Musical Ruts

Every now and again, I get into a musical rut, whether that’s good or bad. For a good long stretch there, and by long, I’m talking 3-4 years, all I listened to was the music of Steely Dan, much to the deep chagrin of my family (but ultimately for my own personal betterment when I got the call to sub in with a SD cover band this year). More recently than that, I’ve been bingeing on Vulfpeck.

This past summer, though, I went to Europe for work, and decided on a couple of desert island albums to take with me. The lads over at All Songs Considered had tipped me off to “Echo Mountain Sessions” by Sylvan Esso – a band I’d never heard of before – and lo and behold, I found what would ultimately carry me through my trip.

EMS led to the discovery of the duo’s latest release, “What Now”, and this album grabbed me by the ears right away. A great mix of songwriting, instrumentation, timbre, just a very satisfying listen. The opening track really took hold and I couldn’t stop listening.

Oh hi, I’m new here…

Work can really be…work, sometimes.

The more I examine who I am, the more that I see that I’m a bit of an introvert (which, if you take it into the context of some of my social media activities over time, doesn’t make a heap of sense – maybe more like a slightly narcissistic introvert?)

Either way, as far as my bass playing life has gone, I’ve been fortunate enough for the phone to ring and not for me to go out and have to put my name out. Decreasingly, though, in each of the cities I’ve lived in, the phone doesn’t ring as much. Some of that has been a conscious decision – with the day job, I’d settled for making music at work, which is totally valid, and an honourable way to do things. I’m blessed with a job that pays me to make notes. I also know that the marketplace is crowded, and don’t want to be another hungry mouth to feed at an increasingly small meal. Plus, too, I’ve been trying to be the best dad I can over the last 14-or-so years, so sticking close and not doing “discretionary” gigs was more of a thing as well.

That said, if people don’t know who I am, I need to go introduce myself, rub some shoulders, press a little flesh, and insert a noise here.

Re-met Tom Vickery on Wednesday night, the leader of the jazz jam at Hermann’s here in Victoria. Tom and I had met a couple of times previously on other subjects (mostly through work and the union), but this was the first time that I’d had a chance to play, and that he’d had a chance to hear me. Same goes for Sean Drabbitt, the house bassist, and Kelby MacNayr, the house drummer, who happens to be one of my favourite players that I’ve heard lately.

Heard some great players, got a chance to get up and play, discovered what the flavour of jazz is around these parts, and had a great time. Looking forward to doing it again down the line!

Rebooting and Hacking

I’ve consciously been trying to reinvent myself. Certainly for the last two years, this has been the case, but I’ve been making an even more focused effort over the last six months. I’ve been challenging beliefs, challenging methods of operation, and really trying to make better sense out of what it is that I do on a daily basis. My focus right now is to be more effective at being me. Sounds a little bit hippy-dippy, but I do know that there are a number of ways with which I can streamline my life and be better at being me.

Kristy introduced me to this North Node thing. I’m not usually a big astrology guy, as there are a lot of factors that I know I can control and take care of myself, and I’ve poked around a little bit inasmuch as I’ve had an astrology chart done, and sure, you can draw inferences from one source or another and make things apply to your life, bending your circumstances to match what’s printed on the page. That’s basic psychology and belief stuff. Writ-large, though, this North Node stuff was fairly accurate. I’m not going to say that I’m going to rewrite my life based upon this, but it certainly gives me some food for thought as I go through this next phase of transforming my life.

For as organized as I appear to be, and for how tightly my shit might look like it’s wound, at the centre of my being, if I don’t have some kind of routine to keep me in line, I’m rudderless and slovenly. I’m totally content to lose myself in social media or news reading, or to neglect tasks like bed making, laundry-doing, dish-washing, etc. There are times when this is totally okay, and I get that, but by-and-large, I know that I need to do better.

Enter the written routines. I’ve noted over time that I’m far more productive if I have procedures and schedules in place, rather than trying to wing it. For as much as I’d like to pretend I’m spontaneous, I think I just need to admit to myself that I’m not. I value routine, I value the ability to work within a box. I value the idea that *these* tasks need to be accomplished inside of *this* space in *this* amount of time. That North Node thing said that I can accomplish in one hour what most folks do in five. I work well under pressure and on deadlines. I’ve got a pretty good track record in that department. Time to do that in other parts of my life.

I’m going to try out the written routine thing for a little while and see where I end up. It’s not exactly going to be stuff like “brush teeth” or “wash face” but more things like “prepare breakfast smoothie the night before” or “ensure dishes are washed before heading to work”, or “get your fucking ass out of bed and do some kind of fucking physical activity in the morning you idle bag of water…” Oh wait, hangover from the army… But you get the idea. And I’m still going to write in my requisite social media time, because, dammit, facecrack.

