Archive of The Symbols monthly email newsletter "Symbolism".

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Dec 2012

Artists create their music with soul, passion, and love. After a work or performance is complete, often the artist knows it could have been a little bit better or different. However, once in a great while the artist will produce something they know immediately has ‘it’. The work seems divinely inspired. And despite the hard work involved, its creation seems effortless. It may well be the pinnacle of achievement for that artist’s life and a defining moment in his or her career.

The Symbols are proud to announce the imminent release of their new CD “Ambrosia”, a recording that may be just such a moment in our artistic development and career. The songs on this CD have been carefully crafted and recorded and we couldn’t be more pleased.

In fact, this recording is so dear to us that we are not going to release it in a conventional manner. We can’t put a price tag on this work of art, therefore it will not be for sale, nor will the songs be downloadable on our website.

We are going to press a very limited number of "Ambrosia" CDs and give them away for free to fans at selected shows starting next month. We decided that for music of this caliber, we’d like to personally meet each person who gets a copy of this special recording.

In the meantime, here are a few places you can catch The Symbols this month while we all anxiously await the release of The Symbols “Ambrosia”. Thanks for your support.

Oct 2012

Battle of the Bands...

Music contests are abundant. From high school level "Battle of the Bands" up to Television shows like American Idol. If you are involved in the music biz, you probably get all kinds of email solicitations for various music conests. There are contests for bands, singers, guitarists, songwriters and more. Today almost all the contests have one thing in common: They are based on some sort of internet voting system. It could be direct voting, "likes" on facebook, "plays" on youtube, or something similar.

Internet voting has become the barometer for music industry folks decisions on which bands are worth promoting. I wonder if most record executives, booking agents, and media folks even listen to artists when deciding who to work with these days.

Also, if you're in the music biz, you've probably received emails from companies that promise to get you x-thousands votes, likes, or plays for a certain price. $100 for 10,000 votes, $350 for 200,000 votes, and so forth. Supposedly the votes are all from 'unique real people who actually will listen to your band". Ha ha.

This has lead me to ask a few questions. Has anybody actually tried this cheating method? And does it work? If everybody did it, would it render the internet voting system invalid and make industry folks have to find a new barometer for measuring potential 'success' of a new artist? What would a contest promoter say to you if you bought hundreds of thousands of votes and won the contest, then on your big prize gig only 3 fans showed up? How much money would it take to buy more votes from 'real people' than there are real people in the world?

Anyhow, those silly thoughts aside, The Symbols have signed up for another internet voting contest and we're asking for any of you with a couple spare minutes to help us by voting for us. The contest is hosted by Colorado Music Buzz and can be found here.

Thanks for the support.

Sept 2012

Music vs. Sports

In sports, true fans of a team stick with that team win or lose. There are times that fans share the thrill of triumph with their team. And there are times that fans feel the pang of defeat with their team. But win, lose, or draw, true fans stand by their teams.

In music too, true fans of an artist will support them for years, through their successes and troubles.

Music fans however, can afford to be promiscuous in choosing artists to follow because there are not a limited number of artists to follow as there are sports teams in a given league. And also, musicians don’t compete in direct win-loss matches with each other, so music fans don’t need to favor one ‘team’ over another, per se.

Success in sports can be measured in wins and losses. Success in music is less definitive. Artist success is measured in the artists mind as well as the listeners. Commercial success is measured song sales and ticket sales.

In sports, a fans support can help a team financially, but it isn’t the ultimate factor in a team’s success. In the music business, fan support is the single important factor for commercial success. Fans have in their hands, the power to make their favorite artists commercially successful. So if you’re a music fan, support your favorite artists because it really does make a difference.

If you’d like to support The Symbols, you can attend one of our shows listed below. We have three CDs for sale on our website, the latest of which was recently reviewed by Marquee Magazine. And for anyone who has more time than money, we’ve got some new programs for trading band merchandise and show tickets for promotional work. Just email me back if you’re interested in finding out details.

July 2012

A tale of two egos...

Onstage a performer must be confident. Almost to the point of being cocky. It is when the artist steps offstage though, that the measure of what kind of person they are is revealed. A friend of mine Carl Gustafson, who is a much better writer than I am, wrote a couple chapters relating to onstage and offstage personalities in his book Ain't Just Blues, It's Showtime The Symbols have had a couple recent encounters with diametrically opposed offstage personalities.

About a month ago Mer and I attended a private party gig. After sticking our nametags on our clothes, we went in watched the band for a while. The frontman, whom I'll refer to as "Dick Van Drunk" was an old bluesman. I could tell he was once a fine musician. His musical ideas were cool. However his execution was not. Living up to his psuedonym, he was so drunk he fell off the stage and yanked the cord out of his guitar. Even without the alcohol, I suspect his skills have become somewhat unfocused.

After the set he stumbled off stage. I paid him the most honest compliment I could, telling him he had some cool musical ideas. He scowled at Mer and I and proceeded to inform us that with his excellent memory he recalled hearing The Symbols play a while back. He let us know that we were lacking in talent and had no chance ever of 'making it'. We had no real talent, like he did. He also said that we were delusional egomaniacs for even trying and he was doing us a favor to save lots of wasted time in our lives by advising us to just quit now. I was mildly amused and felt sorry for the guy until he really turned creepy by trying to fondle Mer's breast in the guise of 'removing her nametag.'

