Ticket discount for upcoming show at WitzEnd (Venice, CA)
Hey SoCal! Print this coupon for 50% off the cover at the show in Venice Beach on May 24th!
NAKED SOUL — Acoustic
We are working new material in preparation for our first album released as NAKED SOUL. Here’s an excerpt from a recent acoustic performance @ The Lost Church, San Francisco on 4/11/13 (w/ complete audio below):
Two Bay Area shows coming up:
Affirmation: We are NAKED SOUL
Our band has evolved many times over since it began. It is time to reaffirm who we are…
Alma Desnuda was born in 2002, on a park bench in Salamanca, Spain. It started out as an affirmation, “I WANT TO LIVE WITH MY ALMA DESNUDA!” It was like being baptized by our own souls. The world would never be the same.
In 2008, Alma Desnuda became a musical project— three best friends pouring their hearts out on stage at an open mic in Berkeley. The community rallied around us, giving their love and support, encouraging us to keep going. We made a recording of three songs with Tony on the upright bass. Wide eyed and bushy tailed, the four charged forward.
By 2012 we had achieved notable success. With multiple albums under our belt, we toured near and far with the reputation of one of the top bands in the Bay Area. But despite the success we had achieved, it still felt as though we were chasing an elusive dream. We reaffirmed that our success would not be measured by money alone, even though money was the symbol of a more prosperous life. We grounded once again in our mission to awaken souls and bring people into connection with their inner sense of self. It was a fearful time of self-doubt and resentment. It was a time of healing, of shedding layers of ego and self.
In 2013, when things finally felt that they were back on track, our founding member Paul abruptly left the band the night we recorded a live album in Berkeley. The initial shock was painful, but quickly the pain was tempered by faith and trust in our mission. Robin entered the picture. The future took new form. Our sound matured. Our resolve turned to steel.
Today is April 3rd, 2013.
WE, THE FOUR, ARE NAKED SOUL. Our community is NAKED SOUL. We are all beings of light and energy, here to shed light into the world. We strive to let go of the things that prevent us from growing into our fullest potential. We live with our soul naked. May our path be blessed.
WE ARE NAKED SOUL
Afrikaans: naakte siel Albanian: shpirti zhveshur Arabic: عارية الروح Armenian: մերկ հոգին Azerbaijani: çılpaq ruhu Basque: biluzik arima Belarusian: аголеную душу Bulgarian: гола душа Catalan: ànima nua Simplified Chinese: 赤裸的灵魂 Traditional Chinese: 赤裸的靈魂 Croatian: gola duša Czech: nahý duše Danish: nøgen sjæl Dutch: naakte ziel English: naked soul Esperanto: nuda animo Estonian: alasti hing Filipino/Tagalog: hubad kaluluwa Finnish: alasti sielu French: âme nue Galician: alma espida Georgian: შიშველი სულის German: nackte Seele Greek: γυμνή ψυχή Gujarati: નગ્ન આત્મા Haitian Creole: toutouni nanm Hebrew: נשמת עירום Hindi: नग्न आत्मा Hungarian: meztelen lélek Icelandic: nakinn sál Indonesian: telanjang jiwa Irish: anam nocht Italian: anima nuda Japanese: 裸の魂 Kannada: ಬೆತ್ತಲೆ ಆತ್ಮ Korean: 벌거 벗은 영혼 Latin: nuda anima Latvian: kails dvēsele Lithuanian: nuoga siela Macedonian: гола душа Malay: jiwa telanjang Maltese: mikxufa ruħ Norwegian: naken sjel Persian: روح برهنه Polish: naga dusza Portuguese: alma nua Romanian: liber suflet Russian: обнаженную душу Serbian: голе душе Slovak: nahý duše Slovenian: gola duša Spanish: alma desnuda Swahili: uchi roho Swedish: naken själ Tamil: நிர்வாண ஆன்மா Thai: วิญญาณเปลือยกาย Turkish: çıplak ruh Ukrainian: оголену душу Urdu: ننگی روح Vietnamese: khỏa thân linh hồn Welsh: enaid noeth Yiddish: נאַקעט נשמה
* Special thanks to Sandy Calman for inspiring me to write this blog, and to her son David for compiling the list of translations.
