I have finished yet another CD entitled Cooler Than You: Young and Early Songs II. I am really happy with it. I am really enjoying using my 24 trak recorder, and I rock out a little more than I have been lately.
I didn't have any new songs, and at my age it is harder to write. Looking at my beginnings, I thought it would be interesting to give shape to those formative songs. And I was surprised on how much I still liked them. There are still about 40 songs out there that I think might be worth a try at re-doing. But, I have to get in the mood again. All the equipment is put away and I am enjoying a decluttered music room.
The songs I wrote with Robert Hanson I remember vividly recording these. I can in my mind see the surroundings and remember the exact moments. I have never given Robert enough credit. He put up with my idea of a "band" and took it quite seriously for the two years we made our oddball recordings. We called our band Umm a joke. We used tin boxes for drums and strummed guitars we had little idea how to tune at first. But...we amazingy got better. By the time we recorded our last group of songs we were covering some songs and moving a little away from space and science themes.
After three collections of recordings Umm kind of fizzled out. I did put up a bunch of songs on the SoundClick site and included a jokey biography:
"In the late 1970's, the pioneer rock band The Umm came into existence. Consisting of two school friends from Coon Rapids MN, The Umm carved its way into the annals of history with their innovative and creative approach to minimalist recording. Over the span of three years The Umm created music today that is difficult to catagorize. Were they pioneers or just two guys with guitars and ice cream buckets? The jury is still out on that.
Since the breakup of the band, the demand for their early material has grown to the extent that Test Tube Records (a divison of The Victorian Entertainment Corporation) is now making their music available again for public consumption. Digitally remastered, these songs will seem to literally jump out of your speakers and into your brains.
During their career, The Umm released three albums: LIFE IN A TEST TUBE (1978), MR. PEABODY'S COAL MINE (1979), and WHY I LIKE THE LAB (1979). It is hoped that The Umm will finally get the recognition they deserve."
If you want to hear some of the songs, you can go to here
Well, all my CDs are no longer available through Amazon. They are now listed as unavailable! This is probably because I didn't sell a whole lot of them. I am not sure when this happened. The CDs were originally done though Create Space. But, Amazon bought them and the ability to order physical CDs for my use went away. There was a promise that eventually they would allow this, but it never happened.
So, I am stuck with pretty limited physical copies of several. I will have to work on getting at least the digital files available through Bandcamp and figure out what I would have that would be available for physical sales. Honestly, I don't do a lot of online selling, but I need to solve the physical inventory issue.
I've still got plenty of YOUNG AND EARLY SONGS and HOUSE ARREST available as these were created using other sources. Hopefully will have a solution down the road.
But...I have to play, and right now there is no way to do it safely.
I have finally gotten to some actual gigging. It's been a long time. I had a minor porch concert event recently and am gearing up for my day long gig at the Twin Cities Harvest Festival. Really, it's just me playing as many of my 70 or so songs on my list as I can. And most of the time, no one is really paying attention. But...it pays well and I really need to start doing this again,
It's been a weird couple of years. I finished a CD and had nowhere to play for about a year and a half. During this nightmare that is Covid, we have done almost no travelling. It helps that for the day job I can work from home, but the days just seem to blend into one another.
So, at least I can stay focused on my upcoming performance. I am working on building up the fingertips going at it about an hour a day just paging through the songs and playing them. Along with some of my originals I am doing music by Cat Stevens, James McMurtry, Peter Case, Hank Williams, John Hartford, The Indigo Girls, Robert Plan, Jason Isbell, Todd Snider, Woody Guthrie, Martin Mull, Hal Ketchum, Lyle Lovett, Mike Hart, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Paul Westerberg, Michael Johnson, Dire Straits, Horslips, John Hiatt, Robert Earl Keen, Leo Kottke, Ray Davies, John Denver, Jim Croce, Steve Gibbons, Bruce Cockburn, and maybe some more.
I'd better keep practicing!
Well, here we go again. I've finished recording a new CD which will be ready mid summer, but I am suffering from the dilemma of nowhere to play. This Covid-19 pandemic has really dried up any opportunities for some time. Luckily, I have a 9-5 type job, at least for awhile. I am now trying to get my current employer to let me continue to work from home. I have some conditions that would make Covid-19 a very bad thing for me. I am scheduled to appear in the office on June 1. I got an inkling that this was being reconsidered, but no word yet. If they cannot let me continue to work from home I will most likely have to quit. Financially we would be fine, it is just a little bit tense right now.
The new CD is a mixture of old and new songs, but none that have ever been out there before. It is the first recording entirely done on my Tascam DP-24. This recorder is a wonderful tool. With onboard effects, mastering, and duplication tools, I am amazed at how good it sounds. I used a variety of guitars on this, as well as my bouzouki. Nearly everything is miked and I am using really good condenser microphones. On a good portion of these I recorded the vocal and acoustic guitar at the same time, and built my tracks around those. Everything sounds pretty natural. I am also really happy with my singing at this time.
Now it's on to cd/album art and figuring to what extent I want to manufacture. I may have the discs done and printed, and design my artwork here at home. Though I really liked the look of the digi-packs that were on Young and Early Songs. We will see.
Well, I think I am done recording. This CD has taken me about three years to do, although there really isn't three years of work. It will be a mixture of some older unreleased stuff that was to go on this CD and some new recordings finished in the last couple years
What will you notice? The songs are more personal and less faith based, with the exception of one called "Believe." These are songs written over the past several years, with the most recent being from my stay at Pacem In Terris in St. Francis. You will notice less guitar solos and some different instrumentation. I have posted a few of them such as "Charlie James," a traditional song, and my only cover "Gliders and Parks" which was written by Mike Hart.
Now, the nightmare of mixing begins. I should be done with that by the end of July, then I need to get a cover designed and get the CD available before my tentatively scheduled CD release party in September 2017.
I have resumed working on the CD that took shape about a hear ago and then ground to a halt. I have recorded a new version of an older song "Midwestern Snow" and re-recorded the vocal on "Believe." I am aiming for a mid July release along with a release party.
As I get older, this gets a little harder to do. I have moved the studio stuff upstairs from the basement and that limits any late night hours. But I am committed. Will keep you posted. Working title is "Old Man Berg" or "13 Guitars."
I have been thinking a lot about ALS, as in my day job I work for a medical supply company that does a lot of work with paralyzed patients, and a good portion of them are ALS patients. ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig's disease, got a big dose of publicity last year with the Ice Bucket Challenge. Before that, it was rarely in the news, or even much on my radar.
However, in the past year I was listening to a series of stories about Bruce Kramer, a University of St. Thomas faculty member who contracted this disease. As i listened to the stories about the slow decline, what was pretty amazing was how he embraced it and made the decision to live as fully as he could. The link to this amazing series can be found