Pete Mroz: Rising Above

By Traci Nubalo

Metaverse Tribune - February 26, 2012

One of Second Life’s top musical performers over the last few years has been Pete Mroz (Pilgrim75 Swashbuckler). He’s been consistently creating expert-level music, both live onstage (in SL and RL) as well as in the recording studio.

The story of Pete’s rocky road to success reads like a movie screenplay. Mroz lost his Dad early on; as a young musician he struggled mightily to carve out a place for himself at the professional table. On the eve of his departure to record a new breakthrough record, the investment money dried up. Pete - not an ounce of “quit” in him - took a shot and registered on a website called Family, friends, and fans were able to log onto the site and make donations, helping Pete to re-raise the thousands of dollars in production money he needed. Then he headed to Hollywood to record “We’ll Rise Above” with a powerful and well-known music producer.

One trait that many top performers in either world exhibit is that they are talented in multiple ways: singing, playing, working the audience, writing creative and powerful set lists, etc. In Pete’s case he combines all of these factors, making him one powerful weapon as a performing artist.

To begin with, he’s a first-rate guitarist with a style of playing that perfectly suits his voice. And what a voice! The man has one of the best set of pipes that this journalist has heard - and I’ve heard a few. His vocal timbre has a sweetness to it; his voice is pitched a bit higher than some male singers. This alone would set him apart, but he also embodies an ability to rock out vocally. He can sing the sweetest of ballads and then vocally shred with the best of them. He’s a master at relating to his audiences, talking and joking with them throughout his well-paced set. Speaking of which, Mroz seems to have an uncanny sense of how to write a set list; he knows exactly which songs will go best, and in what order. This makes every set he plays a powerhouse performance.

When I last wrote about Pete he had amassed $20,000 in investment money from his fans and was heading to the City of Angels to embark on a recording project with major music producer Warren Huart. The result of those sessions is an amazing CD entitled “We’ll Rise Above”.

Traci Nubalo: Pete, when we last spoke you were going to record with top music producer Warren Huart (The Fray, James Blunt, Korn, many others). What happened through your work with Warren?
Pete Mroz: It was awesome. About six months ago I went to L.A. and recorded with Warren, after getting my funding through the people. A producer like Warren brings musicians of a high caliber to the project. For example, Alanis Morrisette drummer Blair Sinta and legendary guitarist Tim Pierce.

[AUTHOR NOTE: google Warren Huart, Blair Sinta and/or Tim Pierce. Pierce, for example, has a full seven pages of major recording credits going back to 1974, including session work with Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Jason Mraz, and many, many others].

PM: I walked in and the pre-production was done. So the work was not so hard for me. It was still ten days of an emotionally-difficult process; it was intense, in fact. But these guys were three-take professionals.
TN: I’m hearing some new depth in your playing. Is this a result of the refinements learned in the process of recording?
PM: New depth in my sound might come from constantly playing with top people; it moves your game up. I work daily at playing better. I’m also now doing this full time; I no longer work at a day gig. I’m putting it out there.
TN: Your vocals - good god!!!
PM: I look at it the other way around - I don’t worry about singing. I worry about guitar. I’m a guitar geek who wants to always play better.
TN: I’ve been talking with Lizzy and Lexxi (Pete’s wonderful SL management team Lizzy Nightfire and Alexxis Lefavre). We’re all amazed that you somehow keep getting better and better at your craft. How can you account for this?
PM: I don’t think I’m getting better. Sometimes I have moments when I feel close to it. But I’m very competitive with myself. Sometimes I get humbled and feel like I don’t have the bandwidth I need. I’m just striving.
I live in Nashville and I meet guitarists who are unreal; it’s all around me. Then to have someone like Tim Pierce play with me and become my friend. He would blow your mind. I can send him a song and ask his opinion and he’ll take his time and say, “You’re too heavy with your right hand“ or “You’re a little behind the beat.” I have those kind of people in my life now.
TN: So what's next for you in SL and in RL, Pete?
PM: Right now I’m traveling all around the US spreading the gospel, promoting this record. I’m working on finding radio promoters and publishers to work with. Exploring film, and TV options and just going out and playing. I’m also writing a lot. There are lots of unfinished songs coming through. Maybe next year I’ll record another project. We’ll see.

