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).
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…
For right now, 4 new songs:
The Owl and the Lynx
For All the Afterthoughts
The Fool’s Journey
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.
Hardly seems like two years ago because it seems like we were always supposed to be here and it doesn’t feel like we’ve been there that long.
What I remember most about that day: keeping tabs on our cat Maxx, making sure he didn’t slip outside somewhere during all the chaos; the wind tunnel that was created by having the garage door, the door from the basement and the front door open at the same time while trying to move stuff in; that Erin and I had a rare fight that lasted all of about 15 seconds; getting 4 take-out dinners from New Peach Garden Chinese and scarfing them down with a bottle of champagne at the end of a long day.
I remember that I moved into the ‘mancave’ a little before the actual move because I was doing the final mixdown/pre-mastering work on “In 4 The Evening” and needed the time and expanded space. A lot has happened since then…
Now in the spring of 2014… one new orange kitteh added, a couple of albums later, getting engaged…
This past month has been kind of tough… Currently, both Erin and I are recovering from some sort of cold/respiratory virus thing which has been the most vexing ailment to get rid of these last 3 weeks, especially since we just don’t ever get sick… not used to it, but I think we’re on the other side of it now, finally (one would hope), and welcome, Spring!
The new album is progressing fairly quickly right now; I’m currently recording a cover song from a well-known 70’s band which I hope to finish up and have permissions for by early next month for an end of May release as an advance track for the full album in late October/November, as yet untitled. Two gigs have been booked for summer festivals here in Colorado next year, in 2015…
“Another Day in Paradox,” the third album from Nights on Venus is available on CD and as digital download (MP3) as are the eponymously-titled first album (digital download only) and “In 4 the Evening” on CDBaby, iTunes, Bandcamp, Amazon, eMusic, and other fine online retailers including the NoV website.
Not too long ago I read an article in Digital Music News by Paul Resnikoff entitled “The 7 Attributes of Younger Music Fans” and if you’re on CD Baby, you may have seen it too. In case you didn’t, you can find it here. It’s a good, informative article and a short read.
Actually, this goes further back to an article on David Lowery’s Trichordist blog site – the “Letter to Emily White at NPR All Songs Considered” post. That younger fans don’t usually pay for their music has become common knowledge now or at least, a common assumption. And sure enough, there it is at #4: “If They Don’t Buy Your Stuff, Don’t Take It Personally.”
Well, I don’t… and by now artists know all this and it’s generally accepted that this is the way things are and that it’s not going to change anytime soon… However, it’s still a curious attitude as outlined in the first sentence of #4 in the Resnikoff article:
“Fans, especially younger fans, have an expectation of free. In fact, many younger listeners have never been forced to pay for music in their lives; furthermore, many believe music should be free on principle.” (emphasis mine)
OK… and what guiding “principle” would that be? Because there is more music being recorded and more artists recording that music than ever before? Does the sheer proliferation of music available somehow lessen its value? (I don’t think so.)
And where does this “expectation of free” come from? From years of downloading stuff or finding information for free on the Internet?
As an artist, it would never occur to me to not pay for another artist’s work – other than the freebies they choose to make available – because I have some idea of what the process is and what they go through to produce that work. I will always pay for an artist’s work that I like… because it supports them and their ability to do more of it.
I suppose if I were a gazillionaire and had more money than God, or Forrest Gump, maybe I would be inclined to offer all my music for free… but then again, no. Because here’s the deal: people don’t value what they get for free.
And giving away what you produce for free as a business model… is a bad business model. That may be the least appreciated and least understood aspect of the music business and environment now – that for a large number of artists today, if they are self-producing and self-releasing their own work, they are their own business, and in the absence of a record company contract, lucrative or otherwise, they are solely responsible for that business.
In one sense, you could have an argument for free music if the CD you buy from a particular artist is going to end up in the bin at a used CD store in only a couple of months or is going to be removed from your iPod because you’ve gotten bored with it in the same amount of time and have moved on to ‘the latest thing.’ Solution: listen to better music… and pay for it.
Here’s another bullet point from #4:
“In that context, if they’re buying your stuff, they’re generally regarding it as a major gesture. Indeed, 68 percent of Millennials interviewed by MTV said they only buy music out of respect for the artist, and they believe music should be free.”
There it is again – the belief that music should be free. And again, why?
