Rogers Park & Other Things

.

.

.

I constantly find myself bring reminded how quickly time escapes (have you noticed this blog-wide theme?), this is not helped by the fact that more often than not, I have no idea what time or day or date it is.  I could almost be convinced that New Year's Eve was just two weeks ago because the memory seems so recent and so fresh that it feels impossible for ten and a half months to have passed.

.

.

Is the increasingly unstoppable speed of time what growing up really is?

.

.

Regardless, I have worked myself into and out of a bit of a rut the past month. I had a steady flow of inspiration but a very consistent lack of motivation, it was nothing that a bit of will power couldn't turn around.  Now that I'm up and at 'em again, I've begun work at a project that has been on my mind since moving to Chicago over four years ago and has changed format a few times, with the intention remaining the same. The focus of the project is that of the neighborhood I've lived in exclusively during my time in this city: Rogers Park. Before moving to Chicago, I was totally unaware of the neighborhoods and how the city was divided up. It just never occurred to me. My at-the-time boyfriend and I spent a great deal of time trying to decide on apartments while he was abroad and I, though at a close five hours away, had absolutely no idea what I was looking at. Through the help of a friend, we secured a tiny place in Rogers Park.

.

Then my research began. I became obsessed with the neighborhood--reading about every single documented business, learning the history, discovering the neighborhood landmarks. I knew before even stepping foot within it's boundaries that I was going to fall in love with Rogers Park. It is way up north, it does have a bit of shady history, and it's certainly not as gentrified as the others. But it's incredibly diverse; in fact it's one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the entire country. And it's beautiful, stunningly so. I could go on and on about how wonderful it is, truthfully. Though the words won't do it justice. For the past four years, this neighborhood has provided ample inspiration and a safe haven, and all I want to do is reciprocate by showing the subtle pieces that create this amazing Chicago anomaly.

..

In the meantime, here are some other things to check out.

.

I participated in a RAW event at  Double Door in Chicago and my video interview from the evening is up here.

.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I was at the House of Blues Chicago for the Giving Tree Band's album release show. *Most* of the photos are up on Flickr; I'm still working on processing and scanning in the film but those should be up soon as well.

.

I took a road trip to Memphis with my brother in September and absolutely fell head over heals for the whole city. I was absorbing so much of it that I didn't take a great number of photos but what I did take, you can see here.

.

That's all for now, there isn't any more.

.

The Giving Tree Band

.

.

I've mentioned in past posts the encounter that led to an almost two year project photographing the Giving Tree Band as they toured and worked toward completing their fourth album, Vacilador. I was at their studio the night they began recording it and have spent a great deal of time with them through the entire process. Witnessing the recording process, hearing songs transform from the simple strum of a guitar to complete arrangements that can knock a person right over, I've seen band members move on to other things, new members welcomed in, have been with them as they toured sizable portion of this country, and even collaborated with them to produce a music video. I have seen first hand how much of themselves each and everyone of them poured into every aspect of Vacilador and feel immense gratitude for the opportunity to have been part of this special endeavor. So much of who I am has been transformed by the time I've spent around these amazing folks; my work ethic, my outlook on artistry, my perspective on living in and of itself.  I have met and worked with a number of musicians and artists and can say with sincerity that there is no one else out there who walks the walk like them: they are artists through and through.  Tonight these seven men will be at the House of Blues Chicago, officially releasing this album and I couldn't be happier for them.

.

.

[a very quick glance at the past two years:]

.

.

Congratulations, boys. Much love.

.

.

Be sure to check out their album, Vacilador--available on iTunes & Amazon.

.

.

 

 

Setting the Stage

.

Holy smokes, it's already June.  This year has been one wild ride so far and it seems I've only been on the incline of this roller coaster--you know, the part where your heart is racing as you try to anticipate what's going to come next before reaching that pivotal point at the top where the ride really begins...  But more on that another time.

.

April and May have been rather quiet months for me and with good reason. Well, maybe bad reason, I don't know, but some reason for sure.  After returning from London at the beginning of April, I spent some time in California visiting my father and then traveled throughout Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. This upcoming month is bound to be just as mobile, but I'm setting off with the intention of better documentation and more frequent updates, as to prevent those cobwebs from finding home around here.

