and now a commercial message

Hi folks!

As I approach the final stages of pre-production for my recording project “table for one.” I realized that the scope of the project had become slightly larger than I had initially anticipated.

What initially started as a simple song cycle about my experiences as a musician turned out to be more complex than I had ever imagined as I composed songs celebrating the triumphs of my husband’s recovery from cancer and then his passing from the ravages of that very same disease.

These days “table for one.” has both figuratively and literally taken on far more personal a meaning than establishing myself as a solo performer. During the writing process for this work, what initially started as a ten to twelve song cycle, has exploded into a thirty four song behemoth, which has since been pruned back into a more manageable and concise statement.

However there are a LOT of extra songs all of which have merit and deserve to be shared – however they just do not fit within the scope of “table for one.” anymore.
So in order to handle the following two major dilemmas:
1) Funding the production of “table for one.”
2) Allowing these orphan songs to be heard.

I am offering this to my friends and supporters!

Over the next year, while recording “table for one.”, I am also recording these orphan songs as well as a few other items ranging from cover songs that have inspired me to longer, more experimental works. I will be releasing these recordings on a monthly basis for you to stream, listen, enjoy and possibly even pay to download.

Starting April 28, 2014 I will post one of these orphaned songs for streaming and downloading from my Bandcamp site http://bloodwood.bandcamp.com/ at $2.00. If you like what you hear, you CAN pay more than $2.00 through the magic of bandcamp!

Every four weeks there will be a new release uploaded to Bandcamp.

You can also subscribe to the complete series of downloads for a minimum amount of $20.00. I will email subscribers when there is a new download available, complete with a link and download code to get your next song.

As incentive to this campaign, subscribers and those non-subscribers who have paid to download every song over the next year will also receive a free download of “table for one.” when it is released on April 14, 2015! Think of this as a “reverse kickstarter” where you get the incentives before the closing date! There may be even some surprise downloads during the next year in between the regularly scheduled downloads as a thank you to my generous subscribers (HINT HINT)!

For those folks who wish to pay more for their subscriptions or total individual downloads in order to support the production of “table for one.” I DO have other incentives for them as well!

$50.00 gets you the complete set of downloads of the individual songs, a download of “table for one.” AND a physical copy of “table for one.” on CD

$100.00 gets you the complete set of downloads of the individual songs, a download and CD copy of “table for one.” and a limited edition, hand bound booklet with lyrics, photos and other notes from the writing and recording of this project.

$250.00 gets you the complete set of downloads of the individual songs, a download and CD copy of “table for one.” the limited edition, hand bound booklet with lyrics, photos and other notes from the writing and recording of this project and an original piece of photographic artwork from me!

$500.00 gets you the complete set of downloads of the individual songs, a download and CD copy of “table for one.” the limited edition, hand bound booklet with lyrics, photos and other notes from the writing and recording of this project, an original piece of photographic artwork from me and a house concert at a date and time agreed upon by you and I after the April 14, 2015 release of “table for one.”

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a mykesworld 2013 wishlist

Happy arbitrary marking of successfully surviving another planetary orbit around the sun!

As 2012 was a year filled with DH and I both apparently paying of a substantial chunk of our collective karmic debts, we’re both hoping that 2013 brings a healthy and positive year with visions of a brighter future.  The following list is something we are both wishing dearly for!

1. For DH to fully regain his health so he can resume his work on his charity and perform his annual saintly duties from November to December.  Consequently, this will allow me to:

  • Finish off work on Balderdash and Humbug’s “55 Days of Christmas” for release towards mid-fall.
  • Resume work on “table for one.” for release at some point in the year.
  • Combining the above two music releases and possibly touring behind both of them.
  • Attempt to attend Victor Wooten’s “Spirit of Music” camp this year.
  • Continue work on my new comedic character “Phineus,” possibly even attending an entertainment boot camp in August.

2. To continue to refine my voice as a bassist as well as hone my voice as a professional singer.

3. To continue growing with and supporting the Hamilton Gay Men’s Chorus.

4. To continue to enjoy the company of my family and friends with a little more of a positive outlook and conversations not revolving around medical appointments and side effects.

So as you can see, I have a rather short list of desires for the year 2013.  Not too much to ask for I think…

music listography: list bands and genres of music to explore someday

I’m always open to new bands and genres of music to explore and have quite a varied taste and collection in music.  I like listening to people making creative music that defines who they are and represents a solid musical statement about an individual.