In addition to having an amazing musical skill set, and now working with top industry professionals , Pete Mroz is also an incredibly nice guy. I’ve done a considerable amount of work with the man and he has never failed to be helpful, interesting and gentlemanly. And a serious professional in his own right.

I love it when nice guys come in first!

Visit Pete and check out his new CD "We'll Rise Above" at

© Copyright Traci Nubalo 2012. All rights reserved.

Easy Rock Guitars: Rocking the Virtual World

by Traci Nubalo

Metaverse Tribune, February 17, 2012

When my editor first told me about these new Second Life musical instruments I admit that I had some doubts. The press release said that the electric and acoustic guitars, electric bass and drums could actually be played by an avatar inworld. This, of course, got my attention.

In a flash I found myself with Orion Deezul and Lisa Michelle in the “sales shop” of their business Easy Rock Guitars & Music. First thing that became obvious to me is that the three of us were standing on a huge guitar. I noticed (with a smile) that the “strings” strummed a pleasant chord as I walked over them to get closer to my hosts.

On this top floor of Easy Rock there were several instruments on stands, each with a “Buy” and a “Demo” button. Lisa encouraged me to try a demo and I did: a candy-apple-red electric guitar which felt “right” the second I wore it. I noted happily that I could “fit” the instrument to my avi, using the same “Edit” process used for any inworld object. I was able to get the axe to look just right “in my hands”, and for a former pro musician like myself, things like this are important.

After a very short bit of instruction I found that I could, indeed, “play” the guitar using a combination of the arrow keys and the “e” and “c” keys, and was able to get a rocking version of “Kumbaya” going in seconds. And, thankfully, since no one yelled out for me to play “Freebird” I moved on to demo the electric bass.

This one was even more fun for me, a longtime bass player on the road and in the studio. Using the same set of keys I laid down a few rudimentary patterns causing my newest friend Orion to blurt out, “Hey! You CAN play!”

But the devil's advocate in me began to wonder. Most of the SL players that I hang with are serious RL musicians and - despite the very authentic sounds available on these simulated instruments - that this might be too-rudimentary a process for them. Would Easy Rock be able to survive if they depended only on the professional SL singer/songwriter?

As if he was reading my mind Deezul (who creates and designs these gorgeous instruments) chimed in: “I can’t play in RL. I love music and wanted to be a performer but my professional life interfered and I could never find time to practice. That’s why I created these instruments and why we're so thrilled to be offering them to Second Life. I mean, don’t we all want to be rock stars?”

Suddenly my consciousness shifted.
I had been experiencing a kind of “why-am-I-doing-an-interview-at-ten-pm?” moment but in a flash it hit me. I got it!

These new instruments might possibly be a huge hit for the same reasons that the mega-popular “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band” interactive games have enjoyed through-the-roof sales figures over the last several years: you DON’T have to be a musician to have fun with them!

For the first time ever, anyone can have the amazingly-joyful experience of picking up an instrument and learning to play quickly and easily. There’s nothing like it in the world, especially when the player develops enough chops to jam with others.

Then, with the ESP seeming to continue, Lisa said, “Jump down into the sound hole on the guitar.” And POOF she leaped in.


Journalist on assignment smelling a story, I took the dive. Down I fell for what seemed like an eternity through a wildly-colored tunnel of some sort and reappeared on the other end. Doing a nasty three-point landing (and imagining the Romanian judge holding up a 1.5 score) I blinked my eyes open. I was in the middle of a huge virtual sound stage with four totally unique stage setups.

Lisa: So Orion, tell her what we want people to do here.
Orion: This is a free play area. Since all the demos work anywhere in the store people can come down here and jam; jump up on stage, meet people and play together.
Lisa: And the sounds blend together really well.
Orion: We’re also were looking for a partner to help us create a live venue on the floor beneath us.
Lisa: We really want this to be a place that people come to hang out and enjoy live music on a number of levels.

