Saturday, May 25, 2013

Deer Tracks Season #2

Deer Track, June 25, 2003 (mp3) (pdf)
Deer Track, July 2, 2003 (mp3) (pdf)

Here are two more older Deer Tracks that have never appeared in this blog. You might recall that last week I had just submitted my Deer Tracks for Solo Mandolin project to Kickstarter for approval. On Monday the 20th the project was approved and I launched the site on Monday evening around 7:00 p.m.

The response has exceeded my wildest expectations. I mentioned the project on Facebook and in the classical mandolin forum of the Mandolin Cafe and I received almost immediate positive response. Tuesday was my birthday and the generous pledges kept arriving. By bedtime on Tuesday, less than 28 hours after the project launch, I had met my fund-raising goal. As of this morning the project has 25 backers and they have pledged 175% of my original target. More important than the fund-raising though is the fact that over two dozen people have shown their interest in this non-mainstream music by pledging their support.

This show of support has had the desired effect of kickstarting me towards the completion of this project to make proper studio recordings of these already existing pieces and to compose some new pieces in the series. In particular I am now committed to compose at least 4 new pieces that have been commissioned by four very generous individuals through the Kickstarter site.

The Deer Tracks project is live through June 19. At that point the money that has been pledged by the backers of the project will be charged to their accounts and will become available to me. I have already started the process of booking studio time in August. If you haven't seen the site yet I encourage you to visit and consider adding your support. Also, it would be wonderful if you would share the site link with any of your friends who you think might find the project interesting. If nothing else you might enjoy the short video that I made to introduce the project.

I hope you enjoy the two older Deer Tracks above. I'm looking forward to recording them in a nice studio with some really great microphones later this summer.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Deer Tracks Season #1

Deer Track, August 18, 2002 (mp3) (pdf)
Deer Track, August 2002 (mp3) (pdf)

This post marks the start of what I hope will be a "Deer Tracks Season" for me. I have submitted a project for approval to the folks at Kickstarter that will attempt to attract some support that will "kickstart" me into doing a proper studio recording of these short, quirky pieces that I have been writing for solo mandolin for more than a decade. If the project is approved I will be talking more about it next week.

I have had a Deer Tracks website up since 2005 but I haven't featured all of the pieces from that site here yet. So today I'm highlighting two of the first Deer Tracks pieces.

I can clearly remember sitting in my hotel room in Fredericton and playing the first notes of "August 18". It was a pretty warm day for New Brunswick and I had taken a relaxing walk after a full day at a workshop. I had just been listening to Amaryllis, the beautiful CD that Marilyn Crispell had recently recorded with Gary Peacock and Paul Motian. I picked up the mandolin with the idea of trying to play something simple but fresh...

Most of the Deer Tracks that have followed come from the same place. The process is as important as the note choices and I'm always surprised to see where the trail will lead. I'm hoping that the Kickstarter project will let me visit that place a bit more than usual this coming summer.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mother's Day

Mother's Day (mp3) (pdf)

It's Mother's Day weekend so I'm offering a live recording of Contratopia playing my tune "Mother's Day" at the April 2003 Spring Dance Romance weekend in North Carolina. We've played this tune a lot over the years, it's hard to believe that this recording is over 10 years old! (My own Mom was still alive at this time, although she was losing her battle with tobacco-induced lung cancer.)

My memory is that this was a Sunday morning waltz session, after a delicious big breakfast. None of us had slept very much the two previous nights but we were really playing well together that morning. This may have been the first tune of the session. We had recently released our waltz CD, Ballroom Echoes, and this was the first track on that. The pdf also includes my "Rose Island" from the same page of the Contratopia Tunebook, also on the waltz CD.

If you like this live recording feel free to download and share it with your own or any other mother that you know. Compliments of Contratopia from 2003.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Ain't Broke - Two Days to Maine

Ain't Broke/Two Days to Maine (mp3) (pdf)

This recording, I believe, is an alternate take of a set of tunes from our 2012 Notes From the Farm CD. Erik and I played this same set, a little faster, a little louder, at T-Bocks Sports Bar & Grill for a great audience last Sunday night. We were the Featured Artists for the monthly open stage event and we had a great time.

I'm in DC this weekend with Contratopia, playing a series of dances at Glen Echo Park and a Saturday dance in Shepherdstown, WV. So I'm writing this post a little in advance. I'll see if I can save it and post it on Saturday or Sunday from Takoma Park.

Thanks, as always, to a true artist, photographer David Cavagnaro for permission to use his beautiful photo for our CD cover.

(Sorry for the repeat on this one. I was changing some links and the page re-published itself. Couldn't have been my fault. I would never hit the wrong key :))

Sunday, May 05, 2013

May Jigs

Let the Steamboats Run (mp3) (pdf)
Not in My Ground Water (mp3) (pdf)

A pair of jigs in a medley.

Record amounts of snow for the month of May were recorded across a wide swath of southern Minnesota this past week, over a foot in many places. Luckily, Decorah experienced mostly rain. On May 1 I was working on a different piece of music when a new jig took over my fingers. As always, finding a title was a problem when I recorded it yesterday.

The first of May (already the title of a great tune) offers many opportunities for titles because of its significance in many countries and cultures. I settled on a reminder of home, the Great Steamboat Race that occurs every year on the Wednesday (May 1 this year) before the Kentucky Derby. Years ago I used to love to go down to the Ohio river and watch the Belle of Louisville and the Delta Queen battle it out for the Golden Antlers. I especially enjoyed the years when the Julia Belle Swain was added to the field.

A week ago last Saturday Erik Sessions and I (with the help of our friends Pat O'Loughlin and Ehler Orngard) presented a benefit concert to help raise funds for a lawsuit that hopes to improve the air quality near the North Winneshiek school site. This second recently composed jig was paired with Erik's own new "Pig Jig" in a set of tunes, even though the issue at hand was air quality and not water. Things are related, as we all know, and environments are being stressed everywhere. Frac sand mining is a big issue in our region as well. Tune titles are small things but sometimes they can prompt a bit of thinking. Charles Mingus was a great one for this. My favorite example is "Remember Rockefeller at Attica."

When you click on the links above this week you will be pulling files from my new website. I am slowly moving old files from the Contratopia site over to this new one and this is the first week that I have loaded the new files directly to the new host. If you have any problems please let me know.

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