Civil Twilight

This is my first go at producing for another songwriter.  I met Carey Seward at the Fox and Goose in Sacramento.  Carey’s from Alaska and I was immediately struck with the quality of her songwriting and the uniqueness of her material.  She was only here for a short while so we chose to record two songs, Civil Twilight and So You’ve Been Told.

Civil Twilight was a term I’d never heard before.  It’s “is the brightest phase of twilight, when the sun is less than 6° below the horizon.”  It’s legal to drive without your headlights on in civil twilight.

Lyrics:

Winter sure was long and dark I felt the freeze in every part
fire burned down to the weakest little ember.
You can see right through me caving in and I wonder
what happened to all my friends
I’ve been down that hole since last November.

But I can hear the river ice a breaking
smash me up and carry me away
Icy water naked freezing shaking
with empty hands and debts I just can’t pay

Well the sun has turned it up to civil twilight
the dark ain’t gone, just waiting in the hall
so let summer burn it off, no I really don’t want to talk.
we can leave the lights off til the fall.

Verse2
Biking to the riverside the sun so bright nowhere to hide
we both are plump and pale and scared of other
supposed to have something to say but my mind is blank I’m not okay
I need meat and fire and beer and all my brothers.

For the orchestration I wanted to create a simple warm sound which I obtained with two alternating cello lines, one plucked and lower and the other a more legato line on top.  I wanted crisp clean cymbal sounds, a water dropping type of effect and a simple vocal harmony to reflect the awakening of spring and the fragility and tenderness of this piece.  I kept the bass sweet and simple as well.

Producing for another artist was a wonderful experience and gives me some options for what to do with myself further down the road.

Thanks Carey!
1914582_1223866201212_4881193_n

Carey on Soundcloud

Carey on Bandcamp

Carey on Itunes

It’s a New Day!

promo12x

So much is happening.  My music has been re-released on Cinderella Records, Sony Entertainment (Germany) and my new publishing company is set, O’Mally/Tabitha Publishing.

I’ve finished mixing 11 new instrumentals which I’d love to have released by the end of this year.  It will be off to mastering with Professor David Houston in the next few weeks and then I’ll focus on the artwork.

I’ve re-edited the video’s for Easy Money and Texas Rain and am preparing for this Saturday night’s show at Luna’s here in Sacramento, featuring Carey Seward at 8:00, myself at 9:oo and Jenn Rogar at 10 pm.

Tips for Musicians Who Work Day Jobs

Embed from Getty Images

Tips for musicians who work day jobs:

1. Return to gratitude as frequently as possible.  Gratitude expands the heart and opens possibilities whereas resentment, frustration and discontent block creative flow.
2. Downplay gossip, it eats the soul and fuels discontent so avoid it at all costs.
3. Find a couple of good friend coworkers who appreciate all of your talents and your super hard working nature.  This is especially important if they make you laugh or bring out your silly side.
4. Try to catalog the funny office moments that may fuel or spark a song (Johnny with the weird gesticulations).  There’s a ton of great relating examples in the workplace.  What can be culled from those lessons and applied towards your craft?
5. Know that you’re setting a powerful example for your child (if you have children) as a responsible parent who remains dedicated to the craft.
6. Know that people in the community respect you.  Most people give up their dream along the way but you have found a way to contribute to and work with society without sacrificing your artistic integrity.
7. Find the aspects of the job you do like and try to grow those areas and minimize the annoyances if possible.
8. Return to number one.
9. Fake it til you make it.
10. Retire as soon as possible.  Focus on your plan for the future and manifesting your personal goals.

I have enormous respect for musicians who continue to do what they’ve got to do to support their families. Ultimately I’d like to see a better balance and monetary infusion for artists, in the form of generous grants.., something! Until then you’re a fierce soldier of your craft!

Embed from Getty Images

Featured image used under a creative commons 2.0 license from Flickr
Photo by Paul Hudson 

This Ain’t Working Anymore…. ♪♫♪♫

I’ve hatched a new one.  This is fresh from the mental factory and there are three main components driving this song.  At Monday night’s Fox and Goose open mic in Sacramento, I heard a performer effectively use the “repeat the same line 4 times technique” and I realized that I typically avoid that technique in my writing.  I like to go somewhere with the story and resist singing the same line.  He challenged me to write a song this week using that approach… so I did!

Carey Seward played Ani Difranco’s, “Both Hands” that night and that’s one of my favorite songs of Ani’s so I wanted to capture just a touch of that element as well.  And finally, another local songwriter, Allison Hallenbeck recently wrote a song with lyrics that impressed me so much I practically fell out of my chair.  So I thought of Allison and her lyric effectiveness as I pulled this together.

Carey is a songwriter from Alaska who has recently joined the music community here in Sacramento and she’s got oodles of talent.  Allison is a ukulele goddess with a sweet soprano voice.  Both frequent several open mic’s around the Sacramento region.

The second verse came first and then came the chorus and then the last two verses and ironically the first verse was the most difficult to write, but it’s so true that it sticks with me like butter.

2 Week Update:  I’ve changed the chorus.  It was too annoying. It’s become:

This ain’t working anymore.
This ain’t working like before.
The time has come to close the door
cause this ain’t working anymore.

photo 4

Friday Night Music in Sacramento

Where to begin?  Last night was packed with fun, friends and superb talent.  If you don’t get out to see live music in this town you are really missing out.  I started the night out at The Shack in East Sac and got a Lyft down to Old Ironsides right as Anton Barbeau was going on.  I recognized some of his songs and was blown away by the tightness of his band and how the songs themselves had matured into really fine works.  Aural pleasure.  Here’s Anton:

10914825_10155100114790374_6305358269942994462_o

Next I ran over to the Fox and Goose and walked in on Dr. Velocity playing and singing some beautiful songs.  I was struck right away by the quality of his songwriting and the sweet vocal delivery.  I will definitely be following his work.   Next up was Kimberlina and Jeffry Wynne-Prince.  Both of them are excellent musicians in their own right and you put them together and bliss is the word that comes to mind.  It was heaven to hear Kimberlina sing with Jeffry backing her, great guitar sounds and I swear that woman has perfect pitch.   I did not hear a single wrong or off note and I am in awe of her consistency.  Great work and I look forward to seeing them again soon.  Photo by Allyson Seconds.

10933912_1075721662454103_3262278484722866473_n

I ran back over to Old I and caught Harley White Jr. with his band Clouds Roll By and again, I was struck by the superior quality musicianship and Harley’s performance.  Dripping with sweat he easily commands attention, he settles into the beat and lifts you up.

10933828_10152954821090991_6176607078472007239_n

Next up was Blame the Bishop.  I’m biased as two of the members play in my band as well.  But I love these guys.  Great songs, harmonies that are infectious and unfortunately for the video guy, my big mouth can’t help but sing along too from the audience.  I get a little enthusiastic when I hear great local acts.  I love that about this group, accessible songs and some truly gorgeous harmonies.  Add to the mix the fact that you’ve got two great guitar players who sing well and it’s a recipe for magic.  Down with the Ship is a favorite.  That song is something else, but they’re all well worth hearing.  Photo by Dan Smith.

10917836_774434795983480_4434714796009902377_n10887380_1027195770629744_5648348693846525235_o

If I could have been in two places at once I would have put myself both at Old Ironsides and the Fox and Goose as I unfortunately missed Kevin Seconds and his wife Allyson play and they too are top quality musicians.  I’ll be catching them the next time.  I caught a Lyft back home and was tucked in some time after midnight.  I can’t believe I got all that entertainment for less than twenty bucks.  I couldn’t have asked for a better night out in this fine town.

Bourbon on my Deathbed

I’m terribly impatient. I want to release these as I get them recorded and don’t have anything keeping me from doing that. Freedom is a beautiful thing. I’ll eventually pull them all together into a CD format and hopefully manage to keep a few songs a surprise.  

My family is from Ashland Kentucky and my Granny and I had an especially close relationship.   She was an amazing and entertaining lady.  She would talk about how beautiful Kentucky was and how she ached to return to the land of her roots.

When she was in the assisted living facility she was a hoot.  I was visiting with her one afternoon and she was telling me about what was happening with the lady she shared the room with and somehow we started talking about  Kentucky and she said, “Oh, what I wouldn’t give for some KY bourbon.  Just a taste would be sooo good.”  and I said, “Granny, I can take care of that for  you right now.  There’s no good reason why you can’t have yourself a little swig of bourbon if you want it.”  You could see her eyes just light up at the thought and then she said, “Oh, no…no. I just couldn’t,”  “Yes, Granny, yes, you can.  It’ll only take me a moment to run to a package store and get you some!”  She refused.   It was a funny moment that stuck with me.  So this song is for her.  I tried to capture her passion and love for the state and I accidentally made up a word, which I can fix in editing  – I’m just  not sure I want to.

Lyrics:

Give me bourbon on my deathbed
fill my cup, before I die.
In that cup, I place my solace and the
secrets of my life.

Kentucky bourbon on my deathbed
when the bells begin to chime
Oh the devil comes a callin,
If I drink before it’s time.

Give me God that sweet refreshment
it’s like horses running wild
through the bluegrass fields of heaven
as I cross the great divide.

One last kiss of pure delightment –
one last taste upon my tongue,
for this land has been my heaven,
Kentucky bourbon take me home.
Kentucky bourbon take me home.

Two Days Gone

I’m terribly impatient.  I want to hold back until the whole CD is finished, but I can’t wait to share when I think I’m onto something.  I guess the great thing about being an indie musician/producer is that you don’t have someone telling you not to do something.  So here it is.  I typically close out my shows with Two Days Gone as it’s a natural fit.  I love to sing and play this song live.  And I admit to being somewhat twisted.  When I wrote this song, it was with the intent of writing the “complete” country-blues song.  It had to have certain elements (I think I even collected a list of these words before finally writing the lyrics), trains, a gun shot, lightning and a shack, red clay roads, Alabama and Memphis, family drama, someone in jail, someone in heaven, a bar, a hotel and a twenty.

The photo is by Pat Henson and can be found here: www.flickr.com/photos/80297647@N00/2275352946

Two Days Gone by Kally O’Mally
I got crippled back in Memphis when Bessie
shot me in the knee.
Lightnin hit our run down shack and I was
begging God to please, take me now I’ve had enough
I can’t take another day. So I packed it on up and took
the south bound train.

Whoa Momma’s gone to heaven.
Bessie’s all locked up in jail.
Papa ain’t been seen nor heard from for the
past fifteen years.
I’m sleeping here in this cheap hotel.
Girls in short skirts hanging out in the stairwell.
Down on my luck ain’t got nothing,
nothing to sell.

Chorus:
I’m two days gone, so all alone, no
dial tone on the telephone,
holes in the wall, no one to call, no one at all.

So I made my way to a bar named Sam’s
Deep down in southern Alabama.
Where the land is red and there’s fools a plenty
bought me some beer, spent the last of my twenty.
Gonna find me the reaper he’ll have plenty to sow.
Gonna pack it all up, it’s the end.
Gonna pack it all up, it’s the end, end of the road.