Creating with Grace – Update 5

It’s a bit surreal. It’s hard to comprehend all that has happened in such a short time frame. Over the past 10-year period, I have been musically silent. It was a painful season. I couldn’t write, play or sing – I didn’t even listen to others much. This decade-season stands in stark contrast with with 40+ pervious years of music love…but this current season has been a wilder one yet.

 

Highlights:

  1. 30 Songs written and/or recorded since April 2nd – approximately 2 months.
  2. I struggled with pitch and vocal control at first…now sing more powerfully than ever.
  3. 10 Songs selected for a vinyl record.
  4. 20 artists from 12 countries involved in the recording project – unknown to each other.
  5. The most diverse and eclectic mix of instruments I have used on an album – with amazing results.
  6. Self-produced – which, if you have followed the blog to date, challenges insecurities a bit.
  7. All recording completed as of Monday, June 15.
  8. Final mix/master in process.
  9. Video planned and scheduled to begin next week – in support of the Ride to Remember single.
  10. Partnerships forming provincially and nationally…

Just a few highlights – and all of these have me in awe, but none so much as Please Continue Reading …

Creating with Grace Project – Update 4

“Within this multidimensional tapestry, enters the Gracenote. It is of seemingly muted significance; brief and delicate, yet intentional as ornamental addition; the extra in ordinary.”

When I wrote the paragraph above into the Gracenote card, I was reflecting on the brevity of life, and the insignificance of one being in relation to the whole of creation – it’s mind-boggling. Our lives are brief and delicate. We know this more as each day passes. When I am deeply reflective I can feel the trinket reality of my life — an ornamental addition — that’s all — and yet, that in and of itself is also extra-ordinary.

Most (all?) of whatever I achieve in this lifetime will not be recorded or remembered by anyone…but there is beauty in this: it gives room for others to play their part.

As I have been producing this Breathing Again album, I note the significance of giving room for others. At the end of one of the tracks, I was planning to sing a tag line of the title, but hearing the lead guitar, I decided to let him “own” that spot (it’s SO TASTY!). In other places, I would deliberately join with the harmony or the snap of the snare drum – and it added power. The takeaway here is  Please Continue Reading …

Breathing Again: Pre-Order Available!

It’s almost complete! Pre-order your limited production 12″ (10 songs) vinyl record now – proceeds  ($30 from each sale) going to support the Saskatchewan Police Memorial Ride to Remember! One chance only for the Vinyl Record: Order here!

I’m not trying to pressure you 🙂 it’s just math: a fall release, and 8-10 weeks of vinyl press time will mean that there will only be a short time to secure an album with this pre-order – then it’s gone. The R2R fundraiser is directly connected to the vinyl album.

Here’s a sample of from the album – Song:  Open Water

 

ALSO: Breathing Again contains a song dedicated to the men and women in blue: Ride to Remember – with the final vocal recording happening on Friday!

It’s my best effort to encourage!

Each pre-order album purchase entitles you to MP3 copies of each song on the record, plus one free bonus MP3: Let it Rain, featuring a background vocalist from Australia, a cellist (Serbia) and a Celtic (wooden) flute (UK)! Coming soon!

I originally wrote Let it Rain during a time when Saskatoon was experiencing a difficult season of racial tension. I thought it fitting to re-record it today, with some tasteful additions to my original production of guitar and vocal only –  from my Irish roots! I hope you enjoy it, and that it brings hope today, as it has in the past.

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Creating with Grace Project – Update 3

I have come to experience something unique and unexpected since beginning the Breathing Again album recording project. While my goal has been to experience the work of grace in and through me in the project, my expectation was smaller than what is actually occurring: incremental transformation through collaboration – a team of people unknown to each other prior to the start of the project is contributing to growth in and through the connection.

