t heislen

History

11/12/2016

 
Right now, just this - stay safe, but stay loud ~
 
 
A quick update to share the news that the recordings are once again spashed all over the interwebs, with big thanks to the new aggregators, who are very cool, efficient, and we all hope will retain their present configuration for a long time to come!  (To avoid jinixing the whole mess, they remain nameless here, but if you're looking for help in this area, drop me a note and I'll send you the info!)
The 20% discount for "full discography" downloads over at the store remains in effect through Memorial Day, so now's the time to grab those files...
Thanks for your patience through this hiccup - I promise to not make it an annual event!
peace,
t
 
 
A little news: change is once again on the way in terms of digital presence - expect the recordings to disappear from the internet for a time again some time this Summer - as with last year, they'll reappear in a few weeks, hopefully automatically repopulating playlists as before.  All this is just part of the adventure as everyone figures out how this new world works - I shall not point fingers or name villains, I just see everyone looking to make their way as best as they can, and sometimes a change in strategy doesn't work out for everyone involved.  Many of those upset at these things wouldn't have gotten their stuff out at all in the "good old days," which were really just a blink of the eye in the history of music and musicians' eternal struggles to find ways to get by and sometimes even get paid for their work.  I'll try to get information on the status of things out as I have it, via twitter, facebook, and newsletter.

Charles Ives once wrote that songs, too, may have rights, including the right to remain, as he put it, "in the leaf" -- as a conception rather than a realized sound.  People also have rights, and sometimes they can intersect with the business of writing.  A lyric nagged at me for some time, until I finally gave in to the itch, having to do with certain places and people I'd encountered as an adolescent.  I wanted to get it right - I checked maps to confirm my geographic memory, researched the goings on in the area since I had been there, and so on (gaining respect along the way for the authors of historical fiction!).  After the process of reasearch, writing, resting, and revising, I had what I felt was a pretty good text, but also realized that the character speaking in the song was someone for whom I may not have a right to speak.  In fact, enough others have taken it upon themselves to speak irresponsibly for these folk that I found myself loath to add another sin to the already long list.  I sought out a musician from the area, and sent her the lyric with a brief note explaining my connection to the people and place, asking for nothing more than a reading, being willing at that point to let the song go.  And so I did - maybe not at the moment I hit "send," but within a couple of days, I stopped worrying about that song.  I'm a better writer for having gone through the exercise, I got to spend some time looking back at fondly remembered places and people, and somewhere out there, "in the leaf," rests a song.  On to the next.

peace,
t

 
 
"Solstice Carol," my first "digital-only" release, goes live this Friday, December 4th.  We're very excited about this single, and very grateful to our new friends at The ConneXtion, who've made the process so smooth.  Well, from their end at least...see, there's this thing about recording - a temptation to try to make things...perfect.
Now as a listener, I really don't care about perfection in a recording.  Many of my favorite recordings are "live," from the warts-and-all, like "Live at Leeds," to efforts with a little studio polishing, like "Waiting for Columbus." I could go on about this for days (just deleted a meandering paragraph...), but it's undeniable that there's often an important. gut-punch difference between a performance that's "of a piece" and one that's pieced together.  As one making a recording, however, there are also the little voices we all hear, worrying about how a performance will be received - and it becomes a balancing act.  So (and I'm hardly alone in this), in spite of the tools available to assemble a recording note by carefully crafted note, I try to use complete takes of at least the foundational parts of a song (like the main acoustic guitar and lead vocal) whenever I can, listening for those things that might be hard to explain, but are quite obvious when they're missing!
Then there's the business of time.  Of which there's only so much, whether working in a studio, or at home with one's own gear (with its own limitations...).  There are other jobs to do, other people who live in the house, and the simple fact that at some point, wherever you're working, you have to declare the thing "done."  Go on, get a take that feels right, move on, get a mix that works, move on, get it out and get on to the next thing...which means it's not going to be...perfect. 
And it isn't.  And there will be those only too happy to dissect every blemish, but I promise you this - it's a recording that will let you hear the song and what it has to say.  And that, not "perfection" is the point, isn't it?
I had the privilege, long ago, of studying with an amazing teacher named Herald Stark.  Among the things he said, often, were "tell the story!," and "I don't know what perfection is."  If you can hold those ideas together, you might have a chance to make some real music.  (Joe Walsh and Dave Grohl have had some pretty good things to say on the subject, too...).
So, Friday morning "Solstice Carol" is officially out of my hands and into yours.  I hope you find it a worthy gift.

peace,
t


 
 
 

Spring Freebie!

05/22/2015

 
The promised Spring Freebie is here - "Balsa" has become a favorite in the live shows, and will be part of the upcoming recording, which means this will be your only chance to grab this little preview -
it will be up over Memorial Day weekend, then gone forever.
You may have noticed songs disappearing from you Spotify or other playlists - the big change is underway, and all will reappear soon - watch this space or sign up for the email list for updates, and in the meantime, please accept "Balsa" as a small repayment for the inconvenience!
Thanks for listening!
peace,
t

 

Change is afoot!

05/05/2015

 
Or maybe an elbow?  Anyway, we're in the midst of big revisions around here - in addition to an all-new store, there are changes churning away right now that will make the music much easier to find and share.  Streaming services may be interrupted for a time in the next month or so, and you might have to re-add to your playlists once everything is back up.  However, it's all going to be better in the long run, so please pardon any momentary inconvenience, and check this space, or track me on twitter or facebook, for news - and thanks again for listening!
peace,
t
 
 
Today only!  The demo of "Worry" is yours for the taking today, then this version will disappear forever, so enjoy!  http://t.co/gTrF127JIP
 
 
As promised, "Solstice Carol" returns as a freebie for this Christmas.  We decided to do a new recording (in haste and borrowed quiet: mockingbirds and children cooperate for only so long) as last year's was done with the ink still wet, and I think I know a little better how it goes now!  (Those with last year's version may play musicologist and assess the evolution of the arrangement...)
And yes, the lyric is political - the stories remembered by various faith traditions in this time have some similar concerns, and though this text is tied to the Christian narrative (specifically Luke), the hope is that it gives some small voice to the "reasons for the season" - the radical reordering that the commercial onslaught would have us forget.  So, thanks as always for listening - our wish is that it will be a small call to hope and be the change in these days.
peace,
t


link: reverbnation.com/q/5f4pkx 

 
 
So the (late) Fall Freebie will be around a little longer - if you haven't listened to the "Winter's Dawn" demo yet, I hope you'll take the time to check it out - first up on the homepage player, or here.  This one started out with the schedule of a former workplace - in the Winter, I'd be on my way there on my heavier days with the sunrise in my left window, and then the orange, cold sunset likewise in the evening.  "Orange sun, through bare trees..."  The rest comes out of thinking about the world encountered in between, with a little debt to holy persons of various persuations, and maybe the odd (or very odd) English poet.
The music started out with looking to write something in double drop-D to play alongside "Balsa."  I began by learning to play a couple of songs by a certain master fingerpicker (figuring I could at least work on my playing along the way) -- take this part and switch it around that way, add this, and hey, that sounds like that lyric I've got sitting on the desk...a few additions and adjustments, and "Winter's Dawn" came together.  It's fun (and still a bit of a challenge) to play, and I hope it speaks to you - as always, thanks for listening (and reading), and hope to see or hear from you soon!
peace,
t