The hopeful end-state for this is that I’ll be able to make oft-neglected things more of a priority by scheduling them in. I’ve got VAST tracts of my day that conceivably (and frequently) go unchecked and unaccounted for. Using lists and procedures, I get the sense that I can hack my life into being more productive than I already am.

Okay, I get the sense that some of you are snickering and nodding along thinking that this is easy-peasy shit. Sure, for you, it might be, and I applaud you. For a dude that struggles with this stuff, it looks and feels really daunting.

So I guess I’d best stop losing myself in words and get on the horse…

De Retour

2017 is here (quelle surprise). I’m still here (pas de surprise). Life is indeed good.

Experimenting with blogging again, not because I’m vain, but because sometimes it’s good to get some output and I feel like there’s a whole pile of stuff inside me that needs to get thrown out. Some public, some not. Going to use this space as a way to collate all the stuff that’s going through my head – There’ll be some dream journaling (all hail the magical mystery tour), some private stuff that you won’t be able to see, some stuff I haven’t figured out yet. We’ll see where this goes.

Hold on – should be fun!


IMG_3993I’d gotten accustomed to certain things over the years — humans generally are, after all, creatures of habit. One of these things was homemade bread. I’ll take exactly zero credit for this recipe. That needs to go to Charmaine and her brother Jesse (the former for the ingredients, the latter for the process). The end result, though, I take responsibility for, as I’m the guy making the bread.

This stuff is good. Kristy likens it to a melt-in-your-mouth bread, one that makes decent sandwiches, but ultimately ends up best either to soak up a hearty soup, or in the mornings as toast. Either way, you get to fill your face with deliciousness.

As a homebrewer, I end up with a good amount of spent grain from my operations there. When possible, I’ll add a couple of cups of spent grain to my bread to give it a little extra something, but this bread works just fine on its own without. No need to adjust the recipe. A separate post about spent grain is coming eventually.

This recipe is begging for substitutions, too. As I’m writing this post, I didn’t have cracked wheat, so I just went without that one and tossed in a handful of flaxseed instead. I also swapped out the milk for almond milk (Kristy is dairy-sensitive, but also too because it’s pouring cats and dogs and I have no milk in the fridge, nor any desire to go outdoors today).

This isn’t without effort – it takes me about four hours to make bread from start to finish, and there’s a minor amount of exertion involved, but at the end of the day, you wind up with a freezer full of yum.

Basic Bread Recipe
Print Recipe
Your toast never had it so good
Servings Prep Time
5 loaves 40 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
35 minutes 3 hours
Servings Prep Time
5 loaves 40 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
35 minutes 3 hours
Basic Bread Recipe
Print Recipe
Your toast never had it so good
Servings Prep Time
5 loaves 40 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
35 minutes 3 hours
Servings Prep Time
5 loaves 40 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
35 minutes 3 hours
Servings: loaves
  1. Melt the butter. Add the water, milk, yeast, honey, lemon juice, and set aside.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients together in your bread bowl.
  3. Whisk the eggs, and add to the liquid mixture.
  4. Incorporate the liquids into the dry ingredients, making a rough mix. The dough will be wet and sticky. Trust. Let this sit for 2-5 minutes (now would be a good time to tackle the mounting pile of dishes...)
  5. Either divide the dough in two and mix in your stand mixer, or roll up your sleeves and get to it. It'll be a big mess to deal with on your countertop if you do it by hand, but I've never had it go bad or wrong *knocks on wood*. Knead for 6-8 minutes.
  6. Use the oil to coat your bread bowl and return the dough to your bowl, cover and place in a warm area until doubled in size (1 to 1.5 hours). I use my oven with the light on for this purpose.
  7. Punch down your dough, measure the total weight and divide into five equal-sized loaves. Form loaves by tucking the sides underneath and making...well...a loaf-shaped object. Next time I make bread, I'll take pictures, I promise. Other option is to just Google it...
  8. Spray down your bread pans with non-stick spray, and place your loaves in each. place them back into your warm space until the tops of the loaves have just crowned the loaf pans. Preheat your oven to 375F.
  9. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the loaf is browned on top and sounds hollow when you knock on it.
  10. Remove from the oven, allow to cool for 2-3 minutes, then place on wire cooling racks. Avoid the temptation to eat all the bread right now.
Recipe Notes

Be careful when you're letting it rise in the pans - this bread tends to want to go volcanic, and you'll end up with holes in the middle of your loaves if you let it rise too long.

Share this Recipe


Coming back to BC made me realize that I’m a little more crunchy granola than my job would indicate. Ok, maybe a lot more.

