Wishlist Update: #28 and 29 – A Night with David Choi

From the wishlist:
28. “By My Side” by David Choi
29. David Choi by my side at Chick-Fil-A

I can’t exactly remember when or how I came across David Choi’s music, but I’m certain it was on YouTube. I remember seeing AJ Rafael’s cover of “That Girl” and wondering if David Choi was some big-shot international superstar I hadn’t heard of – yet. I remember watching Wong Fu Productions’ “When Five Fell” and hearing David’s voice narrating for the pair of eyeglasses. I remember David’s love song to Chick-Fil-A.

David’s style is somewhat hard to describe because it is rather eclectic. His songs range between blues, pop ballads, and acoustic pop-soul (is that even a genre?) among other styles while others are heavily produced and layered. Whatever the style, Choi demonstrates his mastery of music, production, and instrumentation with his arrangements and vocal artistry.

The “Forever and Ever” USA/Canada tour brought David to Philadelphia’s World Cafe Live on March 24th. I put out the call on Facebook to see if anyone wanted to go, because I’m a bit hesitant to attend concerts in Philly by myself. It’s partly for social reasons and partly “I don’t want to be in Philly alone late at night.”

WHAT?! David Choi himself liked my Facebook status? Now I have to go!

When my sister and I got to the concert venue, my sister chuckled at how many Asians were there. It’s not surprising, I tried to explain to her. Musicians with large followings on YouTube, especially musicians of Asian descent, usually have lots of Asian fans. “No, really,” she said. “Everyone here is Asian, or they’re here with someone Asian!” (My parents thought the same thing at Kina Grannis’ concert last year.)

Edamame Hummus

The concert was standing room only, and all of the dining tables were reserved. We decided to grab a seat at the bar, which were the unreserved seats closest to the stage. To avoid potential awkwardness, we ordered food and drinks to give us reason to sit there all evening. I had coffee and the edamame hummus platter (“served with fresh cut cucumber and jicama, baby carrots, olives & grilled pita”), and my sister had their featured grilled cheese (with wild mushrooms) and a Pinot Grigio. The food was absolutely delicious! Thanks to the friendly bartenders for their excellent recommendations!

As people entered the room, they took spots on the floor between us and the stage. To our left were two guys donning Wong Fu’s “Nice Guy” T-shirts. Next to them was a young couple who spent the evening in each other’s arms, her head on his shoulder. To our right was a guy who introduced himself as Ben; eavesdropping told me he is the brother of Judah Kim, the opening act. Ahead of us was a gaggle of teenage girls who were so giddy to see David in concert. We still had a fairly decent view of the performers, though it was sometimes much easier to watch the concert on the screens of cell phones whipped out to record each song.

Opening for David was Judah Kim of Philadelphia’s Stonethrown. He played mostly original music, though the crowd definitely enjoyed the acoustic covers of Neon Trees’ “Animal” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Judah had a clear voice and a strong rhythm that lent itself to countertop drumming. Each song was a great musical performance, and his style reminded me of a long train ride from the big city to the Midwest.

After a brief intermission, David came out with his band (Josh Doyle on drums and Kurtis Keber on bass) to perform a mix of new songs from “Forever and Ever” and well-loved favorites – all original songs, though. Some favorites included “Won’t Even Start,” “That Girl,” and “By My Side,” which closed out the show. Instant favorites for me included “Underneath Your Love” and “Rollercoaster,” which was appropriately interrupted by the passing train. During the show, David also gave out two pairs of Skunkjuice ear buds, which are featured in the music video for “Better You.”

David had a meet-and-greet after the show. Though my sister probably would have preferred to head out (it was getting late in the evening), she agreed to stay when I agreed to drive home. Many people were very excited to meet David. One girl was so excited after meeting him that she left without her stuff and then almost ran into the glass door when she came back to get it. When I got to the merchandise table, I purchased both “By My Side” and “Forever and Ever” (concert sale price: $10 each). The hired muscle that David brought along made sure that the line kept moving. He directed me around the table for a picture after I gave David my CDs to sign.

