weekend in dallas, pt. 1: the storm…

Friday… We land at Dallas Love Field a little after 11:00, Erin and I; it’s been raining and is expected to rain more today, possibly some severe thunderstorms with a chance of tornadic activity. I’m glad we’re on the ground. I had been following the weather forecast for the last week or so and saw rain for Friday here and there had also been thunderstorms during the week. I hadn’t been on a plane for almost fifteen years (yes, really).

So we’re on the ground safely – Erin minus her little ‘girly’ Swiss army knife on her keychain which has remained at Denver International Airport courtesy of the TSA (and I tease her about being such a troublemaker) – and we’re here for the weekend. Originally we booked this flight back in January for the 40th Reunion Weekend of the St. Mark’s Class of 1975, a group of classmates I didn’t graduate with but went to school with from 7th through 9th grade. My dad had his 86th birthday in March but we weren’t able to make it that month; the reunion weekend in April seemed like a good idea. In between came the news that he’d put the house up for sale so now the weekend has taken on a different tone altogether. It’s also moving weekend!

I’d only been bugging him to sell the house for the last 8 years or so; we moved into the house on Northwood in July, 1965. For 50 years this has been the family house – I grew up here and over the years it had become kind of a repository for much of my artwork and a few other things from my various moves, especially since 2007. Now, all of that has to come back to Colorado with us. Half a century! It seems like this must be some kind of record but I’m sure it isn’t. In fact, I’m sure it’s pretty common… but 50 years! So this is kind of a big deal and it’s kind of been freaking me out a little.

From a logistical standpoint it means that the original plan of driving a rental car back to Golden has been scrapped in favor of having to rent a truck. Budget turned out to be the cheapest so we went with them. I hope their truck… doesn’t suck.

The first thing I notice as we’re driving through the Park Cities from the airport: everything looks very green and very soggy. Dallas in April.

Within 20 minutes, Erin looks like she just stepped out of a 1970’s disco with big wavy, disco hair.

And of course the first thing we have to do is get lunch… at El Fenix. If you live in Dallas and have people visiting from out of town, you are going to go to El Fenix for some Tex-Mex at some point during their stay. It’s tradition and obligatory. I order my fave, the Puebla Plate, and two Inca Gold margaritas (hey, I hadn’t flown for almost 15 years and it’s humid as hell). They are refreshing.

At the house, we step back into 1976… just the way I remember it when we were last here 2 ½ years ago. I look out into the backyard; it’s a freakin’ jungle out there. Erin asks me if my dad has a gardener. I reply, “Does it look like he has a gardener?” For his part, dad says that it’s been raining a lot, and I’m like, “Ya think?”

Costa Rica? No, just the backyard at dad's house...
Costa Rica? No, just the backyard at dad’s house.

By 6:30 the weather is on TV, ongoing coverage, and we have a severe thunderstorm warning in effect. A line of thunderstorms is moving east through Fort Worth and Arlington at 60 mph and projected ETA’s are given for the Dallas metro area, 7:05 for where we are. Heavy rains and wind gusts of up to 65 mph, possibly up to 75 mph. I hook up my laptop to the Ethernet cable from the old computer (it’s still there) to get a connection ‘cause I know we don’t have wireless here… and get nothing. Dad tells me there’s no Internet (and not because of the storm). OK, we will have to go out to connect to the world.

The thunderstorm brings only the heavy rain, no high winds. We both feel grungy from traveling and the humidity. Welcome home!

I keep thinking of Steely Dan’s last album, “Everything Must Go”… There will be an estate sale in a couple of weeks. If you want a 1919 Steinway baby grand that needs the keys, hammers, strings, and probably a few other parts restored (but the soundboard is good), it can be yours at a reasonable price. Send me a message. I would’ve loved to keep  the piano, could certainly have used it, but just don’t have the room for it in our current digs, not to mention the cost of moving and restoring it. Which is ironic… we don’t have the room for it in our house?…. The baby grand piano was the reason we moved to the house on Northwood 50 years ago in the first place.

