12/29/08

Making records.

The creative process can be daunting. One of the most difficult parts is in the decisions, or indecision. I experience this on a regular basis as a songwriter; the instinct to self-edit can be so strong that it blocks creativity completely. You can spend hours circling around an idea, but until you make the decision to commit to it and run with it, the idea remains as it is...just an idea.

This year I have worked on a few projects in the role of engineer/producer. In this role, I've seen the creative process from a different angle. It's been great. One of the most satisfying experiences was with Fred Van Vactor.



Fred has a ton of great songs but until recently he didn't have a record. He tried but could never manage to see a project to completion. This summer, he and I spent a couple of days working on demos of his new tunes. It was extremely fun and he felt a huge surge of inspiration. I did what I could to record the demos well, but it seemed like part of my job was to help him get the ball rolling in a bigger way. He was on the verge of making the decision to start a real album project, he just needed a bit of a push. After making the demos he went to San Diego and knocked out a record with Christopher Hoffee...I've only heard a few of the tunes, but it sounds fantastic and suits him perfectly. And, I think one of our demos made it on the record! Listen to 'A Girl Like You' on his Myspace page.

Another highlight was helping John Shipe finish 'Yellow House'. He had put a ton of hours into the record but it hadn't taken shape. I think he just needed an objective opinion...someone to say "Keep this, axe that..." etc.

This week I'm working with another friend, Mike Last. We're in the thick of it...he's getting more and more comfy with the idea of committing to a final version of his tunes. I really like being the guy who's just around to push buttons and say "that was good but I think you can beat it". I'll post a link to his tunes when they're done!

12/15/08

Snow day


Well, we got four inches of snow here on the valley floor. Not significant compared to many parts of the country, but it's enough to close the schools. Anna and I are gonna trek up to the golf course and go sledding.

I got word from Jenny Queen that she made a video for a song we wrote together last year. She's living in Australia now and her record is being released by a big label there. Pretty cool, I think. I've been tossing around the idea of going there for a work vacation sometime in 09...maybe I'll get to do a little Aussie tour with Jenny. Here's the video:

I'm scheduled to engineer something for the Eugene band Molasses tonight...I was worried that they may take a snow day too and cancel the session, but it looks like we're going to stick to the plan. They're a rootsy, bluegrassy trio and they're very much into the idea of recording the whole thing live. I'm just going to bring a tube mic and have them circle around the way they must have done in the old days. Fun!

Better hit the slopes before the snow melts...

12/12/08

Decisions, decisions

Friday night, and I’m in my cozy little home. Anna and I have been talking for hours about how we should shape the next 6 to 12 months of our life. One of the frontrunner ideas is to pack our dog up and drive around the country for a month or two. As in, go on tour…

It’s been a year and a half since I’ve gone on a proper tour. I’ve left for a week or two, sure, but I haven’t ‘hit the road’ in the same way I used to. It’s really a whole different ballgame. It requires a couple solid months of planning, and the tour itself requires a couple solid months of sheer willpower.

So that’s one option. There are others, each with its own set of challenges and rewards. It got me thinking about the challenge of developing a career in music. The fact is, there are no clearly marked paths. None. Each step forward is preceded and accompanied by a bunch of second-guessing questions. It’s nearly impossible to predict the outcome of an effort.

Who knows. It’s exciting to think about the unlimited possibilities the world has to offer. It’s hard to make a choice.

12/6/08

Patience, patience.

Every once in a while, something comes along that is so well-suited to my personality it feels like it was meant for me. I just have to be patient and wait for them to find me. Examples:

Designer jeans with faux stains. Are you kidding? I've been wearing stained, torn jeans since freshman year of high school. I never dreamed that it would actually become so fashionable that one would have difficulty finding an un-faux-stained pair in the stores. And now that tapered jeans are back I can probably cash in all my old pairs at Buffalo Exchange.

Netflix. No late fees? Really? And I just put the movies back in the mail from whence they came? Without paying late fees? I probably paid hundreds of dollars in late fees over the course of a few years. Netflix was made for me.

Twitter. Social networking made easy. Sure, I'll feel the pressure of being witty in 140 characters or less, but I have a feeling Twitter is going to be right up my alley. See, I do want to let people know what I'm up to. I'd like to keep in touch with friends. But blogging requires more discipline than I can consistently muster. With Twitter, I can get the word out, keep in touch, and spend very little time doing it. Signup is easy as pie...to sign up and 'follow' me go to:

www.twitter.com
www.twitter.com/ehrenebbage

12/5/08

Sandwiches

Man…this week has been good.




The Tractor Tavern show in Seattle was great. Reily and The Soft hills both played excellent sets and it was fun to see some old friends. Drew Dresman, former Justin King bandmate, is really great in the Soft Hills. I’ll see Reily again next week when they come to Eugene. I’m helping produce their record at Justin King’s studio Blackberry Hill…great songs, great band!

Anna came along on this trip so we had to go to our favorite Seattle sandwich spot, Salumi. They specialize in cured meats, and the stuff is amazing. Seriously. Best bud Kyle went with us and he had to concede to his meatball sandwich.



The next day Anna and I went back for more. We ate our sandwiches in the sun on a little dock by the ferry terminal.





Bellingham was fun. While on stage I realized that I’d never seen Bellingham in the daylight. That’s one of the funny things about touring; you can go to a city several times without ever finding out what it looks like. As far as I can tell Bellingham has some hills, trees, and water.

The Forest Grove show was tiny but fun. Chicago friend Paula was in the area for family biz so she stopped by with her brother and sis-in-law. It was great to catch up.

Tonight I play at Musichead in Meford. It’s a cool indie music store that puts on shows from time to time.

Tomorrow, I’ll play with John Shipe at his ‘Goodbye Eugene’ show at Sam Bond’s Garage. John has been a friend and mentor for over a decade…he’s taking the opportunity to relocate for a while. He’ll be missed.

11/30/08

Husbandry?

Oh man. I don’t know if I’ll ever get the hang of this blogging thing. My blog expert friend Leona says that an effective blog is one that is updated regularly. It just doesn’t come naturally to me.

Anyway, things are grand around here. The big news is that I proposed to Anna and she said yes. I couldn’t be happier about it, and she seems pleased. We’re thinking about tying the knot sometime soon…maybe in a few months or so. I look forward to being a husband.

I’ve had a couple of weeks of rest and I’m really starting to get antsy. I’ve been going back and forth between the desire to plant some roots and the urge to get outta town. Living in Eugene is funny…the community here is great, but it’s still a small place and it’s hard to develop a meaningful music career here. People have done it, but not often. I’ve been able to eke out a living since I’ve been back, but I wonder if it will ever turn into a real income. I’m considering renting a space to put together a little project studio...not sure if I can afford it yet.

I’ve taken a couple of live sound gigs at Sam Bond’s Garage. It’s actually really fun. Quite a challenge…my respect for live sound engineers has risen (from an already high place). Last night I ran sound for the Mood Area 52 show. Great band.


I have a bunch of shows this week…I’ll be in Portland, Seattle, Bellingham, Medford, and Eugene. Five in a row, just like the old days. I’m excited to play the Tractor in Seattle. Great room. Musichead in Medford is an excellent indie record shop that puts on all-ages shows. I haven’t played there before but I have a feeling it will be fun.

11/4/08

Results...

San Francisco. Haven’t been here in a while…it’s nice to be back. I spent the first twelve years of my life across the bay in Oakland…feels kinda like home. I just landed at SFO. I’ll head over to old Justin King bandmate Nadir’s place, drop off my stuff and go somewhere to watch the election unfold.

I’ve been thinking about the significance of today’s election. It will be a day that we describe to our future grandchildren, I’m sure. This morning I walked with Anna and Louis to the ballot drop box by our house and paid attention to the details…It felt very purposeful.

So, I’m at Nadir’s place now with a little time to reflect. It looks like folks are voting in record numbers this year…I hope us citizens’ interest in current affair remains strong after the election. I think mine will.

Tomorrow I play at San Jose State University…It’ll be fun to talk to the students about the goings-on.

10/30/08

Fun Shows

This weekend is what it's all about...I get to play two great venues with two great bands. First, I'll celebrate Halloween with The Floydian Slips at the Roseland. The Slips have been paying tribute to Pink Floyd for more than a decade...I've been with them for 7 years or so. See the previous post for a video preview.

