Hi folks – first newsletter of 2013! I trust you all enjoyed a lovely holiday season, and I offer you all my very best wishes for a happy & healthy new year.
The big exciting lead item of news from around our place is that my daughter Cassandra
got engaged a few days before xmas! … So I’m sure there’ll be some wedding planning, soon enough … And we had our first family xmas with Henry Russell
here, which was really great. I admit that maybe my most favorite thing in life is to be sitting at the dining room table with the whole family gathered, just listening to the general hubbub, feelin' the love.
I got a lot of music books from Santa & his elves this year … Everything from Pat Metheny to Beatles to Dylan to Springsteen to Townshend to Jimmy Page. I’ve already chewed through the Metheny & Beatles books, and now I’m into Dylan’s Chronicles Vol. 1. The Metheny book, by Richard Niles, where he interviews Pat (his old Berklee teacher!) about artistic process, was especially inspiring. Speaking of inspiration: my friend Ian Thomas
has a really, really
great new album out, called Little Dreams http://www.ianthomas.ca/Ian_Thomas/Home.html
The title track is one of the sweetest, deepest, truest songs I've heard in a long long time. Do yourselves a favour and buy his album. You will thank me.
It was nice to have a bit of an extended break from the college: Jeannette & I even managed to get out to a flick --- Life of Pi
is amazing, especially in 3D.
I’ve been able to get back into a daily writing & playing schedule, so that I can get a lot of my new material under my hands (and locked into my head). In 2013, my 60th
year on the planet, I didn’t make resolutions, per se, but I am resolved to get back down to some basic creative business again. I’d rather just hunker down and do it, and not yack about it and bring public pressure to bear. I think that creative work is often a solitary and private kind of process, with performance coming later, and on a whole other public level. I don’t need the pressure of deadlines or publicity about my process: what I need is to focus my concentration, willpower/discipline, and spirit, and try to eliminate distractions. A student for life, with a pilgrim’s modesty and humility.
The new web admin person, Adrienne Duncan
, is hard at work on new changes, coming soon. The look won’t change all that much, initially, but the back end and the member’s forum will undergo a huge adjustment & improvement. We’ll have more flexibility and functionality, moving forward.
I’ve got 3 of my guitars in the shop getting modifications done; the Godin 5th
Avenue got a full size Bartolini pickup installed (more POWER!): my Gibson 356 got hotter pickups and pop-up coil-split pots (more Tone and more POWER!): and Godin sent me a beautiful blue LGX-SA as a xmas gift – sweet! - that I’m having the master luthier Doug Harrison
revamp the electronics layout on (I want total control of her POWER!). I can’t wait to find out how these guitars will work on stage and in the studio.
On short notice, Dave and I have accepted a gig at the old Opera House in Aylmer Ontario
for Jan. 19, filling in for one of my agent’s other acts (Lily Frost) that had to cancel. And – of course – we’ve got a trip later this month down to Annapolis for a Ram’s Head gig (one of our fave places to play), then up to the Baltimore area for a couple of clinics, then over to the New Hope Winery on the Pennsylvania / Jersey border. Hope that you folks in that area of the country can make it out.
So – 2013, folks: here we go. Peace & love & cheers all round – hope to see you all, eventually, out at a gig somewhere!
QUESTION OF THE MONTH
Each month, a new question (and answer from Rik) is selected from the questions that appear on the Network Members Messageboard at www.RikEmmett.com
. There are usually 8 to 10 questions (or more) posted each month, with interesting, enlightening, and often humorous responses. Kim brings us this month's question:
Seems like every time I listen to reCOVERy Room 9
, I find myself wondering how it is you chose the songs you covered. I haven't found this question anywhere else so I felt the need to ask.
Are they songs that mean something to you? Is it just that you like them? I often wonder what other songs you might like to cover. There are quite a few in there I think you two did better than the originals. Maybe I just like your arrangements and sound better.
