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An Interview with Cameron Forsley

24 Oct

This Summer, I drove through 18 states. Rather than scheduling a string of performances to carry me through the trip, I decided to look for people to interview in every town. 

When I got to Santa Fe, I looked up Cameron Forsley right away. Cameron had lived in the Bay Area for 10 years plus, and had collaborated with a host of artists in his time here.

Cameron has made a lot of art for me: album covers, posters, stickers, t shirts, a tattoo on my right shoulder, even the cover of a book that I never published in paper form.

After all this, I thought I knew Cameron very well. But he’s a deep cat, and in this very nourishing conversation, he revealed more of his story, and his perspective.

Please enjoy episode 2 of my Youtube interview series, “Hearing Is Feeling.” I hope you find Cameron’s company as enjoyable as I do.

CP

“Sparkling Water” Streaming in every river.

16 Jan

This is it, thee day when the “Sparkling Water” album becomes available on every streaming platform:

In addition to Youtube, you can find the record on Bandcamp, Spotify, Apple Music and all the rest. Just type in “Chris Peck” and the music will find you.

May it refresh you & give repose.

For those of you who are in the Bay Area, we have a show coming up February 18th at Smiley’s in Bolinas. This will be a trio show, with Tommy O’Mahony on bass and JT John on drums. We’ll be playing two sets, from 5-7pm, on the outdoor stage. Heatlamps, great menu, free show if you don’t need to reserve a table, all welcome.

Thank you for your ears and your support, old friends.

Yours in music,

Peck

As a post~script, I’d like say: Of all the ways that you can listen to music online, Bandcamp is the platform that takes the best care of musicians. It’s also the place where you can find the greatest number of my albums in one place, past and present. If you haven’t before, please drop in with me there!

https://peckthetowncrier.bandcamp.com

New Year Newsletter

1 Jan
(photo by Austin Peck, Brooklyn, October 2000)

Here we are. 2022. As I drifted off last night, I thought about the numerics of our new year. Three 2’s, 1 zero. When last did we have a distribution like this? 1999 had three 9’s and one 1. 2000 was like that too. But now, after 2022, there won’t be another number like that until the end of this millennium…if we stick with this calendar system.Oh, well. Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk.  How was 2021 for you? I reckon it was a highly concentrated year. A lot of relief and foreboding packed in there, no? Maybe not sad to see it go, but I do enter this new year with an enlarged heart, and I have 2021 to thank for it.As the river of cultural change rises and quickens, I lean towards tradition, and towards remembering. In that interest, here is the latest episode of “Hearing Is Feeling”, focused entirely on The Plant aka the Record Plant, a soon-to-be-reopened recording studio in Sausalito, that has seen an astonishing amount of classic albums made inside it’s funky redwood slatted walls. I could have gone much deeper with this episode, but it came together as more of an intro for the uninitiated.

https://open.spotify.com/episode/2PmMfyoRg7SBJV4HBLjLeB?si=41abea4144414242

Some months back, you might have caught my post here about a multi-movement piece called “Rooftop Suite.” This piece was commissioned by video artist Jim Vecchi, who will eventually use it as a part of his sprawling and wonderful video installation “At My Window”. For now though, he’s ok with me sharing the music. At times, it’s got sort of a 70’s detective show vibe, and there’s a long middle movement that gets into something swimmier. It’s now mastered and done, and I hope you enjoy the journey, all 22 minutes of it. Perhaps it’s good for a long drive, or a stretching session on the floor.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPrCyF_whdg

As we shake off the last rags of our restful holiday and move into the new year, I feel hopeful about these things: home, travel, divisions healed, intuitions followed.I will be in touch again soon with news of new recordings and releases. It’s a joy to stay in touch with you here.  Thank you for your eyes and ears and support.

Until soon,

Chris

The Album Is Out! ~ Sparkling Water ~ Let it flow~

11 Nov

Here we go people, the “Sparkling Water” album is out! May it refresh you & become a part of your flow.

Until the new year, the album will be available on Bandcamp only, or direct from me, as a digital download or on a limited edition CD. If you have trouble using the Bandcamp player (above), just drop me a line, and I’ll get the music to you pronto: peck.towncrier@gmail.com

We’ll be celebrating with a full~band show this Saturday, 11/13 at Smiley’s in Bolinas, from 5-7pm. Outdoors, all ages, all welcome, free admission if you don’t need to reserve a table.

I only get to write a post like this every few years, so it’s time to recognize my friends who made it possible:

Andrew Erickson recorded some sparkling drums, bass, piano and vocals. Adam Bowers agreed to wear a cowboy hat as he laid down his simultaneously sensitive and macho Steel Guitar and Backing Vocal parts. Sean Nelson, Adam Bowers, Noah L Wheeler, Angeline Saris, James M Harman and Curtis Aikens gave many of these songs their first incarnation, on the bar stage at Terrapin Crossroads. Kimberly Ortman sang with effervescence on “Nocturnal Girl”, turning a lonely ballad into a sweet duet!Tomas Deltoro-diaz mixed the album in a five day marathon hang down in Bakersfield, reviving my worldview in the process. Bro, let’s climb a mountain of empty La Croix cans together again soon. John Greenham mastered the album and let me talk his ear off about Pat Metheny. Ian Tuttle took the crazy cover photos, with his signature spirit of improvisation, mirth and mischief. Lindsay Rickman came through huge on the costuming, for the umpteenth time, sewing the CD suit in her secret lair and bringing a long time dream to life. Parker Richard designed the packaging for this CD, and for the last two albums as well, teaching me many mutant life hacks along the way. Luke Westbrook, Miles Wick and Alex Rather-Taylor listened to a great many drafts of the album, giving me an inner circle of insight, encouragement and advice. Steffen Franz and Ben Lang, thanks in advance for helping me figure out what comes next ~~~>And lastly, big up to my Patreon supporters who listened to every version of the record as it came to life, and made me feel like this project was valuable and do~able.

Thanks for reading & thanks for listening.

Yours in music,

Chris

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 grappled with my sense of purpose, which flickered like a shop sign with a short circuit, dancing between “OPEN” and “NOPE”. What am I good at? What matters? How am I going to spend this time?

By summer, I knew I’d 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, which we captured live. Those takes had a mojo of their own, but my recording methods were too rough for a keeper, sadly. Miles Wick came over and sang lead or harmonies on a couple working versions also. I love his singing, and although those performances didn’t end up on the record, I always learn a lot from his style as a singer. Additionally, Miles turned me on to a lot of records that influenced the vibe for this whole album: Tony Scherr among them. My old friend, Luke Westbrook sat and listened to every draft of this record, at one time or another, and was very encouraging in his critique. To return the favor, I listened as he read aloud from his quarrelsome Facebook threads about the New World Order. I think he has elevated the form, no joke. All the while, 12 generous people backed me on Patreon and listened to solo or band versions of every song, 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