The first review of Villain is in, from Rootstime in Belgium. (Follow the link and poke around a bit, you’ll find it.) I gleefully quote from the last paragraph:
“One of the very most beautiful songs on Villain is ‘Hard to Believe,’ which John Shipe delivers as a duet with singer Halie Loren. This song reminds you of the best work by Lee Hazlewood & Nancy Sinatra, and it absolutely deserves a place in the Golden Book of Famous Duet Classics.”
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The callouses and the mojo are back, and I’m hitting my stride.
Beth Fitchet Wood hosts songwriter night every Tuesday @ The Marine Room Tavern, where I had my best set yet since I relocated to SoCal. I must have felt good, ’cause I even busted out the ukulele. (“The Beast is Back Again.”)
I knew it would be a good night when my friend Sir Doug Worley showed up (from McCabe’s Showcase in Oceanside circa 2008-09) to bear witness. Now, for the record, I love my original songs; sometimes I amuse myself into giggling fits. And I like my singing voice. And I justify myself well as a total package. But often I am honored to be billed with guitar specialists who can really put on a clinic. In this business, no matter how good you get, there is always someone displaying skills that make you hungry for practice time. Read more »
One of my most favoritest DJ’s is Dori Donoho at KLRR 101.7 in Bend, Oregon. (Along with her husband Doug.) She is a true champion of regional music with her “Homegrown” show, making sure the best of the Northwest gets heard in the High Desert.
I lucked out being friends with her, because her daughter, a fine country singer-songwriter lives down here in the Hollywood area. Her name is Lisa Pollock.
She hosts an open mic at the The Park Bar & Grill in Burbank (a town with recording studios on every block.)
I mentioned before that I plan to play a million of these things, so I can work my new stuff out, make some music friends, and book some gigs.
Dori has been trying to get Lisa and I on the same planet for ages. Meeting her for the first time was definitely not anti-climactic. In the words of Billy Joel, “She has a way about her.” Smart, lovely, funny and poised, and a quality performer, as I found out when she kicked things off at the open mic.
As a new-kid-in-town (seriously, at my age? the new kid?), I’m soaking up her aid & info which she offers in generous portions.
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A terrible problem has shown up in my Biz. I need savvy fans & friends to help me fix it. Long story short: A decade ago, former associates played a joke on me. Making fun of my adoration of the great Jeff Buckley, somewhere on the internet they posted an mp3 of my song “Justice” (off Stealthy Portion), and they tagged it to included Jeff Buckley as a vocal guest.
I discovered this only when I got an e-mail from a citizen of the UK praising my song: “You know,” he wrote, “the one with Jeff Buckley singing back up.”
It was not Jeff Buckley; it was my nearly-as-wonderful friend Ehren Ebbage.
I was upset, so I called my prankster associate, and told him to knock it off, which he did–I think. The internet back then, as a marketplace, was still young. So we weren’t alarmed. My associate didn’t think anyone would take it seriously, since Jeff Buckley–God rest his soul–had been gone for several years. But I am a “by-the-book” kind of guy when it comes to Biz.
And now, I fear I am on the verge of a public relations nightmare.
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Viento y Agua tonight. I played just 45 minutes, and my fingers are killing me. (My callouses aren’t back yet.) This artsy coffee house is an intimate venue, good for connecting with a close-in audience. I thrive on these places. However, being a little rusty, I was concentrating hard to make sure the material came across solidly, authoritatively executed, with feeling. Not to mention remembering the lyrics, singing them in the pocket created by in-the-groove strumming and fingerpicking.
Being solo is deceptive. On the one hand, you think it gives you a lot of freedom. Freedom to speed up and slow down, go louder and softer as the feeling strikes you. And you can just ad-lib around the mistakes. Hit a wrong chord and you sort of slide out of it, or chunk it off and sing a line acapella. Or just make shit up on the spot until you get back on track. A solo artist is free to hack, right?
