Jay White: Open Source Creations

“Inspiration is when you see that something is possible.” Jay White says this with a smile as we chat casually on his couch about his passions. “It comes and goes in these huge waves. Let it go when it goes. You go through dry spells. Go with inspiration. Don’t worry about money. Buy the tools!”
Jay’s inspiration has led him down a path that involves a lot of research and learning. Which is why he loves the whole “open-source” idea. It’s how he says he’s learned so much. People are out there looking to help each other by sharing what they’ve learned and discovered. “There’s so much information out there,” he said. “We’re all in this together and we’re all gonna benefit if we help each other out.” He loves sharing his talents. He thinks spreading inspiration is one of the most important things. He actually lets people he knows use his workshop to bring their ideas to fruition, and even teaches them how to use the necessary tools.
Within his workshop and home there were several majestic handbuilt tools and projects to see. When I entered, the sculptures instantly drew my eyes to them. Carved from stone, these statues are stunning. Every piece of stone, chosen as a starting canvas, was handpicked for its unique qualities. The images carved vary, but there are many of women in different poses. The stone makes them appear eternally innocent, with gentle curves-stiff and cold like ice, yet eminating soft warmth. Magical! His day job is in stone as well. He is a stone mason by trade-same materials, different art form.

As Jay’s interests and talents are widespread, I also had the chance to see his work with metal. To do such work, he built his own forge out of firebricks and barbeque chips, (hey that rhymed. Am I good or what?….I cheated, those are the actual materials).
He uses another tool for cutting the metal, called a plasma cutter, or, as Jay described it, “a tiny light saber.” May the force be with you. And the force is strong with this one.

Metal rose

He seems to use a lot of recycled and non-traditional materials in his tools and art. Ingenuity! One of the first I got to see, that birthed from his metal work and innate abilities in engineering, was a Sterling Engine, or a heat engine. It is run off of alcohol burning flames, which heat the pistons. (There was a lot more to it, but the circus music in my brain blocked a lot of it out as science leaves my head swimming and my ego diminishing.) This machine was made with recycled materials, and he forged the gears himself. Jay told me amusedly that the first time he made one of these engines, he built it out of tuna cans (I hope he scrubbed them out well, I don’t think rotten tuna roasting over and open flame would add to the effect at all…).

Youtube video of Jay’s precision top in action

Let’s just keep mentioning more talents like it ‘ain’t no thang’-Jay also does woodworking. His pieces are beautiful and rich in appearance. He especially enjoys working in the unique and seemingly difficult craft of joinery. This is when notches are cut at the end of two boards that fit them perfectly together at the corner of a box or such that holds without use of nails, screws, or the like.

Toy chest with dovetail style joinery, built by commission

Because of his obvious talents, Jay gets commissioned to do work. He presents designs of the item being requested. The thing that worries him here is trying to have his imagination line up with the customer’s. He, of course, wants to please the customer, but he also wants to be happy with the work himself. Though, from what I can tell, everyone who has commissioned him was, indeed, also happy with the results.
Despite his abilities, Jay says he would not always classify that end result of his work as ‘fine art.’ “With music and handmade work, people don’t want the best musician or craftsman, they want to see something you poured yourself into.”
As you may have caught drift of in the last paragraph, this towering pile of talents is going have to sustain one more-Music. Jay is a musician as well, and was actually known for this art form first. His main instrument is the Chapman Stick, a variety of tap guitar (did you almost think I knew what I was talking about for a second? I Googled it). I looked and listened to this instrument online, including some Youtube videos of Mr. White himself tearing up the stick at a couple of live shows. Wicked instrument! Great musician!
“If you ain’t working on accomplishing your own dreams, you are working on accomplishing someone else’s,” Jay states. He definitely goes after his own. And following your passion really always brings you success. As Jay said, “just trying is success in itself.”
Check out Jay’s work on facebook: Jay White Creations. Neat stuff!

Jay White Creations Facebook page

Jay White Creations Website

Thanks to Jay White for meeting with me.
And thanks to Nicholas Lafferty for filling in the blanks when I felt awkward, which is my superpower-able to make everyone in the room feel uncomfortable in a single bound! I demand tights….and a cape.

