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“With every choice, something is gained something is lost” – John Green

little strike

Photo from Key Session with Peter English. By John Vettese

Hey it’s tamar. Thank you for being in my life: every time we interact I learn something new. Here’s what I’m up to:

1. TOUR: I went on my first one in June. I wrote an essay about tour life and it’s both dark and light, and entirely honest. It’s at the end of this post.
2. SHOWS: I have a few shows coming up, but mostly I’m recording music, which…. I can’t WAIT to show you.
08.01  Sat  — @The Sound Hole   ~ with Sports Coach (MA) & Bronze Thesaurus (NJ)
08.11  Tue  — @The Fire              ~ with Ill Fated Natives (philly)
08.30  Sun  — @Blair st b/w Dreer & Norris ~ Death Magic Sounds BBQ 1-8pm
All of these are supremely amazing parties. If you come you will make friends, which is my goal for you at every show I play.
3. REAL MOMENT: It’s nearly been a year since my first live show. My first show was on my birthday,  July 24th. Coming up, y’all. Is it me or is every year getting better? I’m excited to mature: every year I learn more about what makes me truly happy, every year is less chaotic, more focused. Every year is a chance to bring people together. So I dedicate this 2nd year of shows to you, for coming together. To gather.  You’re fun.
4. COLLABS: feeling saucy?? send me an email (contact@littlestrike.com), and tell me of a recent REAL MOMENT you’ve had. It can be: “snuggling with my dog this morning made me late for work”. Or maybe “I was singing Sam Cooke in my car, and I looked over and a truck driver was waving at me and smiling at me.” I’m going to make a list and put it on my site. It’s going to make people smirk, a constant #lifegoal of mine.

Thank you kindly for reading, listening, participating, and breathing.

Be well

x

tamar

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The Performer: Part 3 Tour life

I’m romantic, here’s why: I have always wanted to make music the reason I travel.  In early June of this year I did it, I went on my first tour ! I hit Miami, Gainesville, Atlanta, New Orleans and Tallahassee, that’s 3 states and lots of driving. I now have some adult conclusions, which are entirely up for debate. Take a walk with me?

Why do I want to go away from my home? I almost always want to go, because more than anything on this twirling, glowing orb of an earth, I love learning about languages and cultures. For me, one adult issue has been rising steadily these days: I happen to absolutely want to maintain and grow personal relationships. Real love: I want real connections from friends and family. In other words I want to build and maintain my temple, not just hand out a pamphlet with my face on it and a cool slogan under it, like: “great meeting you, keep in touch.” It’s clearer to me now.

Tour. Tourist. I built my tour based on cities that I wished to be a tourist in, and cities that for me, overflowed with nostalgic meaning, which is why I called the tour Hurricane Nostalgia. Some cities were former homes, some were just a postcard, but all contained important people from my past: my friends. I booked my friends to play with me; friends that I’ve watched grow as musicians as well as people, over the years. I could not be more proud. These friends also got to see me, as tamar the human lady person, as well as Little Strike, a project that is the newest extension of my heart. None of them had seen this side ever before! This is a bit like seeing your little brother on his prom night with his prom date and he’s nervous but actually more than anything, he’s totally his goofy self, ready for that dance floor. His date keeps looking at him, laughing warmly at her goof, and you, you want to laugh too but you can’t, because you know that if you do you’ll eventually cry. You don’t want to embarrass him; He’s grown. He’s a big strike now.

It was beautiful to be able to share music and moments with my friends and family, and I feel grateful and honored to have people in my life I can share ideas with. Yes. But think about it: tour is a collection of separate, albeit special moments. It is, in essence, a bunch of chain-linked hello goodbyes. I kept thinking this while riding in the car with my touring mates, the fantastical band Bora from Miami: am I doomed to always be missing somebody?

Forever always leaving means forever always sighing wistfully in cars. My (tour) dates with my friends, so lovely and so short and so on my own terms, were a mere forkful of key lime pie. A tease. A great way to remember what I keep leaving behind. That’s a big part of tour: coming and leaving on your own terms. You go to play the show, if you’re lucky you already have friends that come see you, if not you make some. People tell you they appreciate what you’re doing, that music brings us closer to each other, that yeah, you have a nice voice and “wow cool shirt”. It’s all on your terms. You both hug, and then you’re gone the next day. Trust that I tried my hardest to blur this idea, and make the moments I share with people feel like they are ours, not just mine for the taking. But still, there’s something in this brief exchange, an emptiness — like bungee jumping from a building: the adrenaline, it’s thrilling, but you’re only inching closer to concrete.

