Archive for the ‘Artists’ Category

Financial Hits – Credit Cards

Sometimes the universe throws a curve ball that upends our well organized short and longterm plans. In the case of Covid 19, I have a total of 18 events (concerts, classes, radio) on the chopping block for a 3-week period and seven of them have already been canceled/postponed. This has serious immediate financial repercussions for me and my family of over $5K lost, and substantially more if it goes into April.
Since Artists rarely speak about finances amongst each other, I thought I would give a few words of advice regarding credit cards and how one can navigate a precarious situation. Remember: In the US we are judged on our teeth and credit rating.

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I should state I am a touring classical musician (solo and chamber) who teaches at a university (adjunct) and privately, have multiple recordings and arrangements available, lecture on Creating Commissioning Projects and Being an Artist Entrepreneur, AND lost a house and studio due to a major fire. This is not my first rodeo fugue.

CREDIT CARDS

1 – Call your credit card company(s) and ask if they are offering any kind of relief for those out of work due to Covid 19. If they are unsure then speak with someone who knows; they work for you. Depending on the company and card level, they may offer:
– No interest or late payments
– Wave late fees and interest at a later time
– Small business loans
– Horrible hold music (promise!)

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• American Express is actually a wonderful card (no spending limit) and is flexible in making things works during hardship, especially if you are a long time card member. I don’t like large corporations, but if you have to have one, I would go with AMEX. The call took 8min.
• Chase did not have Massachusetts listed as State of Emergency as of today even though our governor stated such yesterday!! I spent 30min on the phone with an advisor and they did agree to wave late fees and interest, but I would have to follow up after the fact. Also I should check in again to see if things have changed.
• I have not yet called BOA…

2 – Make your minimum payments when possible.
Unless they have marked your account specifically, it is always a good idea. Get the name of the customer service person at ALL times.

Balance Transfers
American Express Everyday Card is a no yearly fee card that offers free balance transfers from non-AMEX cards. Chase Slate card as well, and Bank of America also has one. As most credit cards charge a 3-4% fee automatically on all transfers I highly recommend finding a card(s) that works. You WILL still need to pay the balance amounts, but hopefully this shit-show will have passed, we’ll have a new set of leaders, and our lottery numbers will come in. Link for Best No-Fee Cards:

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SAVINGS ACCOUNT – OR CASH
YOU STILL OWE THE MONEY!

If you are able to get some relief from immediate payments and if you are able to move the money out of your checking account. Put it into a savings account and try not to touch it. If you are of a certain type it may be best to withdraw the money to have cash on-hand.
In either case, DON’T use it the money unless it is a major emergency.
YOU STILL OWE THE MONEY!
Remember: Nothing is free in the US unless you are famous or rich.

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Read the small print. If you have been or are about to be hit with a large jump in interest transfer the balance ASAP. It usually takes 2 weeks, so act even if you have to pay a 3-4% fee. Compounding interest and late fees can destroy a career, home and family. Eating Chocolate and laying in a fetal position may be nice, but the balances won’t go away.
Do not have guilt in any of this. It is just a game and learning how to juggle is one more skill freelance musicians should learn.
After my fire I went from 3 credit cards to 13 in just over 3-months. It cost money and I made mistakes, but I learned and survived. So can you!

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Other Debt Options

Home Equity Line – Citizens Bank offers a $50K equity line for $50 a year with pretty much a no questions application. Other banks too!
Musicians Foundation – Apply for $500-$3000 to assist with medical, utilities, and vendor bills. Will NOT cover credit card bills.
Patreon – Create art and ask supports to subscribe for a fee. (See my SITE: https://www.patreon.com/alcmusic!!)
Local assistanceThe Record Co. is offering small grants for those who lost gigs. The City of Boston is offering grants of up to $1000 for artists of all types who lost income.
Support Local Artists – Be a part of the solution! If you are able donate to a Patreon, buy an album (physical with autograph is best), promote another. (Check out my store: https://alcguitar.com/store.php)

photo: Catherine Larget-Caplan

Becalm’d – Quieting the mind

I’m regularly asked how I can perform in front of so many people and remember so much music. Of course the simple answer is that I enjoy it and I practice a lot, but that is not to say I haven’t had my hurdles to deal with or had to work on many aspects of quieting the mind so I can perform with peace.

My wife Catherine is a healer and voracious reader about how the mind, body, and spirit can work in harmony. Neither of us are fans of beta-blockers and other calming tools, as we find they have too many other negative effects. After a major house fire where I could not sleep for more than 3-4 hours a night, Catherine discovered Neu-Becalm’d. Ever since I have slept better and performed at a substantially higher level. As it is just amino-acids there is nothing to overdose on nor side-effects. I HIGHLY recommend this to musicians and artists, as well as those who want more out of life.
*For those who are interested you can find it online or you can purchase it via my STORE and get a free sticker.

FROM THE Neu-Becalm’d Website
Neu-Becalm’d is a nutritional supplement that gives the brain-targeted nutrients to aid in the balancing of neurotransmitters. Problems such as mental and emotional focus, or substance abuse may be caused by an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain.

Scientists recently learned that in handling lack of focus and other stress related disorders the brain uses significant quantities of brain chemicals (neurotransmitters). At some point, the level and/or number of stressors can cause the brain to run out of these chemicals. Typically, when this happens, a person first begins to have difficulty sleeping, experiencing depression, loss of temper, interest, sex drive, attention and feelings of anxiety.

