Guided by Bob Pollard

June is the season I was introduced to Guided by Voices. In my mind, they are really more of a live band, with Bob Pollard doing karate kicks, swinging the mic around in one hand and a bottle of Budweiser in the other. I first saw GBV play at Irving Plaza in New York City when I was 19, right around my birthday, June 20th. I never heard of them, but went because my friend dragged me out. I was blown away. Tobin Sprout was still playing guitar, right before Alien Lanes came out. The song that captures me was Over The Neptune/Mesh Gear Fox. I remember the feeling of melting into the crowd when he says “and if you do, I’ll come back and marry you.” After that I was hooked.

Within a week, I bought the Vampire on Titus / Propeller dual album. Then I digested the Lo-fi sound, which was a characteristic that somehow highlighted the emotional sensitivity of Bob’s songwriting. Making it accessible and relatable to the Tascam Porta One cassette 4-track I started out recording with.

I would also spend my 21st birthday seeing them at the Trocadero in Philly. Actually a couple days before, which kept me from drinking at the bar. So my friend and I chugged some 40’s of St. Ides in the alley before the show.

Summer was the season that I realized my dream to rock on stage and expose myself in my recordings, more like a diary than an album. I am 45 this year and so grateful Robert Pollard & Guided By Voices have been in my life.

Guided by Voices in performance. Photo: Gretchen Robinette.

Making music is such a massive part of who I am. In a way, it is my religion, and performing on stage is a spiritual experience. I always thought it was because my father was a musician and it might have been a way to relate because he was often not around. I wanted a language we could both communicate in. But in this moment I realize it was Bob, with the same name as my father, that guided me to the life of songwriting and performing that I cultivated.

This is the season I dust off the GBV catalog (now in my iTunes… always wanted the original box set on vinyl) and celebrate over 25 years of rocking out with this influential band. The club is fucking open.

Guided by Voices at the Social. Photo: Jen Cray.

Lenese Calleea: Black N Fashion • Podcast Review

This installment of The Industry Is Watching podcast features Lenese Colleea, a fashion designer that is sharp with her words and on point with her perspective. Her quick wit is apparent as she decodes the fashion business. Both charming and ambitious, Lenese is a formidable visionary that has overcome many obstacles to get where she is. She is making moves and shows no signs of slowing down.

This has been a life-long pursuit for her. Lenese lovingly credits her grandmother with getting her started, teaching her to sew at the age of seven. Although, she had to prove to her Granny that she was committed. She had to sew a straight line on paper before she could advance to cloth. As a teenager, Lenese ran a lucrative pillow making business with personalized details such as hand-stitched lettering. Her work ethic sets a shining example of what you can accomplish with determination.

Fashion Entrepreneur Lenese Calleea created the blueprint on how to get into the fashion industry. From concept to product, Lenese offers education, empowerment and fashion consulting classes on how to bring your fashion dreams to life.

Lenese offers a variety of opportunities to young designers looking to break in the business. She established The Black Girlz Designer Club, a non profit organization dedicated to providing mentorship, scholarships, and an array of creative resources to Black youth with a passion for fashion. She is even the host of her own podcast. The BlackNFashion podcast is a forum dedicated to the education and development of Blacks in fashion, from the novice to the professional.

Her excellent sense of humor ignites the non-stop dialog between Lenese and Champ, the host of The Industry is Watching podcast. Their chemistry seems to spark immediately and continues throughout the conversation. This interview is exceptionally entertaining, as well as an informative peak behind the curtain, into the world of fashion.

Be sure to catch Lenese Calleea on this exciting episode of The Industry is Watching podcast. You can listen regularly on iTunesSpotify or Soundcloud. Discover if you are an Insider, an Underdog or fall somewhere in between. Because like Champ says, you are only one contact, one call, or one post away from making it happen. Follow Champ on Instagram @champmedia.

Self-Discipline • Daily Thoughts

Advocate for your own well-being. We can train ourselves to be kinder. We are able to program ourselves for success. It may sound like hard work, but that is our mind talking. Our spirit will be thanking us. There is a resistance to change that occurs at first, but after a few days or weeks, we adapt. It’s an amazing human trait.

The first and best victory is to conquer self. – Plato

Once we get in the habit of putting challenges in front of us, the better we can deal with ones that are not by choice. It is this practice that gives us the confidence we need to acquire the ability to achieve. We provide evidence to our subconscious that is difficult for our minds to deny. These are baby steps to big change. Begin with making your bed in the morning, doing the dishes after meals, then you will be teaching yourself things beyond your wildest imagination. Imagine the possibilities.

Together We Stand • Daily Thoughts

( June 2nd, 2020 ) Peace, Love and Unity. Some might say that is idealistic. Others would argue that someone is to blame for our division. The distinction of subtle differences has often been amplified to create a separation between individuals that are more alike than not. We require oxygen to breath. We laugh when we find something amusing. We hold loved ones close when we are affectionate or need comfort when we are sad. All very human traits. Then why do people find it so difficult to unify humanity for a common good?

There is no Us and Them, there is only We. And we are part of a greater whole, which must function as one in order to thrive.

In many ways our society has advanced, but so much remains the same as it has for centuries. Is it in our nature to always be so conflicted? Maybe we are really at odds with ourselves, and project that internal struggle onto others. The more I consider our current situation, I believe healing must begin with a willingness to listen. When we feel that we have been heard and a genuine effort to understand us has been made, mutual consideration can occur, perspectives can change. However, that process can not be accomplished alone.

