Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Sing-Off and Upcoming Albums

Fall has definitely arrived.

The air is crisp. School is underway (for those of us in Groove For Thought that are students and/or teachers). The Seattle Mariners have failed to make the playoffs again. All the tell-tale signs that Summer is over are appearing every day. Along with the Fall TV lineup. Anybody been watching The Sing Off? It's very cool to see the hard work of many of the people we know now that work behind the scenes to put together that show having the success they deserve. Any early favorites? It's been awesome to see some of our friends return to the Sing Off stage in Delilah, and it was definitely cool to hear another group with some jazz sensibilities in Afro-Blue. How about the high school group from our neck of the woods (the Pacific Northwest), Soul'd Out? Think they got a fair shake? Needless to say, after experiencing the show first hand last year, we definitely watch it (all reality television) with different eyes, now.

Speaking of The Sing Off, how cool is it that many of last year's groups are now releasing albums? The new Committed album is very cool as is the new Street Corner Symphony album. The Backbeats have begun production on their first studio album, and Pitch Slapped has a project in the works as well.

Which brings us to our forthcoming album. We had to make the tough decision to postpone it's release. Recording is a fun, but difficult and time-consuming process. There are always some bumps in the road when you dive into a project like this, but we've also got a few new surprises up our sleeve that we know will be worth the wait. We will be releasing our album to the public on January 7, 2012 (which coincidentally is within a few days of the 12th anniversary of Groove For Thought). If you're going to be in the Seattle area that evening (or want an excuse to come to our little corner of the world), join us for what is going to be an amazing CD Release Concert full of surprises and special guests. Tickets are already available. Also, in case you missed it, here is a link to our latest vlog with a sneak peek at a track from the album and a look behind the scenes at our recording process.

That's all for now. Back to the studio. In the meantime, catch us on facebook, twitter, and www.grooveforthought.com.

See you soon.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

You Could Be Talking To Me…

Hello Groovers!!! How I’ve missed you so!

I’ve come to tell you more wonderful amazing stories about my super eventful life. Get ready to be blown away.
I was recently hired at a call center, as a summer job. It’s a great job for a college student – pays well, looks good on a resume, a REAL JOB… you know, all the perks. I even get my own cubicle. And desk and phone and computer and garbage can. It’s pretty rad.

I’m going to describe the different kinds of people that call in, and include some conversations I’ve had with customers, for your entertainment. We have crazies. We have super-olds. We have guilt-trippers. We have dummies. The list goes on and on. And of course I’m not including the obvious NICE PEOPLE that call in, because those stories are boring…. Even though I would rather have only nice people call in. Realize that 75% of calls are nice people, I’m only talking about the evil 25%. KEEP CALLING, NICE PEOPLE! YOU MAKE MY LIFE BETTER!

In this job, I encounter all of the kinds of people you never want to meet. Actually, it’s probably regular people that you know that are usually super nice, but as soon as they get on the phone with a call center agent, they turn into giant crazy rage-monsters that have no grasp on reality or rationality, and all of a sudden they’re the center of the online-orders universe. And apparently that is a REALLY important universe.

Today, I will tell you a story about a Crazy. This is a call I got the other day, and this lady was super upset. I completely understand her reasoning… after all, she is the center of the online-orders universe, which, as we’ve established, is SUPER IMPORTANT. As a side note: Mbr stands for member, as in members/customers of the company that I am now a part of.

Me: “Good Morning! This is Amanda, how can I help you?”
Mbr: “Hey how are you doing today?”
Me: “Oh I’m doing well, how—“
Mbr: “—I’ve got an issue with—“
Awkward silence because I accidentally unleashed the scary monster when I thought she cared about how I was today…
Mbr: “DID I ASK HOW YOU WERE DOING??? $%^*%^&(“
Me: “…No. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have interrupted you…”
Me: “May I ask for some information first, that I can provide to my supervisor?“
Mbr: “No.”
Me: “Okay let me get a supervisor for you right away. Would you mind holding?”
Me: “I’m sorry ma’am, I can’t control what happens while you’re on hold.”
Mbr: “Well CALL ME BACK”
Me: “I am not able to call you back, ma’am.”
Mbr: “Oh fine. Well what are you waiting for? PUT ME ON HOLD ALREADY!!!”


