Wednesday, April 20, 2011

We are all Nico Vega.

I'm breaking chronology again to post something I wish I had much earlier. As I'm sure you are aware, music can lift us up out of our darkest depths when nothing ever can seem to reach us. (Or keep us there, depending on the song) Whereas instrumental music can somehow seemingly capture raw emotion and jolt us every which way like the weaving bow of a passionate cellist, sometimes, there seems to be nothing more powerful as well as screaming along to the chorus of punk, or good old fashioned "rock and roll."
Rialto Theatre, Tucson, AZ. 2/23/10
 I happened to stumble onto the likes of Nico Vega about a year and a half ago during one of the low points of my life. I was drinking a lot and arguing with people all the time and felt incredibly alienated from many of the people in my Downtown Phoenix community. Shortly after I discovered them and got the chance to catch their amazing live show and meet them in Mesa at Hollywood Alley would be a turning point in my life. I know that I cannot thank Nico Vega for everything. It was also right around that time that I first met my life-changing traveling partner of 2010 who helped get me to the place I am now, Pinar. But I know without a doubt, that Nico Vega has helped me, and continues to. Their vocalist, Aja Volkman is perhaps the most passionate and powerful yet fun and playfully endearing frontwoman I have ever seen in hundreds of concerts. I have never been at a show where I felt that a band tried more to connect and reach out to every single audience member, be it 20 or a thousand. Though only a threepiece, Aja, Rich and Dan's amazing chemistry onstage is true evidence of their friendship and that they sincerely love what they are doing, and they love even more the ability to connect and inspire their fans. I am very grateful for people like them in the world. I hope you will take the time to read some of their writing below, and listen to their music. This first entry is a Bio from their site. The second is a blog that Aja wrote last summer that I have replayed in the back of my mind for months, thinking about the creation of this blog, dreaming of finally connecting with the world.
I hope you get the chance to see them someday. They are recording now but hopefully will be touring again real soon. I promise that you will not regret it.

Here is a recent video of their song "Gravity" as performed on their newest EP, "Nico Vega Covers Nico Vega & Rod Stewart:"
"Gravity" (Acoustic) - Nico Vega

From the band bio:
For us Nico Vega is a way of life. We are 3 people who play music together. We write as a band and help each other develop our ideas. The root of the music is the relationship between us. Nico Vega is about collaboration. We are a family and we honor each other by listening and allowing each other to grow. We push each other to be better and to carry each other when we feel weak.

Nico Vega represents a modern day saint. A warrior that has led us to a more fulfilling, lighter way of being. She represents people and unity. She fights for all of us and teaches us to fight for each other. She is an idea that has evolved into a message and she fuels us in our bellies. She is the person we are all capable of being, but she holds the bar high above our head so that we must reach to be better human beings. We all have honesty inside of us, we all know how to love, we are all made of the same flesh, and we are all stuck here together. Nico Vega reminds us that we can learn to fuse these ideas together and grow more solid as a unit of man. Alone we are lost, we fail, we grieve, we search, we struggle, we feel small. Together we are solid, found, loved, and powerful. We are our own greatest natural resource. Our ego falls away when we listen to each other. It is when we stop believing that we can learn from one another that we stop learning altogether. Only then are we alone. We are no different from each other; the same flesh, the same pain, the same love, the same heart. Our greatness is no threat. The more beautiful we are individually, the more powerful we are together. It is our Ego that betrays and lies and tells us that we are threatened when we are not.

You are a part of our family and we will always make music to communicate our love and gratitude for you. If you come to our show, throw your hands up so we can feel you... you will feel us.

There are 100s of videos from the band and fans on youtube. I however believe that this is the best one to truly capture them live that I have ever found, especially as far as quality goes. (And trust me, I have watched them all!)
Wooden Dolls ( Live at the Roxy 10-29-10) - Nico Vega

Below is Aja's moving entry from the Nico Vega myspace blog.

