Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tavern 27.

Tuesday 12/17/2013 is my last day at Tavern 27. I've been playing their gorgeous (and slightly ornery) grand piano every Tuesday for a little over a year. And in that time I've become acquainted with some fine business owners and some AMAZING food. If you're anywhere near Laconia NH, you really ought to check it out. They do an American spin on traditional tapas (meaning, of course, larger portions than traditional tapas). There isn't anything like it in this area. And the piano bar goes on, in the capable hands of a couple other local musicians. Dan Carter is outstanding; if you see him, ask to hear an original. Great songwriting style.

As for me, my schedule is pretty busy, and having a night at home on Tuesdays isn't unwelcome at all. (Ask me again in a month though.) And you'll be sure to see me hanging around Tavern 27 from time to time; I've still got a nice big food credit to use up. Reservations recommended; (603) 528-3057.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Album Mastering.

The date for mastering the new CD is set for December 27. How about that, I might get the thing done this year after all! Of course, there won't be physical copies until early/mid January, but all aspects of the project are moving forward.

This record has been a much longer process than any of my others, and it's been interesting to see what that does to the work, and to my impressions of it. In the past, I've put songwriting aside during record making. Not so this time; I could only hold it off for so long. And since it's not just me at the controls, the project can keep moving while I indulge the muse. Nice!

I think I promised you song stories in the last post. Well, I'll try to get some live recordings of the new stuff this Wednesday, and then you'll get all the dirt. But I also have an album cover to be finishing up. Oh, and people ought to have a way to order the damn thing too, yes? Busy busy. And thank goodness for it.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Album Update

At 4:38 this morning, I got the mixdowns on the last of the songs from Ken. They all sound great. The album is a little shorter than my others - it'll come in at just over 30 minutes - but there's no wasted space, I can tell you that. We're doing one more day of mix adjustments, and then it's off to the Mastering house. I don't have an official timeline on that yet, but I'm thinking the CDs should be in production before year's end.

It's time to put the preorder system in place. Look for that in the next couple days. I'm also looking around at possible Release Party venues.

And I've written a couple new songs since we last spoke. I'll tell the story of each of them in turn, because they come from pretty unusual places. The first of those will happen later this weekend, right here on this channel. Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sunday Morning Movie Review - World War Z

I just finished watching World War Z. Here is my review of the film.

World War Z is a movie starring Brad Pitt, who finds himself an unwilling participant in a global game of tag. When a person is tagged, they immediately become infected with parkour.

Okay, I knew the movie would diverge from the book. But man. It was entertaining enough, but the name World War Z deserved so much more. The book (by Max Brooks) portrayed a zombie outbreak (and the resulting human struggle) with exquisite realism. The movie, which went through numerous reboots during its development, opts instead for the action hero approach.

To get the original story in its ultimate form, I strongly suggest the World War Z audio book. Max Brooks constructed his story in the style of interview transcripts, so the audio book treatment is perfect. And the voice actors include Mark Hamill and Henry Rollins. Of course, the print version is great too.

So. Got a couple hours? Are you into movies where the hero is in constant peril? Can you overlook global tragedy and instead feel sympathy for the one family that gets to go on a boat? Then this is your Sunday Morning Movie.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Album Review: Glenn Case - Throw Money

Glenn Case's long-awaited album Throw Money shipped recently, and I have had the chance to listen to it several times. Let me tell you a little about it.

I was already familiar with much of the material for the record, having heard the original versions as Song Fight submissions. But there was plenty for me to discover on this album, and the whole thing is much more polished.

The record opens with "Bullseye Girl", a quick and sincere Elvis Costello homage that could easily run a minute longer without wearing out its welcome.

"Glutton" follows with a pleasantly conversational drift through time signatures, featuring Glenn's signature self-effacing lyric. Glenn's unafraid sincerity and comfort with the message (musically and lyrically) makes it easy to go along for the ride.

The pre-chorus on "OK Cupid" leaves me feeling like a songwriting chump. Glenn serves up a clinic on elegant song structure here.

