Getting it on tape

Metaphorically of course…

It’s just an expression, since most recording is done digitally onto hard drive space in or connected to a computer. Yes, I got some studio time this weekend and recorded!

Nice studio: Leilani Sound Studios

Calvin, the sound engineer I worked with, has done sound with me before, so that helped. The studio itself is small but neat and comfortable. After a quick setup, we were off recording live takes to start.

Four songs, four approaches:

  1. Strictly a live take, no overdubs, pretty much done.
  2. Done in parts and cut together, with vocals and harmonica overdubbed, still needs a slide part overdubbed.
  3. A live take, harmonica overdubbed, will need various overdubs for rythym instruments and lots of backing vocals.
  4. Several live takes cut together, will either get overdubbed by a special guest or we may try a live take.

Crunch time next weekend

All those final overdubs need to be done next weekend. That’s a bit of pressure, but sometimes that can be good for getting things done.

Your thoughts welcomed in comments!

You are invited…

Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday this week.

Of interest to songwriters (but open to all):

Burlington Songwriters meeting is Tuesday, August 27th at 7 PM at 20 Allen Street, Burlington, VT in the Community Room on the 2nd Floor. Open to all, this meeting is primarily for the purpose of sharing works for feedback.

Of general interest:

Denny Bean and Bob Devins on Wednesday August 28th at 6:30 PM at The Double E Performance Center 21 Essex Way in Essex Junction, VT

Jason Baker on Friday, August 30th at 5 PM at Gusto’s Bar, 28 Prospect Street in Barre, VT. I will play a two hour set. Come on by after work!

A Common Blues, man

You know what’s not easy to do? Record an album with no money!

I want to finish recording an album but I really don’t have any money. Being a contractor I only get paid while at work and having a heart attack precluded that last week.

On the bright side, I am more than halfway done.

All songs are written.

7 of them have been recorded in some fashion:

2 in my home studio, 5 at Robot Dog Studios, due to the generosity of DJ/Blogger Tim Lewis and the studio.

Three to go, well, four…

So I am considering re-recording one song, as the arrangement has already changed slightly.

Otherwise I have three songs ready, but dread putting a home recording up against the Robot Dog stuff (the two I have are done with just enough reverb and overdubs to slide by, I think. May have to ask for an impartial opinion).

I have selected which song to use as the title track: “Common Man Blues”, a song loosely inspired by Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man”. I even have cover art ready.

Digital distribution is already paid for, sending my stuff to YouTube, Apple Music, Spotify and more. See those links to hear what I already have online.

Ok, but how to get there?

So I am considering how to fund recording the rest of the album, and possibly funding a run of CDs.

Should I even bother with CDs?

Should I try a Kickstarter campaign? Or some other way of crowd funding?

In truth, any suggestions are welcome folks.

Comment on this post to let me know your ideas.

Burlington Songwriters News!

It’s official! Burlington Songwriters has a new home!

Our next meeting is Tuesday, March 26th, 7 p.m. at the C.O.R.E. Center at 20 Allen Street.

We have greatly appreciated the generosity and our association with Big Heavy World. When they moved to their new space, however, the location and schedule just wasn’t going to work for many of our active members.

So, for the past couple of months, we have been searching for a new meeting place. That search eventually led us to talk to Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront. Specifically, we met with Candice Holbrook, the program manager, about possible meeting space at the Center of Recreation & Education (CORE). Our group seemed like a good match, and Candice suggested that we partner with Burlington Parks & Rec, which allows us to meet at the CORE center.

The Center of Recreation & Education (CORE)

The CORE center is the old Catholic school at 20 Allen Street, across from St. Joseph’s church.

There is a parking lot entrance on North Street. There may also be street parking on Allen Street. Either way, you should plan to enter through the main door in the front and center of the building.

The CORE center is on the second floor–one set of stairs up from the street level. Our room assignment will appear on the chalkboard in the main hallway, but I’ve been told that we can plan to meet regularly in the “Community Room”. That’s where the senior meals program is hosted. That means that tables and chairs will be available for our open mic’s! Perhaps this also means that there will be a local community to invite to those open mic’s. I’ve very excited about the possibilities here.

It’s typical, lately, to have some business to discuss, but this should otherwise be a regular song sharing session. Remember, please bring copies of your lyrics to share. Mostly, I expect we’ll take the first couple of meetings to get used to the new space, and to work out the logistics for our open mic sessions.

Looking forward to it!

Oh yeah it’s 2019

Yes I forgot about my blog

So sue me. I am going to see if I can do at least a few posts over the next few days to catch things up. Perhaps after that, weekly wouldn’t be too much of a challenge.

Who plans that far ahead?

I am talking about seeing festival lineups for summer gigs already. Some of these you have to submit now for 2020!

Not all obviously, and I am throwing my hat in where I can: I just applied to play the Philadelphia Folk Festival for example, and I am excited!

Next is Kerrville and Falcon Ridge “Grassy Hill” showcases. Wish me luck!

I just wish it was easier to get gigs like those.

Gigs in Vermont

For now, I do have a pretty solid gig schedule through June, but am always looking to add more!

Goal #1 make list of goals

So, yeah I am late to formalizing my songwriting goals for the year, but I do know #1 will be to write as many songs as possible.

As a performing artist, I’d surely like to play new places, as I noted.

I am writing songs for a second album now so recording that is a goal.

I may revisit some songs from America Dreams in new arrangements or with alternate instruments and see if I want to release that as an album, or maybe in another way (video album?).

What else should be a songwriting or performance goal for 2019? What are your goals? Please let me know in the comments!

More to come…

As I stated, I will be catching up with events, look for a post a day for a few days to find out what I have been up to, see my latest video, and find out what’s new and what’s next.

New, New SongwriterTribe Blues


This is the first post on this blog in a while. A long while.

Here’s the deal:

  • A daily blog post may not have been the best plan.
  • I need to promote my songwriting through my work as a solo performing and recording artist.
  • I would like my songwriting activities to be integrated into that work.


  • I am restarting this blog as best I can.
  • I will post randomly.
  • Topics will not be defined by a schedule any more, but some items from the previous format will be kept.

This blog will be “connected” to my ReverbNation profile, and will be cross posted there, with links showing up on my Facebook artist page.

This will be BOTH my official artist blog, and a songwriting blog. Many of the songs I write don’t fit my current “branding”, and I hope to promote my songwriting work as well.

To that end, today’s link is to my SoundCloud account, where you will not only find all the songs on my album America Dreams, but also songs from over a year of songwriting that were good enough to make a work tape.

Saturday Song Prompt #11

Write for a genre: Heavy Metal

Write a song for whatever you think of as “Heavy Metal” music. The subject matter should fit the style you choose, or you can even choose a specific artist to write for.

If you can’t decide, two words: Spinal Tap.


Songwriting goals

A lot of us have broad musical tastes, and like different kinds of music at different times. So, it makes sense that songwriters might like to write different kinds of music at different times as well.

The music industry does not really reward this behavior, to put it mildly.

So as a songwriter, you come to a significant question: why are you writing songs?

What do you want to happen with these songs? Are you writing for your own pleasure and enjoyment alone? Do you even want to share them? Do you want to record them yourself as a performing artist? Do you want to pitch them to other artists to record?

Your goals will define what kind of songs you write, or at least choose from what you write.

If you like writing songs for the fun of it: write whatever makes you happy.

If you want to use your own songs as a performing artist now you have questions to answer: what is your brand? What songs fit the brand and image you have chosen? You will need to write or at least focus on songs that work for your audience. Who are they?

If you plan to pitch songs for other artists, now ask all those questions about them: what is their brand and image? What do they sing about generally, and what would not work? Are they looking to stay true to the brand for the next project, or do they WANT to try something new? What do they have already, and what can you offer that compliments that material?

If you plan to pitch songs for placement in TV, films, commercials, or the like: now you need to write as universally, or generically, as possible, so that material is not only inoffensive to marketers, but can be re-used for similar calls for material.

I know what it is, I just don’t have a name for it yet.

My goals? I am trying to focus on my personal satisfaction as a writer and performer first, while pursuing as many opportunities to collaborate as possible. I don’t know what to call my “brand” yet… “socially-conscious Americana” doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue, but I know these are the songs that I enjoy singing the most. I also feel a sense of responsibility to comment on our current political, social and cultural situation, and have a suspicion that people out there are looking for authentic viewpoints along with authentic music.

So, what’s your songwriting goal?



Saturday Song Prompt #10

Get topical

Write a song that expresses your political, philosophical or moral viewpoint regarding topical events. It can be a “protest” song, or simply a song of observation or storytelling that provides insight into how current events are affecting people, and perhaps point towards a solution or two. Feel free to share links to results in the comments.

The Satisfaction Of Being Understood

Why write songs for yourself?

Theoretically, we write songs either for ourselves, or for an audience, but to some extent that narrative precludes it being both. To write for commercial airplay, one should be studying recent musical trends, following closely the songs and artists at the top of the charts, and thinking about clever audio production. Lyrical meaning… not so much.

Don’t kid yourself

So a lot of people write songs that are really written for themselves, which is logical: make the music you want to hear if you don’t hear it. Professional songwriters will invariably say that is not how to get a cut, and they are probably right. This really points out the problems of the music industry more than a problem with songwriters. One thing that IS something songwriters should really get to understand though: the song you love will likely not be loved by a music industry that values broad appeal above all else, and you need to stop complaining about that. If you want a cut, write what you think they want to hear, not what you think is good.

Somebody is better than nobody

If you want to write what you want to say, be ready for a limited audience. But there CAN be an audience for it. Just be realistic, you are unlikely to become famous or rich.

So why write songs for yourself at all? Well, because there will be SOME audience, and the quality of that audience may make all the difference.

The payoff

Twice this week, people who are essentially total strangers expressed how they liked the ideas in 2 different songs I wrote and added to my website and ReverbNation profile, in anticipation of releasing a digital album.

Basically, they made it clear they listened closely enough to hear the lyrics, and that they UNDERSTOOD what I was saying, AND liked it! One lovely person said: “I get you!” Wow!

If I can reach a couple people this week, maybe I will reach more people with these songs, and these ideas will be transmitted, and these thoughts will be felt, and will not die, but become part of the world community.