Officially announcing, “Secrets I Told to a Sound Hole,” debut studio album out March 2, 2018!

I am so excited to announce my debut studio album will be out on March 2, 2018 and it will be called Secrets I Told to a Sound Hole! It’s a bit of a concept album about my journey with music, but relatable to anyone with a passion for music and to anyone chasing a big, difficult dream. I have the music, some new photos, the artwork and designs, and soon will have my first real music video, and everything is looking and sounding great so far so I can’t wait to share it. Of course I made a lot of this stuff with my last album, The Best of the Throwaway Song of the Week and I enjoyed every minute of it, but this is all going to be a lot more legit!

I want to give a few shout-outs to Chris Badami / Portrait Recording Studios (for producing, mixing, mastering, and performing & arranging percussion), Matt Corrales / MJCreative (for artwork, designing, and video), and my sister, Nicole / Shared Tokens Photography (for always taking the best photos and helping with the video). These people are great at what they do, and their work is the reason this album is going to be 100000x better than the one I did just last June. Well, that, and a bigger time and resource investment, and I got a lot better at songwriting, singing, and performing from endless practice!

Also thanks to everyone who came out for the music video filming party last weekend.

Finally just wanted to let any London friends know I’ll be around from November 29-December 13, probably playing some music somewhere. Please get in touch if you want to hang out or see me play!

Stay tuned here and at my newsletter and social media for a lot more content and news in the near future, because it’s coming.

I’m in my first official release planning phase!

Now that my songwriting period is over, I just want to give a quick update on what is happening next. I’m very happy with many of these songs (really the first time I’ve reached that point), so I am prepared to do what it takes to get them out there properly. I have lots of ideas of my own, and I’m also doing loads of research and reaching out to people to develop a plan so I can find the best ways to:

  1. Record it in a way that sounds great and isn’t boring, which probably means I have to go outside of my bedroom, and may mean I need to find another musician or two to help!
  2. Digitally distribute and possibly have a physical release too. 
  3. Get the attention of platforms that can actually get my music to new people, like bloggers, curators, local/indie radio, etc.
  4. Hopefully get better and better gigs by continuing to pester artists, venues and promoters (with now better songs); participating in busking and similar schemes; and finding more creative performance opportunities (…with or without permission) like I’ve done on the Flogging Molly Cruises, etc.
I’m verrry open-minded so if you have advice or recommendations they are always welcome. I’m especially always looking for more help with #4, gigging opportunities or leads. I’ll pretty much play anywhere! And support from others is essential to continue to grow in this area, so if you want to see me play near you (which I would love to do!), then please do help me get gigs, even if it’s just by telling local promoters about me.
 
With everything I have to do, I imagine the release will be near the beginning of 2018, but I can’t be sure yet. I hope to resolve some of the items on the list and offer more updates soon!

Quick reflections + why I’m going to be a recluse for a while

I was going to do a whole big blog, vlog and newsletter about England last month – everything I did, everything I learned, every cool place I went and person I met. But now that a few weeks have passed of being too busy, and it’s quickly becoming a fuzzy memory, I’m just going to give a shout-out to my top five highlights (in chronological order) and call it a day on that (and note: there were a lot of other people and places that I loved, but I’ve already shouted you all out on Facebook and sadly I don’t have the time or memory to write the extended version of each one!):

  1. I actually had a really good time busking at the Lower Marsh Market in Waterloo. It’s not the best busking I’ve ever done in terms of attention and money, but the staff was really open and friendly to me, and I was so grateful to have that laid back platform to sing my songs for hours at a time.
  2. Big shout-out to Fraser Morgan – a young singer-songwriter who really impressed me and is definitely going places if he continues to work at it – who did a great job at his first night running the friendly Bull Pub open mic in Colchester, and was very happy to let me play a bunch of original and cover songs there.
  3. Another favorite singer-songwriter I met was Nish Goyal, who gave me a place to crash in the beautiful city of Chester as well as a ride on to Manchester. It was great to meet someone who is not only a solid songwriter but also shares very similar ambitions to me, which led to some really great discussions, and I think we may end up bouncing a lot of ideas off each other in the future.
  4. One of my most memorable experiences was the Thirsty Scholar open mic (run by Tuesday Tony) in central Manchester the day after the attack on the arena. There were still many people avoiding the city center, but I had to make the most of my two (poorly chosen) days there. This was definitely the friendliest open mic I went to: I walked in, met the host, he introduced me to the other performers, and we all hung out at one table together as friends for the rest of the night. I got to dedicate one of my favorite original songs (I call it an anti-fascist ballad) to Manchester, and while I’m well aware that my presence wasn’t special to anyone else, I personally felt really grateful to be there, and that was one of my favorite evenings of the month.
  5. Thank you to Ian Russell (of Scorpio Promotions) and the other friendly people that I met at the Hop Merchant in Nottingham. It’s a lovely tight-knit yet welcoming community you’ve got there, and I’m sorry I was too tired to go all-night busking with you. Maybe next time!!

I also just want to take this time to reflect (as I frequently do, I know) on what a wild year or so it’s been. Last March (15 months ago) I had what I still class as the best experience of my life, when I got to sing my original cruise song for my number one role model, Frank Turner, and his audience, and then I got to stay up and sing five of his amazing songs with him. Last June (12 months ago) I finally completed my 52nd “throwaway song of the week” and threw myself a showcase party. I’ve spent the last year mostly on open mics, another cruise, some new covers, and of course this epic DIY tour of England.

Right now I really feel like I need to focus exclusively on songwriting for a month or two (or slightly longer if need be) for two reasons: 1) in my opinion, great songs are the single most important thing I need now in order to win over the kinds of fans, labels, musician buddies and other potential collaborators that I will need to get where I want to go; and 2) I know that I can write songs that are much better than the ones I’ve got now. I want songs that I don’t just think are decent enough to sing in public, but songs that I feel extremely proud of, and that give me strong feelings in my gut just like the songs I most admire. And I believe I’m ready to achieve that, but only if I dedicate enough time and energy to it, which means I need to reduce time and energy on other things like getting myself out there online and in person– but just for a little bit and then I’ll be back stronger than ever and with some amazing songs! (By the way I’m still doing my train station busking and a couple of favorite open mics, for those local to or visiting NJ/NYC. Check Facebook or just ask.)

This next batch of songs will be recorded somewhere better than my bedroom by a better recording engineer than myself (who just isn’t one by any means), then released at your favorite streaming sites and digital download stores, whether I manage it cheaply myself or find someone cool to help me. If nothing else, even if I utterly fail at shopping my songs around and do a totally inept digital release, it’ll be an adventure and I will learn a lot as usual! Haha, so excited. More updates in a couple of months when I’ve got them. Thanks for making it to the end of this ramble.