Inside Independent

Welcome to my blog "Inside Independent" . This is like my public journal of life lessons and my journey through music, wherever thats going...  
Newer entries at the top, scroll to the bottom to start from the the first entry and get some backstory if you're into that kind of thing. There is a comments section for each entry, feel free to share your experiences, too! we're all friends here. 


TIR Grand Finale and our live album recording at the Keynote Cafe! (Entry 17 - 6/20/19) 

It’s drawing near. In a matter of days I’ll take the stage at the Keynote Cafe for the last time. I’ve already talked in other entries about the memories and how much the Keynote means to me. This time around it’s all about our one last blowout. A live DVD recording of my best friends and I playing one last set at the venue that started it all for us. 

This one is special. It will be a memory that we (meaning us AND you) can keep forever. I made sure to include some of Jeannette’s favorites in the bill. We have Steve Hawk, Sourloon, Inbound, and Louie Castle and the Rooks rocking the house with us that night. A powerhouse lineup to celebrate what the Keynote has done for our community. 

Then to round out the night, + The Band and I will take to the stage in front of you and 5 cameras and put on our biggest, best show yet. We’ll be playing a few covers for our sound check, a lot of our originals you know, and a handful of new songs. PLUS a few tunes from the Villa Manor days. We’re going to say farewell the right way and go out with a bang, and we want you to be a part of it. As always with the keynote, there’s free pizza and BYOB for $10 admission, and this time there’s a chance to be on a DVD! 

Normally I’d be super excited... But this time we’re saying goodbye to the Keynote.... it’s like when you’re only friend in elementary school moves to Arkansas... 

We love you Jill, see ya on the 28th, thank you for everything. 

-Brad Abbott-

Turn on the TV! (Entry 16 - 6/13/19) 

I would have never thought someone would let me be on TV! 

Last night, I had the opportunity to be on a program called “Music Talks with Chelsea Ritenour”.  I took Josh along for the ride and we talked about our origins and such before we played for the audience and the cameras. 

It was an experience like no other. To start, Chelsea is an awesome host who makes you feel comfortable throughout the whole thing. You can tell that she puts effort into Music Talks simply by the questions she asks. It’s obvious that she has looked into you as a musician more than just booking you for an interview. She knows what you released and has a good idea of what you’re all about. She cares, And it’s incredibly refreshing. 

The team that she works with is awesome as well. Rick kept everything running smooth and was super friendly and easy to work with. I haven’t seen or heard the episode yet but I’m confident he made us look and sound good!  

Now onto the venue, The Cobblestone Hotel. This place lets us be loud and proud, has a view over the river, AND they allow pets! You know I’m a dog lover, so having 2 chihuahuas in the crowd was fine by me!  

I will certainly remember this for the rest of my life. What Chelsea and Armstrong Cable are doing for local music and our communities is incredible, and I feel privileged to have been a part of it.  

MUSICIANS! Comment below if you’re making an appearance on Music Talks or if you already have. I’ll check it out! 

Your friend 

Brad Abbott.

When One Door Closes... (Entry 15 - 6/10/19) 

I get a lot of enjoyment out of hosting The Independent Revolution. I love interacting with the crowd and interviewing the musicians, and I love formulating awesome shows with the talent Western PA graces us with.  

With The Keynote Cafe closing its doors at the end of June, The Independent Revolution comes to an end after our Grand Finale on June 28th (event link below, I'll write more about this show in another entry). Jill lit a fire in our musical community that will burn bright for years to come, and I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunities she has given me as a musician.  

Wanting to continue my involvement with local music, I reached out to a few people that stood out to me. With the help of my bassist Josh, I was introduced to an amazing local business and venue. A vineyard that will take your breath away. The owner and I got in touch with each other and talked about how exciting our local music scene is, and he loves it as much as I do. That is why I am pleased to announce that on the first and third Wednesday of every month, I will be hosting an all ages Open Mic night at Bella Terra Vineyards!  

Bella Terra Vineyards has had many from our local scene perform already, with two outdoor stages complete with beautiful scenery. They wanted to allow even more artists the opportunity to perform at this beautiful space, and decided an open mic would be the perfect way to make that happen.  

