Hello little tenor banjo. Welcome to the family.
The Armoury Studios - Vancouver BC.
A wonderful day recording live with Zach, Rob, Julia, Ty & Spencer. (at Armoury Studios)
I am a tourist in my own city. #celebrationoflight #vancouver #fireworks (at Vancouver Seawall/English Bay)
The finish line is near. I have spent the past two months working on my new record. It is a strange experience to continuously pour all of yourself into one single creative project for any length of time. It is a stranger experience still, to know that by working on this project you are choosing to awaken and engage your own demons of insecurity and uncertainty, and then to publicly share the outcome and, by doing so, invite judgement and critique from friends and strangers, alike. It’s humbling, and it’s scary.
These past two months have been amazing. I’ve been pushed as a writer, as an artist, and as a musician. I’ve had the privilege of working with some incredibly talented musicians and a great producer in some amazing studios. But it’s also been really hard. I have felt more stressed and more tired than I have in a long time. Part of it is coming face to face with my own self-doubt everyday. That is tiring. But also, part of it is the fear of other people’s expectations. It’s hard to remain centered, to not compromise or lose yourself or your original vision, when you’re worrying about what other people will think. Even if it’s largely imagined or self-imposed, it can still derail the creative process.
Thankfully, with this record, we were able to remain true to the songs, and to the original vision for the album. We looked at each song individually and then only added what we felt it needed. Some have more, some have less, but the same heart and passion went into each song.
I really love what I get to do. I look at it as an enormous privilege, to have been given a platform from which I can share my thoughts, my hopes, my doubts, and my struggles and to get to connect with people in that unique way. This new record is full of my life, of my blood, sweat and tears (even though it’s a cliche, it’s still true - In fact, it’s literally true of at least two of the three). Even though I find it slightly terrifying to be vulnerable and share a piece of my heart with all of you, I’m also extremely excited for you all to hear these new songs. I hope they connect. Thank you guys for all your support. It means so much to me. I wouldn’t get to do this without you.
I’ll be giving you more information about the release date for the record when I can.
The last 10 books I’ve read:
1. Into Thin Air - Jon Krakauer
This book was recommended to me by my pal Zaac Pick (www.zaacpick.com). It’s a non-fiction, first hand account of the storm that took place on Mount Everest in 1996, and cost 8 climbers their lives. It’s an intense adventure book that is both exciting, and tremendously sad.
2. Born To Run - Christopher McDougall
At the back of “Into Thin Air” there was a list of book recommendations. One of them was this book. It stood out to me because I had met an American fellow while I was traveling through Peru and he’d told me about this book and said I should check it out. The author, a running enthusiast, tracks down a tribe in Mexico who are famous for their long distance running abilities. Apparently, they’ve been known to run up to 200 miles in one session. They’ve also been known to hunt by chasing deer until the animal collapses from exhaustion. I’ve never been into long distance running, but I still found this book interesting as well as entertaining.
3. Poor Folk - Fyodor Dostoevsky
This was the first novel Dostoevsky wrote. It’s written in the form of letters exchanged between two main characters. It examines the lives of the poor as well as the lives of the rich and the relationship between the two. Although I’ve enjoyed a lot of Dostoevsky’s work, I found it hard to get into this one. It’s well written, but I found it to be incredibly slow.
4. Time Was Soft There - Jeremy Mercer
I’d seen this book around a few times. I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover, but I did, and that’s why I read this one. The cover is a snapshot of a collection of old books. It looked amazing. It ended up being an enjoyably light and easy read. A true story about a young man who stumbles into a bookstore/commune for artists in Paris called Shakespeare & Co. While living and working there he learns about the stores rich literary history and becomes friends with the eccentric store owner, George.
5. Klee Wyck - Emily Carr
The art gallery here in Vancouver recently held an Emily Carr exhibit. I had the chance to go and really enjoyed her work. A little while later I discovered this book on our shelf. I have no idea how it got there. I didn’t know Emily Carr had written anything. But I thought I’d check it out. It’s all about her experiences with some of the First Nations people she met on a trip through BC’s west coast. She’s actually a great writer and it’s a nice little book.
6. Reality Sandwiches - Allen Ginsberg
A collection of poems by Ginsberg. My pal Carissa gave me a few of his books of poetry. I’d read and enjoyed Howl, so I figured I’d give this one as chance. I enjoyed some of them, but not all of them. He can be a bit too odd for me. I have one more up on the shelf, I’ll probably give it a chance too.
7. The Imperfectionists - Tom Rachman
Another book given to me by my friend Carissa. I’d say she should open up her own bookstore but she always gives books away for free, so maybe it’s for the best that she works for a bookstore instead. This was an interesting book. It’s a fictitious account of the founding of a newspaper in Rome and the lives of all the people involved. I love stories that weave several different characters stories together and this does that well.
8. By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept - Elizabeth Smart
This is a sad book. It’s a poetic novel loosely based on the authors affair with a British poet. Sometimes I read books that I don’t particularly enjoy for their story or their themes, but I do enjoy for their ability to paint a picture with words. For me, this book was just that. I didn’t find the story enjoyable but the words she used and the images she conjured up were beautiful. I’ve found this type of reading to be incredibly helpful if I’m suffering from writer’s block.
9. Sex, Economy, Freedom and Community - Wendell Berry
This is a collection of essays on those four subjects. Berry has quickly become one of my favorite writers. I enjoy his poetry, his prose, his fiction and his essays. I don’t always agree with him on every point he makes, but I think that’s a good thing. I just got another book of his on the subject of sustainable farming which probably sounds incredibly boring, and maybe it will be. But I’m going to read it just the same.
10. Breakfast of Champions - Kurt Vonnegut
It’s hard to describe a book by Vonnegut to anyone who hasn’t already read something written by him. He invents entire worlds and fills them with the strangest people. He seems to stray off onto the most bizarre tangents. He’ll make you laugh on one page only to make you cry on the next. But, there’s something about the way that he writes that keeps bringing me back for more. Just when it seems as though he’s being random purely for the sake of being random, he brings it back around and strikes you with one line of poignancy that completely sums up humanity’s callousness, or society’s hollowness. He’s a tremendous writer. Go pick up one of his books and give him a chance.
As always, I’d love to hear what you’ve been reading. Drop me a line on here, Facebook, or Twitter and I’ll do my best to respond.
I’ve been on a bit of a Grizzly Bear kick these past few days. I love this song and this video. It’s just the right amount of creepy.