On the other hand, last Friday we had a visitor stop by our band rehearsal. That visitor was a bass player named Victor Wooten. Victor has won five Grammy awards and has been Bass Player Magazine's "Bass Player of the Year" three times. Victor's name is present in any serious conversation about best bass players of all time. If anyone had earned the right to be cocky about their skills, it should be Victor Wooten.

But no. With all that musical skill and recognition, he is a completely down-to-earth, humble, nice guy. He was complimentary and encouraging toward us. His remarks showed me that he was paying attention and listening to what we were playing. Later that night we attended his show at the Aggie in Fort Collins. The place was packed. The show was magical and musical. A stage full of top level musicians playing for the groove and beauty of the music. After the show Victor hung out and signed autographs and talked to everyone who wanted to stay and talk to him. I was impressed, and inspired by Victor Wooten the musician and Victor Wooten the person. A class act on and off stage.

Since then, Mer and I have talked a lot about how to use Victor Wooten as a role model for our band and ourselves, and how to use "Dick Van Drunk" as a model of behavior to avoid.

The Symbols will be in Wyoming this week, playing in Rawlins city park on Thursday July 19th at 7pm, and at Laramie's Gryphon Theater on Friday July 20th at 7:30 pm along with special guests High Voltage. I hope we see all our Wyoming friends at these shows.

By the way, in addition to many great recordings, Victor Wooten has a book called The Music Lesson that I'd highly recommend for any musician.


June 2012

Those of you who have followed my newsletters for The Symbols know that one of the unusual things about them is that I often plug other bands and artists whom I think deserve wider recognition. This month I'm going to talk about Erica Brown, a blues and soul singer from Denver. I met Erica in the late 90's when she sang a few songs with a blues band I was in at the time. She had, and still has, a fire and energy onstage that makes her instantly memorable. Her voice has the authenticity to back up her onstage bravado. You can read more about her at

The reason I've chosen Erica to highlight in this month's newsletter is that we are playing a show with her this Friday June 29th at the Lincoln Center in Fort Collins, as part of Women Rock The Night, an event which benefits the Crossroads Safehouse here in Fort Collins. In addition to Erica Brown and the Symbols, there are two other female fronted acts on the bill: Choatic Serenity, and Shannon Fitzsimmons. Instead of me writing more about it, I'll cut and paste something Gregg Adams at 2 Fat Farmers Productions wrote:

"We all know that women just don’t rock, they “Rock the Night”! On Friday, June 29th, “Women Rock the Night” will storm the Lincoln Center’s Magnolia Theater, featuring the hottest female fronted acts in Northern Colorado and beyond.

Denver’s Erica Brown will headline the show, just back from a successful European tour. Called Colorado’s “Queen of the Blues”, Erica Brown has won numerous awards, including “Best Blues Band (Westword Magazine), Best Underground Blues Band (Denver Post) and The Rocky Mountain News “Best in Blues”.

Having shared the stage with legends including BB King, Al Green, Tab Benoit, Delbert McClinton, Erica’s blues reputation is second to none. A veteran recording artist, Erica has been featured on Sony Pictures movie “The Fan” with Wesley Snipes and Robert DeNiro, and Xiren’s CD “Trip-R”.

The Symbols, featuring Mer Sal on vocals and bass, will also showcase their unique blend of funk, rock, blues, and jazz. Versatile guitar virtuoso Jasco and drummer Peter Gregory round out the Symbols line-up. The Symbols will be featuring songs from their new album “A CD”.

Chaotic Serenity, Colorado’s premier all-female band will be playing high-energy rock, blues, and pop cover songs that will inspire everyone to rise and rock!

Fourteen year old singer-songwriter prodigy Shannon Fitzsimmons will open the show. Shannon has garnered regional acclaim for her prodigious vocal and songwriting skills.

Women Rock the Night starts at 8pm and is an All Ages event. Tickets are $14 and seating is reserved, so buy your tickets early to get the seat you want. Tickets are available at the Lincoln Center box office, or online at

Two dollars from each ticket sold will be donated to the Fort Collins Crossroads Safehouse, a non-profit organization devoted to helping out domestically abused and neglected women and children in crisis."

I hope to see a lot of Colorado music fans at the show this Friday. Four great acts at a classy venue supporting a great cause. And by the way, the Symbols will have our brand new CD, simply titled "A CD" available at Women Rock the Night.


May 2012

Welcome to The Symbols band newsletter for May 2012

As an artist, seeing a work come to completion is one of the most satisfying feelings. Later on there will be time to critique the work, time to market and sell it, time to forget about it, and then remember it again. But at first, there’s always a giddy feeling that your efforts have actually accomplished something.

As I write this, I have just packaged up the master recordings of The Symbols third CD to send to the pressing plant for replication. The songs have been written, rehearsed, recorded, mixed, and mastered. The artwork is complete. From my end, the project is done. Now I’ll just watch my mailbox eagerly for the next month until a big box of CDs arrives.

