one year of blogging…. getting from here to there….

It was a year ago this week that the Nights on Venus blog made its first appearance here on WordPress. Other than a very short initial post about the NoV store being open on ReverbNation, “getting my bearings (a.k.a., ‘yes, my GPS really was useless here’)” was the first real one. Just a quick look back…

The kitchen... gone are the boring generic cabinets and floor; the walls are next - we want color!

A lot has happened since then and things now are very different – I’ve been back in Colorado for a little over 4 months – but no less transitional. The anticipated move for mid-March isn’t happening yet although more and more boxes continue to stack up around my workspace. Maxx, our cat, likes to perch on the highest box; he’s getting closer and closer to the ceiling.

That move has been pushed back to around the end of the month now as all the requisite paperwork has been completed and remodeling has begun at the new casa NoV. While it’s exciting to see the work begin – all the fixtures and cabinets have been ripped out and the work crew is starting to paint the walls – it leaves almost everything else in a state of flux where Erin and I are living now (though we’re not at the plastic utensil stage yet).

We’ve been given a drop dead date of April 1st, but right now “the waiting is the hardest part,” to quote Tom Petty… getting from here to there. The new place is only 15 minutes from where we live now and we’re only 2-3 weeks out from the move so we’re close, but right now that feels like forever. Given that I’ve been in a state of flux since early 2009, I should be used to this. Having helped a friend move into his new place the other day, it only makes me want to get this move done faster.

Likewise, the new album, “In 4 the Evening,” is all but finished but it’s that last little bit… getting from here to there. So close I can taste it. And of course when you’re that close, you want to keep moving, ‘get ‘er done’. Delays are vexing when you’re trying to make a drop dead completion date, even if it’s a self-imposed one. You don’t want to lose momentum on the project.

Sifting through the material this week, a new song has been added – “Incense” (no peppermints) – and possibly another shorter song – “Agave Dusk.” The album may have 11 songs on it, and possibly 12. Although the remodeling on the house will be done a little sooner than the final pre-mastering mixdown on the album, it seems they’re both at about the same stage. It’s all those final details…

This week the temperatures here in the Front Range are reaching the 70s and spring is just around the corner. We’ll probably have at least a couple more snowstorms in the next month, but when the weather is like this now, I start thinking about the hiking season ahead. I’m looking forward to it this year as always.

And it’s a good analogy and reminder for where I am now – it’s all journey and process. The top of the high mountain pass or peak may be your destination, but 3-5 miles in, it’s only half the hike – the other half of it is the hike back (fortunately, most of that is downhill). Hiking in the high country you know to get an early start and expect the unexpected – in the early afternoon, the clouds usually roll in and you’re probably going to get some ‘weather.’ Most of the time, that weather occurs on the hike back in the afternoon. I’ve been caught in a couple of blizzards on ’14ers’ (even in July), a few hailstorms, lightning storms, and more than a few downpours. Those are the delays and the unexpected on the trail and you can’t get impatient.

The work on the house and the album is far less dramatic or risky of course, and we’re not doing the bulk of the remodeling work, but not getting impatient applies here as well (and now Mercury has gone retrograde to boot). The trailhead – the beginning and the end – is in sight and we’re in the homestretch now. A few photos from various hikes are included below…

Trail leading to the top of Mt. Flora on the Continental Divide.
View southeast from the top of Mt. Flora.
Mt. Eva, Parry and Bancroft Peaks from the top of Mt. Flora (13,132').
Torreys Peak from the Watrous Trail near the Continental Divide.
On the Uneva Pass Trail, late afternoon.
Lost Lake, Uneva Pass Trail.
The start of the Mt. Bierstadt trail at Guanella Pass, looking north back toward Georgetown.
From the top of Eccles Pass near Dillon.
Mt. Flora and Breckinridge Peak from the Democrat Mtn. Trail south of Empire.
On the trail toward Vasquez Peak, west of Berthoud Pass.
Engelmann Peak, from the Continental Divide Trail.

As for blogging and the seemingly never-ending search for subject matter, maybe after the new album is released (by Memorial Day) and I take a couple of [needed] months off, I’ll turn this into a hiking/photography blog for a while. Yeah, that sounds good.

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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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.

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.

’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.

how i spent my summer “vacation”…

I don’t remember ever having to do one of those ‘vacation essay’ assignments way back in school so maybe I’ll sort of do one here, and actually that should read: ‘how I’m spending my summer vacation’… while I’m in the process of spending it. As far as any vacations go this year, this is probably it. Spend it wisely. Don’t spend it all in one place.

Vintage sign at Golden Bowl

And it’s not really a true ‘vacation’ – it’s a working vacation of sorts. There is the “Perpetual” job search still in progress (although that is not what that song is actually about) and a storage unit up in the mountains still to clean out while I’m here. And there’s music to record and a blog to write.

Otherwise, this afternoon I’m out and about in downtown Golden, Colorado, writing – blogging – from a coffee shop, waiting for a good thunderstorm to materialize and cool things off. It seems to be hot everywhere. So far the would-be T-storm has only teased us here, and it looked so promising only a couple of hours ago. At least the cloud cover is helping to keep the temps down. The wind picks up outside, kicking up some dust and sending those little white ‘cotton spores’ from the cottonwood trees flying past the window. In the distance there’s a flash of lightning and the low rumble of thunder. OK, now we’re getting somewhere. And finally, some drops of rain start to come down…

The rain lasts for all of about 10 minutes – not even long enough to get the sidewalks wet, but it is slightly cooler and there’s more of a breeze when I leave. There have been trips into the mountains and the First Friday Street Fest is coming up in a couple of days as we head into the 4th of July weekend. Some snapshots from the trip so far…

More pics in a few days…

Outside the Little Bear in Evergreen

New music coming soon… I have been writing and recording some new tunes while I’ve been back in Colorado these last few days. One is fairly close to being finished, a slightly more uptempo – cracking the 100 bpm barrier – pop/rock piece as yet untitled which will be finished once I get back to Dallas, so look for it to be there on the NoV page on ReverbNation sometime about mid-July.

The Nights on Venus debut album is now available as a digital download on CDBaby, iTunes, Amazon.mp3, and other fine online retailers…

South Table Mtn. and Castle Rock, a Golden landmark, near Coors Brewery
With the spring runoff, Clear Creek's water level is very high. It's currently closed to all but kayakers.
You have just entered "The Lobster Zone" at the Buffalo Rose. In a variation on the old arcade 'grab the stuffed animal with the mechanical claw' machine, here you try to catch a lobster. For $2. As the sign says, "you catch 'em, we cook 'em."
North Table Mtn. at dusk
Street scene from First Friday in downtown Golden, CO (7/1/11)
Patio at the Buffalo Rose, 1st Friday (7/1/11)
"Go west, young man..." Mural of painting by Hal Shelton, downtown Golden.
A familiar sight: Saturday morning traffic on I-70 as we head up into the mountains..... If you live here, you know...