Now my vision for Easy Rock Guitars & Music was complete. Orion and Lisa are really on to something, especially when you factor in the socialization benefits that I know appear when musicians on any level of play come together and share their craft.

As luck would have it I found an article dated today - 16 February - that discusses some of the known benefits for people who learn to play instruments (and yes, Easy Rock Guitars & Music products would qualify as such). Posted on a UK website called “Mail Online” the piece discusses the work of neuroscientist Professor Nina Kraus. “Kraus has led the first research to demonstrate that playing a musical instrument significantly enhances the brain's sensitivity to speech sounds,” the reporter comments. “Music training is not only beneficial for processing music stimuli. We've found that music training may also improve how sounds are processed for language and emotion", adds Kraus. ”Now we know that music can fundamentally shape our sub-cortical sensory circuitry in ways that may enhance everyday tasks, including reading and listening."

** ** **

You can see for yourself what the excitement is all about. Meet Orion and Lisa, and perhaps play guitar, bass, or drums for your very first time, by attending an inworld open house at Easy Rock Guitars & Music. The Open House will be this Saturday, February 18 from 2:00 - 3:30 pm SL time and again from 5:00 - 7:00 pm at:

You can also email Orion and Lisa at:

The “Mail Online” article about Professor Kraus’ work can be found at:

(c) Copyright 2012 Traci Nubalo.
All rights reserved.

Quantamis Navarathna: The Man Is In Love

by Traci Nubalo

photos by Jami Mills

(rez Magazine - February, 2012)

He’s wicked gorgeous in Second Life; he plays guitar like it’s growing from his hands. He sings from his heart to many hearts; his original songs are profound and meticulously-crafted love sonnets that grab the listener and demand to be listened to.

And he has a totally-gorgeous, vivacious SL partner: a brilliant, witty, talented and beautiful wife. He loves her; and she certainly loves him.

Sound like a rock star lifestyle?


Quantamis and Sedona Navarathna live in a picturesque lighthouse on an amazing Second Life seashore. They live a quiet life, enjoying being with one another. They like to fly and sail together inworld in their spare time.

Several times a week the couple ventures from their nest and heads for a live music venue, where Quan regularly leaves audiences breathless by performing his confident and creative set of passionate songs. This guy is one romantic man, a man with a heart brimming-full of love. I know it from the way he writes. But I also know it because I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with him in SL.

Quan, you are regarded by many to be one of SL’s most talented songwriters. What is your process - lyrics first, or riffs?

For me it is the melody that comes first, almost always. The melody will be going through my mind either briefly or for years as in the case of my new song, “Destiny”. Eventually a thought in my mind appears to connect to that particular music; the lyrics just wrap themselves around it and then I just apply the final brushstrokes to the canvas.

A song, for example, like “Forever More” - can you tell us how that one came about? What was your thought process in writing those amazing lyrics?

Well, I just had this very simple melody in my head, and the guitar part was flowing perfect for it.

I began to think about how our lives really are: our struggles, our illnesses, the days when everything just goes right and then those days when everything seems to be wrong.

In my case, despite everything I have a very close relationship with my friend and sweetheart, Sedona. What I am trying to say in the song is to just keep focused on the ones you hold dearest to your heart and everything will be okay no matter what.

Sometimes we’re up, sometimes we’re down,
sometimes we’re lost sometimes we’re found.
Sometimes our light has lost it’s glow,
sometimes as bright as morning snow.
Whoa, my love. Yeah, my love.
I shall be with you forever more.
- “Forever More”

What’s your RL performing backgound? Bands, solo work, etc.?

I have been in many different bands here in my city since out of high school. The first band I formed was called Silver and Ash. Kind of a country rock band with inspiration from the progressive country movement back then started by the music of Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker, David Allen Coe, Waylon Jennings and many others.

Later I formed several other groups, including a rock and roll band. I also played a few solo gigs around town and played at many open mics as well: a very cool way to test out new songs.

