the murals of tucumcari (nm)…

From Empire, CO during a snowstorm.... the Dairy King

This week…. 20 inches of snow on Friday, the day we were supposed to drive up to Breckenridge for the annual Ice Sculpture Competition, and not wanting to get stuck in a 4-5 hour parking lot on I-70 up into the mountains (or coming back), we decided discretion was the better part of not driving and stayed put in Golden (where’s that sense of adventure… slippin’ and slidin’ and fishtailin’ all the way up to the Eisenhower tunnel?). And of course, the traffic jam never materialized because everyone else decided to stay home more or less so, aside from all the snow – 40 inches around Floyd Hill – the roads were virtually traffic-free. Breckenridge Ski Area touted a ‘whopping’ 2 inches of snow (that’s nothing!) but the decision had already been made. Well, there’s always next year…

And the new song, “In 4 the Evening,” is still in the finishing stages and not quite ready. So, sorry for last week’s ‘teaser’ but hey, these things happen….

AND NOW, FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT

Instead, I dug through the vast photographic archives here at la casa NoV and revisit some photos that I took from 2009 while traveling through Tucumcari, New Mexico, “Town of Murals.” I used to go through Tucumcari in eastern New Mexico quite a bit when I lived in Santa Fe from 1984-’86 but I was very surprised on my last visit (since 2003) to find a number of wall murals on the buildings in town – it was completely unexpected. There may be even more now 3 years later. Among them, this mural about Route 66, “The Mother Road,” through Tucumcari (you can click on the images to see the larger photographs):

Composite panoramic view of the "Route 66" mural
Left side... "Get your kicks on Route 66." The old red pickup - a reference to the westward migration to California during the Dust Bowl years as chronicled in John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath."
Center, "Route 66" mural
Detail of "Route 66"... complete with wandering musician, guitar case in hand
Right side, "Route 66" mural
"Live to Ride.... Ride to Live"
Next stop, a few blocks away... a mural of Conchas Dam and Lake nearby, across a couple of buildings
Detail from the above mural
Note the doorway to the right...
And from further away in the parking lot...
Mural #3 across the way.... the Plains and the Caprock
Center, "Plains" mural... with pickup
"Ford Country.... the New West"

I don’t know who the artist is or if these are the work of several different artists but they are all very well done. If you find yourself traveling on I-40 between Amarillo and Albuquerque, take the business route exit through Tucumcari – old route 66 – drive around and seek them out. They’re worth your while, and stop in at La Cita if you’re hungry – great Mexican food.

“More art in public places…. fewer torn-down “old” buildings.”

Back in Golden
Me... in front of another mural in Golden

Cheers,

Nights on Venus - the debut album (2011)

The Nights on Venus debut album is available as a digital download (MP3) and can be found on CDBabyiTunesAmazon.mp3eMusic, and other fine online retailers.

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

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hermit of north golden….

‘Tis the end of January, this first month of 2012, and whether it’s from a lingering holiday hangover (the recent holidays which seem like ages ago now) or a funk caused by the feeling that I’ve just been spinning my wheels the entire month, I’ve been staying close to home and have become the ‘hermit of north Golden’ with only the implacable southwestern face of North Table Mountain and Maxx, the cat, for company during the days.

Fellow Todd [Rundgren] fans will recognize the title of this week’s blog as a reference to his 1978 album “Hermit of Mink Hollow.” Fortunately, I have a job that allows me to work from home, but then conversely, only serves to reinforce my hermit-like tendencies these days (when we move in March, I will then become the ‘hermit of West Golden’, holing up in the new Man-Cave Recording Studio) .

I could just as easily attribute this month’s seclusion to a double whammy of Saturn-Neptune aspects on my chart (transiting Saturn conjunct natal Neptune, transiting Neptune square natal Saturn for all you budding astrologers following along at home) and talk about that, but decided it was too esoteric and I don’t want to turn this into an astrology blog. There are already some good astrology blogs and websites out there – e.g. Lynn Koiner’s website at http://www.lynnkoiner.com.

