It's All About The Music 


by Firelyn

Otis B. Driftwood Here's to good 'ol fashioned Acoustic Music!...Hmmn; yeah that can be true but the music that Otis plays is, well, the fact of the matter is I can tell you what it's not - it is not old fashioned, nor is it new fashioned or any kind of fashioned, for the music that seeps from Otis B. Driftwood's head and then flows from both his mouth and his fingers to become the masterful music he makes is only like other musicians I've been working with lately in that it's hard to place in a genre: It & Otis are in a place all their own.

The first time I saw Otis B. Driftwood play it was at The Hub bar and grill in downtown Centralia Washington on their 'Tuesday Acoustic . If I remember correct it was last month and there were 3 other acts before Otis played. He was headlining with Neil McCrae Loewen who has a very intuitive ability to 'feel' where Otis B. Driftwood is going with his music on a given night.

Thats the thing about Otis' music - he has his own unique way of blending things. His music is lyrically oriented but at the same time many of his songs origanally had no lyrics at all. He litteraly writes about "Anything and Everything" and because of the ability to take the world around him; good or bad, and turn those observations,realizations, and complications into song...

Otis also has a strong voice, he can really belt it when the mood stirs him to. Also he is not only a very nice person but his humble nature is sincere - I talked to him after that first show and i gave him my card; he sent me a message the next day. The next time i heard him play was a week or two later, on my radio show: Afterburn with firelyn on KCED centralia 91.3fm Otis B. Driftwood came on the show soon after we talked and i had a great time, my listeners had a great time listening to me ramble with Otis in between songs - and oh,did he play for us on the radio live! He played for well over an hour.(which, by the way, he didnt know he was going to be asked to do 'til right before, and, well; neither did I)

I am glad I met Otis B. Driftwood. You should all definately catch his act - dont know when or where? Mei wenti! as the Chinese say...No Problem keep checking as well as my FaceBook page - Afterburn w/firelyn for Otis' upcoming shows, as well as several local clubs line-ups; including The Hub and other area venues and other local musical talent* And/Or Listen to my Radio show - Thursday nights from 7-9pm (AFTERBURN w/firelyn on KCED centralia 91.3fm) this isn't the last you will hear from me aboutOtisB. Driftwood just keep reading... ...

this is firelyn burning OFF.



Three reasons to get out of your comfort zone and take that gig!

by Az Samad

Recently, I played a cumbia-dub gig with an amazing Oakland, CA based band. Although I'm not currently in any cumbia-dub or reggae band, (the closest is a Tex-Mex Indie Rock project with one cumbia song in our repertoire) I immediately agreed to it when I saw an opening in my calendar. Why? Exactly because it's not what I usually play and I knew that this would be a chance for me to explore different facets of my playing. Many times, opportunities such as these are presented to me and I've said yes nearly every single time. Here are three reasons:

1. Gain a wider perspective of music

I've played classical guitar (both solo and chamber music) , solo steel string guitar, Jazz, Brazilian Jazz, Reggae, Cumbia-Dub, Tex-Mex, Gypsy Jazz, Rock, Singer-songwriter folk, Americana and some other genres that I'm not quite sure how to describe. For me, I've discovered the striking similarities between seemingly disparate styles of music (from the perspective of a guitar player's role, the harmony and melody tendencies.) This also gives me new things to practice and new avenues to use things that I don't get to play as much. You might learn how useful something you've played in a rock setting might work just as well at a Jazz gig (or not!) Nothing beats total immersion into another musical setting to quickly learn what works in another style.

2. Meet new friends and perform at venues you didn't know existed

You might meet your new best friend at a place you never thought could be a viable venue for music. Maybe we'll meet there! Cafes attract acoustic musicians, clubs attracts bands, community centers attract world music folks and then there are places that have music but are not too common. The next gig you take may lead you there!

3. Improve your musicianship

My rhythm chops improved tremendously after playing Gypsy Jazz for two years, and it did when I played Cumbia too. If you only play in bands, try a solo gig for a change! If you're a solo guitarist, try playing in a band! If you're always playing lead guitar, try playing rhythm guitar in another band, side-project, or jam session. The level of commitment for these things vary depending on how much time you have to spare but taking a chance can be a very wonderful and challenging experience.

The point is that for every new unexpected opportunity, there is a chance for us to grow. Have fun, be brave and take that gig!

Good luck and till next time!