Me: “Hello ma’am?
Mbr: “Yes, hello?”
Me: “Hello.”
Mbr: “Hello?”
Me: “Hello!”
Me: “Okay ma’am I’m going to transfer you over to a supervisor, but before I do, I’m going to need a little more information. Is that okay?”
Mbr: “Yes, of course dear.”
Me: “Okay, may I ask what this is regarding?”
Mbr: “Well, I’m really upset because you DON’T HAVE DR. PEPPER ON YOUR WEBSITE AND THAT’S JUST UNBELIEVABLE AHHHH %^&*^&*)&_!”
Me: “Oh… I’m sorry about that ma’am…”
Mbr: “Well do you have it or not?”
Me: “No ma’am, we don’t have Dr. Pepper on our website.”
Me: No, I promise you ma’am, I would never lie to a member. If you can’t find it on our website, that means we are not currently selling that product online.”
Mbr: “BULL!@#$%!!”
Me: “I’m sorry ma’am, would you repeat that one more time?”
Mbr: “YOU’RE BULL!@#$ING ME! Let me speak to a supervisor NOW!”
Me: “Okay ma’am, I’ll transfer you over now.”
Mbr: “Thanks, sweetie.”
My brain: “What Just Happened?”

That is an example of a Crazy. Friends and fellows, please do not call in to a call center and turn into a Crazy. First of all, go buy Dr. Pepper at a grocery store. If it’s not online, I promise the world isn’t going to end. That’s a weird thing to order online anyways. Secondly, Dr. Pepper is not a secret item that I am purposefully hiding from you so that you can’t get it. Most of the time, when you call a call center, the people you are speaking with are not evil geniuses that are trying to steal your Dr. Pepper. If we don’t have it, we don’t have it. You talking to a supervisor is not going to make us put Dr. Pepper on our website.
But the less specific moral of the story is – Don’t turn into a scary monster when you make a call. It could be someone like me that you’re talking to. Forget about the fact that you’re being unreasonable and horrible in general – someone might repost it on the internet and you’ll feel bad later. Be nice when you call in! It’s so much easier and makes us want to be as helpful as possible to you.


Oh, don't forget to keep up with us on facebook, twitter, and our website. We'll have lots of exciting things to share in the coming months.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Influential Artists

As a member of Groove for Thought, it's often difficult for me to describe the music we make. This seems to be a common problem for independent musical groups. When asked, "What type of music do you make?" many young musicians begin to stutter, "Well, um, it's kind of hard to explain."

It's not that we don't want to explain ourselves easily and precisely, but rather that we know our music so well that it's hard for us to define it. We don't want to leave any of the details out, especially since they're so close to the heart of the music we make. In an effort to find a quick and easily understood elevator pitch, we often resort to describing our influences. Earth, Wind & Fire, Stevie Wonder, and Manhattan Transfer are commonly mentioned. And this often seems to be satisfactory to the listener.

While Groove for Thought has its list of artists to look up to, each member has a private list of their own. I was very excited to hear that Hiromi was coming to Seattle a few weeks ago; she's been a favorite of mine for many years. She may be be a soft-spoken Japanese twenty-something, but she's a powerhouse when she gets behind a piano.

Watching her command her instrument with such authority and confidence makes me question my definition of passion. Is there anything in my life I'm so dedicated to? And for that matter, how do her fellow professional musicians feel after seeing her perform? Are her weaknesses as a pianist more apparent to them? Or are they equally as inspired and convicted?

Influences such as these--the "fringe" of human capabilities and talents--are what lead each of us to greatness. We need these outliers to remind us that there is always more to be accomplished, even if we can never dream of reaching the bar they've set. As long as we have something impossible to set our sights on, we're bound to achieve greatness in the process.

We'll have lots of exciting news in the coming months about our new CD and upcoming performances. Keep up with us on facebook, twitter, and our website.


Monday, July 4, 2011

Updates for an Unnamed Album

We’re in the throes of recording CD number two for Groove For Thought.  Very exciting!  We are trying to get everything done within a couple of months, which basically means that we are working non-stop through the summer.  Our primary focus at the moment is two fold - get vocal recording finished on tunes that we already have the charts for, and get all of our new material written as soon as possible so we can get going on recording that stuff too.  Both Kelly and I are on summer break and basically spending every spare moment in the studio tracking, editing, or arranging.  It’s a fun, creative, yet sometimes exhausting process.

Kelly is our primary arranger, and I swear the guy can pop out a mind-blowing arrangement in a day or so (which he’ll then spend days criticizing and tweaking until it’s even more mind-blowing).  Even with his arranging prowess, we would never be able to get all of the charts for the album done in time to record everything if it were all on him.  So, I have taken on an arrangement of my own.  Now I have done a couple of vocal jazz arrangements as well as some choral arrangements in the past, but GFT arrangements are whole different ball game.  Coming up with something that is creative, unique, and worthy of a GFT arrangement has been extremely difficult.  I have been staring at my computer screen, slamming on my piano, and staring at my computer screen some more for days, just hoping that what I’m writing will pass the ultimate litmus test - when Kelly listens to your work and gives you the thumbs up or thumbs down.  Now, keep in mind that we all want everything we do to be at a high level, and Kelly, being the founder and resident musical genius of GFT, has the final say on all things musical in nature.