What made you decide to do covers in the first place? (That sentence has NO condescending tone though it reads like it).You have such a vast catalog and I'm sure you have unpublished songs laying around. I could be wrong but maybe not.
It's just one of those things you wonder about that sit at the back of your mind nagging you until you get the answer.
Are they songs that mean something to you?
Yes. From a list of potential songs that we tried, these were ones that seemed to us to work best, in one way or another. Plenty of songs didn't really work to our satisfaction. These ones did.
Is it just that you like them?
Yes. But, of course, I like thousands upon thousands of different songs, and Dave would have a somewhat different personal list. But the prevailing condition is: what could the two of us agree on, and more or less, make work, with two guitars and two voices?
I often wonder what other songs you might like to cover.
Ohhh - the game could go on indefinitely... ! How many Great American Songbook CDs has Rod Stewart done now?
How many Star Trek movies have there been?
It becomes a question of priorities ... a question of logistics, and market forces ... Right now, I have no solid plans for any future recordings, whatsoever.
But I do enjoy being creative ... so my guess is, something will come along and start to compel me ...
There are quite a few in there I think you two did better than the originals. Maybe I just like your arrangements and sound better.
That's kind of you - thank you. Our approach was a fairly simple one ... Very basic, compared to the original master recordings by the original artists. The advantage we have is that the songs are so familiar to everyone. Of course - that's also the danger --- that true fans of the original artists & their recordings might find our work sacreligious. Or maybe just a waste of time & energy. That was certainly one of our driving challenges: make it seem respectful of the original energy ... and make it seem like it was worthwhile to have taken the time & energy to give the song yet another cover version ...
What made you decide to do covers in the first place? ... You have such a vast catalog and I'm sure you have unpublished songs laying around. I could be wrong but maybe not.
Having a few cover songs for our duo sets gives us a card of familiarity and energy to play for the audience: but it helps to spice up the live set for us, because it gives us a different sort of challenge.
Maybe those recordings of those songs, out on the internet, will bring new fans to discover what Dave & I do ...
For anyone who thinks Emmett is self-indulgent, who takes himself too seriously --- these cover songs offer a new and different perspective. It's something I've never tried before.
It was another chapter in the songbook between Dave & I --- a chance to flex some different kinds of muscles in our partnership.
Yes - I have some unpublished songs. But do they match the quality / intensity of these cover songs? [Let's also not lose sight of the context of the last 14 months ---- Then Again revisits old Triumph material: RR9 visits 9 cover songs: and Marco's Secret Songbook introduces a whole whackload of new material, almost all previously unpublished material. So --- it's not like I cheated anybody out of new stuff in the last year - even my own original music.] Those 9 ReCoveryRoom songs are market-proven ... What if something from the 9 cover songs opens up some doors in some places?
e.g. Apparently, there's a satellite radio station that plays nothing but acoustic / unplugged versions of cover songs ... So maybe a song or two from Recovery Room 9 could make an impression on the programming director of that station ... And then --- some new people might discover Rik Emmett & Dave Dunlop ... And then when we put out some of our own unpublished songs in the future, in one way or another --- people might come to rikemmett.com and download 'em.
The digital age has ramped up the amount of product out there, exponentially. Everyone all OVER the place is finding new ways of doing cover material. It gives people insight into character, image ... It gives people something to talk about, to think about.
Dave & I can't afford a full-time publicist to sell the world front page stories about falling out of a coconut tree on my head. We can't afford to make a video that will get a few precious seconds on Entertainment Tonight.
We won't be able to get into the star-maker machinery that generates Grammy nominations, or American Music Awards, or Junos ...
What we CAN do is make some music product, and get it out into the public marketplace. So ---- that's what we did.
Rik has answered many more questions in addition to the one posted above. To submit a question to Rik on the messageboard, please visit www.rikemmett.com
for additional information on joining the Network.
Suggestions, ideas, requests, comments? Please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
That’s all for this month!
Hope to see you at the upcoming shows,
The Rik Emmett Network