I took a few days off from my day job and am wrapping this project my sister from another mother suggested, a song for the Bluegrass Grill. I heard my mother talk about the Bluegrass Grill and how it was a popular meeting place when she was young. I did some investigating and found a menu online and wrote the lyrics over a few days. The tune came easily. The challenge was in writing the parts and figuring out how to convey the idea that cruising to the Bluegrass was a rite of passage for generations of teens. Thanks to Audrey for the suggestion! You can listen to it here and look for it on my next CD which I’m working on now…
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.
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.
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.
“On the radio… On the radio-O”
“Day and night, you’ve done me wrong.
Left me captured and aching my tender heart breaking.
this pain has lasted so long.
I’m so blue lonely without you
blue lonely without you.
blue lonely without you.
The trumpet from the corner
sings a likeness of you.
The moon has gone, she hides her face
maybe patience can change my fate.
I’m so blue lonely without you
blue lonely without you.
The streetlamp shines her soft light
in the darkness of my pain.
I thought I saw your silhouette
how your memory remains.”
This song was born out of jam session I attended in downtown Sacramento. We kept returning to the theme and I came up with the words and refined it over time to what you hear now. I’m thrilled to see Blue Lonely getting airplay on Vittek Tape and Records in Italy, Adelaide’s Coast 88.7 FM, Londrina Hits in South America, KTEQ FM, RSU Radio, Bundaberg Community Radio and Smooth Jazz South Florida to name a few. Hello Oceania! Thank you to Stephen Wrench and the team at Musik and Film for getting my material out on the airwaves.
You can purchase Blue Lonely via these links:
I’m working on a new blues song now, “She Learns The Hard Way” and I look forward to getting you more of my music! Thanks for the support. Stay safe and stay tuned!
Blog image used under creative commons license 2.0
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.
Magic happens to artists when we cross into other artistic fields. I got back into painting after my divorce. The pain of divorce left me feeling as though I might not ever be able to make music again. It was as if there was no strength left in my diaphragm, like I had been kicked in the gut. I couldn’t even look at my guitar without feeling slightly ill.
I was sharing my house with a professional artist friend and he had paints and extra canvasses and encouraged me to get back into it. As soon as I picked up the brush and started working with the colors and mediums I found myself swimming in that same feeling of timelessness I get from making music. It’s like a field of potential energy watching color fall onto its body.
It took me over a year to be able to pick up my guitar and close to 18 months before I could eek out a tune again. Painting helped make me whole. It helped me feel the vibrancy and vigor of celebrating life and when I did finally find my way back to my voice, it was there as strong as ever, ready to rock and roll.
My paintings will be installed in Luna’s Cafe and Juice Bar for the months of August and September, 1414 N Street, Sacramento. I’ll be performing in two separate shows those months, August 22nd and September 12th. I look forward to meeting you!
P.S. A Shout Out to the amazing Dr. Huong Bach (UC Davis) for reminding me that the heart heals on it’s own time.
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
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.