"Perspective," the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover. Available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, eMusic, Bandcamp, and the NoV website.
“Perspective,” the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover. Available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, eMusic, Bandcamp, and the NoV website.

Perspective” and all previous albums  from Nights on Venus are available as MP3 digital downloads on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3, eMusic, and the NoV website.

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter (@xlntsky), Facebook, and Instagram.

 

 

 

 

 

 

new EP “santos” coming in june…

The first of two EPs this year will be released mid-to-late June and it now has a title, “Santos”… and cover artwork (click on the image for the full size image).

Nights on Venus, "Santos"... to be released June, 2015...
Nights on Venus, “Santos”… to be released June, 2015…

The artwork comes from St. George’s Hall, Liverpool, England, UK… St. George, patron saint of England, slaying the dragon. ‘Santos’… Español for ‘Saints’.  More on the symbology of this image in a future post…

"The Fool"... from the Rider-Waite tarot deck
“The Fool”… from the Rider-Waite tarot deck

For right now, 4 new songs:
The Owl and the Lynx
For All the Afterthoughts
The Fool’s Journey
Terra Incognita

The Owl...
The Owl…

Recording sessions have finished for the EP and final mixdown will begin in May, when we’ve come back from Dallas later this month.

New music coming soon… There will be a preview of the EP up on this site in early May.
Stay tuned…

the Lynx...
the Lynx…

Perspective” and all previous albums  from Nights on Venus are available as MP3 digital downloads on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3, eMusic, and the NoV website.

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter (@xlntsky), Facebook, and Instagram.

"Perspective," the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover. Available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, eMusic, Bandcamp, and the NoV website.
“Perspective,” the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover. Available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, eMusic, Bandcamp, and the NoV website.

the “blurred lines” case… the lines are even more blurry now

This week we saw a verdict in the case of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” vs. Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up” copyright infringement lawsuit and quite frankly, it was kind of shocking. The result: Thicke and Pharrell Williams, who wrote the song, were ordered to pay the Gaye estate to the tune of $7.3 million.

Robin-Thicke-Blurred-Lines-ft.-T.I.-PharrellNo matter what you think of Robin Thicke or the song “Blurred Lines”, this ain’t right. There are two excellent articles, written post-verdict from LA Weekly and the New Yorker, and I’ve included the links below. Check ’em out:

http://www.laweekly.com/music/great-now-blurred-lines-has-ruined-the-entire-music-industry-5427407

http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/why-the-blurred-lines-copyright-verdict-should-be-thrown-out

Hopefully the ruling will be reversed on appeal, as it should be. Yes, there are similarities between the two songs but mostly in the areas of rhythm and feel/overall vibe… which you cannot copyright. I hadn’t ever heard “Blurred Lines” until this week – I must be living in that hyperbaric chamber Andy Hermann speaks of – but I’ve played “Got To Give It Up” in a couple of cover bands I was in and these two are not the same song… which, at least up ’til now, has always been the basis for any ruling on copyright infringement.

Certainly it’s not anywhere near as blatant as Vanilla Ice’s ripoff of “Under Pressure”, written by Queen and David Bowie, for his hit “Ice Ice Baby”. That the steal is so obvious in that instance, it should be the standard by which copyright infringement is measured. But as Bob Dylan said: “The times they are a changin’…” and all this verdict does is add more (unnecessary) shades of gray to an already (needlessly) gray area.

First off, the case should never have come to trial in the first place. Usually any disputes over copyright, if the plaintiffs have a good solid argument for infringement, should be settled out of court, more or less amicably, as in the case of Sam Smith and Tom Petty over Petty’s song “I Won’t Back Down”.

Second of all, Robin Thicke should never appear in court on his own behalf as the jury, apparently, found him “massively unappealing” which, when all is said and done, seems to have formed the basis for their decision.

