goodbye 2018… hello, 2019!

It’s that time of year again, when one year passes into the next, and depending on what has transpired in the year that’s coming to an end, we’re either glad to see it go or remembering it at least somewhat fondly… or both, but we’re always hopeful for what the new year will bring. It’s like there’s this totally clean slate, if only for a few brief hours (or minutes) before we do something stupid.

So, on this last day of the year, buh-bye, 2018… and welcome 2019!

For Erin and me, 2018 has been a year of massive change (one big move).

I expect that for us, 2019 will be another year of massive change (another big move, probably to most likely).

I suspect (and predict) that for everyone, all of us, 2019 and every year from here on out, will be years of massive change.

I am told that if you start the movie Forrest Gump at exactly 10:38 pm, when you reach 12 midnight at the start of the new year, you will be celebrating with Forrest and Lieutenant Dan… wherever you are! This scene…

Well, some smart person just figured out that this scene occurs 1 hour and 22 minutes into the movie.

And hey, didn’t the Poseidon Adventure take place on New Year’s Eve?

Why yes it did. But you know, there’s got to be a morning after…

And then, who can forget the New Year’s Eve party scene from Boogie Nights? I know I certainly can’t… I lived it!

So now you know what we’ll be doing, what movies we’ll be watching tonight as it has been snowing all day here and it’s now 9 degrees in Littleton. We are, as they say, “In 4 the Evening

Very white and snowy today…

And does it seem odd to anyone else that we have arrived at 2019? Let that sink in for a moment… twenty nineteen. Could we see that far from say, 1980? One year away now from 2020…

Work progresses slowly and steadily on the new full-length album “Late Night Meditations in Suburbia“, slated for release in 2019. I should have some new previews of songs from the album up on SoundCloud in February.

I hope 2018 was kind and good to you and that the coming year will be even better. Here’s to a happy, healthy and prosperous new year in 2019. Cheers!… Happy New Year everyone!

Cover artwork for the 3-song single/EP “Snow Day”, which was released on December 23rd, 2017. Available on all digital media outlets…
Cover artwork for the “The Wheels Are Coming Off” single, released on June 12, 2018. Click for the larger image…

The most recent releases from Nights on Venus are the 2-song single, “The Wheels Are Coming Off“, released in the summer of 2018, and the 3-song single/EP, “Snow Day“, from December, 2017.

The most recent full-length release “We Are All Haunted by Something” was released in the summer of 2017 and includes the 2-song single “Speed of Life” and “Confirm Humanity (I’m Not a Robot)”. All albums/singles/EPs from Nights on Venus are available on iTunes, Bandcamp, CD Baby, Amazon MP3. and the NoV website.

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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new year, new songs… “heliotropic” and “blue mountains walking”…

2014... Abyss Lake from the top of Mt. Evans. Photo by Jon Kedrowski.
Abyss Lake from the top of Mt. Evans. Photo by Jon Kedrowski.

2014… the new year. Hope yours has gotten off to a great, rockin’ start. 12 days in, things have been somewhat uneventful aside from a short trip to Santa Fe to ring in the new year (a few pictures below). Also have already learned a new term: ‘polar vortex’; I expect there will be a movie of the same name on the SyFy channel in the near future.

I’m posting a couple of new songs here, recorded in the last three months, closing out 2013. I can say that there will be a new album from Nights on Venus in 2014 – I don’t know yet whether it will be a full-length album or a couple of 5-song EPs, but there will be at least one release, most likely in the fall.

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

The new material is just starting to come together. This is always the fun part, when the first exploratory musical wanderings (a.k.a. “noodling”) and recordings begin to coalesce and gel into ‘something.’

One thing I’ve noticed so far: I’m playing a lot more piano – electronic though it may be (a Roland digital piano) – on these new recordings and it is featured on both of the songs posted here. “Heliotropic” is the album version… “Blue Mountains Walking”, a  mastered demo [that did not make the final album cut]. Enjoy!

BLUE MOUNTAINS WALKING
(© 2013 Nights on Venus/Craig C. Thomas. All rights reserved.)

Currently I’m working on a song entitled “Infinity Pool” which I’ll post here probably later on this month.

San Francisco St., Santa Fe...
Hangin’ out on San Francisco St., Santa Fe…
Luminarias...
The holiday season is one of the best times to visit Santa Fe… the lights and luminarias were still up.
The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi...
The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi…
The Plaza at night, holiday season...
And the Plaza at night, downtown…
And another visit to 10,000 Waves on a chilly afternoon...
Another visit to 10,000 Waves Japanese bathhouse on a chilly afternoon…
I-25 near Wagon Mound, New Mexico...
On the road again, the return trip home… I-25 near Wagon Mound, New Mexico…
A short 2 hours later...
A short 2 hours later… the weather has turned nasty – freezing drizzle, then snow – and we’re stuck in an hour-long traffic standstill south of Colorado Springs. Numerous accidents when the road turned icy. Here, a moving van has overturned and spilled its contents all over the highway.
Almost home...
What is usually a routine 6-hour drive turned into 9-hour ordeal, but here we’re almost home…

santa-fe_5Until next time…

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

"Another Day in Paradox" - 2013
“Another Day in Paradox” – 2013

Follow Craig and NoV on Twitter (@xlntsky) and Facebook.

what to do when the words won’t come… a reading list

I’m back… to the blog, after over a month of being “missing in action,” at least as far as writing goes. Which has been a bit unusual because, as friends know and if you’ve stopped by here a few times, I tend to be a bit verbose occasionally. Well, maybe most of the time, but for various reasons I’ve found myself unable to write much of anything these first couple of months into the new year. First, the energies of events on the planet have been extremely intense over the last 4 months or so and most of us could probably use a breather to just kind of absorb everything that’s been happening; secondly, my own energies have been poured into finishing up the 3rd album for release by the first week of June.

Or it could be something as simple and mundane as I’ve had absolutely nothing interesting to say or add to the general collective blogosphere these last 2 months (a distinct possibility). So, blog writer’s block. It happens.

About the time you notice it and start paying attention to the fact that you’re not writing anything, it’s taken on a life of its own, so, in an effort to pry open the “floodgates of verbosity” (a good prog-rock song title if ever I’ve heard one, along the lines of Yes’ “Gates of Delirium”), I’ve compiled a short list of books I’ve found helpful over the years and maybe you might find them useful too. Though most of them tend to be about writing, they work equally well for anything you’re trying to do creatively (if you need a jumpstart).

Starting with the ‘big guns’ first, the heavy-hitters:

writers_blockOn Writer’s Block: A New Approach to CreativityVictoria Nelson
An excellent book – at only 170 pages, it throws out more gems of wisdom per page than any other book on the subject. Author Victoria Nelson argues that the “mysterious creative silences” every artist dreads are not to be feared, but should be viewed as a positive element in an artist’s growth – “the unconscious mind’s signal to readjust the approach to a work in progress.”

From the first chapter: “True creative discipline – and productivity – blossoms in conditions of gentleness and respect.”

art_fearArt & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of ArtmakingDavid Bayles and Ted Orland
Another excellent (and short) book that should be in every creative person’s library whether a visual artist, musician, or writer. The authors pose a lot of questions about the way art gets made, the reasons why often it doesn’t get made, and the pitfalls of why so many give up along the way (making very clear the distinction between reaching a “stopping point” and quitting altogether).

“In a general way, fears about yourself prevent you from doing your best work, while fears about your reception by others prevent you from doing your own work.”

walking_on_alligatorsWalking on Alligators: A Book of Meditations for WritersSusan Shaughnessy
A great, uplifting book of inspirational quotes, mostly from (you guessed it) writers and meditations/affirmations right there when you need ’em.

“A writer should value his blockages. That means he’s starting to scale down, to get close.” – Robert Pirsig, author, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

leaping-alligator“It isn’t a question of doing more work. It’s more of your own internal critic that goes, ‘You could do better than that. Take the higher road, not the easy route.'” – Robin Williams

writers_idea_bookThe next three are more geared specifically to writing, particularly Jack Heffron’sThe Writer’s Idea Book which is chock-full of writing exercises, prompts (about 400 of ’em actually), and a few creative techniques (brainstorming, clustering, automatic writing, and cutting and pasting, etc.) to get the pen going again. If you subscribe to The Daily Post from WordPress, then you’re already familiar with prompts for writing.

writing-down-the-bonesWriting Down the Bones and Wild Mind, both by Natalie Goldberg, are books filled with suggestions for writing and specific exercises and both showed me that writing in coffee houses, restaurants, auto repair shops, and yeah, even courtrooms, wasn’t something weird after all (oh no!… not another hipster!), especially when more people started doing it (pre-laptop era).

artistswayWhich brings us to the mother of all books on creativity, The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron, a 12-week program to unlock, discover, and/or reclaim your artistic/creative, and perhaps spiritual, territory. Dog-eared, profusely underlined, and just this side of falling apart, I’ve had this book for 20 years and go back to it for reference or when I just have a powerful hankerin’ for doing some “morning pages.” Mmm, with my morning coffee. If you own this book, you know what I mean.

All of these are highly recommended… all the best to you in your creative endeavors.

Until next time…

“In 4 the Evening” is the second and current album from Nights on Venus and is available as a digital download on CDBabyiTunesAmazon.mp3Bandcamp and other fine online retailers. On CD through the NoV website. The 3rd album, “Another Day in Paradox,” is scheduled for release on June 1, 2013.

Craig and friend
Craig and friend

Follow Craig and NoV on Twitter (@xlntsky) and Facebook.

pete townshend’s “who i am”…

First of all, I love this book. Second, I’m only about 2/3 of the way through so this will not be a proper book review as such, but so far it is terrific.

pete_whoiamWho I Am: A Memoir” is the autobiography of Pete Townshend, lead guitarist and principal songwriter for legendary rock band The Who, who has also enjoyed a solo career since his first album “Who Came First” was released in 1973. Just reading the inside flap you’ll learn that he: smashed his first guitar onstage, in 1964, by accident; invented the Marshall amp stack and the concept album; stole his distinctive windmill guitar playing from Keith Richards; followed drummer Keith Moon off a hotel balcony into a pool and nearly died; is banned for life from Holiday Inns (I especially like that last one), and apparently, like “Lucy,” has some ‘splaining to do.

"Who Came First" - 1973
“Who Came First” – 1973

What sets this apart from other ‘rock star’ autobiographies (along with Keith Richards’ excellent book, “Life”) is the quality, tone, and honesty of the writing.  Pete is an amazing writer – the writing is excellent throughout, full of rich details, and is the most unflinchingly honest and intimate autobiography, rock star or otherwise, I’ve come across. There’s a generosity of spirit here in the writing. If you’re familiar with The Who’s discography, reading “Who I Am” is, at times, the literary equivalent of their albums “The Who By Numbers” and “Quadrophenia” in equal parts.

The book divides itself into three acts. The triumph of the rock opera “Tommy” and their 1969 performance at Woodstock is chronicled in the chapter “Tommy: The Myths, The Music, The Mud” at the end of Act One. Act Two, entitled “A Really Desperate Man,” begins with this simple opening statement: “We were rock stars.”

The fascinating chapter, “Lifehouse and Loneliness,” details Pete’s concept for the ambitious Lifehouse project and how Lifehouse became the album we all know today as “Who’s Next.” Pete’s take on it as revealed in the following chapter:

“In July, at a happy party at Keith’s wonderfully eccentric house in Chertsey, we launched the new album. Lifehouse became the pathetically titled Who’s Next. The album cover was, in my opinion, a joke in bad taste. On the front we stood next to an obelisk against which we had been pissing. On the back we were all pissed in a dressing room after a show. The sleeve almost stank of urine.”

Sleeve design and “pathetic titling” aside, “Who’s Next” remains my favorite album of all time – as it probably is for more than a few people – since I first heard it in the summer of 1971; “The Song Is Over” from that album will undoubtedly remain my favorite song ’til the day I die.

Particularly affecting are the chapters on the deaths of his bandmates Keith Moon and John Entwistle (later, in Act Three, the chapter, “Letter to My Eight-Year-Old Self” – I skipped ahead), and the concert tragedy in Cincinnati – the way he talks about each of those events.

Enjoy “Who I Am.” It is an absolute joy to read and more often than not, has been a revelation (the sentence, “All good art cannot help but confront denial on its way to the truth…” forced me to underline it and think about it for a few days). If you like/love The Who and Pete Townshend, this is a necessary read and highly recommended. It’s rock ‘n’ roll history, but more importantly, it’s one man’s spiritual, musical “Amazing Journey.”

Nights on Venus News:
The new album is complete! 13 of the original batch of 16 songs recorded last summer made the cut; the other 3 didn’t quite fit one way or another and the album played stronger musically without them. They may reappear on a subsequent EP. Mastering should be complete by the end of March with a release date set once again for late May.

The final track and sequence listing for "Another Day in Paradox." 13 songs total. Right now, I'm not anticipating that this will be the back cover artwork but who knows - this pic will probably find its way in there somewhere.
The final track and sequence listing for “Another Day in Paradox.” 13 songs total. Right now, I’m not anticipating that this will be the back cover artwork but who knows – this pic will probably find its way in there somewhere. Taken near Raton, New Mexico, out the side window of the car, obviously.

Until next time…

“In 4 the Evening” is the second and current album from Nights on Venus and is available as a digital download on CDBabyiTunesAmazon.mp3Bandcamp and other fine online retailers. On CD through the NoV website. The 3rd album, “Another Day in Paradox,” is slated for release in May, 2013.

Cheers!
Cheers!

Follow Craig and NoV on Twitter (@xlntsky) and Facebook.

3 new songs: “vanishing america”… “[influencing the] quantum field” and “another day in paradox”…

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!

The trees in front of our house. Leaves will be gone soon, probably by the end of the month…

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!

VANISHING AMERICA
(© 2012 Nights on Venus/Craig C. Thomas. All rights reserved.)

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“).

ANOTHER DAY IN PARADOX
(© 2012 Nights on Venus/Craig C. Thomas. All rights reserved.)

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.

[INFLUENCING THE] QUANTUM FIELD
(© 2012 Nights on Venus/Craig C. Thomas. All rights reserved.)

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.

The road up Mt. Evans, highest paved road in the US, at the Mt. Goliath turn-off…
Close to the edge…
Mt. Goliath on the Alpine Loop trail….
Bristlecone Pine at the Mt. Goliath area…
The Mt. Evans Rd. to Summit Lake….
Summit Lake at 12,830 ft…. very windy and cold as you would expect at that altitude this time of year…
Mt. Evans from Summit Lake…
More Bristlecone Pines near the Mt. Goliath area… These trees live up to 2,000 years…

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…

“In 4 the Evening,” the new album (no. 2)…

“In 4 the Evening” is the second and current album from Nights on Venus and is available as a digital download on CDBaby, iTunes, Amazon.mp3Bandcamp and other fine online retailers. On CD through the NoV website.

Follow Craig and NoV on Twitter (@xlntsky) and Facebook.

the golden summer…

It’s still August, but already fall seems to be on its way here in Golden. Temperatures have dropped into the low 50’s/upper 40’s the last few nights and by this time next month the aspen trees will have turned bright yellow. Currently, the 22nd Annual Golden Fine Arts Festival is wrapping up and the summer of events is coming to an end by Labor Day with the USA Pro Bike Race through town next week. There will also be fireworks downtown the night of the race since we were in the throes of both a drought and county-wide fire ban back on July 4th. We’ve gotten some good rainfall since then.

This month in particular seems to be flying by, so this is just a look back in images at some of what’s been going on in Golden this summer as we’re about to say ‘goodbye’ to it for another year…

First Fridays… is as its name implies the first Friday every month during summer and continues until October… a big block party downtown with live music, food and beer (well after all, we are home to Coors Brewery and the slightly lesser-known Golden City Brewery) …

In addition to First Fridays, there’s also the Farmer’s Market every Saturday into October and Buffalo Bill Days at the end of July (but we didn’t make it over to that). Next up, the Annual Chili Cookoff in October…

Washington St., downtown Golden, on a First Friday…
Acrobatics downtown at First Friday, Golden…

Golden, the “2-hour mini-vacation from Denver”… No, I do not work for the Chamber of Commerce here…
At Indulge Wine Bar, downtown…
Tubing down Clear Creek…
Art, art…
Painter Jeff Cross working on a new canvas at his booth at the Golden Fine Arts Festival…

Coral Creek at the Golden Fine Arts Festival…

… and more art…

Overlooking the patio at Buffalo Rose downtown…

 

I don’t often drink Coors, but when I do I prefer Batch 19…

Sunset over First Friday as we bid a farewell to summer…

As always, new music from Nights on Venus is coming soon – the title track from the upcoming EP “Another Day in Paradox.” Hope to have that posted online this next week.

“In 4 the Evening,” the new album (no. 2)…

In 4 the Evening” is the second album from Nights on Venus and is now available as a digital download on CDBaby, iTunes, Amazon.mp3, Bandcamp, and available on CD through the NoV website

Follow Craig and NoV on Twitter (@xlntsky) and Facebook.

 

relief… (a.k.a. “rain”)….

Hello all… hope everyone had a good and safe 4th of July holiday wherever you are.

Here in Golden, the 4th came and went uneventfully and forgetfully, probably because it happened to fall on a Wednesday this year (prompting the feeling of three “Mondays” in the space of a week) but mostly because there was a county-wide fire ban in place which included, of course, fireworks. And rightfully so. The fire danger has been too high this summer so most cities along the Front Range cancelled their usual 4th of July fireworks shows. The only fireworks that were heard – not seen – were from across the street when one of the neighbors set off 2 or 3 of them in his backyard. The Golden police showed up within 15 minutes and, I assume, a ticket was issued.

Thankfully, Mother Nature has granted a reprieve since then in the form of significant rainfall 5 of the last 6 days. We seem to be back to the usual seasonal “monsoon” weather pattern where we have rain showers and thunderstorms almost every afternoon and cooler temperatures. It couldn’t have arrived at a better time. Rain… “Beautiful Rain” (I’m thinking here of the BoDeans’ song off their album “Home”). The wildfires are now contained in Colorado, after extensive significant damage, though they continue to burn in several other Western states. We’ve been getting so much rain the last few days that now there have been flash flood warnings in the burn areas, but we’ll take all the moisture we can get.

Back at La casa NoV, June was an unusually creative and prolific month. After the new album “In 4 the Evening” was released in May, I said I was going to take a break for a while…. yeah, that lasted about all of 5 days. Actually, that’s not surprising given the intensity of the last 3 months finishing the album – I couldn’t stop working. And that was a good thing. I’ve found that – if you haven’t thoroughly depleted the creative well – beginning new work immediately after the completion of a major project is really the best time because once the pressure of completing something is off, you’re free to just get back to playing, experimenting, and exploring new ideas. And anyway, during the dry heat wave of June, the Mancave studio was really the best place to be (always 65 degrees, 30 percent humidity – yes, climate controlled).

So, new music is coming very soon – 4 (count ’em, 4) new titles: “Genjōkōan (The Way of Everyday Life),” “Aloft,” “Subtle Disturbance [in the Atmosphere],” and “The West, 2097.” I’ll be posting at least a couple of them online on Soundcloud and Reverb and the first one probably next week.

Until then, the new album is out and available as an MP3 download at all the usual places online and on CD through Bandcamp and the NoV website. Purchase the full album through Bandcamp or www.nightsonvenus.com and you’ll get the complete 4-song EP, as yet untitled, free as a bonus when it’s released toward the end of this year.

“In 4 the Evening,” the new album (no. 2)…

In 4 the Evening” is the second album from Nights on Venus and is now available as a digital download on CDBabyiTunesAmazon.mp3Bandcamp, and other fine online retailers.

Follow Craig and NoV on Twitter (@xlntsky) and Facebook.