Triple S: A Smooth Singer-Songwriter

New Cd I Don’t Do Lazy Like That coming very soon…..which is

Story ♪ Lyrics ♫ Jazz Chord Palette ♪ Intimate ♫ Rhythmic ♪ Thoughtful ♫ Swing ♪ Reflective

My new CD, I Don’t Do Lazy Like That, is about to drop…Great news! And as this is about to happen, I have thought about my branding and radio marketing campaign that is about to unfold. I have heard that one can “talk” or “reflect” one’s creativity away; however, in focusing my campaign it seems opportune to re-think how to describe my music. I have always thought my music rooted in Smooth Jazz and Adult Contemporary (AC)….

Art is not a static practice; neither is music. As musical genres migrate, adapt and shift, novel subgenres and performances may emerge. Alongside the inevitability of crossing/incorporating musical boundaries in the pursuit of the novel, there is the—often simultaneous—shoring up of boundaries/definitions that constitute a genre. Within jazz, for example, there are many, many subgenres, including Bebop, Bossa Nova, Chamber Jazz, Cool, Dixieland, Free form and Avant-Garde, Gospel jazz Hard Bop, Jazz rap, Jazz Hip Hop, Jazz rock, Jazz in Classical Composition, Modal, Ragtime, Vocal jazz, Swing—and my favourite, Smooth Jazz (…and many more, see Tanner and Megill, 2013 for example). In the Smooth Jazz Singer category, I might include Anita Baker, Bobby McFerrin, Corinne Bailey Rae and Norah Jones. Canadians seem well represented here with Coco Love Alcorn, Diana Krall, Matt Dusk and Michael Bublé to name but a few. The Singer-Songwriter music tradition, clearly began with songwriters who wrote and performed their own songs, typically accompanying themselves on guitar. This musical tradition then, is also a genre which may touch upon Celtic, Folk, Folk Pop, Folk-Rock, Roots and may claim artists like Bob Dylan, The Chieftains, Ed Sheeran, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Simon & Garfunkel, Tracy Chapman.  Indeed, Canadians are well-represented here as well, including Amelia Curran, Bruce Cockburn, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Connie Kaldor, David Myles, Jay Semko, Jeffery Straker, Leonard Cohen, Martha and Rufus Wainwright, Poor Nameless Boy, Stan Rogers, Tom Cochrane.

My music lies in between these two:
from Smooth Jazz, I love the generous chord palette, the grooves, the laid-back rhythms, the melodic shifts, improvisation
from the Singer-Songwriter tradition, I love the emphasis on narrative, the story, the intimacy, the importance of lyric, the reflective narrative themes, the audience connectedness

This reflection has been good for me; it feels like I have discerning my own Musical Mission Statement. A Statement that both describes and informs my songwriting. My CD, I Don’t Do Lazy Like That certainly includes various story songs… stay tuned. What is your musical mission statement?

Reference
Tanner, Paul & Megill, David (2013). Jazz: twelfth edition. Toronto: McGraw Hill (pp. 413).

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Canada Sound 150: A Parade of Street Sweepers

Canada Sound 150 is a very interesting project sponsored by CBC. The idea is that Canadians submit actual sound snippets to the Canada Sound site  to inspire/challenge songwriters to use these audio clips as the basis for a song.  The hope is that “Canadian musicians create the ultimate national soundtrack.” Indeed, interesting sounds have been submitted: the sound of KD as its leaves box and leaps into boiling water, the sizzle of bacon, the sound of a cottage door closing, loons…..

…A Little about the Song
(Click here to hear it )
When I was thinking about which sound, I considered that I am a singer-songwriter in Regina, a prairie city. I really wanted to write/build a song around a sound that is—if not unique to my city—is at least very common here.  I settled upon the sound of a street sweeper. Prairie cities are naturally dusty; they are often oases within surrounding sandy prairie. Further, Regina does not use much salt for winter traction, as salt generally will not melt ice below -15C, which is nothing for a prairie winter. Regina uses a sand/salt combination….so more sand on the roads. Hence, spring cleaning in Regina involves not just one, but a parade of street sweepers—several in a row that go up and down, up and down, up and down your street. Other cities have them as well, though they seem not quite as springtime ubiquitous as on prairie city streets.

So, I wrote this song in a way that literally describes the “Parade of Street Sweepers” that spring clean my street. You may notice that the intro gradually builds in volume, as though you were watching a parade as its gets closer and closer.