In regard to Saturn-Neptune aspects, I will say that when you have these two mismatched planetary energies hook up on your chart – Neptune, symbolically, the planet of dissolving or no boundaries, and Saturn, which is all boundaries and structure – well, they don’t exactly play well together and it can be a little disconcerting and alter your perceptions of things… for a while (how this might manifest, if you’re a musician or artist for instance,  is the classic lament – “Everything sounds/looks like shit!” – and you’re not happy with anything you do).

Effects of Saturn-Neptune transits notwithstanding, every artist struggles with this stuff at various times. You think, ‘just when the work was going so well and moving along’ – brick wall… but that’s exactly when and why it happens – because the work has been going along so well. You have to re-stock the pond, replenish the hopper, and heed the ’10 commandments’ of what not to do below:

Something that came across my Facebook news feed a while back.... original source unknown.

The best remedy for something like this if you’re doing creative work is to just keep working at it, take breaks when you hit a creative wall (or need to), and suspend all judgment. Watch some bad movies (“Just Go With It”)… watch some good ones (“Black Swan”). Go skiing… or bowling. Listen to some Head East, an almost all-but-forgotten Midwestern classic rock band from the 70’s.  Which pretty much describes January, 2012 for me.

Nothing much got written blog or otherwise because not a whole lot has been going on… well, the new Nights on Venus website did go live last week and it can be found here….

and also this month, Nights on Venus has signed a 20-album, 20-year deal with Excellent Sky Records. This would perhaps be more newsworthy if NoV, Excellent Sky, and myself were not all one and the same or the fact that I’ll be 75 (yikes!) when said contract expires.

This past week though, something of a breakthrough. I went back and revisited a song idea that I’d begun last fall, before the move back to Colorado, and developed it further and now have the title track for the forthcoming album, “In 4 the Evening” (I4tE). I am currently doing final mixdown on it and should have it up on the blog and Reverb site next week along with some photographs of the annual Breckenridge Ice Sculpture competition, which is really cool (literally) if you haven’t been. Looking forward to getting back up there.

So until then…

Nights on Venus - the debut album (2011)

The Nights on Venus debut album is available as a digital download (MP3) and can be found on CDBabyiTunesAmazon.mp3eMusic, and other fine online retailers.

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

pay it forward, 2012….

From the Nights on Venus page on Facebook...

So far 2012 has started off quiet, busy, and intense. Workers continue to work on the roof here at la casa NoV, pounding, hammering, scraping, and sawing, in between snowfalls – we’ve had a couple of them in the first two weeks. And soon we’ll be moving to a new casa NoV, also here in Golden, as soon as inspections, the closing, and contract work are done, probably by early March. New larger studio digs for me and a larger place in general – it will be good. But first…

The subject of today’s post is something I ran across on my Home page on Facebook and comes from my friend Kyle.

Pay it forward 2012! I promise to make something homemade for the first 5 people who comment on my post. They must then repost and do the same thing for 5 people who comment on their status. The rules are that they have to be homemade by you, and they have to receive it before the end of 2012. I want to have fun making some neato stuffs! ^_^

I liked the idea and signed on for it. Kyle is also an artist although making ‘art’ specifically is not a requirement here – it’s just about producing something ‘homemade.’ It could be anything. So I decided to run with it and re-post it here on the blog this week. Think of it as an experiment in creativity and connection through social media.

So the rules are pretty simple here. The first 5 people to comment here on the post (no spam, please) will get something homemade from me by the end of 2012 – barring any unforeseen events and circumstances that would preempt that ’cause, y’know, this is 2012 – and all you have to do is re-post in your blog or Facebook page and do the same for 5 other people. And so on and so on…

Who knows where this could lead – it could become like an annual thing. What kind of ‘homemade stuff’ am I going to come up with? Don’t know yet – whatever I feel inclined to do, which is part of the fun. You never know how one simple act can affect someone or in what ways which is the whole idea of  ‘pay it forward.’ It has a rippling outward effect.

WHAT’S NEW:

The new Nights on Venus website is all but finished and will be up before the end of this month. The URL will be:

http://www.nightsonvenus.com…..  but it’s not ‘there’ yet (thus no hyperlink).

Work continues on the 2nd album, “In 4 the Evening.” Currently finishing up a new song, “Niteglo,” which is probably as complex musically as the previous song, “A Succession of Moments,” was more or less ‘simple.’

The cover artwork for the new album is complete, pending approval and licensing.