We’ll be having our CD release show at the Lincoln Center in Fort Collins on June 29th, as part of the Women Rock the Night event there, which also features Erica Brown, Chaotic Serenity, and Shannon Fitzsimmons. Tickets are on sale at the Lincoln Center box office or online soon at

For those who want to hear The Symbols sooner, we’re playing at Avo’s in Fort Collins tomorrow (Thursday May 10th) at 8pm, and at the Pioneer Inn in Nederland on Friday June 1st. There will be a little surprise for those familiar with the band at these shows, but of course I’m not going to tell you what it is, or it wouldn’t be a surprise.

And, by the way, thanks to everyone who clicked on the Westword band poll and voted for us last month. In case you didn’t get a chance to, here are the directions again:

It's easy - just click on this link for Westword's music showcase ballot:

Then click the "write in" button for the "Pop Traditional" category and type "The Symbols". It's the first category on the survey and should take you less than a minute.


Symbols website:


Symbols merchandise:

March 2012

Welcome to the March edition of Symbolism, the newsletter for The Symbols.

Your mission, should you choose to accept: Help The Symbols get noticed by Westword Magazine.

It's easy - just click on this link for Westword's music showcase ballot:

Then click the "write in" button for the "Pop Traditional" category and type "The Symbols". It's the first category on the survey and should take you less than a minute.

In thanks, we've included a free MP3 download of the track "Good for Me" with this newsletter. Or you can see our low budget video for this tune on our website here.

In other Symbols news, we recently contacted The Music Initiative magazine about doing an article on The Symbols, and to our surprise they said "We already wrote an article on The Symbols, which is in this month's edition on page 71."

If you're in the Colorado area, we hope to see you at an upcoming show:

April 1, Herb's, Denver 9pm til late 21+

April 14, Old Chicago, Ft Collins, as part of the FOCOMX festival 9pm-10pm

Thanks for your support.


February 2012

Welcome to the February issue of Symbolism, the monthly newsletter from The Symbols. Its different than other bands newsletters.

Back in the late 80's there was a guitarist named Michael Angelo Batio who claimed he was the fastest guitarist in the world. He was pretty fast, but he also had another trick. He played a double neck guitar using the common technique of hammer-ons and pull-offs with both hands, which allows one to play notes without picking the string, which let him play notes on both guitar necks at the same time. One with each hand. Michael Angelo Batio was relatively unknown to non-guitar players.

Then, a more well known guitar player named Steve Vai ripped off Michaels concept, or at least pantomimed it, in a popular MTV video by David Lee Roth. At least Vai had the guts to admit where he'd gotten the idea from, as well as saying that when anyone unknown comes up with a good idea, someone with clout can rip them off and take all the credit.

Recently a good friend of mine emailed me an article about Warner Bros. country singer Blake Shelton having a new ingenious strategy of making short CDs to sell at a reduced price. My friend included a one liner to me that said: "I know of a band who thought of this a while back..."

With The Symbols, as well as a couple previous bands, I've done the concept of short 5 song CDs for 5 bucks as an inexpensive way to promote our music. Now I'm not claiming that Shelton or Warner Bros. ripped off the idea from me. Heck, I ripped off the idea from a local DJ and music business expert named Chris K a few years ago. And I know many other unsigned bands that do the short inexpensive CD concept.

What strikes me as humorous though is the fact that a common strategy among independent bands is touted as genius marketing when an established artist tries it. Of course, the Shelton release did have an interesting twist. Since it is country music being marketed to rednecks they used six songs and called it a "six-pack."

The Symbols "five-pack" Be Here Now is available now at shows for $5, as well as our first "five-pack" that is simply titled "The Symbols". Also, we just finished our newest video, for the song Good For Me that you can view here, and that won't cost you anything.

In other news, we have a feature article in Colorado Music Buzz Magazine this month (Feb issue). You can pick them up all around northern Colorado. And we're playing the Colorado Music Buzz release party showcase at Herman's Hideaway this Thursday, Feb 9th. Show starts at 7pm, and there are some other cool bands on the bill. If you want discount tickets to the Hermans party, email me and I'll have them waiting at the door for you. (Discount tickets let you get in for $3, as opposed to $6 without them).

Have a great month, and remember, our Symbols "five-pack" CDs make great affordable Valentines presents. But if you really want to show your love, get your sweety some Symbols women's panties .


January 2012

The start of a new year can be a time to reflect back as well as look to the future. As I look back this past year I’ve seen The Symbols change from a band that was just starting to gig out with constantly rotating rhythm section members into a group with a cohesive lineup.

We had no recordings at the beginning of last year. Now we have two 5 song CDs, both of which have received good reviews. We completed two videos last year, and filmed a third. As a band, we’ve played gigs all around Colorado and Wyoming, and Mer and I went to Kansas, Oklahoma, Nevada, and California to play.

Along the way we had fun, met some really cool people, and learned a lot. I’m really grateful for all the support and positive feedback we’ve received. That is one of the things that really make this game worth it. To those who have gone out of their way to help us, my sincere thanks. Because without them, much of this wouldn’t be possible.

