album recording

Update: What’s going on with the album?

After three long years in drydock, the Hold the Door Open album is back in production. I’m excited and scared. My ambitions for this album are a bit loftier than they were for Hidden Gold. Some of that is by design, some of it is by circumstance.

  • My target is once again 12 tracks, but, well, the album is gonna be longer, with (I’m hoping) a little more variety of sound and style.
  • I’m digging a little deeper on authenticity for the period music, and there is a little more of it. Hidden Gold had two Elizabethan-period tunes on it, one of which included the lute part (performed heroically by Dave Lambert), and the other of which was done with synthesized harpsichord (thank you Arden). For this one, I will be recording 3 or 4 lute pieces, one of which is an original composition in Elizabethan style. I intend to record myself doing the lute (-guitar) on most if not all of these. On the one hand, studio recording allows me to record using as many takes as I need to. On the other, a recorded song needs to sound rock solid on repeated listens, and I have no idea whether my lute skills are up to the task.
  • The harmonies are more ambitious. Hold the Door Open has two original songs on it that include four-part harmony and counterpoint, for longer stretches than any of the songs on the first album. I’ve had to invest a lot of time to make sure these harmonies serve the songs and won’t distract or make them harder to follow.
  • Probably the biggest difference is that I’m operating almost entirely without my one-man Swiss Army knife, Arden of Icombe (aka Paul Butler). My initial plans for the album were to bring in a broader array of musicians for the sake of variety, but last year, when I started trying to figure out how to get the project going again, I decided to scrap that and see if Arden could jump in and bring his incredible talents for arranging and recording an enormous range of instruments to bear in the interest of time. Ultimately, Paul, like so many of us, has had an attack of life, and his availability for this project has been extremely limited. So I went back to my first plan and started exploring my musical network for musicians who could provide what I needed either locally or remotely. It also meant that I had to figure out, if not specific arrangements, how to shape and vary up the sound on each song on my own. I think the lessons I’ve learned from Hidden Gold and Sing for the East are going to bear fruit, but only time will tell.

I’m going to try not to play my cards too close to my chest this time around. I want to blog about this a little more, and show my work. I know there are other people out there dreaming, pondering, and planning to record their own music, some of them with as little experience or formal background as I had over a decade ago when I started. Sharing our knowledge and experience is one of the things that makes the communities I’m part of so special. So here we go.

album recording

Studio week: Cedric Fithelere

I have had the great good fortune to become acquainted with Cedric Fithelere of the Bedlam Bards through my wife. (Thank you, Jess! Thankyouthankyouthankyou) Cedric has accepted my invitation to record for the Hold the Door Open album. Jess offered me a fiddler for my birthday and flew him out from Texas.

Can you tell I’m excited?


Studio Day: Homecoming

Something something too quiet around here. Broke through some of my resistance today, with the help of Dave Lambert and his ever reliable guitar skills. First real opportunity to inaugurate the new home studio in Park Ridge. We got to do our first pass at “Homecoming”.

Now, my vocals here are very rough, basically two half-takes, just as guide vocals. But I wanted to share some proof of life and art, and I really am pleased with this song and wanted to give people a chance to hear it while I get back to work on the album.

bardic Pennsic songwriting video

New song: Homecoming

We just got back from Pennsic (and boy is our everything tired). We’re extremely happy with our decision to only go for peace week this year and manage our risks. More about that later.

While I was at war, I debuted my newest song, “Homecoming”, which I finished last Friday, just in time for Pennsic. I was able to share it at a couple of bardic circles and a number of private performances for friends and chosen family.


Packing for Pennsic 49

I haven’t posted about Pennsic. (To be fair, I haven’t posted anything here for a while.) I haven’t quite had the energy or focus to get my hopes up, and haven’t wanted to think about it too much.

But as of now, I’m on vacation, so we’re packing today. We should be onsite tomorrow.

We’re just doing Peace Week this year, so no concert. We’re planning to keep it as relaxed, laid back, and safe as we can.

I will be teaching “The New Bard’s Road Map” next Friday (August 5) at 11 am, in A&S 9, before we leave site.

Starting to feel the anticipation build. For those who will be there for the first week…I hope to see you there.

bardic SCAatHome teaching video

New Class: Developing Stage Presence

And 5 weeks later…another new class! This one is titled “Developing Stage Presence as a Bard”, and I remembered to get a recording of it! This was a lively class with lots of interaction, which I really enjoyed.

bardic filk songwriting teaching

New Class: Pleasures & Perils of Making Filk

Hi all! I had the chance to teach my first new class in a long time: “The Pleasures & Perils of Making Filk”. I had a lot of fun, and it was well-attended. Eventually, I’ll have to see what I can do about teaching it again and getting that recorded, but in the meantime, feel free to check out the class notes.

bardic filk SCA video

Maria’s Elevation (Bergental/BBM Yule & New Filk)

Saturday, Jess and I attended the Yule event for the Baronies of Bergental and Beyond the Mountain. It was a lovely chance to get to see people one last time before we pack it in on SCA events for the winter (and the corresponding COVID surge, which of course is already on the rise). We were primarily there so I could deliver a commission:

A&S Journey general SCA

Order of the Maunche (100 Minutes War)

On Saturday, my family and I attended our first SCA event since the summer: Hundred Minutes War (and EK Novice Day), a fighting event sponsored by our local Shire of Rusted Woodlands. It was a fuller “family” contingent than usual: both of my teachers, Peregrine and Toki, joined us (the three of us have never been in the same place at the same time the whole while that we have been formally working together), as well as some of our Caer Cinniuint family, including the illustrious Rowan de la Garnison (who, along with her fellow matriarch Meirwen uerch Owein, had recently invited me officially to join my wife’s household).

It turned out they, along with some other dear friends, were there for a reason beyond the glorious late-fall day of fighting, or the several vigils and elevations that were scheduled. During court, their Majesties Ioannes and Honig called forth the Order of the Maunche. His Majesty Ioannes explained to the assembled populace that the Order was in fact short its full complement as he wandered into the aisle, and stopped in front of me with a mischievous grin.

For context, this is the highest Arts & Sciences award the East Kingdom offers short of a Peerage.


The Ravager of Rhapsody (Bjorn’s Retreat)

Last weekend was Bjorn’s Retreat, my first in-person event since the pandemic began last year (and the kingdom’s first except for Crown Tourney last month). While we were all masked even outdoors (thank you, your Majesties, for your laudable caution and concern for the health of the populace), it was still delightful to be at an event with my family, and get to see so many old friends in the flesh.