Three things all Indie artists should do
By Az Samad 

The challenge of being an independent artist, especially when you're starting off is that you have no one but yourself to answer to. This of course can be both a good and bad thing. For one, if you're driven - you can do many things very fast because you don't have to delegate. On the other hand, some days, nothing happens at all because no one but yourself is responsible for your career (and you decided to just stay at home and comment on all your friend's Facebook pages.)

A very real issue is that most of what we do as artists does not pay financially (at least not immediately). Most of it is groundwork, most of it is the business side of our careers. This of course makes us comes to terms with the fact that the world is saturated with so much music and talent that is becomes difficult for us to be noticed. After awhile, just getting fellow musician friends to come to your gigs will not be enough and if we want to continue on a musical path, we need to do something different












This brings me to some of my suggestions, all of which are things that I try to do everyday in some form. Here's the list:

1. Do something everyday

Now, you're thinking - oh gosh, that's obvious - why did I need to hear it from this guy? Well, to me being aware of what we do is as important as doing it. What I mean by this suggestion is to do something that would reach out to someone else everyday. It could be as easy as posting a listing of your upcoming show on a local event website or emailing a venue for a future gig.

For me, some of the most significant gig opportunities were set in motion when I used to play in front of the local train station. That's a different article worth writing, but to make it short - from several of these gigs, I met a guy who gave me a festival gig, another man who is still calling me for jazz gigs - which eventually led me to meeting a current artist I'm working and touring with regularly. Fact is, if I stayed home that one day - I probably would not be doing most of the gigs I'm doing now. So yes, do something, anything everyday.

2. Do nothing sometimes

Now, why would I contradict myself? Well, this is really an advice from my dad. One day, we were talking on the phone and he said, "I looked at your schedule on your website and you're really busy. Don't you get tired? You should learn how to spend a day doing nothing."

This of course got me thinking and it took some time but eventually I gave myself a day off and did nothing. The fact is because we're independent artists, the danger is that we work non-stop. I know that I feel the urge to answer an e-mail at 2am somedays and then not sleep till 4am but it's not good for your health. In the long run, to have a successful career, stamina is important. Therefore, we need to be healthy to do this. One way is to set workhours like we would if we were in an office, maybe nine to five, maybe less but setting limits like this can be useful so that we have a balanced life. Work is not everything - family and friends are precious and they form a support group for us. We all need each other and spending time with our loved ones is a beautiful thing.

3. Work on your art

With the Internet, we can get distracted. I know I do! I'm on some social media site and I'm thinking wow, what a cool link or article or "insert cool web thing here". Now, whatever happens, we are still musicians - our job really is to work on our art. This could be practicing a new chord progression, learning a new song, writing new music, refining older songs, recording or even listening to the latest album by your favorite artist.

Music has become such a background event in our lives that not many friends of mine actually spend time to listen to music attentively as we used to. The excuse usually is that we don't have time, but the fact is, we do have time to watch a TV show on Hulu, or a movie or update all our websites. I get caught up in the other work but in the end, all the marketing efforts we do is dependent on the quality of our art. Now, you might mention some big famous artist who might be in your opinion not as good as 'so and so' but to me, the real effort is to stop complaining about the difference in our gradients of success and just do our own thing. In the end, as long as we're happy doing what we do - that means a lot.

So yes: do something everyday, do nothing sometimes, and work on your art.

Good luck and till next time!

Az Samad is guitarist-composer-teacher based in Berkeley, CA. He is going to watch the rest of the TV series that he is following now that he's done something today. Check out what else he's up to at













Sam Ash Quikship Corp.
Merry-Ken Piper

My friend and spirit sister
by Bruce J Maier -publisher

I first met Merry-Ken in the mid 1990’s when we were introduced at a church function in Washington state. Both of us being proud parents of Martin guitars which created a natural respect, and almost from the beginning we started singing and harmonizing together, oftentimes being the main entertainment for the spiritual gathering place called the Guardian Angel Chapel in the middle of a forty acre plot of land facing the majestic Mt. Rainier. In time we regarded one another as long lost siblings who absolutely loved to sing and perform together.