Of course, there have been detractors along the way too. Anytime one puts oneself out for public opinion, one has to be prepared for a variety of feedback. This year I’ve heard that my guitar playing sucks, that Mer can’t sing, that the production value of our CDs is horrible (and that the production value is far more important than the songs, singer, or musicians), and that my writing in these newsletters is bad for a variety of reasons.

I’d like to thank those people, the detractors, also. For two reasons. First, it’s all to easy to get surrounded by positive hype from friends and family, and delude oneself for ego’s sake. So it’s good to hear other opinions. And the more articulate and specific those criticisms are, the more helpful to me in assessing their value and making adjustments to our game. And secondly, they provide me with great inner determination to keep moving forward and making improvements. Fuel for the fire, so-to-speak.

So looking forward to 2012, I’m hoping you’ll hear and see continual improvment and entertainment from The Symbols. We have new songs, recordings, videos, shows, travel plans and website design in the works. Thanks for 2011 and I hope enjoy following our ride in 2012.

Those of you in the Colorado region are invited to come hear our new sounds and see our improved visuals:

Friday Jan 13th: Road 34, Ft Collins, 9pm-10:30pm

Sunday Jan 15th, The Larimer Lounge, Denver, 9:30pm-11pm

Friday Jan 20th, Tennyson’s Tap – cool new club in Denver, 9pm til they kick us out.


December 2011

I recently returned from a short trip to Las Vegas and Los Angeles with Mer Sal. We played a few cool venues, shot scenes for an upcoming video, saw some of my former music associates, befriended some new musicians, found some cool stage clothes and rare music DVDs, and saw some sights. While we were in LA, I asked everyone I met about the Los Angeles music scene. Specifically I asked what were some of the happening LA bands. I asked musicians, music store employees, a couple recording studio owners, folks at a large record store, students at a music school, and many workers in clothing stores that catered to musicians. To my surprise, no one could tell me the names of any original bands in LA they liked. Not one person told me I really needed to go see a specific band.

If I asked this question here in Colorado, I'd get lots of recommendations. Of course I know who to ask here. So maybe I just didn't know who to ask out there. Or maybe the LA music scene just isn't what it was in the 60's, 70's, and 80's. I'm not old enough to remember, but I've heard rumors that LA in the 80's was so rampant with original bands that flyers for shows were wallpapered to every building on the Sunset Strip, and band postcards littered the sidewalk for nearly a mile. I hope this isn't some early indication of an even steeper decline of original live music on a larger geographic scale.

One of the reasons I hope original live music isn't on the decline is that I've found an extremely prolific songwriter in my music partner Mer Sal. I can write 2 or 3 songs per month if I work really hard at it. Mer writes 4-6 songs per week, consistantly. I've never seen/heard anything like it. She composes more material than The Symbols could ever record. Which is a good problem to have.

Our new CD "Be Here Now" features some of Mer's tunes and this month we are having our official CD release parties. CD's are only $5 at shows - about the price of a mid-quality beer. And they make great inexpensive holiday gifts, so don't be shy about buying more than one. Remember, the more money you spend with us, the more money we have.

Symbols CD release party dates:

Thursday Dec 8 at Avo's, Ft Collins, CO 8pm all ages
Friday Dec 9 at The Pioneer Inn, Nederland, CO 10pm 21+
Sunday Dec 11 at Herbs, Denver, CO 9pm 21+

We also have gigs on:

Friday Dec 16 at Duke Of Windsor, Windsor CO 9pm
Saturday Dec 17 benefit at The Toad Tavern, Littleton CO 4pm

We hope to see you at one of our shows. For those of you who can't make a show you can still order the CD at our website, or download MP3 versions of our tunes. Or you can always amuse yourself watching our low budget videos, while sipping eggnog and saving your pennies to buy a Symbols CD.

Have a good holiday season.


PS Enjoy the free download of a rough mix of our version of Hendrix's Manic Depression morphed with Rodgers and Hammerstein's My Favorite Things.

November 2011

Recently a Led Zeppelin tribute band played a large theater in the town I live in and sold it out. During the next week or so I had quite a few people tell me how good the band was. I'm sure the band was good, and I'm glad that people went out to see live music instead of some home entertainment alternative. However, it once again reminded me about the conservative listening habits of our society. I rarely have many people come up and tell me about a band doing their own original material with as much enthusiasm as I heard from people about the Led Zeppelin tribute band. "They sounded JUST LIKE Led Zeppelin." It seems that taking the tribute band route is the easiest gimmick these days to booking larger venues for otherwise unknown musicians.

If one can't stand to dive headlong into mimicry of a sole source, then the next best bets are to either do off-the-record takes of classic and top 40 rock, or to be genre pure enough to some scene with a built in support system (i.e. be a blues band, or a jam band, or a newgrass band, ect.)

For the artistic, the bold, and the crazy, though, the only only real choice is creating your own sound. Many of my favorite bands and musicians are familiar names to you: Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Zeppelin, Wes Montgomery, James Brown, and so forth. And many of my favorite bands and musicians have made great original music that relatively few outside their regions have heard - Phil Brown, Fourth Estate, The Psychodelic Zombiez, Chris Duarte, Colcannon. But what they all have in common is that they are striving for the uncommon.

