Tuesday, May 29, 2012

News for May 2012

It has been a busy spring, and an even busier May.  Here are a few News items.  That, and I've started a new Blog.  I hope you enjoy it.

Web Page

Some time ago, I began thinking and planning for a new web page.  I'm slow.  This is evening and weekend work.  So the process went along.  I figured out a domain name and reserved it.  I collected ideas and photos.  I looked through several dozen pages and made notes about what I liked best.

Sandy Frye was a referral from my friend Jade Taylor.  She and Valerie are the yin and yang of web design.  Sandy, the sharp eyed and intuitive graphic designer, Valerie the tech savvy programmer.  We started with a standard template plan, but soon realized this was too much fun and we developed some new elements.  One particular day I recall was the day I was out in my driveway taking photos of driftwood and river rocks.  Anyone who really knows me knows about my thing for rocks.  Sandy soon learned.  Then there was the hilarious driftwood incident.  Let's just say, one piece looked a little to "masculine" for Sandy, and once she said it, we could just not UNSEE it.  It had to go.

I like the end result.  My goals were that it reflect a little (or a lot) of me, presented my music, showed a gig schedule, and basic information for a bio, as well as provided a place for people to get on a mailing list or (once one is available) find out about getting a CD.

So the web page is almost ready for a roll out.  We may be adding more or making adjustments still, but its mostly there.

If you'd like a sneak preview, go on over here:   MattFolkmuse.com

And while you are there, sign up for email updates.  Look for the "Wolf" on the lower right hand side of the page....

Sweet Barcelona

A few years ago, I found myself in Barcelona over a long weekend.  Every city has its rhythms and cycles.  Barcelona was a revelation.  I had a chance to visit La Sagrada Familia, a cathedral under construction for more than a lifetime, to be finished (barring economic collapse, or perhaps in spite of it) in another decade or so.  This was the work of mastermind Antoni Guadi.  It is a masterpiece of imagination and dreaming.  Most impactful was the statue of Jesus near the top of the spires, sitting on a stone bridge, not impaled on a cross, but sitting peacefully looking down on the city below.  Like  a gentle sentinel, he watches out for Barcelona.

I woke early Sunday with a nasty head cold.  It was raining.  I ventured out to find a pharmacy.  Nothing much was open.  A bakery or two.  The nearby pharmacies, with their green crosses in the window, were closed, but had helpful signs informing the unfortunate where an open pharmacy could be found.  I survived the day on pastry, coffee, and some kind of head cold remedy the kind chemist provided after I used the universal "plugged up nose, sneezing, headache" gestures. Overall, I loved the time I had in Barcelona.

The cafes with their patrons, sitting on stools, dogs nearby on leashes, waiting to resume their walks. Some time later, on a similar rainy Sunday morning at home, I had my guitar out and a little riff turned into a song, Sweet Barcelona.  Somehow, it really fit the mood of that weekend in Barcelona, minus the head cold.  My friend Tim Moyer heard it and called it a "love letter".   A while back I recorded a demo version of this in Tim's garage studio.

I sent Sweet Barcelona into a few contests, along with some other songs.  In April, I got a nice email from the West Coast Songwriters 2012 International Song Contest congratulating me for an Honorable Mention for Sweet Barcelona.  It's the first time anything submitted anywhere has gotten any kind of mention, honorable or not, so thanks West Coast Songwriters!  And thanks Tim!

CD Project

Finally, another long planned and long awaited project is underway! Last year was a good learning process in doing about nine songs in an initial demo mode in three different studio settings.  Now, I'm working on what I hope will be the fully realized CD.

Out of 25 songs or so, I've selected 12 or 13, and 10 or 11 will make "the cut".  I'm working with a very talented, patient and intuitive musician and recording engineer/producer, Dave Blackburn, in nearby Fallbrook, CA.  The selection of place to record and a person to go through the experience with (which I might compare to musical midwifery for a fist time project like mine), was difficult.  I had some great referrals and suggestions from people I respect, and a short list of several folks I would love to work with.  Geography was a huge factor.  My work/life schedule would not work well if a day's travel was required for each recording session. Musical savvy and communication style equally important.  How can one delicately point out I'm hopelessly out of tune on that chord, and quickly help find a technique fix for it.  Patience - essential.  I'm not a seasoned pro. If it takes a half dozen takes, Dave is steady.  Sometimes he says *just the right thing* to get me on track.  Understanding what I would like to sound like and how much or how little embellishment was also a must.  We compared notes on several reference albums of other artists we liked.  And having time to keep the momentum going on my odd schedule was another helpful fit.

So, we are well underway.  Dave has been a rock.  This isn't easy.  All your musical flaws on parade, exposed.  I had a bad medical episode in April which set me back nearly a month.  Those will either be the best or worst songs we recorded, because I was in pain on two of them (a trip to the emergency room the next day), and then so damn glad to be regaining my health on the subsequent ones.   About half of the 12 are now captured in initial form.  The second six yet to come.  As we make progress, we're talking about the best enhancements.  It's been a good give and take of ideas.  This is the part that will be truly fun, the collaborative creation of a finished song.  Dave is a real steward of the original feel and sound.  We're looking for ways to add to but not overload the songs, while creating a CD that has a good listenable quality, and is still true to my writing and performance.  He did say there's a button that can make me sound like Brittany.  Did I mention a sense of humor was essential to this project? I might sell out for a Jackson Brown or a David Wilcox button, but not really.  I'm learning a lot as we go.  And I'm having fun. My ego feels like its been to the chiropractor a few times. I haven't set a hard deadline for the project, as my schedule dictates how fast or slow we can go, and I'm doing what I can to minimize any sense of pressure during the recording sessions.  I'll get schedule conscious once we get the songs more or less captured.  But in the back of my mind, I am hoping for Fall 2012.

Recent Gigs and Mini Tour

Amongst all of this, I've had a flurry of gigs in May.  Most fun was what I dubbed the "Central Coast Mini-Tour".  I was up in Monterey for some business, and managed to fit in three gigs over a weekend before coming home then three more here locally.  I played a show at East Village Coffee Lounge in Monterey with friends Jade Elizabeth Taylor and Glenn MacPherson.  It was a great venue and a fun show!  I lured a few work friends in (who probably were stunned by all that).  The next night, my friend Paul Fifield was kind enough to share a gig with me that he had already booked in Campbell, CA.  The highlight of that gig, for me, was hearing Paul's new songs and meeting his Mom, just a few days before Mother's Day.  The final stop was the Touch of Green Expo in San Juan Bautista.  It was a street fair and full of kind people walking by.  My "neighbor" was a really nice water heater repair and sales business owner who spent quite some time on the phone trying to line up a backup amplifier for me.  He had his wife searching his son's room for that thing.  I could almost picture the poor lady sifting through piles of clothing and other teenage room contents in search of the needed amplifier.  Despite the sound equipment snafu, it was a pretty town and a nice day.  Back home, I played over at Sol Grill in Newport Beach with the Paul Hines songwriter night, and then had a chance to play with Tim Moyer over at The Wine Company.  Tim graciously filled in for John Quint, who had a family emergency and was not certain he'd be back in time.

At the moment, there's nothing booked on the horizon.  I'll get to work on that soon.

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