Nonjudgmental statement alert: I find that the highs and lows of tour, including the beauty and rush of meeting new people, playing your heart out to strangers, revealing something honest about yourself, disassociating from responsibilities back home, sleep deprivation, delighting in getting lost and found in a new place, finding and losing money — it all smells a little funky and a little fresh. I find that this lifestyle, if pursued as a lifestyle, attracts people with addictive tendencies. No wonder, honestly, tour is one glorious escape.

Let’s talk real life: emails, phone calls and texts on tour. Emails, calls and texts on tour can quite frankly go suck a lemon. Let’s use our most delicate paintbrush here: unless traveling totally alone, while on tour you are constantly surrounded by people. Every moment minus bathroom time, and that’s pretty much every moment. It is very fun, very tiring, and also really damn fun. It is a fantastical distraction from wherever it is you call home, because traveling is sensory overload’s twin brother, and sensory overload is currently in a relationship with distraction city. One big family of fearless cowards (that seems harsh but it’s also an oxymoron, which shouldn’t be taken too seriously, y’all). The highs and lows, the excitement of new faces, new lakes, new snacks, snacks! little sleep , the generosity of strangers, the road, the music! All the music that you choose to either ignore due to sensory overload or completely get lost in, it should all be cherished as well as examined. Is there sadness in the joy? I don’t doubt it // Are we strong enough to maintain our avocado trees while we go planting papayas on some faraway island for months at a time? Maybe, but it is damn hard.

I’m lucky, I know this. I got to try out an idea I’ve had for years with three amazing people in the same vehicle. But I’m no kid, and I’m thankful for having some perspective; I can see that this tour life, prolonged, could be destructive to any real structure I try to architect back home. Highs and lows and escapes can be quite selfish, and all selfish endeavors are ultimately empty. Where’s the balance in today’s music scene? Musicians feel they have to tour to make money, so how do you make your life full of the things that aren’t empty? I don’t know this, but I sense it. I sense it involves carving your own pumpkin, making your own lane, and building something real //The ocean, helping others, being challenged creatively, staring at mountains, feeling respected, stretching, getting involved in a community, feeling empowered = bricks to one bad ass temple.

“If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s” said my best friend Joseph Campbell. So if the actions I perform tell the story of my life, it seems dishonest to tell someone else’s, right? I’m still testing what’s right for me and listening in, with tour, with music, with people; but I figure if I look over and she’s still there beside me, laughing warmly at my dance moves, I know I’m doing something right. Right?

End of part 3. Stay round for part 4

Thanks for being in my life and on my mind. I probably miss you and hope that you are well, and if we haven’t met yet, I still wish you good health and clarity; when you are well you are a sun, so treat yourself nicely please.. Get a massage // Pet a goat // s t r e t c h.  

Here is part II of my essay. Hope you enjoy~~!

The Performer: Part II

Why do I play shows, dammit?

There are two key moments I want you to remember from my previous essay (Part I):

  1. I feel a gloomy sense of “why” before every show. Why do I do this. I carry an unmistakable heavy heart.
  2. My first show was on my birthday last year and was a beautiful disaster.

My first show — i was human back then: I was nervous as all Hades, alone without a band, in front of many eyeballs, just me and my sounds. Here are some things that happened during the show:

  • My guitar wasn’t tuned because of a really crazy story involving faulty electronics and a white lie. Had to stop my first song: “sorry guys, my guitar is lying to you”.
  • I stopped another song twice (two times) and never finished it, due to an unexpected EQing issue.
  • I experienced the ever disorienting “not being able to hear myself” scenario due to a lack of monitors, which means I was mostly scream singing.
  • My sampler’s volume was incredibly low because of electronic issues. This left my phat beats at hibernation mode, instead of the desired ferocious bear stage. Not ideal for head bobbing.