In The Symbols, we are focused on composing our own music, in our own style. And we're prepared to live or die by that sound.

Our new CD "Be Here Now" with our own music is now available on our website or at shows. You can preview all the songs for free on our website.

We also just completed our latest video for the song "Shake It" from our first CD.

Our official CD release parties are scheduled for next month, but those of you in the Denver area can hear us at Ziggies this Thursday (Nov 17th) at 8pm, then Mer Sal and I are off for music performances and business in Los Angeles the following week.


October 2011

Being in a band that is making a serious try at getting somewhere can be overwhemling at times. In addition to being a musician and composer, one may also have to act as booking agent, promoter, roadie, accountant, manager, web designer, graphic artist, gear repairman, and so forth much of the time.

At times it can seem like one is working all day long but getting nothing done. So the satisfaction of actually completing a project feels good.

The Symbols have just completed our second CD "Be Here Now". It's at the pressing plant right now. We should have copies back in a few weeks. You can hear the songs right now at our page and download them. And as always 50% of our download sales, and 25% of our CD sales are donated to the Michael Olson fund at the National MS Society.

We've also completed our first two music videos. The video for the song Kristin is posted on our site here. My poor acting skills transformed it from a serious video into a comedy. The other video, for the song Shake It, will be posted soon, so keep checking back.

For those of you in the Colorado area, check out some of our upcoming shows:

Sunday Oct 2, Lions Lair, Denver, 10pm

Saturday, Oct 8, Pioneer Inn, Nederland, 10pm

Sunday Oct 9, Pepsi Center opening for the Foo Fighters, 7pm (just joking - but we'll be there listening)

September 2011

I’ve been watching films about the music biz with a small group of people every Tuesday night. Mer and I are the only musicians in the group. The others are media folks and actors. The movies have been thought provoking as have the post movie discussions. It’s interesting to hear non-musician takes on both the movies and the local music scene.

A common theme of several of the films has been the formation of a ‘scene’ of bands united by similar music stylings as well as cooperative attitudes. In certain places and times, such as London in the 60’s, LA in the 80’s, and Seattle in the 90’s, these scenes seem to become larger than the bands involved become Meccas of both creative output as well as label signings.

In Colorado currently, I don’t see an overall community scene united in mutual support. I see some smaller sub-sets of musicians that have scenes. And every decade some Colorado band sneaks out of the ranks to national recognition, such as The Subdudes, Big Head Todd, or The Fray. But overall Colorado hasn’t quite emerged as a music mecca yet.

I’m not writing this as a means of complaining about a lack of a 'scene' in Colorado, but rather as an observation and to possibly provoke some thought about how one can help the overall scene here. I’d welcome any ideas any of you might have on the subject.

As far as The Symbols, I just finished mixing the final song on our upcoming CD today. Hopefully we’ll get it out in about a month. We just have to get it mastered and get the album artwork done. We also have added T-shirts and stickers to our merchandise. Mer continues to write songs at an incredible rate and I suspect we’ll be back to recording very soon.

Here are some of our upcoming shows. Hope to see you at a show soon.

Friday Sept 2nd, Avo’s Ft Collins, CO 8pm ALL AGES
Sunday Sept 4th The Tavern, Greeley CO, 6pm Benefit for MDA
Friday Sept 9th Jordinelli’s, Brighton CO, 6pm
Sunday Sept 11th Herb’s, Denver CO 9pm


August 2011

I’ve noticed in my life of playing music with bands that there always seems to be a lot of interest in how bands form, how they break up, and about member changes. The formation of a band is usually full of excitement and hope for good things to come. When bands break up or have membership changes it can be fairly straight ahead or full of drama.

The Symbols have currently undergone some line up changes and I’ve heard many versions of the ‘story’, none of which are quite accurate, but all of which are entertaining. It kind of reminds me of the grade-school game where everyone sits in a circle and one person whispers a phrase to the person next to them. That person then is supposed to repeat the phrase verbatim to the next person, and so forth until the phrase gets all the way around the circle to the one who first whispered it. The results are usually that the phrase has been mutilated into something completely different by that time.

So, just to let any Symbols followers know what is happening, here it is straight from us: Our old bassist, David Becher has chosen not to continue with us. He is currently pursuing other musical projects in the region. He did a great job for us and we wish him well. You can see our new bassist Ray Martinez at upcoming shows. Ryan Sapp will still be playing drums with us, but due to his busy schedule we’ll have Hans Mueller on drums at many shows, and Mike Ray will be playing with us occasion as well.

Of course Mer Sal will still be charming you with her voice, and unless the rest of the band isn’t telling me something, I’ll be playing guitar.

Here’s a list of some places to catch The Symbols in the near future. The best thing you can do to support us is to come listen to a show and bring all your friends. Thanks in advance.