Which means the jury wasn’t really looking at, or listening to, the presented evidence that these two songs are not the same – that “Blurred Lines” is not a direct ripoff of “Got To Give It Up”. Other factors – emotional perhaps – came into play and thus the verdict should be reversed. There are certain elements of the recording and overall sound between the two that are similar but those cannot be the basis for punitive monetary damages against Thicke/Williams because, as Tim Wu writes, “…by that standard, every composer would be a lawbreaker”.

Well, we are an unruly bunch, as outlined here (tongue in cheek)… but, no – that ain’t right either.

That the Gaye family now has another of Pharrell Williams’ songs – “Happy” – on the radar for copyright infringement should be a huge red flag. That Pharrell has admitted that he was “inspired by Gaye and borrowed from him” only makes him a target for these kinds of lawsuits, but again, “Happy” is not the same song as “Ain’t That Peculiar” and acknowledging one’s influences should never be grounds for someone filing a lawsuit against you.

It points up the unfortunate fact that if you, as an artist, release something that becomes insanely popular, goes viral, etc. – i.e., and the bottom line here, makes you a shitload of money – someone somewhere is going to want a piece of that, possibly a substantial piece of that, whether or not it’s justified or the claim has any merit. In a rapidly changing – some would say disintegrating – music industry, this lawsuit amounts to nothing more than a “land grab” – get whatever money you think you’re “entitled to” while you can, and should be seen as such.

As all art is derivative of some other art that has gone before, this ruling sets a very dangerous precedent for everyone working in all creative fields, not just music … Which is why it should be reversed, no money awarded. I won’t even go into the aspect of “better songwriting” here; that’s for another time… Until then, establish a working relationship with a good music lawyer if you don’t already have one.

Nights on Venus News:  I’m currently putting finishing touches on the last song, “The Fool’s Journey”, for a 4-song EP, as yet untitled, to be released toward the end of June, 2015. More details to follow…

"Perspective," the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover. Available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, eMusic, Bandcamp, and the NoV website.
“Perspective,” the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover. Available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, eMusic, Bandcamp, and the NoV website.

Perspective” and all previous albums  from Nights on Venus are available as MP3 digital downloads on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3, eMusic, and the NoV website.

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter (@xlntsky), Facebook, and Instagram.

a snowy weekend… put some records on the stereo…

Greetings from Colorado! Winter finally arrived yesterday and today.

Yours truly... winter, 2015. From Golden, Colorado...
Yours truly… winter, 2015. From Golden, Colorado…

For most of this winter here in CO we’ve had temps in the 40s-50s, sometimes in the 60s in the Denver area, and it has only been snowing (seemingly) on Wednesdays. Well, that just ain’t right. So thankfully we got our first big storm in the foothills this weekend… and we needed it, because as Coloradans will always tell you: “we need the moisture”. When we don’t get it, bad things happen… warm, dry, windy weather means wildfires in the summer, then floods in the fall.

Now as storms go, this isn’t nearly, remotely in the same league as what they’ve been getting up in Boston and most of New England so far almost every week this year – and kudos to you guys for toughing it out and keepin’ it together. Still, it’s a welcome sight here this weekend. It has been snowing since Friday night, it’s snowing now, heavily at times, we haven’t seen the mountains less than half a mile away from where we live since Friday, and although we’ve been out a couple of times to the convenience store close by, we’ve been “essentially” in snowed-in mode at la casa… essentially, of course, being entirely subjective here.

Cosmo investigating a guitar case...
Cosmo investigating a guitar case…

But hey, it’s fun(!) to think that you’re snowed-in even when, technically, you’re not. So that got me thinking about what albums/songs are what I would call “snow songs”… ’cause you know you’re going to listen to a lot of music, watch a lot of DVDs, break out the board games – Scrabble, etc. – play non-board games, read, sit in front of a roaring fireplace, and spend a lot of time cooking, with a fair amount of drinking, when you can’t go anywhere. If the power goes out… well, that sucks.