And the About page on this blog has been updated now to include a more ‘complete’ bio on NoV and myself…

Nights on Venus - the debut album


The Nights on Venus debut album is available as a digital download (MP3) and can be found on CDBabyiTunesAmazon.mp3eMusic, and other fine online retailers.

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

new song: “a succession of moments”… and 2012 – happy new year!

Last post of the year on the last day of the year. Goodbye 2011! Hello 2012!

Happy New Year to everyone! I wish for you all a healthy, successful, fun, and prosperous Year ahead! May 2012 be everything you want it to be.

And to close out the year I’ve posted a new song on the Nights on Venus page on ReverbNation, “A Succession of Moments” and also here below.

Happy New Year - 2012!

The new song explores some new territory, edging closer to jazz and maybe even crossing over into it, but I really don’t think in terms of genre when I’m writing and playing something. Upon first listening, the girlfriend called it ‘a bit of a shocker,’ and she gets to hear everything first (whether she wants to or not). For one thing, there’s more solo piano in this one… and maybe more soloing in general. This is really about the interplay between the piano and guitar – each one completes the other’s phrases.

And the new album – “In 4 the Evening” – is shaping up to be a more diverse album than the first. “A Succession of Moments” is from the album “sessions” – there are three more songs that are finished more or less that I haven’t posted – sessions being a relative term because I literally live and sleep in my studio as it currently exists.

Songs on the new album are also somewhat shorter than on the first. This hasn’t been intentional on my part – just a natural progression I think in terms of what I choose to develop in writing these songs.

[At this point we’ve had another power outage in Golden today due to high winds with gusts up to 60 mph, so I’m writing this in bits and pieces. High winds are not uncommon in the Front Range but when they take out the power, they’re vexing to say the least.]

So here it is…

A SUCCESSION OF MOMENTS
© 2011 Nights on Venus/Craig C. Thomas. All rights reserved.)

… as always, feel free to leave a comment below. “Succession…” took up most of December as time was suddenly at a premium which was kind of ironic. As far as what’s new, I hope to have the new NoV website up by the end of January.

Again, wishing you all the best in the upcoming year! I’ll be back next week in 2012.

Nights on Venus - the debut album

The Nights on Venus debut album is available as a digital download (MP3) and can be found on CDBabyiTunesAmazon.mp3eMusic, and other fine online retailers.

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

ho ho ho, lots o’ snow…

Merry Christmas and happy holidays from Nights on Venus!

Just a short blog this week in which I’d like to thank all of you who have supported Nights on Venus this past year. Here’s wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season. If you’re traveling over the holidays, may you be safe in your journeys to and from wherever you’re going.

Greetings from Colorado...

As mentioned last week, I won’t be traveling this year, but if I had been I would probably have been leaving today and as the following pictures show, that wouldn’t be happening!  Winter arrived with a bang and dumped a foot of snow or more on the Denver area and the Front Range.

Other than a couple of brief forays locally out in this white stuff, we’ll be here at la casa NoV through Christmas which will include a lot of cooking for the annual turkey fest on Saturday, drinking some good wine (and a few other spirits I’m sure),  the faux Yule log in the fireplace, and probably 24 hours of ‘Ralphie’ (“A Christmas Story”) on TBS. Yep, “you’ll shoot your eye out, kid.”

The neighbor's dog really seems to love the snow...

Maxx, on the other hand, not so much...
Digging out in the foothills...

Dreaming of a White Christmas? We’ve got it…

Current La Casa NoV.....
The NoV-mobile... there it would probably stay until the spring but we're moving to a bigger place in early 2012.
Brrrrrr.... and it's gettin' down to two below zero tonight. Keep the faux Yule log burning.

Again, wishing you all the best through the holiday season and on into the New Year of 2012…. may we all be happy and prosperous and in good health.

Peace on Earth, goodwill towards men…

Nights on Venus - the debut album

Need some last-minute (really last-minute) gift ideas and stocking stuffers? The Nights on Venus debut album is available as a digital download (MP3) and can be found on CDBaby, iTunes, Amazon.mp3, eMusic, and other fine online retailers.

And from now through the end of the year, you can get 5 free downloads from the first album at: http://www.reverbnation.com/nightsonvenus.