Friday Aug 12 JJ’s Corner, Frederick, CO 7pm acoustic duo, Mer and Jasco
Saturday Aug 13 The Pioneer Inn, Nederland, CO 10pm
Sunday Aug 14 The Larimer Lounge, Denver, CO 5pm
Friday Aug 19 The Crown Bar, Cheyenne, WY 9:30pm
Saturday Aug 20 The Vault, Ft Collins, CO 10pm
Sunday Aug 21, Saratoga WY, Chris’s House acoustic duo, Mer and Jasco
Thursday Aug 25 Chippers Lanes, Ft Collins CO 10pm
Friday Aug 26, The Alibi, Laramie WY, 8pm
Saturday Aug 27, Wahoo’s, Ft Collins

Download a FREE copy of our latest single Rules Rules Rules here.

Just something to listen for at the end of the tune, all the instruments gradually morph into vocal facsimiles. It was a fun mixing experiment for me.


July 2011


Due to a busy schedule, I haven't written a Symbols band newsletter in a couple months. During that time, we've been on the road to Kansas and Oklahoma, writing new songs, and recording them - 7 done and 8 more started, shooting videos (2 shot, none edited), playing shows, swapping band members, auditioning for TV shows, and working on new merchandise ideas. I'll have more info on our activities and try to write something a bit more philosophical next time. For now, here is a list of upcoming shows. Hope to see you at one, and thanks for your support.


The Symbols

July 30th - The Vault, Ft Collins CO 9pm
Aug 4th - Boulder County Fairgrounds, Longmont CO, 5pm
Aug 6th Garfield County Fairgrounds, Rifle, CO, 4:30pm
Aug 13th Pioneer Inn, Nederland, CO 10pm
Aug 14th Larimer Lounge, Denver, CO 5pm
Aug 25th Chippers North, Ft Collins, CO 10pm
Aug 26th Alibi, Laramie WY, 8pm

May 2011

Good club, bad club:

People often ask musicians about their favorite places to play. Obviously large concert and festival gigs are at the top of the list. Also gigs where there are some special musical moments or a great audience are memorable.

As far as standard club gigs, it’s usually pretty easy to divide them into good and bad. After years of playing many clubs with many bands, as well as running my own live music venue for a couple years, I’ve come to some conclusions about what make a club successful for live music. Good clubs have owners and management that are really into live music. Bad clubs just have music because they think they have to, but they don’t really care about the music. Good clubs have a stage, and usually PA and lights. Bad clubs just move some tables and chairs aside. Good clubs treat the musicians with respect, and great them with a smile. Bad clubs treat musicans like they are just another headache they have to deal with. Often times corporate owned venues fall into the ‘bad club’ category. No one at the club really cares about anything.

The club we’re playing tonight, Herb’s, in Denver falls into my ‘good club’ category. It’s owner, Laura Newman is one of the premier saxophone players in Denver, and Robbie the manager is always wearing a smile when we’re there and really seems to enjoy the music he books there. They have a stage, lights, and a PA system, allowing us to play music as opposed to be gear haulers. And they have paid live music gigs 6 nights a week, a rarity anymore.

Although I’m somewhat late in sending this email out announcing the gig, I hope some of you in the Denver area can make it tonight. Or if not, go support Herbs on another night. Musicians need clubs like Herbs.

In Symbols news, we just did the first day of a video shoot for the song Shake It from our CD. We have another date scheduled for the end of the month, and hopefully the video itself will be completed by mid-summer. We’re also in the process of recording more songs for upcoming CD releases, with 7 partly recorded and a few more written.

Next week Mer and I will be joining Phil Brown’s Guitar Army for a couple shows in Oklahoma. I used to tour through that area a lot and am looking forward to seeing many old friends and fans. Plus Phil is a phenomenal guitarist so this will be educational for me.

Sun May 15 – Herb’s Denver, CO 9pm

Fri May 20 – Norman Music Institute, Norman, OK, 8pm Jasco and Mer w/ Phil Brown’s Army

Sat May 21 – Tulsa Mayfest, Tulsa OK, 9:30pm Jasco and Mer w/ Phil Brown’s Guitar Army

Thurs May 26 KRFC Live at Lunch, Ft Collins CO noon

Fri May 27 Ride for Realities, Old Town, Ft Collins CO, 7pm

Sat May 28 Avo’s, Ft Collins CO, 8pm – all ages show

Sat May 29 Avo's - video shoot - noon. Open to the public. Band members will not be in this portion of the shoot - a paid actor and actress will.

Or join us Tuesdays and Wednesdays at noon at Spotlight Music in Ft Collins for our open rehearsals.

The new Symbols CD is available at shows or at our website.

25% of CD sales and 50% of online MP3 downloads are donated to the Michael Olson fund at the National MS Society.

‘Like’ us on Facebook if you haven’t already.

Thanks for your support.


Included with this month's newsletter is a link to a free download of the latest single we’re promoting from our CD: Rules Rules Rules.

April 2011

Welcome to the monthly e-newsletter for The Symbols.

A few weeks ago the stereo in my car quit working. Although I don’t drive as much as when I was on tour year-round for twelve years, I still put quite a few miles on. And those miles seem so much longer without music.

Anyone on my other mailing list may remember a few months ago I questioned the value of what I do as a musician. As I drive miles in silence these days I’ve come to realize the value of making music.