From the OM Room to the Boom Room - by Chris
Last night, I went to a 2-hour meditation. After sitting for 2 hours, interspersed with kirtan, and joining with other people, the energy gets really still and peaceful. A lot of stuff gets put into perspective. Insights, revelations, reconnecting with the heart, all the stuff we are trying to desperately find and cling to in this life…meditation helps contact that juicy stuff more frequently.
Right after the sit, I hopped in my car and drove over the Bay Bridge to go to the Boom Boom Room, to check out my bandmate Robin play with his solo project, “Robin Applewood.” Also on the bill for the night was Pamela Parker, a super talented soul who brings it!
I’ve played the Boom Boom probably more times than any other venue I’ve played in SF, and there’s a certain aura to the place, a certain funk meets grit meets dirty meets hip. The place has swagger. The energy of the room isn’t friendly per se, but then, it’s not overtly nasty; it kinda lures you into its vibration, making you feel cool, but then at any moment it might pounce on you like a spider with a fly in its clutches and devour you.
Coming directly from the meditation into the club was a strong experience in polarity. The music was great, and Robin killed it as always. Pam took it to another level. And there were many of my good friends there.
The challenge for me was that underlying it all, the room emitted a vibration of restlessness, and my interpretation was that there was a certain discomfort with the present moment, a desire to fill a void inside with, well, sex, drugs and rock n’ roll.
I’ve changed a lot over the years with the band, gone through many phases. My continual unfoldment manifests externally as physical changes in appearance and style…long hair, short, beard, clean-shaven, thinner, heavier, certain jewelry or accessories, glasses, no glasses etc. It’s all an external reflection of my internal process and I just follow the new stylistic expressions as my intuition gives way to the next incarnation of myself in this lifetime.
For the first few years of the band, I was smoking a lot of weed. Maybe a normal amount for the typical Californian, but for me, it felt like a lot. At some point in the band history, I decided to really look at that habit, and realized that it was not one that I could hold onto and continue down my own path. And I’ve never been a huge drinker, but as my spiritual path has deepened, I decided to completely forego alcohol for many months. As of late, as in, the past month, I’ve had a few beers and glasses of wine, as I’ve been finding balance in a new recent incarnation of myself…the post-mountain Chris.
By that I mean, I went to a pretty far extreme in my monkishness, giving up many things in order to deepen my practice, but then I felt a call to come more into my body, into the world, and show up more with the men and women, boys and girls around me. Walking with men is something I can do and sometimes enjoy, and it is also strange. When I enrolled in graduate school for psychology, the thing that sold me about the program I finally chose (Integral Counseling Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies) was this line, on the cover page of their informational program book: “We are not human beings learning how to be spiritual, we are spiritual beings learning how to be human.”
For me, that is so unbelievably spot on with how I see the world.
I’m trying to figure out how to be in this society, how to fit in, and sometimes I do all right with it, and many times I can’t help but wonder and think, “What’s the city for anyway? It’s madness really.”
The rubber meets the road in how and where I bring my music to the world. The contrasting experience of last night, where I come from a meditative environment I feel so at home in, to a gritty, grindy club, where I didn’t feel comfortable, was illuminating. The music I make is about waking up and yet, a lot of the things surrounding the music industry seem to me to be a way to tune out from the truth of our experience.
What I’m really contemplating is, “Where do I belong?” and “How does transformational entertainment interface with the rest of the entertainment industry?” The answer, I think lies largely upon venues. I love some of them that we play, like farmers markets, where the sun casts its rays upon stands filled to the brim with vegetables, where multiple generations mingle and criss-cross; or drug-rehabilitation centers, where the words I sing land like anvils in the room, and hearts become planter boxes for flowers of love and compassion, and people understand our oneness, our pain and our struggle towards the light, and they are on that path, and I am one of them; or yoga classes, where prana simmers in the room until it becomes a thick syrup and the receptive bodies open themselves to all we have to share and we in turn to what they have to share, through their movement, their breathing, their sighing.
