What I'm Working On
- Staying safe and healthy!
- Making music!
- Building on my YouTube following - it's hard work to get to 1000 followers!
What I Hope You'll Check Out!
- The Adventures of Sam and Caw - Winter Is Coming - my children's series, more episodes/songs to come!
- Quietly - recent collection of original songs - more to come!
- Initiation - instrumental jam tune featuring me on Flugel, synths, production
- Hands - recorded 5 months after a surgery that I'm almost fully recovered from!
Back in August 2022 I had a surgery (13 hours!) to remove a benign tumor behind my left ear and pushing on my brain. It's called an Acoustic Neuroma or (more accurately) a Vestibular Schwannoma. It was a large 3.2 cm (benign) mass and I had a world-class team of surgeons, nurses, and healthcare professionals to help me get rid of it. It was a humbling experience. While everything went as planned, there was a lot of uncertainty and it was a painful recovery. As of this writing I'm 6 months post-op. I'm back to playing my horn(s), writing new music, and feeling like "me". I have a deeper appreciation for my own life and also the struggles that others are going through.
I wasn't able to play my horn for a couple months. And to make matters even more interesting, my hearing (single sided) was completely distorted - voices sounded higher in pitch, music sounded warbly and de-tuned/mod-filtered. Thankfully, my brain adjusted and my hearing is back to being good again and music sounds good - really good actually! When I did start playing my horns again it was hard. I couldn't even play my tuning note! But over time, my chops/embouchure got stronger (I'm so fortunate) and gradually it came back and every day is a gift. The docs said my facial nerve was preserved and anticipated my full recovery - but yikes, there were many weeks where I just wasn't sure, but had to just keep doing the work/exercises.
I had a re-occurring dream post-op. If only I could play one note, I'd be able to fake it from there. Naturally, after one note I wanted more - and thankfully more notes followed.
Roughly two months after surgery I could sing, was doing low long tones on my flugelhorn, and my brain fog was clearing up. Was still in some pain though. I wanted to write some songs, but also wanted to write something meaningful, to myself at least. Something simple and timeless - so I began writing a children's series entitled The Adventures of Sam and Caw. The first episode is Winter Is Coming. I'm currently writing more episodes for Spring, Summer and Fall to have a complete "season" - and even though it's not something I'm promoting at this moment, I am starting to share things as I think it's pretty darn good material! I have plans for it since the series serves as a way for me to express through song, lyric, and story (and even a bit of acting) and it's also super fun!
I'm looking forward to performing live more. I've re-connected with Dave Storrs and performed at Interzone in Corvallis over the last 3 months or so. The first outing for me 3 months ago was mostly just a chance to test my chops out - at that time I had a range of about a 6th, but you'd be surprised what I was able to fake my way through! By the end of January 2023 I was able to play a 3 minute cadenza as part of the program and my chops were feeling almost "normal", being able to play above the staff at least, although my high C's and D's are probably a couple more months away. It's a journey though. The good news is that by exercising my chops on not just Trumpet/Flugelhorn (my primaries), getting in some time on Trombone, Flute (brand new to me), Tenor Sax, and doing acupuncture, physical therapy, swimming, walking, talking, singing, and more, have all contributed to my musical conditioning. I'm back at it and most folks have no clue of what I went through. Gotta credit the docs for that!
We all have to face a dark time now and then. It's sucks mightily. I'm glad that I was brave and all that, but really what other choice is/was there? We're here on this planet/existence for only a flash.
Anyway, this is my current "now" - there's much more to any of our "now" periods, but this is a small glimpse into mine.
This tune was written and produced over a ten day period. It started with a ukulele chord progression that I was jamming on before bed. The next day I came up with a melody and a couple days later I started recording it! The title arises from my enjoyment of Star Trek. The "Jeffries Tube" is referenced now and then - it is where the crew typically goes to repair stuff. There's often a sense of urgency and life or death in there - but sometimes it's just routine maintenance and a normal day at the office. Probably not a lot of romance going on in the old tube - but who knows!? The song seems to have a touch of a romantic quality to it, but there are other musical moods going on.
Anyway, "Jeffries Tube Rendezvous" is just a title - a catchy handle to go with the tune and the vibe I was flowing with. I had fun writing it and recording it - it all came together so quickly. Enjoy!
Copyright © 2023 Rob Birdwell / BirdwellMusic.com