  • Broken Social Scene (I love this band live, but have never focused on their recorded products)
  • Do Make Say Think (I love this band live, but have never focused on their recorded products)
  • Grateful Dead (I loved this band live, but have never focused on their recorded products)
  • Kira Small
  • Matraca Berg (genius singer/songwriter who has written some very famous songs for very famous artists, however the best she has saved for herself)
  • Scott Matthews
  • Dawes/Simon Dawes
  • Sunparlour Players
  • Channing & Quinn
  • Johnny Cash (focusing on the American Songs years)
  • Miles Davis (the post Pangaea/Agharta years)
  • The Cinematic Orchestra
  • Neutral Milk Hotel
  • Kylesa
  • Mark Genry
  • Ghosts
  • Pomplamoose/Nataly Dawn/Jack Conte
  • Foxtails Brigade
  • JD Blair
  • Dubstep
  • Bluegrass/Newgrass
  • My own music…constantly evolving but now coalescing into a statement now that I’ve found my current “true” voice.

on the road again

This blog will go fairly quiet for the next week or so.  I won’t be updating any music listographies and regular blog updates will likely be more sparse than usual.  <pause for disappointed sighs> But it will be for a damn good reason folks – I’m going to be in the recording studio, working on the next Balderdash and Humbug Christmas CD and also picking the brains of several talented musicians and an incredibly talented engineer/producer about how I should handle recording table for one.

This also means that I will be in North Carolina, biting my tongue about the recent passing of a civil liberty crushing constitutional amendment.

This means I get to spend a lovely week with DB and his wife, exploring the artistic communities of Durham, Carrboro and Chapel Hill while laughing my butt off due to various comedic asides and the sheer absurdity and fun of the music we will be recording.   Let’s just say I’m working on my sitar chops – consider yourselves forewarned!  I can’t promise that there won’t be more mangled steel guitar either, we’ll just have to see what the week in the studio brings.

<insert evil laugh here>

mayday! mayday!

It’s been a busy few weeks for me, recently.  Between the day job, doing chores around the house, singing with St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church choir, preparing for recording a new CD with “Balderdash and Humbug” and working on my own recordings for “table for one.”, I’ve had a lot on my plate.

I’ve also been thinking and evaluating my life and what is important to me as I’ve been prioritizing my time and trying to jettison things that have been “weighing me down.”  So I’ve been working on decluttering my surroundings and life these days, in essence cleaning house physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Physically, I’ve been tidying the house and also culling the stuff that’s accumulated in my life.  Let’s start with the CD collection and ripping what I want to keep to iTunes and ridding myself of excess clutter by selling, recycling, donating the rest.  Any of my readers who know about my CD collection and want any (beyond the Rush CDs which my brother already has dibs on) hit me up soon and I’ll let you know if they’re up for grabs!

Books have been sorted and gifted to various individuals and organizations as well as set aside for my Little Free Library.  A Little Free Library is a movement aimed at promoting literacy throughout the world while promoting community.  Essentially I am in the process of constructing a home for a small selection of books curated by myself that I hope to house in a local business.  These are books that will promote the values I support and respect, including a healthy respect for the environment, a healthy lifestyle, the arts, creativity and supporting my local community.  More on this in future blog updates!

Some of my closer friends have been questioning why I am now singing in a church choir, noting my past experiences with organized Christianity.  Before I signed the contract with St. Paul’s, I asked myself the very same question.  Noting that I have had such negative experiences with the Anglican and Presbyterian churches, I was asking myself if I was setting myself up for further disappointment and disillusionment with Christianity and God.

For those new to this blog, I have had two major blow ups with organized Christianity that were based in the failings of the people who claimed to represent God, but in reality, truly represented only their own interests, abusing their power over me.  Ironically, both incidents which targeted me as a homosexual and attempted to victimize me, strengthened my resolve as a gay male and helped me grow as an individual who was raised in modern Christian society.

I ended up realizing that my relationship with God or whatever you choose to call the force that set this universe in motion, was personal to me only and that I did NOT have to join ANY church as a parishioner.   I could continue my relationship with the universal force personally using the gift of music that I was given to glorify the power and celebrate my relationship with it.

The fact that I am getting paid to do this is a bonus!  I am keeping professionally detached at this point and avoiding affiliation with the church beyond being a paid chorister.  I think that will minimize any collateral damage should the “shit hit the fan.”

So my feelings of hypocrisy have been sated.  I still consider myself a spiritual humanist who was raised with Christian values.  My last “serious” blog entry confirms that I choose to do things not out fear of salvation or punishment in a hypothetical afterlife or next incarnation, but as it is the right thing to do.  Yes folks, I practice the “golden rule” and endeavour to treat people and the world, the way I wish to be treated in return.  But remember this, don’t expect to be able to shit on me and expect me to thank you for it, because it ain’t going to happen!

