be busy by Mark Ziegler

I once again take on the recurring role of the short-term New York resident. It's always great to be here, but it's strange knowing you have a window. New experiences abound: a session in the legendary nyc studio Sear Sound; performing semi-regularly with my improv group (Your Albino Boyfriend) and going further at the Upright Citizens Brigade training center; getting the hot ticket to see Louis C.K.; recording/writing at home for some cool new projects; spontaneously heading to see Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf because it's Steppenwolf on Broadway and it's closing next week darnit and if we don't go now we're going to regret it and not regretting it one bit.

It may seem scatterbrained, but it's been an ongoing goal of mine to expand different areas of my creativity. Like, since I'm able to travel a lot, I've been able to get out and explore the world of photography, or that improv has become an educational experience for me. Everything can inform everything else. Some days, the music ratio is higher and some days not. I'm not sure what all of this will lead to, but I've learned a ton by going outside of my comfort zone and just doing. We're so quick to judge ourselves when it comes to our talents and hobbies - especially when we grow up. If we're not immediately good at something we judge ourselves and we're probably likely to let it fade away or simply give it up. I read a great article recently about Dave Grohl and his new documentary, Sound City. He had some great points about how kids don't need to go on these talent shows where they get up early and stand in line and sing someone else's song just to be praised (or criticized). They need to play in the garage and just suck. We're so preoccupied with being good and getting recognition and getting famous and monetizing our product and on and on (and on) that we forget to have fun. We forget to just suck. We forget to just be.
It's great to be home. I'm lucky to have a great place to spend these extended breaks from tour and I'm inspired by all of the creative people I get to associate with every day. I've told Spring she's welcome anytime and I think she'll take me up on the offer. The bike is calling.

Long Distance by Mark Ziegler

Recording is an enjoyable experience for me, so I jump at the opportunity to do it whenever I can. In the spring, my good friend Jeff Moehle (longtime collaborator and drummer for Butterfat Trio) was producing a record by Ann Marie Boyle, a singer/songwriter in Kalamazoo. They needed some upright bass on a track and he had me give it a shot from my home studio in Brooklyn. The first one went well, and they asked for another. The back and forth continued, and within a few weeks I'd gotten to play bass on most of the record. There is one amazing and still strange-to-me thing to keep in mind. It's not a new concept in the collaborative-ready digital age, just one that's fun to be reminded of: I've never met Ann Marie. I'm sure I will at some point, but for now she exists only through my bearing witness to the fascinating life cycle of her original recorded music: the evolution of several really interesting songs into a highly enjoyable album, and one that is a credit to all of the talented people who went into making it a reality.

There were several people involved in the project and I'm proud to say they are friends of mine. Even if we haven't met yet.

Ann Marie has a few words of her own about the project on her website.

You can purchase and/or stream the album "Human Nature" from Bandcamp.

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essen (und trinken) by Mark Ziegler


Well, it was a lovely vacation/break but it's back to work and back to Germany. How did I cram all of that into 5 weeks? I have no idea. The list is almost absurd, but I will add two plays to the list from my previous post: Peter and the Starcatcher: seriously, go see it if you can.

August, Osage County (White Plains): I'm probably biased towards this one but it just so happens to be very good. Go see it. But only if you can handle brutally funny and brutally ... well, brutal family dramas. Eat the fish.

The gigs went well and I even did an audition. (It's good to be reminded to step out of your comfort zone once in a while. Sometimes, step way out.) There was also a great trip home, a new (to me) monthly trivia night, a weirdo party, a dance concert, run-ins with my improv friends, a new addiction (thanks, Downton Abbey), guitar practicing (!) and even cello practicing (!!).

Two weeks in Essen, then it's on to Paris for the rest of the year. Yes, my life is pretty rad right now. Rad enough that I can write "rad" (three times, now!) in a post and feel pretty good about it. So, happy end of 2012, USA! I hope you survive the election, and a few dozen new holiday albums, and the Mayan calendar stuff, and that movie with Zac Ephron. Jeez, that's a lot now that I think about it. I'll be thinking about you. Just remember that lucky '13 is right around the bend - and I'll be hot on its' heels.