Bella Terra Vineyards is in Hunker, PA, right by New Stanton. Wednesday night also happens to be their “Wine and Pizza Night”, where you can sample their amazing variety of wine and feast on giant $2 slices of pizza.  

We had our debut night  on June 5th. The room was packed full of enthusiastic people sipping their wine, waiting to cheer on each artist that took the mic. It was an overwhelming success with a full sign up sheet and wonderful atmosphere.  The creative juices were certainly flowing, with musicians playing whatever they desired, beautifully carefree.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is an honor to work with Bella Terra Vineyards and our local musicians In putting together an awesome open mic night that I hope we can cherish for years to come. The next one is June 19th! Come sign up and take the mic, or sit back and enjoy the wine & music. I hope to see you there!  

Bella Terra Vineyards  

121 Sunny Lane, Hunker PA, 15639  

Event links:  
The Independent Revolution Grand Finale & Brad Abbott + The Band Live Album Recording @ The Keynote Cafe- https://www.facebook.com/events/2283459035308996/  

Open Mic Night at Bella Terra Vineyards - https://www.facebook.com/events/2361115680878553/

The Amazing Millvale Music Festival (Entry 14 --- 5/15/19) 

So you’ve heard of the Millvale Music Festival, right? 

It’s an amazing event that’s been happening for the last 3 years in a small town on the outskirts of Pittsburgh. This year I had the opportunity to play there, and I was amazed by every facet of this festival. 

I’ll start with one simple but amazing fact. 20 stages, 200 acts. WHAT? That’s incredible! I was playing at Double L Bar, but I had friends playing all over! Erick Williams was hosting the comedy stage, Steve Hawk rocked Bar 3, and my friends in Private I got loud at Double L Bar later in the night. And that only touches on 3 of the 20 stages. This festival is insane. 

Let’s talk about Double L for a second. Not only was it filled with people ready to hear music they never have, the staff was super friendly and you could tell they loved the festival and hearing the musicians. Plus their drink selection was on point! 

Millvale Music Festival was so well put together. Every person you ran into was having a good time, musicians, spectators, and vendors alike. 

I wanted to write this up as a thank you to everyone involved in Millvale Music Festival. It’s a magical thing for local music. Thank you to everyone who came out to hear us share our passion with you, thank you to every venue that welcomed us musicians and our friends, and thank you to the hosts and organizers. I hope to rock Millvale many more times in my lifetime. I had a truly amazing time.

See you soon! 

-Brad Abbott-

Gotcha Day! (Entry 13 --- 4/18/19) 

Gotcha Day! 

Tuesday (April 16th) was our dog Ryder’s “Gotcha Day” and because we’re cheesy “fur parents” we celebrate stuff like this.In honor of Ryder’s Gotcha Day, I wanted to share a few pictures and a story you animal lovers will enjoy. Lets start with a current picture:

Back when I was in kindergarten I got my first dog. A border collie that we named Cocoa. Putting up with young me tormenting her all the time couldn’t have been easy, but she took it all in stride. She lived a long, healthy life, passing away just prior to my graduation. She was an incredible dog that the whole family loved, so we all decided that our next dog had to be a border collie as well. We ended up getting two more within 3 years time, Annabelle and Brooklyn. Both of which are still full of energy today, even though my grandfather feeds them way too much. 

When Melanie and I were getting things situated to move in to our new home, one of the things I was most excited about was adding a new pup to the family. Within a few weeks of our closing date, Melanie got a call from her aunt stating that a friend of hers had Pomeranian Chihuahua puppies that were looking for good homes. They were adorable so naturally, we snagged one. 
Her name is Charlotte and she is amazingly sweet. 

While she is perfect and everything you could want in a dog, we felt that she needed a pal, and I needed a bigger, high energy maniac to throw a ball and annoy the neighbors with. At first I was open to trying another breed, and we went to a few shelters and met a dog that we really liked. Filled out all the paperwork and had a pick up date set, but when we went to pick up, they informed us someone on their board of directors decided to take him.... At the time I wasn’t too happy about that, i bought all this dog food and big dog toys and was all excited to bring him home, but I’ve always been a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. 

After my grandparents heard this story my they decided to call the farm that we got Brooklyn from and ended up leaving them a message. About a month goes by and we get a call…. They have puppies! Amazingly cute, pure border collie puppies! We wasted no time going up there to take our pick! The original plan was to get a female because all my life, I’ve had sweet, loving female border collies. When we got there, all the Females were already spoken for… But there was this one little guy who took an immediate liking to me. Melanie was playing with the litter yelling things like “Oh my god look at this one!” but I already knew which one we were taking home. I could not have made a better decision. 

The whole car ride home he was on my lap shaking, not having a clue what was going on. He didn’t care to look out the window or socialize with anyone else, he just wanted me to keep him safe. Ever since that day, his favorite place to be is on my lap. 

So we celebrated Gotcha day with bones, play sessions, and lots of cuddles! Maybe a few extra treats. He may be “just a dog” But I feel as though he appreciated it. I love my little buddy! 

Here’s to many more Gotcha Days with my best pal. Go pet your puppers!
 

Happy Endings, even if they make us sad.( Entry 12 --- 4/14/19) 

Every story has an end, but it’s something truly special when the ending is as beautiful as the legacy left. 

Where do you start when saying goodbye to a place that has meant so much to so many? 
Yesterday, Jill made the announcement that Keynote Cafe, our beloved musical home has reached the end of its run. Without Jill and The Keynote, I wouldn’t be the person I am today, so I wanted to write this up as a thank you to her, The Keynote, and the community it inspired. 

Years ago when I was in high school I was introduced to The Keynote and given the chance to perform. That lit a fire in me that I had never felt before. Soon I would live for sitting in the basement behind my guitar with a notepad, writing new songs for my next performance at The Keynote Cafe. I started out solo, just me and the guitar, but later I’d form and join a few different bands. I wanted to do anything that involved music. It had become the foremost part of my personality. 

The Keynote Cafe led me to recording and publishing work with 3 separate acts , promoting shows in 2015 and hosting my own series in 2019, The Independent Revolution. The Keynote has inspired big dreams, not only in me, but in countless musicians around the area. What a beautiful thing you’ve done here, Jill. 

As we look toward the future, the Keynote Cafe will be in our hearts and the memories made there will be held dear to each and every one of us. As for me, I hope to continue The Independent Revolution at a new home and play at as many places as I can, and i can trace every bit of that desire back to The Keynote. Thanks for making our dreams into our realties, Jill. Congratulations for everything you accomplished in our community, you have touched thousands of artists and the beauty of your work will never be forgotten. 

Your friend: 
-Brad Abbott-

A Stellar Weekend. (Entry 11 --- 4/09/19) 

We all need to work. We all need to have fun. Luckily, Friday always comes and the fun is free to begin. This past weekend is exactly what I give up 40+ hours of my life for Monday through Friday. 

As a musician, I love playing for people. 
As a car & driving enthusiast, I love a road trip with plenty of opportunities for me to drive like an asshole. This weekend I had the chance to combine the two and headed out to Bar None in Uniontown, PA. 

IT’S AWESOME! The stage is sick, the lighting is cool, and the crowd is is active. It’s everything you want when you picture a bar that has music. WIRELESS MICROPHONES! Holy shit, I love wireless microphones! 

So anyway, The show was spectacular, as to be expected when you share the stage with the level of talent that was on this bill, including our old friend Steve hawk, The Badlands River Band, and Tom O’Donnell. It made for a nice, acoustic driven evening with 4 completely different styles of music. 

And the drive. The drive there was almost as satisfying as the show itself. We took the back way with a mix of country roads and some highway. The views were breathtaking with mountains lining the skyline in parts. We even got to see a windmill farm topping the mountains close to Bar None. The vibes were perfect walking in to Bar None, and they stayed that way all the way up until Monday Morning. That’s what it’s all about. What a perfect weekend. 

Go have some fun 

-Brad Abbott-

The Independent Revolution (Entry 10 --- 2/20/2019) 

Call me a hipster, but I love hearing about things before they are “cool”.  Not because I want to beat someone to the next trend, but because I love an underdog. As independent musicians, we are all underdogs in a way. We work around not having a record labels marketing budget by blowing up our friends facebook feeds with events, new music, and announcements. Often times it falls on deaf ears. Its not that people don’t respect the work we’re putting in… It’s just not their thing. For one reasons or another, local music doesn’t get the time of day that a song getting played on the radio would. So I’ve decided to try and change that. 

