The other morning I was having coffee with my good friend, Scott.  Scott's a man I love and admire for many reasons, but, primarily because he's a man.  (Whoa.  Suddenly things seem to have taken a weird turn)  What I mean is that he's one of those people that you can't help but look up to because of his humanity.  I mean, he's real.  He knows his limitations and his strengths; and that empowers him to not hold back when he points yours out to you.  But, he doesn't do it in an accusing way.  He has a sense about him that you come off feeling like someone's just held up a mirror to you.  And that's love; and lovable.

Jesus tells us to love each other.  Not only that, but, to love each other as we, ourselves, would have others love us.

The reason I was having coffee with Scott is because I was concerned for him.  This past May, a group of my students, "my guys", graduated from my school.  They've all gone off and are embarking on "the rest of their lives."  The rest of us are still here slinging arrows and takin' 'em, too, back here at home.  Last week, back here at home, we had our annual Back-to-School nights at my school.  At the Back-to-School night for our School of Rhetoric (High School equivalent), it didn't pass my attention that "my guys" weren't there.  It was a bit odd and I could feel a definite hole in my heart where they once stood; and now they're gone.  And they're not even my kids!  So, I saw my friend Terry and asked him, "So.  How're ya doin'?"  Terry said everything was cool.  But that, every now and then, he'd get gripped by his missing his son so bad.  Just the day before, I ran into a colleague from the Grammar School campus and she told me her husband was having a really tough time with having their son go off to college.  Both of their sons are in New York City, now.  Going to college.  Terry told me everything was cool 'till he saw his son descend the stairway to the subway to go off into his new adventure.  I told him the story my colleague's husband spoke at the same sight.  He grabbed his son and held him and asked, "Do you know I love you?  Do you really know?  Do you really know how proud I am of you?"

As I heard Sandy speak those words to me about her husband, I couldn't help but get all teary -- and my own son is (seemingly) light years away from that (he's almost 13).  And Terry told me he'd done the same with his son.  I could feel the tug in my heart because I know those boys so well.  I've invested so much of myself into them that I could feel his sadness and pride, but to a lesser degree, of course.  

So I was sitting across the table from Scott, having coffee, and asking him how he's coming along with having his son take wing.  I thank God I have brothers who will share their lives with me like that.  They set me straight, they lead a path and set a template that I can follow as I navigate my own life, and that of my family.  I sat there trying to love my friend by offering an ear and maybe a shoulder should he need it, there was a transaction that took place.  It's a transaction that always takes place when we love others in a manner that we need to be loved.

He, in the words of his story, we ministering to me.  He was lighting a path that I might follow.  All of them.  Scott, Terry, Sandy's husband.  It's a cycle that never ends.  Someone told me a long time ago that to be smart is to learn from your mistakes, and to be wise is to learn from other's mistakes.  I'm trying to learn from other people's real lives

Crazy thing about travel.  The farther you go, the farther away you are.  

I remember going to the beach as a kid and jumping into the water.  Off I went, farther and farther out till I was just bobbing with the waves and my feet touching the sand beneath only in the valleys of those waves.  I'd be out there, man, just having a great time and at some point I'd notice that I couldn't hear anything or anyone.  Turning around toward the beach I'd notice I was not where I'd embarked from.  I'd be down the beach and farther out than I thought.  "Uh-oh.  How'd I get here?  What happened?"

That's where I am.  "Uh-oh.  How'd I get here."

It's not a bad thing, necessarily.  It's actually pretty good.  Used to be I wasn't exactly sure if the next series of gigs would put food on the table for my family.  Now, it's a steady.  When the sun shines, you turn towards it.  It's natural.  One day, you decide to turn back to the shore line and discover you've traveled farther out than you thought and down the beach somewhere off from where you thought you'd traveled out in a straight line.

God took me on a path that I NEVER thought I'd go.  I ended up in a classroom teaching classical guitar.  Because it was such a foreign land with foreign languages and culture, I had to hustle to keep up.  I began playing less and less and, anyway, I was having trouble believing the spin I was putting out - professionally speaking.  I've told you before how I discovered I still didn't like myself during those days and felt hypocritical about my career.  Jesus tried to tell me about; I'd built my house on sand.  Only, I didn't know it.  I thought I was on solid ground, but, He certainly showed me different. 

