Friday, February 26, 2016

For Timmy

Hi Everyone!

I didn't realize how long it's been since I last posted!  I was made aware of it by a wonderful, inspiring blogger/writer named J. Michael Dolan who was kind enough to reply to me when inquiring if he did CD reviews (which he doesn't).  I promised him I'd get back to it, so here I am.

Since my last blog, I've got around 9 new songs in various forms of completion which will inevitably end up on another CD.  After my last CD, Caspian Sky, I even wondered if there were songs left in me which I think is what made me put so many songs on the last CD!  Would this be my last one?!  But it appears the muse is still with me.  I'll never cease to be amazed by it.

Of course, I'm not always in such a positive state.  If I start thinking about the lack of any monetary success from my music, I become a dullard & start whining to my wife & start again to wonder why I go through this.  I didn't sell a single Caspian Sky CD...And I start making excuses like 'well, I'm not playing out, so I'm not getting any airplay, so I'm not selling CD's'.  Typical, right?  I totally forget about all the wonderful things people, including total strangers, have said about my music.

Over the last year I decided to have a go at an original project so I won't regret not trying to play my songs live again. Just to see what kind of reaction the songs will bring or if I can even book the band! It's interesting going about re-learning my own songs.  How did I play that lick?  Why did I write so many words?  How am I going to memorize all of them?!  Is it worth the effort?!

And then, something happens that suddenly puts it all in perspective.  We live about 1/2 block from a gas/service station which is also where we have our cars worked on.  They're honest, wonderful people who've helped us out for over 20 years.  They'd fit us in when schedules are tight, they'd come to the house to jump the car & not charge us & every time we'd walk into the station there was always a big 'Hey, Robin, how's it goin'?'  Timmy & his family, but mostly Timmy over the last 10 years or so, was the big guy at the center of all the activity there.

I walked in to the station the other night to pay for gas and heard Timmy's son talking about his Mom and how she was doing.  I thought maybe her back was bothering her again & I asked about it. Richie, the son, looked at me & said, 'you don't know, Robin, do you?'.  I said 'What?'.  Richie began to tell me that a few days ago, Timmy had an aneurysm in his brain which resulted in a stroke.  Timmy passed away.  He was only 46...

I was totally in shock.  I don't even remember what I said besides I'm sorry.  By the time I got back to my car, I was totally sobbing.  I don't think I cried that much after the passing of either of my parents.  No more the big grin under the dirty baseball cap & bushy beard.  No more the greeting over the phone that promised to make things happen & make us feel secure that all would be good.

As time passed and the final tissue went into the bin, I was once again reminded of the things that really matter in this life.  So easy to forget in the midst of all our daily drama...

So, thank you, Timmy.  For all your help & smiles & for gracing us with your presence even for this short period of time in our lives.

Bye for now. ;)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

New CD - Caspian Sky - finally done!

After 3 years or so of writing, recording, mixing, mastering, scheduling musicians, fretting, losing hair, sweating in a studio with no air conditioning, wearing cut off gloves in the winter in a studio with only ambient heat, cursing at frustrating guitar solos, exulting with arms flung high when my musician friends would bring life to the songs, this labor of love is finally done!

Now in the aftermath as I reflect on it all, as I try to taste the sense of it, try to hold on to it like the finish of a good wine, I wonder will there still be new songs?  Will the mysterious muse still tickle me with inspiration once in a while?  Or is this it?  I never's always an amazing thing when suddenly I'm in the midst of another idea searching for chords & melody & lyrics that haven't been said yet in subtle ways that haven't been tried.  I suppose that's part of where the magic lies...

And so, it's now cast to the winds. It's the letting go & putting it out there & wondering if anyone will get anything from it?

But, as I've finally come to understand, a labor of love means I do this because I have to; I have no choice.  It's what I do.

I think I'll go say hi to my old Gibson J-50 now.  Maybe a little whiskey toast to my old friend.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Winter of My Discontent

It's now the middle of winter; sometimes it feels like the winter of my discontent.  The next album is slow to finish due to life getting in the way and every day it takes 5 minutes to put on all my layers of outer clothing. Thank god for good Scottish tweed!  Even found a full length overcoat on Ebay that's warm & feels wonderful when it's on.  Makes me feel like a British aristocrat or Errol Flynn or Cary Grant; one of those dark, swarthy types.  Just like the picture I have of myself in my minds eye (please keep the mirrors out of sight).

It's the sort of discontent that generally starts with muttered profanities stemming from rejections of songs sent to the Taxi music listing service (which actually did some years ago get me a publishing contract).  And yet eventually I'll take a breath and once again remember why I started doing this songwriting thing; to find the magic in the next chord, to then go on to the next song or mix or recording session or lyric. I love the smell of  the cup of coffee next to the keyboard and the ring it creates on the wood or if it's after 5:00, a Jamesons sipped from a long stemmed glass purchased in Provence last year in a medieval town.  To begin to write a new song with my old Gibson J-50 which someone gave me when I was 14 with cracks on the back put there by my younger brother kicking it over when he was 8. Or more usually, on the piano to hear the overtones when searching for the right note for the right word for the right chord.  This is what gets me through my winter's discontent.

Of course, being married to the love of my life helps quite a bit... ;)

Hoping you all stay warm and out of the clutches of winter's discontent.

