Artist Statement

This album was inspired by talking too much.

One day I was writing yet another music column talking endlessly about how people can take music theory and carve out chord progressions, play a lead line over it, tastefully use other instruments and create music. Another day, another article (I believe in).

I love writing music books and I love sharing what I have learned. But one day, a thought came into my mind that asked; Why don't you just do it. Instead of telling people how to do it, why not just do it? After all why not me? For way too many years I have explored music theory, or what by now should be called law. Through deep practice sessions and scale exploration I had amassed lots of ideas.

I really needed some directions too, after joining a band called TFS (Tim, Fred, Steve or Totally F%$@ing Sucks, Depending on how things are going). I wanted to spend my time playing songs I like to sing and play. Which is what those guys let me do. But screaming, I mean singing Credence Clearwater Revival songs was taking me away from the direction I wanted to go. These guys are some of my best friends so dropping off was a big deal.

Most of my time is spent practicing daily in my studio. Practices range from 3-5 hours and mostly cover other people's songs. I love to see how other people solve problems so playing their songs is great fun. But now I felt like I needed to stitch a few songs together and there was no one to help me. Each practice occurs in the studio and full recording features are a few keystrokes away. So it was second nature to just play and sing and press the little red button.

After a while I began to collect some nice songs but there came a day when I had to formally commit to a direction. I really did not have much of a choice. All the other musicians were busy. Very busy. I began to actually go out and listen to my friends playing in bands. It was very exciting! Robb Candler of Robb's Music, introduced me to the band members as an 'internationally known music theory author'. He laid it on a little thicker than that, but that was more than I expected. And it started to jack me up! Robb is highly respected around these parts.

Practices became more directed. More focused on drilling down and leaving everything else behind. I rarely went outside during this period. I climbed no mountains, hiked zero canyons and my white water boats sat idle since early June. I didn't even cut the grass.

I began to see results and felt the wonderful experience of writing melodies and watching songs create themselves from all the rich components available in my little studio. Originally a very good friend and exceptional drummer expressed interest in helping me record some drum spots. I quickly accepted, however, he is a very busy man and he runs his own band. That means bookings, managing practices and negotiating with clubs (yuck).

So there I sat all alone with songs beginning to emerge. I played them so often that I began to accept the stark, naked aspects to the music. The parts are very limited. Often times the song did not emerge until deep into the process. When I was creating "Missing You", the rhythm parts took three days. The drums another day or two. The lead parts took three passes for the first big lead to design, learn to play it, and the song wide lead took 7:39 seconds to learn, play and record. It happened in one try. All of the sudden it was done.

It was then that I realized I wanted to put together a simple album with simple parts and a few instruments. That meant I could just play them all and be done with it. So by playing parts on my three electric guitars and one acoustic, and my trusty keyboards, I was able to create some simple songs that took advantage of key based harmonies and ample room for each instrument to take center stage. When I first sat down to play the piano parts of "Songs From The Mountains," I had to stop and analyze the song so I could figure out what key to play in. The song came together so quickly and since I used a capo, I really did not think much about what key it was in. Turns out it is in B major and there are some very beautiful opportunities to craft parts out of black and white keys together. It just seems to work better for me.

When the title songs showed up. I knew it would not be long before all the songs were roughed out. Little by little, I started to play individual songs for my friends. I have a friend who is a retired doctor, who I happened to see one night on chance. I played "Missing You" for him and he freaked. The next day he went out and bought all my books. He too plays guitar. Guitar players are everywhere!

So very deep in the process, alone with my thoughts, I made a decision to keep this simple and let the parts do the talking. Keep it thin so each part can be heard and does not have to struggle to be heard or try not to step on other parts. Each song seemed to suggest which way I should go with it. And when I listened, things went quickly. Sometimes very quickly.

After I wrote "Missing You," I was worried that I was entering a funk. I thought if I put additional pressure on myself, I could wrap this up in a few weeks. So I did. And everything fell apart faster than you can say "Bob's Your Uncle". I am never ceased to be amazed as to how fast humans (all of em) can fall apart. At least I quickly realized the errors of my ways and set things straight. A regular schedule of hot tubbing, yoga, heavy singing/guitar sessions and plenty of alone time got me back on track.

Turns out, I was never in a funk, because I wrote "Bridges" shortly after "Missing You." All I had to do was show up and try real hard to do nothing. Every once in a while, a nice idea came to me, and I quickly started recording. All the ideas were good, and turning them into songs suddenly became easier. People were starting to comment about the songs. I played "Songs From The Mountains" for my wife and second daughter and they both cried. Perfect!

But since I was spending almost all my time alone, no one really knew what I was doing. My band mates came over one night and I played a few songs for them. They were very supportive. It started to become a little clearer why I veered off so suddenly. And at the same time I was beginning to spend time with other musicians. Very good musicians.

Everything was going just great. And then I accepted an invitation to work out with Swami Asokananda and the people that bring him to Boulder every year. During his lecture, I started to make massive connections between Dr. Walter Russell's work (a life long study of mine) and the Swami's understanding of the procession of living.

The following day, things were different. I understood where I was and where I was going. I always knew, but hearing it from him, drove it home. This album would happen and happen quickly. And all of these experiences were almost paving the way forward.

Now this attempt was much more than just a simple showing of how musical concepts connect to create songs, but was now a reflection on all the love songs I wrote for my wife, my obsession with Yellowstone and Grand Teton, my white water experiences and the two little lives we brought into the world. I was just trying to illustrate the song making process. Something I hope to now engage my readers in, over the coming months.

This is a simple album, filled with songs that reflect on my life, my past and present life and possibly whatever comes next. Tomorrow is promised to no one. Play your guitar today!


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