I'm older now.  I have more experience under my belt.  I'm ready, I think, to make a go of it.  I'd LIKE it to be with a band, but, it might not be.  I'm writing better and better material that has purpose and meaning lyrically and it's far more musically sophisticated.  I'm not out to impress anyone anymore.  I know I can play -- people tell me so all the time.  I'm very skilled at what I do.  But, so what?  I should be skilled.  It's the least I can do, right?  So, now that that's out of the picture, I feel more relaxed to get to the task at hand.  

The whole reason I started down this road, musically speaking, is because I wanted to connect with you.  My heart yearns to know that we understand each other.  I'm not sure why that is, but, it is.  I'm no philosopher to figure it out, and I'm certainly not God.  It just is.

Practically speaking, I've got a baaaad bassist ready to go, Jonathon.  Still looking for the right drummer to come alongside and round it out.  But, I'm not waiting for all that to happen before I start playing.  Currently, I'm working on solo arrangements and building up a solid set for you.  I can't wait for you to hear it.  It will be soon.  

Pray for me, if you're a praying person.  For wisdom and discernment, for strength and faith.   

So, after a bit of a respite. It seems I'm back at it. Sometimes I wish God would send me an email with specific instructions as to how I need to progress. Step by step. Unfortunately, I don't believe He's in the business of micromanaging anyone's life. Since I started this project, we've seen heady highs and some soul-wrenching lows. The truth of it all is that I couldn't believe my own spin and it "spun" me off the deep end. Luckily, there was a teaching job in the wings and sustenance was provided. In those days and months, and even years, I've come a place where I can understand better now; I can see my role in all this. "Show up." I no longer have an "agenda' of world domination. My only agenda now is to spread the word about life on this earth from a particular world view. I'm not out to make converts. I'm not out to change hearts. I'm out to reach out a hand and that says, "I get you." And, there is no purer expression of that than the blues....

So, here's the short of the long. Whatever you do, BACK UP YOUR WORK!

I like listening to podcasts, and last week, this one in particular reminded me that I needed to back up my computer(s). So, I'd decided to look into purchasing this on-line service that will back up your information for you (for a "nominal" fee, of course!) without you having to worry nuthin' 'bout it.

Wouldn't you know it? The morning I'm going to look into it, I open my computer and it never wakes up! So, down I go to the store to talk to them about it. I'm crossing my fingers nothing's been lost and I'm only dreaming this whole thing. But, "nnnnooooo!!!" It's all lost. The guy behind the counter tell me I should really think about backing up my work. (uugghhh!!) So, I tell him how just that morning I was going to look into the very same thing. As they're getting me another computer (this one still being under warranty), we're talking about how much memory this computer has and what nots. The dude tells me I should just go out and buy an external memory thing that will hold all my information. Want to know the real kicker? I already OWN ONE! (uuugghhh!!!!)

I just didn't know that the one I have can fit my entire computer on it! Or, I didn't make the connection. Here I was, all along, equipped to back up my work all along, and I lost it because what I didn't know hurt me - as always.

Needless to say, I'm backing up nightly - sometimes twice a day!

A little goes a long way. Back up that work, people. With my luck, I'll probably never experience a crash of that proportion again. But, do you want to know what? I'll never have to worry about it again.

Be sure to check out this week's FREE blues guitar lessons. We'll cover the blues chords and how you can use them to more effect. It's really fun to take the simplest of things and get as creative with it as you possibly can. Actually, that's one of the reasons why I love the blues so much. Coming from a punk rock background, I was profoundly influenced by minimalism. For some people, minimalism = "basic". But, that's just so ... cliche. It's more accurate to say that the constraints of minimalism really show off the artist's ability to be creative. Look at it this way, anyone can write a song with verses and choruses and bridges and ramps and intros and outros and interludes and solos and time changes and key modulations ... I mean, ANYONE. But, who can write a really good song with just one chord? John Lennon? Sure, John could. Blues is minimalistic, musically and lyrically. It's "three chords and the truth" as my friend Chris Taylor is fond of saying. It's a haiku of lyrics married to the some of the most exquisite harmonic poetry every constructed. Anyway. That's what this week's blues guitar lesson is about. You take one chord and milk it for all it's worth. Blues ain't about the words your using as much as it's about what you're sayin' and how you're sayin' it.
Just got back from the Texas Music Coalition's July panel, "Your Visual Presence". It was good to see some old friends and catch up. My friend Nikki Young, CEO and President of Prima Donna Productions was a panelist. The topic this month was getting sharp on your visual presence as an artist. Lots of good information that is very usable - to be sure. I also ran into my other good friend, Lee Hurtado who is an excellent writer on the happenings in the theater life of San Antonio. Lee and Nikki have been incredibly busy launching and staging Neil Simon's (Brighton Beach Memoirs, Biloxi Blues) "Rumors" which will run for a couple of weeks more. You should get out there and see some good theater! If you haven't seen a Neil Simon play live, you won't want to miss this one!
As of this morning, I have received the good news that we have been accepted to the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, or ASCAP. ASCAP is one of the two major performing rights organizations (PROs) that handle royalties. The other being BMI. What that does is establish a high level of credibility. Radios stations will have to report on our air time, if we should be used in movie soundtracks, or if we're covered by another group or performed live - they will collect royalties on our behalf. This is good news of the highest caliber, to be sure.

