Road Maps

I’m a true believer in “starting with the end in mind” as it can make all the difference in whether a project is completed or not. So when it came time to identify what I wanted to do for the 2019 Spring Concert I had a brainstorming session with my whiteboard:

For those that can’t read my scribbles, here’s what it says:

Spring Concert 2019
Location: Home Living Room
Duration: 30 – 60 Minutes
Theme: Spring, new life, budding, becoming, cycles
Genres: Acoustic and electric

Select Songs, Determine: length/arrangements/instrumentation/melodies/lyrics

Scratch Tracks, Determine tempos & keys, drums/percussion, bass, guitars, keyboards, vocals

Mixing (template?)

Photos/videos (fractal generators?)

Prep for live performance:
Bounce tracks to RC 500 or to use in Ableton Live?
Determine live rig
Determine visual projection system & how to sync to music

Looking back I pretty much did everything listed on the board. Granted I ended up creating various spreadsheets to go into greater detail:

I also created an outline of how I would like the contour of the concert/album to be:

Here’s the translation:

Contour of Concert (Songs/Album)
• String Piece ( string quartet -> symphony)
• African Drums Piece
• Spacey Lead Guitar Piece (using the Dark Side and Freqout pedals) <- use “Thaw” for the inspiration and title?
• Piano Piece
• Electronic Piece (“Crushing Minimalism”?)
• Acoustic Guitar Piece (“Tempest”)
• Tibetan Bell and Bowl (perhaps to begin and end with or to use in the middle

All of which ended up being what I did for the concert and album. The String piece became “Enchantment”, the African Drums piece became part of the middle section in “Signs of Life”, the Spacey Lead Guitar piece became “The Thaw”, the Piano piece became “Frost”, the Electronic piece became “Signs of Life”, the Acoustic Guitar piece is “Tempest” and I used the Tibetan Bowl for the beginning of the concert.

Massive Attack

I love Massive Attack. Specifically, I love their albums “100th Window” and “Mezzanine”. Whenever I want to really concentrate on something for an extended period of time (programming, bringing up databases, creating spreadsheets, etc.) I’ll put the headphones on and loop these albums back to back. It puts me into a sort of hyper-focused “let’s get this done” mode straight away.


I love this band. I first got into them with their Misplaced Childhood album (which I listened to repeatedly) back in 1985. Then “life happened” and I kind of lost track of them after the Clutching at Straws record. Then sometime around 2013 a friend told me that they were still at it so I decided to check them out. I ordered their “Sounds That Can’t Be Made” album and was hooked again. Since then I bought a couple of their live DVDs (which I think at times are better than their studio albums, super good!), went to the “Marillion Weekend 2015” in Montreal, saw them play in San Francisco on their F.E.A.R tour in 2016 and recently received their excellent All One Tonight – Live at The Royal Albert Hall DVD.

Their story is fascinating. They went from early massive success to almost complete obscurity to helping pioneer crowd funding to cultivating a large dedicated international fanbase and hosting their own music conventions every 2 years – much of it as an independent band creating their own fantastic music their own way. I’m really happy to see them have this level of success and recognition all these years later. Congrats, guys!


I believe that I bought my first copy of Karma Moffett’s “Golden Bowls” album back in 1999. Since then I have picked up additional copies as gifts for friends. It’s so rich and beautiful in it’s composition, performance and production. Wonderful to study (some serious harmonic overtones happening here), meditate to or just have playing in the background. Sets a deep, peaceful and serene vibe. One of my all time favorites.


I used to listen to this live Pink Floyd album while taking day trips through the farm lands and forests outside of Eugene, Oregon. Disc one has some great songs on it but it is disc two that I love. This disc has the band playing “The Dark Side of the Moon” album in it’s entirety. It was then that I became convinced that TDSOTM is one of the greatest rock albums of all time. So many great songs, fantastic sonic textures and production techniques that would become the new state of the art.

Marvin Gaye

My mom had a great record collection. While I was growing up in the 70’s and 80’s she’d play a lot of the “crooners” (Frank Sinatra, Glenn Yarborough, Dean Martin, Neal Diamond, etc.), some jazz (Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, Glenn Miller), a ton of R&B/Soul (Aretha Franklin, Earth Wind and Fire, Issac Hayes, The O’Jays, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Blood Sweat & Tears, etc) as well as a bit of rock and country (The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Johnny Cash).

But it was Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” album that made me realize that music really is something special. Between Marvin’s beautiful voice and powerful lyrics, James Jamerson’s fantastic bass playing, the arrangement of the songs and their production, this album left an indelible mark on me. To this day it still moves me at the deepest level.

Thank you, mom, for bringing such amazing music into my life.