Part of the deal in moving here was that I wanted to make a real effort to get local. I wanted to live in an area where I could walk to things – work, shopping, nature, etc, and still be close enough that I could ride my bike to everything else. I found a gem of a house in View Royal that does just that – 3km to work, right next to a park, a bike path, two beaches (one to go hang out and read and watch the sunset at and the other that you can swim in), plus I have a grocery store, liquor store, dollar store, pharmacy, and Canadian Tire all at hand. The net result? I don’t have to drive nearly as much as I did before. Hell, I don’t even have to do massive weekly grocery shops! I just grab the shopping bag, see which one (or all) of my kids are up for a little walk, and we go to the store and pick out the ingredients we need for supper. We always have a lovely time on the stroll, and my kids are getting much better about navigating the insides of the grocery store, and I do believe they’re starting to get the knack for picking out produce.

Food Beginnings

There’s a lot of trialling and tribulating that takes place in my life. Yeah, I’m thirty-********* years old, but at the same time, I’ve been in a position where I didn’t always have to fend for myself. So here I am, ostensibly in mid-life, learning basics about how to feed myself. Turns out I’m a voracious reader (and eater, especially during hockey season), so this works well.

I had seen posts on teh interwebz about Thug Kitchen. Always thought it was good for a laugh, partly due to the language, and also because they were making simple recipes using really basic ingredients that looked fucking delicious. Turns out, they really know what they’re doing.

I bought their cookbook sometime shortly after moving into my new place. Got down to the business of trying out some of their recipes, and wouldn’t you know it, they’re so simple they make me look like a fucking genius in the kitchen. I had always been labelled as someone who made a giant mess in the kitchen, and you know what, it’s all true. But I know how to make a pretty damn good soup now, or a stew that will keep your belly happy for a long, long time, or eggs Benny, or, or, or, or.

And meals weren’t just the end of it either. Much like I did with beer a few years back, where drunkenly I pledged to only make my own home-brewed beer for consumption at home (subject to minor caveats like having large gatherings, etc), I pledged to do my best to not buy snacks for my kids’ lunches — no more pre-packaged granola bars, or cookies. I’m making all that shit from scratch. Matter of fact, as I’m writing this, I’m just finishing off what I deem to be the best batch of chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever made. The recipe was one that I had gotten from my mother, and now, gentle readers, I present it to you:

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups porridge mix oats (mine include large flake, quick, wheat germ and flax seed, just for extra yumminess)

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 375F.

Mix the sugars and the butter together until fluffy (I have a Ninja blender and use the food processor bowl with the dough blade). Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until smooth. Next, add the flour, soda and salt and mix together. Stir in the oats and chocolate chips.

Pan using two small spoons, a dozen per bake sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly brown.

Makes approximately 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

So, take that recipe and examine what’s going on from a cost perspective. You get 2 1/2 dozen of the tastiest fucking cookies you’ve ever put into your pie hole, and if you were a savvy shopper, it didn’t cost you hardly anything. 3/4c flour is worth about 10 cents. 1c sugar is about $0.25. 1/2c butter is probably one of the more expensive things at about $1.00. An egg costs me around $0.25. Soda, salt, we’re talking fractions of a cent. Porridge mix (the good shit) is probably $0.60, same for the chocolate chips. All told, 2 1/2 dozen cookies for about $3.00. Sure, I could probably go buy a package of cookies on sale for the same or less. Truth of the matter is that I know exactly what went into those sons of bitches, and moreover, my kids will have the pleasure of using them as currency on the playground when they need a favour. I know I did when I was little.

Better still is that my 13-year-old has discovered a knack for kitchen life. For a while there, I jokingly referred to him as “Home Ec” and I would occasionally say stuff like “hey, Home Ec, go make some cookies” to which he’d go and take his iPod, source himself a recipe for something like sugar cookies, and fucking rock them. Then we’d sit around and drink milk and eat them.

And therein lies great joy as well, even so far as this very evening that I’m writing this post – happens that I’m writing this on Taco Tuesday (an observed food holiday in our household), which happened to coincide with National Pizza Day (who knew?). The end result? Taco Pizza. Ground beef, crushed tortilla chips, cheese, salsa, tomatoes, lettuce, all baked onto a pizza pie. Not bad, I daresay. Through and through, my kids were in the kitchen with me, helping out with walking down to the store, fetching ingredients, chopping veg, stirring things, etc. They see the value in the acts, and are learning in the process.

How the f–k did we get here?

On more than one occasion in my life, I’ve uttered that statement. Really, the chain of events is simple, but when you’re watching an explosion take place in super-slow-motion, you sometimes forget about the mechanics behind it.

In March 2014, I was hauled into the boss’ office (after being recalled to work in the middle of the night for a drill — ahh, the Army). Along with three of my fellow Warrant Officers, we had been loaded on a four-month-long course in Borden, Ontario, departing in two weeks’ time. Binary decisions: Take the course, run the risk of promotion. Don’t take the course, don’t know if the opportunity would ever come up again.

I took the course.

The day I passed my last performance check, I got the phone call. On the other end was my wife, telling me she’d become emotionally involved with another man. I was due home in three days, and suddenly thrust into an unknown world.

Three months later, I got hauled into the Sergeant-Major’s office, this time telling me that the Branch valued my leadership and that I was being offered a promotion and a posting to Victoria. Decision was mine. Again, binary decision: take the posting, go to Victoria, be the Chief. Don’t take the promotion, but still likely get posted, not to Victoria (likely to Winnipeg). The decision seemed to be fairly simple. I took the posting.

Victoria always was where I wanted to end up – my intent was to get here, take the foot off the gas, and just coast. I tend to be a chronic over-achiever, though, and may have peaked a little early. For reference purposes, I still have just under 16 years left on my contract with the military.

Shortly after the machinations were underway, my wife told me she wanted to separate. This happened six weeks before I was due to drive to Victoria. Nothing like coming into a new post with a whole lot on your mind.

Upon arriving, whether by accident or coincidence, I decided to get out and meet some people. I won’t mention my method of approach, as that isn’t relevant, however, I did end up becoming acquainted with some locals, and getting a chance to explore the region. And then, there was the 14th of April.

I’d successfully negotiated my way into drinks with a woman, and by the end of that night, had managed to get a solid second get-together planned. And another. And another. And wouldn’t you know it, love had come back to town. I’d been rather bummed out about my existence, but it happened on the 18th of April – I decided that I wanted to be happy. And in declaring this, I was able to make it happen.

Her name is Kristy. She’s a musician, a composer, a photographer, a lover of food, of dancing, of quiet, of activity, of all kinds of things that I’d only dreamt were possible, and that she herself embodied.

Since then, we’ve set about making our own set of memories together. It’s a fun road, one I can’t wait to explore more of.

Hard Restart

After a long, long time without any activity here, and with some inspiration from a variety of sources, I’ve decided to get (back) into writing a little more. Suffice it to say that the path of my existence has been altered a fair amount over the last year, and so it’s likely time that we get reacquainted.

So who am I? Funny, I went through a mental health crisis in October 2014, and the wonderful social worker I saw handed me a 3″x5″ card in my first session. On it, on one side, was marked “Who Am I?” and on the other side, “What Do I Need?”

In the most basic sense, for the first question, I’m a partnered late-thirties father of three, living in Victoria BC. I could provide a laundry list of things I do, but for the most part, it’s irrelevant in this scenario. I make music for a living, I do a ton of things out of passion. And I curse like a sailor. Maybe because I am one.

My recent focus has turned to being more of a creator than a consumer. I’ve long had an urge to be less consumeristic and more being a producer, whether it be of food, music, fermented things, love, etc. Previously, these kinds of aspirations weren’t compatible with where I seemed to be headed, but with the aforementioned stark change in my life, I’ve been able to explore a great many things and have been able to better myself, and hopefully, the lives of those around me.

I’ve got some writing to do, so if you’ll excuse me…

First Solo Electric Bass Gig

Twitter is a many-splendoured thing. I first read about it in Bass Player Magazine, where there was a printed exchange (interview) between Bryan Beller (of Aristocrats/Dethklok fame) and Steve Lawson (of UK supreme solo bass awesomeness). Bryan was interviewing Steve about the power of Twitter and how social media can land you all kinds of great work.

I signed up for a Twitter account (@braydenwise in case you’re not already following me) while on tour with The Central Band of the Canadian Forces. I will readily admit that I haven’t even scratched the surface yet of what Twitter can do for me, but I will tell you this — it has exposed me to a variety of great bassists, all of whom are doing really awesome things both in band and solo settings.  It was the solo folks and the people doing house concerts that really caught my attention, however.

Flash forward to the present, and here I am, getting ready to do my own solo bass gig. This one is for work, and is a low-pressure, not-in-the-spotlight, background-type gig, it’s great chance for me to put together some rep and play with some toys that I haven’t really had a good chance to put to use yet (like my Boss RC-20XL looper and some of the groovier effects on my Line 6 Bass Pod Pro XT Live). Here’s what’s on my set list so far:

  • Suite No. 1 for Unaccompanied Violoncello (Bach)
    • Prelude
    • Allemande
    • Courante
    • Sarabande
    • Menuet 1 and 2
    • Gigue
  • Isn’t She Lovely (Stevie Wonder)
  • Irish Tune from County Derry (Traditional)
  • Just The Two of Us (Grover Washington Jr.)
  • Solo – Vintage Precision Bass (Michael League)
  • Orpheus at Sunrise (B. Wise)

As far as axes go, I’m planning on using my own gear. I do love my work basses, but sometimes you just need to bring out the stuff that you really love.  I’ll be playing mostly my Warwick Thumb Bolt-on 5 for this gig, and bringing along my ’73 P-Bass.

I hope to record at least some of what transpires on the job, so stay tuned for some samples coming down the line.