I’m re-blogging this today from Paula Bosse’s Flashback: Dallas blog (click on the above link), a great blog you should check out, especially if you lived or grew up in Dallas as the city came of age from the 1950s through the 1970s. Her blog is always a fascinating read and I love seeing these old historic photos. My family moved to Dallas in 1960 from Hartford, Connecticut, a couple of months before my 4th birthday; I grew up there during the 1960s and 70s, lived there in the early 80s and much later, off and on, from 2007-2011. Apparently, Dallas is still on my mind somewhat since we visited there last month and that already seems like ages ago.
There’s also a bit of shared history here. I never knew Paula before I started reading her blog. I don’t know how we got on the subject of the house where I used to live in 1984 – had to be from a comment I made on one of her posts, but in the ensuing e-mail exchanges it turned out that same house I lived in back in 1984 – with my “derelict” musician roommates/bandmates (and I include myself in that description) – was the first house she lived in years earlier.
Time really does fly. We’ve reached June already, the start of the hiking/summer season and I anticipate a very busy season for us here. Some photos from Sunday’s hike at Alderfer/Three Sisters open space park in Evergreen, usually our first hike of the season…
There is a new song in the Nights on Venus News section.
I’m currently working on new songs in the studio… makin’ headway, finishing them up. Taking a more balanced approach this year (and also in 2015 and moving forward), a more relaxed approach to creative work, allowing more time for these little trips Erin and I take into the mountains, getting out into the natural beauty of the wilderness, and especially now as summer is upon us and we’re making plans to move up to the mountains within the next year, year-and-a-half. There have been many changes over the last few years and this year of 2016 in particular so far; we’re not even halfway through. And in these times of accelerated changes it’s good and necessary to unplug from the Internet as much as possible – the bane now of our collective existence – and get away from the constant ‘urbanity’ of it all. Well anyway, that’s where we’re headed.
The track list and sequencing has been finalized… 6 new songs, and they are:
Porn Stars Stole My Subaru
All Become One
Past the Tipping Point
We Move Off Together
I’ll be finishing up pre-mastering on “Lightning Trees” next and plan on putting up the mastered demo version by the end of this month.
Today in Golden we are getting some much-needed rain. Except for only two or three days of some kind of rain, it has been bone dry in the Front Range since the 3rd week of July (as the pics below taken yesterday in the high country will attest to). For the last few years the seasons have been shifting to later in the year by about a month here in Colorado but with rain and snow forecast for this week we now appear to be fully into autumn (and it’s about time!). Cooler weather ahead… yay!
Nights on Venus began its 6th year of existence on the 8th this month, we celebrated my 59th birthday this past weekend, and Erin’s birthday is coming up next Sunday, the 25th. We love October! Pics of this weekend’s hike up Mt. Flora (13,132 ft.) on the Continental Divide follow…
It’s hiking season once again in Colorado – well, it’s always hiking season, regardless of snow – and now that all work on the Santos EP is complete and it’s “out there”, so are we. Out there on the mountain trails because that’s one of the reasons we live here – natural beauty, and the constant opportunity to be out in nature.
Alderfer/Three Sisters is part of the extensive Jefferson County Open Space park system. It’s a place I’ve hiked many times, especially when I was living up in Evergreen, but I hadn’t been back for a while so it was good to hike it again.
We started out on the Hidden Fawn Trail at about 7,500 feet, mostly a flat stretch that intersects with the Dedisse Trail. If you take the Dedisse to the right, you hike into Dedisse Park which is part of the Denver Mountain Park system and eventually come down the side of a mountain to the west of Evergreen Lake. We went to the left, then continued on to the Sisters Trail, took a right and started to ascend.
Our route this morning was a loop on the Hidden Fawn, Sisters, and the Ponderosa Trail covering about 2 miles out and back. It’s a good short and easy hike that hits the highlights of the Three Sisters rock formations and the Brothers Lookout on the way back.
To get there: Take County Highway 73 south from downtown Evergreen to Buffalo Park Road and turn right, heading west. Go approximately 1 mile to the East Trailhead. Be sure and get an early start as parking at the trailhead fills up, as most of them do, by 8:30.
The new 4-song EP, “Santos“, has been released and is available now on CD Baby and Bandcamp. Coming soon to iTunes and eMusic.
First of all, Happy 4th of July to everyone here in the U.S. of A.! Hope everyone has a safe, fun-filled holiday – go catch some fireworks tonight wherever you are as we celebrate the nation’s 239th birthday!
As the final touches are being applied to the Santos EP (and now I have just signed off on it), a look back to July, 2010… literally. A photo essay back to that time… before there was a Nights on Venus.
I took a little trip out to the Mandala Center just outside of the small town of Des Moines in northeastern New Mexico. And when I say small, it really is – the population was 161 in 2010. If you drive from the Panhandle of Texas up to Colorado, you know where this town is; it’s just a place you drive though before you get to Raton and the interstate (25). For me it was a destination and a personal retreat for 5 days that summer.
I had booked the 5 days at the Mandala Center before I got laid off from my job as a web developer at the end of April, the second time that I had been laid off, as an I.T. contractor, in as many years. I could have cancelled my time at the center, gotten my money back, because now I was unemployed again, but I didn’t want to and thought it was important to have those days to myself. I was living in Dallas at the time; I’d already paid for those days and I needed the change of scenery. So I went…
On U.S. 287, the time-honored route through West Texas that every Texan going to Colorado knows because really, it’s the only route. At Dumas, you have a choice: take U.S. 87 and you go through the corner of northeastern New Mexico, the more scenic route. It’s high desert between Clayton and Raton; Des Moines and the Mandala Center is about halfway between.
The first thing about the summer of 2010 is that it was exceptionally hot. Normally, temperatures for this area, once you get up above 6,000 feet, are about 85-90 degrees F. (29-32 degrees C.) in July. Since I was staying somewhere that didn’t have air-conditioning, I had planned for that and figured the nights at least would be cool. That summer the temps were hovering around the 100-degree mark. I was a little concerned ’cause I really don’t do hot weather anymore. Not at all.
Essentially, Nights on Venus came into being during those 5 days at the Mandala Center.
I had begun recording a few songs back in May, the first exploratory efforts after diving into the world of computer-based recording. I had a few songs written and started with them – took my last full paycheck from the job that had just ended and bought everything I needed for recording because I figured at age 53, as an I.T. contractor and having been laid off/unemployed for 7 months the previous year, it was probably going to be the last decent paycheck I’d get to be able to do this. That actually proved to be correct…
There were other people staying at the Mandala Center, 8 of us all total, all there on our own personal retreats for various reasons and staying in the Wolf Lodge. The Mandala Center itself I feel is a very special place; it offers workshops, classes, and a place for personal retreats in a beautiful, remote setting and you can check it out here. It may resonate with you and I highly recommend it. For one thing, the stillness and the quiet here are just overwhelming. There really are no distractions. The stars at night and the Milky Way were as brilliant here as anywhere I’ve seen them, including Crestone (Colorado). And no TV, no cell phone reception (courtesy of my carrier… from Dalhart, TX to Walsenburg, CO, the “cone of silence” was in effect) or laptop – no wi-fi! All of which made for an environment perfectly suited to thinking about “what comes next”.
Which turned out to be Nights on Venus… I settled on the name while I was there. “Nights From a Rooftop” (from the 1st album) was one of the songs from that first set of songs recorded in May. The title “Another Day in Paradox” originated here. That became title and the title track for the album 3 years later.
Every day Capulin Mountain dominated the landscape just to the northwest; behind me rose Sierra Grande. Pages of journal entries written there those 5 days (I’ve been keeping a journal since 1986) could be distilled down to a couple of lines: “No ambivalence. Work on music, work on myself.”
Obviously I took a lot of photographs while I was there… and left with some sense of direction.
The new 4-song EP, “Santos“, is scheduled to be released on 7/8/15 at all the usual online outlets.
This week, I hope everyone had an excellent Thanksgiving holiday…
The new album “Perspective” is complete and is currently being mastered by Brian Hazard at Resonance Mastering in Huntington Beach, CA. Scheduled release date is still set for 12/21/14 and the album will be available as an MP3 digital download and also on CDs (at a slightly later date).
The cover artwork for the MP3 album digital download is pictured below. The CD version will feature different artwork on the cover.
And so, to celebrate the completion of the album, Erin and I headed into Denver last night – the 2-hour mini-vacation from Golden and vice versa – for a night out and to catch the Chihuly Nights exhibit at the Denver Botanic Gardens on its next-to-last night here in town.
The glass sculptures are the work of American artist Dale Chihuly and the installation is absolutely spectacular, particularly at night. The pieces, ranging in size from small to large-scale, are amazing, beautiful, intricate. Not sure where the installation is headed next but if it comes to your city, be sure and go see it – it is well worth it. Some of the highlights are pictured below.
And this week, “Impermanence” has been released as of Thursday…. and now available on all the major outlets, iTunes, Amazon, eMusic, CD Baby, and Bandcamp, available in your choice of MP3 320 and FLAC (lossless) downloadable files on the latter two. And here it is from SoundCloud… Thanks for listening!
The image of this gargoyle is one I’ve used before – it appeared on the inner sleeve of the previous CD “Another Day in Paradox” and it has a certain amount of personal significance for me. ‘Impermanence’ itself – one of the four noble truths in Buddhism – simply means life is constant change, from one state to the next, moment by moment.
This particular gargoyle can be found at St. George’s By the River Episcopal Church in Rumson, New Jersey. This is where I spent the first year-and-a-half of my life and where I was baptized. My grandfather, Dr. Canon George A. Robertshaw, was the rector (senior pastor for those not familiar with the term) of St. George’s for many years until his death in 1964. St. George, patron saint of England who slew the dragon in mythical lore, so it hardly seems like a coincidence that – as my granddad’s name was George – he should be there and that the church flourished and grew during his tenure.
My mom, Joyce, grew up here at the rectory, the residence at the church at 7 Lincoln Avenue, for much of her early life, and this is where she met my dad, Paul Lindsley Thomas, who came to the church as assistant organist and choir director in 1950. They got married here and then I was born in 1956 down the road a little ways in Asbury Park, so these are my roots.
After we moved to Dallas, Texas in 1960, we returned every summer to the Jersey shore for a few weeks and stayed on the grounds, and I can remember as a little kid walking the grounds and looking up at that gargoyle and being fascinated by it. Some images just stick with (or haunt) you for the rest of your life and this seems to be one of those for me. [Perhaps also not coincidentally I heard my first Beatles’ songs, “Twist and Shout/There’s A Place” there in Rumson during the summer of 1963.]
I haven’t been back to the Jersey shore for a long, long time (1976). I’m sure way back then as a kid I couldn’t articulate that this image somehow reminded me of the fleeting nature of life, constant change, or of various changing emotional/mental states, but it sure did when I was walking around with the chord progression and that repeated guitar lick in my head months before I recorded it in June.
Notes on the recording:
“Impermanence” was recorded in June, 2014 at the ‘Cave Recording Studio, Golden, Colorado,
Craig C. Thomas – all instruments, engineering and production
Mastered by Brian Hazard at Resonance Mastering, Huntington Beach, California