I’m headed to North Carolina in the next couple of weeks, where I will enter studio m in Durham in order to record the next Balderdash and Humbug disc “The 55 Days of Christmas,” which will include new holiday parodies expressing the mutual ire of DB and I about the increasingly commercial and harried nature of the holiday season!  I will also hopefully use the time to get ground work on “table for one.” started as well, or at least pick the brain of a talented producer and engineer.

I’m doubly excited because Mark,  the owner of studio m, has just signed to Yep Roc records (home of bands like the Sadie, Sloan, Gang of Four, John Doe and the Reverend Horton Heat) with his band, the Old Ceremony and their new album is due to drop this summer!   If you haven’t checked out the Old Ceremony, you’ve done yourself a disservice.  Incredible song writing and they are amazing to watch in performance.  I can only hope they tour for their upcoming album.

During all of this, I have been interviewed by the local newspaper as a diehard bicycle commuter, have had a number of photo shoots for both “table for one.” and the interview, learned the art of hand binding books (no shit folks!  Watch for some cool stuff here soonish!), volunteer as a gallery attendant for a local art gallery, continue to write songs for both my solo stuff and bloodwood. Stuff while continuing to plug away with increasing my physical fitness and health.

The bloodwood. shit is becoming increasingly incredible!  People who have heard rough samples have called it “Dead Can Dance meets Wilco” – a description which makes me exceedingly happy!

No rest for the wicked indeed!

walking the fine line between self-deprecation and self-sabotage

I was talking to my guru and mentor, DB, today and we were discussing how as of late, things have been turning around for me and that the light I see at the end of my particular tunnel is not, as I predicted, an oncoming train, but evidence of a new day’s dawning.

We were discussing on how I have managed to turn my life around from a sensation of being constantly treading water and in danger of being overwhelmed and drowned by oncoming swells to being in control of my own boat and riding on top of the waves.

The conclusion we both came to was that this was because I finally took the time to start building my own boat and actually follow through on its completion.

In essence, I finally took the time to get my shit together and allow myself the chance to succeed or fail miserably on my own.  This would not have been possible in the past as I constantly felt that I needed someone outside of me to kick my ass and force me to get shit done.

Until recently, I never honestly allowed myself to believe in myself and feel that I could successfully complete a MAJOR project on my own.  This all changed in the past two years. 

Why?

Because I stopped walking the fine line between self-depreciation and self-sabotage.

Because after years of therapy and counselling, I began to understand that if I didn’t believe in myself, all the help in the world and support from the people I love and respect in my life, wouldn’t amount to anything.  If I didn’t believe in myself and allow myself a chance to fail or succeed on my own, I WOULD NEVER SUCCEED…EVER.

When asked to describe myself to other folks in creative industries, up until recently, I would call myself the “uber second fiddle.”  As I seemed to do my best work supporting others and trying to make their projects successes.  DB used to take great issue with this description as he was upset that I was placing others ahead of myself and not allowing the spotlight to shine on yours truly.

This point really kicked my ass when he inscribed the following message on the back of my main performance guitar to serve as a constant reminder:  “You deserve to be heard.”  I had honestly never considered that point before in my life.  I still get choked up thinking about it and wonder what is it that people see in me that I don’t/can’t/am unwilling see in myself?

Let’s make no mistake here I’m still uncomfortable in the spotlight.  I am an introvert at heart but I realized that I do have something of value to contribute and that it is important for me to say it.  This blog is part and parcel of this process for me.  I am writing to get used to speaking my mind and, yes, bragging about my accomplishments in life.  The biggest one so far is that I have finally taken control of my life and not stepping over that line into sabotaging myself and setting things back.

Thankfully when I do get in that mind frame, I have a strong group of people surrounding me who aren’t afraid to kick my ass and call me on my own bullshit (thank you DH, DB, ME, CG, DJ and DM2).  I’m trying to be better to myself and allow myself to fail, and succeed, on my own.

Last night I had the opportunity to perform my new songs to a friend whom I admire and respect greatly.  He has built a career performing music as unique and individual as he is.  He continues to record (13+ albums) and tour the world with both a band and as a solo musician.  When heard the new songs, he hugged me and said that these songs NEED to be recorded even if it means my going out to Vancouver and having him produce it, although he knows and understands that they are so personal that I HAVE to do this on my own to get them right.  I was SO honoured, I cried.

I’m showcasing them again tonight for another friend who is building his career in music.  This is a step that is highly unusual for me as I used to be secretive in my creative progress and quite shy about sharing things that are works in progress.  Again, my fear of failure, fear of rejection of my ideas (and in essence, me) and need for perfection in EVERYTHING was an act of self-sabotage that I’m striving to put behind me.

So steps I have taken to get these songs recorded and done.  I am in the process of configuring a computer for recording and performing these songs.  I don’t think I am ready to consider hiring a band to perform this music and I want to be as self-sufficient as possible so I’m looking towards what electronic artists are doing for live performance and realize that their methods can be adapted to suit my more organic aesthetic as much as my aesthetic is evolving to something a little less free-flowing and a little more disciplined.

Thankfully I have an engineer friend in North Carolina and a bassist in Louisiana who have been patient with my incessant questions regarding computer music applications and appropriate peripherals that can be used for live performance as well as recording.  The goal is to create a system that is bonehead simple for a Luddite such as myself to use as well as allowing me to record and perform the songs in finished form live.

I am both excited and scared shitless as I remove one further barrier to the expression of these ideas.

And thankfully I have an army of people behind me that are ensuring I don’t sabotage myself and these songs do see the light of day, both live and hopefully as “product.”  Keep in mind, my aim in this is just to finally express myself and know that I have done it.  What happens after that is gravy folks; and ultimately is up to my friends, family and yes my audience!

I’ll still be self-deprecating; I just want everyone to kick my butt when I cross over that line to self-sabotage.  Please help me keep myself honest!

taking the next steps…moving the ball forward

The title should either make the co-workers at my day job who follow me smile or cringe mightily…sorry folks, I’m in a playful mood despite all the shoegazing and introspection I will be doing in this post.

Given recent events in my life, I have been writing and journaling furiously.  This is partially due to the therapy I have been undergoing as part of my weight loss journey and as part of my healing and recovery process as I am growing to understand who I am and what I truly want from life.  It is also partially due to my need to express myself in a constructive and healthy manner as I have been known to be rather self-destructive and self-defeating with past conduits of expression <sheepish grin>.

Let’s just say the only chemical stimulant that has fuelled this batch of song writing is caffeine!

I now have an album’s worth of songs worthy of recording.  These songs are more personal and harrowing than any other songs I have written.  I doubt this will be anything of the sort of the masterpiece “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band,” but it is a fair expression of my past few years’ journey.

To my friends and family (particularly DH, DB and The Parental Units) who have braved the past two years’ plus emotional and spiritual roller coaster ride, I thank you for your patience, support and love!

I will soon be performing these songs live as a suite, in order to prepare them for recording.  I am working out the logistics of what these songs have become and am getting used to actually expressing these thoughts and feelings out loud.  I will soon have to get used to expressing them in public!

I have asked a local coffee house to host some of my initial forays into public performance of this material, which I will slowly integrate into my usual shows until I have everything 100% together.  They have obliged me with being open minded and willing to work with me.  More on this later and I will definitely update here once I have started.

And now here comes the serious part:  as I am focusing more on my career as a musician and songwriter, I have had to assess my strengths and weaknesses as a business and sales person.  I am incredible at planning things but incredibly weak on the follow through.  So I’m in the process of setting out a plan that will give me identifiable check points and goals to meet so as to ensure that I am able to have something to show at the end of it all.

At the same time, I am becoming increasingly focused on the visual presentation of my ideas as I know I am not the most vibrant of performers on stage.  I am therefore working on my photography as an adjunct to my music and trying to create a visual representation of the images I portray in my songs and music.  How this will be manifested is currently unknown, however a number of concerts I have attended recently have had a strong visual conceptual presence that fit the music being performed.

My work with and continued interest in Lomography has provided me with an interesting outlet for my visual ideas and also is allowing me to delve into moving images using their latest invention:  a 35 mm film kinescope.  The primitive nature of the Lomographic cameras have informed my photographic and visual style strongly and are reflective of my ideas.  More on this as my ideas develop <sorry, I couldn’t resist>!

The work I have done on the bloodwood. project has somewhat been co-opted into this as some of the songs I was writing under that project are very personal.  Some of the images from the bloodwood. project also fit the aesthetic of my music as well.  Whether this means a shift in the overall aim of the bloodwood. project or if it’s just going on the back burner at this point, I do not know.  I am currently in discussions with a local branding and marketing studio to determine what this means for all three projects on the go at this point.

So to sum things up: 

  • therapy good,
  • writing good,
  • compelling live performance of very personal material hard,
  • photography good,
  • recording to come in the future
  • Myke is honestly okay and improving!