I’m pleased to announce my new anthem “A Complicated Miracle,” which is both personal and universal – both intimate and grandiose. It tells the story of my wife’s miraculous transplants, but ones that revealed the aftermath of 46 years of diabetes once the fog of that chronic illness lifted.
The stunning landscape photos by my niece Diana Richards help the story along in brilliant fashion for this lyric video.
(c) 2021, Lyrics and music by Jason Didner
All vocals and instruments by Jason Didner: guitar, bass, keyboards, drums.
Music recorded and mixed by Jason Didner. Mastered with CloudBounce.
Video produced by Jason Didner with photos by Diana Richards.
We were in dire need of help
We couldn’t make it by ourselves
So we put our faith in the brightest
And we counted on the best
As we lay down on their tables
And trusted we’d be blessed
Then we awoke
Safe and sound and somehow changed
It's a complicated miracle
That has come true
A complicated miracle
We're living through
But miracles don't come easy
Miracles don't come free
This miracle’s been complicating you and me
Some days we spin out of control
We lose connection with our souls
And we barely sense our bodies
And we're swimming in our heads
Let's remember why we're in this
What we hoped for when we wed
From then to now
Safe and sound and somehow changed
We can take the complications
Of this ever twisting plot
Let this be our meditation
To rejoice in what we’ve got
We'll rejoice in what we’ve got
Our mental health takes constant hits when we’re in the habit of talking cruelly to ourselves. If you’ve ever caught yourself thinking “I can’t do anything right,” you know what I’m talking about. This song helps you challenge that notion. I hope it gets stuck in your head and reminds you to be kinder to yourself!
Here’s your chance to get a secret link to the yet-to-be-released lyric video before the general public gets to see it. This is exclusive for my email subscribers.
I’m pleased to announce the release of my new album “Salt and Sand: Rock Songs to Heal the Mind,” scheduled for Friday, February 4! Album artwork was expertly created by Lora Ferrie. This artist exceeded my vision for a “split screen” of the salt and sand on an icy highway eventually giving way to salt and sand on a summer beach.
Rock Songs to Heal the Mind
“Salt and Sand” is intended to spark conversation about mental health. I want you to pay closer attention to your own emotional life and those of your loved ones. The album’s tracks make up 3 chapters:
One: Seeing the Obstacles Two: We’re on this Road Together Three: Caring for You
Album Launch Concert Online
On the evening of February 4, I will give a streaming concert at Live Streamer Cafe. In it, I’ll perform all the songs in album order. 20% of digital album sales and tips will go to National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
You can see the album’s official videos on the Videopage of this site.
Free, Exclusive Album Content for You
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Become an email subscriber and get access to my newest song “A Complicated Miracle.”
I just wrote this song last Saturday 12/19 – and it’s one of my very best! I captured an acoustic performance of the new song. It will only be shared with email subscribers. So let’s get you signed up! You’ll then receive the secret link to the video in your inbox. Enjoy!
I’ve considered my kidney transplant with my wife Amy a “complicated miracle” for years. But only now has it dawned on me that it could be a song! I feel this song is one of my very best – intensely personal and universal at the same time. Get it emailed to you below!
The worst thing you can do for your depression and/or anxiety is to simply believe your distorted thinking or to argue with the distorted thoughts. Both escalate those thoughts and make you more depressed and anxious. You can’t just wish those thoughts out of existence. What you can do is learn to be mindful of those thoughts. In this song, I give examples of distorted thoughts and respond with “These thoughts are distorted.” That’s the life skill I want you to take away from this video.
If you’d like to download the song for offline listening or just support the work I’m doing, you can hop on over to the Bandcamp page for the new single:
Here’s your chance to see it before it’s released.
Distorted, negative thoughts tend to inflame stress and mental health issues, especially if you’re just going along with them or trying to fight them. Simply recognizing the distorted thoughts for what they are is a key form of mindfulness that can restore some balance.
It is my hope that by hearing this song today, you’ll get some peace of mind.
If you sign up below to receive my emails about my videos and streaming concerts, you’ll automatically receive a link to this new video “Distorted” before it’s released.
We met our goal to raise $200 for World Central Kitchen! Thank you all!
This Saturday, join Martyn Lucas, co-founder of Live Streamer Cafe and a spectacular singer/keyboardist, and me for an online concert to benefit populations in the U.S. South and Midwestern regions after last weekend’s series of tornadoes.
Martyn goes on at 6:30 PM Eastern-US (5:30 Central) and then passes the baton to me at 7:30.
We chose to support the relief efforts of World Central Kitchen , which has established a reputation for providing fresh meals in areas where disaster has struck.
As always, Live Streamer Cafe concerts are free to attend. There will be a Donate to the Cause button above the chat section of the screen. Any and all donations to World Central Kitchen from our concert are tremendously appreciated at this time of need.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced musicians to rethink how we might create a meaningful live experience for our existing fans and attract new ones. These six points have been crucial in the development of my act. In fact, I’m still learning to get better at them.