Walkin' the dog
Walkin’ the dog

GO PUT ON SOME RECORDS…
Since we’ve had no power outages, I’ve had a chance to listen to some songs/albums that always remind me of snow days or a time when I remember it was snowing. Or songs that specifically mention snow in their lyrics, like these three:

2000 MilesThe Pretenders
For better or worse, this is pretty much the quintessential snow and Christmas song now, from their 1984 album Learning To Crawl… so I love it. However, my boss at the day job played a Christmas CD that had “2000 Miles” on it every day in the building this past December and a few days into January and for the time being I can’t listen to it again for a while… it’s gonna take some time…

Valley Winter Song – Fountains of Wayne
Another obvious choice since ‘winter’ is in the song title… This is from their album Welcome Interstate Managers so the album automatically becomes a “snow album”.


Love Is Lighter Than Air
The Magnetic Fields
The chorus features these lines: “Love is lighter than air/ It floats away if you let go/ Love is lighter than air/ It rises through the falling snow.”

The Ice Palace at Varykino, from the movie Doctor Zhivago...
The Ice Palace at Varykino, from the movie Doctor Zhivago…


Varykino Snow
The Mermen
This instrumental references the summer retreat turned “Ice Palace” in the movie Doctor Zhivago; there’s a ton of snow in that movie. Brrrr. 

snow5Well, you get the idea… What I’ve been listening to today:

closeup
Close-up.

The first two Boston albums, the debut album and Don’t Look Back, both seem to be snow albums mostly because I remember listening to them on a particularly difficult drive coming back to Texas from a ski trip in 1979. The snow started falling just outside of Limon, Colorado and didn’t stop all the way to Lubbock. I drove a VW bug back then and I’m pretty sure I didn’t have the right set of tires on the car for snow-packed roads. Also remember listening to David Bowie‘s live album Stage on that drive.

The aforementioned Fountains of Wayne for their albums Welcome Interstate Managers and also Utopia Parkway; both are snow albums. Spent many an afternoon listening to these songs in the gallery in Empire while the snow was coming down.

snow4
The white stuff piled up quickly yesterday…

Other snow albums in no particular order:
Material IssueInternational Pop Overthrow
Seal2nd album, Seal
ShoesBlack Vinyl Shoes
Wendy & LisaWhite Flags of Winter Chimneys
Nirvana‘s MTV Unplugged in New York
The Church – Forget Yourself, particularly the song “Lay Low”
And Brian Eno’s song, “Always Returning”, from Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks, has always brought to mind the image of blowing snow drifting across a deserted highway at night.

Currently finishing up a new song, “For All the Afterthoughts”, in the studio.

Looks like the snow plow came by and took out the stop sign... Hey, it happens.
Looks like the snow plow came by and took out the stop sign… Hey, it happens.
"Perspective," the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover. Available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, eMusic, Bandcamp, and the NoV website.
“Perspective,” the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover. Available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, eMusic, Bandcamp, and the NoV website.

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter (@xlntsky), Facebook, and Instagram.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zoe Keating vs YouTube: The End of an Artist’s Right to Choose Where Their Music Appears on The Internet.

nightsonvenus:

Important read… and a call to action.

“I believe that this is a dangerous precedent and should be examined by the Federal Trade Commission. I urge you to write the FTC and ask them to look into this matter. I understand that you can reach the chair of the FTC at this email address: hstevenson@ftc.gov” – David Lowery

Originally posted on The Trichordist:

This is a call to action folks.

Many of you may already be aware of this blog post from  Zoë Keating detailing the new terms of the Google/YouTube “Music Key” service.  YouTube’s “communications manager” Matt McLernon has followed the Spotify approach and attacked Zoë Keating’s story as “patently false” although it looks like Google is not exactly backing up their “communications manager“.