…A Little about the Street Sweeping Sound

  • I got up really early on the assigned May morning when the street sweepers were coming and recorded their brushing sound on my own street. (Yes, that is the actual street sweeper in the pic)
  • The machine upon which the brushes rest has a loud hum, no matter how I recorded the sounds, so I added a little bit of a shaker (just a tad) to the sample in order to hear the brushing a little more clearly
  • I used the Abelton Live music production software to create my song, “A Parade of Street Sweepers.” As part of Ableton, I used the Simpler program to import and pitch the street sweeping sound; I also a little resonance through auto-filter. I used the sound as it as a kind of a bass sound in the song
  • Having said all that, this is my first try at music production. I have released two CDs and am about to release my third “I Don’t Do Lazy Like That.” Each CD was professionally produced by Ross Nykiforuk, and my latest was professionally mastered at Carvalho Mastering in TO. This was an interesting challenge posed by Canada Sound 150, and I am glad that I accepted it, even knowing it was my first attempt at music production.

….The Lyrics: A Parade of Street Sweepers
Music & Lyrics by Scott Anthony Andrews 2017

Swift swishing ground, brushing round and round
Winter sand whisks away
All in the row, these moving brooms go
Sweepin’ and vacuumin,’ then wash the concrete
A parade of street sweepers spring clean my street
A parade of street sweepers spring clean my street
Circling back again, looping round and then
Meandering past
A bristling barrage, a dusty entourage
Sweepin’ and vacuumin,’ then wash the concrete
A parade of street sweepers spring clean my street
A parade of street sweepers spring clean my street
…and there you have it; my contribution to Canada Sound 150.

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Regina Songwriters’ Circle: More than a Circle of 5ths

Creative City Centre
June 15 2017

I am filled with both pride and gratitude. Wanda Gronhovd and I, co-coordinators of the Regina Chapter of the Songwriters Association of Canada (SAC), are preparing for our group’s first showcase on June 15 8pm at Creative City Centre (mostly Wanda…truth be told). Wanda is the perfect co-chair; she really is able to get things done—and is quite a talented songwriter, who is currently working on her second CD.  Indeed, there are some wonderful songwriters lined up to perform for you like Wanda and James Gates. Also featured is our resident lyricist, Brian Smyth. As a songwriting circle, we get to hear not only the songs, but their genesis and growth. I have been able to watch these songwriters as they hone their craft and work to get better and better.

Honestly, being a part of a community of songwriters has been good for my soul.  In fact, there are only two things that seem to lift me up from the mire of the everyday: my songwriters’ community and the act of songwriting itself—so far, nothing else has come close. Every third Thursday of the month (our meeting time), I have received comradery, solace and kinship. We have attracted songwriters from across southern Saskatchewan, such as Glenna Switzer, who recently won a Saskatchewan Country music award! Many of these folk found us through Lorena Kelley from Sask Music—thank you Lorena. On these Thursday nights I have the pleasure of listening to a wide musical spectrum—from Indie folk to country to jazz/blues to pop, even electronic/dance music (such as Jane Gjlestland, who also recently won UK Songwriting award). As a SAC Writers’ Group, we have been privileged to be visited by some wonderful colleagues this year…Belle Plaine and Megan Nash to name two.

I will perform the title track of my forthcoming CD “I Don’t Do Lazy Like That” (now mastered…and soon to be going into ‘actual’ production). I also plan to do a song I wrote while in the Songwriting: Melody course as part of the Berklee College of Music Songwriting Specialist Certificate….tentatively called “Bendigeidfran”
…try putting that in a song 😉

We would love to see you to share our songs…Thursday June 15 at Creative City Centre

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Songwriters Go Underground

What an awesome evening of Saskatoon Songwriters at the Underground Café. And what a venue! The Café is everything a coffee house and performance space should be—cosy, casual, art-filled—you know, “cultured” in the best sense of that word. The grilled chicken sandwich was delicious as was the “super cran tea”…loose tea served with its own infuser. The stage is intimate with their cool logo on the wall.

There were eight of us— Jay Semko, Alex Runions, Terry Jordan, Trish & Wendy, Sally Meadows, Rhonda Gallant-Morari and  Micheal Lander –representing quite a range of musical styles. Indie, folk, pop, light jazz, gospel, bluegrass. Wow. And a great mix of piano players and guitarists. I sang a new song written in my Berklee “Writing Hit Songs” course, “Love Me Like a Dew Drop in the Rain” and also performed “I Say Amen to That” from my first CD. Jay Semko and Alex Runions were awesome.  I listened to Jay’s “Flora Vista” CD in the car, quite enjoyed it, especially the song “Ocean in Your Eyes.” Terry Jordan was accompanied by Jill on the banjo, which added much to the evening.

 

Speaking of the banjo, Northern Lights Bluegrass Festival was a sponsor as was Blackridge Brewery, Studio XII Music and Dance Company, and the Underground Café. Big thanks to them all!  Micheal Lander, the chair of the Saskatoon RWG of Songwriters Association of Canada, organized the event—and superbly so, I might add. He is quite a singer-songwriter himself, great vocal control.