Then, I celebrate the release of a new EP with the Dimes at the Doug Fir. I love playing with these guys and I'm excited to be on a bill with Derby...excellent band and great guys to boot.

Here's footage from a couple of Dimes shows:


The Dimes - Paul Revere from grammar school on Vimeo.

Portlanders, I hope to see you at one of these shows!

10/29/08

Holy Smokes

Man...it's been busy around here! I've been playing a ton...New York City was a highlight. I've been working on a project for my buddy John Shipe, remixing one of his records. Soon I'll start work on the Dimes next record. Oh...this weekend I get to be part of an excellent Halloween show featuring the Floydian Slips! Here's a preview put together by one of the band members, Paul Lesinski.



There's actually lots of stuff to write about...I've had some revelations regarding my solo shows and promotion in general. I've just got to carve out some time to write!

9/24/08

Jay Nash

Just a quick note to let you know about Jay Nash...he's an LA-based songwriter with a new record out. It's pretty darn good, and I helped write one of the tunes! The record is called 'The Things You Think You Need' and the tune is called 'Easy'. It's available on iTunes now!

9/12/08

Chicago, part 2

9.7.08

Yesterday was great. Chris took my guitar to the shop for a quick set-up, and it was transformed into a whole new instrument. Poor guitar…It really sees a lot of abuse. Plane flights, cross-country drives through rapidly changing climates, not to mention the way I bang around on it when I get excited. Chris cleaned it up, replaced the nut and bridge with higher quality ones, and just generally brought it back to life. I’m excited.



I spent the rest of the day walking around some more. Such a cool city. I went back to Millennium Park to catch a bit of the opera concert. Man…I’d love to live in a place where they had this stuff going on.




I met up with Chris at the bar where Rachel works. We had burgers and sat and talked for a couple of hours until she finished her shift. Chris’ cousin Carrie came by to hang out with us and we got my guitar out and all of us played tunes on the patio until the wee hours. On the way home we stopped at a 24-hour Mexican place for tacos. Dee-lish.


I woke up pretty groggy today. Didn’t sleep enough. I’m excited to go home to Anna and Louis tomorrow.

I’m looking forward to the show at the Elbo Room tonight.

9/10/08

Chicago, in part...

I finally got to spend more than a few hours in Chicago. I'd been there before, but never long enough to really explore the city. I kept track of my adventure, and the highlights will be posted with words and pictures.

Here's part one:

9.6.08

Chicago is cool. I’m staying with Chris and Rachel at their place in the Pilsen neighborhood west of downtown. Chris replaced me when I quit Justin King’s band last year…we hung out a bit then and have stayed in touch since. He and Rachel are extremely gracious hosts and have been really great to hang out with.

I covered a lot of ground on foot yesterday…I walked from Third Coast Guitars (Chris is a guitar repair tech there) through the meatpacking district to the downtown area. I went to the amphitheater in Millennium Park and watched a rehearsal for an Opera show. Man…the place is amazing. Gehry designed it. It’s huge, and the sound system is incredible. I’ve never heard anything like it.



The singers are apparently some of the bright stars in opera today…I’m completely ignorant and didn’t recognize their names. They sang beautifully, though, and the experience really opened my ears to the art form. It was similar to the experience of seeing Paul Brainard play pedal steel at Sam Bond’s in Eugene…I was blown away and developed a huge appetite and appreciation for it.





(Here's a pic of 'The Bean', also in Millennium Park)














I’ve really enjoyed having some time to wander around alone. I realized that I haven’t had much time to let my mind wander since last summer when I worked for my folks on their farm. I get so focused on work stuff that I forget to take time to read, write, think, explore…it’s such a crucial part of my creative process…no wonder I haven’t been writing many tunes lately.

9/2/08

Yachats

The trip to Yachats was fun. We talked Anna’s mom Jane into coming along last-minute. I played six sets of music on Saturday night…I think I set a personal record. It was pretty standard; the locals came out for the show, awkward couples drank and danced to songs about heartache…Between sets I went outside with Anna to let Louis out of the car…he made friends with everyone. I had visions of myself, Anna and Louis driving around the countryside meeting new folks every night.




By the end of the night we were exhausted and retreated to the apartment above the bar. Owner Bruce is a warm, generous guy…he lets bands stay upstairs when they play at his place. We were thoroughly soaked in cigarette smoke but too tired to rinse off before bed. After trying for a few minutes it was clear that we wouldn’t be able to sleep unless they turned the jukebox off downstairs. It was on full-blast and the sound came up through the old floor loud enough that the words were perfectly audible. I got my jeans back on and went down to ask the bartender to turn it down a bit. Before I got through the door a big fella brushed past me and in an instant he was brawling with some guy at the bar. The bartenders were shrieking…I turned around and went back upstairs to wait it out. Anna and I watched from the window above as the big guy stormed out of the bar and wandered up the street into the dark. The jukebox was still blasting so I went back down. One bartender was nursing a guy’s wounds at a table…the other was behind the bar. She said something about her finger getting messed up in the fight and held it up for me to see. It didn’t look messed up at all…I made some vaguely sympathetic comment and then asked her if she could turn the jukebox down because it was 2:30 and we were trying to sleep upstairs.

We woke up mid-morning, loaded the car, and went for coffee up the street at a little hippie cafĂ©. Coffee was good, pastries were so-so (a little too sweet and spongy). We ate and went to the cabin bass-player Jerry rented. He was making breakfast for everyone but we couldn’t stay…had to leave for home soon and we wanted Louis to have a chance to run around on the beach first. The fresh air was great…it kept trying to rain but never really did. It would sprinkle for a minute and then just clear up. We ran around in the sand with Louis…he would probably run all the way to Canada if we let him.

Back in Eugene now, we’ve seen two movies at the Bijou that were excellent… ‘Tell No One’ and ‘Frozen River’. I’m glad we have a theater in town with great movies and cheap popcorn.

This week I play in Portland and twice in Chicago…I get excited when I travel, but my home life is so entirely wonderful that can’t help but feel a little down when I think about leaving. I have a couple of days off in Chicago…maybe I’ll go visit my cousin in St. Louis.

8/30/08

Labor Day

Off to the coast for a double-header. First, I’ll play a little dinnertime set at the Drift Inn in Yachats for the Labor Day vacation-eers. I’ve heard it’s not a bad gig. Hopefully I won’t have too many requests for Cat Stevens…actually, I could probably learn a couple of his tunes on the drive over…

Then, I’ll literally walk across the street to join my buddies Rich, Jerry, and John for a few sets of uninhibited rocking at the Landmark. It’s a special place where the sole purpose is to have fun. Anyone not doing so will be kicked out without a refund.

It’s nice. Neither of these are glamorous gigs, even if played wearing the rosiest-colored glasses. But Anna and Louis are coming along, as are the wives, partners, and kids of the rest of the band. We’ll eat, drink and sleep for free, and we’ll all come home with a little dough. It’s a coastal getaway for the Labor Day weekend, and it’s the kind of thing that makes life fun.

If I remember to take pics of the Landmark, I’ll post ‘em.

8/15/08

Summer

It’s been nice around here. A little press, some fun shows…the summer has been good.

I feel more and more like I’m able to stay on top of the huge list of ‘to do’ items. My thoughts have moved from “how do I stay afloat” to “how do I grow my business”. I like the challenge…it’s like a real-life sudoku puzzle. I’m just happy to have a little breathing room to try and sort it out.

I’m trying to get my home recording setup together. I’ve done a bit of recording and mixing for friends and I’ve really loved it…I’m hoping to do more, so I have put some effort into making my space more functional. I now own a patchbay. I got a keyboard, too! It’s a project…I’ve learned to solder pretty well…hopefully I haven’t given myself lead poisoning from all of the fumes.

This weekend will be fun. I play with the Pink Floyd tribute band ‘The Floydian Slips’ at the Cuthbert amphitheater in Eugene. Last time we played there a couple thousand people showed up. Go figure. It’s a lot of fun to bang away at some good music, and the audience just eats it up.

Then, camping. Anna and I will take our pup Louis up to Fall Creek…we found an excellent swimming hole and I’m dying to jump in again!

8/8/08

More press!

