In the late 90’s and early 00’s, I recorded a number of song demos for promotion to music publishers. Around ’02, I compiled the recordings into a CD, Flying Dream.
I’ve burned, sold and given away hundreds of these CDs over the years. Last year, I decided it was time to give my poor CD burner a break and release Flying Dream for real. I asked my friend Cher Odum if she would do the cover art. Cher has known and loved my music for a long time (I gave her one of the first ones ten years ago). She was inspired, and spent two days painting a beautiful cover in her unique style.
I’m proud to announce that Flying Dream is now available in physical form from CD Baby, and as a digital download from iTunes, Amazon, and the rest of the usual suspects. All the sites have previews so you can hear before you buy. The 13 songs are available separately too.
Driving is inspired by my many beautiful trips to Whidbey Island in Washington State and has a rare electric guitar solo.
The Cove is my love song for the beaches of California’s Central Coast, and for one beach in particular, and for my dear friends who love it too.
SnoozeAlarm, It’s Your Fault, I Could Fall In Love With You … each song has its own flavor and personality. I recorded all the instruments and parts, mostly in my little guest house in San Luis Obispo.
Songs are bookmarks that open our memories to particular pages, as effectively as the scent of a madeleine cookie. Many times, over the years, someone has told me of their experience with one of these songs, how they cried or were influenced, how it marked a page. Every once in a while someone asks me if I’ll burn another one because they wore the old one out. Mighty gratifying. I hope you get a chance to hear it too, and that it brings you joy.
Sacred Grounds Cafe in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood has had an open mic of some sort since the late 60’s. In its current incarnation, it’s hosted, every Thursday, by local music teacher and multi-instrumentalist Mr. Natural, who thoroughly looks the part!
There’s a fun crowd of regulars and it’s a warm, accepting and inviting atmosphere. Every level of player shows up, from first-time-on-stage virgins (who are greeted with great enthusiasm) to seasoned veterans.
Every week, there’s a featured performer who gets to play a 45-minute set. Mr. Natural records a video of every show, and posts it to YouTube on his channel.
Jody Mulgrew and I are putting together a few shows in the next few months, and for rehearsals, I’ve been recording versions of some of my songs. Jody and I blend like brothers, so the emphasis is on the harmonies. I especially like the way Flying Dream and Breakup Songs came out. That’s me singing the high part. I’m so looking forward to performing these with my friend. First show is at Steynberg Gallery in San Luis Obispo, on February 8. We’ll also be playing Bazaar Cafe in San Francisco on March 9. Here are the demos:
I’ve added a new recording to the Audio page. It’s the first time I’ve consciously written a song using the lattice. The chord progression is especially influenced by how it appears visually. I was moving colored bits of glass around throughout the process, aiming for beauty, tension and resolution. The music tells a small story, of a journey around the map.
The lattice seems to create a connection between the auditory and the visual. The forms and movements are beautiful, like chess moves are beautiful. The auditory beauty tracks somehow with the visual beauty. How it looks can be used to predict how it will sound.
I’ve added a few new tracks to the Audio page today. Two of them are live cuts with Jody Mulgrew, my great musical pal. The Cove is my song and Jack of Hearts is his. They were both sung at the Greco’s in Shell Beach, a couple of years apart. We plan to do some shows together next year, and I’m excited, it’s been a long time.
The last cut is one of my favorite songs, Nature Boy, by eden ahbez. I knew the melody, but I didn’t know the chords, so as an exercise, I harmonized it from scratch using the lattice. The melody wanders around the map, and the harmonies support and accent it in different ways as they follow (and lead) it around. When I finished, I looked up the chords online, and was pleased to find that my progression was different than the official one — I had made the song my own. Good exercise.
This may have been the most intense art project of my life. Some time early in 2012, I got it into my head to create a stop-motion animation of my song Flying Dream, moving in harmonic space. I’ve spent the past five months working like crazy on it. The song is carefully arranged using the lattice of fifths and thirds, sung and played in just intonation, and animated using colored lenses, rice paper and a flashlight.
If it doesn’t play smoothly, don’t hesitate to lower the resolution. It survives scaling well, and the timing is crucial.
This video encompasses almost everything I’ve learned in the past couple of years. I will be writing much more about it. Meanwhile, here are a couple of external links about the basic subjects: