A little experiment: Sharing the love at Patreon

So, here’s an interesting thing – I have a favour to ask. Would you be willing to be part of an experiment with me?

Back in September, I shared how I was moving most, if not all, my spontaneous creative work to Patreon. It’s why I’ve been so quiet here since.

A small number of people followed me over there, and I’ve been posting fairly regularly – new songs, impromptu jams, an unfinished novel, prompted poetry – you know, that sort of thing…

I’d like to get more people there but I came across something really, really ANNOYING about Patreon’s functionality.

Put simply, it’s REALLY difficult to find artists on Patreon, unless they’re already successful.

The flip-side of this is that it’s nearly impossible for an artist to find patrons on Patreon! Basically, you have to build audience elsewhere, and get them to Patreon to pay you.

[Patreon then reaps the reward of your hard work through their fee]

Sigh… Such is the way of things in the arts on the internet.

Still, it got me thinking – and the idea for my little experiment began to form.

Here it is in a nutshell:

For every 5 patrons I have at Patreon, I will ask the community to tell me 3 undiscovered artists who I can, in turn, sponsor on Patreon.

Basically, each one of my patrons will actually be sponsoring 1.6 artists just by sponsoring me at Patreon

[8 artists sponsored by 5 Patrons]

Though, of course, in reality it’s me sponsoring the extra 3.

[and yes, passing on 60% of my sponsorship]

My self-interest is simply to be able to afford to keep making music, writing books, and offering them to the world – but to be able to do that while also helping others do the same is just amazing.

So, here’s my question: Are you willing to be part of my experiment?

If so, all you need to do is sponsor me at Patreon – here are the per-month levels:

  • $1 – No reward – just for those who want to help me do what I do
  • $1 – Music Fan – you receive a physical and digital copy of any new CD I release
  • $2 – Avid Reader – you will receive a hard- or e-copy of any new novel I release
  • $10 – SUPERFAN! – you will receive physical and digital copies of any new CD or Novel I release, and private invitation to special events online and face-to-face

And, of course, you can choose to pay more than those subscription levels, but the amounts above are the minimum to get going.

So what say you? Are you willing to help me help you help my sisters and brothers in art?

Sponsor me at Patreon

2016 Whalie Awards Nominations

I am very, very lucky to be part of an incredible music scene here in South East New England

[some have suggested New London, CT is the Live Music Capital of New England – and who am I to disagree]

The Whalie Awards celebrate the breadth and depth of talent across our corner of the universe and I’ve am honoured and humbled to have been nominated across the past few years, including winning the Americana Record Of The Year for 2014 with Sparse.

While winning may be nice, I know of no musician here for whom the making of music is in pursuit of awards, and the same is true for me. Every year, the Whalies serve to remind me of how lucky I am to make music, and to share that music in collaboration with so many others. For this reason, you won’t see or hear me shouting that you need to go and vote for me or mine in the people’s choice awards. If it helps, you should know that I don’t vote for myself in the awards!

For those keeping track, though, I (or we) have been nominated for the following awards this year:

People’s Choice

Critics Choice

Voting for People’s Choice ends tomorrow (6th June) and ceremony is next Saturday, 11th June – immediately following that, Anne Castellano & The Smoke, are playing at 33 Golden Street, just down the street from the awards – so I guess we get the after-party!

Some things for you to ignore

Because right now, in all honesty, I’m tired of self-promotion and trying to persuade you to read/listen/enjoy anything I’ve put into the world.

So go ahead, please ignore…

Novels
Records
Poetry
Live Music
iOS Apps

About a song: Rough Diamonds from Turquoise Cyan Sapphire

I woke up today to a request to share some of the background to Rough Diamonds, track 7 from Turquoise Cyan Sapphire. So, here goes…

Rough Diamonds was originally written and recorded in about 1998, and started off with that main picked guitar riff

[for those playing along at home, it’s my ES-335 fitted with Seymour Duncan P-Rails playing that part throughout the TCS version]

once again, the riff is a function of my broken hands, so lots of drone strings – though it’s possible now to play it with the barre, it loses a whole lot of that certain something.

The original demo featured Ruth on vocals, though at that stage in my song-writing journey I hadn’t quite twigged about changing key to suit voice and, as a result, Ruth

[who happens to be a trained opera singer – here she is on Pepperbox]

takes the main chorus up an octave  – and it does something very special to the song.

As a result, I seriously doubted my ability to perform Rough Diamonds to its potential – it doesn’t stretch my range, and I can’t really project it hard – and I put it in a time capsule: “songs I will never sing”.

Yet, that guitar riff kept coming back. And I couldn’t stop it.

As I headed into recording Sparse, I began to play with the song, trying different keys, tempos, treatments; all the time coming back to the original key, though the tempo changed. I ended up putting an acoustic treatment as a bonus track with the download of Sparse

[and you can definitely hear me reshaping the song]

While I love the original version of Rough Diamonds, I would dearly like to have a time machine to take my current tracking, mixing and mastering skills back to that younger me. All of my early demos are way too slow and, as a result, lumbering. No matter how good  Ruth’s performance was, the musical backdrop didn’t help!

So, when it came to producing the version that’s on Turquoise Cyan Sapphire, I had a couple of references and a pretty clear idea of what worked and what didn’t.

Musically, the riff remains prominent, though here, with the toms, it takes on something of a Radiohead-feel. The original demo had a lot of guitars in lots of directions, and I kept that spirit alive here, doubling the bass during the link-chorus, putting some stabs here and there, and some angular rhythm guitar in the verses. This also has the benefit of pulling the song closer to the “nearly blues” spirit of Turquoise Cyan Sapphire.

In the main chorus, I took a different tack – adding horns to keep things fresh, and also to allow the picked riff to return clearly, as well as the prominent echo on the vocals

[which had been on Ruth’s original take]

The original demo had a beautiful, structured guitar solo by my former band-mate John Matthews, and I decided not to try recreating it myself; instead, I turned to my daughter Elise and together we wrote the simple but effective trumpet solo that’s on the final version.

Not much else to say about the music, aside from that the Sparse treatment

[work-in-progress as it was]

reassured me that I could sing the song, and that in doing so, less would be so much more.

Lyrically, Rough Diamonds is a song about survival; in this case, living through psychological manipulation and interpersonal politics. I know what and who it was written about, but that’s not important to anyone but me, myself and I.

What I hope the song offers is the hope/belief that, even when people seek to undermine us by persuading us to undermine ourselves

[in this case, in the guise of “trying to help”]

we can emerge stronger for the experience; as strong as diamond.

Even as I wrote the song, I knew there was a higher level of interpretation – at the societal/political level, Rough Diamonds was also a statement of hope/belief for those activists for change; in the lyrics, this is represented by the shift from “you/I” to “we”.

In essence, Rough Diamonds was the emergence of my offering to the world:

Keep going

I think this fundamental core is why the song still hits me so deeply; it’s among a handful of favourite songs I’ve written.

They won’t believe what they have done
When you pull them from the earth
Rough diamonds
Catch the sun

Enough writing, have a listen, read the lyrics, let me know what you think!

Love-peace-trust

Vince Sig 131x89

ROUGH DIAMONDS – VINCENT TUCKWOOD

You are you and I am me
And we could break so easily
When they’re kicking us in shape
And we can stand and take
Their taunts and fears and crap complaints
They can’t stop us
It’s their weakness

You know what’s strange
I’m half-and-half
I forgotten how to laugh
At the same time
I feel 10 feet tall
6 feet wide
I have got a smile inside
They can’t stop us
We are rising

We could bend until we break
We could fall to our knees
Take all that we can take
We are stronger than we think
But when they get in your head
It’s tantamount to rape

They looked for blame and they found us
Though they cut and they run
They will find they have not won
They won’t believe what they have done
When you pull them from the earth
Rough diamonds
Catch the sun

See the sun and the moon
You’re catching them in your eyes

From Turquoise Cyan Sapphire, released 28 July 2015
Instruments, voice – Vincent Tuckwood
Trumpet solo – Elise Tuckwood

Written, performed, mixed and mastered by Vincent Tuckwood at Monkey68 studios, CT, USA.All rights reserved, Vincent Tuckwood – 2015.

Noisy boy ignored

The silent boy
found his choice
found his voice
found his noise

The silent boy
now noisy boy
made his choice
made his noise

The noisy boy
met with noise
“QUIET!” they yelled
silence your noise

The noisy boy
made his choice
opened his voice
made more noise

The noisy boy
found his voice
met with silence
stone-cold silence

So ignored
the noisy boy
made his choice
whispered his noise

The noisy boy
found his noise
met with silence
lonely silence

The noisy boy
made his choice
let their silence
take his voice

The noisy boy
now silent boy
was never heard
again

Getting the band back together

Last night was our third practice with the new line-up of Monkey68

[Craig and I are pleased to welcome Trevor Chandonnait aboard]

and things are gelling really, really quickly, mainly because:

  • Craig has been playing with me for a couple of years
  • Trevor has a great feel to his drumming, and he and Craig are already locking together
  • We are playing in a pocket directly shaped for and by my songs

There’s also the fact that we are a bunch of old… erm… older dudes making music – dudes who have learned the critical skill of listening to what each other are playing. We’re old enough to appreciate constructive feedback, and collaborate to the best of the performance/song.

This line-up feels good. REALLY good.

[which is saying something, given how much I enjoyed playing with Tony, Pete and Patrick in previous iterations of the band]

Even at practice 3, I would have gigged what we played last night just as it was; seriously looking forward to how tight we’re going to become over the next weeks/months. As I near completion of the new record

[did I mention that?]

it’s also cool to hear those songs tried and tested with the band. I’m leaning towards, maybe, adding an extra player in at some point in the future

[keys – electric piano and Hammond]

though the core trio is my focus first and foremost.

Last night got hot and humid in the practice room, here’s a picture of as we were getting underway – and before the sweat started condensing on the walls!

IMG_1782

If you zoom in, you’ll see me in the mirror behind Trevor – so it’s officially a trio shot 🙂

Stay tuned for updates here, or even better join us at Facebook.

Love-peace-trust

Vince Sig 131x89

 

Songs we’re working on so far:

Wish-list, or coming soon!

 

About a song: You Say from Sparse

You Say is the 9th track from Sparse

Sparse feels a long time ago now, and I am always surprised when this track comes up on shuffle

[as it did in the car yesterday]

not quite because I forget it’s on the record, but because of my reaction.

I find myself dropping into and almost trance-like state of focus, listening closely to the performance, and reflecting on the lyrics. While this happens with other recordings, and is something I suspect every recording musician experiences, the effect is particularly strong with this one.

Here’s what I think is going on.

Firstly, You Say emerged during 2010, as I reshaped myself, and my family went through the very testing times of Dad’s illness, so its crucible was already emotionally heightened.

Musically, this was the first acoustic song I’d written in YEARS – I’d been using the acoustic to write, of course, but always towards a more developed band-treatment – with this one, though, I knew it would stay simple

[as much because of the lyrics]

In it’s own way, You Say was, I think, Sparse beginning to push at me, letting me know I was ready to make a stripped-down, intimate collection of acoustic songs.

It took me a while to empty out my picking hand on the song, too busy, hitting too many strings – I can hear that in the playing here; live now, it rolls more – and I think it benefits from the space, which leaves room for the lyrics to hit home.

Though Sparse aims to be just that, several tracks do feature quite a bit of extra instrumentation, though it never overwhelms the centrality of the acoustic and voice. On You Say, there are several other instruments.

For the second verse and solo, I added organ

[as I often do]

but underneath that, there is a lovely, throbbing electric guitar

[my Music Man Reflex through a Fulltone DejaVibe into my Budda Verbmaster]

and some very, very subtle electric piano vamping.

The solo is the Reflex direct into the Verbmaster – simple, straight. Gorgeous.

Then the final verse, the throbbing guitar remains with some very high electric piano/glockenspiel counter-point.

It’s very, very simple and, to my ears, beautiful in its melancholia; which is just what I wanted to serve the lyrics.

And so we’re here again: the lyrics.

Many of my conversation songs

[I… You…]

are self-reflections, discussions and arguments I’m having with myself. And that’s certainly true here. The early verses reflect upon how spent I was from my corporate life – so very, very tired – but the listening narrator

[still me, and just as tired]

is fully aware and hearing what’s being said, accepting and ready to move things on

[If that isn’t rooted in id and ego, I don’t know what is!]

Alongside this, though, I was dealing with being thousands of miles away from my family as my Dad went through his illness, and feeling so bad for how distance separates us; lingering guilt for moving away. I think the very last verse is my offer to them, to myself, to everyone; that no matter how far, I’ve been here all the time, just waiting to be there for you.

All this playing with the I… You… roles in the lyric leads me to the chorus and it’s punctuation. When I wrote the song, there were no speech-marks, i.e. it was the visitor complaining that the narrator wasn’t available

[a nod to the distance between my family and I]

but as the years have passed, and I’ve lived in the song, the visitor’s denial/avoidance has become more clear

[it’s where I’d been for a couple of decades, after all]

and the to-and-fro of those chorus speech-marks becomes ever more clear to me.

One final point of trivia – the demo originally finished  on “I’m listening…” and the 5th chord – but the lack of resolution really bugged me. At some point in live rendition, I added the little coda of “then you say…” with the resolution back to the root – it’s an offer, a glimpse of continuation, a suggestion that the I… You… has become We…

Which is everything I ever wanted from this song and its life in the world.

Love-peace-trust

Vince Sig 131x89

YOU SAY – VINCENT TUCKWOOD

You say
“Hello my friend it’s been a while
Since we’ve spoken
Lost the time
I’ve drifted far away from home”

You say
“I’ve given up there’s no winning
Had too much
All burned out
My worn out shoes, my jealous eyes”

You say… I’m not listening
You say… “I’m not listening”

You say
“My centre’s lost and I’m a mess
My up’s down
Left is right
My front is back, all inside out”

You say
“What difference comes from being me?
I’m empty
All used up
A dried out husk, a worn out seed”

You say… I’m not listening
You say… “I’m not listening”

You say
“I’ll just go and leave you now
Stayed too long
Burned my welcome
Cut my ties all into rags”

You say
“You’re distracted playing games
Still climbing
To a top
Beyond the clouds that never comes”

You say
“Hearing takes you being here
Not elsewhere
In this moment
Open doors and welcome arms”

I say
“I’ve been here all of the time
Take a seat
Take a step
Here is my hand, I’m listening”

Then you say…

Copyright 2013, Vincent Tuckwood