Recording, and Being

Greetings everyone. It’s the end of another week, and the beginning of yet another. I cannot express to you how happy I am that I’ll be taking vacation time at the end of this week. Also, there are at least two new songs that feel like they want to be written. I plan to work on those as well as the approximately 8,243 other songs that I have in various forms of semi-completeness. Three days of work should allow me to finish them all…

This is… easy?

Terrance sent me the first remixes of “In a Minor Key”a few days ago. The new mixes are just absolutely wonderful. He re-envisioned these songs in ways that I hadn’t quite thought of, yet capture their spirit beautifully! The new punch and clarity of In A Minor Key made me really see how I could give still more to the song by recording the vocals in a much cleaner way. Just spent three hours today doing exactly that, and I am so excited to hear the final product!

One of the things that occurs to me, though, is the difference between the songwriter’s experience and the fan’s experience of a song. A songwriter lives with a song as it evolves from the initial germ to the point of recording and beyond, including varying interpretations in performance. Every performance is different, every night is different. A song is like a child: born full of potential, growing into itself over time, always changing.

However, fans very often have cemented in their minds the one performance that is captured on tape or the recording that they play in their bedrooms, cars, and phones hundreds upon hundreds of times.

For the musician, it is one song, but taking on thousands of lives as it is performed over and over again. For the fan, it is one performance, played thousands of times. 

Anyway, all of this is by way of telling you that there is new music on its way, and quite soon. I can’t wait to share it with you!

-Chris

Burnout

Sometimes life gives you clues in the form of subtle metaphors. Other times it delivers them with blunt force. 

Tuesday was one of those other times. 

My computer monitor had been acting strangely over the previous couple of days – suddenly shutting down, but responding to turn back on, and then turning itself off again 20 minutes later. Tuesday morning, it shut down again, so I turned the monitor off and then on — only this time the monitor didn’t turn on. Instead it released the puff of magic blue smoke that we all understand to be the spirit of the device leaving for electronics Valhalla. 

Burnout affects us all, I suppose. 

Feeling empty

I’ve been running way too hard and way too fast, particularly with work. I’m going to take a few days off from work next week and I’ll use that time to focus a little more on music. Terrance and I spoke earlier today, and he’s well along on the first of the remixes. I’m really looking forward to sharing some of this music with you soon, assuming nothing catches on fire before then.

-Chris

Four in a Week (Live Music, Recording, etc)

If you’re wondering why it’s been a little while since there has been a long blog post, it’s because we have been busy! 

One of the things we’ve been working on is recording music. Demo versions of both “Clouds” and “In a Minor Key” were released to SoundCloud a few weeks ago. If you haven’t already had a chance, please take a listen. I’m very proud of the songwriting on both, but they are very different feels. I would really appreciate it if you sent me your thoughts.

One of the key reasons I’m asking for your thoughts is that I’m about to do something with both songs that I haven’t done before. Terrance Reeves – who is a musician, a producer, and a friend – will be taking possession of the original tracks over the next couple of days with an eye towards mixing them properly, and turning them into final products. My vision is that these two songs (along with five others) will eventually become an EP for my favorite songs from the last year.

The waiting is the hardest part….

Getting this done has already been a little bit of an adventure as apparently I have not been updating my recording software as often as I should. In my initial effort to try to get the tracks ready for Terrance yesterday, I was presented with an update for one piece of software that then crashed the core StudioOne engine. It is at times like these that

1) I am thankful that I back everything up to the cloud, so no original recordings would ever have been lost, and

2) I have enough experience to know panic is not the right option in this case. Instead the right option is to step away, think through how one got to this particular crisis, and back up two or three steps.

Short story – everything is back to normal, and now I have a newer and slightly more capable recording system than I did two days ago, with no damage, and with only minimal out-of-pocket outlay to fix the problem.

There’s also a lot going on for us on the live music scene – which is not quite the same thing as the in-person music scene, although there are glimmers of hope here as well. For example, our dear friend Andrew Geano is starting to play out again in New Hampshire – open air and socially distanced, but still live and in person. Tim Ko has a similar set of situations, and the links here will take you to their pages.