1. Get the Audience Involved – Any Way You Can!
I gave my first live, online performance 17 years ago on PalTalk, which was an audio-only format with chat. I performed in virtual open mic settings, which were a bit unruly. The most important thing I had learned in those days was to encourage audience participation in the chat window.
Audience members didn’t yet have the wide array of emojis they have today, so they’d use typed characters creatively, to simulate swaying back and forth and cheering. I quickly learned to call out the usernames of audience members who were using the chat to participate. At any instrumental break or song ending I’d make sure to call someone out. Whatever means an attendee had to express joy, I was going to encourage it.
After a number of these performances, I had put that particular skill away. Instead I focused on booking and performing as many live, in-person shows as I could, touring book stores and coffeehouses. Online performances had been fun, but the audio quality was poor and the lack of visual element to the performance was a pretty severe limit.
A decade later, I had formed a band that plays children’s music at schools and libraries – Jason Didner and the Jungle Gym Jam. When there was a snow day, I’d give an online concert for the families that followed us, so they’d have something to do. We used the platform Concert Window for these shows. I made the show as engaging as possible, calling for “freeze dances” and for kids to pretend they were jumping on a bed. It worked well. Until Concert Window closed its window for good.
California singer Janel Nabong is an absolute master at involving the audience, frequently presenting them with cause for interesting chat conversation.
2. Plan to Take Requests
Today’s more advanced online concert platforms have a song list feature where audience members can browse through the songs you’re prepared to perform. Fulfilling an audience member’s request strengthens your bond with the audience. Make sure you’re updating your song list periodically and rehearsing those songs. Remember, if it’s in your list, it can get requested at any time!
If your audience doesn’t know your original songs, make sure to have plenty of cover songs prepared. You can also remove songs from your song list for certain shows to preserve a certain theme – like if you’re doing ’80s night, maybe remove all your 2000’s songs for the night. If your performance platform allows the import of spreadsheets of your song lists, you might find them quicker and easier to make.
Michigan-based performer Kris Pride makes effective use of themed shows with her songbook.
3. Mix In Some Benefit Concerts
This difficult period of COVID-19 has brought the virtual benefit concert to the forefront of public consciousness. Major network TV was brimming with concert specials featuring Zoomed-in performances from famous artists in the first several months. A benefit concert can serve as a truly compelling reason for your community to come together, enjoy your music and support a worthy cause.
Benefit concerts also establish that your music has value to it. Your concert is the premium people get for their donation to the cause. So, when you play a regular online concert, that same audience that supported your cause will more likely support you via tips and merch orders.
At present time, Live Streamer Cafe is the only concert platform I’ve seen with a donate button for the cause the artist is playing for. I requested that feature and Kris, the site developer, delivered. As one of the platform’s first artists, I reviewed it in this linked blog post.
4. Consider Your Audience’s Total Experience
Imagine you’re driving to a physical venue to see a band – a friend of a friend. The street address is wrong and GPS is taking you nowhere. You finally reach the venue only to discover the band didn’t put your name on the guest list like they said they would. Then you get in and discover the layout of the venue dark, cluttered and confusing. The sound quality is garbled, the lighting is poor and the musicians don’t even look like they’re enjoying themselves. They’re just gazing down at their instruments. At the end of the night you leave, having gotten no acknowledgement from the act you came to see. You’ve had a night you hope to forget soon.
There’s an electronic equivalent of this, and it isn’t pretty! I’ve had some unfortunate learning experiences where I’ve sent Zoom links out for the wrong “meeting” – so people I was expecting at the show haven’t arrived (because the link was wrong!).
I’ve gotten better at this with experience, but I’ve also found that the dedicated streaming platforms work with a web address that never changes, so all your marketing can easily guide all your audience to the right place.
The layout of your streaming platform deserves consideration as well. How much explanation does the web site require where you’ll be performing. Can audience easily sign up, log in, participate in chat, make song requests and support the artist? If it requires elaborate explanation, you may want to look for alternative venues. Consider their user experience when choosing a platform to perform on.
If your audience leaves your show feeling truly appreciated, you’ve done it right! No performer has impressed me more with genuine gratitude than Ontario-based rising star Ashley Sienna. She reacts to every tip like a Grammy winner!
5. Get Your Lighting and Sound Right
In my experience, good lighting matters more than a high-end camera. I use two inexpensive LED lamps to light my performances. When you’re well-lit, your image on screen will be clearly defined and more engaging than a dull, muddy image.
For sound, ensure a good balance between voice and instruments. Make sure you’re not overloading your sound interface (that would usually produce red light indicators), which will come out distorted on the audience’s end. My sound setup is the PA system I use at my in-person gigs, which supplies a bit of reverb and mixes my vocal mic, guitar and keyboards. I use the same stage mic I use in my in-person shows.
Check out Martyn Lucas’ shows for some real next-level production value.
