Tis' The Season!
I can't remember the last time that I took an actual vacation. You know the adage about "all work and no play", but that kinda sorta depends on the nature of the work that you're doing. There's nothing terribly dull about working in music, but it can be an all-encompassing state of mind when you you're self-employed; always something to do and never quite enough time. You learn, after awhile, that the plate never ends up clean, so you stick it back onto a long bamboo stick and get it spinning. All of that stuff on there just flies right off.
Besides being able to spend time with my wonderful Jae, our three-week drive about got me pumped for the busy month of December and all of the projects just waiting to be tackled. After arriving back home and stacking everything from the RV into the house, we took our time getting back into the swing of things and enjoyed some more relaxing time. Then, she went back to work and so did I.
The first fruits to drop came in the form of song notes made on the road, which I began to meditate over in a stream of consciousness. I'd take a block of chords and then play them over and over again, feeling them deeply, keeping it simple, letting melody introduce itself. On piano, on mountain dulcimer, on ukulele, whatever was closest, I'd massage some changes into being, do a little editing work, and then record a demo. So far, there are about four or five songs that have come screaming to life in the past week and there are plenty more just around the corner. Lots of emotions and current events that are creating lightning storms in my brain. I love production season. It's truly harvest time!
Setting up the cameras, I knocked out a couple of "Dulcimerica" episodes, getting back to the workshop-style videos that folks have been requesting this year. Deciding to focus on techniques, rather than repertoire, here are two subjects that have been on my mind this year; chasing the melody and fingerpicking approaches:
Next on the short list: complete post-production on two new live recordings. After receiving the audio and video files for my performance at Ditty TV Studios in Memphis this past January, I opted to have the Ditty TV crew do the post since they have more experience mixing their room. Last night, however, I finished the tricky mastering of "The Return Of Live At Old Songs", recording this summer at the Old Songs Festival in Altamont, New York. Right as I started to work on finessing the tracks, I realized that my laptop version of Garageband was terribly outdated (by seven versions!) Luckily, I hadn't begun working with the mixes and discovered some extra functionality in Garageband 10 that would help enormously with the work. I'm currently working on the album design and it should be on schedule for a January 2016 release, same as "Live At Ditty TV!"
So, we're off and cracking! There were no shows for the first half of the month, so I've had time to just sit and unhurriedly live within the music, listening carefully for the prompts that lead to joyous discovery. It's easy to get lost in the holidays with so much activity, so many deadlines, everyone rushes around and losing sight of the simple beauty and timeless sentiments becomes commonplace. Our world is in such flux - it's a dicey time in our history. As life gets more and more complicated, I think there's an even larger pull towards the simple things that give back to us in times of stress and strife. Music is the only thing that seems to offer the hope and connection, expression and satisfaction that is hard to come by everywhere else. My wish to you, this month, is that you find peace and joy in your daily life. Take a step back from the movie, computer, television and phone screens, park yourself someplace comfortable with the music that speaks to you and have a nice, long immersion each and every day. It's certainly better for you than reading bad news or fighting over last-minute holiday sales and there aren't any calories. Live it up! Tis the season.