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

for the first time in 50 years…

I’m back, baby. Last week was a very busy one in which I did several astrological chart consultations and immersed myself in those for a few days and virtually nothing else got done, including last week’s blog.

Christmas is bearing down on us – a week from Sunday – and when things slowed down enough this week I noticed that for the first time in 50 years, I won’t be in Dallas – where I grew up – for the holiday (hence the title this week). That may not seem like much of a big deal, but given all the places I’ve lived over the years – Seattle, L.A., Denver, Houston, Santa Fe to name a few – it’s actually kind of remarkable that I always seemed to make my way back to Dallas come Christmastime. 50 years… since my family moved to Texas in 1960 from the East Coast. The streak ends after half-a-century. I wasn’t even aware there was a streak involved until I realized I couldn’t find a single year where I hadn’t been in Dallas for Christmas.

Still some snow left... will it be a 'White Christmas' this year? Magic weather 8-ball says: "Signs point to yes."

This year I’ll stay put in the cozy confines of Golden, CO, in the foothills – time and money constraints have something to do with that, but also there’s the fact that I’m more “needed” up here right now. So no long drive back and forth this year to get ‘home for the holidays’ as has been the usual custom. Something new this year…

Since it is the Christmas season, that means the annual barrage of Christmas music that we’ve been inundated with in the stores and on TV since about Halloween (the onslaught of this seems to move up every year). Some people love it – it puts them in the holiday mood (or rather, it has conditioned them to get in the holiday spirit), but a lot of people don’t. Obviously, I fall in the latter camp. It’s the same ‘standard’ songs every year, sometimes re-done and updated by new artists and the new versions are usually lame compared to the originals, and we’ve heard them hundreds of times before whether we wanted to or not. Usually, playing it is in the service of enticing people to buy more ‘stuff.’ There are a few exceptions – John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” comes to mind, but generally speaking I’m not a fan of Christmas music.

Call me a ‘Grinch’, call me cynical, but, resisting the slick advertising ploys of all the world’s marketeers, I’ll stick with the “peace on Earth, goodwill towards men” and it would go a long way toward improving conditions in the world for everyone if we would remember this on a daily basis the entire year round, not just the month of December or a few days around Christmas.

Marshall Crenshaw's debut album from 1982.... favorite 'Christmas' album of all time, hands down

I do have a favorite Christmas album though, and it’s not a ‘Christmas album’ at all. It goes back to the Christmas of 1982…. [picture the Wayne’s World dream/flashback sequence here – I couldn’t find it on YouTube]

I was playing keyboards in a New Wave band called Sound and the Furies at the time (nice name, eh?) – I was one of the Furies – and my day job – the day job they tell you not to quit – was doing singing telegrams all over Dallas. I had that job for three years – probably the best ‘job’ I’ve ever had, day or otherwise. Not from a money standpoint, but mostly because it was a blast. It wasn’t so much a job as kind of a surrealistic, theater-of-the-absurd romp through corporate offices, hospitals, restaurants, people’s homes, and countless parties delivering helium-filled balloon bouquets and of course singing while wearing top hat and tails, oversized paper maché heads such as a penguin, or a chicken suit, and on at least one occasion, getting chased out of a downtown office building by a pair of portly security guards while wearing that chicken suit. I still remember the words to the ‘Balloon-o-Gram’ song to this day.

It was also kind of a tough time back then. My roommate booted me out at the beginning of December – after I’d paid rent and was short on cash – and the parentals wouldn’t let me move back in except for a few days around Christmas – their version of “tough love” I suppose. Apparently they weren’t too thrilled with my ‘career’ choices at the time – I mean, hey, I had a fine arts degree; it wasn’t like I was suddenly going to go out and become an actuary or a CPA. There was the infamous “time-is-running-out, son” speech… Hell, I was only 26! (Time is running out a lot faster now.) So for the next couple of months I ended up sort of semi-homeless, sleeping in the back of the Balloon-o-Gram van some nights (you could sort of do that in those days) or in the office in between the racks of all the B-O-G costumes, or occasionally crashing at my one of my friends’ or bandmate’s places. It was kind of a ‘Kerouac – On the Road’ type of existence for a while.

