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

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.

 

Fighting the Self Doubts

RedDeerIt’s been a lively and busy summer so far, and last night I just did my 21st open mic night since first getting back out on the stage last September. It’s been a transformative experience, and I am incredibly appreciative of the community of artists that I have been able to find, particularly in Newton, Massachusetts and in Edmonton, Alberta.

I can feel that my songwriting has changed in the last 10 months of performing. Being around all of these other artists is incredibly humbling. The depth and array of talent is astounding. It is hard not to think of it as a competition when these incredible artists get to the stage before you and completely blow you away with their talent, their depth of feeling and performance…   and then, after you get over that little bruise to your own self-esteem and that hurt little being that is inside of you, you can take what you have seen and see it as inspiration for becoming a better songwriter, better performer, and even maybe a little more pleasant individual. 

The hosts of these open mic nights can make or break them. In particular, I have found two events that have become very dear to me both because of the encouragement of the hosts of one and the opportunities that have been presented by the host of another. 

Andrew Geano and Terrance Reeves host the open mic jam at Bill’s Pizza in Newton, MA.  They were there when I first brought the guitar back out of the case to perform live,  and both of them have been an incredible source of encouragement on songwriting and on how to improve my live performance. Please look both of them up – Terrance is a local music producer and mixer in addition to being a great open mic night host.  Andrew is genuinely one of the nicest people I know, and also is an incredible singer-songwriter. You can find his work on Spotify and also find his live gigs here. 2019-08-10 05.52.42

The other gig that has been a source of opportunity for me is Tim Ko’s open mic night at Tommy Doyle’s in Nonantum.  In addition to giving local musicians a place to play, Tim uses his open mic night to find people to take on longer sets around the MetroWest area. It is through Tim that I’m gonna be playing my first longform solo gig on September 20 at Tommy Doyle’s.

 

I have to go catch a plane now, but I look forward to talking with you again soon. Please mark September 20 on your calendar, and I’ll get you more details really soon!

A Little Early Present…

HolidayNewton, MA

Happy holidays everyone! 2015 has been a great year for Steeling Time, and we hope it has been for you too.

When Time and Motion came out, it was incredible for us – more than we’d hoped.  And yet, it left us a little lost…

2015 started with that little to-do: “Record and release an album…”  Then we did that, and it provided the spark for something special.

We looked around a little bit and try to figure out what was going to happen next. And there’s a lot of happen next to happen yet (we still have about half a band missing, for example.)

We’ve made some progress on that front, and for 2016 the biggest goal is to get out of there and start playing live. That’s gonna be some combination of some of us performing for open mic, and then – with a little luck – having a full band together so that we can do some pub and bar shows later on in the year. Ideally, this then turns into a little on the road time soon after that.

So, speaking of on the road.…

We have a little present for you. As has been mentioned in this blog a few times, we’ve been working on new material which will eventually become an album called Robbing the Cradle – in honor of and reference to the legendary Cats Cradle in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where our own musical tastes got broadened (considerably!)

We’ve already recorded a couple of different tracks. Some of them are more together than others, but two of them are ready now, we wanted to share them with you as a little bit of a holiday present.

First is a song about being away from home and wanting to come back. Ironically, “Take Me Home” was also the title of an old Tunnel 18 song from a long while back. Chris reused some of the bridge and the main riff in the solo section, but the feel and message of the song is different.  Without getting too much into it, it’s here for you to listen to and enjoy as you go ahead and enjoy your holiday with friends and family.

The next – the B side, if you know what that means – is “Pleased to Meet You,” may be the song you start to hum when it’s time to go home after being with friends and family a little too long… It’s actually a song written during a too-long business trip, and pretty much speaks for itself.

So, Happy Holidays from Steeling Time! We have much getting ready to share with you in 2016, and really, really hope to see you in person sometime very soon!

What do you call this thing, anyway?

Maine

Bangor, ME

A few pieces of news over the past couple of weeks, all of them good. First of all, just found out that our album is up on Spotify. Yay! Didn’t actually realize that was going to happen but I guess that’s all part and parcel of the CD Baby thing. Really very cool!

Also, looking to add a few open mic gigs in the Newton, Mass area (west of Boston) sometime over the next couple of months. We will post these as that all becomes a little bit clearer.

Finally, I found out quite to my surprise earlier today that some of our CDs have been making their way around Portland, ME a little bit. I sent a couple up to some friends, and they’ve been showing them around. Walked into a room earlier today and somebody said: “oh you’re the guy with the band, and that album!  It’s really cool stuff! Classic rock?”

So, this next thing is going to probably be a stupid question:  What do you call this stuff, anyway?

With been trying not to be too pedantic trying to classified as anyone thing. To me it’s always sounded like 90s alternative rock. Maybe y’all think it something else?

Please let us know. Just kinda curious.