After a fairly quiet year and a half, activity in The Keep has really picked up in the last few months. I think it’s only coincidental that the timing matched my change of heart about participating in the marketplace… but, of course, I could be wrong…

Guest Appearances

The first event of 2019 was the release of my second-ever guest appearance, on the piece Aphelion from the Mirror of Dreams album Land of Forgotten Destiny.

I had a great time contributing 12-string electric guitars to this track and one other, which I hope will see release down the road.

Another guest spot was completed and appeared later in the year, which marks my first appearance on the Seriously Cool Projekt label!

My friend Marco Billi, who records as Jarguna, included me on Trapped, Vol. 3, the latest in his series of collaborative projects.

I played electric guitar, percussion, rainstick and shakers on Earth Mother Breathing, along with my Memory Palace partner Chris Russell on synth and saxophonist Francesco Schina.

Composition and Recording

Two unexpected albums took shape this year.

The first started in early 2018 when I asked a Respected Colleague if he had any music to which he would like me to contribute. Another guest spot?

The response went far beyond anyone’s, ever: after purchasing Memory Palace, he sent me four pieces, 90 minutes worth of music!

Cool, I thought. Maybe four guest spots. But, naturally, I was hoping these would end up together as an album, and so it came to pass.

The album’s title is Ecstatic Light. I’m final-mixing it now and we expect to release in January. I had a great time adding guitars, percussion and piano to the rich synth parts I was given. The most inspired moment was spontaneously drumming on my drum throne while listening to one of them. I ended up recording some of that to drive the groove section of one piece.

In early December, I decided it was time to comb through years of archived material, clean out the useless stuff and see if anything good was lurking. I found a finished-and-forgotten 12-string harmonics piece from 2010, and three other works in progress from 2005-11.

Some additional arrangement, recording and mixing has completed them. The result is the “lost pieces” album Orphans Mine, which I’ll release in February.

Track list: Abyssal; Aurora; Gypsy Girl in Paris; Confluence of Souls.

I’ll share the full creation story for each album when their release dates have been set.

Lucette Bourdin on shoreTell Me About It!

I had lots to say in my blog this year. The highlight was easily the six-part series on my most inspirational kindred spirits and musical influences.

One of those kindred spirits is the late Lucette Bourdin, whose official website went offline this year. I am putting up a new tribute website, which I hope will attract new listeners and act as the online hub her music deserves. Look for it in early 2020.

Other entries of which I’m fond include a shout-out to novelist Hermann Hesse, a summary of this year’s wilderness camping trip, and… Three. New. Haiku.

Play It!

It was a fantastic year for concerts! The greatest highlights were Yo-Yo Ma playing the Bach Cello Suites, and a monster quartet of old friends Bela Fleck (banjo), Edgar Meyer (double bass) and Zakir Hussain (tablas) with Rakesh Chaurasia (bansuri flute).

Other notables included Tuvan trio Alash teaming up with Chicago’s Fifth House Ensemble; mandolinist Sierra Hull; a double bill of Chicago Balinese Gamelan and Friends of the Gamelan; Bela Fleck and the Flecktones; flatpick guitarist Beppe Gambetta; classical guitarist Manuel Barrueco; and fiddle-cello duo Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas.

I’m Ready for What’s Next

With two album releases coming early in the year, and the Lucette Bourdin website going live, 2020 will be off to a galloping start.

Five solo albums in progress, along with sound design, groove assembly and just tuning exploration, will keep me busy in The Keep all year and beyond.

Stay tuned, and big thanks for your support. Happy New Year!