Monday, January 25, 2010

A Musical Reunion: A Year With Chad Macomber!

A year ago today marks the joining of Chad Macomber onto my solo project What To Keep & Let Go. I say solo because Chad and I have a great deal of history working together in the musical world and this is really my first ever project outside what we've always done together; writing music, lyrics and performing at college coffee houses, small town festivals and dingy bars in Boston and Providence is something to be revered and I will never forget how I got to where I am today due to my experience with this electric guitar playing, tone-perfecting, hands-off-the-guitar-shout-outin' Marblehead legend! (Yeah, dude I said it...legend!...just don't let it go to yo head!)

So yes, Chad and I have a history, a musical bond and harmony that when lost can easily be picked back up again. After we graduated from Ringling School of Art Design, our creative ambitions lead us on different roads. Chad returned to Marblehead, MA where he built himself a small but effective studio in his bedroom, cranking out enough songs to catalogue two albums entitled Entropy and On Phoenix Wings In Flight. A couple hundred miles north, I was working on a film project with my long-time friend Travis VanAlstyne and spent the summer after graduating toting around cheap camera equipment to record a 45 minute documentary about ghostly activity in the Green Mountain State. Chad had his hand in this project by providing some sound samples and music arrangements for certain parts of the film. I even trekked down to MA a few times to work with him on a song called The Montreal Express that was to be the soundtrack to one of the stories featured in the film. It never was completed and used for the film but it was evident that we hadn't lost our touch collaborating together.

Throughout my movie making process, I was writing in my Vermont bedroom some of the songs that would one day be featured on my very first solo album. I wrote Stand, bought an Ovation celebrity roundback guitar, practiced vocals through my Peavy amplifier that Chad sold me for $40 from our practice sessions in his dorm room at school, and paved the way to my own musical style. At Ringling, I learned a great deal from Chad on acoustic guitar, picking up a lot of his technique and influence of our shared favorite band U2. In fact, the first chord progression song I learned was Desire...months after I struggled with an Everlast riff, a C-chord finger stretch and up and down strumming pattern. Frustrated, I stored my guitar away for a semester and only picked it back up after talking with a classmate about guitar playing and music on the flight back down to Florida.

From there Chad and I wrote our first couple songs together, recording them on a small 4 track that he had in this room. It wasn't really realized that I would be lending my vocals to certain tracks until Chad and his then girlfriend listened in on me singing in the back seat of his car one day when we were driving around. Who knew that years of singing Aladdin songs in the shower would pay off! haha After honing in on our technique, writing lyrics and finding our sound niche, Chad and I seemed to veer away from our course of study to something entirely new and exciting- writing and performing music! It was this turn of events that inspired our first collaborative album together to be named Detour. After some time of gaining popularity amongst our peers and friends and gaining a reputation for U2 cover songs at our shows, Chad and I pumped up promotion with photoshoots, flyers around the campus and a 2-man band name inspired by our frequent spotting of 11's in our life. We were The Eleven Project.

That seems like such a long time ago but in writing it all out, it is still so clear and the memories are great! After a good long run together in college and a humorous final coffee-house show (you know what I'm talkin about dude!), we parted ways with one last jam session in the back of his moving truck outside our hotel and went our separate ways.

Of course the years followed with ghost soundtrack work, new songs, music festivals and joining an already established band, Star Light Grey, to revamp our stage presence and rediscover that musical chemistry we've always seemed to have. Our styles changed a bit over the years but with that comes new ideas and well-rounded approaches to crafting our songs together. Bringing Chad on to my album project was not only a smart move in having certain energies and sounds needed to make the songs as best as they could be but also it was a gesture to honor our musical history and friendship; a loyalty and appreciation that without would make this album project seem sort of shallow and void of an understanding of my roots and growth as an artist.

I value my history, progress and current collaborations with the Mr. Macomber and know that without hearing his plucking on the acoustic guitar all those years ago in our freshman dorm, I would probably never have gotten to where I am to today. Thanks dude for one helluva a ride and for your hard work and dedication to helping me realize this album project after such a long time in the making! You rock, brotha.


  1. Dude that was a fitting tribute to a musical legend. In all seriousness that was great!!