Sunday, October 7, 2018

Echoes of travelin' times 4

Sure has been a lot of travel in recent months! Which means I am still catching up with some photos from those trips - only up to Vegas (I think I mentioned Chicago last time, but Chicago is coming up next). About to add more this coming week, with a trip to Venice.

I kind of expect to see Batman somewhere in this photo (yes yes, I know, Gotham was his stomping ground and not Vegas, but still).

Been doing a lot of writing lately and just going with the flow, where the flow seems to be mostly coming up with choruses. For sure I plan on stopping to add verses, bridges and more to these, but new ideas keep popping up that seem too good to lose so I make sure I get those recorded in the rough.

Titles - or working titles at least - include "Seatbelt Light", "Cowboy Summer", and then a few with no lyrics and just melody / chords so they don't have titles yet (always hard to know what to name the files on the computer when the song doesn't even have a working title! "Hit song" is at least a positive outlook when saving the file, I guess :) )

I do have to tear myself away from writing though, to take care of other business aspects of things - I still have to follow up with potential co-writers from the co-writer speed dating event at NSAI, so I must do that; the itch to pick up the guitar and create will have to wait for a short time while I do that. There's more to songwriting than, err, writing songs!

To wrap up, for those interested, I used the free program FotoSketcher ( to add a bit of extra interest to my Vegas snapshots. Check it out!


Sunday, September 30, 2018

Echoes of travellin' times 3

Still playing catch up with some photos from recent travels, this time some shots from Vienna. We've got Vienna from the air as I flew in, the Metropol theater, the hotel street, the B72 bar, and a restaurant I forget the name of. I'll just intersperse those amongst the post!

Been a busy few weeks here too. I've been enjoying heading down to the NSAI weekly workshops, the one just over a week ago was the very intensive "speed dating for songwriters" night which was a cool way to get to say hit to some 20 or 30 people - but boy it moved fast! Next up will be saying hello to some of those folks to see if anyone wants to co-write :)

Last week's one was Genre Song Feedback Night, with the genre being Americana this time around. it was hosted by Elizabeth Elkins, one half of Granville Automatic, and as ever it was an awesome and useful experience to hear all the songs that were played and to hear the feedback given on all of those (as well as the feedback on my own song too - just that there is much more value to the feedback nights than that!)

There was a lot of good general business info in there too as well as specifics about each song, like some stuff about licensing, and the inevitable discussion on just what Americana is anyway! Worth going along to these, even if you don't have a song to play that week.

Meantime I've kept on changing the lyrics to "Awake, Alone and a Mess", fixing up a few little things that didn't sit right with me. I am still hunting for the lyrics for the bridge, though I have the melody now (unless I change my mind ;) ). Seems to be a hazard in writing a song about insomnia, that you may end up having a few sleepless nights yourself, but there you go!

The next one to catch up with will be the Chicago trip photos - and then I'll be having a new set of photos from Venice as heading there in a little over a week (don't expect canals though, ironically!)


Sunday, September 23, 2018

Echoes of Travellin' Times 2

Catching up on some of my recent travels! Back in August, I was over to Europe and back via Vegas, so we'll start in Sofia, Bulgaria.

I was only there for about 24 hours - should have been more like 48, but the first leg of my flight to Chicago was delayed and delayed, and eventually I ended up leaving via a different route on the next day (which got me there faster than leaving via Chicago on the same day as planned).

Had the chance on the one evening there to catch some live music, a fusion of jazz and traditional Bulgarian music. Not often I see a Telecaster and an accordion in action together :) There were also samples of the traditional music being triggered up-front there, to make for a unique sonic palette!

Getting around in these other cities often seems much easier than here in Nashville ;) I do love public transport in all it's forms! This is a flash forward to Vienna, more on that next time.

Lots going on musically of course - should have some new work tapes soon ("Diamonds and Pearls", "Wild at Heart" which are pretty much finished I think... then "Awake, Alone and a Mess", "She's All Woman", and "No Problem With My Problems" - the last one having arisen from my travels as I'll mention when it's finished and posted!)

I do love gear and sounds! This last week, the folks over at Soundtoys had a sale on Crystallizer, which I'd tried out on demo some time back but was a bit too pricey back then for quite a specific effect - but was perfect at the sale price! May make use of it on "Awake, Alone and a Mess" as it happens. It's kind of an echo / reverb with pitch shifting, so you can get the shimmer reverb for instance, as well as a range of other unique and creative effects.

Have a good one!

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Travellin' Times

Busy couple of weeks, and more coming up!

I'll be off over to Europe, then back via a few days in Vegas, starting tomorrow, so will be out of commission for the next 10 days or so. So I have crammed in a bunch of stuff before heading off!