David: Have I met you at a previous show?
Me: No… But I figure when the artist likes your Facebook status, you go to the show.
Ahhh… Maybe that’s what it was. Maybe I recognize you from Facebook.
[Picture-taking time!]
Thanks for coming!
It was an awesome show!
Nice earrings.
(Well, I think that’s what he said. I can’t be sure about the earrings part, but everything else is pretty accurate.)

Since the show, I’ve been listening to both CDs in my car and love every track. My sister said that David’s music reminds her of the TV show How I Met Your Mother. David’s songs, like HIMYM protagonist Ted Mosby, can be characterized by optimistic melancholy – a hopeful, sometimes even upbeat, loneliness. (She also said the bass player kinda looked like Ted, and according to the show, the mother of Ted’s kids plays the bass.) I’m slowly learning the lyrics to all the songs and hope to include both albums in my lyric type design series.

Two wishes granted! I now own “By My Side” and briefly had David Choi by my side (though not at Chick-Fil-A). Perhaps on my next trip to Pasadena, we can make that happen. (On my last trip, David was a few blocks away at the WFP office, and I was very tempted to stop by…) Then I can cross #20 off my “30 Before 30” bucket list: have a face-to-face conversation with a celebrity, preferably over a meal. Hope to see you again soon, D. Choi!

Support David Choi:
Facebook: facebook.com/davidchoi
Twitter: @davidchoimusic
YouTube: youtube.com/davidchoimusic
Website: davidchoimusic.com

Wishlist Update: #12 and #13 – Everybody Plays the Ukulele

From the wishlist
#12: Everybody by Ingrid Michaelson
– she’s amazing as a live performer, but I suppose a CD will do. She’s one of several people who make me think it would be awesome to have an ukulele
#13: Ukulele 

My birthday was in June, but I haven’t taken the opportunity to write about updates to the wishlist (mostly because, for some reason, it takes a lot of time to fix the formatting on the actual wishlist every time I make changes). Shortly after my birthday, I received a package from Amazon.com, and inside were three things. 1 – a DVD of the BBC miniseries “North and South.” My sister added the note, “Ok… this isn’t really for you. I ordered it for me, but you can watch it :) and if you like it… you can have it. :)” I watched the beginning of it when I was with my sister, and I think I’ll let her keep it.

Everybody (Ingrid Michaelson album)
Image via Wikipedia

2 – Everybody by Ingrid Michaelson! It’s currently one of the CDs in my car, and it makes for a great drive. What’s not to love about Ingrid? Her voice and personality make me think she should hang out in my living room and play music when we’re not talking or cracking jokes. I don’t think I can pick out a favorite track from the album, but there are a few songs that I like to repeat when I am listening to the CD. The title track and “Maybe” are probably the two tracks I listen to most, but I also really enjoy “Once Was Love.” What’s interesting about Ingrid’s style is contrast between the lyrics and musical style. In spite of lyrics like “everyone is hurting now” and other songs about no longer being in love, the album is pretty upbeat with a quirky, melodic happiness to it. If you plan to get this CD, make sure to get a physical copy so you can see the album art.

3 – Play Ukulele Today: A Complete Guide to the Basics with the note, “July 1, you’ll receive the other half of this.” When my sister returned to the States after living in the Philippines, she came home with a ukulele for me! She made sure it was made in the Philippines so it could be special. She also gave me some “Pinoy Ako” stickers to put on the back of the uke. I’ve been enjoying learning how to play. I haven’t really used the instructional CD that came with the guide book. I mostly pick out a song I want to play and learn the necessary chords. The first song I learned was Ingrid Michaelson’s “You and I,” suggested by my friend and fellow ukulele player Hannah Faye. I also learned how to play this song:

I think the next time Hannah Faye and I are together, we are going to try playing both Ingrid’s song and “Count on Me” by Bruno Mars and record it for YouTube :)

Wishlist Update: #10 – Adele’s “21”

From the wishlist
 21 by Adele – why can’t all the popular singers have actual talent like Adele?

