Friday, November 26, 2010

Stagnant? No Way!

Wow, I really have let this blog die a little bit. Sorry about that to anyone who actually reads it. Since part of why I created this blog was to prevent stagnation I'll give you a quick update on what I've been doing to continue growing. My blog may have stagnated slightly but that may be because I've been so busy trying to prevent personal stagnation.

Professionally, there has been much going on! With Downhere, my full time rock band gig, growth has
come in
a couple of different forms. We've got a new touring timeline plan that I'm excited to see for the new year which will give us more time with our growing families. This came about after a good many months of being away too long from our wives and kids. We often forget how important it is to just sit down with each other and say how's everybody doing? We also had an opportunity to again work with performance coach Tom Jackson on a few songs. Those few songs have really made our set more interesting for the
audience and has brought the songs new life for us to play.

My side project Hark The Herons has had a couple of cool developments lately as well. We've heard that one of our songs (New Start To Start) has been playing regularly at H&M stores seemingly across Europe. At least in Paris and Vienna for sure. We've also started to rehearse the tunes as a two piece which is causing reason for major growth. I'm enjoying spending a bunch
of time learning how to be more proficient on the accordion and the banjo. The banjo is a very fun instrument and the accordion is heavy. OK, the accordion is also fun, but man it gets heavy!

I've actually also had the privilege of seeing two live shows this year which I always feel like I learn a lot from. Back in the early Spring I saw Muse and this fall it was Sufjan Stevens. Very cool shows both times for hugely different reasons.

I've also taken on teaching trumpet lessons at a local arts focussed high school. I love doing this since I need to make sure I'm on top of things in order to teach. It's definitely a fulfilling thing to do!

Then in the reading department I've really jumped into the historical fiction world of Stephen Lawhead and I'm loving it! Below is a list of most of the books I've read during the past yearish.

By Stephen Lawhead - In the order I read them.
Byzantium **still my favorite**
The King Raven Series - Hood, Scarlet, Tuck
Patrick, Son Of Ireland
Song Of Albion Series - The Paradise War, The Silver Hand, The Endless Knot
The Pendragon Cycle series - Taliesin, Merlin

From other writers:
On Writing Well - William Zinsser
Keeping The Bees - Laurence Packer
The Concise Guide To Self Sufficiency -John Seymour
The Magicians Nephew - C.S. Lewis
Lyrics, Writing Better Words For Your Songs - Rikky Rooksby

Writing Better Lyrics - Pat Pattison
The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis
Arthur - Stephen Lawhead (once I find a copy)

Some great books in there for sure. I can see how they are shaping my thoughts when I see all the titles here in front of me. Reading, it's a good thing!!

That should pull my blog somewhat out of stagnancy.


Friday, June 25, 2010

The Glorieta Baldy Challenge - Take 2

About this time last year I wrote this post about a run up a mountain I did. Well we are back in the same location this year in New Mexico and I figured I needed to try and better my time. I've been asking around if there's any place where records are kept of previous runs but it seems hard to find. I did talk to a fellow runner who ran it back in the 70's in about 2:20. So if you've run Baldy or want to I'd love for you to leave a comment here with your time so we can keep a record of it. The challenge is to start behind the old firehall, write your name in the hikers book there when you leave and when you return. A break at the top to enjoy the view can be subtracted from your time. I took about 15 minutes up there before heading back down today.

It's a fun challenge to run at 7500+ feet when you're used to living pretty close to sea level. That's part of the draw for me I think. I say run but honestly going up I walked nearly as much as I ran since it is so steep. I plugged my watch in and downloaded all the data and thought it would be cool to share. So below is a screen shot of what my Garmin tells me I did. You can see graphs of the elevation, pace and heart rate changes. Looks like I started out too hard by looking at my heart rate. Will need to fix that next year!

You can see all of the stats across the top of the screen shot. My finishing time was 2:17:52! Better than last year. Can't ask for much more. Although I'll want to beat it again next year.


Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Old Downhere Photos

I must say there are some real gems here. I decided to put my old Washburn 6-string bass up for sale on ebay and during the process I thought it would be fun to see if I could find some old pictures of me playing it. We certainly have come a long way!!!

And for good measure and to say goodbye here's a pic of the old bass. I'll miss ya buddy!


Monday, March 22, 2010

Hark The Herons Is Born

About a year and a half ago I started collaborating with an old friend on some of the songs she had written and on some songs I had written. Our first writing session went so well we decided to get together again. Well that process has repeated itself many times over the past year and eventually turned into recording sessions. We realized we had the makings of a band/group/artist or something anyway so we thought we should name this thing. Naming a music group proves to be a difficult task, you want something clever, memorable, meaningful, available online, etc. After some time we came up with the name Hark The Herons. We live in Cambridge Ontario where the centrepiece to the city is the Grand River. It's curious how many times you can drive over the river and not really notice the beauty of it but when you slow down, stop and sit for a while or go for a walk, you'll start to notice things like the majestic herons. We liked how Hark the Herons sounded somewhat like a call to slow down and not miss the beauty of what's right beside us. We ended up writing a song called Slow Down that speaks to this exact thing.

Well the songs are recorded and we're putting the final touches on the artwork right now. We expect the album to be available in itunes and amazon and all the other online sources by May. Here's how the cover turned out. We love it!

For a preview of the songs, we decided to post some of them on YouTube.

They typically end up there eventually so why not be the first ones to post them? And why not something slightly better than just an album cover. So we've been working on camera shots with no camera movement that fit in with the music and the whole idea of Hark The Herons. We've got three songs posted now and will continue to post over the coming weeks. Take a listen, let me know what you think!

Bend, Break

Canadian Heart

Rich Man


Monday, January 11, 2010

Favorite 2009 Albums

Time for an update methinks! Plus saying methinks is always a good thing.

Methinks some kind of best of 2009 is in order since it's January so I just went through the albums I bought that were new for 2009 and picked out a couple of my favorites from the year.

Of course U2's new No Line On The Horizon came out this year. I found I loved it when it first came out. Thought it may be one of their best. But I'm now realizing I haven't gone back to listen to it hardly at all. Interesting. I also picked up the new Muse album which was really good but I really only listened to it for about 2 weeks and haven't since. John Mayer's newest album Battle Studies, I just received for Christmas and I didn't dig it at first but by the 2nd and 3rd listen I was really starting to love it. I just wish the guy had better things to say!

Next is Stockholm Syndrome by Derek Webb. I really didn't know any of Derek's music before picking up this album but I did have an expectation of singer songwriter type of music. You know, acoustic guitar and a vocal that tells stories. Well it was WAY different than that. It has a Beck feel to it, sort of, electronic, lots of groove with a little more edge and much stronger lyrics. I love that it seems like Derek says whatever he feels like and he's in the Christian music world. That's refreshing.

And lastly, a favorite to listen to around the house seemed to be Regina Spektor's Far. It's different, kinda quirky and she's got a cool voice. I surprise myself to say I think that might be my favorite of the year. It's a really fun album with some unexpected twists that's easy to listen to in the background but also interesting enough to listen to in headphones.

So there you have it. Not that I bought a ton of 2009-made albums but people are often asking what I'm listening to and I think this sums up last year's new music quite well.




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