Music may be one of the last forms of magic in the world. A great song has the power to take on a different emotional meaning for each listener. And different meanings for the same listener at different points in his or her life. This is the mysterious power of music. What are we left with if there remains no mystery in life?

What is the peace an infant knows from a mother’s lullaby, if not magic? What is a ballad that unites two lovers, if not magic? What is music, if not magic?

After riding in silence for a few weeks I’ve come to the realize that no, I would not want to live in a world without music, for that is a world without magic, that is a world without mystery, and that is a world without faith.

And that I fear, for any sentient being, would be the cruelest trick of all.

As a band, we try to put as much magic and emotion in our music as we can. If we touch a few of you the way we’ve been touched by other great composers and musicians then our work is worthwhile.

Any of you in the Colorado area are invited to share our magic at upcoming shows:

March 31 Avo’s Ft Collins, 7:30pm – 10:30pm all ages
April 1 12 Volt Tavern, Arvada, 9pm -10:30pm
April 6 Herman’s Hideaway, Denver
April 9 FOCO MX, Ft Collins Brewery 2:30 pm

Or join us Tuesdays and Wednesdays at noon at Spotlight Music in Ft Collins for our open rehearsals.

The new Symbols CD is available at shows or at our website.

25% of CD sales and 50% of online MP3 downloads are donated to the Michael Olson fund at the National MS Society.

‘Like’ us on Facebook if you haven’t already.

Thanks for your support.


March 2011

Recently The Symbols did a short interview for Scene Magazine. I was asked one of the typical music interview questions “What inspired you to become a musician?” I gave a typical response about how I was inspired by listening to music and not wanting to work a real job. My answer must have been boring because interviewer spiced it up a bit when he printed it.

A few days after the interview, my uncle died.

What I should have answered, if I’d have put any effort into it, was that it was people around me in my youth who played music right in front of me that inspired me to want to play. People like my uncle – the first person I ever saw play an electric guitar. Unfortunately, I never got to thank him for his influence on me before he died. I still remember how to play the first song he taught me, although I don’t know the song’s name or who wrote and recorded it. I might have to ask my friend Bobby Walker, who is a walking encyclopedia of American music knowledge.

The long drive to the funeral gave me a chance to reflect upon both the power of live musical performances as well as not taking who and what I have in the world around me for granted. I appreciate the opportunity I have with the Symbols more fully than ever now, and have renewed convictions to make the most of this band as well as enjoy the process as it unfolds.

I’d invite any of you in the Colorado region to come share a night a music and friendship with us at our upcoming shows:

March 17, Toad Tavern, Littleton, CO 8pm-9pm Fun St Patricks day show with 3 other bands
March 18,19 The Drunken Skunk, Cheyenne, WY
March 26 Bushwackers, Denver, CO
March 31 Avo’s, Ft Collins, CO
Every Tuesday and Wednesday we hold open rehearsals around noon at Spotlight Music in Ft Collins.

Additionally, our new CD is available for purchase at live shows as well as on our web page. The first review of that CD can be found in Marquee Magazine, available in print around northern Colorado, or see their web page.

We’ve also got some upcoming performances on The Rough TV show on channel 97 Ft Collins, as well as in some ads on the same station.

Thanks for your support of the Symbols.


Feb 2011


It’s a powerful tool for motivation. Belief is the primary ingredient of success. Without belief, one is just going through the motions, at best.

It is better, I think, to grab at the stars than to sit flustered because you believe you cannot reach them.

Believing in one’s self can be difficult though. It can’t be faked – it has to be true. And often, in the real world, others attack belief in oneself for a host of reasons – fear, jealousy, and misunderstanding. I applaud those who have the strength to resist such critics.

Other forms of empowering belief include belief in other member of one’s team and belief in a cause. I’m blessed at this point in my life to be involved in a group that has a strong sense of belief in each other as well as in a common cause.

We have recently completed one small step towards our goals by releasing our first CD, simply titled “The Symbols”. It has five songs and we’re selling them for $5. You can also download these songs at our website for any price you choose. And 25% of CD sales as well as 50% of music download sales go to support a cause we believe in: The Michael Olson MS fund to help the fight against MS. We’re also selling other new items for fans including T-shirts, women’s panties, stickers, and posters in an effort to raise funds for videos we’re shooting for an upcoming DVD.

If you’re in the Colorado area, you can hear us performing an acoustic set tonight (Friday Feb 18th) at 7pm at the Sports Station (850 Dayton St Aurora) that is being filmed by Innervision for Comcast 56 and KPDI 12 TV as a benefit for disabled musicians.

Additionally, we’ll be performing to celebrate the release of The Symbols CD this month in Boulder at the Outlook Hotel on Thursday Feb 24th 7pm, in Loveland at the Island Grill on Friday Feb 25th 8pm, and in Cheyenne at the Crown (222 W Lincolnway) on Saturday Feb 26th 9pm.

The Outlook Hotel show means a lot to me in particular due to the ongoing efforts of it's promoter Honey Sepeda in finding worthy causes to put on benefit shows for.

Special thanks to all of you who believe in us. We really appreciate it.

