Tag Archives: chant

Kirtan with Blue Lotus Feet

May 10, 2014


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Kirtan with Blue Lotus Feet

May 11, 2013.
Dancing Spirit Community Arts Center, Ignacio, Colorado.

Video: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=593606950658324&set=vb.155476781131464&type=2&theater

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May 12, 2013 · 9:53 am

april 2013 collage with round om smallBlue Lotus Feet in the studio

Here’s a sneak peek at Blue Lotus Feet’s first studio album (currently in production): http://bluelotusfeet.bandcamp.com/track/peace-mantra-sample

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April 12, 2013 · 12:46 pm

Blue Lotus Feet in the recording studio

Blue Lotus Feet in the studio, recording our first album!

Blue Lotus Feet in the studio, recording our first album!

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Filed under Writing & recording original music

Blue Lotus Feet kirtan

Blue Lotus Feet celebrate Kirtan in Durango, Colorado. (L to R: Lisa Byrne; Laurie Gambacorta; Cheryl Birchard; Bob Spencer; Charlie Kiene; Tim Birchard.) Photo by Amanda Foley.

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New music update: mid-March check-in

I blinked. Now it’s March.

Since the last check-in a month ago, music has been happening. Here’s the progress update:

Kirtan — We’ve been meeting up with fellow musician friends and exploring new kirtan chants together on a weekly basis. Think acoustic guitar, bass, glockenspeil, djembe, frame drum, and didgeridoo. First public kirtan is scheduled for April 21!

Cheryl’s hymns — That has taken a back burner, as she’s been writing new kirtan chants left and right. But recording her Hymns Volume II is still very achievable for this summer.

My solo album #7 — I now have six songs completed for my forthcoming album, “refer to manual”. Just confirmed this morning that my dear friend Cindy Coleman (Duck Girl Art) will be at the helm for the graphic design work. I’m honored to have her on board. The music has been going extremely well. Instrumentation ranges from simple ukulele, bass and vocal to keyboards, drums, guitar, bass, and a choir of harmony vocals. And while I’m far from labeling myself a bona fide bassist, the time I’m putting in on the 5-string is really starting to bear fruit. Preview here: www.timbirchard.bandcamp.com. (Click on “refer to manual”)

I did have quite a scare while tracking the latest song, “island spice” (which has taken about 20 hours of work so far)… Was so exhausted after a full day of non-stop writing/recording that I absent-mindedly unplugged my Seagate external hard drive from my laptop without going through the proper procedures. After that, my computer refused to recognize it. And the only copy of the song was on that drive. Fortunately, I was able to go into disk utilities and repair the drive. Went to bed with it ‘repairing’ (I hoped). Woke up the next morning to a terrifying message: disk cannot be repaired. My heart sank. But before panicking, I closed the dialog box, and there on the desktop was the drive’s icon. Backed up to a flash drive as well as to the laptop’s hard drive, then shut down and rebooted. And all was well.

Now it’s time to get another external hard drive; I’ve maxed out the capacity of the Seagate, nearly 500 GB. Time for a 2 or 3 TB drive.

Where will we be in mid-April? My objective is to have at least 2 more songs completed for “refer to manual” and to be fully prepared for our kirtan debut on 4/21. These will move me toward my goals of releasing “refer to manual” this summer and performing kirtan publicly.

A life with music is good!


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New Music milestone: mid-February check in

So here we are, half way through February.

How far have we come this year, in terms of new music and creating a rich and fulfilling life? Let’s take a quick look…

Cheryl’s Favorite Hymns, Volume 2

Cheryl and I have recorded her performing 12 public domain hymns, a follow-up to her Favorite Hymns Vol. 1 disc from about three years ago. Most of the ones she chose for Vol. 2 were written in the 1700’s and 1800’s. This very rough draft that we recorded was actually a gift to my grandmother, who has basically worn out her copy of Cheryl’s first hymns disc, and also a run-through to get an idea of how these hymns might sound with one voice, one guitar. This is in contrast to Vol. 1, which included lots of harmony vocals, multiple instruments, and overdubs. (When I say ‘very rough draft’, I’m speaking only of the very rudimentary recording quality–single mic, no mastering, etc. Cheryl’s performance was heartfelt, professional, inspirational… just generally brilliant, as always.)