Which, in retrospect – and only in retrospect – was kind of cool. My constant musical companion during that Christmas was a cassette tape of  Marshall Crenshaw’s first album and I probably wore that thing out from playing it in just those 2 months bopping around the streets and freeways of Dallas doing singing telegrams. “Someday, Someway” had already been on the radio for a while, climbing the charts –  I went out and bought the album and it’s not an exaggeration to say that it probably got me through those days and nights. That and the fact that I loved what I was doing. If you love rock ‘n’ roll with a rockabilly feel, chances are you probably have this album already. It’s impossible to feel down listening to it – every song is a buoyant slice of pure retro power-pop heaven. [Rolling Stone magazine gave it 4 1/2 stars – out of 5 – when it came out. I don’t know where they got that 1/2 from – clearly it earns 5 stars in my book.]

Here’s “Cynical Girl” from that first album, set to film clips – wait for Bette Davis at the end.

December, 1982 wasn’t an easy time to be sure but looking back on it, it was the most memorable Christmas out of the 50 spent in Dallas. I always took a night to drive around the familiar streets of Big D listening to MC’s first album, just like in the Balloon-o-Gram days, and I’m sure I’ll do the same up here. It’s just tradition now, for 29 years. It won’t quite be the same, but it’ll still feel like Christmas.

And speaking of Christmas music, if you’re looking for something new(er), check out  Yuletunes – A Collection of Alternative Pop Christmas Songs on Black Vinyl Records, featuring Material Issue, Shoes, Matthew Sweet, and The Spongetones among others. All originals – all grade A stuff from 1991.

Maxx, with snowman, in his now usual spot under the tree...

New music is coming soon – currently working on a trio of songs for “In For the Evening,” the next release from Nights on Venus in the summer of 2012. ‘Til then…

Nights on Venus - the debut album

Need some last-minute gift ideas and stocking stuffers? The Nights on Venus debut album is available as a digital download (MP3) and can be found on CDBaby, iTunes, Amazon.mp3, eMusic, and other fine online retailers.

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

’tis the season: golden’s candlelight walk…

It's looking a lot like winter...

Snow has come to the Front Range and Denver metro area again to kick off December. 6-8 inches fell in Golden on Thursday and this morning.

Just in time for Golden’s annual Candlelight Walk last night.

Some 4,000 or so hearty souls braved the 20-degree weather for the annual walk down the hill on Washington St. to the bridge over Clear Creek for the annual lighting of the trees along the creek and the ‘official’ start of the holiday season.

A few photographs from last night to get you in the festive holiday mood, if you’re not there already (with no accompanying “Christmas” music – you can get that, well, just about everywhere else…):

The walk through downtown Golden...
Not many candles remained lit on the walk this year due to the wind...
The ubiquitous (at least in my blogs) 'Welcome to Golden' sign with Santa & reindeer...
The crowd arriving at the bridge...
Clear Creek before the lights are turned on...

When everyone has made it down to the bridge, then we wait for the lowering of the lighted Christmas wreath…

and then, the rest of the lights along Clear Creek and the Golden Visitor Center come on!

... and as they are turned on... a row of trees at a time.
And about 30 minutes after, where'd everybody go?
Probably to downtown watering holes like the Old Capitol Grill, the Buffalo Rose, the Windy Saddle, or Woody's Pizza... Golden is, after all, a college town (Colorado School of Mines).

Today has been a pretty laid-back day at la casa Nights on Venus – just cooking up a big pot of homemade chili while writing the blog (multi-tasking) and sitting in front of the fireplace…  ’cause it’s a chilly day. Later on, a nice heart-warming movie… like Mulholland Drive.

And Congratulations! to fellow ReverbNation artist Linda Chorney this week for her Grammy-nominated album “Emotional Jukebox.” She was nominated in the Best Americana album category along with such long-time musical luminaries as Ry Cooder, Emmylou Harris, Levon Helm, and Lucinda Williams. This is huge for Linda and “Emotional Jukebox” is a great album – a double album no less – and certainly deserves to win, so check it out. Highly recommended. You can read her reaction to the Grammy nomination in her blog here. Way to go Linda and good luck!

Nights on Venus - the debut album

The Nights on Venus debut album is available as a digital download (MP3) and can be found on CDBaby, iTunes, Amazon.mp3, eMusic, and other fine online retailers.

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