A couple of days ago the time came, and I showed my arrangement to Kelly.  This after days of working on this and beginning to feel like it wasn’t worthy of a GFT track.  I played the track for him and watched his expression, waiting for the “that measure there is cool, but I’m not sure about the other 30.”  Yet, it never came.  Instead, he said, “That’s pretty cool, man, keep plowing ahead!”  I was admittedly shocked and suddenly more inspired to keep going.  And so now, a few days later, I’m nearing the end of my chart and ready to get to the recording part of the process.  You might be wondering right about now what the song might be I’m working on, or what the name of the album might be. Stay tuned for announcements all of this stuff in the near future : )

All of this GFT album work comes only a couple of days after releasing Amanda’s solo album, “Pieces Of My Heart” (which, by the way, you can order at www.amandataylorkunz.com, and well you should!).  After a couple weeks of 12 hour days of mixing and mastering her songs with Kelly and our good friend Larz Nefzger, there's nothing like jumping into some more 12 hour days on another project.  Yet I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I’ll admit that there are times I think to myself that not working all the time would be nice, but then I take a day (or just a few hours) off and immediately get bored.  So, I continue with the long, yet always rewarding, work days.

Stay tuned for some great things in the coming months from GFT!  We’ll be in Las Vegas in September, as well as Northern California and Nebraska in the next couple of weeks.  Check out our schedule page for more details, we’d love to see you at a gig! And as always, stay tuned to our website, facebook page, and twitter

for updates.


Monday, June 6, 2011


Hello friends and family.

We've been pretty busy lately.  We're working hard on getting our second CD done and doing some really fun and exciting gigs.  Recently, we did a little gig in Las Vegas.  You know.  Nothing special.  Just opening for some comedian in a little theater in some hotel down there.  I mean its hardly worth mentioning really.  Except that it was opening for JAY LENO in the TERRY FATOR THEATER at the MIRAGE!!!  (Yes. 3 exclamation marks is/was completely necessary).  We had so much fun and we're really looking forward to going back, but we'll get back to that in just a little bit.

Unlike a typical GFT performance that is anywhere from 45 minutes to about 1.5 hours long, this particular performance was only 20 minutes long.  We tried to give the audience a nice high energy show that was as funny, entertaining, and musical as we could muster; so we spent weeks practicing the set and getting the right collection of tunes in the perfect order so we could change it as soon as we got there.  We felt like a touching rendition of "And So It Goes" might not set the right tone for a comedy act.  Of course we didn't think about that until after the first show.  We don't blame the couple in the front row for falling asleep.  It was 10:00 at night after all.  And the group sitting over on the right hand side having side conversations and laughing, I hope you know that you missed out on something beautiful that night... 7 singers baring their souls.  In all honesty, this was such a fun experience for us.  We got to visit Vegas and we got to perform in one of the coolest venues we've ever played in front of a couple real Vegas audiences.  I never thought I would ever be playing Vegas, but there we were opening for Jay Flippin' Leno (I'm not sure if that's his legal middle name or not so don't quote me on it).

Jeff and I worked up the first ever Groove for Thought Vlog of Awesomeness... ness... ness... ness (that sounded more epic in my head than it looks typed out), so I'll let him tell you about the rest of the trip.

Like Jeff mentioned (kinda stealing my thunder a little bit there), we'll be back in Vegas on September 23rd and 24th.  You can get all the information you need here. You might also want to check out our website to see if we're going to play a venue near you.  As always, we'd love to hear from you on our Facebook page or on twitter.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Journey of a Future Educator

What a year 2011 is turning out to be. Coming off our appearance on the Sing Off, Groove For Thought continues to keep this train rolling with no end in sight. We have performed around the Pacific Northwest, shared the stage with On The Rocks (our Sing Off friends), and are currently working hard in the studio on our sophomore CD. In May we are heading down to Las Vegas to open for Jay Leno at the Mirage Hotel and Casino (actually the rest of GFT is unaware that I am opening for Leno with my own standup routine. It will be our little secret.)

We also recently found out we were nominated for an A Cappella Community Award from CASA for "Favorite Jazz Group." CASA members, please vote for us before May 15th; we would appreciate your support. Enough about GFT. If I may, I am going to be selfish and talk about myself for a bit. I know you won’t mind, right?

You may or may not know that I am currently in school to pursue a degree in Music Education. Come this fall, I will be attending Central Washington University to obtain my Music Education degree, which I am very excited about. However, it has not always been easy.

Lets go back in time to the summer of 2009 ( cue the Wayne’s World teleportation sound effect) to where my academic journey begins.

At the time I had a warehouse job, making some good money, yet all the while never feeling fulfilled. After GFT spent two weeks in Europe working with some of the top vocal groups over there, it finally dawned on me what I wanted to do with my life. I was tired of working odd jobs and wanted to return to school to fill the void in my life that had been plaguing me for over a decade. When I say odd jobs, I mean it; from a delivery driver for a party supply store to working with nuclear pharmaceuticals, which wasn’t a bad gig aside from the daily dose of RADIATION. It was time for me to return to school.

After talking with my wife Autumn, who could not have been happier for me, I decided to enroll again at Tacoma Community College to obtain my Associate of Arts and Sciences degree. I started during the Winter quarter and immediately felt out of place. What was I thinking? Here I am in my mid-30s going back to school. I would be in classes with students who are half my age. I certainly did not want to be lumped into the “non-traditional student” category. On my first day back, I saw a woman who was old enough to be my grandmother. As I watched her push her walker with a book bag on her back, I knew I was going to be just fine.

I tried college right after High School but was not mentally prepared. After all, I just graduated and my brain was done with school. This time around was going to be different. I had more experience in life than these “traditional” students and used that to my advantage. I had a plan and knew what to do to make sure I was the best student I could be.

Now back to the present. I am in my final quarter at Tacoma Community College and I will have my degree in a few weeks. As I mentioned earlier, I am off to CWU this fall to keep my own train rolling. It has been a lot of work juggling school, GFT, as well as being a father

and husband, but I would not want it any other way.


Friday, April 1, 2011

A New Arrangement... and Jay Leno!

Okay, so before I begin, this is my very first blog, so be kind... :)

So, I’ve been working on this new chart (for those who didn't know, I'm kind of GFT's resident music writer). I started it a long time ago, but hadn’t had a chance to get back to it until recently. Of course, now, I want it done right away so we can do it at some of our upcoming jazz gigs. I had asked Nick (our piano player) to write out a beastly “sax soli” type section in the middle and when he sent it to me, my first thought was “wow”, that’s dang cool. My second thought was, “oh my, that’s pretty hard to sing”. Of course my very next thought was.... “awesome”. :)

In going through this tune, I’ve been trying something a bit new for us. I started with this chart called Harold’s House of Jazz. It has your typical vocalise type lyrics, written by David Lahm. As a side note, this tune is actually based upon another old jazz standard, called “Cherokee” and apparently, there is quite a lineage to this tune. Typically this tune is done at a rather hard bop tempo in 4, so, naturally, my goal was to do it in 3.

Anyways, back to my goal upfront for this tune. To try and find a way to create a big band vibe while at the same time using lyrics instead of scat type syllables like I did in La Fiesta. Not really a new concept, but I have been trying to find ways for us to “layer” the music in a similar fashion as to how a big band arrangement would be, using all the different sections in the band. Being that we are only 7 singers, I had to pair that concept down a bit, but overall, I think the vibe is workin’.

When I neared the end of the chart, I found myself stuck. Didn’t quite know where to go with it and had only a hazy idea floating around in my head. So, as usual, I sat down at the keyboard and my computer and tore into it. As it evolved I found it was pretty swingin’, pretty happy and had a bit of a contemporary big band flavor to it, at least in certain ways. The next challenge was to interweave lyrics and scat syllable stuff on different lines. Not necessarily a call and response, but more of an alternating thing that hopefully makes sense to the listener. I will have to get back to you as to whether or not this actually comes together because I’m in the middle of it right now and need to get it to my fellow GFTer’s so we can run it down on Tuesday [our typical rehearsal night].

Okay, so, jury is still out as to the lyric writing on the end of the chart. Sometimes it is hard to tell until we actually record it. Stay tuned.... :)

Oh yes! Some other very exciting news. Groove For Thought will be opening for Jay Leno in Vegas May 13th and 14th! Also, we just found out that our Christmas track "We Three Kings/O Come O Come Emmanuel" won a CARA award for best Holiday Song! Exciting stuff, right?

Keep in touch with us on facebook or twitter and we'll see you at a gig soon. And thanks for reading all of this, hope it wasn't too long and boring!