Some time ago, someone (can’t remember who) introduced me to a fairly modern adage: There are only two kinds of music: Good and Bad.
I’m not sure whether this is a notion that can hold a lot of water. There may be nothing as subject to subjectivity than the arts. “Good” music, after all, is in the ear of the be-hearer.
But what I appreciate about the sentiment is that it breaks down a lot of genre-based walls. Good country music is good musicâ€¦ good folk music is good musicâ€¦ good gospel music is good music, etc., etc..
And that supports and fits well with my writing style, because I’ve always felt that the songs conjured by my imagination sort of “tell me” what genre-form they should take. They make strong suggestions as to how they might be best represented. As their humble servant, I listen and obey.
Put another way, you could say that I believe in and am devoted to eclecticism. I believe that an eclectic collection of anything is inherently and absolutely more interesting than any homogonous collection. At this point, I doubt I will change my mind on this, especially as pertains to musicâ€¦ it’s just too much fun to write in multiple styles.
Well, of course, this presents problems for an unknown artist. It seems that a majority of the music consuming public needs to have a cozy little box in which to place an artistâ€¦ at least initially.
So what to do? My answer is to keep doing everything! Do art! Life is short! Play your heart!
My first record, “Blue Love” (recorded in ’04 under the band name Teeter Gray) was a collection of mostly country-flavored songsâ€¦ mostly. It was graced with appearances by Eric Weissberg (of “Dueling Banjos” and “Blood on the Tracks” fame), a wonderful pedal steel player named John Widgren, local drum legend Ben Perowsky (who has worked with Vernon Reid, Mike Stern, John Scoffield, David Torn) and violinist Charlie Burnham (who has worked with Cassandra Wilson and Medesky, Martin and Wood).
Since June of ’07 I’ve been involved in an ambitious recording project — an effort to bring my “library” up to date, so to speak. Some are highly accessible and some, frankly, are not. They fit into buckets labeled Jazz, Fusion, Country, Singer-Songwriter, andâ€¦ Artsy Fartsy?
The fact that I can “do the multi-genre hop” is a testimony to my good fortune. I happen be at a point where I am surrounded by many exceptional musicians, who lend themselves to many different styles. Mazz Swift-Camlet is a Julliard violinist. Diane Michaels is a world-class harpist from Oberland. Jim Donica has played bass behind Maynard Ferguson, and has recently recorded a fine jazz album with Peter Erskine, Randy Brecker, Bruce Barth and others. Mike Lee is a remarkable, versatile and innovative reed player. As luck would have it, they all happen to enjoy playing my tunes, both the quirky and the contrived. So I keep stretching and writing. Why limit myself to black, white and gray, when I have so many colors at my disposal?
Maybe a couple of the 30+ tunes I’m recording will “hit a mark” and coax that coy and fickle lady known as “commercial success” to visit my neighborhood. Meantime, I’ll finish this project up, make a couple of CD’s, do a self-funded radio promotion campaign, do some web-marketing, enjoy performing liveâ€¦ the same stuff that the other billion artists and musicians are doing.
I hope they’re having as much fun as I am.