Let it Out! August 2nd, 2010

I am coming into a new place. In this place I have began to write some new songs with the band. One song is called "Human Animal".
 "This is who I am... I am who we are." I say.  I have began to realize the fullness of my humanity. How through frustration is born surrender. How every bottom gives birth to a new beginning. I guess you could say that I feel as though I am being reborn. 
"Human Animal" (Acoustic) - Nico Vega

I know in my heart that we all share the same emotions, the same doubts, the same desires. That we all want to be loved.  And that we all have pain. 

Hmmmm. Pain. 
Some of us have pain that goes so deep that we no longer address it. As if we are so sick of our own story, that we close the book forever, and put it on the shelf. The scariest thing about that is how it will begin to contaminate the rest of our lives if we never open it again. I have a lot of respect for religion. I admire people who have found faith in a power greater than that of the mind, body, and soul. How much peace they must feel in the end of days. I am by nature a seeker, and I do have strong faith in the fact that I will find peace within myself when the time is right. I do not rule out a God, I believe in eternity, I understand the oneness of life, and I know enough to know... That I understand very little.

As I was saying, I have come to know that when we bottle up pain, and try to forget the past with distractions, the things that hurt us remain unhealed. We will constantly search for a band-aid. I believe that this is the human condition. We hate pain, so we will do anything that we can not to feel it.  It really is a survival mechanism for the Animal part of us.  
At one point I experienced pain. I allowed myself to be hurt by the actions of someone who was very close to me. I was attached, which can also mean that I had invested a part of myself in that person. When it was all over, I had decided to move on. I have an incredibly busy life full of adventure, and people. There are a lot of opportunities to feel caught up in. I have also had a strong aversion to feeling like a victim since I was younger, so I will take responsibility for things even when they are not in my control.  This can appear as strength. Its not. It is a ploy to avoid feeling pain.  I had began to notice how I was sabotaging my relationships, and the trust that people had in me, because I was trying to avoid being hurt. All the while I was only creating a thicker darker shell, and burying the old pain with new pain. Can you see how that could end up jading a person? How a person could become harder, darker, more alone, and guarded by protecting their pain? I have decided to write this out, because so many people identify with me on this subject.  One of the most beautiful things about a child is their ability to properly grieve. They let everything out, and even dramatize it at times. Yet, the moment passes and then they are on to the next thing. And they are able to remain light. 
I am exposing this part of myself, because I want to communicate how important it is to feel your feelings. They, (as everything in life) have a purpose. Once you have allowed yourself to feel  them, you learn how to deal with pain. And its likely that you will be less afraid to face a potentially painful situation. You may even provide strength in your relationships because of the confidence that comes from feeling less fearful. 

I am in the studio now. Rich is tracking guitars with Tim. Its such an amazing song that we are covering. Its quite funny how it has got my thinking.  Next time you are out in public, look at the people around you. You can see in their eyes, and even on their faces how much pain they carry. Try to see them as a small child, and imagine the evolution. Now look at yourself. Know that every piece of pain you protect is weighing you down. Every person you don't forgive, and all of the things you pick at yourself about. All of the judgments of others that stem from deep painful insecurities, all of the baggage. Find a place to let it out, and don't be afraid to let it out.....Its not going to kill you. 

Love Aja

This is an unreleased song about Aja's fear of losing her voice. The quality is not the greatest, and it is hard to make out a lot of the words, but it nonetheless makes me cry at most every viewing.
Thanks for listening!
Unknown New Song (Live @ Whiskey Richard's, Santa Barbara, CA 11-6-10) - Nico Vega

And thanks above all, to Nico Vega, for lifting me up from the depths to sing along with you no matter how crappy of a day I am ever having. You always help me to "Pick it up, pick it up, pick it up, pick it up!" I hope one day again I can find the confidence to scream along in the audience, open mouthed, with hands in the hair, and feel as free for once as you all make seem so effortless on stage.
I love you all,
Paul Jones Jr.

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