New Album ~ Sparkling Water~ Coming Nov.11th

15 Oct

So. The year was 2020. I was recently returned from a trip to Kenya, where I witnessed freedoms I’d never known. The news all pointed to a virus. My friends, most of them, dug in with a conspiratorial mindset.

Lockdown began, and I began to grapple with purpose, or rather a sense of purpose that flickered like an “OPEN” sign with a short circuit. What am I good at? What matters? How am I going to spend this time?

By summer, I knew it was time to make another album. Album 21. The title came first: “Sparkling Water”. I moved all my instruments into my living room, and left the place a mess for the better part of a year. Some friends dropped by to help: Adam Bowers on steel guitar and backing vocals, Andrew Erickson recorded drums, bass and piano for several songs. Sean Nelson drummed on a couple early versions. All the while, 12 generous people backed me on Patreon and listened to working versions of the songs, as well as a lot of songs that will probably surface on the next record (another story for another time).

By April 2021, all the performances were tracked and I drove down to Bakersfield to mix the album with my longtime collaborator, Tomas delToro-Diaz. A depression, a fog, lifted on that trip. Bakersfield is a LOT different from the Bay Area, and it was that variety that underscored a lesson for me: I thrive on novelty, dynamics, changing skies.

Back home, I struck a deal with longtime mastering engineer/mentor John Greenham, and he went to work on the tracks. Summer came and I made weekend trips to Sacramento, to work with clothing maker Lindsay Rickman, bringing a long time dream to life: a full-body suit made of CD-R’s. Every time we took it out of the shop, people stopped us, calling from across the street. What is that? What are you doing?

In July, I called photographer Ian Tuttle. We drove up Bolinas rd. and listened to a Jaco Pastorius CD, as we searched for a suitable body of water to take some pictures. He too had felt parched for new experience in the past year. The whole evening was like a cool drink of unflavored La Croix, straight from the perspirating can. Again, people called out to us, from across the lake this time. What are you doing? You’re an angel! Thank you, space man!

I got the band back together, and subjected them all to my unnecessary anxieties. Who knew it would be so scary to come back to band leading, even on the side patio of a local bar? The gig went great after all, even in the midst of heavy smoke and languid heat. Andrew Byars and Michaela Thomas opened the show, setting us up for a lovely evening. Ancient Baby, or “Chris Peck’s Sparkling Water”, as we’re now called, made me proud and did the new material more than justice. They made it sparkle.

Fall fell, and I sent some photos and text to designer Parker Richard, who has done the layout and design for my last 3 records: Ancient Baby, LOAN’s Blue Phase, and now “Sparkling Water”. We messed around with fonts and found the perfect one: Snell Roundhand, which made the whole CD package feel like a formal invitation.

I placed an order for 100 CD’s. Which brings us to the present: Band reformed, new album on the way. Next show: Smiley’s Schooner Saloon in Bolinas, on November 13th at 5pm. It’s an outdoor stage, visible and audible from the street, so even my truther/anti-vax friends (most of my friends if I’m honest) can come to the party if they want. I like it that way. Complimentary cans of La Croix will be provided.

Anyhow, here’s where you can hear the first 3 singles from the album, and pre~order it, if you’d like ❤

https://peckthetowncrier.bandcamp.com/album/sparkling-water

And here’s one of those far~out moments by the lake, featuring Ian Tuttle’s photography and Lindsay Rickman’s sewing.

Thank you for reading, Thank you for surviving the last two years, and as always, Thank you for your ears and support.

Yours in music,

CP

8 Jun

Hearing Is Feeling: A New Music & Talk Show

Tap, tap, tap, testing the mic:

Friends!

I’ve recently launched Hearing Is Feeling: A New Music & Talk Show! I’ll be spinning favorite tracks and telling the lore, sometimes with guests and friends on board. Thus far, I’ve made two episodes, featuring music by several friends and heroes (they are the same.)

I’m using Spotify to publish this show, and I believe you’ll need a subscription to hear full songs. Otherwise, you will hear all the spoken parts, and 30 second samples of each tune. For years, I was somewhat opposed to Spotify. The platform seemed to pull people away from an intimate knowledge of music and musicians. However! With the addition of this “Music + Talk” feature, I think something really good is cooking. Curation will be returned to the hands of people, and people who care a lot about their musical interests. I’ve long dreamed of hosting a radio show, where I can highlight music that I feel is important, adventurous, and overlooked. This platform is a great fit for that ambition.

Anyhow, I hope you enjoy the show, and I hope it helps you make space for music in your life.

Yours in music,

Peck

Here’s episode two, the most recent:

New Video & A Streaming Premiere

10 Mar

Dear inner circle fam,

On March 16th, the Ancient Baby Home-fi album will be live on all streaming platforms. To herald the occasion, I’ve whipped up a home-made music video, in the spirit of that home-recorded album. “Comin’ Round Again” is a song about the internet, about paper and vinyl, about messages in bottles and arrows in tornadoes. This video is dedicated to memory of my uncle, Bob Theobald.

To stream the Ancient Baby Home-fi record, you can pre-save it and hear it on March 16th: https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/chr…

Or, if you’d like to hear it right away, you can purchase a download, CD or book here on Bandcamp: https://peckthetowncrier.bandcamp.com…

Yours in music,

Peck

New Music Video – “Bruce Lee”

5 Aug

 

They say life is a journey. Here’s a song and video in that spirit.

Filmed over the course of a year and change, the “Bruce Lee” video is sort of an elaborate selfie, shot on my phone with a little $10 tripod, often set up on top of my car. There were shadows, paint brushes, many murals visited, many locations and shoots that didn’t make the cut, and eventually, this past December, a trip to Kenya to visit my brother Austin and his family.

The trip was dense with people, places and first time experiences, and I haven’t begun to write about it and digest what all happened out there. Suffice to say, when my plane flight left the Nairobi Airport, I felt a beautiful heartache, and knew that I was forever changed.

When the covid-19 pandemic set in, I got some video editing software and started putting the footage together.  You’ll probably be able to tell which shots came from Kenya. The rest of the video was filmed around California, and mostly around the Bay Area. If I saw a cool mural, I’d  pull over and sing in front of it.  My friend Shakti Kennedy suggested that I visit the Bruce Lee mural in Jack Kerouac alley, after she watched the first draft of the video.  Naftali Beane Rutter gave me some key guidance on the basics of editing, as did my brother Austin Peck.  Both of them have made some powerful films that you should see.

The song “Bruce Lee” is borderline Christian rock, or like the redemption narrative of classic country songs of the 1950’s and 60’s.   For a long time I’ve invoked Bruce Lee’s name as I talk to myself. He symbolizes discipline and balance in my inner language. The book I hold up mid-video, “Striking Thoughts”, is a collection of his writings that has given me sparks of inspiration and spiritual guidance since I was 20. I think the core idea of Bruce Lee the song is that the biggest thrill in life, after all adventures and misadventures without, is to find mastery within, maybe through the pursuit of an art. In Bruce’s case, it was his body. In my case, it is a marriage of music and words.

Shouts out to Luke Westbrook, Miles Wick, Shakti Kennedy and Darren Racusen for their invaluable input. On a musical note, thank you to Ethan Turner for recording & producing this song, John Greenham for mastering, and Kim Ortman for singing the lights out. Hear the whole album at www.peckthetowncrier.bandcamp.com, or just email me about vinyl, double CD and book versions of the album and I’ll walk to the post office and mail you a copy …

While this pandemic has had, and will continue to have disastrous results for humanity as a collective, it also presents an opportunity to journey within, with renewed commitment to palpating our own infinitudes. I hope all the locations in this video and the story of the song will give you a feeling of movement, and will resonate with your own inner quest.

 

 

LOAN’s “Blue Phase” – the Album Is Out!

6 Feb

~ And just like that, the album was released into the world ~ It’s called “Blue Phase”, by LOAN. Four years in the making, there are a lot of vibes on here, from smooth to steel mill, blue to blinding. We hope you’ll give it a spin:

https://loan.bandcamp.com

LOAN_Blue-Phase_Cover_FRONT_v02-02

LOAN, a collaboration between myself and poet Tongo Eisen-Martin, was founded in 2012. “Blue Phase” is our second release, and our first full-length album. Until the end of February, the album will be available exclusively on Bandcamp, or hand to hand. Then it’ll be streaming all over creation. If you like what you hear, please consider buying the album. We’d be ever-grateful.

Some very special people lent their talents so that Tongo and I could move this record across the finish line. Shout out to Tomas Deltoro-diaz, for patiently mixing this album over the course of 18 months and really understanding the secret of this band, Miriam Speyer for a spectacular vocal arrangement on “Blue Phase”, Biko Eisen-Martin, who went for broke on “Cleopatra” and sparked that song’s creation, Eli Carlton-Pearson for initiating, co-writing and playing organ on “Like God”, and John Greenham for his patient and alert work on mastering the album. Naftali Beane Rutter, thank you for cajoling the music on “Church Bell” into existence.

Loan-5

 

Photo by Ian Tuttle.

Album cover is a collaboration between myself and Parker Richard.

My First Novel

29 Jun

Hey Friends,

Ten years ago, I stood in my driveway and told my mom the news of Michael Jackson’s passing. I was surprised when both of us cried a little.

Later that day, I went to every library in my county, checking out 9 or 10 books on my childhood hero, MJ.  I started that day to research and write a new book about him. Now, ten years later, I’d like to begin sharing it with you. The book is both true to the history of MJ, and also a fictional exploration of what might have turned out differently, as MJ runs away from fame and family at age 18, to pursue musical mastery on his own terms, and hoping not to be recognized for his true identity along the way.

To write or talk about MJ is fraught with complexity. Even as his music inspires people the world around, he is almost certainly guilty of sexual abuse of children. In all my research, the work that faced this conflict most directly was Margo Jefferson’s On Michael Jackson. I highly recommend this book. Jefferson is a Pulitzer Prize winner, and can speak to Michael Jackson’s place not only in American culture at large, but also in the Black American experience.

When I finished the first draft of this book, I gave copies of the manuscript to a circle of writers, musicians and friends. A few of them mentioned that this book could live under the fan fiction umbrella. As I got hip to the genre, I discovered Wattpad.com, where in fact there are more than 1,200 fiction stories about Michael Jackson! This was simultaneously a relief and a disappointment.

Why did I write this book? First, because on June 25 2009, the day that Michael Jackson died, I was strongly gripped by the idea that things could have turned out differently for him. His art and life contain some kind of distilled American essence: his art, his identity, his fame and struggles therein, and yes, the monstrous aspects of the man.

My book is called “I WISH THE KING”. The first chapter is largely non-fiction, and sets us up for MJ’s departure into another life. My intention was to write an inspirational book – perhaps something that a young musician could use to find their compass in life. Dan Millman’s “The Way of the Peaceful Warrior” and Herman Hesse’s “Siddartha” were both templates in this regard. There are several African American characters in this book. I do not believe myself to be any kind of authority on their experience, and I tried to write those characters with respect. I hope to learn from the experience of putting this book out, so if anyone is troubled by what I’ve written, I’d be grateful to hear from you.

By and large, the book is a love letter to music, and to the musician’s path. It is my first effort as a fiction writer, and it’s definitely the work of a novice. Nevertheless, I hope you find the book to be entertaining or inspiring.  I’ll be sharing a new chapter on Wattpad every Tuesday throughout the summer.

https://www.wattpad.com/story/191906871-i-wish-the-king-another-life-for-michael-jackson

With respect,
Chris Peck

Cover Art by Cameron Forsley:
MJ messy Cursive

New Video ~ “Feather”

14 Jun
Dear friends,
I have something special to share with you:
A few months ago, a great French musician named Greg Bette visited me here in Marin County.  Greg had been incredibly hospitable when I visited France in 2014 and 2016 to play at the Festival de la Cour Denis. On the second trip, Greg played a key role in the French edition of the Ancient Baby band.

I wanted to return the favor by showing him a classic California experience. Luckily, the deepest California vibes I could possibly fathom were nearby in Inverness, at Owl Mountain studio.  This is the place where the Ancient Baby album was recorded, and also where Ethan Turner and Jenn Chan produce their fantastic Owl Mountain Sessions series on Youtube. This studio was built in the 1970’s by Marin music legend Jesse Colin Young, and has been helmed by Ethan for some twenty years now. Perched on a ridge line overlooking Tomales Bay, this studio exudes a golden era California energy.