I’m pretty sure that Google is not truthful about their conversation with Zoë–you know Google’s lying when their lips are moving–if for no other reason than I believe Zoë’s notes of her conversation with Google are accurate.  Not to mention that the description of the Music Key deal points from Zoë’s notes shows Google tying the YouTube and Music Key deals together in pretty much the same way as the Music Key deal that Google threatened indie labels with last year.

But I’m not sure if the mainstream…

View original 1,356 more words

random thoughts on a sunday…

A few random thoughts today during some “down time”… The album Perspective has been released and is available on all the usual online outlets. I’ve been cleaning up in the studio the last month, clearing out some of the old, making room for the new, and catching up on some listening, mostly Prince’s albums from 2014 – Art Official Age (love it) and PlectrumElectrum with 3rdEyeGirl (love it). Well, I’m a huge Prince fan.

Nights on Venus News: Several people have asked why “Blue Mountains Walking” wasn’t on the recent release, and yeah, that was a judgment call along with a few other songs. I wasn’t completely satisfied with it and it was more electronic which didn’t quite fit in with the overall vibe of Perspective. For now, you can find it here as a mastered demo. It will be on the 1st EP for this year of which there should be at least two. It’s paired with a new song, “The Owl and the Lynx”, so far.

Moving forward, I’m going to a more-or-less perpetual release schedule starting in 2015, which means when a few songs are done, they get mastered and released. NoV in bite-size chunks… with a summary album of all recorded material at the end of the year, the long and the short. It’s a bit more ambitious and, at the same time, more personal, rather than the standard one album per year release. A couple of gigs are tentatively scheduled  for the summer at festivals in the mountains here, with an expanded lineup – nothing definite (or signed) yet.

In the meantime… I’m watching Green Bay vs. Seattle in the NFC Championship game, the Cowboys having been eliminated last week. Go Pack Go!

On this day in Rock history: From 1974… former members from Free, (Paul Rodgers & Simon Kirke), Mott The Hoople, (Mick Ralphs), and King Crimson, (Boz Burrell), formed Bad Company. Their debut album was released in June that year.

I remember seeing them that summer of ’74 at the Denver Coliseum, having never heard of them before and opening for the Edgar Winter Group; they kicked ass that night! That album and their next, Straight Shooter, became listening staples during senior year of high school.

And finally, a staple of the current morning routine around La Casa NoV… Bryan Cranston (Walter White, aka “Heisenberg” of Breaking Bad fame) narrating that children’s classic (for adults) “You Have to F***ing Eat”. Cracks me up… “The bunnies are munching on carrots…”

Until next time…

"Perspective," the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover
“Perspective,” the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover

Perspective” and all previous albums  from Nights on Venus are available as MP3 digital downloads on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3, eMusic, and the NoV website.

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter (@xlntsky), Facebook, and Instagram.

 

“perspective” album release… full album here (via soundcloud)…

Today, on the day of the Winter Solstice, the album “Perspective” is released officially… and is now available on CD Baby, iTunes, Bandcamp, the Nights on Venus website, and Amazon MP3 as an MP3 digital download.

Three songs are available this week of Christmas as free downloads on ReverbNation – the title track,  “(A Higher) Perspective“, “Heliotropic“, and “Copper Afternoon” – to coincide with the album release, and the full album is featured here today via SoundCloud with a few notes about each song, what may have been running through my mind when I was writing or working on it.

1. COPPER AFTERNOON
(© 2014 Nights on Venus/Craig C. Thomas. All rights reserved.)

“Copper Afternoon” was written for that sweet last and next to last run of the day on the slopes (at my favorite place to ski, Copper Mountain), when the shadows grow long across the snow and there’s only the hellish bumper-to-bumper drive to face on I-70 eastbound back toward Denver. There is an extended version of this song which may appear at a later date as a remix.

