I have begun working on the three new songs that will be on this segment of the series. I am looking toward an end-of-March release date.
My Once-in-a-While Blog
Pretty soon three new songs will be released under the title "Songs to Colour By - Ambiance 1".
After going through some life events over the past year I have returned to composing and recording new solo guitar music, all played on nylon strings. This is something I have wanted to do for quite a long time. My first guitar was an Alvarez nylon string (a.k.a. classical) and, surprisingly, I have never made any recordings where this type guitar is featured, even though it is my favorite guitar tone.
There is simplicity in the compositions; I'm really enjoying that aspect. Initially I wondered if they were perhaps too simple to be enjoyed, but now when I hear them I know the simplicity will be what makes them enjoyable for the listener.
I spent some time thinking about the way I usually release new music and considered whether trying a new way would be better for both you (the listener) and me. Typically I like to release a collection of 10 to 12 songs on an album. But with things changing in my brain-to-hand health the last few years, getting a 12 song album completed just wasn't going to happen, no matter how much I wanted it to. I have therefore settled on what I am doing with this upcoming release: three songs on each of four recordings. This helps me break down the process into much more manageable chunks AND gets the music out to you rather than just keep getting delayed.
The four recordings will be:
Songs to Colour By - Ambiance 1 - Release date: October 25, 2019
Songs to Colour By - Ambiance 2 - Release date: March 27, 2020
Songs to Colour By - Ambiance 3
Songs to Colour By - Ambiance 4
I don't have specific release dates but I'm pretty sure this will be accomplished over the coming year.
I have over the years been asked for any given composition what the influence was. I've always given the same answer: the natural elements.
I know other musicians, especially those with lyric based songs, can give a specific influence for one of their songs.
For me though, there are very, very few instances of a composition coming into being by a specific event. (One of those compositions is 'I Miss You', on the Silent Voices album).
As I take in the beauty of the sky, ocean, mountains, desert, clouds, moon, streams, meadows, plains, etc., it all becomes part of the permanent photo book of my being. This is what influences all my music.
I don't have anything grander than this to say about influences.
For quite a number of years I have had some song/composition ideas that would get worked on every now-and-then when I would revisit the rough recordings and say to myself "oh yeah, I like this" then proceed to work on them further. They're non guitar based and don't quite fit into the "normal" of what folks have come to know of my music.
During the last couple of months I got into working on a number these compositions and really enjoyed it. I even composed some new ones. This has culminated in an album I released under the moniker Shadows of Clouds, and the album is titled Earth.
I tag the style of the music as ambient, chill-out, drone. And if you think about it, some of these qualities are in my "normal" music as well so I think these songs are kind of an extension of that.
Below you can listen to the track Depth Of The Sea from the album.
Up until Saturday, November 3rd (2018), my focus was on rehearsing with my band from the 1990's for a reunion show. That day came, the show was awesome, and all of us were very happy with the end result. Many folks who remained fans all these years were in the audience as well as some folks who heard us for the first time and let us know how much they enjoyed the music.
Now I'm going to shift my focus to putting together some songs, enough for an EP, in the Rock genre that I've had "on-the-shelf" for a few years; they're bits-n-pieces left over from the Strong Horse album I did with Steve Rushingwind back in 2013. One fun aspect of this project is my grandson Ethan will be the drummer. He started playing at age 3, while the band was together, and is now 22. My son-in-law Eric may also join me, and perhaps my guitar mentor from the high school days.
My next project is Medicine Sunn. Two guitars, bass, drums and vocals; simple straight-ahead rock.
My former band from the 90s, Purple Mountain Matinee, has indeed gotten together and we've been rehearsing for a performance on November 3rd at the Joshua Tree Saloon (in JT of course!).
Since it seems that I cannot focus on more than one music project at a time, PMM is my current focus at least until after our performance. Yes, this means that my planned album for this year, 'First', is not going to happen - 2019 is now the intended year for that recording to be released.
Again, thank you for your patience with me, while I have some fun with my former bandmates. If you'd like to know more about what is occupying my musical time right now please visit the Purple Mountain Matinee website.
I said back in January (2018) that "First" would be my next album and it would probably be released by mid year. Well, if you're reading this then you know that album is yet to be released. My focus has been so broken this year with things other than music. My wife and I moved to (what we'd like to be) our final home, which hopefully will not change again. This move has kept me busy with projects and such that I've not been able to find enough uninterrupted time to finish recording "First".
Now, another activity gaining my attention is a possible reunion gig with my former band from the 1990's, Purple Mountain Matinee. If this is going to happen, and it does look promising, then my music time needs to go toward relearning about 24 songs, enough for us to perform two sets. I am looking forward to this happening but I know it pushes back the release date for "First" possibly into next year (2019); we'll see.
Thank you for your patience with me. :)
In the last few weeks I have played a few open mic nights.
The first couple of times was with my son-in-law and grandson as "3Gs" - three generations.
More recently the lead singer of the band my son-and-law and I were in back in the 1990's, Purple Mountain Matinee, performed with us.
In both line-ups we played three or four PMM songs, most allowed during open mics. In every performance we were received very warmly by the audience, their applause showing us that our music still has life. It was a bunch of fun!
We may plan to do a band reunion sometime later this year.
Visit the Purple Mountain Matinee website to hear the music.
Here's a picture of me in the 90's playing a gig while in PMM...
I read an article recently about the album format being dead. I partially agree with this, with the exception being that I still like to buy music in album format, and I think (can't say I know) that many of you - fans of my music style - also like to buy albums rather than singles.
Am I correct? Do you prefer albums over singles?
Before reading the article I had sort of started thinking about putting out songs as singles. Part of this reasoning is so I can get music out to you sooner than the 1 to 3 years it usually takes me to release the next album. But then I think about my personal view of an album being a moment in time; my songs (in album format) typically are cohesive and can be heard at one sitting without there being a "disruption" of mood. Whereas a bunch of song singles could wind up being non-cohesive and jog the listener around in mood once compiled into a playlist on their favorite streaming medium.
Ah, streaming. It is now how much of the population listens to music. This also has been part of my thinking process with regard to releasing singles rather than albums. [I'm honored that] a lot of folks pick particular songs [from an album] of mine to add to their multi-artist streaming playlists. Hmm. Maybe putting out song singles is okay since folks are not, due to streaming playlists, hearing my songs in the context of an album.
On one hand I would love for you to hear my newest songs as soon as they're recorded. On the other hand my head is kind of stuck in the old-school album format.
I would honestly appreciate your thoughts.
I am making a bold decision that has actually taken me several years to finalize.
A friend of mine suggested, based on his own experience, that rather than get my CDs manufactured in the typical way - packaged in a jewel case with all the usual fixin's - to just get the disc made and then package that in a clear vinyl slipcover.
For a long time I have opposed that idea because I felt that someone buying a CD would want more than just the disc; they'd want the pretty pictures and liner notes too. I do think this is still the way folks who buy CDs like to get them.
But now my decision is being made on the declining CD sales over the past few years. Honestly, I sell about 10 CDs per year. Whoa! Yeah, I stayed with my belief that folks who enjoy my music would more likely buy a CD than listen to my music via streaming services. However that has not been true for at least five years.
So I am finally deciding that my albums, in CD format, will be self-packaged in a recycled cardboard jacket like shown below. I will include liner notes too, printed at home and cut into size, on recycled paper. On the front side of the disc jacket I will write my name and album title. The CD will still be professionally manufactured.
I hope no one wanting to purchase a CD will be turned off by this new way of packaging. It kind of makes it more unique. :)
Currently there is a special offer on my website to get my first two albums, Clearly and The View From Here, in their original packaging for only $5 with free shipping. Of my other albums, there are a few copies of each available in their original (jewel case) packaging too. Once these are sold I will be switching over to the new packaging.