I have a point that I want to really drive home with this entry before I dive into the topic, and that is that you owe it to yourself to open your ears and hearts to the locals. For ten years I’ve been seeing artists from my hometown that can easily rival acts on the national stage, and I want you to see them, too. So here’s what we’re going to do. 

The 4th Friday of Every month, I will be hosting a series called “The Independent Revolution” at Keynote Cafe (227 south fourth street, Jeannette PA. 15644). These events will feature interviews and 30 minute sets from local artists on the rise. My mission with these shows is to get everyone ore involved. That’s why we ask each artist a few questions about themselves and their musical journeys. We want you to get to know and love them like we do. Another cool thing about these shows is that they are an affordable night out! There’s a $10 dollar door charge, but everything else is covered! All you can eat pizza, beverages, and adults are even allowed to bring their own bottle of whatever they choose to sip on! 

When you combine the passion of these local musicians to the relaxing artistic vibe of Keynote Cafe, you get a complete picture of what it means to be a part of a not only thriving, but blossoming local music scene that is second to none. I will not rest until i show everyone! 

If you would like to see show dates for “The Independent Revolution” series and more, head over here: https://bradabbottmusic.com/shows

Thank you for reading, I’ll talk to you soon! 

Your friend,Brad Abbott

Things I do that don’t involved music (Entry 9 — 2/7/2019) 

So I’m a musician (shocker). 

And while I love music with everything I’ve got, i have countless other things I’m passionate about. Today, I wanted to share some of the things that make me who I am, none of which have anything to do with music. 

I grew up as an only child. So when I went into school I wasn’t super comfortable with socializing and making friends. So I skipped that part until like 6th grade when I finally got a real friend (what’s up Ray?!) 

As a kid, you need to entertain yourself. Without any friends or siblings I was on my own. So my kickass mom hooked me up with an original PlayStation at an early age. Once I played all of the games that came on the demo disc (which took like an hour) I was hooked. I loved it so much. I especially loved Lara Croft, whom I met at the Area 51 stage of Tomb Raider 3 that came on that demo disc. So that was my first video game. I didn’t play through the story line, just walked around Lara’s home and somehow enjoyed it. As I got older and started understanding how to actually play games, I got even more into them. I wanted to play everything! Especially racing games. My first one was Rage Racer. You could change the color of your cars, buy new ones… that game was the shit! The coolest thing about it was I wasn’t one of the shielded kids. Game rating did not matter at all. I was one of the few kids in elementary school talking about Grand Theft Auto Vice City. By the time I was in Ten, I had a rather impressive stack of gams for PS1 and PS2, and I played most of them! When I was in Third grade, the home my mother and I lived in burned, wiping out the entire game collection we had built (Probably around 60 games). 
Of course there were new games to be had now, so most of what was lost in the fire I didn’t get back. All of my favorites for PS1 were a thing of the past. 

So when I got older and got my own job, I started collecting. Everything from Atari up through the modern systems. My absolute favorite part of collecting is flea marketing. Even though my interest lies in Video games, I get a lot of enjoyment out of seeing the antiques and the countless other items you find. I even got a baby guitar at one once! Flea Markets are an adventure all by themselves, and one of the only places you can find games dating back to the atari era, and those games are crucial to have in any collection. The ones that started it all. Pong, Pac Man, Galaga… They had no idea they were creating a powerhouse of an industry. 

But I didn’t just nerd out with a controller in my hands for my entire childhood. I also loved riding my bike. There was a skatepark right by where I grew up, complete with rails, dirt jumps and quarter pipes. I would have a blast beating the shit out of myself at that place. I once took a set of ha`ndlebars right to the no-no zone after some showboating... Fond memories. Eventually I grew out of getting hurt all the time because I wasn’t so good at the whole “Freestyle BMX” thing… But I still had the desire to get dirty and sore through the air… So I picked up mountain biking. I started to get heavy into about 3 years ago and I’m head over heels in love with the sport. You’re riding on narrow singletracks that have rocks, roots, and drops, so you have to be ready for anything. You’re whipping around trees and tight turns, hopping over obstacles, and getting a damn good workout while having a ton of fun. I’m at the point now where I can’t picture my life without the bike… Much like the guitar. 