Monday, August 27, 2012

That picture on the wall!

For the last 30 some odd years, I'd admired this wonderful enlarged photo shot by Frank Horvat in the 50's called Les Halles.  It's been hanging in Leunigs Bistro on Church St. in Burlington forever.  Every time I'd go in there, I'd have to go have a look.  Finally, my darling wife,  Zoe, got it for me for my last birthday & it's now hanging in my office at home.  Here it is:
There's just something about the scene, the ambiance, the kinetic motion et je ne sais pas...

Back to music:  had the wonderful opportunity to have a superb cellist, Suzanne Polk, in for a recording session on a new tune.  Absolutely lovely!  What a beautiful instrument when played by such a beautiful person.

All my best to all of you.

See ya's

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Piano For All Seasons

Hi all!

So, anyway Peter Wilder came down from the wilds of Vermont & showed me how with a little compression & reverb, the Sampletekk piano module is definitely acceptable.  It's still not the real thing when heard by itself, but relatively enjoyable to write with & sounds really good in the mix.  Thank you, Peter!

A bit of sad & disappointing news was heard recently.  Susan Hosmer, the singer in the band I play out with,  is leaving as she is going back to school.  Susan & I collaborated on a CD a few years ago ( & I for one will be sad to not be performing with her anymore.  Such is life...

So, if anyone knows of a diversified singer local to Burlington, Vermont please let me know!

The music business is a little rough in this never knows how long anything will last.  Sort of like life, I guess.  Maybe it helps us be better prepared for the exigencies of life?

Celeste got this great shot
of Elodie & Rama!
On the brighter side, my wife Zoë & I had a wonderful 2 weeks with my son Rama, daughter-in-law Celeste & granddaughter Elodie in Paris!  A fantastic time was had by all.  Although Rama is working hard at the Pompadeau Center on his research, he still had time to tour around a little bit with us.  Celeste is wonderful in finding hidden alleys with great artisan shops & secret cafés.  Really had a good time.  Got to get this all into a song somehow.

In the process now of taking the songs from my Images & Rhymes CD & making them instrumentals for my publisher.  It's probably a good idea to cover that side of the the music biz, but going back again to those songs I've left behind is interesting to say the least.  A different sensibility in this type of project.  Guitar is the melody instrument.  What sound?  Clean or distorted?  Slide?  Which effects?  We'll see...

By the way, the Prius now has 5,000 miles on it & is behaving beautifully!  Takes corners pretty well, handles great at the very few times I've gone 80mph on the highway & it's now at 43.6mpg!  YAY!  I stop in at the gas station just to say hi once in a while :)

See ya's

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Got a new car!

This post isn't really about our new car...although we did get the Prius as mentioned in my previous post!  Feeling a little smug at getting 40+ mpg ;)  I think it's going to be a lyric for a song, too.  Stay tuned!

More importantly, I went through the throes of finding a new virtual piano module.  Can't afford the real thing & even if I could, I'd still need the midi thing so I could correct all my mistakes.  I've had the East/West Bosendorfer 290 module for quite a while now & although I got it to work for me in my last few albums, I was never really truly happy with it.  It continually got in the way of the creative process as I'd try to EQ the sound or whatever so I could enjoy the 'playability' of it as much as possible while writing.

Anyway, in my research over the last few weeks, I tried the TruePianos module and eventually purchased The Big One (not happy with the name) by Sampletekk.  It's 19 GB worth of samples, thus the name.  My good friend & music consultant, Peter Wilder discovered it after I'd mentioned my frustrations & after spending quite a while comparing piano sounds & samples, decided to buy it.  Of course, once you buy software, usually, you're stuck with it.  Only TruePianos allowed a demo download for 40 days which was very appreciated even though I didn't wind up buying the software.  I also learned that the Sampletekk module didn't come as a standalone interface, so I was forced to purchase the Halion Player, as well.  I was not outlay was around $300.  My wife implied that this would be my birthday present, so don't ask for anything else...Yes, dear...

Anyway, I finally got it going & the piano module really wasn't as impressive in my studio as it sounded when auditioning it online.  Peter will be coming over this weekend to help see if there are any adjustments we can make.  It just sounds a bit thin to me.  I think the electronic emulation of a piano's resonance is what's bothering my ears.  The Big One (TBO) sounds better to me than the Bosendorfer module, but still not as good as a real acoustic piano.  So, needless to say, it's been a learning experience.  It also takes about 21/2 minutes to load all the samples.  I have to do that each time I open a song to work on.  Good things are worth waiting for?

The TBO piano module does sit much better in the mix, which is important, but by itself, I still feel unsatisfied, although a bit better than what I had.

So, you'll all be hearing it on the new tunes.  I hope you enjoy it!

See ya's

Friday, January 13, 2012

Snow fall on such a winter's day

The snow is coming down on my Subaru on maybe the last day I'll drive it to work.  We're getting a new car.  A Toyota Prius.  I hope not having all wheel drive won't deter me getting to gigs & home from work in Vermont. Driving over to Vermont Tire for studded snows right after leaving the dealer. It's also going to ruin my whole image.

The new songs are starting to really take shape now with background vocals & guitar solos giving it a new depth & feel.  Still need to get drums & sax on it, but it's coming along.

Happy New Year to everyone.  Live long & prosper.

See ya's