The expanse of the collaboration is mind-boggling to me. The list is lengthy — and growing.  There have been no less than 18 artists making their contributions from around the world:  Australia, France, Netherlands, Russia, Bulgaria, Italy, Pakistan, Serbia, USA, Greece, and of course, my Saskatoon, Canada. This will be a 10-song album, but it is also going to have a bonus MP3 track. A song that I recorded 20 years ago (Let it Rain) is getting revived and refreshed – an unexpected bonus, made possible through collaborative vision!

Also unexpected – I am finding joy as a producer. Most of my previous music production was guided by skilled producers, but in their process I am much more active in the direct shaping of each song as producer. But it’s not just about the song – it’s also about the artist. I’ve always enjoyed affirming artists in their craft. I have many pieces of art around the house, which I bought simply because I had met the artist, and I could not walk away without buying (the same applies to girl guide cookies – though I think that’s possibly another matter). Producing the song gives me the opportunity to encourage the artist.

I have had several of the artists write me to say that they appreciate the way that I am handling the relationship. One that stands out as a summary example is this response: Please Continue Reading …

Creating with Grace Project – Update 2

The album is getting closer to being complete! 5 songs are in the final mix stages, while the last five will be recorded over the coming week.  I am pleased to report that the GRACE experiment seems to be working well and achieving better results than anticipated. I hope to have a webpage ready for pre-order of the limited production, 12″ vinyl record in the next week or two (stay tuned!). There will be 10 songs on the vinyl – with all being available in MP3 format as well…plus one bonus MP3 track.

Draft Cover Design

Draft Inside Panels

Here’s a highlight from the text above:

“Have you ever been there? Have you ever felt yourself longing to create; to bring something uniquely inspiring and encouraging into the world, while you are held back by fear? Grace enables us to overcome fear; it holds open a safe space for us to “be”. Grace enables works to be created that touch others at a deeper level. Grace enables capacity in the midst of creation, as the creator’s heart can find peace in the outcome — to grow unto fulfillment. Grace for self, others and life. Grace for what arrives and what becomes of our effort. Grace for our decisions and those of others. Grace offers us the opportunity to recover, to stop holding our breath and start Breathing Again.” Please Continue Reading …

Creating with Grace Project – Update 1

After a 10-year hiatus from music, I feel manically obsessed to create. Some around me are a bit concerned that I will get my hopes up and be disappointed in the outcome somehow. In truth, my 10-year hiatus began in disappointment, so these fears are not unfounded. This will be the challenge – and the test of grace. It’s also the opportunity to practice transcendence; to be anchored beyond the self – unselfishly.

Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run—in the long-run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it”

Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

I was discussing this matter with a friend of mine recently. She asked me if this “would stop me from creating and sharing with others?” In part, it has for the past 10 years. On the other hand, I have always tried to be an encouragement to others, just through different means.

Another friend responded to one of my recent Purposed Imperfection posts with: “Just a reminder … whatever someone gets or doesn’t get from your music (or any other creative work) is dependent on their own life experience and not on the work itself. Your work is a catalyst for a reaction, but you don’t get to own either the bad ones or the good ones :). You get to be the person with courage to create. People will be moved (or not) based on where they are in their lives.

Good advice. It respectfully allows for others to be who they are, as they choose, without codependent interference or obligation — as grace. To live with grace in the encouragement of others.

Over the past 5 years,  Please Continue Reading …

The Creating with Grace Project

“Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway!”
John Wayne

I have grown to appreciate that our work provides for us in many ways. Along with sustaining us through provision (think food and shelter) our work serves to challenge our physical and mental being toward strength. The old adage of “use it or you lose it” is true in respect of the atrophy (shrinking) or growth of muscular strength and intellect ability.