I’ve actually learned something about myself while writing this. That is that everything I enjoy has an element of adventure to it. Even music. One of the things I find most appealing about being a musician is the fact that I could possibly tour one day, seeing places I haven't before.  Tonight’s adventure will take the band and I into the winter wonderland that is Pittsburgh for a show at The Glitterbox Theater. Maybe I’ll see a few of you there! 

Till next time, your friend 
Brad Abbott 

Written 2/1/19

The Songwriting Process (Entry 8 --- 1/26/2019) 

I love to sit down on a Saturday morning. No one else is awake in the house. Just me, my coffee and my guitar.  This is the beginning of my creative process. This is the reason i work for the weekend. Being able to wake up with a clear mind knowing the only thing on my to do list today is be creative. 

Everyone’s song writing process is different and lately I’ve seen this topic come up quite a bit in some of the songwriting groups I’m involved in around the web. What comes first, lyric or melody? Where do you start? How do you get inspiration? The topics on the songwriting process are nearly endless. The short answer is it’s different for every one of us, and there is no correct way to do it. What I can tell you is what has worked for me and what I find most enjoyable, so let’s go back to Saturday morning. 

I usually start with the acoustic guitar. I’ll play around for a bit and eventually I’ll hit a chord that I like the sound of. I’ll play with it and find what chords work alongside it. Having laid all that down, the chord progression has a sort of mood about itself. Is it sad or happy? Chill or anxious? This dictates how the rest of the song will play out. The most evident effect this has is on the lyrics of the song. A lot of times a chord progression will give me an idea of a topic and I’ll run with it and start writing words down. It also can affect what instruments will be used and how the song will be arranged, rather it will have a repeating chorus, a bridge, or a solo of some sort. All of that, in my case, usually starts at the acoustic guitar. But not always… 

Other times I will get inspiration from personal experiences, or a line or melody will pop into my head, giving me something to run with. These are the exception to the norm though. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I stop what I’m doing and i sit down and write whatever comes to mind. One example of that is “Living for the Moment” from my debut EP, “Memories”. It is easily one of the most personal songs I’ve ever written, and I attribute that largely to the way that song started. The lyrics just flowed onto the tablet with no music behind them at all, and that stemmed from my wife and I looking back on what got us to the point we were. That song is also what sparked the title of Memories EP. 

One thing I find very handy is the voice memo app on my phone. Rather its with the guitar or vocal melodies, I can just keep playing around and recording lines. If i come up with something I like I focus in on that, record a basic skeleton of the song and play it back as many times as I need and just sit and write lyrics that come to mind as the music plays. 

For me it’s very rare to finish a song in one sit down. Most of them change shape a few times before they are in their final form. Even then there’s no guarantee I won’t make changes. I usually have a couple in my back pocket waiting for something to strike me that’s just right for the song. Sometimes its just comes right out, others it takes months. 

Then the inevitable happens. Every so often you just dry up. There is not an ounce of creativity to be found anywhere in your body. It’s a lot like writers block. When that happens i step away from the pen and pad for a bit while I wait for the creative dark cloud to pass over. I see a lot of artists talk about these ruts and some seem to struggle with cutting them short. I’ve found the best way for me is to not try to write. I’ll do anything else music related like play shows and practice my existing material, but I won’t break out the notepad and consciously try to create something. At that point it feels forced and ruins the vibe of my creative process, making for an end result that I likely won’t feel to great about… So I wait… Until finally,  out of the blue an idea will come to mind. Magically the creative dark cloud passes and everything is back to normal again. It’s funny how it works. No one quite knows why it happens, but it does. It’s like the creative part of the soul gets tired… But it never dies. I’m eternally grateful for that. 

The songwriting process is something I cherish, and its different for everyone, but the goal should always remain the same. Let it out! The love, the rage… Let it flow through you and become something that is truly your own. Something beautiful. Its magic. Embrace it. 

Until next time, stay in tune. 

Your friend, Brad Abbott.

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