Man...I blushed when I read this. Full disclosure: Ryan Wines is the manager of The Dimes. Pet Marmoset is the name of his management company and blog. He and I have become friends over the past year, so it's entirely possible that this review is biased. Then again, he never hesitates to say exactly what he's thinking...

The review can be read here:

Pet Marmoset

7/28/08

Press!

The folks at Northwest Noise are great. They're trying hard to bring attention to the lesser-known regional artists and they're just about as supportive as you can get. I've gotten to know them a little bit over the past few months and I'm very glad to have made their acquaintance.

I did an interview with them, which can be found here:

NWN Interview

Also, Leslie Waara wrote a review of Ten Cent Souvenir for the site, which can be found here:

NWN Review

Fun!

7/20/08

How to Promote a Show




I'd love to know how...

I played in Salem twice this weekend.

First, The Dimes had an early evening slot at the Salem Art Fair. Nice gig...the event is definitely one of those family-oriented, munch-on-a-corn-cob-while-perusing-booths-displaying-local-artists'-work affairs, but the pleasant weather and calm-faced families were a nice break from the usual bar crowd. I'd nearly missed the show due to an huge accident on I-5, but I showed up with just enough time to park behind the stage and set up my stuff. The Dimes set was good...we played the usual favorites and had fun. The guys were nice enough to include one of my tunes in the set and I sold a few cd's to people who liked it.

Last night, I played the Blue Pepper. It's a large space, part cafe and part gallery. Derek, the guy who books shows, is very nice, always accommodating, and doesn't freak out about low attendance. It was low...

So, here's what I wonder: What adjustments do I need to make to my promotional strategy to increase the draw? I recognized almost every person from the last time I played there...all repeat customers. Many of them were singing along with the tunes. My tunes. They'd obviously listened to the record more than once! I think that folks generally respond well at my shows, and they seem to like the record. So, what's the missing link?...

This is the very same question that is asked by 99.99999% of all of the musicians in the world. It's tough to get people out of their houses and through the door of the club. Is there something I'm doing wrong? Something I'm overlooking?

Honestly, I think that it is a matter of persistence and long term effort. I know that I can make improvements to my show. I need to keep it fresh and develop an undeniably good set. I know that I can do a little more to promote, even with my limited budget. I need to do this stuff for each and every show...





Still, the weekend was great.
I had fun with The Dimes, fun at The Blue Pepper, fun yard-camping with Anna and Louis (our pup ) last night, and now I'm going to go have fun on my Yamaha XS650.

7/18/08

Week Recap/Weekend Preview

Man...this has been a productive week!

- I finally found a way to effectively organize my mailing list and coordinate tour/music/bio information. See the Reverbnation post below.

- I have started filling out my September and October schedule. It's shaping up to be a great fall...I have trips to NYC and Chicago in the works!

- I renewed my domain name registration and directed it to this blog.

- I got Ten Cent Souvenir on iTunes.

There was more...these are just a few highlights.

This weekend should be fun. Today I'll be helping Fred record some more tunes. Later today I head to Salem to play an evening show with The Dimes. I'll try to get home in time to see the new Batman movie with Anna. Tomorrow, I head back up to Salem to play a solo show at the Blue Pepper. My last show there was fun and I'm looking forward to being back. I'll spend Sunday in the sun somewhere.

Good stuff!

7/16/08

Reverb Nation

Hey folks,

So, I came across a website this week...it's called Reverbnation, and it is already making my job easier. You may have noticed some new little widgets on the sidebar of this blog... The music player, tour dates and mailing list sign-up are all powered by Reverbnation. Now, instead of taking an hour to update each of my various sites (Myspace, Facebook, etc.), I can do it all from one site and it works extremely well! It automatically sorts my mailing list by region, age, etc...I can send mailers to specific fans without bugging everyone else, and the mailers look great!

I feel like a new man!

7/10/08

Fred

Hey Folks,

Last week I started a project with a friend from Eugene. Fred Van Vactor has been playing around these parts for years, but somehow he has managed to avoid releasing a CD. Thing is, audiences love his songs and he'd probably do quite well if he had a disc to sell. We were talking about this a few weeks ago and I offered to lend a hand. He took me up on it!

We recorded nine tunes in two days in the middle of last week. Mostly just Fred and his guitar but a couple of songs needed some extra sounds, so we banged on walls, smacked big pieces of tin together, etc., etc. I spent a couple of days mixing this week and Fred seems pretty happy with the results. He'll put it out in some form or another.



This weekend I'll be at the Oregon Country Fair in Veneta, OR. It is quite an event...I'll be sure to take some pics.
Hey Folks,

First thing's first...the CD is now available online at CD Baby! It will be available for download sometime in the coming weeks, but for now you can purchase a physical copy here:

http://cdbaby.com/cd/ehrenebbage


So...I had a couple of great shows and made some new friends last weekend.

I played in Astoria, OR for the first time ever. Astoria is the northernmost coastal town in Oregon. It is a nice little place whose claim to fame is that The Goonies was filmed there. Oh, and some significant historical stuff, too...Anna and I made the drive in a few hours and were pleasantly surprised when we arrived.

The show was at a brand new venue called Redhare (www.myspace.com/redharegallery2). It's part gallery, part performance space...the owner, Scott Docherty, renovated his cool old space and turned it into a great music venue.




The show was not well attended, to say the least. Scott seemed to feel a little bad to have brought me there to play for such a small audience. He and I ended up talking for a long time about the purpose and motivation for being a musician (he toured for years with some very recognizable groups)...why make the effort when, so often, the returns are so small?

They aren't small. They're huge. Okay...only a handful of people were at the show. I didn't exactly feel like a rock god. Still, each person listened very closely and after the show I was able to talk with all of them. They sincerely appreciated my effort, and I theirs. A few of them walked away with my CD. It was good.

The next day Anna and I drove to Seattle. The Dimes had a show at The Sunset...it had been a while since I last saw the boys and I was looking forward to catching up and playing the tunes.

We played right before Slender Means, a great poppy rock band that made me think of Elvis Costello. Our set was fun...seemed to go by too fast, though.

All in all it was a great weekend. I felt lucky to see and do such cool things, and I felt inspired and invigorated. I spent a lot of time thinking about how fortunate I am to be able to do this for a living. It gave me some ideas for the theme of my blog. I think I'll turn it into a sort of journal about the challenges and rewards of being a small-time songwriter trying to carve out a place in the world.

To sum it up:

Yes, I'd like to play for larger audiences. Yes, I'd like to be more financially stable. Yes, I'd like to be recognized for the work I've done and will do. But what is the purpose and motivation? Fame? Fortune? Not really. Read on...

5/22/08

Keepin' On

Man...there's an endless amount of work to be done. That's a good thing!

I'm doing what I can to get the word out about the new record. I try to post something on a new site every day, make posters, book a show, etc., etc. There's always something else to be done. A couple of nights ago I stayed up until 5 am with my buddy John Shipe, mixing his new record. So it goes.

I was thinking about the workload; wondering how it might translate into a more viable music career, wondering if I'm spending enough time doing the right things...it dawned on me (again) that I am lucky to have so much on my plate...I get to play music with great people quite often, and I only occasionally have to do non-music related work for money. Not too shabby!

Point is, it's all about spending time doing what you love. Yes, it's a cliche, but it's true.

I'm going to walk the dog now.

5/17/08

Seasons

Ahhh...the first hint of summer. Oregon winters are long. True, I spent this winter in Los Angeles going for runs at the beach and buying fruit at the farmer's markets...still, I've been in Eugene since February and it has been gray, gray, gray.

The emergence of the sun seems like a metaphor. There is a changing of seasons for me...the process of making a record is long and in most cases everyone is ready for it to be done before it's actually complete. I feel a distinct sense of relief...like the first day of hot weather.

Now I can move on to other things. I'll be booking shows, sending the record out for reviews, trying to get it on radio and tv, etc. It's exciting to start a new phase of the project. I have no idea what it will bring, how far it will reach, what to expect...I guess I'm just glad to have made an addition to the body of work, and to have a chance to give it a push.

I'm going camping.

5/14/08

And now...

Okay...the record is done. Wow.

