All but the last .001% Of Rowan & Storm

Tonight I will edit one note in one song of Twotonic’s (aka Katy Dröge Macdonald and Steve Macdonald) album Rowan & Storm, and then it will be officially done. I fully admit I am probably biased, but I think they sound fabulous on this, and I can’t wait until it’s released, so the rest of you can hear what they’ve done. I don’t think I’ve ever heard them sing and play more beautifully. I’m not sure I’m allowed to talk about the release date yet, but it will be fairly soon. Stay tuned….

Pegasus Award nominations

The 2014 Pegasus Awards final ballot was posted today. The Pegasus Awards were created to acknowledge excellence in Filk music. The awards are voted on by the members of the community. I am pleased to say my parody of Bohemian Rhapsody, Midichlorian Rhapsody is nominated in the category Best Adapted Song. Many of my very favorite people (both as musicians, and well, just people) also happen to be nominated. If you consider yourself connected to the Filk community, go to the ballot and listen to the sample recordings, and vote for some of the very talented people represented there:

Creature Feature is in the can

This past weekend I finished mixing Seanan McGuire’s next album Creature Feature.This project has been gestating for a long time, due to various circumstances that neither Seanan nor I could control, but the result is totally worth it.

As is our usual working method, Seanan provided lyrics and a melody, and gave me lots of freedom to arrange the songs. After our first session where Seanan recorded scratch vocals for me to work from, we went out for dinner. She happened to be playing the soundtrack from “School of Rock” in the car, so I semi-consciously allowed that to guide my arrangements, making the album very much classic rock inspired. Besides Seanan (who sings as well as I’ve ever heard her), it also features Mary Crowell, Amy McNally, Maya Bohnhoff and a special vocal appearance by Paul Kwinn. They all kicked serious musical booty. Mary’s piano playing is beautifully spot-on throughout, and she and Maya created some gorgeous backing vocals. Amy also adds some typically playful fiddle to a couple of songs. There’s some instrumental work that I’m very happy pleased with. On one song in particular, I channeled my love of Deep Purple, and created some dueling guitar/organ parts that I’m quite proud of. The song closes with one of the best guitar solos I think I’ve ever recorded.

I have spent the last couple of weeks obsessively mixing, remixing and then remixing again (because if a mix is worth doing, then dammit, it’s worth doing several times) :-). Seanan gave her approval to the mixes yesterday, and I have an appointment with a mastering engineer in a couple of weeks. Seanan will be announcing a release date in due time, so stay tuned…

In the Studio: Scott Snyder

Scott, Mark and Paul

Scott Snyder, Mark Osier, and Paul Kwinn—Rooster chorus

In the studio this week, we have the fabulously funny and uber-talented Scott Snyder, working on a new CD.

Title to come.

Here’s a pic of Scott hamming it up—er, I mean performing in the backup chorus for Kristoph and Margaret at Consonance 2013.

So, here’s what I’m wondering—if female backup singers are “chick” singers, are male backup singers “roosters”?

Mystery Talent Revealed!


Katy & SMac

Katy & SMac

JEFF: I’m very tired but happy. Yesterday I wrapped an intensive two week recording session with Katy Dröge-Macdonald and Steve Macdonald. Katy and Steve are now performing as Twotonic. We’ve completed all their vocal and guitar parts for “Rowan and Storm”, their album of cover songs. Since they came from Germany to record, we were under a bit of time pressure to get everything done, which concerned me a little, but as it turned out, we finished with a day and a half to spare.

Working with Steve and Katy was a real pleasure. They both have warm, distinctive voices, that blend together amazingly well. I had done quite a lot of pre-production on most of the songs, so they had a foundation to perform to, and once we got into the swing of it, it went very smoothly. It was a little bit of an adjustment for them to get used to playing with a “band”, but by the end of our first session, they really had it down. I will be adding tracks from a few other people before I mix it. Quite honestly, it already sounds fairly polished. I think anyone who has ever been a fan of Steve or Katy (or is a fan of good folk/rock music) will want to get a copy when it’s available.

MAYA: And I’m missing them already and looking forward to putting a few harmony tracks here and there. My fave cut on the album: Saint Peter’s Bones and Cousin Jack.

Bass Master

We’ve have had Mike Mallory, bassist extraordinaire, doing tracks for our upcoming, yet-to-be-named album. He’s done several bass parts from his lair down in So-Cal, and they are phenomenal. I can’t even…

Mike Mallory

Mike Mallory

I mean, Geddy Lee, eat your heart out. He did some truly outside-the-bass-box things on several of the songs that absolutely changed the way I thought about the song, and just now sent in a bass line for a song that we haven’t even put a melody to yet. The bass line is actually giving me some nifty ideas about just where that melody might go.