Also, Michelle Travis and I worked on our photo shoot. Michelle is such an incredibly talented photographer and, being the good friend she is, was able to put me at ease enough to relax. I have a thing about photo shoots - they stress me out, and it comes out in the photos (of course). But, we had a good time and we should see some results soon enough. I praise God for moving in such a huge way. I can't tell you how humbled I am to in a position as this. I don't deserve it, but, true to form, it just goes to show you how gracious God is.

Good day today! I've been working on updating my email list and purging closed email accounts. If you were on the list, but had an old email address, you might not have received it. You can re-join the email list by entering your information again and I'll make sure you get up to speed on all that's going on at Luis Arizpe & The Truth. There's a whole bunch of stuff going on! I've been busy busy busy!!

I also made contact with Steve over at Casbeers at the Church (http://casbeers.com) here in San Antonio and with Kenny over at Tin Roof Steakhouse (http://www.tinroofsteakhouse.com) in Boerne. It would be a great honor for us to play at their fine establishments.

I'm already working on the next guitar lesson's pdf documents and will start filming this weekend, I think. And finally, I'll be doing a photo shoot with my good friend Michelle Travis on Sunday! Woo-hoo! Don't know Michelle? Well, you should. You can see her work at http://michelletravis.com. You really ought to visit her site. She does incredible work!

Ok. That's it for now.

I have just now completed uploading my first on-line, and long-promised, guitar lesson.  It's a little ditty designed to move a person from the "oh, I sure would like to play the blues one day" level to the beginner level - it's that basic.

This introductory-level lesson gets the student acquainted with the 12-Bar Blues from, how to think about it, and how to form the basic blues chords.  Next the lesson starts the student off with how to put those chords together in a meaningful way.  That is, the most basic of the various blues forms.

So, I hope you enjoy.  If you know someone who's interested in learning guitar, but not that into learning blues guitar per se, that's fine.  I'll upload some "regular" guitar lessons, too.  But, if you want something specific, please email me at luis@luisarizpe.com.

Just click on the "Press/Free Lessons" link right there on the right.

Sometimes, when I look back at the stuff I write like I did yesterday, I think, "Man, you're a whiner."  Here's a warning, I have mood extremes.  Would you have thunk it?? From a musician??

Anyway.  

Here's an interesting story.  Today I was driving in the fine Texas town of Fair Oaks Ranch when I was pulled over.  My inspection sticker was expired, apparently - since May.  What?  What's a little two month negligence on my part?  I mean, I'm a busy man!  Anyway, the policeman didn't care and asked for my drivers license, of course.  So, I hand it to him and I start to reach over for my insurance card.

"Do you know your license is expired, too?"  
(Oh, cccrrraaappppp)
"Um ... no.  But, how much you wanna bet the insurance card I'm about to hand you is expired, too?"

Sheesh.

Turns out the insurance card was good to go.  He let me go with a warning on the license and gave me a citation for the inspection sticker.  God is good - all the time.

I've also just now got off the phone with my friend Alfredo Segura.  I'll be playing at Spring Creek UMC's Festival in September.  I love them.  They are a great bunch of people, and Alfredo ... well, Alfredo's a great man.  

So, there you have it.  Film at 11:00 ....