Did you write originals back then? What were they like?

Oh yes, in my early groups I wrote and performed many of my original songs. There are a couple I wrote from then that I still perform to this day and some later ones that I converted into acoustic solo songs.

When and how did you discover SL?

In October of 2008, I was hanging around the house on the weekend and being bored. Was playing online games and someone sent me the link for SL. I just thought it was an interactive 3D video game and wow did I find it was so much more than that as time went by. I met someone inworld who would later become a very good friend and mentor to me and taught me the “do’s and don’t’s” and what was really happening in this virtual world.

She later convinced me to try streaming my own music into SL. With some major help from Edward Lowell getting me streaming, I was up and running, though very rusty and scared to death at the time.

I had not written anything in about three years and barely ever picked up my guitar anymore. I must say at this time that it was definitely SL that began to inspire me to write again. All the beauty and creativity around me began to effect me in a very positive way.

Now with the help of Sedona I must say that every performance gets better.

You have an obvious love for the work of Cat Stevens. Can you share with us about that?

I was around sixteen when I was first turned on to Cat. My two older sisters would play his records all the time and when they were gone I would play them as well. I put many scratches on them indeed.

I must say his songwriting played a major part in my own process as I was writing my first songs.

Your guitar work is some of the most precise and interesting in SL, particularly your right hand (finger picking) style. How was this developed?

Well, as you may already know I play mostly by ear. I was taught my first guitar chord progressions by my grandfather and I would play rhythm guitar to his fiddle - blue grass music. He kept trying to get me to use a pick but I kept going back to using my thumb; it just felt natural to me. As time went by my forefinger and middle finger started joining in and eventually became a part of this picking style which seems so natural to me. I actually keep my thumb nail as a pick and keep it filed and shaped a certain way.

** ** **


Quantamis: “This is my technical set up: I use an AKG C200B studio mic with phantom power that I put in through an ALESIS Multimix 8 Fire mixer.

Then the signal goes out into an external SIIG USB Soundwave 7.1 digital
to USB port sound card.

The guitars are a pair of Sierra acoustic six strings. I also have an Ovation,
but I’ve found that the Sierras give a better sound over the stream. One is black and one is blue and they have very well-working Barcus Berry electronic pick up systems.

My player is a Butt. I‘ve found it to be more dependable and reliable; it also uses less memory then other well known players.”

** ** **

Your SL partner - your Valentine - is my good friend Sedona. In fact, I admire your relationship and feel that together you are making this a true Valentine piece. Could you fill us in? Please tell the readers about your relationship.

It all started with a dance. We were both at a venue and listening to a live performer when the owner of the venue suggested in local chat that we should dance together. After that one dance I wrote “Sedona Moon Dance”…

“Tonight the moon will rise, and lighten the midnight sky,
and I’ll gaze into your eyes, and our dance shall begin.”

…and we have been dancing together ever since. She is a major part of my success and helps me greatly. She’s my close confidant and my friend as well. My Valentine.

Valentines Day has always been one of my favorite holidays and is even more so now as I have my very special valentine Sedona. It has been a year since I asked Sedona to marry me, so it is also a very beautiful and special anniversary for us. This year has been incredible. She has been such a blessing to me in so many ways and the cool thing is we often think alike. We often say things at the exact same time and our sense of humor is so alike. We love many of the same things in SL including, sailing, pirating, gun battles and flying. Sedona is so sweet she doesn’t mind me shooting her plane down repeatedly in air-to-air combat.

So I would like to say to all of you who have not found your very special Valentine, do not give up, he or she is out there waiting for you. Wishing everyone a very happy Valentines day!

I was around you when your long-time RL canine friend Luke passed away. Can you tell us about Luke and your struggles with him in those last days?

I stumbled into an animal shelter in a small nearby town, just intending to look at the dogs up for adoption. I walked into the office and there was this guy trying to turn in this beautiful golden retriever, saying he could not keep the dog anymore. They were telling him they had no more room and he would have to fill out some papers and drop the dog at the sheriff’s office where the dog would be euthanized immediately.

