Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I just met with my band mate Scotte to discuss updating our website, and we took the opportunity to reflect on the past year, and take a look at where we are headed in the near future.

The flurry of activity from the last year winds down. The summer, with its crazy schedule of rehearsing, performing, recording, promoting, and networking, is behind us. The new CD is out. The holidays are drawing to a close, and for a moment all is still and calm. I find myself asking, “Well, where DO I go from here?”

This prompts a flood of related questions, for how can I know where I am going unless I understand who I am and what I want? Sure, at some level, I just want to play. But that is overly simplistic; there is much more to it than that.
So I started writing down the questions.( While these questions are valid in a much broader context, for the time being I am focusing on how this all relates to my music. )

  • Who am I as a musician? What is my musical identity?
  • What is my creative vision? Where do I see myself going in the next year? The next 5 years? The next 10 years?
  • What are my strengths?
  • Where does the joy in music come from?
  • What moments in music do I enjoy the most?
  • What parts of being a musician do I enjoy the most?
  • What unique gifts do I have?
  • What do I do exceptionally well that is distinctive, that sets me apart from other musicians?
  • What do I do better than anybody else?
  • If I were to be identified by one single musical trait or quality, what would that be? What would I like it to be?
  • How/when/where do I shine as a musician?
  • What circumstances, environments, situations make it possible for me to really shine as a musician?
  • What gifts do I have to offer to those who listen to my music?
  • What benefit does my music bring to the world?
  • What do I do that is unexpected, a pleasant surprise?
  • Where do lists come from?

These are all good questions. And what is vital is not so much the answers, as it is the process of asking and exploring the questions, and gaining insight into myself, my goals, and my sense of purpose.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Gibson is BACK!!! Reunited at long last!

After several years apart, a dear sweet friend has brought my Gibson back home to me!

Yup, that's me with my Gibson ES-175 back when I was a kid.
It was my first really good guitar (no duh) and I played it in my first band.
It really is a sweet instrument, and I love it dearly.
I took it with me to rehearsal tonight, and it was so cool to play it with the band. There are some things that it is just born to do, like jazz and blues. The problem is, it's almost too easy to play; after playing acoustic for so long, and putting light gauge strings on it, I really had to 'ease up on the throttle' or I would push it out of tune. It really only takes a very light touch to make this guitar sing!
Thanks Stacey, for bringing the guitar to Denver with you! And thanks to Dino and Juliette for keeping it for me the last 7 years!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Amazing Grace ... at long last!

I was finally able to post the version of Amazing Grace that I created for Mom's memorial service.
I have always loved the song, and Mom had requested that the song be played at her memorial service. I think she asked for bagpipes or organ. I don't play bagpipes, so...
It's just me, Sam (my trusty Fender acoustic), and my Digitech RP20 (for reverb and also for compression/warmth for the layered harmony guitars), recorded on a KORG ToneWorks PXR4.
(Finally, I found a software that could convert my file to an .mp3 that RN would accept. the PXR4 is an older unit, and records at a different sample rate that freaks out RN's upload page.
You can play it in the RN mini-player on the sidebar of this blog (at left), or you can go to my ReverbNation page and listen to it there:
It was so wild when they played it at the church; the speakers were way up in the rafters, so it really did sound like it was coming from heaven. I think Mom would have liked that.

Monday, November 8, 2010


NEW SONG! This real-life story has been bouncing around in my head for years now... and the other night, I heard a band play a cool reggae beat - it was the perfect fit, and the puzzle piece that brought it all together! (Funny how it takes several years for a song to 'just fall together...lol)
It's a tale of true love, drinking coconut milk straight from the shell, long nights on the beach, signs from above... adventure, humor, and danger....
It's a story about how "Love knows no laws" and the heart does what it will, regardless... that can lead to trouble sometimes... and "Woe!!! Whoa-OH!"
All the while the Caribbean beat lilts along, much like life in the islands...
...and the beat goes:
"Un dit-dit BOOM dit, Un dit-dit BOOM dit, "

Friday, August 20, 2010

Ironwood Rain: An Introduction

Scotte put together this awesome video: Ironwood Rain: An Introduction
Check it out!
Nice work, Scotte!!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Merrie, the band, and the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer

My friend Merrie from work participated in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, walking 39 miles to help the fight against breast cancer. All this, after just recovering from surgery herself. She is an amazing woman.
Here she is crossing the finish line!!!

My band passed the hat at a recent gig to help raise funds for Merrie. We are so grateful to those who contributed, and I wanted to pass along this note from Merre:

"Dear Ironwood Rain,
All I can say is Thank You, Thank You, Thank You! Michael, your support, and understanding of what this means to me and my friends and family is amazing. You certainly didn't need to jump on the bandwagon, but I am truly humbled that you did. During the Walk, those of us walking solo have a tremendous opportunity to meet up up with some amazing people, my standing memory from this walk will be the woman with her "bucket list" on the back of her shirt. It had some expected items, but the "beat these damn brain tumors" mixed in there made me stop in my tracks. I could only squeeze her hand and walk on. Cancer Sucks...that's it, and as long as I can walk, I will.
So thank you again, it means a great deal.
P.S. Love the music!!!"

We are pleased that we could help in a small way, and are discussing possible ways we may be involved next year.

From myself, the band, and Merrie, to all who helped, who contribute and support the cause, a great big "Thank you!"

