Your story is your best strategy

Musicians often contact me with questions about finding success in the music business. To be clear, there is no secret formula to becoming a superstar but you can find a lot more success if you have a good story.

Your story is your best friend. It allows you to be bright yellow in a crowd of all blue. Your story helps you stand out in people's minds. Don't overlook the obvious; start your story at the beginning then have a middle and an end.

Be honest and precisely who you are. If you are a princess be the princess or if you're an ogre be the ogre.

In your story you are the hero whether you are the princess or the ogre.

Every memorable story has a mountain to overcome; a challenge. Describe your mountain and how you conquered it. 

Every great story has a happy ending. Beam about your happy ending.

Don't write a bio; write your story. Make it short and sweet. 

BONUS: Another approach

You can start your story now. You can tell the world about an epic crusade you are about to embark on. You can take people with you on your journey. They can root you on. You can climb your mountain together. You can experience your stories happy ending hand in hand. 

In the weeks to come I will announce a new story that I'm about to begin. It's called "The Drinky Jazz World Tour". Here's the beginning of my new story:

There are only three kinds of jazz: thinky, slinky and drinky. I sing drinky jazz.

My name is Tim Tamashiro and I have a dream: to sing drinky jazz for smiling audiences in unbelievable locations around the world. I have a wish list of those amazing places. All I need is their invitations.

What will happen? Will I get those invitations? Can I deliver an outstanding show at each location? I have no doubt that my new story will be successful. I hope you will come along for the journey...


Give credit: a lesson in social media

The lesson I learned on Twitter this week is: always give credit when possible.

When I was on my way out the door from work the other day I was stopped by my colleague Dave and asked if I could do the CBC Eyeopener a favor. The morning show had a beat poem that was written by local Calgary writer @eggbeck. It was a clever poem that was put together from a collection of 311 complaints from the City of Calgary 311 map. I thought the poem was funny. So I agreed to record it. One read through later I was on my way home to begin my homework for the next days Tonic show I host on Radio 2. 

I woke up the next day with a tweet already on my smartphone. It was a direct tweet from Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi who was reacting to the 311 beat poem that just aired on CBC Radio 1. He wrote, "omg. You are amazing." I responded to the coolest mayor in the world by simply stating, "Thank you. Who knew beat poetry was so much fun?" I sensed that there was something missing... which there was. I didn't give credit to @eggbeck who wrote the poem. Truth was... I didn't know who wrote the poem.

The flurry of twitter activity that followed afterward astounded me. A number Calgary twitter users began berating me for taking credit for writing that 311 poem. They called me names, USED CAPITAL LETTERS and one twitterer even threatened to call me a "bag of dicks" for what I had done (that's a first for me). I tried to explain myself with tweets back. I tried to explain that I was just trying to help out some colleagues. I tried to bring the situation back to civility using the best information I could find. I tried to explain that I was told that the 311 poem came from actual complaints from Calgarians. 

In a few hours things cooled down. I gave credit to @eggbeck in a few more tweets. @eggbeck deserves credit for every single word of that 311 poem I uttered into the microphone. "Yes, @eggbeck is totally rad!" was the last tweet I sent regarding the 311 poem situation.

@eggbeck has friends. Her friends were just looking out for her on Twitter, that's all. 

I have friends. I was just doing my friends a favor by reading a poem, that's all. 

I know what my intention was when I sat in front of that mic to read @eggbeck's 311 poem: I was happy to help out. Intentions don't always translate in 140 characters. I have the word "Intention" tatoo'd on my wrist. I may need to look at that more often.

If you haven't heard @eggbeck's 311 poem, here's a link to where you can hear it. It's a pretty cool poem worthy of praise. Heap it on... to @eggbeck, not me please.


Come to A Tribute to Charlie Brown Xmas

If you love your childhood memories of watching Charlie Brown Christmas then come and hear all that great Charlie Brown jazz LIVE at The Last Straw Ale House on Saturday, Dec. 22nd. 

Thanks to The Last Straw Ale House, CBC Eyeopener and JazzYYC I'll be hitting the stage to perform all the music from Charlie Brown Xmas and more jazzy holiday tunes as a special fundraiser for The Calgary Interfaith Food Bank.

