Monday, November 30, 2009

Let's Live How We Know Best

I spoke with my grandfather last night on the phone after a many month conversation drought and he sounded good for his age. He'll be 94 in April I believe and he has been through so much in his life: a great war, a family illness and the loss of a wife, two daughters and a son. He's a tough old man with a warm heart and a pair of tired eyes.

A couple of years ago I wrote a song about him called Rising Suns. I haven't put together a final recorded version of the song though it does exist in the form of a couple different demos. Someday I will feature it on a collection of some sort and hopefully present it to him in a better version. Until then, it will remain in my "to-do" archives but I'd like to share with you the lyrics to the song. My talk with him last night reminded me of his long life and his fragile time ahead.

Rising Suns

your eyes have seen the light of so many rising suns
your feet have brought you further than both of mine have done
and with the beating of your heart you've kept a steady pace
while tragedy and love have carved the lines upon your face

and i can't imagine
how it feels to see it all
to hold tight to the memories so they may never fall

and one day I will ask you
what you thought of your own life
but for now I think I'll let you dream tonight

the wind has carried secrets, inspired stories told
it's held up walls meant to protect, knocked down the trees of old
but today it serves one purpose and that's to keep your fire bright
for the gentle breeze holds melodies sung deep within your life

and i can't imagine
how it feels to see it all
to hold on to the memories, however big or small

and one day I'll ask you
what you thought of your own life
but for now I think I'll let you dream tonight

We never know what tomorrow brings
it's drowned out by songs we sing
but i know that the sun will set
and until it does let's just live how we know best.

GMFS Review by The Vermont Journal

Check out the article written by Donna Allen over at The Vermont Journal. First time I've seen my name spelled like the popular donuts franchise :) haha No worries, Donna! Thanks for the article!

A Grand Reunion.

Music, art, family, friends, good food and a whole lot more!

The Green Mountain Festival Series
: A Reunion Night of Music event on November 21st was filled with joy, tears, laughter and a "renewal" in the twenty-five year long series that brings talent from all over to the small high school auditorium in Chester, VT. It brought people together that haven't seen each other in years, allowed the graduates from the school to let their fellow townsmen in on what they have been up to since snagging up their GED, and brought light back to what some said was a dimming event. There is talk that they will bring back the students next year as well and I think it's a great idea!

Here are some photos from the event. Videos from my performance will be posted soon as I received the full DVD from my cousin Liz on Saturday. I regret not having any performance photos of Ida Mae Specker and Sam Lloyd but rest assured they were both amazing!

The Acts!

Sunsets & Skylines.

Kate from Rusty Belle.

Sound checking Ask You with Brendon.

Me, Sam Lloyd and Kate during Hey Jude Finale.

Matt from Rusty Belle.

Brendon Thomas.

Me, Melissa, Leah and Maura after the show.

Hey Jude finale!

Circles Guitar Work

This weekend I spent some time at home piecing together some electric guitar parts for Circles. It's really coming along and with Dave's pending approval on the sections I have written, I think it's safe to say that the song is really filling out nicely. After we nail down these parts, we'll have the daunting task at carefully selecting some orchestral instruments to bring the conclusion of the song to its most dramatic peak. This will also be, in my opinion, the climatic point of the entire record.

Ask You Raised Nearly $150 for Amyloidosis Research

Today I will be sending a check for $148 to Boston University Amyloid Treatment & Research Program thanks to the money raised by Ask You sales and random donations at last weekend's Green Mountain Festival Series event. I'd like to thank everyone who bought a CD for charity and those that threw in a few extra dollars to help our cause. We are eternally grateful. And enjoy the music.

If you'd like to make a donation in the name of The May Fund and Janet Duncan, please visit the link above. Thank you!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Wanted: An Old Bicycle

We're approaching winter and that means iced over ponds, which in turn means more photo opportunities for album art and posters that involve a bicycle on the ice. I've got the settings all around I just need the bike.

Melissa took some great photos last February up in Maine that I will be using for a poster design at some point but I'm really liking the idea of getting back out there on the ice with an old 60's Schwinn or something....maybe a little rusty and worn...just to have some more options for some art. She got a new camera for her birthday so I'm guessing she'd love to lend a hand with her new toy!

Until then, I'll be on the look out for this crucial What To Keep & Let Go prop. If you have any ideas, or know of anyone that is trying to sell one that looks similar to the bicycle you see on my blog art and buttons, please contact me! Thanks!