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Ironwood Rain @ Colorado Sound - "Burn The Ships" Recording Sessions

Today we recorded more vocals, and had our guest violinist Josie Quick play her tracks on the art rock ballad Where a Man Would Stand and the hootenany extravaganza Ages.
Scotte finished his lead vocals, and JJ and I recorded the last of our harmonies. (JJ came up with a COOL harmony for Where a Man Would Stand I knew right away where my part would be, and they sounded killer together! We are getting where we can read each others' minds.... oooOOOooo....)
On the down side, as time was growing short, we had to scrap the pirate song Pursuit. I was heartbroken, since that song was my baby and my showpiece tune, and it really is a downright epic tune; but in the end I believe the result was worth the sacrifice. We were able to invest the time and energy into taking the other six songs to the next level, and we did!
Next week, Steve and Scotte will finish editing and begin final mixes..
We all breathed a sigh of relief! All the parts are recorded!!! WOO HOO!!!

Scotte sings the heartbreaking art-rock ballad Where a Man Would Stand:

Today - with the help of Academy of the Arts vocal coach Dr. Scott Martin and his assistant Tom* - we
recorded vocal tracks for the title track Burn The Ships, the signature song Fly To You, and began work on the ghost story, The Attic (written by yours truly!)
Then Dr. Scott and Steve took over editing the vocals. It was amazing to watch.
The resulting sound is quite stunning. By the end, my head was full... no more notes could fit into my brain!
[*P.S. Ya gotta watch out for those two - they were playin' tricks on me and giving us all a hard time all day long... LOL "Did you hear that?" I love these guys...)

Scotte sings Burn The Ships:

Gary gets set to sing his part on Fly To You:

Day 3. We finished laying down all the instrument tracks today, and began vocal tracks. At the end of three days, we have accomplished a lot, and we are very happy with the way the music is coming together...

The master at work - Steve, our producer (this guy is amazing!!!):

Gary puts down some tasty percussion tracks:

Gary St. Germain, the thundermaster, gets set up to do the lightning crash on the ghost song The Attic:

JJ sings the lead vocal on the signature track Fly To You:

We checked this pitch on this long note with a crescendo against the meter, and it was perfect! That is rare!

The sound is phenomenal! I can't wait to share the music with my friends!!!

Day 2 of "Burn The Ships."
BEEF STEW takes over the control room!!!

Taking a moment to relax, Gary tickles the ivories. He hee! He's actually really good! We never knew...

Today was a lot of hard work. we tackled the two most demanding tunes today. One went way better than expected, the other was a lot tougher than expected. That happens. It was a bit grueling at times, and I'm exhausted. The good news, we got a lot accomplished, and more music in the can.
The sound is phenomenal. Steve is doing extraordinary work as an engineer and as a producer. His ideas and suggestions almost always seem to be 'just right.'
There were other outstanding moments too: when JJ and I were playing the guitars on All I Need, the two guitars started singing to each other. It was incredible! We were both looking at each other saying, "WOW! What was that?" I was playing these two notes, and JJ was playing those two notes, and then these other notes started playing by themselves!

We even recorded a song about a pirate ship!!! I wore this in honor of the song Pursuit:

Stay tuned for more piratey goodness!!!

My Band, Ironwood Rain, is back in the studio to record our latest CD, "Burn The Ships."
We are really enjoying recording at Colorado Sound, one of the premier studios in the state. Steve is awesome to work with, and the songs are sounding really great.
Here are some pix from day 1:
The Gibson Hummingbird I am using for the project. Damn, this guitar is sweet.

Sonny and Sam:

JJ tunes up:

Scotte enjoying his new Ricky:

The grand piano. We gotta write a song with piano in it now...

Setting up the drums. Dena, Gary and Steve:

In the control room:

Wrapping it up for the day:

The songs are sounding great, the day was productive, and we are exhausted, yet happy!
More to come...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

First Friday at Clear Creek Books in Golden, CO

Last night’s Ironwood Rain gig at Clear Creek Books in Golden was an absolute blast! The weather was BEAUTIFUL. The city had the street closed down for First Friday, they had vendors and entertainment, and there were throngs of people everywhere: in the store, on the sidewalk, in the street… It's a great bookstore in a beautiful location. Craig is a great guy with a terrific wit, and has been very supportive of our music.
The platform section of the store made a perfect ‘stage’ for us to play. We pointed one of the speaker 'sticks' out the door for the passers by, and it attracted quite a bit of attention. The music was ‘on,’ the band was having fun; and judging by the smiles on the faces of the dozens (perhaps millions!) of people who came in to listen, or just to stop outside the windows and watch, the crowd was enjoying the music too!
As a result, we got booked to play the main stage for the July First Friday, (July 2nd) and we are looking forward to returning to play again in picturesque downtown Golden.

If you’re looking for something fun to do on First Fridays in the summer, definitely come to downtown Golden. We’ll see you there!

A great big thanks to Craig, the owner of Clear Creek Books - a terrific store in the heart of scenic Golden, Colorado. Craig is an awesome guy. The store has a great selection of books, fresh coffee, high ceilings a picture windows with a beautiful view, and a pleasant atmosphere. If they don’t carry the book you’re looking for, they will find it for you!


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

New photos

From the recent Ironwood Rain photo shoot with Harold, aka Harry The Hat.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

New IR music

My band, Ironwood Rain, just finished recording some demos of new songs for our upcoming CD - "Burn the Ships" (working title,) at the wonderful MohrFire Studios in Lafayette, CO.
It's always a pleasure to work with Gusty, he's a terrific engineer and a fun guy.
Check out the band's website for more info, we'll probably be posting some snippets, and we are continually adding video from our various gigs around the area.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

New IR beta website

My band Ironwood Rain got a new test version of our website up and running.
Check it out here .

New photos of the band!

My band, Ironwood Rain, just received the photos from our recent shoot with our favorite photographer, Harry "The Hat."

Harry is an excellent photographer, and a wonderful guy, and the photos came out fantastic!
Hats off to Harry!!!
Check out the full photo album here