A Little History of Winterwind Music
by Joseph Avery-North
At the age of 10, I decided I was an artist and started writing short stories, plays and lyrics. Like pretty much all kids in public school I played the recorder and in Grade 7 I started playing the flute in my junior high school’s concert band. Then, for my 13th birthday in Grade 8, my grandparents bought me my first guitar and I began composing music for those lyrics. When I entered high school the following year I played the flute in the concert band and guitar in the jazz band.
Through my teenage years and into my mid-20s I probably sang and played an average of ten hours a day, seven days a week. I was always playing. In high school I’d skip classes to play. I considered myself a songwriter first, a musician second and a singer third. I was good and getting better and there were enough flashes of brilliance to allow me to earn a living for a few years. I formed a band or two here and there, managed some achieve some local recognition (being featured in a local magazine and doing a radio interview) but then life took me on a different path for a while.
I made a living as a performing singer/songwriter in the early/mid-90s then got out of music then did it again in the mid-2000s then got out of it again. And then the landscape changed… and I changed too.
Along came the internet, meaning you can do everything from your living room if you want to. And the slog of gigging in bars, which never held much appeal to me, just seems to be not worth it now…
You pack up all your gear, load it up, get yourself (and/or your band) to the venue, set up your gear, do your sound checks, play your sets, keep a wary eye on your gear during breaks so it isn’t damaged by a clumsy drunk or stolen by some PoS, then collect your money, which seems to be less today than it was 20 years ago, then, pack up your gear, load it up, get it home, unload it… bah! That slog just isn’t my thing anymore. When I was younger, I enjoyed the social aspect, enjoyed meeting and interacting with people and yes, when I was young and single I enjoyed the attention from the ladies. But now, I’m older, happily married and besides, I was always more interested in writing and recording than performing.
I’ve written close to 200 songs in my life. I always wrote down the lyrics but only wrote down the chords about half of the time so, ha, silly me, I’ve lost a lot over the years. I remember the vocal melodies but don’t remember all the chords. I’ll remember the verse or chorus or sometimes even the bridge but not all of the above. Kind of pissed about that actually. Some of it’s recorded, some isn’t. Oh well. I used to have my lyrics and a few MP3 rough drafts on the site but I’ve taken them down now (see point #3 below).
I’ve got some snippets of advice for any musicians that may read this:
1) Always write it down – Words and music.
2) Learn to do your own basic setups – Action, intonation and relief. It’s easy.
3) Copyright your material – In this day and age, with a global reach via the internet (instead of just word of mouth and posters stapled to phone poles like when I started out) with people on YouTube posting an original song, having some pathetic asshat steal it, post it as their own then slap the actual composer with an infringement claim… yeah, take the time to register the copyright before posting it online.
4) Never pick the relationship, always pick the music – I’m not the only one that’s made this mistake and I’m not the only one that regrets it but both times I got out of music it was because I was chasing the domestic dream and both times I was getting somewhere and let it go… Guess what? Those relationships didn’t last and I’m still a musician so both times I set myself back and had to start over. You only get one life, you’re only young once. Don’t try to change yourself for someone, don’t let them try to change you. Be you, believe in yourself and always put your passion before a pretty face. My wife accepts and appreciates that I’m a musician. It’s part of what she loves about me. Shame we didn’t meet 20 years ago when I made the mistake the first time.
This meandering musing was originally posted on the old Winterwind Productions site in January, 2019, prior to our switch to WordPress in 2020.