That’s what I’m working with right now…where do I belong in the music world? And at a more global level, what’s in store for the future of transformational entertainment? Thanks for reading.
It’s loud. Really loud. The brick walls laugh at me, screaming our echoes, beating the anvil mercilessly, my balance falters. The reds, the blues, the greens and yellows stream through the flood, beyond this horizon blank faces inspire fortitude. Cymbals crash and crash and crash amidst sirens of electric guitar, and my bass pounds on, relentless, hard, determined.
I regain balance, the crowd cheers, I ask Pamela what song is next, her words fight though the high pitch guarded bubble my ears created, I hope as a defense mechanism for violent sonic abuse…I mean rock&roll. I know they’ll be ringing for days, but there is no other moment on stage than the one you’re in, and you can’t ask Seattle to turn down.
It’s fun playing with Pamela Parker, getting to shred my electric deep in the rock pocket, a nice compliment to my upright life in Naked Soul.
(Pic 1: Pamela Parker, Rafael Tranquilino, and Michael Moss at the Jimi Hendrix Memorial. Pic 2: Seattle)
Birthdays - by Chris
April 3, 1982 I came into the world.
April 3, 2013, I celebrated my birthday with an 86-yr old woman endearingly referred to as “Gran.” I was in Ashland, OR. I had just met her a day or two before. She heard it was my birthday and went out and bought me a cake.
It was perfect. We sat and ate the cake with coffee. I played her some songs. She told me about her life.
When you live to be 86, you have lived a lot of lives. The import I have given to particular segments of life seems overweighted in Gran’s longview way of seeing life.
She was a kid on a farm, a stewardess on an airplane, a wife in Colorado, a mother to multiple children, an insurance company office manager, a nurse to an ailing husband, then a widow, then the woman I met in the guest house where I was staying. That minimizes who she is and what she did, but the point is, she’s lived so much and done it with grace that she can’t help but be wise. It oozes effortlessly from her pores. I soaked it up. It put me in check.
Lots of things put me in check. Like visiting Jack London State Park this week. Here was an artist who became insanely successful, who bought land, and became passionate about farming. Did I mention I’m becoming passionate about farming?
Imagine, growing your own food and living off the land. Empowering yourself to provide for your needs. This is where my passion is aligning to.
When I get out of the city, get away from the pre-conditioned grooves that tell me to be constantly busy, to be stressed, then I remember who I am and why I’m here.
I’m striving to balance that with the truth that hard work is important, that I must make a great effort at self-improvement. Sometimes it’s like I’m totally over on one side, sometimes totally on another.
I’d like to bring more balance into my life. I tend to discover myself again and again, and then make changes in my life that reflect that discovery. That’s great. And I’d like it to feel graceful. That’s a big lesson that Tony has taught me; how to be graceful. Thanks Tony.
Tomorrow our band plays its last show under the name “Alma Desnuda.” After tomorrow, we become “Naked Soul.”
Happy Birthday Naked Soul. Tomorrow night is the night before you are born.
2:33 a.m. - Hunting for Songs
Had it on my radar to blog per usual on Wed, then got swept up in life and forgot. Had it on my radar to blog on Thurs, then got swept up in life and forgot. About to go to bed in the early Friday morning hours when I realized I still hadn’t blogged. With a half sigh, I pull out the laptop to tap away some words.
I’m working on new songs right now. Lyric writing is this strange process of giving birth. There are infinite choices of words I could use, infinite melodic variations I could approach a piece from, and I want the words to express EXACTLY how I feel. But how do I feel? And how to convey that feeling in a creative, captivating, resonating way? That is the art of songwriting.
I still don’t know. But I keep trying.
The cathartic experience that comes with finding the words that express exactly what I want to say is just phenomenal. Yet the agonizing process of getting there is quite the challenge.
I was songwriting with a friend a few years back, and he was trying to give me a lyric to sing. I said, “I’m sorry man but I have to find my own words.” He respected that. That’s just true for me in life in general. I need to find MY own words, the ones that resonate most closely with the truth of my experience. Right now, I’m searching for those words.