Tickets are available at The Last Straw Ale House.

More information is here.

Hope you can make it! 


Announcing my "un-retirement" from singing

Celebrating musical friends like Emmy award winner Dave Pierce was how I spent my time "not singing".

At the beginning of March of 2007 something weird was happening. I hated singing.

When you come to a decision that will change your life it's always sobering. In 2007 I had come to the decision to quit singing as a professional crooner after twenty years. I'd done everything I had ever dreamed of doing as a singer. The fun was gone. 

Seventy five gigs a year had worn me out. The thought of booking even just one more gig was like loading a slab of granite onto my back. So I called my booking agent Pat McGannon and told him that I'd had enough. I told Pat that I was going to retire from singing. Pat was completely understanding but reluctant. We were a good team. It was hard to walk away from a great business partnership. Even harder yet... it was hard to walk away from a great friend like Pat. We had talked almost every day for seven years. 

I decided that I would focus my attention on being a supporter of jazz instead of a participant. My new job as host of the weekend edition of Tonic at CBC Radio 2 was an exciting new challenge. I dove into it with enthusiasm like a young lad trying to impress a girl.

I didn't sing for two full years. I wasn't ready to sing again but something came up and I decided to give it a go. I remember how nervous I was about getting back on stage for that first time in. The fear was almost choking me but I didn't let on to anyone. I anxiously took to the stage and faked my way through the gig. It rattled me and clawed away at my energy. I quietly took about a dozen gigs over the next three years. Only three of them were public. I wasn't ready to dive back in but I did put a toe in. 

The best thing about singing just a few times is that I started to understand how much I enjoy myself with people who are friends first in addition to being fantastic musicians. That experience began to open my eyes to the possiblities of singing again. My go-to guys: Sheldon Zandboer, Jason Valleau and Jim Johnson were the three legs that got this wobbly table to stand again. They were the legs that were bolted on. I was the leg that was duct taped on so that the tape wouldn't show. 

Fast forward to today. I'm coming out of my self-imposed crooner retirement. Jazz has become fun again because I have a new mission. I want to share how much fun jazz IS and do my best to GROW the jazz audience. I've learned through my retirement and my time at Radio 2 that most people are clueless about jazz. It's not their fault but wouldn't it be fun to show them how much fun jazz can be?

Jazz was born out of fun! People used to party, dance, drink and laugh with jazz. That's exactly what I'm going to do this time around. Anyone can come along for the ride not just the people who are jazz fans already. It's gonna be a blast!

So, today (August 24, 2012) I officially announce my "un-retirement" from singing.

I'm the Wiseass Crooner again.


You don't have just one life. You have many.

You don't just have one life to live. You have many. Here's a list of just a few of the lives you will live throughout your years on earth. Feel free to add or take away lives as it suits you.

1. Infant

2. Toddler

3. Preschooler

4. Primary schooler

5. Preteen

6. Teenager

7. Highschooler

8. Young adult


Here's where things get cloudy:


9. What am I gonna do now?

10. Hey, I'm beautiful

11. I'm gonna be the best there ever was

12. What am I doing with my life?

13. I "think" I'm going in the right direction

14. I'm convinced this is the right thing for me.

15. No, wait. THIS is the right thing for me.

16. I'm confused. I admit it.

17. Oh… this is nice. I didn't exact think I'd find myself here.

18. Where's all the fun in life? Mine's missing.

19. Oh, there's all the fun again.

20. Is there anything I can do to help?

21. I'm feeling more mellow.

22. The kids are gone.

23. The kids are back.

24. The kids are STILL here.

25. We are empty nesters. :-) = Dad :-( = Mom

26. I can't believe my baby is getting married

27. Grandbabies

28. Adventures we couldn't afford before

29. Sharing meals between us.

30. Somebody… dies.

31. Life beyond.

At 46 years old, I finally feel like things make sense. I know my strengths. I know my faults. I want to work on changing my faults to be better but I'm also okay with them also. Each day is about the adventure not the destination. I wonder if this is what Buddha felt like when he became enlightened. It's kinda nice.