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January Music News








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Hey, Friend,

Happy New Year!

We’re less than 2 weeks in to 2018, and already I’ve successfully mis-written the year as 2017 at least a dozen times. I think that’s a new personal record!

Speaking of new records, even though I stayed primarily in North East Ohio during 2017, I played more shows over the course of the year than in any year previous. I’m aiming to keep that momentum going throughout 2018, with new music, new videos, and if plans come together, a new tour or two! If there’s any specific part of the country you’d like me to visit, please write me back to let me know… a friendly couch to crash on and suggestions of nearby venues to play would also be great.

Also on the topic of new records (pun fully intended), I’m excited that recording is completed for my new full-length, House of Ghosts! My target was to have it wrapped up by the end of 2017, and I just barely met that goal – the final vocal track was completed at 7:00 P.M. on December 31! Let it never be said that I don’t like to live dangerously…

That picture you see here is of the project file right after completion. If those screens were a mirror, you’d see a my ugly mug sporting a cheesy, self-satisfied grin, so I thought this would be more appealing.

Just because tracking is complete doesn’t mean that the project is over, though! I still have to prep the tracks to hand off to my co-producer Eric Bertagnolli (he also played the drums on the record) of Eric Bert Audio – if you pop over to his Soundcloud Page, you can catch a first listen to the title track of House of Ghosts… though there might be a few adjustments to the song before it’s officially released – and I’ll be finishing the album art while Eric completes mixing and mastering the record. I’ll be sure to let you know when the official release date has been set!

To make sure that release date isn’t too far in the future, I’ve only taken on a light load of shows this month – just two of’em at the moment:


As always, there’s a chance a few more dates may pop up on my calendar – you can always find all the upcoming shows on my Tour Dates page.

I hope your year is starting off well… Thanks for joining me for another spin around the sun!

Cheers,
Michael




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December Music News








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Hey, Friend,

Happy December!

Every year, it’s always a surprise to me when December 1 rolls around – not that I didn’t expect that it would happen eventually, but the passage of time still bewilders me. Last December seems a lifetime away, and yet this year feels like it’s passed by incredibly quickly.

Recording for House of Ghosts is almost complete – all instruments have been recorded, and all that’s left is my final vocal tracks. Those would have been completed earlier, but I ran up against a bit of a chest cold later on in November, and was also out of town for a bit over a week celebrating Thanksgiving in California with my parents, and the majority of my siblings, nieces and nephews. I’m still not entirely de-jetlagged from the trip, but it was well worth it.

Since it’s December, I’ll likely continue my tradition of putting out a new video of me performing a Christmas or holiday song. No promises to when that will drop, but you can check out the playlist of previous holiday offerings, and subscribe to my YouTube channel to get a notification for when that goes live!

I’ve got a nice batch of shows this month, including one tonight!


As always, there’s a chance a few more dates may pop up on my calendar – you can always find all the upcoming shows on my Tour Dates page.

I hope you have a great holiday season! Thanks for joining me for another year on this journey!

Cheers,
Michael




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November Music News








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Hey, Friend,

House of Ghosts is nearing completion!

There’s a lot that goes in to making a record: writing the songs, road-testing them, pre-production… but for me, the biggest milestone is always finishing the drums; whether it’s using found objects, like on A Failed Breakup and A Sarcastic Tango, using percussive sounds created entirely on my guitar, like on We Are The Architects, or using a full studio drum kit like on Made a Mess, Waking Up Is A Letdown, and now House of Ghosts, finalizing the drum tracks always feels like the tipping point, where the structure and foundation of the record is complete, and all that’s left is to add the finishing touches.

That’s why I’m crazy excited that this past weekend, my co-producer Eric Bertagnolli came in to the studio for two days, and knocked out all the remaining drum tracks for the record.

This also means there’s a finalized track order!

1. The Things You Couldn’t Find
2. House of Ghosts
3. Fresh Out Of Love Songs
4. Skip
5. The Photograph Lies
6. If I Had Happened
7. The Last Sunset
8. A Work In Progress
9. The Year We Came Alive
10. Starting To Believe

In the course of recording, Eric broke one of this sticks, so I got him to sign it for posterity:

With the drums complete, I expect I should have the rest of the tracks complete and sent over to Eric for mixing by the end of November!

I’ve also got a nice batch of shows coming up this month, including a show at The Winchester in Lakewood, Ohio, opening for a couple great acts on tour:
I The Victor (Atlanta, GA) 
Fletcher’s Grove (Morgantown, WV)

That show’s happening Friday, November 3 – you can find the Facebook event here.