If I found myself in Glenn's band, I'd be most excited to play the song "Georgia's Hand". It feels like it would be a blast to perform live. Another sharp, totally believable pop gem.

"Think It Over" features an absolutely irresistible chord sequence in the verse. The lighter lyric floats over a clean and rock-solid musical foundation.

Listening to the piano-driven "I Fell Flat" makes me think Glenn and I must share a great many musical influences. So much of what I love in pop can be heard here.

(Turn the record over here)

In 2006, Glenn and I were among 24 competitors in a little side thing over at Song Fight! The title we had to work with was "Pencil Me In". I turned in a decent piece of work, and I felt pretty good about it then. In fact, my song is going to be on my upcoming record, out hopefully by the end of the year. That said, Glenn kicked my ass, and I knew it the first time I heard his song. It sounds even better here on the album, opening the second side.

"Need Stilts" follows, with a guest vocal appearance by Rachael Layne. This is another Song Fight! song, and Glenn's ability to take a song title and completely own it lyrically leaves me shaking my head again.

"Take A Pill", "Reasons", and "Sweet" are classic second-side songs. The rules of Glenn's musical game are now set, and here's where you start to see how much room for exploration remains. This is where you grab the album cover to see who's playing those drums! (It's Ken Mahru, by the way.)

The album closes with the personal musical apology "Sister". Something more anthemic might be a better choice as a closer, you say? Nope. This says the record was never about you and me. Throw Money is Glenn Case telling the truth the way he tells it. This is obviously an honest body of work from a man shaped by music. We can only hope the next one doesn't take another six years.

Throw Money, along with many of Glenn's earlier records, can be heard here.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Summer recap.

I'm in the home studio this morning, getting caught up on a few things, this summer recap blog post being one of them.

I had 31 shows on the books for the month of August. A cancellation and a double-booking have brought that number down to a projected 29, still pretty damn good. And I managed to find time to shoot a TV commercial for a local bank AND sneak away for a two-day visit to the ocean. Good month!

Oh, and my 10-year-old (Shannon) made his on-stage debut with my classic rock band No Limitz at a show in Alton NH. He has been taking guitar lessons, and he played Sweet Home Alabama with us! (Video coming soon.)

September looks to be almost as busy, and it features a couple very exciting shows - I get to play songs from the new record at a house party for some friends who contributed to the CD fundraiser, and I'm rolling out some drinking songs at the 17th annual Homebrewer's Jamboree!

About that new album: There is the possibility of one track being ready for release by October. The full release will be around year's end. But I'm listening to the rough mixes as I type this, and I'm just as excited as I was when Ken Stringfellow was here recording them. You gotta hear this stuff, guys. Look for some sort of a preorder link soon.

I'm compiling ideas (and willing victims) for music videos. Hopefully next month I can find time to get some people organized and shoot some footage. (There's a fair bit that I can probably go out and shoot by myself, too.) But if you have an interest in helping, and a camera of modern smartphone quality or better, I'll take all the help I can get. :) If you want to help by being part of a big group wearing animal mascot costumes, that would be a big help as well. Nothing VMA Awards-related, I promise.

And hey, what are you up to tonight? I'm hosting the weekly open mic at The Country Cow in Campton. It starts at 7pm. Come out and get yourself some local music! Even better, bring a guitar and join in!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Back to normal, whatever that is.

Well that was crazy. The last two weeks have been a blur, and I've got some really good stuff to show for it. Not that I can actually show you yet, of course; the rough mixes that Ken Stringfellow made are way beyond anything I've recorded on my own, but they still need plenty of work before they are safe for public consumption.

All in all, things went extremely well given the limited resources we had to work with. Ken talks about the session in his latest blog, which also details his weekend shows in NH and ME.

Now the waiting game begins. Sort of. Final mixes on these tracks won't happen until November, though there is the possibility of one track being done a bit sooner. There's plenty of photo and design work to be done though.

