To My Students 

Whether you had intended to study art or not, when you picked up an instrument and started to learn to play - you started on that path.

You might dismiss this notion, as all you wanted to do was to learn a few songs to play with friends, but they're connected, and the sooner you accept that, the sooner you can take advantage of it.

Now, let me backtrack a bit…

When I say “study art,” I simply mean to think “artfully” in the broadest sense; to observe the various ways people express themselves; to notice the…

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The things I Did during COVID 

It certainly is true that the Covid Epidemic caused problems: people died, work was lost, and (in mine and many others' opinion) was yet another ridiculous stepping off point for conspiracy theorists. 

But while many complained and moaned about their routines being turned upside down - I found great delight in the new opportunities it presented. At the time, I was quite tired of attending social obligations and the shutdown offered me the perfect excuse to stay home. 

Fortunately, as self-employed craftsmen -…

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Sad Songs 

Sad songs. 

I remember something Neil Young said on stage during his performance for Bill Grahams’ memorial. He said, and I paraphrase, “Sorry for all these sad songs, but… it’s who I am.” The crowd erupted with supportive enthusiasm. 

That comment has stayed with me as I, too, lean toward sad songs. But it’s not the sadness that attracts me - it’s the passion; it’s the depth; it’s the real-ness of the music reflecting the world I live in. From an early age, my mother taught me to appreciate the melancholy…

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Rock Hopping 

Is living life not like scrambling up a stream, carefully stepping on each rock as if it might tumble or be slippery? With each step, one has to land with balance and determination, taking one step at a time with the possibility of always being able to move on quickly, or to stay poised, in limbo, until the next move is thought out.


I remember a time before cell phones and Facebook when I had great ideas and projects and could focus on them without distractions.

I initially and somewhat reluctantly obtained by first cell phone primarily because my partner was ill, and I wanted to be available if needed while away at work. Later on, I became even more attached to that device as my mom, in her final years, depended on me constantly, and so I was never without it. I soon developed a continuous craving for digital human connection; I would…

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The Desperate Crowdpleasers 

Dear readers allow me to vent, rant, and otherwise share my artistic opinion with you in the event that you are indeed reading these words. (As I have been reading Dostoyevsky, this may get a bit verbose.)

My band, Jazz The Dog, as you may know features along with our musical uniqueness, a stuffed dog named Jazz. It was the beloved pet of Rick Zeek and it has quite a story. We bring her to all of our gigs and of course, there are always a few people who feel the need to share with us their disgust and…

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Just Turn Right 

My mom is a nervous passenger. She never learned to drive, and therefore must be driven to wherever she needs to go. Often, when encountering a busy intersection, she will anxiously say,"Just turn right - It's easier."

"It is easier," I reply. "But we are headed downtown, and turning right will take us back home."

I hear similar comments from some of my music students, as well. When learning a challenging new chord or technique, I often hear, "Is there an easier way to do this?" 

Sometimes I tease them…

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All I Can Give 

This last Friday, I began the day planning to do some work at a client's house. As I was getting ready to go, I  quickly checked out the live video stream of Aretha Franklin's memorial on NPR. Seven hours later, after the final performance by Stevie Wonder, I stepped away from my computer and returned to the awareness of where I was - in my room full of instruments, books, and half-finished projects. 

All those performers... all those ministers... they all spoke of a woman who gave it her all every time she…

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Artistic Decisons 

Artistic Decisions

In my last newsletter, I spoke of a possible gig offer where the producer of the event asked us to "leave the dog at home" - referring to our band mascot, Jazz - Rick's taxidermied canine pal who we bring to all of our Jazz The Dog gigs. I received many responses from people applauding our commitment to our artistic ideas, and a couple from friends who suggested we consider how leaving the dog at home might present us with more opportunities. 

What struck me about the responses was that…

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Are we still in Junior High? 

I have thought a lot lately about "fitting in" and being "liked" by everyone. That seems like something you do in Junior High School, where everyone's insecurities are at the fore. Being unique is really hard at that age, and many an ad agency preys on that to sell kids the latest gadget, outfit, and sugary snack. Bullies find uniqueness an easy target, as well.

But as an artist - in my case a musical artist - that mentality goes against my goal of being original and standing out as such.

Trying to please…

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The Book!

Rhan Wilson wrote a book about playing music. Read all about, and purchase it here by clicking on the book cover image.

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