Here’s a list of all the shows I’ve got on the calendar this month:


As always, there’s a chance a few more dates may pop up on my calendar – you can always find all the upcoming shows on my Tour Dates page.

Finally, since we just passed my favorite holiday (Halloween), Allow me a little self-indulgence in sharing this year’s costume (and a LOT of self-indulgence in the presentation of the costume in poster form!) You can’t see all the details in this, but the accessories included a functioning walkman with a playable cassette copy of The Awesome Mix, Vol. 1. It’s the little details that matter!

Thanks again for taking this journey with me!

Cheers,
Michael




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October Music News – New song & video!








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“A Work In Progress”

Autumn has reportedly arrived, though sitting in 80-degree weather, I can’t say I’m fully convinced. I’m ready to bust out the hoodies and eat too much cheap candy, but only one of those seems reasonable to do in the current weather. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

I’d promised that I would release a new single and music video in September, and I slipped right in under the wire on that one. So here it is – “A Work In Progress“, the first song of my upcoming full-length, “House of Ghosts”:

“A Work In Progress” Music Video

The song is now up on all your favorite digital platforms – here are a few links for you:
– Bandcamp
iTunes
Google Play
Spotify

The body painting (yes, everything in the video was hand-painted, not digitally added) was done by Kim Kennedy, an amazing artist and musician.
– Check out her art here
– Check out her music here

The videography was done by Mark Sowers.
Check out his photography here
 

This Month’s Shows:


To get additional details on any of these, head to the tour dates page on my site.

Production on “House of Ghosts” should be mostly wrapped up this month! My co-producer Eric Bertagnolli will be coming in to the studio to record the drums for the remaining 8 songs mid-month, then it’s on me to lay down the final bass, guitar, and vocal tracks.

Thanks again for taking this journey with me, and hope you’re having a great start to the fall!

Cheers,
Michael




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August Music News








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Just a few shows for you this month…

I can’t believe it’s August already, and I’ve only been to one baseball game! Something really must be done about that. This month my concert schedule’s pretty light again, as I’m continuing to push forward with recording my new full-length (and my 6th release all together), House of Ghosts. I will be playing 4 shows (one of them tonight!) around North East Ohio, I’d love to see you at any of these!

To get additional details on any of these, head to the tour dates page on my site.


Production is moving quickly for House of Ghosts. My co-producer Eric Bertagnolli, who’s also playing drums and will be mixing the record, suggested that we get two songs to a “finished” state before tackling the rest of the record, to make sure we had the exact sound dialed in that we were looking for. I’m absolutely thrilled with how those two tracks turned out, and plan to release one of them – “A Work in Progress” – as a preview single, along with a music video, next month. I’ll almost certainly be playing that song at any of those shows listed above as well.

Thanks again for taking this journey with me, and hope you’re having a great summer!

Cheers,
Michael




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July Music News








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Hey, Friend,

Recording is in full swing!

I’ve only booked a few shows for this month, because I’m dedicating most of the time to working on recording my new full-length, House of Ghosts

There’s always a chance that I might add a few more shows to the calendar, but for the moment, I’ve just got these 2:

Thursday, July 6 – Ashtabula Harbor (Ashtabula, OH) – 7:00
Saturday, July 8 – Beerhead (Cleveland, OH) – 10:00

To get additional details on these, and to check to see if more get added later in the month, you can always head to the tour dates page on my site.

I’m co-producing House of Ghosts with Eric Bertagnolli, who mixed and mastered We Are The Architects. You might also know him as the drummer in my band (Michael McFarland & the Mess Makers) when I’m not playing solo. In addition to co-producing, Eric is playing drums on the record, and looking like a beast while doing so:


The plan is to release a preview single from the record in September, and have the full album ready to go before the end of the year. I’ll be test-driving all the new songs at the live shows until then, so if you make it to one you can expect to hear some new material.

Thanks again for taking this journey with me!

Cheers,
Michael




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June Music News






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So many shows!

June is going to be packed full of shows around the North East Ohio Area. Maybe I’ll see your face at one of these… that would make my face do this: 

To get additional details on any of these, head to the tour dates page on my site.


I’ve also gotten pre-production underway in earnest for my next record, which will be entitled “House of Ghosts.” I’ll be test-driving songs from this record at all these shows.