As for me, I have now two regular gigs and a couple of upcoming specials.

First, I will be playing at 2 PM on Father’s Day (Sunday, June 21) at the Music Salon. Linda Marks has invited me to do a set, which I am very happy to do. This set might be a little different from my usual sets because I’ll be playing from a slightly different location – should be fun. 

Next, the two regular gigs: Tuesdays at 8:30pm I play the Apocalyptic Open Mic, and I’ve also just added a Friday afternoon gig (5 – 5:30) at Eagles Nest Revisited. Very grateful to Jay Singing Spirit Cunningham for including me in the latter!

Last, but certainly not least, this coming Monday, June 22 at 7 pm we will be hosting our sixth Virtual Necessity Open Mic session. Do you sing? Write songs? Write poetry? Haven’t had a chance to perform in a while? Please sign up and join us. You will be among friends. 

Thanks, and I really look forward to seeing you all in person soon.

-Chris

Juneteenth

Hi all,

I’ve got quite a bit to share with you, including an update on new recordings and also a few new virtual events. But I’ll do that tomorrow.

Today is Juneteenth.

I’ve been spending the day doing something I do not irregularly – educating myself on just how little I actually know about the American history of people of color or of their lives in our nation today. I am not proud of my ignorance and therefore I choose to correct it.

So, I’m going to share with you some links to things I’ve reading, and I hope you’ll read them too.

Let’s make today a celebration of recommitment to true equality of respect and opportunity in our nation.

Thanks

-Chris

Juneteenth, the Black American Holiday that Everyone Should Celebrate, but Doesn’t

What is Juneteenth

This Juneteenth, I Have a New Plan

This Juneteenth, I Don’t Feel Like Celebrating

Before…. (On the remixing of new music)

2020-05-24 23.04.29I come from a long line of do-it-yourselfers – tinkerers, mechanics, electricians, and even an engineer.  As a result, my first impulse is almost always to try to figure things out on my own. While this does get me into trouble sometimes, my successes so far outnumber my utter failures (utter failures being defined as those that did not subsequently become learning moments leading to much better results).

However, occasionally a little help is in order, and I have reached one of those occasions.  In recent weeks, I’ve shared two of my new songs on Soundcloud: 

Clouds, and In A Minor Key

I love them both very much, and think that both are interesting showcases for my songwriting.  However, I don’t quite feel like they fully capture what I wanted to hear. At this point the songs might well benefit from an objective, expert touch, so I’m going to ask a professional to work their magic with them. I’ll share the results with you as soon as I have them.

cws5In the meantime, there’s plenty of music to enjoy.  I hope you were able to join us last Friday for the Tunnel 18 anniversary event. If you weren’t, here is the recording – it was a great evening, and I’d really love it if you had a listen!

Also, a quick reminder: you can find me every Tuesday night at the Apocalyptic Open Mic.

We desperately need to embrace art, joy, community, and the things that give life meaning right now. For me, music is one of those great bridges. I hope that you, too, can find the things that connect you with your fellow humans and with the universe at large.

Please be good and kind to each other. And I look forward to seeing you all really soon.

-Chris

Playing some music and raising a little money

CWS2Hi everyone. Relatively short post here today. I want to remind y’all that I will be playing some music live this Friday night at 8:30 Boston time on Facebook live. Here is the link to join in. I’d love for you to stop by to listen to some old familiar tunes and maybe a couple of new ones, and I also hope that you will consider clicking here to make a donation to the Glioblastoma Foundation, which does a tremendous amount of good work in caring for glioblastoma patients and working to develop better treatments.  When (not if, I’m certain) the disruption and risk of the current pandemic subside, the doctors and researchers looking to beat diseases such as these will still need our help to do their good work. So please – for the sake of Donald, Neal, Gord, and tens of thousands of others past and present, give what you can. (There are also links on the Tunnel 18 facebook page)glioblastoma-foundation-logo

Thank you, and I promise I will spend our time together on Friday in a spirit of celebration. And I will look forward to seeing all of you in person and singing together very, very soon!

-Chris

On a Tunnel 18 Live Event (& Travel Shock)

First a little bit of news, and then a little bit of observation. First, I have decided to do a live stream event on Friday, May 29 at 8pm Eastern, both as a way to play live in a longer format, and also to do a little bit of a celebration. 

img200Tunnel 18 first played live during the summer of 1989. We missed our chance at a true 30th anniversary reunion, and in fact a true reunion sadly isn’t in the cards anymore. However, I do want to take some time not only to play, but also to remember some of the songs we wrote and played together, as well as showcase some of the things I’ve been working on. May 29 will be a series of originals and covers of the type that we used to play when we performed live … the kind we played by the pool in Donald’s backyard or over at Dione Rice’s house. 

I’m hoping that this will be as meaningful for you as it will be for me. Just the sheer fact that there is live music is something that has provided a level of comfort. 

I don’t know about you, but I am still very much in an unsettled place with the pandemic, and the efforts at social distancing and confinement. Even during the simple act of trying to change the strings on one of my guitars I find myself asking “where is…” and as often as not the item I am looking for is in a suitcase, a guitar bag, or some other form of luggage that has been sitting under a bed for the past 10 weeks. 

So much has changed since the last time I was on the road, and the last time we were all physically around friends. As I look at it now, any chance to be around friends, tell stories, make music, laugh a little – each of these is a precious reminder that we will get through this and we will be together again soon. And I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to seeing you. 

In the meantime, please enjoy a little bit of music. Here’s an incredibly eclectic playlist that you might enjoy. Really hope you can join me on May 29!

-Chris

Of Clouds and Singing

So, I promised you a longer blog post. Here you go.
Thank you for hanging in there while it is taken me some time to get some other items in order. Work, day stuff. However, I’ve also been immersing myself in as much music as possible: writing, performing, even learning.
First, there’s new music.  Remember that demo of “Clouds” I posted a few weeks ago? Well, it has formally been recorded, and I have added it to the SoundCloud site. (More on the new music bit a little bit later on in the blog)
Next, on the learning part. Learning is one of life’s great pleasures and rewards, especially when it means that you get to learn more about something you love and hopefully that you learn how to do more of it and do it better. Such is the case with voice and singing.
2020-05-15 21.49.13I have just started a short course in voice with my friend Danielle, who I met through the open mic circuit here in Metropolitan Boston. Danielle is an incredibly talented singer, songwriter, and playright.
(PS – She’s also got a great blog)
She’s giving voice lessons virtually during the COVID-19 lockdown.  To call me a reluctant singer is probably not right (I’m a guitarist, songwriter, etc, so singer comes with the package by default), but neither am I a natural.  So I welcome the chance to learn more about what makes my voice mine, and then how to learn to get it where I want it to go.
Danielle has been a great coach, and a lot of fun to work with.  Our lessons are also a wonderful break from the work week – again, really needed during these strangely interminable weeks.
All of this is also important as I have quite a few new songs on their way to being completed. All of the following have been recorded to some level or another:
  • Clouds
  • On The Other Side
  • In A Minor Key
  • Pulling Nails
  • Train to Bad Places
  • Heavy Lies The Head
All except “Minor” and “Train” were written in whole or in part during the lockdown, so I’m thinking of releasing all of them as something of an EP. live
More on that as the story develops. However, in the meantime, I look forward to playing for you live again sometime soon. For now, please go ahead and join me on Tuesday nights at the Apocalyptic Open Mic. And I also will do a solo Tunnel 18 show very soon – maybe I’ll even pull a few really, really, really old songs out of storage!
-Chris

Live Music, Please (and may it be safe soon)

Hi all,

I know I haven’t written in a bit (a month to be exact) and I do have a nice SUPER LONG post coming, but this article just showed up in the Atlantic today, and I think you ought to read it.

