Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Very Scary with Gerry McCreary, Episode 1: Nasty Mortimer

I've been trying to put together a comedy podcast for the last year and I finally did it. It's a parody of the old "Art Bell Coast to Coast" radio shows that used to play from midnight to dawn every weeknight. They liked to discuss conspiracies, aliens, and paranormal phenomena. Anyway, I wanted an excuse to get together more regularly with my old improv comedy buddies (in this case, Troy Fluhr, Eric Farwell and Laura Kistner), and this seemed like the perfect project. We had a lot of technical difficulties to start with (just because it was the first episode), but we ended up with a fairly listenable product, I think. So please take a listen and let me know what you think. Cheers!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Playground Nag (with Carrie Faye Thompson)

I got to write this song with the very talented Carrie Faye Thompson. We were trying to write a song that she could play to both children and barroom dwellers, and a song about a playground monitor seemed to fit the bill. It took us about 3.5 hours to write, then another half hour to record.

Details: Carrie lives in a wonderful hillside house in Loveland-- it was an absolutely glorious setting for being creative, even if it took some twists and turns to get there.

Carrie warned me about her dog's history with men's crotches, so I wanted to write a song about that. But Carrie wanted something she could conceivably play for kids while also be able to play it for barroom dwellers, so then we came up with the idea of either writing about kids acting drunk or drunks acting like kids. Honestly, the brainstorming process for this song was fast and furious-- we went through a lot of variations before ending up with the final story about a persnickety kid who gets his comeuppance.

We had a great time writing this and had a lot of great laughs throughout. I hope you guys enjoy it as much as we did putting it together.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Valerie & Dave cover "Because the Night"

I recorded this cover of the Bruce Springsteen song last summer with Valerie Bhat, but it was right before I went through a bit of a burn-out period, so I never got around to editing and posting it. But later is better than never, so here we go! PS: all that artwork in the background are Valerie’s original pieces...

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Mundane Love (with Shanna in a Dress)

Romance can be dramatic, but this song, written with Shanna Hoar, contends that sometimes the best kind of love is a bit less exciting. We wrote this in about 3 hours, then it took about 1 hour to get it recorded.

Details: I was trying to get Shanna for my song-a-day January project, but she's hard to nail down. Then she called out of the blue, waking me up from a pleasant afternoon nap, and said she's in town had some free time. I was a bit hazy, but since my roommate was going to be out for a couple hours, I thought it was probably my best opportunity to do some writing with her.

I'm a big fan of Shanna's music. She has a very different style than me, but she has amazing musicality and lyrical ability. I've gotten to work with her a couple other times, once doing a cover of "Brand New Key" and the other writing a Halloween song. Even with that, I'm still pretty intimidated by her skills, and I got pretty nervous while writing with her this time.

Shanna had several vague ideas she was interested in writing about, but this one stuck out to me because I liked the way "mundane" and "love" sounded together. It's been a long while since I've tried writing a song with a piano player, and Shanna was trying to get me to play with some guitar techniques I wasn't too familiar or comfortable with (I'm interested in expanding my guitar vocabulary, but I have a hard time doing it on the spot). All of that threw me a little bit off my game, but eventually I was able to get back in the groove and catch up with Shanna, who was chugging along with the song.

Finding the right angle for the video was tricky, and the piano was a little out of tune, but I think we ended up with something nice.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Day 31: A Lullaby

For the last song in my song-a-day project, I decided to go with a simple and sweet lullaby. It took about 2 and a half hours to write. Comments and constructive criticism are encouraged.

Thank you all for listening-- this project has been an amazing experience, and I can't express how much I appreciate having you all along for the journey.

Boring Details: I really liked last night's song and didn't want to face the pressure of trying to outdo it-- a project like this isn't the sort where you can just will a great song into existence, no matter how nice it would be to end it that way.

I went for a walk and got the idea of doing something dreamlike. I was thinking about Pink Floyd, the soundtrack to "Waking Life", "In Dreams" by Roy Orbison... just trying to figure out how I was going to approach it. When I got home, I tried coming up with some strange chord juxtapositions to create a surreal quality, but it was just getting too complicated. I then decided to do something real simple with the chords, building around a D-form and making subtle changes to it.

Even though it was a simple composition, I had a damn tough time recording it. I guess last night's song was pretty tough on my fingers, because today the calluses HURT! I had a hard time getting a nice, gentle tone on those strings. But, as I've written many times this month, this isn't a performance project, just a songwriting one, so imperfect tone will have to do.


Thank you all so much for hanging around and giving me feedback on my songs. Honestly, this has probably been the most fulfilling creative experience I've ever had. Now I have to decide what to do next. One thing that would help is if you could let me know which songs from this month you liked best, or which ones you'd most like for me to develop. If you're feeling up to it, I'd love to know if there's a combination of songs that you might like on a mini-album (3 to 5 songs) sometime in the future.

I'm going to take a few days off to plan my next steps, but I'll be back with more stuff next week. Farewell 'til then!

Day 30: Meteorite

This week I've taken to saying that "unless I'm hit by a meteorite, I'm going to finish my January songwriting challenge", so I figured I'd write a song about it. It took about 4 and a half hours to write. Comments and constructive criticism are encouraged.

Boring Details: I started out wanting to write a heavy metal song, but that wasn't working, so I ended up doing kind of a hard rock song. The rhythm was what came first, and I went through a few different chord progressions before settling on the final one.

Lyrics were super elusive-- I had no idea what I wanted it to be about. At one point it was going to be a song about sex, then it was going to be political (because the State of the Union was tonight), but then I just decided to go with the meteorite thing (partially because my co-workers had been encouraging me to do so earlier in the day). I figure the lyrics can be interpreted as for personal motivation or for a political movement.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Day 29: You're A Snake

My roommate, BJ Suter, and I wrote a little rock & roll boogie about getting past those nasty people who talk about you behind your back. It took only about 2 and a half hours to write, but another hour and a half to practice and record. In addition to my song-a-day project, this was also part of BJ's song-a-week project for the year.

Boring Details: We had talked about starting around 4:00, but I took a nap and overslept, so we started at 5:00 and I was a bit groggy. I interviewed BJ a bit about her week and she had led a tour group of kids at the Denver Art Museum with a theme of perception, so I wanted to song to have something to do about perception. The snake got thrown in there by accident.

BJ insisted that we write a rock & roll song, because she's never written one before (she's more of a folk-bluegrass sort). I came up with a simple two-chord rock & roll groove, but BJ probably wrote all the other chord changes. We both went back and forth on the lyrics quite a bit. BJ normally writes her lyrics before ever writing the music, so we were doing it in a way less familiar to her. The melody and phrasing is a little bit different depending on which one of us is singing.

BJ's a little camera shy, so I had to egg her on to get her in the video. We were going to have her sing the bridge, but balancing the sound was hard with one microphone (the built-in iPhone mic); The banjo is too loud to be close to the mic, but her voice is too soft to be far away. We finally decided that I'd sing the whole thing. If we ever do a proper recording, though, you'll get to hear BJ's glorious voice.