It has been proven that with proper diet and selective supplementation, prescription medications with all of their side effects, need never become a part of your life.

Your brain is supplied with nutritional support for restoring and rebuilding healthy brain chemistry.

With Neu-Becalm’d™

  1. You can focus and think more clearly
  2. You will regain and retain a positive mood
  3. You will find internal well-being, stay calm
  4. You will sleep more soundly and wake refreshed
  5. You are able to cope with every day stress more successfully
  6. You can control your emotions
  7. You will feel hopeful and positive, more optimistic
  8. You will experience a higher level of self-worth
  9. You will be able to relax and “turn your mind off”
  10. You will reach and sustain an improved energy level

The reason why Neu-Becalm’d produces such incredible results in so many different ways is because it addresses the needs of the brain in a manner that no other product does.

Neu-Becalm’d™ IS PATENTED because of its ingredients and their formulation and how the brain reacts when the ingredients enter the brain fluid.

Neu-Becalm’d Ingredients & Their Importance (2 Capsules Per Serving)

  • 5HTP (Tryptophan): (10mg) Tryptophan is one of your essential amino acids, and can not be manufactured by your body. You must get this amino acid from either your food or a supplement. It combats stress, depression, insomnia, and aids in weight control. Research shows that it helps relieve migraine headaches and may reduce some of the harmful effects of nicotine. It aids your body in the production of serotonin.
  • Calcium (from Calcium Citrate): (21mg) Calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body and the fifth most abundant substance. About 99% is deposited in the bones and teeth. The remaining 1% is involved in the soft tissues, intracellular fluids and blood. The 1% of ionized Calcium that circulates in the fluids of the body is small but vital to your life. It is essential for healthy blood and eases insomnia and its delicate messenger ions help regulate the heart beat. Along with Calicum, magnesium is needed to properly maintain the cardiovascular system. It affects neurotransmitters (serotonin, acetycholine, norepinephrine) nerve transmissions, muscle growth and muscle contraction. Calcium is needed for emotional stability. Without it you may have a lack of rational emotion, feelings of irritability, sudden unexplained tears, or sleep problems.
  • Magnesium (from Magnesium Citrate): (8mg) Magnesium is an essential mineral that accounts for about 0.05% of your body weight. Most is found inside your cells where it activates enzymes necessary for the metabolism of carbohydrates and amino acids. It helps to regulate the acid-akaline balance in the body. Magnesium helps promote the absorption and metabolism of other minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, sodium and potassium. It also helps to utilize the B complex and vitamins C and E in your body. It aids during bone growth and is necessary for proper functioning of muscles, including those of the heart.
  • Vitamin B-6 (as Pyridoxal-5- Phosphate): (2mg) B Vitamins are necessary for the normal functioning of the nervous system and may be the single most important factor for maintenance of the nerves. Along with other ingredients, it helps your body to develop the neurotransmitters Gaba, Enkephalins, Dopamine and Norepinephrine. Without these neurotransmitters you may have free floating anxiety; fearful, insecure feelings; feelings that things are closing in around you; unexplained panic; Feelings of incompleteness; lack of fulfillment; feelings of inferiority or inadequacy; never feels “equal”; Anhedonia: no pleasure in life world looks colorless; inability to “love”; no remorse about personal behavior; Lack of ambition; Lack of drive; Lack of energy; and Depression.
  • L-Glutamine: (300mg) Glutamine is used primarily as a brain food (improves intelligence). It alleviates fatigue and is also helpful in the treatment of arthritis, connective tissue diseases and fibromyalgia.
  • Folic Acid (as Folate): (200mcg) Folic Acid is one of the B complex vitamins and is necessary to help in the development of the neurotransmitter, Enkephalins . . . without which you may have feelings of incompleteness; lack of fulfillment; feelings of inferiority or inadequacy and never feeling “equal”.
  • DL-Phenylalanine: (600mg) Enhances sexual interest, improves memory and alertness. Very useful in aleviating symptoms of Pre-menstral syndrome (PMS) and is a very strong anti-depressant. D-Phenylalanine helps your body to replace Enkephalins which aids in psychological pain relief. L-Phenylalanine contributes to the development of dopamine (Pleasure, Reward, Good Feelings, Towards Others, Maternal and Paternal Love) and Norepinephrine (Arousal, Energy Drive).


Meet the Artists: Katherine & Robert Bender

I met the Bender Family at the 2011 Guitar Foundation of America where I gave a lesson to Kenneth, son of Robert and Katherine. Beyond the obvious talent Kenneth possessed, I found Robert to be very talented with the camera and a wonderful guy to talk to.

I visited and stayed with them in 2012 on a run of southern California concerts. Catherine joined me the following New Years for an excellent adventure of music, BBQ and friendship. The painting at right was done in 2012. I love the energy, vivid colors, and my Spock-like ears!! (Better to hear the timbres!). Hands, waves, love…what else. They also have two large puppies, who are always on hand for music on the guitar .

The husband and wife duo also do some beautiful ceramic work. As a thank you for teaching, I received a gift from Kenneth that hangs on my music wall. We have other works by them. As I get a pictures I will add them to this post.

Check out their work at Karob Studios, and visit when in Southern California!

¡Viva las Artistas!