6. Create Special Occasions
Your online concerts are opportunities to world-premiere your new video – it makes a good break in the middle of your show and also presents your audience with another side of you as an artist. I’ve world-premiered a couple of videos in my live streams and they’ve created memorable moments for the audience and me alike. Showing a collaboration video in your concert when you’re a solo act is a great way to introduce variety.
Join me for a live, online performance on Saturday evening December 11. I’ll play your requests and we’ll have some interactive, musical fun. Even when you can’t get out, join a happening that will make you feel like you’re having a night out!
My songbook includes the music of The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Journey, Bon Jovi, Bob Marley and more.
If you’re new to Live Streamer Cafe, it’s the easiest, most user-friendly online venue to attend a concert. 5 minutes before showtime, sign up for a new account and then check your email for a confirmation link. If you like, upload your photo, and I’ll see you at the Cafe!
I found many things remarkable about Peter Jackson’s new film ‘The Beatles: Get Back,’ comprised of 7 hours of footage of the Beatles’ 1969 ‘Let It Be’ sessions. The band members’ continual drive to keep moving forward to new musical and artistic frontiers caught my attention. I could have easily imagined the iconic band preparing a show where they played the hits they had recorded over the prior decade. But they chose instead to come into that massive Twickenham movie soundstage with a blank canvas. They intended to create all new work and have it ready for a live performance at the end of 3 weeks. This would follow not having played live in 3 years!
John and Paul had their secret language of goofy voices and faces that seemed to reaffirm their tight friendship even through creative tensions. George, more earnest in his expression, came across sensitive to the pain of being pushed aside by the two bigger dogs, his own song idea pushed to the back burner one time too many, his ornate guitar playing style restricted so John could show off his 6-string skills a bit more. Ringo appeared patient and up for anything. He was about to take on a lead acting role in a major film in the very same studio where the band found themselves.
Flexibility, learned the hard way
I was struck by the band’s willingness to change their approach when what they were doing wasn’t working. When John & Paul’s behavior alienated George to the point where he chose to leave the band, they made two attempts to reconcile with him. The first, a band meeting that included Paul’s then-girlfriend Linda and John’s wife Yoko, went poorly. From the way Linda described it, Yoko spoke for a silent John at the meeting. George remained unconvinced things would get any better and remained committed to a post-Beatles existence.
A second band meeting with George went better when George’s band mates listened to his concerns and changed the scope of the project the group was planning. Now, there would no longer be a live TV special. It would be an album recording session in a smaller studio; filming would continue, but for a documentary film rather than a TV special, thus lowering the pressure on the group.
John and Paul had a frank discussion on a lunch break that, unbeknownst to them, was being recorded for the film. In it, they acknowledged how their behavior added to George’s pain. A decision on any kind of live performance was postponed in favor of the recording work.
Good chemistry with Billy
The addition of George’s friend Billy Preston, an absolute ninja on the keyboard, who had played with Little Richard, Same Cooke and the Rolling Stones, brought a spark of genuine joy to the Beatles’ sessions. John even mused over making Billy a permanent member of a group he could once again briefly see as staying together. The British lads seemed genuinely wowed by the American’s skill and musicality; Billy appeared equally delighted with the Beatles’ craftsmanship of their songs and the emotional power of their vocals.
A surprisingly loose agenda in studio
Paul remarked on this on a few occasions, that the band seemed to lack an agenda while in the larger studio. As a musician who has been in bands and has had to pay out-of-pocket for both rehearsal studio and recording studio time, I found this particularly surprising. Studio time is expensive and precious in my experience. I have always felt an obligation to walk into the studio prepared for the songs to be rehearsed and recorded. Even now that I’m recording at home, I’m doing this around family life and a full-time career. Those few hours I get to make music are valuable. I feel the need to take a workmanlike approach and come out of those sessions with something tangible.
I can appreciate that the world’s most influential band needs to take its time and experiment toward new sounds and new messages. They’ve had to live with tropes like “How do you top Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band?” They also had the time and resources their record label was investing in them.
‘The Beatles: Get Back’ is streaming on Disney Plus.
Strive for psychological flexibility. Know when what you’re doing isn’t working, and change it.
When you get to collaborate with other artists, be mindful of the chemistry you have with each other, whether in the same room or across the globe. Take it in; it will show in the finished product and in your memory of working on the project.
Whether you have an agenda for a music session or not, make sure your agenda or lack thereof is in alignment with what you’re trying to accomplish.
My Beatles Collab with Kris Pride – Aross the Universe
Here’s my cover of a Beatles song from these sessions – “Across the Universe.” It’s a collaboration with Kris Pride. We each did our layers separately, but when mixing the music and producing the video I took in the chemistry between Kris and me as artists, as well as our mutual love and admiration for the Beatles. When Kris’ camera was producing a blurry image on her first take for the video, she recognized it wasn’t working and switched to another camera, changing her approach. This required some psychological flexibility, letting go of the notion that you can’t top what you’ve already done.