- Jasco

Dec 2010

Hi. Welcome to Symbolism, the monthly newsletter for The Symbols. Those of you who may have read the other newsletter I write know that in band emails I don’t like to follow the standard type of emails most bands send, which is either a dry list of show dates, or an ego-inflated list of accomplishments.

However, this month I am going to brag a bit about this band. Not about myself, or any of our accomplishments, but rather about the other people involved in this group.

We’ve used a number of drummers at gigs, but the one we use most is Ryan Sapp. I met Ryan a few summers ago while on a short road trip with Bobby Walker. Ryan has great musical grooves, is a total team player, and is one of the most straightforward guys to deal with business-wise that I’ve ever run across.

Our bassist, David Becher, has musical knowledge as well as musical discretion in his playing that is well beyond his years. He always plays for the song and doesn’t go on ego-trips showing off his chops like many his age would if they had his skills.

Mer Sal, our front person and creative leader has a great voice as well as a huge personality. Additionally she continually inspires me by her seemingly effortless ability to write songs. Always positive, she makes everything fun, from gigs to rehearsals to band business meetings. I figure her smile alone will sell quite a few CDs for us. She’s also shown a lot of courage, as well as belief in this project by what she has sacrificed for it thus far.

All three band members have great musical skills. I’ve learned a lot from each of them. Additionally I’ve learned a lot about life from each of them, as they each possess wisdom, especially for their young ages. The thing that really does it for me though, is that each of them shows a great deal of humility given their talents. That is such a rare and refreshing quality to see in today’s environment. And that is why I’m honored giving so much of myself to this band.

If anyone wants to hear and see the band members that I’m so proud of, we’ll be playing the Little Bear in Evergreen tonight (Thursday Dec 30th) 8pm-11pm as well as playing with the band Varlett (with Lilly Scott of American Idol) at Dickens Opera House in Longmont on Dec 7th at 8pm.

For more information, sounds, sights, and concert dates check our website. Tell a friend or two if you like what you hear. Word of mouth is the only form of promotion worth anything anymore. For a free download of our new single "Kristin" click here.

The Symbols are dedicated to help fight MS (multiple sclerosis) and have set up a fund in honor of our musician friend Mike Olson. 25% of CD sales and 50% of download sales will be donated to this fund.


Oct 2010

Hi and welcome,

This is the first monthly newsletter for the band The Symbols. However, I’m not going to tell you much about the band at this point. There are pictures and audio and video clips on our website for you to listen to and see. Most other band newsletters are primarily fluff and hype or a dry list of dates, and I refuse to follow suit.

Instead, I’m going to tell you a short story.

I have a bass-playing friend named Mike Olson. Before I moved to Colorado about 5 years ago, I knew him vaguely threw a mutual friend Dave Beegle. After I moved here, I got to know him a lot better, as he was teaching bass lessons at Spotlight Music, where I started teaching guitar lessons. Other than the fact that he was one of the best musicians I’d ever met, and always had something witty or wise to say, Mike seemed like a fairly normal guy.

I specifically remember the first time I saw Mike with a slight limp. It was while carrying in some gear for a show I played with him at Hodi’s in Ft Collins, that also included guitar greats Phil Brown, Dave Beegle, and Chris Jackowski. I asked if he had hurt his leg, and he said no. He told me he had MS (multiple sclerosis). I knew virtually nothing about MS, and his statement didn’t have the impact on me that it should have.

Over the course of the past few years, I’ve watched Mike deteriorate physically to the point of having to struggle while using a walker just to get around. I’m coming to realize just how aweful this disease is. But there is a small bright point in this tragedy. That point is Mike himself. Despite what has happened to him, he remains a pillar of strength and positive energy. I’ve never once heard him complain. Never seem him get mad or frustrated. He’s never too busy to help me with a music problem, offer some wisdom, or well-thought humor.

He is truly an inspiration and guiding light to myself and others around him. I can’t even pretend I would have near his strength to carry on my life if I were in his place.

The other members of the Symbols, also know Mike. Our bassist David Becher has been his long-time student.

As a group, we’d been throwing around ideas of how we could do a little something to help the world be a better place while playing our music, and due to our mutual connections with Mike Olson, we came up with the idea that we are going to donate a portion of all the sales of music we ever make as a band to some organization that is either researching a cure for MS, or providing care for people currently suffering with the disease. We don’t have any original music recorded yet, and we still have to work out the details of how the donations will work, but we will let all of you know as we make progress on either front.

When I mentioned this in my other montly newletter, I received an email that surprised and saddened me. It was from the singer in the very first band I was in back in Junior High School. It read:


You (and the rest of The Symbols) just touched my heart. Not sure if you knew but my mom has had MS for 35+ years. I have watched her go from the mom that would race me across the yard to the front door in kindergarten, to the mom that has been in a wheelchair for over 20 years and has a tough time even feeding herself. MS is an absolutely HORRIBLE disease and I take my hat off to you and your new band for trying to make a difference! Please pass this along to the rest of the band!

Sincerely, your friend,

While I don’t have any delusions about changing the world, I do hope that what we do here will make some small difference in the larger picture.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to forward this note to anyone whom you feel might appreciate it.

© The Symbols, LLC