The Sony ICD-BX112 voice recorder. The simplest way to capture song ideas since cassettes. Thirty bucks. So intuitive I didn't even need to look at the manual. Which is saying a lot.

We’re still not sure if we’re going to go the ‘stripped down’ route or not. I think it’s perfect, harkening back to Willie Nelson’s initial recordings that his record company thought were simply demos. He said, “Nope. This is it.” At first, they laughed. But in the end, he laughed. All the way to the bank. For Cheryl’s part, she really appreciates the musicianship that I bring to the table, and has concerns about not benefiting from that on Vol. 2.

Either way, we’re planning on taking this project into a professional studio in late spring or maybe summer so we don’t have to worry about engineering the disc ourselves. What a treat that would be!

We’ll keep you posted on the progress.

Our first cd of kirtan chants

Cheryl and I have been writing and playing kirtan chants since we met and discovered our shared passion for them in 2006. At this point we’ve written at least a dozen original chants, which could easily fill up 2 cd’s (since any given chant can run from 5 to 12 minutes in duration). So this might mean recording a first kirtan disc with only 5 or 6 chants on it, and then following up with a second disc of similar length.

A really joyful aspect of this is creating music with our good friend Charlie Kiene, an amazing hand-drummer and master of loops. We three have been getting together on Sunday evenings for dinner and a kirtan jam for the past few weeks, and it has been incredibly fun. Fun is good.

Not Charlie.

On the recording side of things, Cheryl and I have three of the initial five kirtan chants already tracked and delivered to Charlie. He’s in the process of adding percussion tracks as he sees fit. Cheryl and I feel supremely confident in his skills, ability, and judgment when it comes to tastefully arranging percussion that supports the basic chant.

I’ll be handling final mixdown duties in my home studio, and then we’ll very likely follow up with mastering at Scooter’s Place with Scott Smith and Lacey Black, two rock-solid resources here in our community. Then, it’s off to DiscMakers for replication.

Getting up to speed on the bass

After a year of goofing around with my 5-string bass, I’ve finally begun to start working toward actually being able to play it properly, at least in some sense of the word. The right hand finger technique is very different that my flat picking technique for guitar, and is taking some practice, patience, concentration, and determination. And I am discovering how much FUN playing bass can be! It’s opening up a whole new world for me.

I'm actually looking to get a 4-string, because at this point, learning the basics, I really have no business getting fancy with that low B. But this is what I have, so this is what I'm working with for now.

Which is interesting, because in the early 80’s, when I was a young teenager, I was initially very interested in playing bass. (My reasoning was that since it only had 4 strings, it would be easier than playing 6-string guitar. What a misconception!) I ended up getting a drumset and going that direction, while at the same time also picking up the guitar. In the end, the guitar was much easier to transport and more easily welcomed into a wide variety of living spaces than a drumset. (Plus, I sold my drum set to pay the electricity bill while in college.)

So now it feels like things are coming full circle as I find myself practicing the bass, working with the metronome to strengthen my sense of timing and really embracing the value of becoming ‘transparent’; that is, becoming the invisible glue that holds everything else together. This is in direct contrast with being the flashy peacock who loves the spotlight. “They tell me I’m a 4 on the enneagram, drama queen’s just what I am… pretending I’m not was such a scam…”

Next check-in: Mid-March. We’ve made some progress already this year, which is great. But we can’t stop here. Gotta keep up the momentum by doing a little bit every day, every week, every month. That way, when December comes around, we won’t find ourselves scratching our heads, wondering “where did the year go?”

See you soon!

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