Friday Nights Live

Headed down to The Listening Room, on the advice and invite of Randy England, and caught Stephanie Owens, Phil Barton, Victoria Banks and Lance Carpenter performing. Each is an awesome songwriter, and awesome performer!

New Songs

Two new songs done to work tape level, "Wild at Heart" and "Diamonds and Pearls". Co-writing a blues track at the moment, but that won't get completed til I get back from my sojourns!


Since I am still making use of TuneSmith, I did the right thing and purchased Rhyme Genie - maybe I could have kept on using TuneSmith for free, but heck, if I am finding it useful, the creator deserves their payment!

After some frustration with reverbs that come with my amp sim software / with Cubase, I demo'ed lots from Valhalla, and settled on the awesome Valhalla Vintage Verb. Amazing price at only $50 for such high quality reverbs, and was hard to choose just one - will likely add more to my arsenal later on though. It got used on "Diamonds and Pearls" :)

Then just today I purchased Reel ADT from Waves as it was on sale at $29 - vocal doubling / thickening is another thing that I've never quite got to my satisfaction, and was something I particularly wanted for the work tape of that when the time comes around. I tried out the demo and really liked it, once again it solved something I'd always wanted to do but hadn't found a way of doing!


A week ago on Thursday, went down to the weekly NSAI workshop where Shelly Peiken was sharing her experiences in the world of songwriting, though heartfelt and funny anecdotes and also songs too! Was great to hear "Bitch" performed by the songwriter themselves, as just one example of the cool things in the show. Picked up a copy of the book while there, will take that along on my upcoming travels :)

And that's it for now! Got to go pack :)

Sunday, August 5, 2018


Did you know

So long as your sound recording AND the music and lyrics have the same copyright holders, you can submit to the U.S. Copyright Office and cover both in one application, as a Sound Recording application. Can save the time, paperwork and cost of two submissions. See this document for details.


It's been my pleasure to help out recently with some videos for the awesome songwriter community, Frettie. In this case, I've been making some videos to show how to sign up and get the most from the website - if you are a songwriter, be sure to check it out!

If you want to know the kind of thing you get access to, then there are two awesome "Know The Row" events coming up this month, which you can join if you are not a Frettie member - but if you are a member, you get access to those for free (both live and in recorded form if you can't make the date and time).

I also had the pleasure of meeting up with host and mastermind and owner of Frettie, songwriter Brent Baxter, earlier on this month too!


If you're like me, and you write melody or chords, you'll likely find yourself firing up the voice recorder on your phone and recording a snippet of a tune, some words, or some chords. The problem is, how do you keep track of all that stuff and find the things that are worth actually continuing work with?

I'm trying out TuneSmith, which so far seems pretty awesome! I move the files off my phone (or tablet), and then I get a list of files that usually just have a date as their file name as they never got far enough to have an actual title or subject.

I can then just create a new song on TuneSmith, drop the file in there, and add my notes in the lyric section (and the lyrics if there are any, of course). I then sneak in an "R1" to "R5" where R5 is "Ok wow that sounds really cool" and R1 is "Hmm yeah what was I thinking when I recorded that?" - then a quick search of the lyric field will highlight the songs at that rating.

With audio, notes, lyrics, chords, and rating all in one place, it makes looking through those scruffy notes much easier.

And of course TuneSmith goes further, and you can add your co-writers, publishers, track when and where each song was submitted, whether it got cut and so on, which is really what it is for - but hey, it turns out to be great for organizing your notes too! PS, it's free, though if you want to use Rhyme Genie you'll have to pay for that side of it.


Now I'm in Nashville, where there is a thriving music scene, it was time to create some business cards. They came out rather nice I thought, good to see the logo worked well there! I used GotPrint if anyone is looking for printing their own cards, the price was good (I didn't go for any fancy options!) and they turned up really fast.


Yup, with the pencil sharpening done (well, mostly, there was still more this week as you can see!), it was time to get back to writing. I've almost wrapped up the work tape on "Wild at Heart", which I can only describe as "punk country".

It started from a guitar riff that I've had for ages, which wanted to be 195 bpm... but that was a bit harsh on the vocals, so I dropped it to 180 bpm, which is still rockingly fast! The whole thing wraps up in 2m 50s as a result. Hopefully will get the work tape completed this coming week.

Thanks to TuneSmith, I've also been able to find a couple of other interesting audio notes and have started developing those to see if they turn into something.


A busy week, had to dive in and sort out copyrights and registration on BMI for a co-write. Would be easy enough, but slightly complicated by the fact that this was a song that existed before and has been rewritten in the co-write, so had to untangle how that works! As part of that, finally registered with BMI as a publisher as well as a songwriter.


Sunday, July 22, 2018

Sometimes you have to sharpen pencils

It's an old adage not to waste your time sharpening pencils as an excuse for not doing whatever it is you bloody well ought to be doing.

But sometimes you need to sharpen pencils - you need to organize and prepare, so that you can work smarter and faster in the future. It's been pencil sharpening time!

TX to TN

I've moved from Texas to Tennessee - the call of Music City could not be resisted!

So this meant....
  • much packing, cleaning and so on
  • grabbing the fragiles (guitars and computers and paintings) and driving the 9 hours from TX to TN
  • getting the keys to the new place and moving in the things in a box marked frah gilly
  • sleeping on an airbed for a week
  • driving 9 hrs back to TX to let the movers in and give the old place a final clean
  • driving 9 hrs back to TN
  • getting the stuff turn up from the movers
  • buying some new furniture to replace stuff that was abandoned due to being broken (or just upgrading some of it)
  • then organizing all of that so that the place is ready for me to be creative
It all sounds very non-musical, but it's all in the name of music!

Amongst all that, I did manage a trip down to Broadway. Did you know I've never even been to Nashville before? Had to play the tourist! And it was very inspiring.
And a trip out to a songwriter rounds night, thanks to Randy England who I knew from the Frettie group of songwriters. That was cool, and of course I plan to play at some of those in the future (starting with open mics though).
I'd joined the NSAI a few months back, in preparation, so I had a trip down to the Thursday night workshop. Something that I plan on making a regular trip!

But mostly, it was all about sorting the place out so that it is a good, positive work environment. It started off like this:
Well, to be honest that corner doesn't look much different... but that corner was about all there was! Now it's more filled out, I won't have to sit on the floor (soon), and have all my capos, writing pads, pens and plectrums easily to hand. Plus the energy in the place feels good!

So, it's been a long delay to actually writing and recording, but a necessary one. Foundations have to be laid - and sometimes pencils need to be sharpened!


Sunday, March 18, 2018

Multiple personalities become one

Multiple Versions of Me Become One

I am a strange sort of fellow, especially in the music I like. You see, I like Steve Earle, and Tom Petty, and Del Amitri, and some country (especially alt and outlaw!)... but there's more. I also like The Dogs D'Amour and Social Distortion and The Levellers, who have almost a punk sensibility. But it goes on! I also like Motorhead, and I like Hawkwind with their space rock. And I also like instrumental music like Mike Oldfield, and electronic stuff like The Crystal Method, and Ladytron.

I am not sure who else listens to all those genres and styles with equal love, but I do. And, as a musician, the side effect is I also love creating that range of music.

Up until now, I've kept that separate, with Tommy Grimes III for the guitar / rock / country / blues stuff, and Faol Glas for the instrumental stuff.

But I have grown somewhat tired of that, it's a lot to maintain, and I'd rather be making music than maintaining websites and blogs... so, I have decided my instrumental and electronic will all just go under my own name. If people get confused, or can't fathom how one person can create such vastly different types of music, well, I guess that will have to be too bad!

In terms of being a songwriter, well, I also write melodies, so the instrumental stuff remains valid if you want to assess me as a songwriter - it tells you about what I like and how I write in terms of melodies and harmonies. So going forward, it will all be under just the one name!

The Five Sisters

So, the piece responsible for that was the draft from this weekend of The Five Sisters - part one of what should be a longer five-part instrumental of varying styles, inspired by the Five Sisters of Kintail, a mountain range in Scotland.

An odd piece as it wanted to be in 5/4 time (or 3/8, 3/8, 4/8 if you prefer), and it's been on the go for ages! And also it has a lot of layers to it compared to what I normally do. Still not finished, but close. Now just the other four parts to go :)

This also came about from wanting to do some guitar-based instrumental pieces, so expect to hear some of those too soon. These will be less synth-heavy than my other instrumentals, keeping the guitar as a main focus.

Stopping Automatic Folder Type Discovery

Windows is always so "helpful" - whenever I create a folder with audio files in it, Windows decides that I want to see "Artist, Album" etc as the file details. For a musician, that's a pain in the arse, as the files are most likely drafts, tests, or even individual audio files for tracks in the DAW.

When I look at those folders, I usually want to know "is this file too large to email?" - I don't need to know who it's by, it's by me, I know that!

Thank goodness then for this article on stopping Windows from doing that kind of malarkey.

This dual Xeon system has always been a bit crappy with latency. It is prone to drop-outs while I am listening / recording (though these don't affect the recording itself; but it is very off-putting while trying to get lost in playing along with your music!)

It reared its head again as an issue when I revisited the instrumental pieces, as they have lots of synths and effects. Even the Focusrite, which addresses the worst of it all, didn't help out here.

I did find LatencyMon which very helpfully gives you some idea on anything that might be causing latency. The test results give the very interesting and I-would-never-have-thought-of-that step of turning off my network adapter while working on particularly heavy songs. Cool.

And the other thing I always have to remember - turn on "Multi-processing" in the Bazille synth, else it just never works!