I have one of the best roommates in the world. We’ve been living together for almost 2 months, and it’s been wonderful. We get along really well and take the time to do things together. It’s a wonderful living situation, and I am so thankful for that. And one day this week, while she was vacationing in South Korea with her step-mom, there was a package from Amazon.com in the mailbox. I opened it to find a copy of Adele’s new album, “21,” secretly purchased for me by my new roommate. The note inside said she hopes I didn’t buy a copy for myself while she was away and had a good Easter holiday. It was completely unexpected and totally appreciated.

"21" by Adele

“Someone Like You” was the first track off of “21” that I heard. A friend posted a link on Twitter to a cover Lisa Lavie had done, and that led me to a video of Adele performing the song in her home. The video of Adele also featured her talking about the inspiration for the song and for the album.

When I was writing it, I was feeling pretty miserable and pretty lonely, which kind of contradicts “Rolling in the Deep,” where I was like, “I’m gonna be fine without you.”  This one was me kind of on my knees, really. That relationship that the entire record is about is really summed up in Someone Like You, has changed me in a really good way. It’s kind of really made me who I am at the moment, you know. And I’m sure there will be another relationship – well I hope so, anyway – that helps change me, define me as well. But I can imagine being about 40 and looking for him again, and turning up and he’s settled, and he’s got a beautiful wife and some beautiful kids, and he’s completely happy. And I’m still on my own. It’s kind of about that.

Is there anyone who can’t relate to that experience? Especially in this Facebook age when the wedding pictures are unavoidable. They find a place on your news feed even when the last thing you want to see is a picture of the happy couple walking through an arch of wedding guests and bubbles or photos of all your mutual friends at a reception you weren’t invited to attend.

When a friend found out I had the album, she told me, “That CD is SO GOOD but SO SAD! Listen with caution. And tissues.” Though I didn’t need the recommended tissues while listening to the album, Adele’s heartbreak could definitely be felt through the lyrics. She puts words to the emotions you feel when you’re sitting home alone, trying to figure out what to write in your journal. I was surprised to discover that she is only 22 years old (she turns 23 next week on May 5). Her songs and talent led me to believe she had to be a 35-year-old almost-bride who was left at the altar. She seems beyond her years. Then again, it’s the experiences I had at her age that allow me to connect emotionally to her music.

Out of the 11 songs on the album, there’s not a single track that disappoints. I wouldn’t expect anything less of Adele.

Wishlist Update: #36 – “Stairwells” Bundle

In early March, I decided to pre-order the deluxe edition of Kina Grannis‘ album “Stairwells,” which was released in early April. In addition to the original CD (remixed and remastered), the deluxe edition also included a second disc with 5 additional originals, studio versions of 3 cover songs, and music videos for 4 original songs (including the official “Valentine” music video directed by Ross Ching – see the video below). Kina’s online store offered several bundles or packages for ordering an autographed copy of “Stairwells.” The deluxe bundle included the autographed deluxe CD and new goldfish t-shirt, but I had my eye on the limited edition deluxe bundle. In addition to the deluxe CD and shirt, the bundle included the “kg” canvas tote bag, “All the Pieces” photobook with 27 of Kina’s twitpic photos, and a signed one-of-a-kind frame from the “Valentine” video.

I tried to place my order, but every time I clicked “submit” I was faced with an error message. I tried a different bundle, a different credit card, and a different address, but I still got an error. Kina told me on Twitter that other people were having similar issues and soon put me in touch with Marcus, the co-founder and CTO at Moontoast, the company powering her store. After a few days of email correspondence, I was on the phone with Ben (VP of Engineering) and other Moontoast staff trying to figure out the technical issues. I walked them through my ordering process, and they tracked the error messages on their servers as I tried to place an order during our conversation. After several attempts at ordering and figuring out the errors, we ended our call with no specific solution set up. A few days later I followed up with Ben to see if all the bugs and kinks had been worked out. He let me know that they were able to figure out the problem, thanks to the time we spent on the phone. “The time you spent with us was very helpful,” Ben said. “And for that, your Kina Grannis order is on us.” Continue reading “Wishlist Update: #36 – “Stairwells” Bundle”