Tag Archives: new music

New Album: The Sacred and Profane

The latest album is ready in digital form (www.timbirchard.bandcamp.com). Aiming for an August release of the physical cd.

This album is about three questions:

What is sacred?
What is profane?
Who decides?
Words and music by Tim Birchard except “Eagle Pass to Torreon”, words by Chris Birchard; and “Hunger”, words by Chris and Tim Birchard.
Thanks to my friends and family who are always supportive.
Special thanks to Glenn Schindler, Jason Gabbard, and Scott Kadera for always being there.
Special thanks to my brother Chris for the collaborations.
Special thanks to David Kairis and Katie Kisiel for way huge support.
And, as always, deepest thanks to Cheryl for unwavering love and support.
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Dark Blue(s)

New music today after a brisk 3-mile walk with a dear friend. Totally unexpected (the music, not the walk), and most welcome. Dirty, gritty, electrified acoustic blues with just a touch of slap back echo. So many twists and turns that it took me two hours to learn it so I could track the bass correctly with no punch-ins. It’ll be interesting to see what sort of lyrics get called forth.

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Day Three: Song Three

Newest song for the new album is called, “radio antenna”.

So far I’m not sure how to categorize this album… instrumentation includes ukulele, bass, voice, and now, jangly, open-tuning acoustic blues guitar.

radio antenna clip

May you create something you love. And may you let it go.

By the way…

In that strange space after recording all day and before re-entering ‘real life’. I always, always struggle with this transitional period. Sometimes it’s an hour… sometimes it’s longer.

Part of me is like, “yeah! Look what you’ve created!” and another part is like… well, I don’t want to give it my energy.

And I can stare at the clock all I want… but what the %$#! does it MEAN that nine hours have passed? Somewhere in there I ate something and went to the restroom. Drank LOTS of coffee. But where am I now?

Walking around in this half-reality, disconnected from anything… I find myself putting on anything at all on the turntable, just to take me OUT of the space I’ve occupied all day long. (J. Geils Band from 1973… or a mid-60’s soundtrack… something that vaguely resembles Grace Slick. Kind of creepy, but with a cool keyboard sound. Just get me out of my own head, please.)

Head out the door? Would be fine except for the whole issue of interacting with other human beings. Not sure if I can handle it at this moment.

Crazy? Genius? Idiot? Whatever.

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The Crud, codeine and a new album

I sit there, trying not very successfully to focus on my new guitar magazine as I wait. 

After a few minutes of gazing distractedly at random pages… the door starts to open. I set my magazine down and get ready. Then it closes again, and I hear voices in the hallway.
Opens, and in walks the Doc. Little younger than me probably… tall, lanky… giant hands and a big grin.
“I had this Crud last week. It lingered, too.”
I smile. Yes. Lingers.
“I’m gonna prescribe some antibiotics. Do you want some codeine, too, to help you sleep?”
I nod, smile growing… eyes widening.

“Make sure you measure it!” he says, half-jokingly, looking at me sideways, with a smile. “The last person told me, ‘Doc, I slept for FOURTEEN hours!”

Fender 1953 Reissue Sting Signature bass. The bass I will own by the end of this year.

“‘Did you measure it?’, I asked.”

“Ummmm…. no…”
Thanks, Doc.
Then on to Rite Aid. “We’ll page you when it’s ready.”
Walk around the store, trying to be interested in anything other than the way my body feels.
“Finding what you’re looking for?” Just waiting for my prescription.
“Can I help you find anything?” Just waiting for my prescription.
“Sir, do you need some help?” Just waiting for my prescription.
Maybe if I get on the intercom and make one sweeping announcement, they’ll stop following the guy in the leather jacket with the unpleasant expression on his face.

“Attention Rite-Aid staff and fellow shoppers… I realize it’s noon, and I should probably be at work right now, instead of roaming these aisles… back and forth, up and down… occasionally stopping to pick something up, removing my glasses and studying the label. I’d like to assure you that while I may fit the profile of a no-good, piece-of-sh&! shoplifter, I am not trying to steal any discount candy, hotplates, or lawn ornamentation. I am, in fact, waiting for my prescription to be filled. Thank you for shopping at Rite-Aid.”

But then the seventy-something year-old woman behind the counter would probably get in my face… “Sir, SIR! You are not authorized to use this Public Address system! We’re going to have to ask you to leave, or we’ll contact the authorities!
Forty-five minutes later, I give up and go to the counter. “What the @%$!, people! Where’s my sonuvab@tching PRESCRIPTION already?!!!” (Translation: “Ummm… is my prescription ready yet?”)
“Name?”
“Birchard.”
“Oh, HERE it is, right here!”
Argh! How long have I been needlessly walking around, waiting?!
Home. Pajamas. Antibiotics. Codeine purple cough syrup. Close my eyes… open them and it’s 4 hours later.
But the night will last forever.
Forever.
The long, dark night. Where visions of playing your bass are suddenly replaced with dreams of chasing a bad guy with your posse… and being handed a gun. Having the main bad guy look right at you… “You’ll never do it, you spineless wimp!” The gun is SO heavy, and so OLD. In my dream, I can barely pull back the hammer with both hands to cock it. But once I do, I waste no time in pointing it at his heart and pulling the trigger with my left hand.
My left hand?
Awaken… what time is it now? One a.m.? Three a.m.? Midnight? No… it’s almost 6 a.m. now. Night is over.
But the codeine lingers.
(Incidentally, just between you and me, writing and recording of the new album has begun. Apparently this alternate reality is just twisted and fertile enough for new seed to take root.) 

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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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2012 — A Year of New Music!

The wrecking crew is right outside the window every day. In each moment. Sooner or later, it’s all coming down.

That’s why 2012 is The Year Of New Music. Currently I’m talking with a good friend about working together on a few different projects this year…

1) Putting out a Kirtan cd full of songs that Cheryl and I have already written;

2) Creating the next Tim Birchard cd to follow up on the success of A Place Of My Own;

3) Releasing Cheryl’s next hymns cd, for which there have been multiple requests.

In addition, I’m looking at the possibility of playing out more often this year… joining accomplished jazz musicians on stage in front of live human beings. We’ll see how that goes.

After last month’s house fire (electrical fire in the attic due to faulty wiring), it’s taken some time to get the house back in ‘livable’ shape. We’re approaching that point now.

By the way — if you’re reading this and you’re a renter like I am, please hear this: Get Renter’s Insurance. We have $100,000 worth of coverage. Only costs us $199/year. That’s about 50 cents per day. SO worth it!! Ours is through State Farm. But lots of companies offer it.

Go get some. Call now. Go ahead. It’s okay. I’ll wait.

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89% Funded!

Just want to say that my fans are the absolute best in the world. So many people are generously showing their support and love of home-grown, independently-written and recorded music. You guys are the absolute best, and I love you. Can’t wait to get the cd and Backer Rewards to you ASAP!

Rock on,

Tim

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