First, it’s Dave Grohl, so….

Second, I miss live music, and I think you do too:

“In today’s world of fear and unease and social distancing, it’s hard to imagine sharing experiences like these ever again. I don’t know when it will be safe to return to singing arm in arm at the top of our lungs, hearts racing, bodies moving, souls bursting with life. But I do know that we will do it again, because we have to. It’s not a choice. We’re human. We need moments that reassure us that we are not alone. That we are understood. That we are imperfect. And, most important, that we need each other.”

More soon, I promise.

The Quarantine Film Festival

So, things are pretty quiet around here these days.  Not in terms of music – there’s plenty going on there, including a demo for “Clouds,” which is now making its way to a true recorded form.  Likewise on the performance front: I have a few live-stream performances coming up, the first of which will be on the Apocalyptic Open Mic stage, planned for 8:30 PM Eastern on April 14. Please look for me there, and I’ll also do some Tunnel 18 sets in the coming days.  I’ll let you know when!Clouds

Still, being stuck in the house has given me a chance to catch up on some films I’ve wanted to see, or to rewatch. While a few of them fall into the category of brain candy, there are a few that have given me a renewed appreciation of the music that I grew up with, and that influenced me greatly. I have a few film recommendations I’d love to share with you, and not surprisingly, most of them have to do with recording studios, or communities of musicians who pushed each other forward. 

Echoes in the Canyon

echoJakob Dylan was inspired by the music of the mid-60s, and it clearly shows in The Wallflowers’ sound. In this documentary, shot in 2018, Dylan explores how a community of musicians living in Laurel Canyon, just north of LA, inspired and challenged each other to create a brand new sound by marrying folk music with electric guitar, strong melodies and harmonies, and truly poetic lyrics. The legacies of the Byrds, the Mamas and the Papas, Buffalo Springfield, and the Beach Boys have been with us ever since. 

Sound City

sound cityYeah, I know. No surprise that I’ve got a Dave Grohl film in here, and this one specifically. I do recommend of course watching several episodes of Sonic Highways, particularly the LA, Seattle, and New York shows. However, there is an indelible place in my heart for this documentary, which showcases the history of Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, California and how it played an integral role in the careers and sounds of Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, Johnny Cash, Nirvana, Rage Against the Machine, and so many, many others. I have just about everything from this movie (and the shorts from the DVD) memorized and am much the better for it.

Trivia: Nick Raskulinecz got his start at Sound City as a runner.  Now go look up who he is and why all Rush fans should care!

The Smart Studios Story

SmartSmart Studios was a classic DIY concept, started by Butch Vig and Steve Marker in Madison, Wisconsin. And if you’ve ever wanted a great story about how to just make shit happen – as well as learn a hell of a lot more about Killdozer, Smashing Pumpkins, Garbage, and a treasure trove of Indie bands from the late 80s and early 90s – this is the one. 

And now, a little mind candy….

That Thing You Do

thingYup, purely for fun.  But at the same time I was put in the mind to watch this again after hearing the news of Adam Schlesinger’s death earlier this week.  It’s a sweet film with a few really great songs. It’ll bring a smile, and honestly we could use that right about now.

Almost Famous

almostAnother one purely for fun, and music that’s a lot closer to what I grew up listening to.  Peter Frampton and Ann Wilson from Heart were musical advisors on the film, and the playing is great as a result.  Also, Jason Lee is a comedic treasure as a lead singer who constantly gets second billing.

Now I’m looking for other great films to watch. I know there’s the Joan Jett film, and that’s on my to-watch list, but what else do you recommend?  Please leave me suggestions in the comments – I’d really appreciate adding great stuff to the list!

-Chris

PS – The featured image is from the CD label for the first album I released back in 2015 when I was working under the (clear) band name of Steeling Time*.  You can take a listen to the full album here.

 

*Unfortunately there are bands in Canada and Australia working under the same name, so I changed back to using Tunnel 18, which frankly is more meaningful to me anyway.