2010 in review

As I prepare to bid farewell to another year, I’ve spent some time reflecting on the events and feelings of the past year, perhaps even the last decade, as we move into the second decade of the 21st Century. First off, the weather was pretty freakin’ weird. We started 2010 with two feet of snow on the ground and three more feet of the stuff fell before it was over. I haven’t seen snow like that in decades, if ever, and now we’re ending the year with more snow! Next came a few weeks of dismal, cold rain before becoming the hottest summer I can ever remember, with most of it over 95°F and several weeks of 100°F plus! It was brutal. Then more dismal rain before getting cold again, so in short, I didn’t spend as much time getting out as I would have liked. It was either too damn snowy, too cold, too damn hot… or raining! I really don’t care for this “new weather” very much at all.

One of the highlights of 2010 was finally seeing the long awaited Mastermind “Insomnia” album get released. I was beginning to think it might never see the light of day, so that was a both a personal triumph and a great relief. I was all jammed up and unable to move forward until this thing was out the door. The sad part is we haven’t had a live version of Mastermind up and running for several years now and the way things stand at the moment, I’m not sure when that may happen again. Unfortunately, as the case may be, we spent several years gigging and performing the album before it got released. Kind of ass backwards, I know, but at least it’s out there now and most of the reviews are pretty positive… now if sales can match the enthusiasm of the reviews, life would be grand.

Musically speaking, I’ve started to branch out into different things, doing some guitar tracks and session work for other people. Writing and recording music outside the realm and framework of Mastermind. I feel like I am searching for a new direction or new beginning or something. The Berends Brothers Band blues-rock thing is fun up to a point, but I feel the need to be more creative and get new original music going. I have recorded a solo instrumental guitar album, but I’m not really quite sure what to do with it at this point. It’s not like I’ve stopped making music! I just don’t know who, or how, or what it takes to get things rolling again. So I am reaching out. I am tired of sitting around, I want to be out playing!

On a personal level things were OK this year tho’ I do feel pretty isolated out in the Pines of New Jersey much of the time. More people used to come visit me, what happened? Oh, right… they’re too broke to do anything is what happened. The economic meltdown. I watched the value of my house fall tens of thousands of dollars this year while mounting property tax debt has me up against a proverbial wall. The new economic reality is just as extreme as the new weather… it sucks! Hopefully things will pick up in the not too distant future, but I’m not banking on it. Things have gotten a tiny bit better over the past few months, but the jerkoffs who ran the country into the ground seem determined to get back in there and finish the job. I really don’t understand how or why this is all being allowed to happen. Bastards.

Health wise I’m doing OK.. I try to eat well and keep a positive attitude no matter what is going on and I think that helps, though I haven’t been as physically active as I’d like to be. Not enough gigs! And nobody goes out anymore it seems, so it feels like everything I want to achieve or can achieve on my own involves sitting in front of a damn computer screen. Not really the life I imagined for myself.

What else… I bought and sold a few guitars in a continuing effort to find an ideal replacement for my trusty old ’68 SG which is needing a fret job at point. My poor baby. I regret letting a few of them go, but I still haven’t found “the one” yet. Maybe this year if I can muster up the cash, but I’m afraid the right guitar is going to cost a LOT of money and I balk at the idea of playing an instrument that costs as much as a car. Then again, money is worth less (worthless?) now, so it’s kind of like ten thousand Lira for a loaf of bread, a million Lira for a good guitar, right? Though it seems just as hard – if not harder – to earn those Lira these days, especially in east jabip. Especially with music.

Anyway, it seemed like kind of a slow year all around. Nothing super horrible happened and there were a few really nice moments, but I’m glad to see it go. We played a few good gigs, but not as many as I’d like. Studio work picked up, but I could always use more. I have some great people in my life, but I don’t see them as often as I would like. A few others have simply vanished. Weird. But what can you do. People make their own choices. I already said the weather sucked. New Jersey is too damn expensive for me to stay here much longer, but houses aren’t selling so it is something of a dilemma… and where do I want to be anyway? And what else can I afford is the real question. I’m sure I’ll work it out soon enough. I have to.

Hey, at least I finally got some stuff up on this web site! And there’s a reason for that, I promise you – anyone who may be interested – I will have new music to release this year. I have lots of great stuff written (IMHO), some of it is recorded, and I feel like my guitar playing is better than ever, so that’s cool. With some luck perhaps another Mastermind album lies in the future as well. We got started on one, but enthusiasm seems to have waned as I’m not real sure that’s the direction I want to go in right now and Rich doesn’t really have the time to put into it. Bummer. On the upside, I’m starting the new year off with a new project that seems pretty cool and I also have a few other good people lined up to work with, so I am feeling cautiously optimistic in a musical sense.

It’s funny in a way, I remember reading a horoscope earlier in the year saying 2010 would be a year of big changes, perhaps even turbulent change, so I kept watching out for this giant swooping change which never came. In retrospect, it seems like a lot of little things occurred that are starting to add up to something bigger. What that is exactly, I don’t know yet, but it feels like something is coming. Sort of like a freight train just over the horizon headed my way. I can sense it. I just hope I’m not standing on the tracks when it gets here! And maybe, just maybe, I can catch a ride on it. We shall see! In any case, I’m thankful I made it through another year in one piece and look forward to what the new year may bring. Onward and upward!

Best wishes to all for 2011… happy new year!

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