He asked me to hold the leash so he could fill the papers out. I sat down and petted Luke and looked into his eyes as he looked into mine. I knew that we were meant for each other, that I would rescue him and he would rescue me.

I shouted, “No! I will take this precious animal and give him a good home.” The lady behind the desk began to say that I could not do that, but the guy said, “Why not? I haven’t turned him in yet.”

Well, Luke came home with me that day and became a huge inspiration to me. We shared many good years together but he got very old and could no longer use his back legs because of hip dysplasia. I took care of him as an invalid and monitored his pain knowing that he would let me know when he was ready to go.

I was able to spend two more months with him and slept by his side as we just enjoyed each other’s company. The time did come when he was ready to go and I knew it almost immediately. And thus, one of the hardest things any of us will ever have to do. He remains with me in spirit and will always be an inspiration to me of unconditional love.

That’s a beautiful story, Quan. Thank you for sharing that with us. What is in your SL future, Q?

The future is unknown to me. I only know that now that my inspiration for writing has started flowing again, I am never going to stop, for it truly is a part of me and who I am. I hope to bring inspiration to others who hear my music here in Second Life and continue to stream my music here. I really owe so much to Sher Salmson of Spiritfire Entertainment for believing in me and for her continued support. With her at the helm I believe the future holds many positive outcomes.

In an age where tearing up the dressing room is applauded, and where some performers elect to skip activities such as warming up vocally, or even tuning their guitar! - along comes Quan. He brings to us the heart of the true poet. Amid the many ups and downs of his life he seems to have landed on his feet creatively and is rapidly establishing himself as a major musician in SL.

He has a strong commitment to the craft of writing and performing; he’s resolute in his willingness to do what it takes to offer his audience 100% every time he hits the stage. His guitar sings in chordal patterns which are emotionally-perfect for his material.

I highly suggest that you take an hour and join other discerning music lovers at a Quan show. I guarantee that you’ll totally enjoy his style.

And…the man is in love.

Copyright © 2012 Traci Nubalo. All rights reserved.

** ** **

Carmel Daines: Pandora’s Muse

By Traci Nubalo

Metaverse Tribune - February 9, 2012

Her name rolls off the tongue like honey, wonderfully delicious and sweet-sounding. And that’s a perfect description of Carmel Daines’ voice: tasty and appealing. Stir that up with some delectable guitar work, add a song list chock full of scrumptious originals and succulent covers. You’re all set for one luscious hour of Second Life entertainment.

** ** **

I was the newest music journalist on the SL beat back in early 2009. I had four or five published articles under my belt. I’d been hanging around the great NANCE Brody and her wonderfully-zany posse preparing to write a magazine feature on her and her music. NANCE pulled me aside with an idea for another story. “I’ve invited a brand new singer to perform here tonight. I think you’ll like her”, she told me.

So the lovely Miss Kristi Renfold and I rezzed into NANCE’s outdoor theatre to catch Carmel Daines in her first-ever live appearance in SL. After a couple of failed attempts to make it to the stage (she was a noob, after all!) Carmel began to sing and within minutes I knew that this woman was going to take the SL live music scene by storm. Miss Kristi and I were both captivated by her engaging one-of-a-kind voice, her rock-steady guitar skills and her heartfelt delivery. We’ve been fans ever since.