In the same way, our work — especially our creative efforts — offers our spirit the challenge to grow, or atrophy. It becomes a choice, and the choice toward growth is enabled through grace — for what great (think full-fill-ing) work could ever be achieved if the spirit is seized in fear? Once achieved, how could full-fill-ing work continue if fear returns? Grace enables works to be created that touch others at a deeper level — think of someone moving in grace (physically) and you will note that you follow them, because there is something different — it just captures you attention. Grace enables capacity in the midst of creation, as the creator’s heart can find peace in the outcome — but in my life, this is a struggle. I know it to be true, and I have experienced it at times, but I must continue to the practice of the application — to grow.

So – here we go. I extend an invitation to you to become an insider — an active participant in my personal grace challenge: The creation of a full double album set of original blues-rock music, pressed in 12 inch vinyl (old school record).

You will have the opportunity for a one-time purchase a limited pressing of the record, along with MP3 downloads. Purchasers will have the opportunity to be an active participant in the creation of the album, through the presentation of draft songs, preliminary arrangements and mixes – Even the opportunity to vote.

Music is highly subjective, and so there will be many varied opinions – which serves to make my grace challenge real: to stay fully engaged without fear and/or discouragement. 🙂

If you are interested in being part of this project – let me know, and I will start to build a list – with details to follow.

Here’s a couple of short samples of early writing to get the ball rolling – One is near final mix – the other is a rough mix…and so it begins…

 

Purposed Imperfection – 2

I didn’t plan to  write a 2-part series, it just happened that the events of this past week provided another example of purposed imperfection – with another principle revealed.

I found a kayak listed on Kijiji. I contacted the owner to find a bit more information, and he described a few flaws: it was a bit too wide for him and the seat was maybe a bit low — as his paddle hit the sides with each stroke. He also went on to describe how the resin was not perfect; there were some runs in it, along with some discolouration and scuffs. I asked if it tracked well (ran straight) and he assured me that it did. We agreed on a price and I picked it up. Only after I had arrived did I come to understand that this young man had BUILT the kayak — a cedar-strip, canoe-style kayak. I told him that I thought he had mad carpentry skills to be able to build it, and he blushed a bit but it seemed hard for him to agree.

I brought the kayak home and put it in the lake the next morning. It tracks beautifully, and it fits my 6′-1″ frame much better than his 5′-9″ – wide enough to be stable without having the paddle strike the sides. I did notice some of the imperfections that the creator had pointed out, but I have determined to leave them as they are, for they remind me that it is not made by machine in some factory overseas – it is hand-crafted by a local person. The creator had to take a chance and push himself to craft it, then to pass it on to others.

This lesson is timely for me. Please Continue Reading …

Purposed Imperfection

“You can be anything you want to be if you just want it bad enough and work hard enough” — this is a popular instruction today; you hear it everywhere. It sounds reasonable, and it stands as a measure of character, as if to suggest that if we all did not get to the top of our game we must be lazy. Let’s test this for a second, before I continue: Imagine Danny Devito as a power forward for the Toronto Raptors, or Andre the Giant as a jockey aboard Seabiscuit. How much effort would it take for them to rise to the top?

It’s difficult to apply this truth during seasons of disorientation, such as we the one we are in currently. What does working hard have to do with losing a job, or business due to the impacts of a pandemic? But, there is a a practical principle to be applied here that transcends any pandemic; an aspect of grace is that is a seemingly paradoxical blend of fullness, acceptance and contentment. Please Continue Reading …

Grace for Life: Powerfully Transcendent

“An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behaviour.”
Viktor Frankl

I have had several people over the past few weeks tell me that they feel bipolar. With all due respect to people who have been diagnosed with this disorder, the term has been used as a generalized expression or label for unusual or more frequent moods swings.

If the conversation continues, people are telling me that they feel depressed, sad or hopeless and have been losing interest or pleasure in most activities. They have the occasional moments where they may feel euphoric, and full of energy – but also where they are unusually irritable. Many are gaining weight, and sleeping longer and more often – and some describe sleeping less and sensing a general anxiety. One even went so far as to say that she felt “homesick”.

In general terms, we are disoriented. Consider  Please Continue Reading …