ll see you guys next week!