.

Anyway.

.

There are some very exciting things in motion here at Cats Like Scotch and I am really looking forward to sharing that with you all. But not today. Today you just get an ominous title and vague allusions. In the upcoming weeks, you will get a vacation photo tutorial and at least two new additions to the Artistry Project as well as some tips on the extended nomadic lifestyle. Then, after all that: the news. ;)

.

Blessings.

 

(PS: Did you know that Cats Like Scotch is both on Facebook and Instagram @catslikescotch?! Be sure to follow, like, or check out for more frequent updates and fun discoveries. )

 

 

Andrew Page, Musician

.

Early last month, London-based musician, Andrew Page agreed to meet up with me to discuss his creative process and views on artistry. As we sat down in a Costa Coffee late that afternoon, Page warned me that he'd have to be on his way shortly because he had a birthday party he needed to get to that evening. He failed to mention until the end of interview that the birthday party he needed to get to was actually his own. With Page's steady schedule of shows throughout England, it wasn't entirely surprising that the little time he had available to meet up was between celebrations on his birthday--the only night off he had that week.

.

Just a little over four years ago, Page was casually toying with the idea of taking his passion for music to the next level but struggled a bit with the idea of making the transition from musical hobbyist to serious musician. "There was a period where I was playing some of my own songs live and kind of entertaining the idea of being a serious songwriter but still had one foot in the idea of wanting to do covers and not too bothered about my own songs. And the other side of me wanted to take it seriously", he said, explaining that some encouraging words from a close friend pushed him to make the leap, "One of my musician friends, David Kerrigan said, 'Just do it. Just go and actually record this album and get it done...You could potentially live the rest of your life thinking what would have happen if I had recorded my own album and if you never'd done it, you'd be constantly regretful." That was exactly what Page needed to hear. Shortly after, he left his job in product design and decided to go into the studio full time to focus on putting an album together.

.

.

With childhood influences ranging from Bon Jovi to Simon & Garfunkel to Garth Brooks, Page found his own voice in acoustic driven music and began preparing songs for his album. In the same way that a photographer or painter looks at the whole world and envisions it as a piece of art in their respective medium, Page has developed a keen sense for listening to the world to find inspiration. Some of his songs were just inspired thoughts while others, he explains, had exterior sources, "There's one song on my album, I was actually writing a letter to a love interest, post our relationship and then I realized that something I said in that, it just came out as I was writing it... I thought there's a song in that and turned that into something. It's always different. Sometimes I'll hear somebody else say something and I'll think that sounds good or I like the rythm of that, the phonetics of what they said, so I'll try to blend it in."

.

Page described the experience he had recording his first record and on his own, none the less, saying, "At the beginning, I was the most forward thinking but at the same time daunted by the fact that I had a blank sheet...There were days where I was very driven, I would get up early and work solidly throughout the entire day. But there were days where nothing's working. You just get to the end of the day and think, I've acheived nothing today, I'm fed up. You just kind of have to take hold of yourself and go, 'This is your project and the only person who is going to make it happen is you.' It got easier on the days where I tried to be more structured. I would set the day out... those were the days where I'd achieve the most. If I put the blinds down and shut the door, those were the days I got the most done. No distractions. But there were also days where I got too close up to it and had to take a step back. I think a lot of times you can get too close to it."

.

With his album, Open the Door, complete, Page has been heavily making the rounds throughout England and focusing more on playing live for the time being. His next album isn't imminently in the works but he says, "[I'm] just frantically playing so many of the songs, I don't have time to sit down and write anything else out. In the meantime I'm constantly waiting, always on receive, if anything comes in, I've got a notepad on my phone that's just chock-full of little things that I think of that hopefully one day I'll be able to turn into a song."

.

Page hasn't had a chance to make it stateside quite yet (though he recently informed me that he's planning a trip over the summer), but you can learn more about him and listen to portions of Open the Door on his website or on Facebook.

 .