Merry-Ken’s music was never complicated to learn, but to understand the depth and intensities was the challenge. Every note seemed to have been heralded in from another galaxy, another astral plane. The words could easily slay you and leave you helpless or at times would wrap you up in an invisible shroud of velvet and lace. When she would sing you could actually feel the sonic vibrations from her vocal chords as they bounced from wall to ceiling to wall. Sometimes she would play the sides and back of the Martin as an ancient drum, bringing tones out of the wood that even Martin knows not exist. Other times she would sing with no accompaniment needed. It was as though there was a tribal symphony of wind, animals and fourth dimensional flutes which would ring out in your head and you’d swear they were there. And, sometimes tears would just roll down her cheeks as the Holy Spirit would move her and the music and it’s awesome truth would pour across her lips and into your soul. That was the power of Merry-Ken as I knew her back then, before she had evolved into the even more prolific songwriter she is today

Merry-Ken has been writing and producing music along with her husband Bob for several years now. They make their home several thousand miles away from our little chapel where we used to sing and her voice is still resonating her inner truth wherever she travels. Bob is also a very good musician, songwriter and producer who handles the video and computer technical aspects of Merry-Ken’s musical endeavors and they have happily created a loving team. She has matured nicely as a performing artist, never selling out or trying to be someone she is not. She continues to follow her heart and listen to the wind and the little voice from within, from true Source in whatever form it may present itself. She represents Mother earth and the harmonies of nature. The song of the clouds, the beasts of the prairies of North Dakota where she was raised, the birds in the sky, the crickets in the southern evening are her palette from which she draws inspirations. The rhythms of the ancestors who once roamed the great plains and who cried for the demise of their freedom, they too provide the illuminations from within.

A brilliant woman , one who once taught school and has traveled the world, sailed the Caribbean and has swam the coral reefs,Merry-Ken has a number of songs and videos for all of us to enjoy for free on Youtube. Find out for yourself that there is no one quite like her anywhere on this big planet! I suspect that a new CD release may be just around the corner and we will let you know as soon as that becomes available. An interview will be coming soon as well. Meanwhile just put your headphones on and visit Merry-Ken’s Youtube performances for an experience you will not soon forget. And this writer will pause and reflect on a time in my personal life when I sang the songs of the ancient brothers and sisters as I traveled and lived vicariously alongside my sister as we rode the plains in the early dawn with our Martin guitars.


See Merry-Ken Piper on Youtube

Buy her music here

Her website

  by Bruce Maier

he solo acoustic gig is perhaps the one manner of musical expression providing the most freedom an artist can create for oneself, yet one of the most difficult in which to gather an audience and acclaim. We have just discovered yet another great new solo acoustic performer from the Tacoma - Seattle where there is certainly an abundance of talent especially in the Blues and Jazz or alternative markets. However, the solo acoustic scene has always been prevalent although a bit " underground ", so to speak. Private gigs, coffee houses, churches and school functions are the grounds in which the one person show learns to cut his or her musical teeth. Robbie Walden is a good writer and there's some emotion in his voice that intrigues me. Leaning more towards Country music with the consciousness of say - John Melencamp or Steve Earle, I would think that we will be hearing more about Robbie Walden in the future and on the radio. Here's our interview of Robbie:

DGT: Robbie, tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from and how did you get involved with music? ROBBIE: I was born in Anchorage, Alaska but raised in the farm town of beautiful Sequim, WA. I got into music when I was young. Both my grandpa?s are pastors (Pentecostal raised) and so I was raised around real good Country Gospel Music in and out of the church. It has always been in my blood though. My Grandpa plays guitar real good and so did my dad. When I was around 8 or 9 I?d say, before I could play guitar, I would play my favorite songs and rewrite the lyrics and then play the song low and sing to my made up lyrics. Most of the time they were songs that were supposed to be funny. I was always a little show off, lol. DGT: Who are a few of your musical influences and why? ROBBIE: First, My Grandpa Hudson and my 6th grade School teacher Mr. Magner. They both were the first people to truly introduce and influence my guitar playing and style. As far as major influences go, there is so many to name because I love so many styles, primarily Old and New Country and Rock and Oldies and Blue Grass. However, as far as people go, I?d Say Ray Charles, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, Marvin Gay, Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, David Allen Coe, Albert Lee, George Strait, Tobey Kieth, Brad Paisley, Jason Aldean, Trent Tomlinson, Brooks and Dunn, Montgomery Gentry, Tracy Chapman and Edwin McCain. Ok, that was more then a few, lol. Country music as a whole is my major influence. I love the story telling in Country especially, Old Country. Plus, there are always messages and things people can relate too in Country. DGT: Do you see yourself as a singer-songwriter or a serious musician or all three? ROBBIE: I would definitely say all three. As I see it, I am a performer and story teller. But my goal is to make it to the top in music. I don?t want to be short lived and I want to produce music that people listen and can hear the passion and emotion in my music. DGT: In the past year or so where have you been playing? ROBBIE: Just about any venue that will let me. This last year has been all acoustic sets but it has still been fun. Lately it has been the Tacoma area only because I have been real busy. I?ve been in and out of the studio slowly working on a new album and looking to build a band. DGT: Where do you anticipate playing in the next six months. ROBBIE: Everywhere. I most likely will be doing a three day stop in Boise, Idaho this June. DGT: I see that you currently don?t have a backup band. Is that the direction you would rather go, working with a team rather than being a solo performer? ROBBIE: Actually, I am looking for a back up band. It has been real hard looking. Most everyone is already in a band and the ones that aren?t generally aren?t for a reason. A lot of people are still stuck on Nirvana too. DGT: Where would you like to see yourself in two years Robbie? What?s your plan of action to make that happen? ROBBIE: I want to make it in Country Music. Music period, but I see myself in Country. I would like to have a solid CD completed probably in Nashville. Also, I am in the process of co-writing with some other great songwriters. My wife and I are also discussing selling our house and moving to Nashville to work on music full time. The hard part is selling the house right now. Market is LOW! I need to surround myself with other top noth musicians for networking purposes and to make myself better. DGT: do you have some favorite guitars, either that you currently own or would like to acquire? ROBBIE: I am a HUGE fan of Tacoma Guitars. I own a few of them and they are my babies. Baritone guitars have become my new found love. I now have to very beautiful and expensive Baritone?s made by Tacoma and that is what you will see me play mostly on stage. (Tacoma is owned by Fender now but still making them) There are a few Gibson?s and Taylor?s I like as well. DGT: Robbie I really like ? Don?t Cry Down There For me ?. Quite an emotional theme. Comment? ROBBIE: My older brother Jesse Marunde passed away last summer from a massive heart attack while training. It was caused by an enlarged heart. You probably have heard and seen him before. He was a professional Strongman and placed 2nd two years ago in the Worlds Strongest Man. I wrote the song for our mom and family to help with the grieving. A little side note, I was adopted in middle school by the Marundes. We grew up as best friends and my real father was abusive so they unofficially adopted me. But the song I wrote through the eyes of Jesse looking down on us from Heaven and he is telling us not to cry for him because he is home and they are the ones missing us. That song has been a very touching song even for me. I have gotten emails and myspace messages from all over from people in similar situations telling me they were very touched by that song. That is a major reason why I write and play music, to touch people. DGT: How did ? The Road Known Too Well ? come to be? ROBBIE: Well coming from an abusive alcoholic father, I am very sensitive to abuse and aware of it as well. Seeing my mother and other women being abused I wrote the song. It is about how women who are in abusive relationships tend to have a pattern of it and they never see a way out. They always feel alone not realizing that there were friends and family there the whole time. I wrote it hoping that it may save some ones life some day. The nice thing I think for others is that I came from that type of situation and overcame it with the help and love from others around me. DGT: Where can our readers in the Seattle Tacoma areas hear you next and how does one contact you for bookings? ROBBIE: Right now the main place to see and hear anything about me is on The Weekly Volcano is another place you can check local venues and what and who?s playing. You can even Google me to find more out. I am on there quiet a bit for my sports and music. DGT: Well that?s all the time we?ve got right now Robbie but we want to say thank you for getting together and making this interview happen. ROBBIE: You are so welcome and I want to thank you for asking me to do the interview. I am glad that you enjoyed the music and I hope your readers and fans will too. God Bless and I hope the future brings ya?ll lots of success. Stay Strong ~ Robbie Walden

Acoustic Master of Melody

One of 17 Malaysia's most outstanding individuals (Faces Magazine), San Francisco Bay Area acoustic fingerstyle guitarist Az Samad is a full-time musician who focuses on writing original instrumental guitar music. His songs are a blend of world music, jazz, Latin, pop and new age influences. In 2003 and 2004, he studied with the late British acoustic guitar legend Eric Roche in two Residential Guitar Workshops in the UK. Deeply influenced by Eric's music, Az gradually incorporated more percussive and non-conventional guitar techniques in his playing. After releasing his debut album "Acoustic Gestures" in Fall 2004 to critical acclaim in Malaysia, he moved to Boston, MA to study under scholarship at Berklee College Of Music. He graduated with Summa Cum Laude honors in a dual major degree in Jazz Composition and Performance (guitar). In 2007, Az taught at Berklee for the Summer Guitar Sessions. Az has performed in venues in Malaysia, Singapore, England and the United States as a soloist and duets with his father, Malaysian National Laurete A. Samad Said as well as a member of Malaysian singer-songwriter Shelley Leong's band. He is currently writing material for his second album slated for release in Summer 2008.

Hear and explore more of Az's musical voyages at MySpace

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