I was listening to Ask You this morning on the car ride to work and it occurred to me that I haven't been giving my aunt Cindy, who also died of Amyloidosis, enough attention. I do mention her a lot, along with my grandmother, in articles for Search for a Cure and other Amyloidosis related events but I never have once thought about writing about her...until now.

Cindy and I weren't as close as my mom and I were, obviously, but she was still a big part of my young life. My sister and I used to spend a lot of time over at her house where next door she owned and ran a carpet retail business with her boyfriend, Danny. We used to play around in the large rolls of carpet in the back of the building, jumping from one to the other while songs like Madonna's "Like a Prayer" played over the sound system. There was a big, puffy white office chair that was fun to spin around in behind her desk. She had three dogs, Bette, Boo and Zach, and they were great to be around. The house was an old, white, Victorian that sat on the banks of the Black River and overlooked the Springfield Plaza. The historic Gear Shapers building sat adjacent to the house and used to develop machinery and airplane parts for World War II. I heard it was actually a bombing target for the Nazis.

But I digress. Cindy was a young, motorcycle-ridin', wild spirit who loved dogs and the camera lens. The youngest of the kids in the family, she remained in the house that she grew up in and seemed to live a free-spirited life. When she got sick with Amyloidosis, she no longer could live on her own and so stayed with us at our house. I was probably 10 and my mom wasn't quite sick yet. I remember we had a big, blue easy chair in the living room where she sat for most of the time, getting weaker and weaker. The Cindy that I grew up to know in the big, white house and carpet business was no longer there. Being so young and seeing the disease for the first time, I think I tended to withdraw a bit from Cindy because it was such a big change and seeing her like that was difficult.

Cindy eventually required the care of a hospital and after a good while of living with us in Chester, she moved out. Not long after, she passed away due to complications of the liver transplant or being so far along that the surgery made no difference.

I haven't really shared much about Cindy until now and I think she deserves more than that. Sure, I wasn't as close with her but she was still family and I wish she was still around to get to know better. I was so young when she died that I never really had a conversation with her.

So with all this said, I'm thinking of writing a song about her. Something simple yet beautiful to express my feelings of a life I never really got to know with her. I'll call it Cindy.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Running around in circles.... find the right sound!

The past couple of weeks have been progressive in finding the right acoustic guitar combination for doubling up the tracks in Circles. On the 12th, we took my newly set up Breedlove into the studio and played over the original track (without the drums) but realized that there wasn't enough difference in tone when using the same guitar for the double. So on the 19th, we redid the track using Dave's guitar (see earlier post) and that had a much more authentic sound.

Here are a couple of videos during these sessions.

Rutland Herald article about the Festival Series

Check out the article written by Josh O'Gorman at the Rutland Herald. He had contacted me last week for a brief phone interview about the event and the story ran on the 19th of November. Thanks Josh!

Click here to read!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Circles Guitar

Last night Dave and I worked through the drum sections that Cullen did for Circles and he was so spot on that it didn't take much at all to finish it up. With time to spare we talked over the doubled acoustic guitar part and realized we needed it BUT with a different acoustic. Dave pulled out one of his guitars that had some old strings on it but when played together with the newly set-up Breedlove, it sounded AMAZING!

I'm very excited about how this song will turn out

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Reunion Night of Music

I will be returning to my hometown of Chester, VT on Saturday to play a half hour set at the Green Mountain Festival Series: A Reunion Night of Music event featuring Brendon Thomas, Ida Mae Specker, Sam Lloyd, Jr. and Rusty Belle. Show starts at 6:30 at the Green Mountain Union High School and event information, ticket pricing and artist profiles can be found on the

It'd be great to see you there! I will be selling Ask You CD's to raise money for Familial Amyloidodis research at Boston University Amyloid Treatment & Research Program, as well as "bicycle buttons" to raise money to pay for the album project.

Oh, I open the show at 6:30 so arrive early! Hope to see you there!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Bicycle on your shirt...

...or bag, guitar strap or where ever you want!

I ordered some buttons from
One Inch Round
in Portland, Oregon the other day and told them I needed a rush delivery so I'd have them in time for next Saturday's show in Chester, VT. Well, they came through in a very timely fashion! I received the buttons yesterday and they came out great! I will be selling them at the Green Mountain Festival Series show next weekend and if I have any left over, I will make them available to the general public (price to be determined). Most likely I'll be using One Inch Round's services again in the future; their prices are great, quality is satisfactory and they're turn around time is amazing!

Now to find a t-shirt place...

Cullen's Last "Stand"....

....well, until he returns for Hello, Amy.