I connected with several songwriters in the audience whom I had met through the Saskatoon group, and cannot remember when I felt such a sense of community among songwriters…and to think, I had to go Underground to experience it 😉

Keep writing everyone, we cannot wait to hear your next song!

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Music is alive and well in the West!

What a joy, what a pleasure!
It is a coolish but glorious Sunday morning.  I lazily got out of bed, had my morning Starbucks, and now I’m on my second cup of coffee. So, I ease down in the boldness quotient for this additional cup and currently, I am drinking “Donut-Style coffee.” Really what is that? Perhaps, it has something to do with the power of branding or cross-branding or something ‘branderful’ like that….

Anyway, from branderful to wonderful. I have been listening this weekend to some of the latest Western Canadian Music Artists. Wow. I have been blown away. I have to say it was humbling. The range of music styles is impressive, the level of production is impressive, the lyrical thoughtfulness is impressive. Such high standards can only be good for all of us artists; for we see and hear what is possible. One of the joys of being able to listen to such a cross section of artists is that some of them have already become favourites—instantaneously.  I am simultaneously humbled, proud and grateful to be part of such a dynamic, inspiring and world-class musical community.

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Wisdom is Waitin’ on Me: Five Myths of Being Wise

A track from my forthcoming CD “I Don’t Do Lazy Like That”

April Fools’ Day strikes me as an appropriate time to talk about wisdom. There is wisdom in balance—the balance between the thoughtful and frivolous, between the serious and the light-hearted, between solemnity and humour. April Fools’ Day…apparently the morning that WestJet became Canada Air to be our #MostCanadian airline,   the morning when Amazon’s Alexa home assistant proclaimed that she would offer support to pets, the morning when our own Taron Cochrane made his annual? (fake) concert announcement—all the folly of 2017’s April 1. Falling and chasing jokes…maybe not as far from falling and chasing that elusive wisdom.

Wisdom is Waiting on Me” is track from my forthcoming CD. ‘Wisdom’ –perhaps just as much anything—may be commodified in contemporary culture, and in various ways.  In my world I have come to see several myths around wisdom:

  • We are led to believe that wisdom is a natural by-product of age—as we age, we expect to become wise or at least wiser. In reality, I have encountered wise young people, and foolish older people.
  • Wisdom happens without effort; it is a passive, passed down artefact. In reality, life is dynamic, surprising and at times quite challenging. It is how we chose to reflect and react with life that creates wisdom. Wisdom is an active, engaged process.
  • In this way, wisdom is not a right of the mature, in reality; wisdom is an earned perspective through active engagement with one’s own life.
  • Simply put, wisdom is not a commodity; it is not a formulaic sequence to enlightenment. Wisdom is not the right kind of mudra, not the perfect Siddhasana with perfect posture, not the right trek up to the right mountain top—it is not even not the right kind of yoga attire
  • Wisdom “don’t come in lightning bolts or eureka’s at night”
  • “Wisdom is Waitin’ on Me” and you too,
    Ohm, ohm, ohm.

….Ummm, could you please pass my sweat towel?
Too many downward dogs.

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My New CD…Final Phases: According to the Accordion

As I write this, I am listening some of the rough mixes for my next CD, I Don’t Do Lazy Like That. This phase is exciting; it also seems a bit daunting. I have been working on this CD for the better part of a year, and one realizes that it sort of comes down to these moments. Listening, reflecting, self-critiquing; listening, reflecting, self-critiquing. I wonder if I have been able to maintain the original muse for each of the songs. The songs change during production, and in many ways, my job here is to let them go in as best shape as I am able to muster—to trust my team, indeed to trust the songs.  These are the final stages of preparation before these twelve songs are released into the world.

Again, I have been able to work with the same stellar cast of musicians as my first two CDs—Gent Laird on stand-up bass, Rich McFarlane on acoustic, electric, rhythm and lead guitar, Glenn Ens on percussion, and I play piano on a few tracks. Mr. Ross Nykiforuk contributes accordion, piano, keyboards, and organ, a multi-talented instrumentalist indeed. Of course, Ross produces this project, as he has my previous two. I am fortunate to be able to harness such homegrown talent.

