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New Album Update

It’s been a busy fall. I’ve been in the recording studio finishing up the final touches on my new album.  We’ve finished all the overdubs with brilliant harmony vocals  from Vancouver R & B singer, Cecile Larochelle , and some bluesy harp work from Keith Bennett.  It was a great experience recording with my opera singing daughter, Michelle,  as a harmony vocalist on two of my songs. 

The new CD features 9 original songs and one a co-write with my former band mate and award winning songwriter, Lynna Goldhar-Smith. 

With all the tracks recorded, the engineer and I have been working long hours on final mixes.  This album has truly been an international effort with great players and engineers from the U.S. and Canada.

Special Thanks to Tommy and Polly, former Seattle based rhythm section for Too Slim and the Taildraggers and Conrad Uno from Egg Studios.  

I’m looking forward to scheduling some CD release shows in the New Year.

So stay tuned.

Summer in the City @ Lions Park

Sequence 01.Still027Summer in the City at Lion’s Park in POCO was a blast.  I had the great opportunity to kick off their summer concert series and played a bunch of my newest songs from my upcoming album with my blues trio.  

Jill POCO 4

My daughter, Michelle,  an opera/musical theatre performer agreed to join me for a few songs and it was so fun having her up there.  

The Lion’s Park venue was gorgeous with lots of trees and shade and a hardworking crew of volunteers and staff……an awesome way to spend a summer Sunday afternoon.  Jill POCO 5

Now it’s back to the studio in Vancouver where I am busily doing guitar and vocal overdubs, with bed tracks finished and ready to go.  Check back in for more news and updates on shows.    

Musings on songwriting

When I first started writing songs as an angst-filled teenager living on Vancouver Island, I thought that putting together a poem and then adding music was how songs are written.  And in some cases, that may be true.  But many writers create the music and lyrics at the same time or find an instrumental, rhythmic or lyrical hook and some cool chords and then struggle to find words that fit.

Legend has it that Robert Plant composed most of the lyrics for Stairway to Heaven to Jimmy Page’s classic music as he sat for an evening at Headley Grange in Hampshire England.   But for every song written in which the writer was so inspired or connected to the muse that the lyrics poured out in almost perfectly usable form, many songwriters struggle and strain for days, weeks or even years to find just the right words to express what’s inside of them.  Ideas don’t always come when we call them, but rather at inopportune times when we’re thinking about something else.

Like the other day when I had brought my old dog along for a car ride to the store (she loves car rides) and the hook I’d been searching for popped into my head.  I had forgotten my cell phone and the only paper was my driver’s registration, so I scribbled the words in as small print as I could read to capture the idea before it found someone else.

I recently read a quote about ideas by Leonardo da Vinci that really stuck with me:  “…It should not be hard for you to stop sometimes and look into the stains of walls, or ashes of a fire, or clouds, or mud or like places, in which if you consider them well, you may find really marvellous ideas.”

Welcome to my new website

Welcome to my new website.  I thought it was time to have a website that better reflects the blues oriented music that I play.  I’ve been busy over the past year writing songs in preparation for a new blues CD and I plan to hit the studio sometime early this year to start recording.    I’ve been playing some of my new songs live at gigs and getting good feedback so I’m looking forward to the next step in the recording process.

Stay tuned and check back in for updates.  More MP3’s, downloads and YouTube clips will be coming soon as well as a new FaceBook Page.

Happy Blues Songs

Like anyone who’s been on the planet for a number of years, I’ve had my share of the blues.  But this has been a really good year for me.  I got married to the love of my life after having gotten it wrong so many times before.  My friends and family are all healthy and happy or heading in that direction and even my trusty old Labrador dog is still holding it together after 13 years as my best friend.  I’ve connected with a number of really great musicians in the lower mainland and Washington state and I’m working on songs for a new blues oriented CD.   Now, I know that everything is in flux and the only thing guaranteed is that things will change, but for now things are good, really good.  And that brings me to my current dilemma.  How do I write a good, kick ass blues song about being happy?  Is it possible and even if it is will it have the impact, the gut wrenching pull of a love gone bad or of betrayal and revenge?

When I penned songs for my debut CD, Fragile Walls, I was feeling  frankly miserable, in an unsatisfying relationship which was doomed to fail.  Writing about the blues and about feeling lonely was easy because I could relate to the pain.  I was living it and it was honest for me to write about it.

So what about now?  Like most of us, I still have my share of the blues from time to time and I remember those experiences.  But at this moment, I feel mostly happy and filled with gratitude.  And that is the most prominent emotion in my world.  It’s no surprise that my most recent writing is about themes such as “having everything I need” or waxing poetic about my baby’s “way with words”.  All true, but I struggle with whether anyone wants to hear about them.

Is the blues the forum for this type of sentiment?   Maybe it’s just about finding a really “lid popping”, cool Freddie King style blues riff and the words won’t even matter.  It’s the raw guitar sound and the groove that makes folks want to listen.

I plan to continue writing and playing my way through this dilemma and if my luck holds out, I’ll have some happy blues songs ready to record soon.