I’ll be co-producing this new full-length album with Eric Bertagnolli, who mixed We Are the Architects. You might also know him as the drummer from Michael McFarland & The Mess Makers. I’m hoping to have tracking complete for the album by the end of the summer, and have it released before the end of the year.

Thanks again for taking this journey with me!

Cheers,
Michael




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A Tale of Turkey & Tours



I’m full of thanks, full of turkey, and back out on the road!


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I’m full of thanks, full of turkey, and back out on the road!

This’ll be a quick one, because I think the picture above says most everything necessary. After a wonderfully gut-busting Thanksgiving in the southwest corner of Ohio, I kicked off my “We Are The Architects” tour on Saturday night at the Listing Loon in Cincinnati. If you see your town on the list, you can find all the details about the individual shows on my Facebook page – I’ve created events for most of them, and will be posting additional details as I hit each city along the way.

In case you don’t already, you can also follow my journeys on my Instagram account. If you look through the pictures there, you might also notice that I’ve got another creative iron in the fire, in the form of a tabletop game called “Pests!” which will be headed to Kickstarter early next year. If you’re into board games, you can check out the Official Pests! Site or the Pests! Facebook Page. If that’s not your cup of tea, this is the last you’ll hear of it in these e-mails!

Thanks again for joining me on my musical journey. I hope I’ll get to see a lot of old friends on this tour. If you don’t see your city on the list this time around and you’d like me to head there soon, please let me know – I’m hoping to make the southwest & west coast happen again next year, it’s been far too long.

Cheers!
Michael



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Cleveland Baseball: Time for a New Name… and Logo?

I’ve been having a little bit of a crisis of conscience lately. I am absolutely THRILLED that Cleveland’s baseball team has made it to the World Series. My 12 year old heart was broken in 1997, and to be headed back there again makes me giddy.
 
spiders_instagramHowever, I’ve been unable to wear the Chief Wahoo logo in good conscience for a long time, and while not nearly as troubling, even the team name gives me pause.
 
So, while it’s only a small gesture, I figured I might as well put my money where my mouth is. Some of you may have heard of the Cleveland Spiders – they were the major league team in Cleveland prior to the Cleveland Lake Shores, which eventually became the team we have today. Cy Young pitched for them, and they won a championship in 1895. Then in 1899, the owners bought another team and dismantled the Spiders for parts, leaving them with a decimated roster which lead to the worst record in baseball.
 
Cleveland is a city emerging out of a period that seems not unlike what happened to the Spiders. If there were ever a time to bring back the name, this is it.
 
To that end, I’ve designed this logo. I’m aware that others have come up with similar designs before. I’m not trying to make money off this. If you get me a blank red t-shirt, I’ll print you one of these for free. Send me a message and we’ll figure it out. Also, feel free to use the logo however you wish (Creative Commons license info at the bottom of this post) – here’s a PNG of the logo, click on it to get the high-res version:
cleveland-spiders-blue-logo
 
This is what I’ll be wearing – along with my Block C cap – as I cheer our team on to victory in the World Series.
 
——
This was originally posted on Facebook, and has since been shared all over, and I’ve sent shirts across the country. Here’s a look at the screen printing process:
——
 
PLEASE NOTE: I have absolutely no interest in getting in a discussion about whether the logo & team name are offensive or should be changed. If you try to engage in that discussion, your post WILL be deleted.
 
LEGAL NOTE: This logo design is available for use under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/
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How To Change The World





Hey Friend!

As usual, I’ll make this quick. Here’s what I’m excited about right now:

  1. THE BEACHLAND TONIGHT!
    For a long time, the Beachland Ballroom & Tavern in Cleveland has been one of my favorite places to see shows. Tonight, for the first time, I’ll be playing there! I’m thrilled to be sharing the stage with Star & Micey from Memphis, and my friends in Nick Wilkinson & The Featured Players. Click here for all the details.

     
  2. HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD:
    A few years ago, some filmmakers in North East Ohio asked if they could use my music in the feature-length film they were shooting, entitled “How To Change The World” – a comedy inspired by the screenwriter’s experience starting the Occupy Akron movement. As production moved along, the director asked if I’d be willing to write and record a “theme song” for the film. It’s been a long road from there to here, but the movie comes out THIS SATURDAY, and will premiere at the Nightlight Theater in Akron. You can learn more about it here:
    http://htctwmovie.com/

    And you can hear that song I wrote for the film here! https://michaelmcfarland.bandcamp.com/track/how-to-change-the-world-feat-jessica-nielsen

    Big thanks to my friend Jessica Nielsen for adding her voice to this song and making the end sound HUGE. You can expect a music video for this in the very near future, so be sure to subscribe to my youtube channel to catch that!
     

