Hey ... How are you all?
Did you wonder where i've been?
Well, i've been on the roller coaster ride of getting an album ready for release.
Yes, TJ & THE SUITCASE album #1 is being printed up now!
This fact is very exciting for me, and becoming more real every minute, even though it still seems like a dream, since it hasn't been a smooth black top ride of leisure to get to this point.
I'm constantly reminded that anything we want to create in our lives comes from a little idea that gradually forms into a physical reality via a journey of hard work along a rocky road ... And that IS the blues! Every classic blues artist who's music i love worked long and hard while working on their music.
Some were share croppers, farmers, truck drivers, cooks, railroad workers, and the list goes on.
This is what shapes us. The work.
This album wasn't the one i had planned in my head, but it turns out that life had a better idea.
My plan was to write and record a studio album. The album which actually happened is a live album, which is what people have been asking for when i play live, and was quicker to produce than a studio album.
So, i'm really happy that the first TJ & THE SUITCASE album is a live recording of a real show, and this is how it happened ...
Sunbanks Festival WA, September 9th 2017 ... As you already know this was the first time i was booked on a main stage at a festival in the USA. A big deal to me. Before i went on stage i was told that my show could be recorded if i signed off the permission sheet. I didn't think much about it, other than speaking to the recording engineer, then signing the permission sheet. I played my set, which went well, and got re-booked for the festival in May 2018.
Fast forward to being back home after the festival weekend and a while later i get an email asking if i would like a copy of the recording. To be honest i forgot about the recording, as i had played another festival in San Diego the day before Sunbanks so the weekend was kind of a mad rush.
So i pay for the live recording, it arrives a few days later and i give it a listen.
Now listening to myself is not my favorite thing to do, but its a reality of my world. so i do the work.
After listening on a few different sources, (home stereo, computer, car, van), i'm pleasantly surprised to find that it sounds pretty good! Next, i play it to my wife who is a very talented, much awarded, long time blues artist. Also like me she is has a very discerning ear, and high standards, so i know i will get an honest opinion from her. She says, "its good, you should use it', which is enough for me.
Its now January 2018.
Next i speak to a great young producer/sound engineer, (Zackary Darling), to ask him if he would be interested in mixing and cleaned up the recording. Zack says yes and finds time in his crazy schedule.
All of these steps take time, and money, but were getting there.
Zack and i arrange a time to sit down in his studio to see what can be done with the recording.
We get that done, and while Zack is working on the album i get an a graphic designer friend of mine in the UK to start on an album artwork idea.
The mixing gets finished, and sounds great.
After a while my graphics guy in the UK has to drop out of doing the art work, so i hunt for an artist here in the US. A musician puts me onto someone who may work. We start getting ideas down. The first idea isn't working for me so we go with idea two. After some time i get a rough of idea 2 and that isn't working for me either ... Now time is getting really tight ... I want to have cd's ready when i go back to play Sunbanks Festival in May 2018, and were now into April ... Aggghhhh!!!
While this was all happening i found a great graphic designer on the Fiverr website, so i go back to her and ask if she can do cd / album cover art. YES she can. Phew! How long will it take?
5 days ... Really?! Perfect
We go with a totally different vibe to the first two artists, (who artwork was totally different to each others anyway), and i get rough designs on day one. Now i feel i can breathe a bit easier.
Five days later i have the album artwork.
I contact the cd repro company so that we can get things rolling. They jump on it, i send the artwork, the master audio files, and ... they ask for reciept of licenses for the old blues songs i've covered on the album ... OMG, i forgot to do that! Panic sets in, so i hit the internet for BMI, Harry Fox Agency etc.
Stress levels climb when i'm reminded how much it costs to license the songs, but it's a reality of doing other peoples songs and this album is all about paying (literally) respect to the old blues masters who's music inspired me to get this far. Pay the money, get the work done, wait for license receipts.
(Note to self: Write and record original songs for the next album)
Next i send the receipts to the cd repro company so they can action everything. Done.
Then i fill out forms for things they need in writing. One of the things i have to do is hear their master audio before the album goes to print. I've done that today, and it needs to be tweaked.
Oh and also i looked over the artwork again and found a spelling mistake on the artwork that cant be corrected at this point. TIME is running out. As i'm typing this Blog post my wife is warming up her voice to be ready to guest with Rita Coolidge tonight. Were leaving in 25 minutes and i need to get ready.
I hope to have physical copies of, 'TJ & THE SUITCASE - Live At Sunbanks', before i leave for the festival on May 18 ... I would really like to have a few copies to take to the Blues Music Awards next week, and the cd repro company said they may be able to send some to our hotel in Memphis.
This is the work. This is the life (or a little bit of it). We put the work in and keep trying, with help from many other talented kind people.
I'll let you know when the album is ready ... I'm reminding myself when i ay this, again ... NEVER GIVE U