It is possible to make morality a priority and encourage compassion for every human being. But there are corporations that capitalize on oppression. There are powerful establishments that stimulate confusion for their own gain. Our government has intentionally divided us to make our population more manageable. There is no question that we must work together, as a civil society, to progress past these obstacles. There is no Us and Them, there is only We. And we are part of a greater whole, which must function as one in order to thrive.

When we seek to understand someone else, we can gain a better understanding of ourself. Our diverse culture is filled with so many lovely individuals, all deserving of being treated fairly, no matter who we are or where we come from. Kindness must become a priority. The people of this world are more powerful than its governing bodies. Our numbers are vast. Imagine what we could accomplish if we knew what we really wanted. Because there has to be more that we desire than just an absence of pain. Perhaps we can solve that mystery together, once we begin to heal the suffering that has been endured entirely too long.

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Questions And Answers • Daily Thoughts

( May, 29th, 2020 ) When something upsetting happens, you may ask the question… Why? The questions we ask are not always for the answers we seek. When something happens to someone else, we know it’s the way of the world, yet they may still be angry. There are horrible things that happen that we have no control over preventing or fixing. It can make us feel powerless.

Finding peace within can help us find a peaceful solution, that we could not see in a state of anger. Once your spirit is balanced, you can effect positive change.

Have faith that your question will be answered. It may not come immediately, but a realization will present itself. Then a constructive action can be applied. Be kind to yourself and things will fall into place.

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Doing Nothing Is Really Something • Daily Thoughts

( May 28th, 2020 ) If you refuse to choose, it is still a choice. That doesn’t necessary mean it is a failure to act. Doing nothing can be an effective way to focus your intention. Sometimes, a hard reset to reassess the situation can lend perspective. A tactful technique to step away from a conversation is excusing yourself to use the bathroom. Try it out next time your conversation is going nowhere fast.

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Ryan Robertson: The Humble Insider • Podcast Review

This episode of The Industry Is Watching podcast features Ryan Robertson, a marketing giant that has built some of the biggest brands. He is currently Innovation Director and Head of Multicultural Marketing at Diagio. He manages campaigns for brands such as Ketle One, Crown Royal and Ciroq. He identifies, activates and engages between the brand and consumer. Ryan’s unique perspective is invaluable to fulfilling his clients’ needs.

With all his gems of wisdom, it is clear why Champ, host of The Industry is Watching podcast, calls Ryan a humble insider. In each edition, Champ will ask the guest “Are you an Insider or an Underdog?” Ryan doesn’t put himself on a pedestal, but gives a no-nonsense account of how he views himself. He radiates confidence and an insightful awareness of his profession without ego. An easily likable personality.

They go through his many accolades, which includes being selected for Ad Age‘s prestigious 40 under 40 shaping marketing media. Champ and Ryan’s conversation flows like a couple of old friends catching up. It’s a breath of fresh air to get strait to the heart of the matter. If you work in advertising or marketing, there are a lot of insiders that offer steam versus substance. Ryan offers his expertise with grace. Follow him on Instagram @realryanrob.

Be sure to catch Ryan Robertson on this captivating addition to The Industry is Watching podcast. You can listen regularly on iTunes, Spotify or Soundcloud. Discover if you are an Insider, an Underdog or fall somewhere in between. Because like Champ says, you are only one contact, one call, or one post away from making it happen. Follow Champ on Instagram @champmedia.

Structure • Daily Thoughts

( May 27th, 2020 ) – Today I started a new ritual. I will be going live every day at noon to share what’s going on with me and some meditations on current events. It will be a practice that will keep me focused as a part of my schedule. I also began rehearsing my songs every day at the same time to build up my finger strength and get my voice back in shape.

In this video I discuss how anxiety can keep you from moving forward. It has kept me from completing tasks I am very capable of doing. Structuring my day helps me move forward without wondering what to do next. Habits can be a good thing, especially if it is beneficial to your well being.

Some advice on mindfulness… try being with yourself for a moment of silence, in the moment, letting thoughts drift without holding on to them. Listen to the fan or your breathing. Then go back to your day.

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Reading “A Light in the Attic” brings back memories

Not only is Shel Silverstein one of the most beloved children’s authors, he also illustrates his books. He writes wonderful poems sparking imagination and comical drawings that are entertaining for both young and old.

When I was little, I was given “A Light In The Attic” as a Christmas present. His poetry made me giggle. The drawings are so silly. It’s the combination of the two that really brings me back to a simpler time. So, I decided to read a few poems aloud from the very book I received all those years ago.

Perhaps your parents or kindergarten teacher read you children’s books, before you could read yourself. And when they were done reading the page, they would flip the book around for me to see the drawing that went with it. I really enjoyed the soothing sound of their voice that would sometimes lull me into slumber. It must have been my nap-time.

Guitar Layered Inspiration • Mental Chillness

Passion over Problems. Putting myself into making music has resolved so many issues for me. It has taken me out of the paralysis of over-thinking how to fix something going wrong that is overwhelming at the time. Once I have done something that fulfills me, I come back to the problem with a different state of mind. Getting my head right is key to resolution. Your passion is powerful.