The Big Catchup

I’ve had a very busy last few months. So busy I haven’t had time to write anything down. So why have I been too busy to update for my friends? Well, beside the fact that I often have update lapses, here’s what’s been going on: 1. School – As you’re probably aware I’ve been spending the last few years nestled in my birthplace of Humboldt County, in Northern California, earning my Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and getting a Teaching Credential. I earned the BA in May of 2005, and this last year I’ve been working toward the Credential by student teaching and attending various post-graduate classes. And let me tell you, this year was a bear! Especially the last six months. No extra time for anything. But it was also fun in a lot of ways. I mean, you get to be with kids all day, and that’s pretty cool. You can even play songs for them every once in a while. Now, when I started back at this school thing, I was kinda sick of playing the music game and figured I was ready to settle into a stable career, and a stable life, and have my summers and other vacations off for “hobbies” like playing music. Which still sounds good, and it’s something I may still do, but at this point I’m not so sure… 2. Tape Op Conference – It’s the most wonderful time of the year: An extended weekend hanging out with music makers. Summer camp for music recording geeks. Every year has been great, inspiring, educational, and fun. These conferences have made me think seriously about being a small recording studio owner and helping to aid other folks into shaping their music, in addition to my own career as a performer and recording artist. So we’ll see what the future brings... Anyway, this year’s conference was wonderful as usual. The location this time around was Tucson, Arizona, at the (perhaps too) fabulous El Conquistador resort – very swanky. I ran two home recording discussion workshops this time around and had some incredible panelists, including Brian Berg (of 44 Long), skater / musician Ray Barbee, Ireland’s Mark O’Connor, and Nik Frietas, among others. Let me tell you, Nik is one to watch. The workshops seemed to go well and good information was exchanged. Other conference highlights were the potluck studio, “My Favorite Mix Moments,” and especially “Records that made me want to record” which was capped by Mark Rubel’s stirring tribute to Ray Charles’ recording of “Georgia On My Mind.” Unfortunately, I didn’t get that many pictures this year, but I do have photos of both of my workshops as well as me and Mark O’Connor hobnobbing with Joey Waronker They’ll be up on the website’s picture page very soon. 3. Tape Op Con Hootenanny - I’ve been saying for the last couple of years that when I was done with college that I’d return to live performing. What I didn’t realize was that I’d be performing the day after college was officially over. But thanks to good friend and Tape Op founder Larry Crane, I was asked to play a songwriter’s hootenanny at this year’s conference at Tucson’s Club Congress. The hoot featured Leigh Marble, Brian Berg, Nancy Hess, Ben London, and myself. We all sat on the Congress’s wonderful little stage and traded songs, one after another. Both Brian and Nancy mentioned ahead of time that they were nervous because they hadn’t played in a year. You can imagine how I felt – I haven’t performed in four years. And guess what? I had to start it off. First I did “Thirteen Weeks”, which felt sloppy and off-key. Then the rest of the folks played some marvelous songs – no wonder we (they?) were billed as some of the country’s best songwriters – which made me feel more inadequate. Next I did “Hollywood’s Dreams”, which felt a little better. That was followed by a slowly strummed “These Days”, by which time I felt I’d shaken off the rust. After songs from everyone else again, I closed with “September Knows”, which felt really good. It was a great night and I felt very honored to be sharing the stage with folks of that caliber. Also performing at the Congress for Tape Op Con were American Music Club, Cracker, M. Ward, Nik Frietas, Jay Bennett, Rebecca Gates, Norfolk and Western, and several others. It was a great weekend! 4. Moved to Washington, DC Yep, now I live in Washington, DC. If you know me or have kept up with the website or these pages, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to you. I’ve been planning a move east for years. I’m in an apartment on the Northeast side of town. The rent’s cheap but the neighborhood is less than desirable, but it’s improving fast. I’ve got my studio set up and I hope to start recording soon. Now that I’m out of college I need to get me a day job. I’m not sure what I’m going to do, but I’m sure it’ll have something to do with teaching, or maybe retail. I certainly have tons of experience doing retail. I’m also hoping to get back to playing live. I figure I’ll knock off the rust by playing some open mics. That’ll be a good way to meet other musicians around town, too, as I’d love to play with other people. 5. Complete Catalog Available on iTunes Yep, everything’s available now, so you can download from all four studio albums, from the live album, and even from the rarities and outtakes album. I would’ve never thought that there’d be so many versions of “Opera Alley” out there! Links to all of the albums are on my website, or, if they aren’t there now, they will be soon! Download away and help me keep from working for The Man! Funny thing, by the way – my top song on iTunes is “Alison Day”, an outtake from Smile Slightly that was finally released on the rarities album. Go figure. 6. The Future So what does the future hold? Well, here are some things I’d like to happen I the next few years: · A return to regular live performing - I miss playing live. I’d like to have a band – one that’s flexible. That is, if one person can’t make it, we can still perform. If the drummer’s gone, the bass player and guitar player and I can do an acoustic show. If the bass player’s out, either the other guitar player can play bass or the drummer can play congas and the two guitar players can do, again, an acoustic show. You get the idea. · Playing with other folks – there’s nothing like playing with other people when it comes to improving your musical skills. I’d love to just jam with other people. To just sit back and exchange tunes. I haven’t done enough of that. Washington D.C. folks, are you listening? · Touring all over - I’d love to play in Europe, Australia, Japan, and all over the U.S. and Canada. One of these days, I will. And I’ll see you there. · Moving to the Shenandoah Valley – It’s a beautiful area. Fewer “big city” problems, yet seemingly very healthy musically. As I mentioned, I’m thinking of opening a recording studio there in a couple of years. I think the area is ripe for it. James Madison University is growing like crazy, and universities bring musicians and bands. And those musicians and bands will need places to record. · Producing other musicians and helping them with their records – This goes hand in hand with having a studio, of course. · Properly mastering my entire recorded output and getting it out on “real” CDs – This will happen in the next few years. So buy your artist-assembled CD-Rs now, they’ll be collector’s items soon! Guess that’s about it for now. Come back real soon!