I think I've recovered from this weekend, which brought two very different projects into the studio and exemplified the phrase: more than one way to skin a cat. On Saturday we tackled 11 songs in a day - on Sunday, we focused on one song for eight hours. Both approaches felt totally right for the particular situation.
The Barn Band featuring Bob Kinzel, Rob Halpert, Jean Olson and Leigh Seddon, settled in with gear and instruments under the sloping roof of Pepperbox and powered through a hefty set list of great songs - that was Saturday. Then came singer-songwriter Julie James on Sunday and our session unfolded with slower discoveries: of syncopated rhythms and how they can provide something to push against in a song, of the dynamic dance between a single guitar and a single voice, of click tracks vs. wooden metronomes and more stories and laughter than we could possibly fit into the day. When finally I had found my chair again and was warming to the even glow of my wood stove, I realized yet again how blessed I feel to have this work and these wonderful clients flowing through my life.
We also wedged in a trip to the Vermont Instruments School of Lutherie to hear fiddler, banjo player and interpreter of traditional american music Bruce Molsky doing a couple sets of his cranking tunes. The intimate house concert was part of a series promoted by musician/technician Adam Buchwald, who is by the way now working part time for Froggy Bottom Guitars besides running his own repair and teaching businesses out of the Upper Valley.
It's been a while since I've been to one of Vermont's annual old time music parties in Strafford or Shrewsbury, so it was nice to see some of the familiar gang come out of the woodwork to support Bruce's rare appearance in the state, including Dottie Dubey, Micki Colbeck, Tii McLane and Katie Trautz. I was excited to hear that since I last saw her, Micki had been to Macedonia and is playing accordion, mostly Balkan style. Who knows, maybe we'll get together and play some tunes so I can impress her with my ability to follow her in 7/8 time. Bruce also touched on the connection between the old time music community and Balkan music, by playing a couple tunes from his repertoire with the band Mozaik which I remember seeing at the Barre Opera House a few years back. The evening was made complete by special guest Scott Ainslie getting up and doing a few with Bruce, in honor of their decades old friendship and connection to southern music.
Today I deserved a little rest (not too much) and allowed for some time to hang out in the guitar shop (Froggy Bottom Guitars) where one of my favorite Vermont self-made artist entrepreneurs Creston Lea of Creston Guitars was hanging out, visiting with owner Michael Millard and the aforementioned Adam Buchwald. Now if we only we could have thrown in Senator Patrick Leahy and maybe Jackson Browne my dinner party would have been complete. What a great and stimulating group of minds, good deeds and fine motor skills.
Great day gardening for my clients in East Barnard, under cloudy skies but no rain. Certainly as good as yoga, the long stretches to reach stalks and tendrils, repositioning clippers, gloves and boots in the moist dirt. I love my work. November is all about saying good night - good winter - to all the fine flowering shrubs and perennials who have blessed the landscape with their grace. We enjoy them fully each and every year, without tiring of the repetition.
Saturday night (11/13) reconnoitered with the boys to play at the "Local Legends" concert at the Lebanon Opera House, organized and MCd by Dave Clark of Woodstock, VT. Best time ever, hanging around the green room with the nicest fellas in the area: Dave Clark, Jed Dickinson and Rich Meijer. Their vocal warm-ups and rehearsal set my heart in the right frame, and it was natural to want to join in with their harmony singing - so fine. We also enjoyed Avi and Celia, Lisa Piccirillo, and Frydaddy. Discovered Jeremiah Brophy at the helm of the LOH tech crew, and he was his good natured, formidable self as usual, totally in charge and to good effect. Michael Millard came with his Nikon camera and gifted us with some interesting, artistic shots of our own rig: Bow Thayer and Holy Plow, that trio of extraordinary souls who agree to stand by me and make great music time and time again.
Yikes, what have I been doing besides turning in circles like a dog looking for the perfect spot to lay down?
Langdon Street Cafe, 11/6, and another illustrious gig with Bow Thayer and Patrick Ross (Holy Plow). Nice to see friends like Doug Perkins, Brian Clark, Jim Sardonis, Lisa Siders and Tom Kenney. All I can say is, that if Bow cranks his volume, i have to crank mine. I love the cafe, even if I am just someone who has played there for years. It is the official Home-of-my-Lap-top-Away-From-Home, especially when the internet is down at Espresso Bueno. We had fun rocking out.
The gardening season is pressing hard on my soul, and so I've been pushing back with a concerted effort to wrap up my jobs. This has taken me to Pomfret, Barnard, Vershire, back to Barnard and to Barnard again. Tomorrow I should be in Barnard. Today I dug up old roses, and have a few thorns in my fingers to show for it. Picking up the guitar tonight was painful. I will have to do a little minor surgery on my fingertips tomorrow, after another day of gardening in Barnard.
Julie James in the studio tonight, starting out on a momentous journey to record her own songs after years of being underground. I was delighted by the original, jazz inflected dance of her songs and a guitar style uniquely supportive of her superb soprano voice. Another artist who has developed quirky, sophisticated compositions in relative isolation, while keeping her public persona healthy in choral groups and the like. I'm so looking forward to our continued session work and discovering all she has to say.
Received the "Raven" master today from Discmakers - now if I only had time to proof it!
It's actually November, I can hardly believe it. I just spent two days at the mastering lab at Disc Makers in Pennsauken, NJ. This turns out to be very close to Philadelphia but I had to ignore that in order to stay focused without temptation and get the job done: mastering "Raven", my collaboration CD with Philip Aaberg.
I don't really like driving around there. It's confusing for a country girl. Even armed with an IPhone and maps, you just can't get there from here. I kept having to stop and write out directions in ever bigger lettering on pieces of paper. By the time I got to my mastering session, I was burned out, a weary road warrior. Why is it so hard to get places on the East Coast?
But ultimately, I became enamored of the mastering room and lovely analog, tube and digital equipment poised at the ready to work on my behalf. I think i was there about five hours, all told. Mastering engineer Tom Scheponik was gracious and let me in on his methods to the extent that I could absorb them. Very glad to have attended the session - Thank you, Tom!