It’s like whittling a piece of wood down, shaving off sliver by sliver until the desired shape emerges. Art by subtraction.
The song gradually burrows itself into my sub-conscious and loops and loops and loops. This is the passive part of the songwriting process, where the words and melody are stewing in my brain. It’s happening to me right now as I’m typing these words. The melody to “Some Love” is bouncing around like a ping pong ball in an empty room.
My songwriting process is thus: get a certain feeling akin to having to poop; go to a secluded, mind-free place (today it was Lighthouse State Park in Santa Cruz); bring out my notepad and pen, my guitar, and my iPhone to record (these are the equivalent of my hunting gear); start strumming the guitar and melody and see what happens (usually nothing); take out pen and pad and attempt to write (usually nothing comes); fiddle with my zipper, look at birds passing by, think that maybe I’m supposed to find some clue in my immediate environment that will crack the song wide open (almost never happens though it has a few times), get tempted to start checking e-mail, playing other songs, or doing some mundane tasks that suddenly seem very important; panic, realizing I’ve wasted precious time doing nothing; look at the blank page; pick up the guitar again; strum; my leg starts to itch; mental tape begins doubting my ability to write a song; begin mental antidote process for my doubts, affirming my abilities; realize I forgot to breathe; breathe; become present; ask the song to come; a slight whisp of an idea comes, one word, phrase, melody; feel excitement at progress; think that maybe that was enough progress for the day, and maybe it’s time to get back on the road; realize the prior statement is untrue; repeat the whole process.
WRITING A SONG IS LIKE HUNTING A RARE SPECIES OF BIRD THAT ONLY COMES OUT IN THE MOST PRISTINE CONDITIONS. ONE WRONG MOVE AND YOU SCARE THE WHOLE SONG AWAY. TO WRITE A SONG IS TO HUNT YOUR SOUL IN A FOREIGN JUNGLE.
Then it’s time to show the guys what I’ve come up with. This is always the worst part. Not because the guys aren’t supportive. They are. Extremely supportive. It’s because it’s when I have to reveal my best attempt at creativity and tolerate the distance between it and greatness. Then the guys feed me back some of the things they like, some of the things it makes them feel and think, some of the storylines they’re hearing and wanting to hear.
Then we play the song and I mumble through the non-existent words and forget every line I thought I knew. But it starts to sound better.
Such a fragile process. So delicate. I must focus and concentrate with such intensity to get the right words, to make the right choices. So much riding on a song! At least it feels that way.
Gotta find those words. Hungry for them. Turnkey words. They unlock the doors of my soul and allow the light to come pouring forth. And my deepest hope is that the words are transcendent, that they reach into the depths of others’ experience and lives, that others feel touched and moved by the words I find.
Such a paradox art is. Through the subjective experience, the singular process, we can transcend our own isolation and connect with so many others. Then the affirmation of oneness resounds, and I am left humbled and inspired to try and hunt my next song. Crazy-making, but I am propelled time and again to don my hunting gear (guitar, iPhone, pen and pad) and see if I can catch the monolith this time.
Return of the Nail-Biting Monk
iPhone blogging…it’ll do.
Sometimes i have this experience where i feel a burning angst inside of me. How the hell am I going to be able to provide for myself and my loved ones? Why did I choose this path? Shouldn’t I have become a doctor? I wish I was a woman! and thus I reveal my stereotype that men experience more financial pressure than women. Look at my mind…it’s comparing my life to others. And I fall into a rut of poverty mentality.
I’ve been working with this energy this week. Watching it gnaw at my nerves, relentlessly checking me in the gut.
Playing on the streets sure is a humbling experience. But it’s also one of the most beautiful things about my chosen life. You get to see people through the most interesting lens, and you get to see the whole human drama unfolding before your very eyes. It’s amazing the value of a smile, a genuine enthusiasm for another’s art, amazing how that can lift all the weight. Like yesterday, an eccentric cat named Aaron, with a referee whistle around his neck, how he hung with us during our whole busk, and how he loved every moment and how he kept encouraging everyone who was walking by to stop and listen. Yeah, he may have scared a few people off, but feeling his genuine enthusiasm for what we were doing filled me up.
Sometimes people wonder about my journey, wonder what the words are behind my screams on stage, wonder who is the guy singing about being a naked soul. Well, it’s me, and the words behind the screams are those of a soul purging himself of limitation, a soul who refuses to go quietly on sleeping through life. In order to get anywhere near the light, you must purge yourself of shadow. That’s what I’m doing, either on paper, or on stage, or in conversation with others. What I’m trying to say is that my naked soul journey is the journey of a man working to get beyond his own limitations, and that is very human…grit, gall, glory, guts. It’s a very human thing to go through and to witness. I’m blessed to have a community of people who see that in me and who support it. That’s true wealth right there.
The thing is, this angst is the fodder for a massive soul fire. When you find the right piece of inspiration, then watch as the angst turns into empowerment.
My friend Tara J King provided that fodder for my fire yesterday. She asked me how I was, and I told her I’d been working through some mental ruts. It was beautiful how she replied. Instead of wallowing with me in the problem, she offered some concrete ways for me to turn that around.
“Don’t you have a masters degree in counseling psychology?” she asked. “Um…yeah.”
“Why don’t you use that and start a coaching practice?”
Yes that’s it! Taking matters into my own hands. Empowered suddenly, I felt the yesness of her suggestion. I’ve been helping a lot of people since I started this musical path. I even have all kinds of stuff already built out, under the name The Nail-Biting Monk! Will you like my FB page?
Look at my friend Meghan, how she’s building her nutrition practice, look around you Christopher, there are many examples of how you can use your skills and talents to serve others and find a way to have that support you in turn.
So, as the equinox is here, I awake to a text from my dear friend Sierra. “Happy Spring Equinox my friend! Celebrate by manifesting your year today. It’s a powerful day!!” And then in meditation, the angst turns to inspiration and I feel excited to put myself out there in that way. And then, out of nowhere as I’m moving with these ideas, I receive a text from my friend Tim out of the blue. “Hi Chris! Trust all is well…It’s obvious you’re in and following the flow!…just keep on! Your dreams are and will come true! KNOW THIS!”
Yes they will. I’m taking Sierra’s advice about manifesting my year and using this blog post to publicly declare my intention to build a thriving coaching practice, one that serves others in a deep and meaningful way.
What skills can I really offer to the world? I think my most powerful asset is the inner-work I’ve done, the extent to which I’ve looked at myself and taken bold and courageous steps towards the light. That’s all I’ve got and that’s everything.
Facebook fan requested tracks— Live @ Hotel Utah 2/23/13
Votes were tied for Colette and Mountain With No Top, so here’s both. Plus we threw in Porque Sangre feat Junior Toots and Charlie Wilson. Enjoy!
The trees are tipping us, too!
When finances are tight, sometimes the only option to make quick cash is to hit the streets to busk. It’s not always easy, or fun. But last Saturday on the streets of Oakland near Lake Merrit, it was perfect.
‘Twas a glorious Saturday morning- the Sun shining, the farmer’s market bustling, people multiracial, multi-cutural, multi-generational, smiles everywhere. Tony, Chris, and I posted in front of local bakery Arezmendi and began doing our thing.
It wasn’t long before we had a crowd. Strollers parked as parents found easy entertainment for their little ones. Some people walk right by. Some catch a song or two. Some stay for two hours, listening intently and applauding loudly after each song. A man and woman stepped into the vacant handicapped parking spot behind us and started to dance. A woman holding her daughter in her arms joined them. Chris exclaims mid-song, “We got the dance floor going!”
This is not unusual. This type of community experience is the norm when we play music for the people. What a blessing!
A worker at the employee-owned cooperative bakery brought us out a full pizza as a thank you. A half hour later, the manager at Chipotle sent out three chicken burritos for us (see photo). As we were playing, flowers from the tree above us were falling into the guitar case we used for tips. Chris exclaimed mid-song, “Look! The trees are tipping us, too!”
It experiences like the one we had in Oakland that day that remind me of what’s really important in life.