If you go into an art gallery and see a work of art you want on your wall at home, that’s not free; you’re going to pay for it. That goes for most anything and everything. “Well, art’s different,” someone might say, but it’s not at all. Music is one of the arts – why would music be singled out as any different as an art form that should somehow be free? Doesn’t make sense.
“Because it’s entertainment,” someone else might say. Well, it’s a lot more than that – it’s a universal language that can (and frequently does) change the world through the hearts and minds of individual listeners. Less for entertainment purposes, more art.
If you’re a Millennial (and even if you’re not) and you’re still reading this, please explain why you think the music you claim to love should be free. Send me a comment here ’cause I’d really like to know. It’s a mindset that truly baffles me, and not because we’re of ‘different generations’ or that I’m ‘old school’ or whatever. Here’s why…
Buying an artist’s latest album is not a “major gesture” on your part – it’s called support. It’s also an exchange of energy – the time, energy, hard work, and money that an artist puts into their music and producing something to put out into the world is met with a reciprocal response in the form of appropriate value – value for value – i.e., usually money. If someone is not willing to pay for something, even if they believe they should get it for free, it simply means they don’t value it.
Think about it… you purchase tickets to see your favorite bands/artists live at a festival or other venue (I’m assuming you’re not a fence-hopper here), you value that experience – why would you pay for one and not the recorded work which will provide an experience longer than that one night?
What I’m really getting at here though is this whole sense of entitlement… to “free” music, which is really the toughest thing to deal with because it’s a very specific and particular mindset.
No one is entitled to free music, fans and consumers alike (except perhaps the ever-patient, long-suffering artist’s significant other), any more than the world owes anybody, including artists, a living.
Buying an artist’s work allows them to make more of the music they want to make – it allows them to keep going in their business, and keep making the songs that, presumably, you want to listen to from that particular artist in the first place.
So… whatever you listen to, pay for the music… pretty please, with sugar on it… or at the very least, question whatever sense of entitlement you may have. Food for thought…
I’m back… after a slightly extended absence in September… and there’s a new look to the ol’ blog. Fall is in full swing here in Golden and we’ve already had our first snow yesterday at 6,000 ft. Hopefully we have an early winter with lots of snow here in Colorado and we’ll head up to the slopes a few times this season. The last couple of nights we’ve fired up the fireplace at La Casa NoV – the thing puts out a ton of heat.
It’s only October 6th, but already my favorite team, the Texas Rangers, is out of the baseball playoffs this year. Season over. Now I’ll go back to rooting for the Tigers or Orioles from the American League and the Cardinals from the National League. Would love to see a Tigers – Cardinals matchup in the annual Fall Classic this year (yeah, I’m a huge baseball fan). As for football, well, the Cowboys appear to have already tanked 4 games in so, go Denver Broncos!
This week, three new songs from the forthcoming album, and a few photos from our recent excursion into the high country. As usual, these are the home-mastered versions so essentially they’re finished demos – the final album versions may vary somewhat (hopefully not too much)…
The first song, “Vanishing America,” takes a somewhat nostalgic look back at things that used to dot the American landscape, such as drive-in theaters, that have fallen by the wayside into disrepair and into ruins. I’ve always had a particular fascination with ruins and societal artifacts from a bygone era. The first two album covers and the fact that “The Last Picture Show” and “Paper Moon” (both filmed in black and white, btw) are two of my favorite movies will give you a clue to what I’m trying to convey. I think a lot of that was influenced by driving through the Depression-era small towns in Texas back and forth between Dallas and Lubbock when I was in college (I went to Texas Tech).
Musically, the song segues from the previous one, “Stranded in San Jon” – something I’m doing more of on this album as most of the songs were conceived of and written as ‘pairs’ with no break in between. The guitar is double-tracked and then split between left and right channels, also something I’m doing more of on this album. There will be a video of this song to coincide with the album’s release which will draw a visual analogy between these societal artifacts and the gradual erosion of individual liberties in America, which is actually the intended point of the song. Hmm… getting political without words… what a concept!
Political aspect of the song aside, the section between 2:53 and 3:28 may be one of the most beautiful passages I’ve written/recorded thus far. Love it…
The second song here, “Another Day in Paradox,” the title track will also be the closing song on the album and ends things on a positive note. I meant to put it up on the last blog post but for whatever reason, didn’t, so I’m putting it up now. It segues from the preceding song, “The West, 2097,” and is kind of a bookend and summation of everything that’s come before on the album and all the contradictions, absurdities, joys and heartaches of everyday life (the album begins with “Genjōkōan – The Way of Everyday Life“).