Oh, and I do still play live shows. In fact, after dropping Ken off at the airport Sunday morning, I headed to The Margate for my weekly beach bar show, and then straight off to play a baby shower. This week is pretty busy too, although I'm taking the weekend off to celebrate Stacey's birthday.

One more thing: the Indiegogo campaign basically covered expenses for the recording session. I'll be setting up some sort of preorder system to try and raise funds for the mixing/mastering portion of the project. Maybe a PledgeMusic campaign, maybe something more simple than that. Details to come. For now, all I know is I'm super excited to put this music in people's hands and heads.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Recording: Week 1 recap

It's Sunday morning. Ken Stringfellow and I spent the week recording, and then we went out on Saturday to play our respective weekend shows. I'm at home now, having coffee before heading out to play a double, and it gives me a chance to finally reflect on what a crazy week it's been.

Working with Ken has been fantastic. He's insightful, spontaneous, and incredibly skilled (at recording AND playing). He's also a worker on a schedule that I cannot fathom; I mean, I stay busy, but take a look at the path he took to get here!

We are making a record I simply wouldn't have been able to make on my own. Add to all of that the fact that Ken is a good (and funny) guy. I had suspected this from the wordplay that turns up in The Posies' songs.

Last week we had to travel to Vermont a couple times, to get the drums recorded. Tod Moses did a great job over there. This week we get to stay at the home studio, building on those foundations. I think we have four songs in the can now, and another one mostly complete. I'm working on bringing in at least one other guest musician this week. And I should probably pick up some more coffee. We're going through a lot of that.

So, we'll record through Friday night, and then Saturday morning I'm driving Ken to the airport; he's off to Texas to record another guy's project. We are looking at mixing and mastering later this year; I anticipate having CDs in hand by year's end.

And I cannot wait to share this stuff with you. Ken is able to make my musical ideas happen, and contribute his own in ways that serve the song. This has been a Hell of a project to put together, and so far, it has been totally worth it. To those of you who contributed to the fundraiser, thank you again. This record is going to be good.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Ready to roll! Almost.

I am taking a break from vacuuming to bring you up to speed on the new album. :)

The studio is almost ready to go! Ken Stringfellow will be in town on Monday, and we're getting right into recording that day. During the first week we will be day tripping to Vermont to record Tod Moses on the drums. The rest of the project will be in my humble basement studio.

A few people have loaned equipment to the project; Michael Kim Cuddihy dropped off his Telecaster this morning, and it is beautiful. (Ken is playing a couple shows on the weekend, and he will be using this guitar for them!) And Rafael Puga has graciously provided a crucial piece of gear - a decent vocal recording mic. I'm still on the lookout for an acoustic guitar that will sound fuller than my old Oscar Schmidt. Time for a trip to the Vintage Fret Shop, maybe.

All right, I gotta keep cleaning. It'll be nice to be past that, and to actually be doing the work of making music. I will update as it goes. Cheers!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

About the new album.

I'm pretty excited about the upcoming album! It's going to be called True Stories From A Small World. Most of the recording will take place in the first two weeks of July, with mastering and production later in the year. Ken Stringfellow (of The Posies, REM, Big Star) has been commissioned to record/produce the album, and I can't wait to work with him in the studio.

Thanks so much to everybody who preordered through the Indiegogo campaign. You totally made this my most ambitious record to date. I'm really proud of these songs, and I can't wait to share them with you! I will be updating as I go, and webcasting as many shows as I can in the meantime. Stay tuned, friends. :)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The New CD - and how YOU can help!

I've been working on the new record for a while now, and an amazing thing happened in February. I had the good fortune to meet Ken Stringfellow (of The Posies, REM, and Big Star), and we discussed the possibility of working together on my project.

Fast forward to today: we are blocking out time in early July to record, and mixing/mastering will take place in September. It pushes the release day out a bit, but the results will be far beyond anything I've done by myself.

It also means a more expensive effort. So I have started an Indiegogo campaign to allow people to preorder the CD. Please take a look: