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

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

 

Cold Winter, Bright Future

(Free download of The Things We Wish We Were. Thanks so much for coming along for the ride)

Newton, MA

Boy, what a weird couple weeks it’s been. Everything from losing Bowie and Glenn Frey, to the real doldrums of the winter. In short, not the brightest of times.

Of course on the plus side, it’s only 30 days or so until pitchers and catchers show up for spring training, and that means warmer weather is not that far off.

Until that time, we stay warm, and in our case we try and make a little music.

On that note, it occurs to me we really never talked about how this band came to be. And, first, it’s probably good to clarify what I mean by “we” and “this band.”

Steeling Time is by and large me (Chris Steele) working by myself. However that doesn’t mean that this is a complete solo project.  I’ve had the great privilege of playing with a lot of great musicians over the years, including but not limited to the band that I was part of her many years – Tunnel 18.  Some of the same people that were part of that band – as well as Wellcurbs, and a couple of other bands have all contributed ideas, or at least been really incredible sounding boards on the work I’ve been doing.

A few very good friends have been along for the ride, too.  Pushing for each new song, telling me what works, what really says something, and what’s perhaps a little too clever for it’s own good….

It’s also not to say that it will always be a solo project. I’m desperately interested in getting a full band together. Music on a disk and blasting from the speakers is great, but music in front of an audience is something special. And I think it doesn’t get completely real until that crowd is there.

In the meantime though, I can’t tell you how thankful I am for all of you who have been listening so far, and I wanted to give you a little present. Up on Soundcloud right now is a free download of one of the songs off of the first album (Time & Motion). The Things We Wish We Were is a great song about dreams and making them come true. It’s also a little bit about the fear and excitement that comes when you’re just about to make something special happen. It’s my wish that it does. And I hope that maybe it inspires you to find your dream too.

Thanks so much, and we look forward to talking to you again 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!

On The Other Coast

2015-12-02 15.53.18

San Diego, CA

So, this will be the last week on the road for a while, and a good chance to come back to solid footing.

I personally have this love/hate thing about travel.  On the one hand, I love seeing and exploring new places, hearing new music and bands (and used to be different radio, too).  Different food, and cities themselves are exciting – fun to be thrown into the unusual and different every once in a while.

IMG_0251And then there’s the other side: That part where I’m an introvert in an extrovert’s world. More to the point, where I miss my home, my friends, my family, and actually making music.

And I guess that takes us to the topic of a new lyric just written, Take Me Home. One of the first songs that I ever wrote back in the mid-80s had the same title. However, the theme of this song is now very different, as is the music.

The current version of the song came from one of my late-night jamming sessions, which I video record when things are going well and the ideas are flowing. In this particular case I also had a melody in my head, and worked out the chord progression from the melody.

The lyric came later. I somehow had the phrase “take me home” suggested to me from the music. However at this point in life “take me home” means something very different than it did back when I wrote that first song. Now it’s a lot about really discovering what home is, mixed with my own experiences of being on the road – a lot.

We’re going to try to put this one down for basic tracking over the next week, and maybe – just maybe – it’ll be one of those that we can demo on the sound cloud site before the end of the month.

On that topic, we did get basic tracking done for four songs over the weekend – Alice’s Dream, Pleased to Meet You, No One’s Coming, and All There Is to Say.  After a little bit of listening and reflection, all of them seem to have some good clay to play with, but there will be a lot more work to do before we’re to share them with you.

We only put out music that we would want to listen to.  These songs are on the way, but they’re not up to that standard yet!

Don’t forget – You can listen to our first album on Spotify here.

Satori in Geneva

File Nov 19, 5 09 37 PM

Geneva, NY

If you ever find yourself in Geneva, NY (a great little city in the Finger Lakes), you must go to Area Records & Music. Ask for Jeff. He gets it. I just walked in there a little while ago and talked about guitars, small guitar stores competing with the big guys, how Gibson and Fender are completely alienating their customer base, and why you make music in the first place.

He told me about how so many of the kids come in and they want to make money and impress girls. Invariably, these are the kids who come back in a couple of weeks wanting to return the guitar because it’s too hard to learn how to play. Anything that’s worthwhile doing is hard at first.

On top of that, the reason you learn how to play music is not to make money and to impress girls. That might be a useful side effect later, but the reason that you learn to play music is because there’s music inside you that you need to be able to play. There’s something inside you that needs to get out, and the instrument is the way it gets there.

The instrument is the tool that gives voice to your soul.

Shifting gears entirely…

The guys from Rush once said that they never had any outtakes from any albums, because why would you ever work on a song that you weren’t going to put on an album?

Kinda wish I had that discipline.

Instead, the first album had at least four songs that didn’t make it onto the album. Some of them made it onto the Soundcloud site, but will never actually make it to disk.   (They’ll be those “deep tracks” we pull out for extra special audiences live…)

And, already, Robbing the Cradle has been cut from 13 songs down to 11. Largely because the other two just don’t fit. It’s one of the struggles about writing an album rather than writing a song. The songs need to work together. They need to be of a theme, and of a feel. There are each like scenes from a movie, and need to hang together in order to tell the overall story.

So, what I’m getting around to saying in a fairly long way is that the album is taking longer to write, but is getting much better as it goes along.

The good news is that production has started on a couple of songs, and with a little bit of good luck, maybe we’ll have some new music coming your way before the end of the year. And buy new music I’m not just talking about one song, but maybe a few so you can get a flavor of where we’re going.

And don’t forget in the meantime, time and motion is available at CDbaby and you can listen on Spotify.

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.