The final song here, “[Influencing the] Quantum Field,” may be the real shocker… and it was kind of a ‘happy accident.’ It ends up being pure disco… quantum physics meets Studio 54. Like stepping back into 1978. Originally entitled “Changing Molecules by Thought,” it morphed into its present form and segues into “The West, 2097” at the end. It proceeds from a simple (enough) premise: “Thought is energy. Energy follows thought. Thoughts become things. Positive thoughts breed (‘beget’) positive results/outcomes.”
The final 3 songs on the album – “Quantum Field,” “The West, 2097,” and “Another Day in Paradox” – become “the crux of the biscuit” (F. Zappa) here, whether the album is 12 songs or becomes 14-15 songs. Don’t know yet.
While ‘pure disco’ may seem out of character, I’ve been using some hip-hop rhythms since the first album and the song works in the sequence. Two things I steer by with what I’m doing: 1) constantly surprise yourself and 2) go where the songs take you. Trust your songwriting – you never know where it can lead.
Hope you enjoy, thank you for stopping by, and happy listening! Next time, maybe I reveal my recipe for one type of chili I make (don’t worry, beer & wine are involved and not strictly for cooking purposes)… for your next fall tailgate party.
This week, stop by the NoV page on Facebook and wish Nights on Venus a Happy Birthday (October 8th). NoV is 2 years old on that day and, well, you know how 2-year-olds are…
As we have moved into September and into the fall of what promises to be a very spirited election season here, if all the Facebook posts are any indication, work continues here at La Casa NoV on “Another Day in Paradox,” which has suddenly mushroomed from a projected 4 or 5-song EP into a full album. The summer months were unusually and wonderfully productive. 16 songs, in various states of completion, have been written and recorded over the last 3 months. In fact, in all the years I’ve been working artistically and musically, I can’t recall a more prolific time period (yay!). This represents something of a breakthrough in my way of working since I had been bothered by the lag time between when I first released a song early on and when the album it appeared on was released.
What this means for “Another Day in Paradox” is that instead of releasing it by year’s end as an EP, the release date has now been moved back a bit to sometime between January and March of 2013. Four songs, in their final, home-mastered versions, have already been released online and you can find them here on ReverbNation if they haven’t been posted on the blog. I plan on previewing a couple more songs this month – “Aloft” and “Vanishing America” – which will be at least fully half the album (not including the 8-minute mini-epic “The West, 2097“). Watch for those in the next few weeks.
The music on this album is less ambient/chill as on the first two albums, more pop/rock, and seems to be shaping up as a study in contrasts, largely between East and West – the Eastern philosophy/religion I practice and espouse as a ‘Westerner’ and the idea and locale of the West itself. Several of the songs take place in the West (“Stranded in San Jon,” “The West, 2097,” and “Vanishing America”) and also explore the split between living in an urban setting, more or less, vs. the wilderness/frontier… thus the ‘paradox’ (“an enigma wrapped in a Twinkie” as Seinfeld put it). I hope to have videos of at least a couple of songs (probably Flash movies – .avi files) by the time the album is released.
In terms of album concept, this seems to have been somewhat unintentional but must have been rolling around in my subconscious for a while… I just go where the songs take me. Great word “paradox”… you can try this at home – substitute the word “paradox” for “paradise” in songs from the past such as Jimmy Buffett’s “Cheeseburger in Paradox”, Eddie Money’s “Two Tickets to Paradox,” and “Paradox City” from Guns ‘n’ Roses’ (or even from Nights on Venus’ catalog, “Paradox by the Lava Lamp”) – gives a whole new meaning to these songs.
As it is September now, that means prime aspen season in the high country over the next 1-3 weeks and Erin and I will be taking a few of the annual drives into the mountains of Colorado for some fall color. And that means ski season will be here soon (again, yay!). Below are a few pics from previous fall drives – enjoy ’em!
