I’m just back from my sister’s wedding — which was incredible by the way! One of the best weddings I’ve ever been to, and I’m sincerely happy for (and proud of!) the new bride & groom.
But while at the wedding, I heard the question a few times from family & friends I’d not seen in ages:
“Are you still making music?”
“What ever happened to your One Mouth Band?”
Each time I made jokes about having the least COVID-friendly artform there is, because I’m literally spreading my mouth moisture and breath as far as is humanly possible. But the truth is that I haven’t been The One Mouth Band for a long time. I do miss it, yes. But not enough to start up again.
When I started performing solo a cappella, it was because I was working my way through school and it was simply difficult to coordinate singing with other people. Even as a teenager, I was super busy and super far from where anyone else in my group was. I made music by myself because I couldn’t not make music and there was no one else to do it with. Or I should say there was often no one around who was willing to make music with me, as back then I wasn’t very good. I’m naturally a good listener, but I wouldn’t say that I’m naturally a good performer. I had to work very hard to make what I heard in my head happen through my body.
Over time, through trial and error and a ton of embarrassing moments that I vowed never to repeat, I did get better. By the time I was 25, I was performing pretty regularly at open mics and local TV and radio, and occasionally getting paying gigs and recording albums. The idea wasn’t to keep singing by myself, but rather to become the musician I needed to be to sing with the people I wanted to sing with.
I got good enough (and lucky enough) that by the time I was 30, I was singing with the idols of my youth backing me up at some of the most prestigious venues I could imagine! This is before everyone had cameras on their phones, so unfortunately I don’t have the documentation to show for it now. But trust me, it was frickin’ awesome :)
As I sang with groups like SoVoSo, The Irrationals, Acapplaya, RoShamBo, The Elements, and most recently Outta Da Vox, I kept working the solo thing too. I recorded and released my own solo albums, did my own solo gigs and toured & taught all over the world for many years as a solo act. I even competed & won awards in both international a cappella competitions and national beatboxing events! To my knowledge I’m the only person ever to do so.
Once I moved to Utah full-time (around 2017), I stopped trying to pursue this so hard though. I said “yes” when people asked me, and occasionally contributed to projects as it was convenient to me, but almost nothing was, because…Utah. While they have quite a bit of a cappella music here, they really have no idea what to do with me as a solo act. I tried many times, it just never once worked. Neither did singing with anyone else, as I have no musical friends here and (unlike every other place on the planet that I’ve ever visited) I haven’t been able to make any.
So gradually I did less and less singing, accepting invitations to provide musical support back in the San Francisco Bay Area up until my last show for my friend Alyssa DeCaro on 2/29/2020 — right before the world went crazy. Now, I don’t know when I will sing in public or even in private again.
Yes, I performed at my brother’s wedding years ago. No, I did not perform at my sister’s last weekend. I still keep making music to myself because I can’t not do that. Sometimes lyrics still spring forth, and occasionally they turn into fully-fledged songs and everything. But performing? Don’t really do that anymore, sorry.
Maybe someday The One Mouth Band will return.
I wonder what he’ll sing about? What would you like to hear from him?