** ** **

Traci Nubalo: Carmel, I was thinking back to your first SL performance at NANCE's stage. Want to share some memories of that?
Carmel Daines: All I can remember is my embarrassment at not even being able to navigate. I walked through walls, etc. I had no idea how to get to the stage.
TN: Yet you sang like an angel.
CD: It didn’t feel like it, but I was oh so grateful to her for offering me the chance. I was brand new to SL and didn't expect an invitation to play.
TN: Wasn't Russ Eponym helpful to you in your early days inworld?
CD: Oh yes! Russell took the time to not only talk to me on SL, but much longer on Skype, helping me learn the ropes, feel more comfortable, encouraging me to be myself.
TN: How long was it before you really felt comfortable onstage in SL?
CD: Well, it's the same as my RL gigs - I still am a bundle of nerves every time. It’s that fear because you don't know how it will go, if anyone will show up, if I'll get a frog in my throat, etc. It’s the same in SL as it is in RL. I hear that I hide it well though.
TN: Yes, you do. A lot has happened for you since those days: better venues, bigger crowds, more gigs.
CD: I’m still just plugging away. But I've got a great group. They really have become friends who support me.
TN: Their input at your concerts shows how much they love you. Open Chat is a love fest.
CD: I have to say that I was very excited and sent out a thank you note to them this past week. I learned that I had the best digital sales I'd ever had in December and January, and many were from iTunes Europe.
TN: Congratulations.
CD: Oh, thanks! I love them, that's for sure!

** ** **

Since those first days Carmel has become one of SL’s most-loved musical artists. She’s worked her way to the top venues and has become an audience favorite in them.

There are exciting new developments for Amelia Blake (Carmel Daines in SL). Turns out her music can now be heard in the US on the Pandora internet radio network. She’s also joined forces with two musician friends in Shreveport to rez a wonderful line-and-virtual trio called Airheart. I asked the girl from Louisiana about both fascinating projects.

** ** **
TN: Can you tell the readers about your new Pandora deal?
CD: Yes. I really have Shannon Oherlihy to thank for that. We got to meet last year in New York and she told me she was on Pandora, which I'd never heard of. [NOTE: Shannon Oherlihy sings on Pandora using her RL name Shannon McMahon].
She sent me the online links, I applied and got in. I also got to add my Christmas CD right before the holidays, too. So there's an Amelia Blake station on Pandora, and an Amelia Blake holiday station there, too. I love it!
TN: Yes, I listen to your album “Old Horses” all the time there.
CD: Yay! Thank you! I love that!
TN: Another new and exciting project for you is Airheart. Want to fill the Metaverse Tribune readers in?
CD: Oh yes, that's the funnest thing I'm doing these days. Dan Garner and I have been friends here in Shreveport for years, and he asked me to play a benefit here. At the same time Paula O'Neal, who I knew only in passing, asked if she could sit in. Seeing as it was a benefit, it's not like it was going to be less money so I agreed!
The harmonies fell into place so naturally that all of our eyes just lit up, and we knew we had to keep singing together. We've just recorded a CD of mostly cover songs and some originals (Dan and I both write), which will be out within the next month or so.
Airheart has played SL twice and we hope to make it a regular thing. The ultimate plan is to synch our RL gigs (at least sometimes) with SL. We don't think that's been done in Shreveport before and we'd love to be the first to try it.
TN: Excellent. That leads right to my final question: what's next for Carmel/Amelia?
CD: I really think Airheart is going to take more of my time, as we've had some offers to play more out of town gigs. But I’m thankful that I have SL to still play my solo stuff, to sing whatever I want to sing, and to play my new songs. And I still plan to do a solo CD, hopefully this year. But I want to keep that connection to the wonderful music lovers and music makers I've met in SL
TN: Of course. You are loved here, Carmel. I can't imagine SL music without you.
CD: Well thank you, Traci.
TN: Thank you for joining us on the pages of Metaverse Tribune.

© Copyright Traci Nubalo 2012. All rights reserved.

Vitolo Rossini: Standing Tall

by Traci Nubalo

Metaverse Tribune - February 7, 2012

Martial arts instructor. Ice cream man. Community mainstay.

Vitolo Rossini wore a lot of white hats as an involved citizen of Tucson, Arizona back in 2003. When he left his home that morning in his ice cream truck little did he know that by nightfall he'd be wearing a most horrific new title: TBI victim.

Leaving work that day, he was struck by another vehicle and suffered massive damage to his head.

** ** **

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is the leading cause of death and disability in Americans ages 1 to 44. It results in approximately 52,000 deaths per year in the United States and a full 2% of the population - about 5.3 million Americans - currently live with disabilities from TBI, according to the Brain Trauma Foundation.