This week, a new song posted – “Stranded in San Jon” [New Mexico – the ‘J’ is pronounced as ‘H ‘- along old route 66]… and a blast from the past: an excerpt from my almost-forgotten (unpublished) novel, “Autumn,” completed in 1998 (such a long time ago!). Set in 1984, the novel is kind of Larry McMurtry’s “The Last Picture Show” meets Prince’s “Purple Rain” – an age-old tale of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy uproots life to keep them together, does, but ultimately loses girl (i.e., “Crazy Stupid Love,” which is a great flick, btw). Well… you do things like this in your 20’s. It’s as much a tale of two cities – Dallas and Santa Fe – and a cultural document of the times, much of which takes place in part of the great American outback of eastern New Mexico, southern Colorado, and west Texas.
Although I didn’t think so at the time, mercifully (and thankfully) the novel, which topped out at 460 pages, was not published back in 1998. In their rejection letters, literary agents would tell me that they just wouldn’t know how to market it for a mass – read ‘mainstream’ – audience, not unlike Miles’ predicament in the film “Sideways” (another great movie). Perhaps the story shouldn’t have been told in the first person – too personal, too much like a journal – but told in the third person, it would lose much of its immediacy (only the names have been changed to ward off potential lawsuits – it is a litigious society we live in). It’s been said that “first novels are like first pancakes – you have to throw ’em out,” but maybe I revisit this, then again, maybe not – do a major rewrite in the age of author E-book self-publishing for Kindle, et al. – but it probably won’t be happening anytime soon.
As usual when I post something here, this is not the final mastered version of the song; hopefully it conveys something of the “experience.” Moving further into new territory…
In the meantime, without further yada yada, here are both. Enjoy!
“I stood at the top of the stairs to the entrance of the motel, looking in both directions down the main street of San Jon, population: 381. There wasn’t much to it and I doubted whether that many really did live here, so clean and empty was the street. I was looking at a few storefronts – mostly abandoned ones – a water tower, a number of houses with lonely-looking trees clustered around them, and a couple of churches. Bleak was the word that came to mind. A dead town dying; not even a Dairy Queen, after all, this wasn’t west Texas where every town, no matter how small, had one. Beyond the buildings – a sea of grasslands so immense it threatened to swallow the town whole, rendering it nonexistent. To the south, the caprock, another mesa of the Llano Estacado; to the north of town, I-40, with its trucks and cars moving on toward bustling life in either Amarillo to the east or Albuquerque to the west. Hell, even Tucumcari would do right now.
It was late afternoon; all day long I’d been driving through towns like this one coming down from Springer – Roy, Mosquero, Logan – towns that had all seen better days if they’d ever seen them at all. The day in pictures: diverging roads that led to empty spaces between mesas; an abandoned white adobe motel with a badly-painted mural of Spanish conquistadors on a side wall in Logan; gutted stone houses with only the blue sky for a roof near Conchas Lake; a pair of white crosses along the side of the highway; sunflowers growing through the cracks of a cement foundation where a house once stood; a woman and child exiting a bar through a screen door in Roy. Of all places, the Scirocco had chosen this one to break down on my way to Clovis… and had now been, for lack of a better word, impounded for the last fifteen minutes back at the gas station when the maxed-out credit card didn’t go through. The repair work was already complete when the mechanic told me they had to call in for approval on anything over $200; the work had exceeded that times two.
I took a walk – not so much out of curiosity as just to think about the situation. It was hot in the sun, stifling, with no breeze – unusual for a town on the high plains. A block east I found Ricardo’s Bar. It was open; about half-a-dozen people were inside sitting at the bar and a couple of tables. Everyone turned to look at me when I walked in and studied me for a long second. Obviously I was not a local. Two TVs hung diagonally at the ends of the bar and the Summer Olympics were on, track and field stuff. Someone had just won the pole vault competition with a jump of over nineteen feet. The place had a couple of video games, a pool table in back, and a jukebox. I quickly checked to see what was on it and found Hank Williams’ name – yes, that Hank Williams – no comma or ‘Jr.’ following it. Hmm… no DEVO or “Mexican Radio.” I popped in 50 cents and played a trio of Johnny Cash songs. Ricardo’s smelled of dust and stale smoke and for a moment I thought of lighting up one of the clove cigarettes I had on me, then figured these people were unfamiliar with the smell and it would probably freak them out. Everyone here smoked Marlboros.
Autumn would soon be waiting for me in Clovis and I’d call her when I got back to the motel. One beer turned into three, but I was high and dry. High lonesome. The patron saint in charge of traveling money for foolish lovers wasn’t bailing me out…”
So there you have it… 28 years ago this month. The crazy summer and fall of 1984 – a time when Prince, Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Bruce ruled the airwaves.
