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.

 

Confinement, Day 20

Man, these are weird times.

First, let me repeat what I said the last time – I really hope that you are all safe and healthy. This is a very scary time, and all of us have been affected.  

On the one hand, I do want to share with you some silver linings from my own recent experience. First, losing my commute and spending all my time in my home studio (which is also my home office and my bedroom) has helped me find more time and focus to write and record music. I already have several songs that are on their way into the world, including “The Head that Wears the Crown” and “Clouds.”  The first one is already up on Facebook, and the second is available today via YouTube. Both will be more formally recorded and shared via SoundCloud and then Spotify in the coming weeks.

There have also been some wonderful online gatherings – ranging from getting together with old friends whom I haven’t seen for many years, to continuing to play live online with friends, particularly through the Virtual Necessity Open Mic2020-03-24 19.59.01 

(Speaking of which, please join us for our first ever live event, coming up this Sunday at 8 PM! Come to share your music, poetry, prose, or comedy, or just join us to listen. We’d love to see you there!)

Still, these are scary times. I have friends who are still on the road, half a world away and not sure whether and when they are going to be able to come home. I have family and dear friends in the greater New York area, who are doing everything they can to stay in their homes as much as possible and minimize exposure. Even here in the Boston area, I have been out of the house for very short periods maybe once a week.

May we all find our way through this healthy and strong. On the other side of this crisis, may we find the opportunity to celebrate once again with each other.

2020-04-03 20.08.29

It’s amazing how many times in a lifetime one lives through an experience that ends up in a history book. 

May you live in interesting times, my friends.

-Chris

 

Making Lemonade (and Music)

Not sure about you, but I am on day three of lockdown due to the coronavirus situation. Have been working from the house, making a lot of meals at home, even baking some bread. I hope to be finishing up some songwriting – some of that has been going on, but not enough yet to put anything out.

One of the things I am missing desperately is of course getting out and playing live. No one is going to open mic nights, particularly in Massachusetts, as there are no bars and no restaurants open. (Editorial statement This is a good thing! We are trying to preserve the public health.)

I watched on Facebook as several friends I have met through playing music mourned their last gig before going into seclusion/quarantine and started wondering when the next time was we were going to be able to play in front of an audience. And then I realized that in today’s day and age, we didn’t actually need to leave our homes to be able to find at least some form of an audience. At the very least we could get together online and play for each other – and then hopefully invite others to watch as well.

OurPerformers

Enter the Virtual Necessity Open Mic page.  We are only two days in, but there are already over a half dozen performances up, and performers are working on new videos every day. This has started as a Metro West Massachusetts thing, but there is no reason that others who have a song to sing, a comedy bit to make people laugh, poetry to make people feel, or stories to tell can’t submit something to the page (send as a link or in a message).

Author

Art is what will get us through this. Art and the knowledge that we are doing what we can to protect the people we care about. Please go ahead and film your song, poem, story, or jokes and then send them into the page. We’d love to get a little light.

 -Chris

Farewell, My Friend

First, it is my dearest hope that all of you are staying safe, and staying as healthy as possible. For those who can, please work from home, and certainly do what you can to both keep yourself from catching COVID-19 and help keep it from spreading further as well.

Second, I have some sad news related to Tunnel 18’s history. Donald Humphreys – my friend since our first day of kindergarten, the one drummer I have spent the most time with (we played together from about 1983-1996 or so), and the guy who came up with the name Tunnel 18 – died this morning.  

He was diagnosed with glioblastoma (the same cancer that killed Neil Peart and Gord Downie) last spring and had been fighting the disease ever since.

I’m going to take this moment to renew my plea that if you can, please donate to any of the cancer societies who are doing good work and research into battling this disease. My favorite is Sunnyview, but there are many others. Don and C

Aside from this, I’m going to spend some time thinking of my friend and brother in music. I will remember building and then blowing up plastic model planes in his backyard. I will remember model railroading. I will remember riding bikes halfway across Bergen County. I will remember the very first days of Tunnel 18, of learning songs, sounding terrible and then sounding less terrible. I will remember playing parties where we eventually got police officers from four different towns in the county to come by to shut us down. I will remember meeting his kids for the first time, and him meeting mine.

We hadn’t been able to play music together for years because of the separation of a few hundred miles, but just like I have been playing music again, he was as well, shifting from drums to guitar in Outside The Lines, a band in northern New Jersey. I believe they will be soldiering on, and I strongly recommend you go out and take a listen if you can. 

Farewell, my friend – thank you for all of the wonderful memories and for the impact that you made on so many of us.

-Chris

Don-Guitar

Turn off the Radio, Turn on the Video

I am incredibly thankful for my life and the incredibly cool things I get to do. Yes, there’s all the travel and my family and friends and music and building stuff, but…

Last fall, I spent the day with some new friends on the Esplanade in Boston. My friend (and sometime spirit guide) Andrew Geano had released his first solo album a few months earlier and was looking to shoot his first video:2020-03-06 23.08.31

“Chris! Are you free on Sunday? I am shooting a scene for my music video for my song “Not That Free” on the Esplanade and I am gathering people I know to participate in it have a small little part that I thought you’d be really good for. You’d be playing a street preacher getting up in the face of the lead character (played by our friend Audrey Rose). It will be pretty simple stuff, and you won’t be mic’ed, and the your part will last no more than 15 seconds. If this is something that interests you, let me know. 🙂”Preach

My response was a casual and nonchalant YES!!

The video was formally released yesterday and there was a release party at Sally O’Brien’s in Somerville, MA last night to celebrate. And if I haven’t already, let me recommend a few bands and let you know about the great music you missed from: 

Audrey Rose Hughes

Jim Weeks

Wildcat Slim

And of course…

Andrew Geano

Thank you for being patient during a long absence – been an interesting few weeks, and I should be back on this blog a little bit more regularly now.  Without getting into details, I hope to be recording a few news songs, including one I started last night about how life flies by so fast. 

I’m looking forward to being with you again soon. Thanks for joining me on the journey, as always.

The Jetset Life is Gonna Kill You*

Right in the middle of an e x t e n d e d travel jag right now.  Do have some music news as well.

So maybe let’s cover that first:

InTheEnd-Singlecover2Hey! I’ve got yet another new single up on Spotify!  In The End has seen a lot of good play in open mic and drop-in band action in Massachusetts and Alberta over the past few months, so it was time to finally drop the recorded version.   

There are more songs in the works, too.  More on that in a bit.

First: travel updates.  The good news is that I have gotten to visit and experience yet another faraway place – one that really belongs on a list of must-see places.  The bad news is that I really just barely experienced Antananarivo, and cast only the briefest of glances at Madagascar. 2020-01-25 11.25.45

I’m pretty much an accidental tourist in cases like these, but one of my favorite things to do when forced to travel for business is to get out and explore the city.  In many cases I am able to just walk around and observe life, browse newsstands and grocery stores, take pictures of old railway stations, etc, even when it is quite obvious that I am not a native – that I neither look nor speak like the people around me.

Unfortunately, this kind of exploration is not that easy to work in to such a short stay in Antananarivo.  So: for this trip, I do my own variation of the Joe Walsh “live in hotels, tear out the walls” (which in my case involves writing songs and maybe playing Roblox) and then go on my merry way.

And then get home from Antananarivo late on a Saturday, do laundry on a Sunday, and then head straight off to Edmonton.

2020-01-29 09.31.14-1I love this town, I’ve loved this town for a long time, and it really is a second home to me. I know the flow of the city whether it’s +30°C or -40°C. Either way, I don’t care. Plus, I have found a real community out here – friends I love to see and spend time with, places I love to see through the seasons, sunrises and sunsets that I don’t see very much anywhere else. 

Then home again on a Friday afternoon, another run of laundry, dry cleaning, cleaning the house, spending time with family, and then off to another plane. This time to Vancouver. An oddly cold and snowy Vancouver. Another of the most beautiful places on Earth, and another where I have wandered far and wide.

Home again by red eye on Thursday so that I get into the house around lunchtime on Friday. Sunday fly out to Tampa, fly home again on Tuesday.

And then rest.

And God I need a rest. This rockstar life without actually being a rockstar can be very tiring. Neil Peart once wrote that trying to figure out a different shower every night is hard enough, never mind a coffee maker. Suffice to say I can relate.  Also, rental cars have a learning curve, and why do so many automakers use exactly the opposite directions for engaging windshield wipers?  I assure you, this is not a thing one wants to be fumbling with when one truly needs them!  

Anyway…

2020-02-01 20.33.55One real benefit of being on planes is it seems to bring out ideas for new songs.  I had listed a few things I was working on in the last blog. Well, the flight back from Edmonton last week provided yet another new song, Clouds, which got tracked in demo form last Saturday.  And another set of riffs came during the flight out to Vancouver today.

International rockstar traveller, indeed!

 

*(Apologies and thanks to My Chemical Romance)