  3. CAPE MAY BOUND – THE SOLO SOCIETY RIDES AGAIN!
    For the fifth year running, I’ve been selected to showcase at the Singer-Songwriter Cape May conference & festival in Cape May, New Jersey. I’ll be heading there this weekend, along with my Solo Society partners-in-crime Kevin Conaway and Sean Benjamin.

    I’ll be playing two shows this year:
    Lucky BonesFriday @ 9:00
    Fins Bar & Grill Saturday @ 10:45

    On the way there tomorrow, we’ll be dropping by Magic 98.3 in Somerset, NJ to hang out on-air with Debbie Mazella, who recently featured me in her “On The Verge” segment: http://magic983.com/2015/11/05/debbies-verge-michael-mcfarland/  – if you’re in the area, be sure to tune in between 1:00 & 3:00!
     

  4. UNCOVERED & PERMANENTLY GEEK
    The content channel Permanently Geek that some of my incredibly talented, creative, and funny friends and I started several months back is still growing, with new shows debuting and new episodes of the existing shows going up every week. I’m particularly proud of the show Uncovered that Kevin Conaway & I host, where we compare original versions of songs & their covers. Each week just gets more fun to shoot, and I think it comes through when watching the show. Check out a playlist of all the episodes here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLtb-y8K3zI-scF7gw4Ssogmrd1JFdHedG

I think that’s all I’ve got for now. For all the day-to-day, up-to-the-minute, edge-of-your-seat happenings, be sure to like my facebook page.

Take care, hope to see you soon!
Michael

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Why I’m Moving to Cleveland

No, it’s not because of Lebron. Mostly.

photo credit: Rabesphotophoto credit: Rabesphoto

A month ago, my wife & I decided that we were moving from Asheville, North Carolina to the Near West Side of Cleveland, Ohio – specifically, to the Gordon Square neighborhood. We made our decision quickly, but not without a lot of careful thought. While it may seem trite to credit philosophical rationale to a film, at some point in my teenage years, a sidebar from Jim Jarmusch (from Akron, Ohio)’s film Ghost Dog stuck with me. Forrest Whitaker’s inner-city Samurai/Hitman quoted from the Hagakure, “A decision should be made in the space of seven breaths”.

I feel most of the important decisions in my life have been made this way. Once the necessary information has been collected, dwelling on a decision does nothing but cloud the matter at hand. Analyze your data, weigh your options, and then trust your gut.

Some background:

I grew up in North East Ohio, in the suburbs of Kent. My father was a professor at Kent State University, and we lived in a spacious house with a big back yard. Going anywhere required getting in the car – nothing was more than a few miles away, but everything was just a little bit further than seemed convenient by foot or by bicycle. Walking and biking were for recreation, not utility.

I attended Kent State University, studying Visual Communication Design. I lived on campus. My legs saw a lot of use, and it felt good. Everything was at your fingertips – food, knowledge, entertainment – but in the pre-packaged environment you can expect from a college campus.

Shortly before graduation, I purchased a house in Stow, firmly situated in the suburbs. I bought the house with a vision for what I could do with it: a recording studio and practice space in the basement, a place to build my Graphic Design business, an open and welcoming environment for my friends and my friends’ friends. I can’t count the number of people who crashed on couches and floors in that house over the six years I lived there. While the surroundings were not compelling for me (every chain store or restaurant you could imagine within a few minutes drive!), what occurred within those walls was an end unto itself.

In the summer of 2010, I was shattered by the collapse of my engagement to a woman who had also grown up in the Kent area. Suddenly, everything I saw on a daily basis was soured by memories of that relationship – when your entire life has been lived, for the most part, within a 5-mile radius, it’s hard to escape the daily reminders of how things didn’t go according to plan. I began to plot my escape.

In September of 2011, I relocated to Asheville, North Carolina. From the start, I viewed Asheville as less of a destination and more of a waypoint – I said, “I’ll give it a year, and see how things go. If I’m not happy, I’ll move on.” I knew that if I was able to survive the move away from Ohio, the world would then be my oyster.

Asheville’s a beautiful, seductive place, laden with gorgeous scenery, great food, plentiful microbreweries, and not a chain store to be seen downtown.

After one year, I had no desire to leave. It was a great home base for touring – I covered most of the US on tour in 2012.

Another year, and I married my wife Beth on top of Mt. Pisgah.

Six months later, I knew it was time to move on.

I can’t point to one single event, just a series of loosely connected realizations that accumulated into the sense that my time in Asheville was drawing to a close.

Beth & I set our sites on Austin, TX. It had long been on both of our lists of places we’d love to live. We planned a trip for mid July to scout out the city, both of us operating on the assumption that we’d be moving there within the next 8 months.

We had a great time on that trip, but Austin just didn’t feel right. I was physically unable to deal with the Texas heat, and housing costs were stomach-churningly high for us. Sitting in a gelato shop in North Austin, we discussed our options.

“We could always backpedal and stay in Asheville for a while longer,” I said. “Or… and this might sound crazy… but what about Cleveland?”

It was just the previous day that Lebron James had announced that he would be returning to Cleveland to play for the Cavs, so there’s no way I can completely discount the effect his Decision (capital D) had in this question – someone who could literally choose anywhere in the country to call home, chose this city. But far more than Lebron, credit is due to Jack, Jeremy and Paul.

These are my friends who for the last several years have been singing Cleveland’s praises; sharing every positive article published about the city, mentioning every great new restaurant, every resurgent neighborhood, every new downtown development. These were the Cleveland evangelists populating my Facebook feeds with the idea: Cleveland is the next big thing.

Any of the “cool” cities on our list – Austin, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco – were already well out of our price range as places to plant our flag. That’s because people believed in those cities, and put down roots before the cities were “cool”. They contributed their energy, their talent, their enthusiasm to their neighborhoods and their cities. They were what made the city flourish, and what eventually made the city “cool”.

This is why Beth & I made the decision that we want to be part of something that’s in process of happening, not something that has already happened.

IS9lq7f7tzstxl1000000000Our second day visiting Cleveland, we put in an offer on a 3-story Victorian house, one block off Detroit Avenue. Our offer was accepted the same day. If all goes to plan and there are no unexpected issues in closing on the house we will be relocating at the end of September.

In the 1940s the house was converted into a men’s boarding house, and hasn’t been updated since. It has random sinks and stoves scattered throughout. It’s going to take energy, vision, and hard work to make it into our dream house, but we’re willing to put in the effort.

Cleveland is going to take energy, vision, and hard work.

We’re willing to put in the effort.

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Christmas iPhone Ad: A Socially Anxious Extrovert’s Perspective

Earlier today, my good friend Brian Otte shared Apple’s new iPhone Christmas ad, entitled “Misunderstood.”

The ad depicts a family Christmas gathering. In each scene we see a teenage boy focused on his phone, seemingly withdrawn from the activities going on around him. In the final scene of the commercial, he gathers the family together and shares the video he’d be secretly shooting throughout the day, on his phone.

Brian shared the video with the comment, “I really don’t know how I feel about the sentiment here. On the one hand it demonstrates that technology can be used to capture moments instead of avoid them, but on the other hand I feel like too often we are concerned with capturing moments instead of participating in them.”

In the discussion that followed, an NPR article about the same ad was shared, which discussed those same two interpretations of the ad – the one which (negatively) feels that it’s saying our phones should be infused into every aspect of our lives, and the other which (positively) feels the ad is pointing out that a seemingly-disconnected teenager may in fact be engaged in the events around him or her.

I have a feeling that the two basic reactions stem from two different general views of technology, and what effect it has on children, or people in general. For those who feel that technology can enrich our lives, and can help those who have difficulty connecting find a way to reach out to others, it does a wonderful job of pointing out that the kid who spends his time on his phone might not be shutting out what’s happening around him, but connecting in his own way. It’s not just about capturing moments as opposed to participating; creating something that can be experienced by others IS participating.

For those who believe that technology separates us from one another, the reaction is opposite. What I think those people forget is the kids that sit around on their phones, but are still with family, without those phones would either be looking miserable and saying nothing, or have gone off by themselves. Remember how parents used to complain that kids were always off in their rooms talking on the phone? Well, they’re not in their rooms anymore, and they’re not tying up the phone lines.

I fall squarely into the first group. I’m an extrovert with social anxiety – I crave human interaction, but am terrified of making first contact with strangers, or even those I don’t know well (and that includes extended family). Sharing things that I’d created – much like the kid in this video – was a way for me to break through that initial awkwardness and jumpstart interactions with people.

That’s one of the big reasons I’m a musician. Getting on stage and playing my songs is a way to connect with people I’d be otherwise terrified to go up and speak to.

Happy holidays, everyone… however you choose to participate in them!

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