It's been a crazy few weeks. For starters, I turned 30 at the end of October and had friends in town to celebrate. Then there have been lots of gigs, including my CD release show for Tributary, which took a lot of energy to prepare for, and some gigs with a few new groups, which meant new material to learn. Performing, rehearsing, recording... I'm a lucky guy to be able to do this with and for so many enthusiastic people. And now things are getting back to a normal pace and I feel like I can write a new entry to my website.
Tributary CD Release Show
The Tributary release show was amazing. We played on a Monday night at Rose Live Music, a venue slightly off the beaten path in Brooklyn, but the place was packed. Many of my friends were there, and at least one person from each of the bands I play with showed up. It's humbling to have that kind of support, and also really exciting to play for a group of talented musicians. We played for a solid hour and twenty minutes, ran the album start to finish, and I could truly feel everyone's attention focused on the band and music.
Brad, Kenneth and I were joined by Erika Lloyd and Lauren Zettler for the tunes "Ghost Town" and "The Return." They added a touch of vocal, acoustic guitar, and glockenspiel, filling out the arrangements as we recorded them for the album. It's difficult to explain the feeling you get when you write a piece of music and then experience it live, especially when the music is happening around your own playing. Out of body experience? It's just a very satisfying emotion that's best left in the moment. I look forward to our next opportunity to perform the album this way.
Video on Tributary
Just in time for the release show, my friend and film maker Josh Penchina finished a 10 minute documentary that tells the story behind the album. Josh joined us in the studio in September of 2009 when we recorded Tributary, and out of what I would guess was more than a dozen hours of footage, did an incredible job of editing it all down to the final cut.
I've also finally received the t-shirts I promised during the CD pre-order. You can see them here modeled by Jill and Erika. The design is by Philip Manning, who also designed the album, and the shirts were printed by my friends at StL-Style. I'm still waiting for the hot sauce to show up, but am starting to ship t-shirts now. Once I get all the pre-orders out, I'll make the rest available for sale.
Trio + LGG Tour 2k11
I'm currently working on plans for a tour late spring, taking my trio and Little Grey Girlfriend down the East Coast and out to the Midwest. I really want to play with both bands in St. Louis, for my family and friends, and we'll be lining up shows in nearby cities surrounding those dates. More details will follow in a couple months.
Meanwhile, the trio will be playing our next show on December 16 at The Shrine in NYC. For details, see the Tour page.
My schedule has also gotten a lot busier thanks to a few more gigs. I'm playing regularly in six bands right now, and doing some recording with two of them.
Stellar Ego, a rock band led by singer/songwriter Guy Prandstatter, is working on an EP. That band also includes New York Rhythm Section players Ben Kogan on bass and Danny Wolf on drums, both incredible musicians. I'm sure I'll post something here as soon as the EP is available.
I've also joined the backing band for pop singer Rachel Millman. The band also includes Trevor Coen on bass, Joe Izzo on drums, and Brad Whiteley on keys. I was asked to produce a demo for Rachel, and while those recordings probably won't be made public, they'll hopefully lead to a full length album being recorded next year.
The City Billies are also making plans to head into the studio soon. I've been playing with them for about a year now, working on my mandolin chops and gigging frequently. We recently played a show in Prospect Park on a beautiful day and had a big crowd gather around, dancing and enjoying the weather. These guys are a lot of fun, if you're able to catch a show I really recommend it.
And of course, I continue to work with Lauren Zettler, Little Grey Girlfriend, and my own group. Keep an eye on my calendar or join my email list to find out about upcoming gigs and other news. I send out one email a month.
Practice, Practice, Practice
These last few weeks have been busy for sure, but the one thing I'm doing the most is practicing. I have the same conversation with Brad from time to time, about what we're working on, what we hear that makes us think, "I want to do that," and it always comes down to just making the music feel good. It's always better to play the right note in the right spot with the right inflection. That's what the blues are all about. And melody. Cut out all the flash and just play something I can sing back.
Lauren made a comment the other day about how much material I must have to practice, but really, knowing songs is the easy part. Everybody knows songs, but the really great musicians know how to take that sound out of their head and make it feel good. So that's what I'm doing every day--take some song, make it feel good. If I can't make it feel good, I work on the underlying problem, whatever that may be. Then I'm prepared for the same issue when it happens on a different song.
Ultimately, I'm just trying to get better everyday. One little thing I couldn't do yesterday I'll be able to do tomorrow, and in a year or ten I'll look back and feel like I've made some progress. At least, that's the plan.
I hope everybody has a great holiday this week and spends time with family. I'll be keeping quiet in Brooklyn, but I look forward to making some phone calls and catching up with the friends and family I won't be able to travel and see.
Thanks for reading! - Cam