Last Blog Post Of 2010! (AKA: Third Blog Post Of 2010!)

Dear all,

What an amazing year this has been.  It would not be a stretch to call it the best year of my life.  Here and here are my list of accomplishments for 2009 and goals for 2010 respectively, and I’m delighted to declare that, for the most part, both were bested this year.  Check check it:

In 2009, I wrote eight songs, my record at the time, and set a lofty goal of twenty for 2010.  I finished twelve, which, at a rate of one per month, and 50% more than last year, is more than enough to satisfy me.  Plus, I hold that my writing is as good as or better than it’s ever been.  Here they are:

  1. Married To The Sea
  2. Message I’ve Been Trying To Send
  3. This Heart Is Not A Home
  4. You’re A Fox
  5. My Weakness
  6. I Still Like You
  7. If My Love
  8. Holy Rock & Roll
  9. New Song, Old Love
  10. Chicken Bone
  11. Sunken Treasure (Working title here; sort of forgot about that Wilco song with the same name, which may have even been some of the inspiration for my own song.  Not that you’d even notice it, unless, you know, the song had the exact same fucking title.)
  12. River Beggar Summer Killer

Of these, one is already recorded (#1), four more are already in the band’s repertoire and will probably be on our next album (#s 3, 4, 7 and 8), and at least four are going to be on an upcoming solo album (#s 2, 5, 6 and 9).  The last three are still being figured out a bit, but they’re definitely not throwaways.

Shows: last year, it was ten at seven different venues, and I set a goal of at least one in each month of 2010.  This is the goal that I’m thrilled to say was completely blown away: this year I played (either with the band or solo) a total of 42 shows, plus 26 new venues!  And honestly there wasn’t a single one I didn’t want to play or enjoy.  I don’t feel the need to exceed this next year, though I would love it, especially if it means more touring.

What else, besides these metrics?

  • Added two terrific members to the Radical Folksonomy: bassist Alex Stein and drummer Kenny Leftin.  This is as large a group as I’ve ever lead or want to lead, and it’s tremendously thrilling to have such a talented crew dedicate themselves to fleshing out the musical vision.
  • Booked, promoted and executed a one-week Pacific Northwest tour: seven shows in seven days!  Had a ton of fun with the band, and have not stopped thinking since about how to do this for a longer span of time…
  • Recorded a six-song EP with the band, which as I said before may be the first recorded work of mine that I think I’ll continue to be proud of for the rest of my life.  After all, I’ve lived with this album for the past six months, listened to it a lot, and still think it’s a near perfect rendering of the songs.
  • Got that there EP reviewed in a few places!
  • Moved into an awesome West Oakland house, the Oakland Chainsaw Massacre, where we’ve thrown four shows so far, including our first dinner show last month!
  • Not least of all, paid down over $2500 in credit card debt.  Once I’m out of this hole, I know it will be much easier to focus more entirely on music.

Clearly, this was a year of dues-paying, and I expect next year to be as well.  But it was also a year of serious friendship-forming with other musicians and music-lovers in the scene.  All told I couldn’t ask for more.  There are of course too many to thank so let me just mention: my partner Claire, my amazing band, my peers in the scene for whom I could not have deeper admiration, and of course those without any personal stake who have shared in the music simply for the sheer pleasure of it.  Thank you all so very much.

With love,

Shareef Ali

UPDATE: Christ, did I forget the resolutions/goals section?  Here’s some hasty pudding for you:

  1. Write at least twelve songs in 2011; yes, I think that’s a good amount.  Though if I reach it with time to spare I have to try to get to last year’s goal of twenty.
  2. Play at least two shows in each month of the year, AND
  3. Play at least twenty shows outside of my immediate geographic SF/Oakland/Berkeley scene.  This year’s number was eight, seven in the Northwest and one in St. Louis, so it can be either on tour or a one-off deal.
  4. Record a full-length with the Folksonomy (we’ve already got seven songs in our repertoire that aren’t on The Once & Future Boyfriend).
  5. Record a full-length solo album, tentatively titled Cat Pictures.

Okay, there!

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