Almost a year ago I started work on a new record. My plan was to do everything myself as I had on the EP. I didn't really want to do it that way...I just didn't see many options. After a month or so of writing and recording, I was not excited by the results. I got anxious...it felt very important to me to improve upon my last effort and I wasn't quite hitting the mark. I decided to ask around a bit and see if I could find someone to come on board and produce the record. Zac Rae offered his services and I said 'yes, please'.

Zac has a great studio in Burbank, CA. The plan was to work there whenever he had a break from the rest of his busy schedule. I decided that it would make more sense to just move to LA than to travel back and forth for months and months. I moved.

Zac put together a band to play on the record. I was a little hesitant at first; I wasn't sure that slick LA session players would get the right feeling across. Zac said 'they're great'. Man...they really are. Blair Sinta and Sean Hurley (drums and bass, respectively) came in for two days and recorded all of their parts. 11 songs, two days. They hadn't ever heard the songs before. They really, really sounded great. David Immergluck came in for one day and played pedal steel, mandolin and dobro on half of the record. Excellent. Mike Farrell came for an afternoon and played accordion on a couple of tunes. Nice. Alexis Stevens sang on two of the songs and sounded great.

Then Zac and I went to work, chipping away at the record here and there over the course of the next few months. All in all, I'd say the album took 21 days, give or take a few, to record.

It was great...Zac worked extremely hard and kept his eye on the ball the whole time. He's a pro.

The result is 'Ten Cent Souvenir'. I am very happy with it...I've heard it over and over again and it still holds up. I wouldn't change much at all.

So, I'll start the process of getting the word out. I'll play shows, send it off for reviews, try to get it on the radio, etc. Hopefully it will find its way to the surface somewhere, somehow. We'll see!

3/13/08

The 3 Hour Tour!!!

I just confirmed a spot on the 3 Hour Tour in Newport Beach, CA on Sunday, May 4th, 2008. It’s 1 boat, 1 afternoon, 1 dozen musicians (including me!) and 200 fans of music and it’s going to be a blast! Confirmed acts include Shane Alexander, Aaron Beaumont, Ernie Halter, Josh Hoge, Sonia Leigh, Jay Nash, Chris Pierce, Amber Rubarth, Joey Ryan, Dawn Thomas and Tyrone Wells (subject to change without notice). 

Tickets go on sale Saturday, March 15th. They're expected to sell out quickly and are $50 + $2 PayPal service fee per person (all ages, 21+ recommended) and include: an afternoon on a yacht, access to all performances, a hearty buffet and a compilation CD.





3/11/08

A Dime

I tried to keep it down as long as I could but it wouldn't stay. I called up to the guy who was driving. "Hey Ryan...could you pull over? I'm going to throw up." That was the second to last day on tour with The Dimes.

The Dimes is a band from Portland. I've gotten to know them over the past few years because we've played a number of shows together in Portland and Eugene. They are a great band and their new record is very good. They're getting some attention from college radio stations and magazines like Spin, and they're working hard to keep the momentum going. They have been wanting to add another musician to fill out their live show so they asked me. I said yes, please. My first tour with them was last week, a quick little run to California's Bay Area.

They picked me up around 10pm. We drove through the night to make it in time for our first engagement at the campus radio station at Stanford. None of us got more than a couple of hours of low-quality sleep and we were all pretty foggy by the time we arrived in Palo Alto. Most of the day was a blur; we played three times in various places around the south bay, went to a cool music store, and ate at a mexican restaurant that served beergaritas. I couldn't partake...I was just too tired.

The next day was great. I was refreshed. We slept at Pierre's friend's office in Berkeley and after a tasty breakfast at Tomate we were ready to rock.

The next couple of days were fun. We played a few shows for fresh-faced college students who seemed to really like what we were doing. I liked what we were doing too. We played a great little place called Monterey Live, in Monterey. The folks at the venue were great...Josh the booker made us feel very comfy and at the end of the night he came out of the kitchen carrying baskets full of quesadillas for us to eat. Delish. He told us about a party by the beach and, despite the fact that we had to rise early the next morning to make the seven hour drive back to Oregon, we went. I kept my cool...I wasn't feeling up to being rowdy.

After not enough sleep we got in the van and went to Compagno's Deli where the guys introduced me to Bennett Compagno. This guy was great. He made us sandwiches the size of small children and as a special treat he gave us all pieces of cake equal in size to the huge sandwiches, on the house. We thanked Bennett, took our sandwiches and cake, and headed north.

We left late. We were scheduled to play two shows: a benefit for a friend of the band and a short opening set at a bar in Ashland and we were cutting it very close. I had a bit of a headache so I decided to get some sleep. I woke up an hour later...the mild headache I went to sleep with had become almost unbearable. I don't get headaches often and I honestly never quite understood what people meant when they described the experience. This was awful...it made me nauseous. It wasn't long before I had to have the guys pull the van over so I could throw up Bennett Campagno's sandwich and cake on the gravel shoulder of Interstate 5.

We made it to Medford in time to play a quick little acoustic set. Then we hustled down to Ashland to play a last-minute show opening for a local blues band at a place called Alex's. I was feeling well enough by then to have a plate of quesadillas. Ah, quesadillas. These last two shows were a lot of fun...we really seemed to play with some authority and cohesion.

We're playing again at Dante's in Portland this week...I'm looking forward to playing the tunes with the guys again.

2/13/08

Last Days in Los Angeles part 2

The hourglass is down to its last few grains of sand, so to speak. I'm trying to fit as much in as I can before I go. It's been a busy week!

I wrote a tune with Priscilla Ahn yesterday. She's great! We debuted the tune last night at a benefit for Doctors Without Borders at the Hotel Cafe. Good cause, lots of nice folks. Good stuff. Priscilla's new record will be released sometime soon on Blue Note...I heard it recently and it's really very good.

A few hours ago I was at Kirk Wheeler's house. Kirk is mixing the record (and doing a wonderful job, I might add). Sounds like he'll have it done sometime in the next few weeks. Woo hoo! He is also a great songwriter and has just released a record of his own. Track him down at www.kirkwheelermusic.com

Kirk turned me on to a webite...www.last.fm

It looks like a great music-based networking site. So far so good.

I'm sleepy.

Goodnight.

2/7/08

Last days in Los Angeles part 1


Well, the record is really very close to completion. Close enough for me to make plans to move back to Oregon, anyway. My sweetie is going to fly down in a week, we'll spend a day hanging out at the beach, and then pack up and drive home. I'm excited.

It's hard to believe I've been here since October. I made a lot of progress in the way of carving out a life for myself here. There are things that I've found in Los Angeles that are specific to this place and I'll miss them. Ultimately, though, there are great rewards to be found elsewhere. I really like Oregon and I'll be happy to be there again. At least until I find somewhere else to go.

I'll always associate my time here with little things. I ate a lot of Trader Joe's beans and rice. I spent a lot of time on the patio listening to the freeway sounds. I spent a lot of time at a standstill on the 405 north.

It's interesting to experience such important life events without the company of long-time friends or family. I made some great friends here and I have really enjoyed them. Still, they don't know the significance of this time in the context of the rest of my life. I guess sometimes this music thing can get a little lonely in that way.

So, I'll be home again soon. This time I'll have a record, an education, and some new friends to show for all of my effort. Nice!

1/25/08

Tune

Well, the record is close to completion. A little more recording, some mixing, and it will be done!

I realized that I haven't posted a new tune in a long while, so I added 'Earthquakes' to the player. I recorded this one at home...cheap and dirty but it will likely appear on the record.

I hope you enjoy!

1/8/08

New Year

It's a new year! Perhaps a resolution is in order? Maybe, but I'll keep it to myself.

I've been in Oregon for a few weeks now. It's been nice. I've played a handfull of shows, and I have been able to spend a little time with friends and family. Exactly the way the holidays should be spent, in my opinion.

I've been considering my plans for the next year. I have built some momentum...how should I keep it going in the right direction? My experience in Los Angeles has been amazing; I have met and worked with great musicians and excellent people. I have learned more than I thought was possible in a matter of a couple of months. Soon, I'll have a record. Not too shabby! So I wonder what the next step should be. I don't seem to have trouble finding opportunities...it's more a matter of picking the right ones and letting the others go by.

I think the coming year will be fun. I'm excited to release my first solo record. I'm excited to have songs on a couple of other artists' records. I have a couple of excellent touring opportunities on the horizon...good stuff!