Isn't it the way things go? One day I'm off and running and making huge leaps and bounds in this business thing. The next? Absolutely nothing. It's enough to give a fella a sense that all this up hill battle can only mean one thing .... But, I refuse to have those thoughts anymore. The truth of the matter is that set backs are a part of life. I've made the decision to be deliberate in learning about failure. Though not getting any work done today is not a "failure", it is a chance to evaluate some things. I'm still teaching. This summer I'm not teaching nearly as much as I used to, but, it's still taking time away from what I'd rather be doing - working on this here performance aspect of my career. I mention all this because, well, the life of a musician isn't all it's cracked up to be. I remember a long time ago I (naively) thought it was all about writing songs and performing them and you, the fan, would love me and that's the end of the story. HA HA HA HA! The truth of the matter is that I've spent MY LIFE practicing, honing, studying, analyzing, practicing, and practicing and ... oh, yeah, practicing. And at the end of the day, this career is really only about 10 percent of that. The real deal is all the "behind the scene" work that goes on that I feel so ill-equipped to do. I have eschewed honing other skills for the sake of performing music. I used to consider myself a writer, a visual artist, a philosopher ... I stopped everything so that I could dedicate, in totality, my life to music. So, here I am, a sensitive artist-type working as a businessman. The real irony is that I'm an artist who seeks constant affirmation, encouragement, and support working in an industry that is the antithesis of affirmation, encouragement and support. It's no wonder so many of us end up as addicts. It's a very weird place to be. Anyway ... how'd I go down that trail? Oh, yeah. Rant. Anyway, I'm just feeling a bit frustrated because I didn't get hardly anything done today to keep moving the ball forward. Tomorrow will be a better day.

I've been working on updating Bios and Fact Sheets. Pretty much getting a "real" press kit together. Trying to schedule an appointment with my friend Michelle Travis to shoot some photos means having to reschedule due to rain and such. If you haven't been to her site, you need to. She's an AWESOME photographer. I'm also learning how to post PDF files to this here website so people can download my info.

I talked to Kenny over at The Tin Roof Steakhouse in Boerne about maybe booking some shows there in the fall. Perhaps we'll be seeing all you Fair Oaks/Boerne people out there. Want to help me out? Give Kenny a call at (830) 816-5011 and request me to play there!  I'd really appreciate all the help you can give.

On the band's front, I'm still writing and trying to make plans to make some professional demos of the new material. It might even materialize into an official release because I'm getting some good stuff happening here!

Soon I'll update my myspace page and my new Facebook artist page, too! Phew! Lots of sweat and writing happening.  But, you know, it's a learning process and my life-paradigm is to try to get through the process with discipline and diligence because there's really no other way around it; so, might as well get after it, right?

If you can think of somewhere to play that's in your area, please let me know, too.  I'll add them to my database and start making contact as soon as possible.  You're help in this area is greatly appreciated, too!

Alright. Well, the time has come. We're off and running with setting up some playing dates. It's been such a long while. It feels kinda strange, but, this is good and right and I know it's what I'm supposed to be working for. I'd like to thank you, the fan, for your support through these past silent days. Your prayer and encouragement will mean more to me than you can ever know. I'm not kidding. It's not like I was going through some tough times. It was more about trying to find my center in a world of chaos. And it became too easy to believe my own spin. So, after some deep meditation and prayer, I'm back and very excited to get the new project off the ground! As the dates are booked, I'll post them here and anxiously wait for us to be re-united again!
It must have been about 7 years ago ... gosh, this very time of year, too! Sitting on a tool box and talking to my friend, John. He was telling me "his story"; about his trip to rehab a couple of years before and the events that unfolded in his life that landed him there. "So, what's your story", he'd asked. I gripped my can of beer, looked down at the cement of his driveway, and in the glow of that little light I answered, "I don't have one," and took a long pull from my cigarette.

I just now put my kids in bed. It's almost 9:30 p.m. on a Friday night. We get to stay up late on Friday nights. Tonight, after a dinner of cheese burger patties and fries, we watched one of my all-time favorite animations, Finding Nemo! What a story! I love just about every part of that movie. The graphics are out of this world! The voice-acting is supererb ("Just keep swimmmmming! Just keep swimmmming!) The story-tellers do a great job of putting in a little something for the adults every time. Pixar. It must be great to work at a place like that.

"How appropriate," I thought as I sat there holding my almost-two-year-old daughter, Shaia, in my lap. That story is very familiar on several levels.