2. HELIOTROPIC
(© 2014 Nights on Venus/Craig C. Thomas. All rights reserved.)

Bend towards the light, not the dark… i.e., no going over to the “dark side”. Image/painting by Don Pollack, “The Proposition”, oil on canvas…

3. BEING, TIME, AND PLACE
(© 2014 Nights on Venus/Craig C. Thomas. All rights reserved.)

Convergence… You, right here, right now, where you stand. There is nothing else. Photo taken from the top of Mt. Flora on the Continental Divide, Colorado. Kind of a 60’s vibe to this one…

4. SUMMER MADNESS
(© 1974 Taylor / Thomas / Smith / Mickens / Westfield / Bell, Published by Warner Tamerlane Publishing. All rights reserved.)

A remake of the classic Kool and the Gang instrumental from their album “Light Of Worlds” from 1974. Official release date on the single: 5/26/2014.

What I’ve tried to do in covering this song is retain the feel and vibe of the original – paying homage to it – while offering up my own take on this classic on its 40th anniversary with the addition of piano and vibes. Always loved this song and in recording it, I’ve tried to stay as close to the original as possible. The original version is in the first “Rocky” movie – the scene where Rocky brings his girlfriend Adrienne back to his apartment for the first time. Artwork by CCT.

5. LA FRONTERA
(© 2014 Nights on Venus/Craig C. Thomas. All rights reserved.)

Spawned by the refugee crisis of 2014 and years before (see the film “Sin Nombre” -2009), this – magazine.nd.edu/news/16289-concel…ss-at-the-border/ – says it far better than I ever could. So does this: www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/1…central-america
Tear. Down. The Fence. Echoing the words of Fr. Corpora, may we see true, real, and honest immigration reform very, very soon.

6. BLISS IN BLUE
(© 2014 Nights on Venus/Craig C. Thomas. All rights reserved.)

Kind of surf, kind of jazz, kind of classical (in a Chopin-esque sort of way – well, this is the ‘piano’ album). The image is an interesting story; check it out here… Photo by D’Milo Hallerberg, from Burning Man. Freedom baby!

7. NEW WORLD CREATE
(© 2014 Nights on Venus/Craig C. Thomas. All rights reserved.)

This world’s messed up; we need a new one, but not a corporate, government, 1-percent mandated one. Transformation, nothing less… Light at the end of the tunnel…

8. (A HIGHER) PERSPECTIVE
(© 2014 Nights on Venus/Craig C. Thomas. All rights reserved.)

Erin Foley on alto sax here. Terra incognita…. new, uncharted territory. When in doubt, go higher. From the top of Quandary Peak, a ’14er’, Mosquito Range, Colorado.

Shift, alter, gain perspective… anew. The overview.

9. INFINITY POOL
(© 2014 Nights on Venus/Craig C. Thomas. All rights reserved.)

Just pure enjoyment here… love infinity pools and being in one. Can’t tell where the water ends and the sky begins (well here you can – imagine yourself actually in the pool). Visual (and aural) metaphor for “All Is One”. As above, so below… All things in balance.

10. IMPERMANENCE
(© 2014 Nights on Venus/Craig C. Thomas. All rights reserved.)

The 2nd single released this past summer. Impermanence… Defines our lives… constant change. You really don’t have all the time in the world… so turn off the TV, the smart phone and go do something.

11. SATURN RETURN NO. 2
(© 2014 Nights on Venus/Craig C. Thomas. All rights reserved.)

And we all come full circle, every 29 years… at 29, 58… and, if you live long enough, 87. Saturn, the timekeeper. Completion, a major milestone, a passage… then on to the next stage of life. Saturn image courtesy of NASA.

Thanks for reading and listening over the years. May all of you have a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, however you celebrate, and be safe in your travels to and from! I’ll be back after New Year’s as we all head into 2015.

"Perspective," the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover
“Perspective,” the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter (@xlntsky), Facebook, and Instagram.

 

excursions in sound and consciousness with the band Nights on Venus

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,724 other followers

%d bloggers like this: