I had a very fruitful FAWM 2015 with 21 new songs brought into the world. When summer rolled around, I was not considering doing The 50-90 Challenge, because our family was planning a cross country trip to Alberta to see my extended family. As July 4 neared, I found I was ready to open the creative floodgates once again and I started in earnest. I wrote 18 songs from July 4 to August 1, many of them on the road in response to our family Trans Canada Highway tour. I was also having a quite an inward journey, revisiting the people and the prairies of my childhood. Partway through our holiday, I got a wicked summer cold, and I was finding that the songwriting was incringing on the vacation, so I pressed pause. Returning home mid-August I wrote two more songs, but my cough was still with me and my heart wasn’t in it. Fast forward to the end of October, I still have the cough, and 20 new songs. Not a bad crop this year. FAWM: 21 + 5090:20. I have my own top 40 of songs for 2015 and still a couple months if I want to write a couple more.
I’m entitling this collection, TransCanada Troubadour, because the songs were directly influenced by my cross country journey.
The demos here were very lofi, and often very rough sketches of the melodies and performances. If my voice ever returns to strength after my summer cold, I may give a go at polishing up some of these demos.
Sean McGaughey, October 26, 2015
It’s Canadian National Day of Podcasting so I did a bit of a ramblecast/rant about my current thoughts on podcasting and on my creative life in general. I also plug my new podcast audiobook, Time for the Fair. Please check it out. I close out with a recording of This Ain’t My Hat, a song I wrote inspired by a children’s book This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
Happy CNDOP. Maybe next year it will be a statutory holiday.
This afternoon we went to Promenade Days in Barrie. One of the vendors on Dunlop was none other than Big John of the decades closed Big Johns Records. When I moved to Barrie in the late 80s, my sisters introduced me to Big John and his record store. His store was around the corner from Sam the Record Man at the 5 points. His tastes were eclectic in the extreme and he had only one rule– “Is it Good?” If you could find the kind of top 40 pablum they sold at Sam’s around the corner, it was likely kept inside a (thankfully dry) toilet at the back of the store with a hand lettered sign reading “Pop Shit” or in a basket on the counter under a flystrip with a sign that said “Top 40 tapes– Free if you take a fly.”
Big John introduced my sisters to Sonic Youth, Henry Rollins and Sioxie and the Banshees before they broke into the mainstream. He turned me on to Little Feat, Dave Brubek and the Greatful Dead.
Today he sold us 3 CDs. My daughter got a Johnny Cash compilation that got the Big John seal of approval. She also a Miley Cyrus CD which I remarked should have been free with a dead fly . Mine was a special Big John Recommendation.
There are more than a few musicians and bands that have profoundly influenced my musical tastes and my songwriting BUT I have never actually owned one of their albums. I have become intimately familiar with their music through the covers of my friends, on the radio and TV, or just through pop culture overexposure.
Today I bought one such album from Big John. It is from a long disbanded group who produced about a dozen albums in the sixties. Their music has shaped my consciousness for my whole life, but I have never owned one of their albums till today. I had considered getting a greatest hits compilation, but I think as a musician I really needed to hear these songs afresh in the original order as an album. I narrowed it down to two CDs. The one I chose was a recording entitled: “Rubber Soul”.
We listened to it in the car on the way home. My mind has been melted.
As I said, I am intimately familiar almost all of the 14 songs on the album but to hear it as a whole. So many impressions– Wow That Bass Player is astounding… And that drummer. Some of those rhythm guitar parts are stripped down in the extreme– just a downstroke on 2 and 4– jangly and slightly out of tune. The mix is wonderfully organic and inconsistent. Sometimes the guitars are a little too loud, sometimes drowned out by the drums and bass. The harmonies are sublime and not one of them autotuned. The songs demonstrate a hodgepodge of influences from rockabilly, to Rand B, to bluegrass, to British dance hall, to Indian Ragas. The style, mood and lead singer changes with almost every song. There is a moment in Girl during a 2 beat pause in the music where John takes a noisy audible breath. For all of the above reasons, this album shouldn’t work– but it is a masterpiece. It is perfect even in its imperfections.
Yesterday I got an itunes gift card as a gift. I believe I will use it to buy another record from this band called Revolver. Has anyone else heard of it? Is there anything else by these guys that I should have?
As a lifelong science fiction fan and a folk musician, I have been aware of the existence of Filk music for decades but I had never really investigated it. I was quite comfortable in my place as a slightly geeky singing schoolteacher and songwriter who told stories about family, faith, childhood, duct tape, and some geeky stuff.
Over the past year, I have come to know a number of Ontario Filkers through February Album Writing Month and Nanowrimo. Our family even went to Toronto to our first House Filk this fall and we were very warmly welcomed. Through these online communities and our one house filk, I feel that I have come to know several people in the Filk community, and I am excited to get to know them better.
But this weekend will still be Ductape Family’s first encounter with the FilkOntario conference. My daughter is armed with a couple killer acapella songs from the Doubleclicks and Jane Eggers. I have been polishing a few of my most geeky– jam friendly, chorus laden songs from 15 years of writing. My wife is eager to meet new people and listen to some great music. I have been reading about the event from other attendees, particularly Debs & Errol’s post on What is Filk?
As a virtual introduction to my music, here I am singing my Ballad of Chris Hadfield.
We cannot arrive until Saturday evening, so I’m hoping that someone will email me the topic for the penguin songwriting challenge on Friday or Saturday, because I would love to participate in it. What other advice do you have for relative newbie first- timers to a Filk Conference?
Each January, about 40 friends rent Wildfire Outdoor Education Centre in Wyevale Ontario for a DIY musicians getaway weekend of great food, music, and workshops presented by the participants. Here is my DIY workshop on how February Album Writing Month and Nanowrimo changed my creative process.
Premise: Write a novel in 30 days from Nov 1 to Nov 30.
Supposed to be a new novel project– not one in progress 1667 words a day– 50000 words minimum. You will not write a novel in 30 days, but if you succeed you will have a very good start on a first draft.
I finished nanowrimo as did my daughter and niece.
Culture of Nanowrimo: Local events and write-ins, online chatrooms and forums,
Word wars– timed writing against others.
Culture of not sharing writing in progress. Would be too time consuming– interfere with people’s ability to write 1667 words daily.
Saturday Songwriters at the MCC. Third Saturday morning of the month at 11am in the Roxy Cafe at the Midland Cultural Centre. For FAWM we will meet Jan 18 then every Saturday in February 1,8,15,22 and March 1.
Time to Write: Song Skirmish Title: Polar Vortex, Snow Day,Do It Yourself
We had 4 writers in the group and here is our finished song.
Do It Yourself
(DIY 2014 Jan 11, 2014) (c) Mary Marcolin, Ed Winacott, Sean McGaughey, Chris Johnston
Had way too much fun at the Emlenton Mill in Emlenton PA. 30+ songwriters from all over the world gathered for FAWMSTOCK, an in person gathering of February Album Writing Month participants. I wrote 6 songs with a bunch of nice people. Check out my to hear them.
’nuff words. Here are pictures and music.
During February Album Writing Month, I wrote 20 songs, then 5 more in the months since. Last week I signed on for the 50/90 music challenge: write 50 songs in 90 days starting on July 4. I am not intending to write 50. I mostly signed on to keep connected with the writers I met during FAWM. But allasudden I find I have written 5 new songs in 6 days. The jukebox below will play all the songs I have written during 50/90. It magically updates so can always listen to my newest songs.