About two years ago, I (inadvertently) quit the music biz. That is, I didn't exactly mean to; I actually just set out to understand what God was trying to do with me. Or, to understand what God was trying to tell me about my career. So, in the middle of everything, I kinda came to a halt to figure things out. I entered into a period of deep prayer and concentrated meditation about it. What I came to understand was that I really didn't like my "self" very much. 'Smatter of fact, I down right despised me. You can imagine the surprise. After getting myself into another "program" (I'd been sober for ... 4 years up to that point), I came to hear what God's been saying to me -- well, more like whispering to me. "Tell my story." Those are literally the words I heard. Of course, if you know anything about God, He doesn't ever just come right out and tell you, point blank, what He means. It's been my experience that just about everything He says to me is open-ended. So, I was left thinking, "Ok. Do I tell His story? Or did He mean for me to tell my story?" Then I caught myself, "There I go again, over analyzing and over-thinking it again."

G.K. Chesterton, in his book, "Orthodoxy", wrote "I had always felt life as a story, if there is a story, there is a story-teller."

Hmph!

I mean, here I was, just innocently watching a children's animation and I'm struck by the truth of it, the subtlety, the over-bearing lightness of it ... story-telling! It was all right there.

The father, Marlin, in the movie Finding Nemo is singularly focused on finding what was lost, his most precious thing of all -- his child. His story preceded him wherever he went. All the fish and creatures of the sea knew of this story. It was so compelling that it took on a life of it's own. People wanted to be a part of the story, they did what they could to help! What an epic story, retrieving what's been lost!

All those years ago, sitting in John's driveway, I thought I didn't have a story. I saw my life as a blank and drawing very quickly to a close. What I didn't know then, and what I know now, is that God was writing His story into the cold stone tablet of my heart. That's what stopped me cold in my tracks two years ago when I knew that I couldn't go on anymore like I had been going; or, rather, I was pointing in the wrong direction. My career had become about me. I've spent the ensuing two years learning that story. And only recently am I feeling compelled enough to actually go out and tell it.

I have a story.

I have been written into the greatest story of all, I have a place and a part to play. I understand that the story is not about me, or even for me. That sets my mind at ease because, if you want to know the truth of it all, I'm a degenerate. But, it's not just me. "Tell my story," He said. "Tell my story" I will.

So, let's hear it. What's your story?

Ok. So. Here we go, I guess. I started asking some friends what they had planned for the incoming year. I didn't once think about calling it "New Year's Resolutions"; but, on hind-sight, I guess that's what I was getting after. I just don't think of these types of things as "resolutions" per se. "Resolutions" has come to have such a negative connotation as of late. So, anyway, I was asking around, "What are your plans for the new year?"

Mostly, people just gave me blank stares or muttered something about not working as much (yeah, right) or something along those lines. One buddy said he'd like to work on having children! Now THAT'S a plan, I thought. Me? I hadn't realized I'd made any resolutions. I've made plans. That seems to be a more meaningful thing. I'm not entirely sure why. I think that to be resolved means that you're thinking about making something happen. I know it actually means that you're very serious about making something happen ... but, still, it's come to be kinda limp-wristed. I've made plans, man. There's a difference.

I've actually sat down and written out what I want to accomplish this year of my life. I've set out short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals. I've set out deadlines for what "short-term" means and so forth and so on. I've written out "to do's" and set them in my calendar. I've thought out about how long it'd take to get each accomplished, planned those particular "to do's" into my carry-along-with-me-everywhere-go calendar. Neat stuff, really. I'm excited about it all.

This year I plan to (in no particular order): Perform on a regular basis again. To read scripture regularly. To pray for my students -- specifically for what God would like to say to them through me, and for the knowledge and wisdom of how to convey His message. To pray, and engage my family and friends to pray, for us to be able to buy a house this year. (You can start helping with that without further ado. Please.) To seek God's guidance on how I can be of use to Him through my life.

As you can see, among the priorities is to start performing again. I have to get that done, man. So, I have a plan in action for that. These here words you're reading, that's part of it.

I'm endeavoring to make this little website up to date complete with updated photos and verbiage. I'm blogging again; and what's cool is that my host has provided for you to respond! So, now you, too, can join in on the shenanigans and weigh in with your much respected opinion.

Ok. That's pretty much it for now.

I want to know, though, how you feel about New Year's Resolutions? Do you make them? Do you believe in them? Do you prefer to "make plans" like me?

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