As we get closer to our release date (June 20), I have been reminded by a few people that I should share about our intention around selling this album. This is a donation project (and has been since its inception). I want to sell this album, because I believe that art has value, and people appreciate that value more fully when they are asked to pay for it. But I was never sure how much money there was to be had in this niche, or indeed in recorded music in general (research update: not a lot). So instead of worrying about any money we might make, we chose to treat this as a fundraiser for a worthy cause. And for us, the cause was an easy choice, and one that ties in thematically with the album itself, and the title.
Any of you who have met our son know what a joyful, loving, funny, and precocious child he is. Some of you are aware, and others may not be, of his struggles around developmental, sensory, and attention issues. Thanks in large part to my wife’s background and insights, we identified these issues when he was still a toddler, and were able to get him early intervention therapy. It’s hard to emphasize how much early intervention helps a child with developmental challenges. It is never too late, but the earlier issues are recognized and given appropriate therapy and teaching, the better for the child’s long-term prospects, and the fewer interventions are likely to be needed later.
One program in particular was transformative for us: The Therapeutic Nursery at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades. It’s a half-day, parent participatory preschool program. It’s unusual in that it’s for kids who have developmental issues but also average or higher intelligence, a category of kids who are underserved by many other programs. The program is intensive and very challenging for the little ones, especially at first, but both the child and the parent or caregiver get a wealth of attention, nurture, and learning about how to cope and adapt. Two and a half years in the program were life-changing for us.
Maintaining a 2 to 1 staff to child ratio of trained professionals for a class of 9 children means tuition for the program is substantial. We were blessed in that our school district was at the time one of the few that was prepared to fully fund children in this program if it was the appropriate environment for them (draconian state budget cuts changed that months after he graduated). But the cost can prevent families from taking advantage of this program.
We built this album on a shoestring budget. Virtually everyone’s time was donated (or in a couple of cases offered at very generous rates). The hope is that whatever modest amount we are able to raise selling “Hidden Gold” we will be able to send to the Nursery, helping them continue their mission of changing children’s lives for the better. That is where every penny we net from this project will go.
Not for nothing Wars of the Roses is one of my very favorite events. Yesterday was filled with fun and opportunities to be of service. I taught my songwriting class to a lovely group of 8 students, my shift at gate was a joy, at court I got to watch several friends receive well-deserved awards, and the bardic competition was an absolute blast. Amidst all that, I got the chance to welcome a beloved friend to the East Kingdom, where I know she will thrive, and a few new (and very talented!) bards to our raucous community of performers. Then I got to end the day watching my son embrace his latest SCA passion, dancing (and even joined in for a couple. “Dad! It’s a scoring dance! You have to do it for House York!” “Oh, all right…”)
All that, and for once–NO RAIN. THIS is why Concordia is our adoptive home. This.
I just handed “Hidden Gold”, all 12 tracks, off to Neil, who will be mastering it for me (thanks, Neil! And thanks for all the mixing help). It’s a weird and exciting feeling. My wife is excited to have me back, and we’re off to the Wars of the Roses up in Albany.
Have a great weekend, everyone! More updates to come.
“Hidden Gold” goes on sale on Saturday, June 20, one month from today. The front cover looks like this:
(Kudos to Aneleda Falconbridge for the design, and her Highness Caoilfhionn inghean Fhaoláin for the photo.)
More details soon.
I’m down in the basement today recording what should be my very last vocals for the album. I will be editing and tweaking, refining the mix, and before the family heads off to the Wars of the Roses event up in Concordia, I will have handed off my final mixes to my mastering engineer.
I have seen the album cover. (I think you’re gonna like it.) I have gotten valuable feedback from a small panel of trusted, knowledgable and very honest friends–and even more crucially, my wife, who (as Lucien reminded me) is always right and never wrong.
I’ve selected the CD manufacturer and the online distributor. And the release date is just over a month away. A long standing dream, and two and a half years of work, are almost at an end.
We have a release date for the album! “Hidden Gold” will go on sale on Saturday, June 20.
Master Arden and I, along with some other talented musicians, will be celebrating the occasion with a release concert. One time only, we will be holding a house concert to perform all these songs with a live band. So if you think that sounds like an event you want to catch, please save the date.
There will be more announcements coming soon (a number of exciting developments coming to fruition!), so watch this space in the next few weeks and months. (Can you tell I’m excited?)
Master Arden of Icombe just got in his car, and the final cleanup of all the instrumental tracks for “Hidden Gold” is complete. Now it is all down to me.
My friendship with Paul Butler began 30 years ago, when he and I met at performing arts camp. It was a fun, quirky connection, and though we didn’t actually stay in touch after the summer, we did have one collaboration at the time that stayed with me: he ran an RPG of his own design, and I rolled up a character to play through a dungeon full of brain puzzles. I decided to create an avatar, my fantasy counterpart. The name? “Drake Orinwood”, which became my character name ever since. (The last name was changed slightly to pass the submission heralds when I registered it in the early 90’s.)
I bumped into Paul online three years ago when I started checking out the bardic scene and launched the Facebook group. If I hadn’t had that years-old, long-dormant connection, I don’t know if I ever would have had the guts to ask him for his help on this project. But having earned a Laurel in period music, and having studied (and learned to play, and indeed make) a stunning variety of period instruments, Arden of Icombe was the ideal partner (along with Dave Lambert) to bring my vision for a bardic album to life.
Thanks again, Paul, for two years of fun and hard work, and for teaching me what is possible if I just have the courage to ask.