In Vito’s case, he spent 6 ½ weeks in a coma and two more years in rehabilitation. He was left partially paralyzed on his left side, and has serious pain issues. He gets around on a walker, and wears prism glasses to correct chronic double vision.

During the long months in rehab, Vito met his lovely wife Patrizia, a medi-van driver, as she transported him to an appointment. They have been married for four years.

In 2006 Vito discovered Second Life, and immediately found a world where he could do all the things he could no longer do in RL - run, dance, even fly. He got involved in creating and “training” artificial intelligence dogs in SL, and found that he had a knack for the scripting language required to program them.

And, of course, he told other “TBI friends” about SL and they, too, logged on to join him here. Many of them got AI dogs from Vito and a very strange thing began to happen. He began to get reports that his some of his handicapped friends who were working with AI pets in SL were experiencing changes in the way they were dreaming at night. This was usually followed by some degree of measurable positive change in their health and functionality in RL.

It was learned that the "relaxed play" that one engages when interacting with a virtual pet can be a source of healing for the TBI patient. It’s assumed that by lessening the stress of learning via this "relaxed play", the brain is encouraged to open new and healthier neuronal pathways. In many TBI patients this has resulted in welcome and lasting results. “They sometimes experience an exhilarating feeling of success in their inworld achievements,” says Vito. “And this stimulates them to work even harder and to begin to make progress in other important areas of life.”

I had written a piece about Vito for a Second Life magazine in April of 2011. I decided to revisit Vito “The DogFather” Rossini to see how he is.

Traci Nubalo: Great to see you again, Vito. How have things been going for you since our last visit?
Vitolo Rossini: I’m doing very well, Traci. Thank you. I’m getting better slowly. I spent the last two years - following colon surgery - trying to eat more and gain some weight. I finally hit my target goal of 140 lbs.
TN: Excellent! How did you go about this?
VR: One of the things that has helped me the most is the use of medical marijuana. I guess I’ve become something of an activist in the medical marijuana community, helping others who are also benefiting from such medications.”

Vito has also written a couple of articles in the interim. His topic of choice is the use of virtual worlds to facilitate RL growth and change. In one fascinating piece “Traversing the Real Life Dreamscape in Second Life” Vito discusses the use of “virtual fear abatement techniques for systematic desensitization.” Easy for him to say!

An example of what this means is that Vito has begun helping those with a dread fear of falling by repeatedly getting them to roleplay “falling off” high buildings in Second Life. Over time, their RL fears relax as their anxiety over falling in SL quiets down.

Similarly, he cites a case in which he used another form of the technique to help thirteen disabled friends, all of whom suffered with a chronic, dread fear of dogs. After the fear abatement roleplaying exercises in Second Life nine of the thirteen have relaxed enough that they are now able to own RL service dogs.

I find myself very moved by what this once-broken man has been able to do to help and to serve others, in the midst of his own personal tribulations. It seems certain that most of us might have folded our cards when dealt such a disastrous hand by life. This man's attitude and infectious good will have left me humbled and hopeful for the rest of us.

As we said goodbye Vito commented: “Life is good. Patty is very good to me. Second Life has made me more able to function in RL. It’s given me direction and made me less afraid of other people. I’m really enjoying helping others learn to use SL as a therapy in their own lives.”

I'm learning that in a world that can beat people down so easily, a man like Vitolo Rossini becomes a valuable role model, inviting all of us to stand tall beside him.

(c) Copyright Traci Nubalo 2012. All rights reserved.

Ganjo Mokeev: Is That A Real Poncho?

By Traci Nubalo

Metaverse Tribune - February 2, 2012

I recently put my virtual hands on a great online collection of music from the Brecker Brothers.