Citizen’s Treasure-A Young Band with Old Soul

Citizen’s Treasure is a band just coming into their own, despite the fact that they play like well seasoned musicians. With two members merely 20 years old, you can hear and see the energy of youth in their performance. They play together like a well oiled machine, yet the current line up of band members has only been together for just over a year. When I saw them perform, of course the first thing that struck me as they walked up on stage, before they even played a note, was their young ages. They were the opening act for Last Daze that evening. I saw this group of what I considered “kids” (as I am beginning to feel way too old to be “hip,” or “groovy”, or whatever the kids are calling it these days) hanging out in the front rows of chairs. It struck me that the gentleman in the group who appeared youngest was wearing a The Doors tee shirt. As I thought that they were a random group of young men (and clearly hoodlums up to no good by default in my old, anti-social, crazy cat lady brain), I was just so happy to see someone so young wearing a tee shirt representing a classic band, overlooked by many their age. I recall turning to the person next to me and saying, “It renews my faith in humanity to see a kid his age wearing a Doors shirt.” Then they walked up on stage, and I grinned. Then they started playing, and my happiness turned to awe. They were face numbing, mind blowing-ly awesome! The first thing they played was a long, amazing Doors medley. One of the next things they played were some Pink Floyd songs. The young man with the tee shirt ended up being the guitarist. With a shy manner and a completely straight face, he tore that electric guitar up! No one else in the band held such a serious expression. There was enthusiasm and joy all around! The young vocalist expressed emotion and conveyed it to the audience better than most I’ve seen.

PJ Ferguson

I walked away from that performance repeating their band name in my mind, and vowing to learn more about them. And I did! Though, unfortunately I have yet to make it out to another one of their performances yet (don’t forget, I’m a tea drinking, blanket knitting, isolated cat lady who’s aged before her time). But I was lucky enough to catch up with the singer, PJ Ferguson, for a phone interview. He gave me the low-down on the band: himself, Jon Carl Smith, the bassist, Tim Irwin, the drummer, and Ben Fox, the guitarist.

Tim Irwin

As I said earlier, the current lineup of musicians in the band has been together for over a year. The band originally formed in 2013, with PJ and Jon in the beginning lineup. Prior to that, PJ had recorded a solo and a duo album. The recordings on their site, as well as the originals they perform up until now, have been from those albums. Now, however, they are currently in the studio, recording their first album as a group, with Tom Case recording and Mike Packard producing. PJ says the creation of their songs is a collaborative effort, with different members coming forward with a riff, or a beat, or a piece of a melody, and things progress from there. PJ then writes all of the melodies and lyrics.

Their sound is primarily rock, but I noted a touch of soul and funk in their playing. This aspect, according to PJ, is brought by Jon. He described him as a “funky bass player.” Jon enjoys Motown, Stevie Wonder, and other such musicians. Play that funky music, white boy!!

Jon Carl Smith

I noticed right away in their performance how into the 70’s rock music scene they seemed to be. I was curious as to how they got into this genre. PJ credits this to his father, who was a wedding DJ, getting him into this music at a young age. He mentioned how a lot of today’s music disappears after 5 years or so, but musicians and bands such as Tom Petty, The Doors, Led Zepplin, ACDC….their music is “timeless.” The members of Citizen’s Treasure share a love of this music, which is a part of the reason they came together.

As I mentioned, the band was very into their performance when I saw them, playing in a manner that reeled the audience in. One of the unique things they incorporated was the use of a megaphone. PJ used it with his singing on a couple of songs, one of which was “Another Brick in the Wall” by Pink Floyd (“you can’t have your pudding if you don’t eat your meat!”) I asked where that idea came from and PJ said from a few bands, but mainly Stone Temple Pilots (Scott Weiland, the lead singer, is his favorite musician).The use of the megaphone in their performances not only distorts the vocals and provides a visual effect, but also is a sort of representation of protest-a symbol of “rebelling against the man” that seems to be a frequent theme in rock.

As I had noted earlier, guitarist Ben Fox looked so straight faced as he played. Later I discovered that he was also the only band member that didn’t have a photo next to his name on their website. I inquired to whether or not Ben is a shy person. PJ said “we all try to tell him to smile more.” He mentioned how some guitarists really overdo the theatrics in their performing, and they would like him to do something like that just once. But, the explanation for Ben’s serious demeanor is that he’s “in the zone” when he plays. He is so focused and into the music. Totally worth it! His playing is incredible! PJ, though so very outgoing and expressive when performing, claims he is shy when they are not playing live. He says performing is like “coming into your own skin.”

Ben Fox

With such talent, I suspected some formal training in their pasts, but apparently the band members are pretty much self taught. I told him how I find people who have the discipline to do that inspiring. I know personally there’s things I’d really like to learn, but now that there’s no teachers to answer to, the couch is just too damn comfy… PJ says “You gotta have drive. You may go even months without touching it because you feel you’re not progressing fast enough.” Yeah, that latter part sounds more like me.

As for the future of the band, they want to see how their first album appeals to their audience. They will also be making a music video for one of the songs. They’re finishing up recording in February, so keep an eye out for it in the near future! Their next performance is at GUG’s in Glens Falls on February 4th of 2017.

So, in the opinion of this old lady, with old taste in music, these guys are on the fast track to joining the ranks of “timeless” music. Check them out! And, if I ever decide to leave my house again, maybe I’ll see you at one of their upcoming shows. Who knows… It’d definitely be worth it!