Saturday, December 13, 2014

Hemlock Hill: Kickstarter Update
 I was planning to do a headshot for the cover, but when I was at my parents house for Thanks giving I spotted this photo. It is a photo of the house my grandparents owned from 1950. The House was called Hemlock Hill. The first song completed on the CD was inspired by memories of that house. 
The house remains high atop a mountain in Sullivan County, PA. The fence is gone and the bushes have grown. We had an opportunity to visit and take a peak inside a few years ago. The family that now occupies it grew up about a mile from my home here in Cleveland Heights. This is a very small world. 
The song is based on memories from when I was very young, and my fathers wish to bring the family together again each summer now. It is a tough task with busy schedules, but I think we all try. The song is built on a riff I wrote while spending a couple of weeks with my folks in a rental near Hemlock Hill. It was during that summer visit that we took a short trip into the Lehigh Valley and toured the Martin Guitar Factory in Nazareth, PA. We also explored my dads college town in Easton, PA, just a couple of miles east.
The recording includes some wonderful vocals by Becca Besinger of Charleston SC. She heard me sing it at a house concert while I was down there and told me that she wanted to sing on it. A year later I sent her an Mp3 and she added some vocals and emailed me back her sound files. Technology is fun that way. David Krauss also adds spirited harmonica part to my bass, mandolin, and guitar. It is a fun recording. 
Anyhow, the campaign is going strong, nearing 50% after one week. The start was very quick, followed by a very slow couple of days. Slow is not stopped though. I am very encouraged by those that have already pledged and by the number of folks that have shared the campaign through social media. 
Thank you all for your support. I look forward to sharing this music with you all. Please make your pledge TODAY! 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Kickstarter Update #1

I started this campaign Friday evening. I was hopeful to get it going early, and boy did it. Thanks to everyone who has pledged, the campaign is at 30% in under 3 days. How great would it be if this were to be funded in 10 days? But I know how this things go. Quick start, quiet for a bit, towards the end everything comes together.
This of course assumes that I am working hard at promoting the campaign. I do. I have to. I spend so much time working on the songs, recordings, and artwork for the CD. It makes little sense to not do everything I can to make sure it has the support needed for release.
Using a Crowdfunding platform is both rewarding and frustrating.  Most of the folks I know understand that I see this as a presale mechanism. In the same way that the Orchestra sells season tickets before the new season begins. It assures us that there is an interest in the music, and that we should continue to work as hard as we can to present it. When we support presales, or crowdfunding, we are letting artist and musicians know that we are behind them and enjoy the craft. So as I continue to promote the kickstarter campaign, what I am really doing is building awareness for the new CD and doing all I can to insure that it will be heard by many.
Your support provides the foundation for a strong CD release. It also lets others know that you have validated my music and by doing so give it your recommendation. This helps me to reach a broader audiences. 
Thank you.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

New CD production update 11/23/2014

   The new CD is a collection of 10 songs. Seven are new. Written during the past 2 years with a musical foundation coming first. Building from the composition and letting it develop before bringing lyric and stories to each song. This process has generated a unique group of songs that do not depend on strong lyrics. The musical themes stand on their own and for me have inspired some of the best songwriting of my life. The lyrics are simple stories of everyday events carefully crafted with attention to each syllable. From the porch of my grandparents house in NE Pennsylvania, to the blowing winter storms here on lake Erie, this collection is filled with honest accounts from my observable life. In addition to the new songs written for this CD, I have re-recorded an older song of mine, "Anywhere Else But Here", adapted "Hold Me Close" by Avin Loki Baird, and the trad. "I bid You Goodnight" thought to be written by Joseph Spence.  The later song has been my open mic closing number for over 25 years.

   Having recorded my own performances with the idea that they should be able to stand as an honest representation of my solo guitar and vocal presentation, I wrote some bass parts that primarily follow the guitar. I added some mandolin to a few. Once the foundation of the song had been established, I carefully considered additional accompaniment. Each song includes additional vocals. For this I reached out to Cindy Langmack and Xe La who both appeared on the last CD. Becca Rhoades, Laura Joy, Becca Bessinger, and Davidion Pearl also sing on the CD. Additional instruments were restricted to acoustic parlor type instruments including fiddle, mandolin, guitar, and harmonica. For this, Bill Lestock, Becca Rhoades, and David Krauss have all added some wonderful parts. There are 3 more musicians scheduled to come in over the next couple of weeks. I will announce those performers when the parts have been recorded. All of them are admired in our area. I am excited for the coming sessions.

The CD is beautiful and yet to be named. I hope to have it released in February.

Possible names include:
Hemlock Hill
Easy Win
Autumns Charm
Minister Creek

Monday, October 27, 2014

FARM: Folk Alliance Region Midwest 2014 wrap up.

It is the Monday morning following another great FARM conference in St Louis. FARM is the Folk Alliance regional midwest  music conference held annually. This year we met in St Louis as we had the prior two. Next year The conference will be in Iowa City.

I was asked to coordinate this years workshops and panels for the conference. As a Folknet board member I was part of a small team that coordinated a private showcase for our membership. As a performer I was given the opportunity to showcase on the mainstage at the invitation of Jim Hall, a folk DJ out of Lansing Michigan.

While my volunteer tasks demanded a lot of time, attention and at times provided some stress, it has been an honor and a joy to be involved in these activities.

Coordinating the workshops allowed me to play a major role in developing the educational portion of the conference. Soliciting idea's for workshops and panels as well as developing ideas of my own gave me the opportunity to build relationships with many in our community who led our workshops.  The workshops addressed many of the personal and professional goals of the attending performers, venues and DJs. Being a part of this process has allowed me to have a greater influence on the direction of the genre than I could ever enjoy as a songwriter and performer. I was proud of the work I did for this. While leading up to the conference I entertained some fears that I had not done enough and that many would be disappointed in my effort. Through out the weekend, many thanked me for my work and reassured me that it had been done well. I have been asked to participate in the same role for the coming year. I have gladly accepted. The workshop presenters, panelists, and FARM leadership were all a great help to me and made my decision to take on a second year of these responsibilities an easy one.

As executive board members of Folknet, we wanted to offer our membership the opportunity showcase during the conference. Red Chrosniak, Becca Rhodes, and I coordinated a private showcase room and helped to bring a greater northeast Ohio presence to this years conference. Our membership all shined with these opportunities. Folknet was able to successfully re-establish itself within the region and share the talent and enthusiasm for folk music our area enjoys. We hope the success of this will help to attract many more to join us at the next conference.

As a performer I was honored to be a Presenter and DJ Showcase artist this year. I was invited to perform Thursday evening to all in attendance by a long time DJ, Jim Hall from Lansing MI. The showcase went well. I carefully prepared some of my best material and also decided to perform a silly song of mine "Catnipped", because I knew Jim had played this on the air in the past. That song made lasting impact on many in attendance, drawing many compliments throughout the weekend. With so many amazing songs from a huge collection of talented performers, knowing that so many had responded so well to one of mine was very special.

When I was a younger performer, I had always dreamed of the opportunity to make a lasting impact in the world of folk music. And while I know that my many years of leading open mics has provided me this, my more recent work with the FARM and Folknet organizations has done more for me to realize this goal than I ever knew possible. Through my volunteer efforts, I have been able to help strengthen our music community locally, throughout the region, and across the continent. As a folk musician, community building is my greatest goal. I am very proud to be a part of that. I hope my actions encourage others to take up this cause. Together we do make a better world.