Thanks for reading… and listening. Until next time…
This past week, “This Ain’t No Cowtown, Vol. 4” – a celebration of Colorado musicians – hit the streets on Bandcamp.com. It marks the one-year anniversary of the ongoing compilation series.
Reasons to love and buy this album:
1) The best and most important reason… ALL proceeds from album sales/donations will go directly to those affected by the shooting tragedy that happened in Aurora, Colorado on July 20th.
Organizations such as: givingfirst.org, Mile High Red Cross, Aurora Mental Health Center and other organizations that will ensure proper disbursement of your donations.
2) Actually 27 reasons here… 26 tracks and 1 bonus track from some of Denver’s and Colorado’s finest up-and-coming (and established) bands and artists. The songs on the compilation cut across a pretty wide range of styles and genres – indie, rock, power pop, punk, garage rock, metal, country.
All in all, it’s a great-sounding album that flows from start to finish with something for everybody. As always, I’m impressed with the music here in Denver, just the number of quality bands and artists to be found here and the sheer diversity of styles; this album is an excellent sampling and representation of that, as are all the “This Ain’t No Cowtown” volumes. The Denver music scene is one of the best you’ll find anywhere and I’m glad to be a part of it.
3) An ongoing series of shows in support of “This Ain’t No Cowtown” at the Lost Lake Lounge (3602 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO) every Saturday night in August (4th, 11th, 18th, & 25th), and proceeds from all compilation albums in the “This Ain’t No Cowtown” series are going to help those affected by the Aurora shooting. Many thanks and kudos to John Baxter for putting all of this together and for doing such a great job in compiling this album.
Again, here’s the link to “This Ain’t No Cowtown” on Bandcamp (set at a ‘Name Your Price’ $0 (FREE) to however much you would like to donate) – check them all out and donate generously for a worthy cause.
Still awaiting word on another compilation album coming out soon – “Make a Rain Dance Colorado” – which will benefit those affected by the wildfires here in June. It’s been a tough summer here in CO.
NEW SONGS from NIGHTS on VENUS:
Two of ’em here, from the forthcoming EP in the fall which now has a title: it will be called “Another Day in Paradox” – and it will now be a 5-song EP (to be released by 12/20/12 – just under the wire Mayan calendar-wise…. ya know, just in case). Currently working on the title track.
The title comes from the first chapter of 13th-century Zen master Dōgen’s (1200-1253) masterwork, Shōbōgenzō, one of the foundational texts of Sōtō Zen literature. It may be a word people are unacquainted with as much as “Bodhisattva” was to me back in 1973 when, as a teenager, I learned about it via the Steely Dan song (and then, synchronistically, read Herman Hesse’s “Siddhartha” and Robert Pirsig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” that same year – Donald Fagen explained “Bodhisattva” once in an interview as “the Buddha before he becomes The Buddha.”).
Basically, Genjōkōan presents in a precise way “Dogen’s philosophy that we should approach everything we do as bodhisattva practice.” In other words, practice = enlightenment, or truth through experience… through everyday life. The seemingly commonplace or “ordinary” – the mindfulness and awareness you bring to your daily activities while staying in the present moment, interconnected with all living Beings.
I became familiar with Genjōkōan in 1983, from a book of the same name (“Genjōkōan: The Way of Everyday Life”) by John Daido Loori – a book of photography and Dogen’s verses, and it’s simply what this song suggested to me. The more commonly accepted translation of “Genjōkōan” now is “actualization of reality” (from Shohaku Okumura’s “RealizingGenjōkōan” – an excellent book btw, for Zen practitioners and those interested in Zen – highly recommended), but I went with the “way of everyday life” translation as that’s how I’d always known it and “actualization of reality” seemed a little too abstract as a subtitle. The song sounded somewhat “Eastern,” especially after I added the saz and tambura parts to it (electronic though they may be), and hopefully does justice to it.
“Subtle Disturbance…” is a song that would have been easily right at home on “In 4 the Evening,” but it wasn’t far enough along by the time I was wrapping things up on the recent album. All of the new songs feature more active bass lines – ever since “Niteglo” I’ve been playing more and more bass (it’s an old Hofner from a pawn shop).
Hope you like the new songs and happy listening! Until next time….