On November 4th, the studio came to life again with the arrival of Cullen and Marcin. It was good to hear Cullen's drum beats coming out of the recording room while Marcin sat and cracked jokes and avoided my videotaping. haha It was a very successful night with Cullen laying down drum tracks to his final songs, Stand and Circles, making it possible for Dave and I to proceed with more guitar parts, strings and vocals.

Cullen has done an awesome job with his parts on What To Keep & Let Go and the songs wouldn't be what they are without his talent. He'll be back for our live recording of Hello, Amy as a full band but until then, thanks for all your time and energy, bro.

What Are You Doing?!?! haha

I attempted to capture some random lolli-pop humor that Marcin was spewing off in the studio but I didn't get the button hit in time and then I was caught again! Blasted!

"A little more simple"

Cullen's unique drumming style has lent itself wonderfully to songs like Horizons, City Lights and In The End with his sudden rhythm changes, out-of-no-where splash cymbals and intense fill-rolls driving the songs till their final beat. With Circles, however, I was looking for a more direct, less flashy beat to carry out the ideas, which Cullen managed to do quite nicely. In this following clip, I'm explaining how it'd be good to get a more simple fill-roll in the end...just to have in case.

Let's Do It!

Cullen's last recording session was of particular interest to me as he was scheduled to tackle the most important song on the record to me-Circles. He had some exposure to the song here and there through random introductions at practice and the demo that I sent to him but until this session, I was unsure exactly what his treatment was going to be. Not surprisingly, he came through in true Cullen form and nailed it down perfectly and confidently, meeting every expectation I had for this pivotal song.

Filming Marcin

I have turned into the annoying camera guy. haha It was great to have Marcin back in the studio for a number of reasons, one being that I got to video tape some of his humorous antics he tends to bring into the setting. He hasn't changed much in not wanting to be filmed tho...haha

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Weston Monster Chase!!!

Whoa!!! Just when I thought The Weston Monster disappeared into the warmth of some cavern for the cooler weather, it showed up RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME the other night before my recording session!! I'm really surprised that no one else saw it as the studio was quite full with people. Marcin, in fact, was there right before me. I wonder if this illusive beast has it out for only me! I wonder what is making it come closer these days.....

I was able to get three good snap shots of the creature before it ran off into the woods. I couldn't tell if he was angry or just amused that he was able to evade capture! Not sure what I'd even DO with the monster if i caught him...

Here are the photos!! I wonder if I could get money for these....hmmm

Thursday, November 5, 2009

2010 then.

It's looking to me that What To Keep & Let Go will not be ready for your CD players until 2010. With less than two months to go until the ball drops, it's highly unlikely we'll finish up these songs with so much more to do.

As we progress further along, I will make a more definitive release date. I'm hoping for sometime in March.

Thanks everyone for your patience!

Practice Makes Perfect!

Well we weren't perfect by any means with such a long time since our last practice, but we were able to get in a good couple hours of review, rockin' around and random jams. And that wasn't all! Each of us brought back a bit of our unique character to the space: Cullen feasted on some burnt pizza and peanut butter crackers in between beats, Marcin took every opportunity he could get to impress us with his frantic fingered bass lines, Chad wore his new Carnival Hero attire and fired the band up with some wild guitar riffs and I, of course, opened my gig bag only to find a broken guitar string! Typical! haha I did get a chance, however, to rip into a sloppy but ambitious solo on cue during our blues jam, which definitely left me realizing how much practice I need at that. haha

Good times as always and hopefully we'll have more practices in the future with less down time in between.

Last Transmition from Saturn

October 27th marks the last night of video updates from my trusty 2006 Saturn Ion as it succumbed to its doom last week after I wrecked it on the way to practice. Luckily no one was hurt and I'm thankful that the accident didn't occur due in part to filming these rather risky videos while driving haha. I was wondering how much longer the car was going to hold up, it having so many miles on it, so my accident was somewhat of a blessing in disguise. I'm currently in search for my new vehicle and I'm not so sure I'll feel comfortable doing any more video updates while driving, it being a brand new car and one accident per car is enough for me, thanks. haha I'll wait till I get to my destination!

R.I.P. Saturn (sorry, I never named you...haha)

Let It Slide

On the 27th of October, Dave made some attempts at correcting some slide parts in Stand that didn't seem to sound quite right. Chad gave us permission to try and redo these parts but instead of taking them out completely, it was our hope to simply go over the sharp or flat sections with another guitar so we could retain Chad's musical signature. Dave tried three different guitars, one being a lap steel, but in the end we realized we could not cover up nor replace what Chad had envisioned in his sections. We simply need him to come back in and redo them!

Here are some photos and video of Dave making his attempts at the Stand verses.