Just as a sort of tease, here are the titles of the songs that now have Mike Mallory bass lines:

Borrowed Days (some of you have heard this one, possibly with Rika Koerte singing harmony if you went to Consonance or attended Seanan McGuire’s last book event in San Francisco. (Rika was drafted as the international member of Seanan’s Flying Circus and Snake Handling Show).

Stones, which is the bass line that changed the song for me.

As the Crow Flies, which we did at Consonance with Kristoph Klover trading melodies and harmonies with me. Also with daumbek by Rika.

Dead Language, which is the new one that Mike just put an amazing bass part on.

There is also a song entitled Meditation on Whispers which features a bass part by Tony Levin … Yes, THAT Tony Levin. The Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Dire Straits Tony Levin. The Bass Man in the Harry Dresden coat.

Ookla the Mok West

Ookla the Mok West

Oh, embarrassment of riches! Two of the finest bassists I have ever had the pleasure of hearing are playing on our songs.

And though I am so sorry, Rand and Adam, that Mike is no longer living in Buffalo, NY and playing in Ookla the Mok, I am also thrilled that he’s living in Palmdale and playing with us.

I believe the correct sign off is BWA-HA-HA-HA! Had I a mustachio to twirl, I’d twirl it.


April Showers Bring Recording Projects


So March is wrapping up and April is staring us in the face, and it looks busy.

Jeff has been working with Seanan McGuire on her new album (to be named), as well as with Scott Snyder and Mark Osier. We are also putting together songs for our next album.

The big deal in April is the beginning of a new project with (redacted). Yes, we are working on an album with (mystery talent). No, I can’t tell you more than that, else I would have to exile you to Transylvania where I suspect I still have relatives who vant to drink your blood.

We are already slated for Baycon in May, so I’m looking forward to that, as well, and there have been noises coming from other states in the Union about new projects. Jeff or I will post about them as info becomes leakable.

A tidbit from Seanan’s album—it will include a wonderful song that goes with her next novel release Sparrow Hill Road, and has the same title. Plus, there will be a new “mad scientist” song, replete with voiceovers by the Minionettes (Maya Bohnhoff and Mary Crowell). The mad scientists will be played by Seanan and guest evil genius, Paul Kwinn.


News Update—What We’ve Been Up To


Margaret & Kristoph

This year’s Consonance (THE Bay Area Filk Convention) was better than ever. We had international guest Rika Körte as a houseguest for several days the week before the con, which was delightful. It also gave us time work up some music together such that Jeff and I both performed in her set and she performed in ours.

We also performed with Kristoph and Margaret on what is probably my favorite song in their expansive repertoire. I refer, of course, to Jack Daw—which is a song about the Fisher King legend.

On a very personal note, this is the first actual convention I’ve done since having body parts replaced with nice bionic ones (I, Borg) and it was fantastic. I danced myself silly. I jumped up and down. I walked. Take that, gravity!


Seanan McGuire

The week after Consonance, we once again formed the core of Seanan McGuire’s Traveling Circus and Snake Handling Show for her Half Off Ragnarok release party. (This is Book Three in her Incryptid series.) This time the performers were us, Paul Kwinn and Beckett Gladney, and Rika Körte back from a short trip up to Seattle. We wove together two sets of music between raffle drawings and Seanan’s madcap Q&A sessions. Much fun was had by all—except for the trying to find a place to park in San Francisco part. We have another book event coming up in May at Borderlands for the release of Sparrow Hill Road.

This weekend, Seanan will be in the studio working on her next (soon to be named) CD.  News at 11.

Gearing up for Consonance

Tonight is the night of the Guest / Concom dinner for Consonance, THE San Francisco Bay Area filk convention, which convenes officially Friday afternoon at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Milpitas. This will entail three days of music, workshops, and general fun.



We had the good fortune to host International guest Rika Koerte for several days and ended up with several collaborative pieces of music. Funny how that happens. We’re also going to be doing a little musical cross-pollinating with Guests of Honor Margaret and Kristoph.

For those who might like to attend, our concert is on Friday night at 8 PM. Rika’s concert is Saturday at 2 PM and Margaret and Kristoph’s is Saturday at 7:30.

But tonight, if all goes according to plan, Jeff and I will be indulging in Thai food with other members of the concom and a dozen or so of our filkish friends. (Hm. WordPress does not know the word “filkish”. It keeps trying to correct me to “folkish”. Quelle surprise!)

— Maya (the Consonance Program Book Lady)

Lord Peter and Vixy

Lord Peter and Vixy

Musicians and cats seem to go together and we all know that social media primarily exists for the purpose of posting pictures of cats. So, why buck a trend, I say.

Recently, we went up to Seattle to perform as part of Betsy Tinney’s release concert/party for Release the Cello and met her amazing feline companions. The marmalade gentleman seated next to Vixy is Lord Peter Whimsy—a Maine Coon.

As you can tell, Lord Peter adores being adored.