Ethan and Jenn gamely took me up on the idea, and Greg and I made our way up the mountain one Saturday afternoon. Ethan suggested that we come to the studio “with just a notion”, and try to compose the music then and there at the studio.

The video you see above are the results…Owl Mountain Sessions, Number 13! We went to a really transcendent place that day, and approached the whole thing with a spirit of “YES”. Jenn was there throughout, filming us, setting up some truly stunning shots. We couldn’t be happier with the result. Take this flight of fancy with us, and in the process get a peek at the room where the Ancient Baby album was made, with many of the same team members who brought their skills to bear on this video.  While you’re at it, hit “subscribe” on Ethan and Jenn’s Owl Mountain Sessions youtube channel, where this video resides. Everything they publish there is gorgeous and unique.

 

 

Thank you, as always, for your eyes, ears and support.

Peck

 

First Music Video from the Ancient Baby Album

11 Jun

Today, we release the first music video from the ‘Ancient Baby’ album. This was a special one ~ it seemed the team was meant to meet. Shannon Gray Collier gave a stunning and vulnerable performance. Rachel Pozivenec lent her distinct and powerful maskwork and costuming. Taliesin Gilkes-Bauer directed with sensitivity and conceptual weight. Lawrence Martinez filmed and edited with depth and patience. The day of the shoot felt like some kind of rite. Kelsey, Shakti, Slim and I, dressed in Rachel’s robes, guided Shannon to another space or place. We ran across rushing flood waters to get the last shots of the day, and stayed out until the light was gone. Anyway, I could go on… Here it is, ‘We’re All Thinkin’ About You’, recorded by Ethan Turner and featuring Adam Bowers on soaring steel guitars. To everyone reading, I hope you can find a quiet time to watch this and take the journey. Song and video in memory of San Francisco songwriter Jeremy Hill.

~ Ancient Baby Book ~

21 May

What’s good everybody –

Peck here, sharing the news that the Ancient Baby Book is now available on Bandcamp!

 

This book pairs home-made recordings of all 13 songs from the Ancient Baby album with whimsical and poignant illustrations by Rose Pearson.  These recordings were home-recorded by me, and have a dirtier, earthier vibe than the pristine tracks that Ethan Turner produced for the Ancient Baby vinyl.

You can hear the whole ‘Home Fi’ version of the album, and purchase the limited edition book here:

http://www.peckthetowncrier.bandcamp.com/album/ancient-baby-home-fi-edition

If you want to have both versions of the record in one place, there is also a double CD, designed by mirth master Parker Richard. Have a look!

https://peckthetowncrier.bandcamp.com/merch

Also, today marks the release of the first Home Fi single, ‘Possibilities’. I hope you find it uplifting!

 

 

With hope and gratitude,

Peck

 

 

 

 

 

THE ALBUM IS OUT!

11 May

Dear inner circle – after 7 years of writing and recording, the Ancient Baby album is OUT, in Vinyl, CD, Book and digital forms!

Have a listen here:

https://peckthetowncrier.bandcamp.com/album/ancient-baby-hi-fi-edition 

Ancient-Baby_Cover_WEB_MD (1)

 

There are in fact two versions of the album, one recorded by Ethan Turner at Owl Mountain (the HiFi version), and the other recorded by me at home (the HomeFi).

https://peckthetowncrier.bandcamp.com/album/ancient-baby-home-fi-edition

This home-made version has it’s own distinct energy and instrumentation. It’s available in hard copy as 26 page book, pairing lyrics for each song with whimsical and poignant illustrations by Rose Pearson.

Or, both versions of the album can be had at once on a Double CD.

Have a look at the Book, CD and Vinyl editions here:

https://peckthetowncrier.bandcamp.com/merch

Gosh, it’s so exciting and also a bit of a relief to finally complete these babies and release them into the world. Thank you for listening, and for your support along the way.

Love, mystery and a healthy planet,

Peck