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no room for hipsters

the occupation of Ashley and Levon

Playing an instrument, singing, songwriting, performing, recording, and promoting are all separate arts.  Entire careers are focused on just one of these endeavors.

My career as I’ve told you has been everything from collections to life insurance and the rest of this has been a pile of things that I constantly pick up and put back down.  At six I was playing piano and by fifteen I was a fledgling songwriter.  Singing, performing and promoting require extroversion and that I am not. 

I have performed in some capacity since I started in a gospel church at age 14, and until I was 24 and I think I had sang into a microphone only twice.   Its not that I never sang at all, I would belt my Dave Matthews down the road like everybody else, but I prefered to keep the audience out of it.  I also chain smoked in college so that kept me from the pleasantries of vocal exchange; conveniently I was in my Bob Dylan phase at the time. 

While in various bands I’ve had an organ, rhodes, wurly, nord, two upright pianos, several synths, stage pianos,  a macbook full of loop shit, an accordian, a melodica and yes I can even play a guitar if I had to save my life.  Hiding behind a keyboard fortress made it easy to get on stage.  In the last two years I’ve started performing solo.  And I’m back to the piano.  Its less to think about.  Not only is the rest of it a huge mess to drag around, I’ve had to sell it all on Ebay at one point or another.  All that remains is my Roland stage piano that I’ll play until my Baldwin contract finalizes. 

But on my first fully produced album I will put you in a keyboarded fantasy land.  I’ll write string ensembles and techno beats, shrill organ riffs and put dat funky stank down on the rhodes.  I promise.  For now, let me tell you how it took 8 months to finish a demo by myself on a keyboard.  8 months. 

 The first setback involved a lack of  band members and a studio engineer.  I lost the summer chasing busy people around that didn’t want to work for free, or at least what I could pay. 

Finally, I beefed up the ol’ Toshiba and wrangled up the gear to do it myself.  Ha!  I have a hard enough learning the toolbar for my blog.  I returned everything.  Engineering is an art that I didn’t mention above. 

Finally I saved the money for real studio time, a total of two 6 hour sessions.  I didn’t know what to expect or how to prepare.  I had no producer, just the songs I had been playing for years and this guy who was there to flip the switches and take my dough.  I hoped to do three songs each day and really knock them out of the park.  Instead I blew threw 7 in and hour and a half.  My voice was exhausted and I didn’t have anything else to add so he gave me a mix and I went home two hours early.  The next day I recorded another four.  Still only me, he mixed it and again, I went home early.   He still owes me two hours but I don’t know what good it would do.  You can’t produce 11 songs in two hours, after the fact.    

The recording process can be an exhilarating, creative process or a flush of insecurities swirling against the clock.  I’ve done session work as a pianist in Nashville with the grand piano and the hairdo guy in the control room.  One take, punch in twice, go out to lunch.  I’ve also spent countless discretionary hours in friend’s basement studios scrutinizing every detail, take after take.  This project was somewhere in the middle.  Call it minimalistic or call it a demo.  I call it something I finally finished.  I have 11 tracks instead of 6.  Just me.  A blank canvas.  It has plenty of room for Brooklyn.

You can hear what I’ve got so far at


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