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I was a bit worried when I booked the gig. On MySpace, Back Alley looks like an utterly raucous venue, specializing in theme nights, 80′s & Disco, DJ’s, rowdy stuff like metal/punk/swing, or tribute bands like Allison Chains. Why would they book a singer-songwriter into the 11:00 pm – 1:00 am slot? And they booked me instantly on the first inquiry! The thought crossed my mind that they were desperate. You know the old Groucho adage: “I never join a club that would accept me as a member.”
Or worse: maybe they were setting me up for some twisted anti-theme, “Make-Fun-of-the-Serious-Songwriter-Night. (What?! You don’t believe I really think thoughts like that?)
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I have a new favorite band. And that’s saying a lot, because I haven’t used the phrase “favorite band” since Portishead nearly a decade ago.
The Spring Standards got under my skin last night at splendid small venue in Ventura called Zoey’s Cafe. If I had a band for Yellow House , The Spring Standards would be the Yellow House players. A drumless trio, two dudes trading guitars and bass, and a woman on piano, xylophone and melodica. They all sing. And the lyrics they sing make your heart hurt.
Two slightly inaccurate samples from memory: “Say it/Say the words I see behind your eyes/If it’s not hard to say/then it’s a lie.”
And: “Bending backwards for you honey/I’ll be the one to hold your sad salt eyes/There’ll be nothing left of my honey/But it’s alright.
Yeah, I was moved. In fact I think I heard myself say, “That was the most moving set of music I’ve heard in years.” Read more »
At the instruction of my worthy publicist, I’m increasing and improving my internet profile situation. On the plus side (really?!) I’m a tweeter now: http://twitter.com/johnshipemusic.
(Good heavens, after all the fun I’ve made of this civilization-sinking fad, to find out that it’s necessary for effective music biz promo… Well, I’ll try to have some fun and not be too snobbish about it. Hell, if Sarah Palin can do it, maybe I can too.)
I’ve also changed my facebook situation, created a new artist profile:http://www.facebook.com/johnshipemusic
But I sort of totally screwed up my personal profile, accidently setting up a new one: http://www.facebook.com/john.shipe (Sometimes this profile refuses to show its content; I have no idea why, but I’ll figure it out.)
The new CD is in hand! It looks good, sounds good… it is good. Ebbage and I are quite proud of it–feeling like it’s the best we’ve done thus far.
However, those of you artists who record albums, write novels, and direct films, know exactly what I’m talking about when I speak of an inner unease–an anti-climax, an angst, a malaise, a daunting. Because, now the real work begins. You hold it in your hand. You know you’ve done your best, and in your most objective evaluation possible, you feel pretty damn proud of how it turned out. But no matter how good it is, it doesn’t sell itself.
Actually, after the initial reckoning of the task at hand, I realize that there is nearly as much fun in the selling as in the making, as it involves playing shows, meeting people, and tons of self-involved navel-gazing on the internet.
For this album, I’m working with Green Light Go
They’re pretty heavyweight, based in Michigan, helping me get the music heard higher up the food chain than I could on my own
We have a national release date set for February 1, 2011. But local friends and fans in my home state of Oregon won’t have to wait that long. Early availability in the second week of December!
I have relocated to L.A. (North Hollywood, to be precise.) And I’m sitting here with my new CD in hand–Villain. (News on its official release and availability will be forthcoming.)
I’ve got my work cut out for me here. We ain’t in Oregon, that’s for sure. It’s big, noisy, metal & concrete. I haven’t yet met a person who isn’t an actor or employed otherwise in the film and/or music industry.
It is also hot. 90 degrees in November.
I have my office and my little living room studio set up. And my to-do list is gargantuan. A lot of promotion, a lot of meetings, but mostly booking. Booking like crazy. I’m looking for a hundred gigs in 6 months. Tough to swing when you’re doing it yourself. So, add to that list “finding an agent.”