There’s a huge difference in how a seasoned performer and a novice performer deals with live blunders: the difference is that a novice lets it show. A single human on stage, amplified, can ideally become the focal point of a space. More than that, he/she becomes the energy source, the gravitational pull, the celestial light bulb, the 7 pound gum on the shoe. So naturally, when a performer looks uncomfortable on stage, we feel uncomfortable for them ! “Oh no” drops the heart as it hurriedly sends compassionate heat waves across our chests. You know the feeling when you watch someone feel public shame: almost immediately our eyebrows gather in solidarity, mirroring the outline of an old, dead oak. We, as an audience, look for cues from our performers; cues on how we should feel. We want to be lead into the feeling: ‘hey. Psst. is there joy here in your wall of sound? Is your musical nostalgia a self-pitying affair or is there beauty in the small sadnessess? Should I be thinking about my mother in angst or is it even her fault?’  A good performer can give us answers to questions that have been phrased and rephrased in our minds for decades. Or maybe they just give us permission to finally let go. I have been learning about this new role of mine, as a ~performer~, in the traditional way: the hard one.

My first show was the best show I’ve ever played. It allowed me to experience every emotion possible on stage, including: sadness, fear, anger, disappointment, utter relief, joy and finally, it allowed me to be me. I became comfortable accepting my mistakes. My very public mistakes. Here’s a moment for you: want to know the true character of a person? Give them a microphone and an audience, then create an unexpected problem (e.g. turn off the mic for a few seconds). Watch closely and listen in, because they will do either one of two things: they will either diffuse the situation by taking responsibility, or they will blame someone else (often the sound person). The illusion of losing power or control in a public space: that’s how you know who you’re dealing with. This learning moment has happened to me many times over the past year, and boy does that come in handy. I think i’m growing, you guys.

As a performer, I keep saying this in my head: don’t be a selfish leader. Don’t look into the lake and fall in. Don’t buy into your own marketing, that’s rule #5 in human. Be a person that makes people feel good because we’re in this together, not because we gathered here today to witness the miracle of you. Why the hell do I play shows? Because people ask me to.  They see merit in my audible cave paintings. They see my scratches on the walls and they bob their heads to them and think about life. I cannot express how honored I am that people want me to play in front of their heads and hearts.  In this way I am encouraged to be myself and to share some ideas that I think are interesting. How could I say no to that?

I still carry a heavy heart to each show; and that spotlight, that damn spotlight keeps trying to separate me from my tribe~! But I know better, and I know better than to let a feeling rule me. We have a choice up there on the physical stage as we do in our own personal theater of the mind: we can let our hearts get torn in the blender each night, with each dark passing judgement (the judgement of strangers, peers, or family), or we can let go of the outside noise and try and make peace from within. Working on this one is humbling and very non-linear, with ups and downs and many diagonals; However, if I was given the task of condensing my advice to a charming yet reductive bumper sticker, I would design a rectangle with these two simple words: give fearlessly.
— End of Part II —
Stay tuned for Part III

little strike

It’s May, and I’m artist of the month on the Deli Mag site. That’s really nice but more importantly, I got the chance to express some thoughts on china, materialism, various social issues, and cesaria evora.

My interview went exactly like this:

The Deli: How did you start making music? 
Tamar Dart – Little Strike: I started making my own music after living in China for a year in 2012. Seeing so many people struggling, it reminded me to feel lucky to have access to instruments, shelter, food and a little bit of space too. It gave me something to say.
TD: Where did the band name Little Strike come from? 
TD – LS: Little Strike is me. Strike means both action and inaction: to hit or to halt. It’s insane. I love when language does that… Ambiguity like this allows for poetry, and all poetry, even bad, is at least very honest. Little Strike is like making lots of eye contact and being very honest. I thought of this name after finding a tiny miniature key in my house when I first moved to Philadelphia nearly 2 years ago. A light went off.
TD: What are your biggest musical influences?
TD – LS: Radiohead, Nina Simone, Cesária Évora, Sam Cooke, Stromae, Aphex Twin, Leonardo Favio, Ali Farka Toure, tropical fruit, deep-sea friendships, every language ever, relentless positivity, people taking action.
TD: What artists (local, national and/or international) are you currently listening to?
TD – LS: If you’re looking for brilliant musicians, here they are: Dead Beat Dad, Sports Coach, Kidaudra, Snow Caps, Spiral the Turntabalist, Willow Talk, Commonwealth Choir, Shorty Boy-Boy, The Dewars, Acres of Diamonds, DJ Mouth Kisser, The Original Crooks and Nannies.
TD: What’s the first concert that you ever attended and first album that you ever bought?
TD – LS: My first concert was CKY at the Culture Room in South Florida. The Culture Room, the perfect name for a room you don’t feel like taking very seriously – it’s nice. I like it! It was right after I moved to the U.S so back then watching any performance in English was exciting for me. Nowadays, I primarily look for music in languages that I don’t understand. The first album I bought was Aerosmith’s Big Ones. So. Much. Rock.
TD: What do you love about Philly?
TD – LS: Philly is cool. I love when I hear people being honest about real topics; in other cities I’ve lived in, people often talked about their hats and their belts. Personally, I don’t think about hats and belts before I fall asleep.
TD: What do you hate about Philly?
TD – LS: Winter.
TD: What are your plans for 2015?
TD – LS: In 2015, I plan on being really honest while making music and living my life. I’ll continue to talk about important things, such as shattering the myth of materialism ever bringing lasting joy (can any amount of shoes truly satisfy you?), mangos (I’m a big advocate), friendship and the importance of breathing in. I’ve been writing essays about my experience as a performer. I’ll continue to produce earnest prose, go to my website for a taste, or come to a show; let’s have a talk.
TD: What was your most memorable live show?
TD – LS: My most memorable live show was the first show I ever played. It was last summer, and it took place in a lovely South Philly home. It was on my birthday, and it was a complete beautiful disaster. It made me realize that live performances shouldn’t be selfish. It’s not just about me; it’s about everyone and how we all feel together in the same room. If mistakes happen, so be it. What matters is how we handle tough times, mistakes, and blunders; they’re not the end of the world. In fact, those tricky moments – that’s when I discover something new about myself and who my real friends are. Nothing is a big deal. Not everyone has to like me, but as long as I’m honest, I have nothing to hide. Still one of my favorite shows.
TD: What’s your favorite thing to get at the deli?
TD – LS: Ideally, I’d be walking into the same deli that I’ve known for years. I’d greet my friends; then finally, I’d purch

 

I wrote an essay about my recent experience performing. Hope it’s fun for you, enjoy:

little strike

Why do I play shows?

“The cliché of what a rock star is – there’s something elitist about it. I never related to that. I’m an entertainer. I think of it as, you’re performing for people. It’s not a self-glorification thing.” – Beck

So, wait: do you believe him? Maybe you’re at that point in your cortical growth where you’re doubting the smooth talkers; figure heads have been letting us down for ages, and preachers lie all the time. Ever met an idol of yours? I’d avoid it. I’d also avoid the word idol, when possible. We’re surrounded by marketers and makeup, but I always try to remember what musician, author, and drag queen Rupaul said: we’re all born naked and all the rest is drag. And all the rest is drag.

Let that ring. C00L.

So what should we believe? It’d be nice to believe Beck, but if you’re finding this hard to accomplish, try trading belief for the next best thing: acceptance. Accepting, in this case, means listening to Beck’s words, letting them drape our brain like a red velvet scarf (ah yes performing “FOR the people”, not just for the “ego”).  I’ve become more tolerant to the idea of ‘not practicing what we preach’. I’ve traded my stubbornness for acceptance.

So what? We’re trying, that’s all we could ever do. It’s much better to preach something nice and not to practice it, than many alternative scenarios, like preaching something negative while also practicing it. Like over-glorifying materialism as a means to lasting happiness, or sean hannity’s face. Not even going to capitalize his name. If you find that offensive please stop reading these words, go outside, grab a human body and beg them for a hug. You deserve one, friend.