When I was in my funk music phase the Brecker Brothers were for my money the hottest, toughest, baddest, funkiest thing since sliced metaphors. Saxophonist extraordinaire Michael Brecker formed the Brothers with real life sibling Randy on trumpet and flugelhorn and an amazing band. Several of the members later joined with Paul Shafer to become the musical heartbeat for the David Letterman show on CBS. The Brecker Brothers toured for most of the ‘70’s, ’80’s and 90’s, behind a series of joyous, musically-adventurous song collections. We lost Brother Michael to leukemia in 2007.

I cut my funk teeth on F. Zappa, G. Clinton, J. Brown; I got myself P-Funked, Slyly Stoned, Ohio-played and Chaka-conned; after having heard it all I finally set the excellence bar right at heart level: the Brecker Brothers. It was really great having “Some Skunk Funk” and “Sneaking Up Behind You” in my ears again!

So there I was chairdancing to “East River”, a wall-of-sound funker (think Rick James with steroid-fueled horns) that the Brothers scored a minor hit with in the late ‘70’s. A Second Life friend messaged me asking if I wanted to go to an inworld music venue. I think I had seen the better part of thirty music sets that week, so I didn’t exactly leap at the offer. But I did eventually accept it - after my friend used the “F” word - funk. So off we went to hear Ganjo Mokeev perform.

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Live in Second Life, Ganjo Mokeev is one slippery mofo as a guitarist. He’s fast and assaultive as a lead player, and sweet and harmonic in his chording. Kind of a morph between the punch of P-Funk’s Eddie “Maggot Brain” Hazel and the tickle of Charles Smith in his early “Kool and the Gang” days. Ganjo is strong vocally and has a powerful grasp on how to do the song justice while retaining the necessary party feel for the audience. He truly likes to perform, and it shows in the way he interacts with his crowd.

One of Ganjo’s strong selling points (to me, anyway) is that he has meticulously crafted his own backing tracks which he jams to in his SL show. He literally does all of the parts himself: rhythm guitars, bass, keyboards, drums, backing vocals and horns. He likes to joke with his audiences that he plays in the “All-Ganjo Band”.

He got my attention straightaway when he absolutely tore up Joss Stone’s “Don’t Start Lying To Me Now”. Infused with a chunky/funky rhythm and a slick-yet-aggressive lead guitar (shades of Hiram Bullock!), he made this already-great tune tighter and tastier.

Then he slipped into a slowed-down-but-steam-powered version of the Grand Funk Railroad chestnut “Some Kind of Wonderful”. The song took on a much funkier feel with the tempo relaxed, and G-Man made great use of the space to throw in some wicked and authentic keyboards a la the classic Hammond B3 organ (with Leslie tone cabinets) sound.

That same soulful B3 also powers up one of Ganjo’s hottest originals: an audience favorite “This Is How We Swang”. SL’s Grandmaster of Funk adds a heart-attack guitar solo to some clever scat vocals on top of the mega-slinky “this is how we swang” vocal theme.

Much to my delight Mokeev sent a thrill through the house on the opening notes of the Frank Zappa hit “Cosmic Debris” which he not only recreated practically note-for-note, but also “Ganjoed” up a bit. “Is that a real poncho, or is that a Sears poncho?” Gotta love it!

And his many fans do love it. Ganjo enjoys packed houses everywhere he plays across the grid, and has even set several attendance records at my friend Lingual Markus’s great SL venue The Roof@NYC.

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He’s aka GaryO, who streams from Denver, Colorado where he is a mainstay (“songwriter/vocals/guitar” the GaryO website tells me) in a top R&B/Dance band called Phat Daddy. The website ( also informs me that Ganjo/Gary “prefers music with strong rhythmic grooves”. Ya think?

That same site offers a nice page of tracks for listening or downloading. “It’s Like This” and “Be Myself”, a beat-laden, tongue-in-cheek discussion of identity, were particularly appealing to me although all of the tracks on offer sounded great.

No question: catch Ganjo Mokeev live and I guarantee you’ll have a great time. And you and your friends will be treated to an hour of massive funk from one very talented performer. Ganjo would be on my “Must See Acts of 2012” list - if I had one.

(c) Copyright Traci Nubalo 2012. All rights reserved.

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