One particular track is emerging as my personal favorite; it is a rather simple one and sparsely produced. There is the piano, the accordion, and my voice. The ways in which Ross’s accordion playing wraps around the vocal track and piano is captivating. The track has a regretful sadness, and a simple poignancy. I do hope you will enjoy it, and stay tuned for more updates on I Don’t Do Lazy Like That.
Warmly, Scott Anthony

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International Songwriting “Collab”

Currently, I am part of an international, online songwriting “collab”. I am getting into the lingo of all the cool singer-songwriters—not that I make any claim to being so, just that I am confronted with songwriting vernacular more and more. By doing so, one cannot help but absorb and attempt to mimic singer-songwriter “talk”—a salient feature of which is abbreviations (incidentally, is not ‘abbreviation’ rather a long word, given its purpose?). Apparently, we songwriters are beyond super busy, we are so super-super-busy that we do not have time to pronounce entire words. Take “collab” for instance, short for “collaboration”. Most fortunately, I learned “collab” just in time, as I am currently part of an awesome songwriting collaboration.

We are four songwriters from all around the world—from Italy, England and two from Canada. The process really has been amazing to me. My colleagues on this journey are Angela Skinner Music, Giulio Moretto and Andrea Peloso. When the collective is engaged in the collaboration—when we think about purpose/point/theme of the song, when we bounce around ideas/riffs/motifs, when we wonder about tonal colours and contrasts; the distance completely fades. That I may be part of such a wonderful group of songwriters is quite heartening, as each of us brings our strengths to the collective.

While I am not sure what our song will eventually sound like, this is one of those times in life when I need—truly—to enjoy the process, our journey. Meeting wonderful songwriters is more than inspiring enough. …..what a lovely thought on this, the first day of Spring!

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Game of Clue

Quack Song 2
The second song I’m working on for Sing Duck Sing, I am tentatively calling Game of Clue. Some parents who have children with Autism Spectrum Disorder report that—in retrospect—there were signs along the way. I guess this may be the case for many things—hindsight may be remarkably and uncomfortably accurate. There is a rather famous poem entitled, Welcome to Holland, in which the protagonist (a parent) must learn to accept a trip to Holland rather than Italy (see http://dsnetworkaz.org/holland/).

It is a letting go of expectations that one may have had, and embracing the realities of what is—of having a child with ASD. Further, it is a call for a celebration of what is—not just acceptance.  In this song, the idea is to try to capture some of the typical second thoughts, or brief entertainments of possible ASD diagnosis that Burke may have had about her child. I considered especially the scene on p. 56 of the pay, Ducks on the Moon (2010).

Here is the Soundcloud link: https://soundcloud.com/scottanthonyandrews/game-of-clue
…and here are the lyrics, so far

GAME OF CLUE
Words & Music: Scott Anthony Andrews (with nods to Kelley Jo Burke see p. 56 of Ducks on the Moon)

VERSE
Asleep in my arms
He looked like any other child
With his eyes closed
He looked like anyone’s son
But when he opened his eyes
He wasn’t looking for my face
A man overboard
Clawing through stormy seas
Looking for something, anything to hold to
Not necessarily me

CHORUS
Was that a clue?
On Sunday morning?
Was that a clue?
Deep in the heart.
Was that a clue?
On Sunday morning?
Was that a clue?
Deep in the heart.

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Guess I Missed Those Cumulonimbus Clouds

Quack Song 1
Wendy the Weather Girl (Guess I Missed Those Cumulonimbus Clouds)
OK. I have my Song Plot for the musical I am co-writing with Burke, Sing Ducks Sing, an adaptation of her one-person play “Ducks on the Moon” (2010).  I thought I might start with the I Want Song/Metaphor Song; I did. Tentatively, and I use that word most decidedly, it is entitled, “Wendy the Weather Girl”.  The idea that Kelley Jo Burke and I had was to represent the presence of autism (ASD) through something like the weather network.  Typically think concretely and visually; perhaps that accounts for why I have come across so many students with ASD that enjoy the weather network. Further, we can expand on weather systems as allegories for ASD. Here’s my first attempt, although I have misgivings about an allegorical song for the “I Want Song.” As it stands the verse is in F major and is the voice of Wendy; the Chorus is based upon the F blues scale for contrast. It is hopefully obvious that this latter section is indicative of various nomenclatures one associates with weather.  The crux of the song is that Wendy misses the obvious in her forecast, her invisible gorilla, is cumulonimbus clouds–

Nevertheless, see the lyrics below as well as a sound cloud link to a very rough draft…stay tuned…

https://soundcloud.com/scottanthonyandrews/wendy-the-weather-girl

VERSE
I’m Wendy the weather girl
A forecast of smiles for you (oh, oh, oh oh)
Wendy the weather girl
Calling for a shower or two (oh, oh, oh oh)
Gusty with a little sprinkle
Just enough to fluff your hair
I’m Wendy the weather girl
Tune in for temperatures true

CHORUS
Guess I missed those cumulonimbus clouds
Seen at 2 pm,  5 kms Northwest,
Tracking east, digging in like a thunder clap
Gaining speed, spinning fast, anemometers snap
Skies of grey, 80K , what you say ‘bout that?
Guess I missed those cumulonimbus clouds

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