I accept what Beck is saying even if it’s not true, and I accept it because I want to believe it is true. It seems like the healthiest way to think about performance. I’m tempted to state that the word ‘healthy’ does not belong in the same sentence as the word ‘performance.’ Honestly, the mere desire to perform is quite disturbing. Before I inspire eyebrow raises and severe finger pointing, I’d like to make a clear distinction between “acting” performances and “music” performances. Acting, in most cases, involves becoming something other than yourself. Relinquishing all responsibility of one’s actions, allowing a strange freedom to be someone bad, good, funny, despicable, all the while completely escaping the reality of one’s own heart. It could be read as submissive behavior: submitting to the character, the writer, the director, the camera, the eyeballs in the room. It could also be read as powerful: a good liar is always powerful to some degree. In a way, actors are benign con artists: there’s an unmistakable charm to them, a spark (not to be confused by real life), an emptiness. // There is always an emptiness when avoiding the truth. I have here for you a related and distracting gum theory: I am convinced that 75% of gum chewing is an attempt at avoiding some sort of wicked truth. In other words, an attempt at quieting down a reality, curbing a sugar fix, avoiding a brush or even dinner altogether. Gum is heavy, despite its apparent casualness. Gum is emptiness. I mean, what the hell is gum? We’re not meant to swallow it, is it even food stuffs? Oh and also lying never works. Chewy.

gum

Ok ok new-age gum analysis aside, one point cannot be ignored: it is strange to want to be a con artist. It is strange to want to escape yourself, in a room full of watchful, judgeful* eyes. It is just plain strange. Seeking approval? Partially. Seeking love? always. Seeking art? Definitely. Finding love? Evidently and unfortunately, no. A need that cannot be met smells a little like still water in a cup inside of an abandoned karaoke bar: sick and alone.

Music performances: unlike acting, we associate music performances with a vulnerability that comes directly from an honest source. Raw spots. You. And like any language, music is an expressed desire to relate to others. To make friends, to talk to gods, to let out a shout, to share the feels. Unlike Estonian, everybody speaks music ! We feel in our hearts and on our skin the intention of a piece of beautiful music. A good musical performance is well thought out, well executed, confident, cohesive. A great musical performance is when the musician lets you in on the moment of creation. The moment of art. Stay with me:  it is undeniable, it is them. There’s no acting, there’s certainly no escaping now, and sometimes it’s almost painful to watch, like at your wedding, when your best friend tells you they’ve never seen you this happy. “He can see that??” you think to yourself; of course he can see that. Of course we can tell. I like this idea for musical performances, the honesty, the raw onions. Crunchy.

I am new to this performance thing. I’m still making sense of it all, the how, the who and the haunting and eye rolling why. Why? Why am I doing this.

I ask myself this question every time I have a show. In fact, the day before a show I plunge into this mindset jam-packed with one heavy heart and  a couple of audible sighs. Why do I do this?

I wasn’t born to act. I never experienced a day dream in which i became someone else on a mood-lit stage, in front of humans. When it came to public speaking (or any scenario that consisted of the amplification of my voice in front of people), I wanted one of two scenarios: a funny joke to break tension, or some useful insight — simply put, I wanted to be me. This deduction of wanting to be me took longer than one can imagine, but here we are, there, further along the self reflection river. So why do I play shows?

I started playing my own music, by myself, this past summer. That’s 9 months ago // I’m a new mom. I’m watching my baby learn how to open her eyes. I know she recognizes me because every time I pick her up she makes the same sounds// In fact I played my first show on my birthday, July 24 2014. It was a coincidence by all accounts, and a healthy one at that: a slice of sympathy birthday quiche was served, enough to feed every one. The rather intimate audience of roughly 25 people included some old and new friends. It was lovely, in theory. However, and we all know this to be true, beginnings are always quite rough. If I had the tools to use statistics and cross reference facts, I would conclude that this show that I played on my birthday, my very first show of original songs – friends and smiles aplenty – was, in reality, an utter analog and digital disaster.

–End of part one–

*Not a word; but words are made by people. Step one.

the deli little strike

 

This was nice. This. ahem. media,etc.

Playing shows. I have words about it, I have thoughts. I’m performing, which….. why? why am I doing this? The short answer is people are asking, and I want to be there for them. If anybody is enjoying my music, I am grateful. I’m writing a 3 part essay about this topic, I’m told it’s compelling. I want to be there for you.

Lots of shows in April and May, please come if you want to hear music and feel nice. They’re here.

Hope you’re having a beautiful day. Tell someone you love them

love

t