Whew! It’s been a crazy past few months! Between working, recording, performing, drawing, writing and generally staying busy with a plethora of activities, there hasn’t been much time for website reconstruction (a phase I’m into now!) but with luck and favour, that will change. I’ve got some great ideas for getting the site back into the swing of things!
But first…Do you remember that weekend last summer, you know, the one where the Hellcat and I went into the hinterlands up behind Avondale with recording phenomenon Larry Hennessey? Well I’m delighted to say that just last week I approved the final proofs for the production of the CDs AND I just got an email that they've been shipped!
Woo hoo…album number 2!!
As with all things, there have been changes to this piece of work. Initially it was going to be a story concept loosely built around the settlement of the New World…and in some ways it is, however, there were some tunes I wanted to include that weren’t particularly in that theme. I realized that what I had was in fact more songs that led to the title change of the album to “Migration Songs, Too.” The history lesson can wait.
On this album I have the considerable skills of Larry Hennessey, radio star, recording engineer, producer, musician and ‘friend since High School’. In addition, on three of the songs the masterful fretboard technician Danny Casavant lends his talents to my delight. And as always, I have the voice of the Hellcat bringing out the feminine edge and giving me the sweet backups. I am honoured to be in such company.
Despite the similarity in album titles [Migration Songs (2015) and Migration Songs, Too. (2019)] the album artwork could not be more different! For the first album I had the photographic strength of perhaps Newfoundland and Labrador’s most interesting Photographer, Terrence Hounsell, provide the wicked clear shots of the seagulls in flight (and the boat!). On the second album there’s a capture of an Infrared Snowden in full flight, bold and colourful, and glowing in the heat. The Hellcat took those, and I took a shine to them.
I like that both albums are in some ways very different and yet, similar in context. Different Producers, different design, same artist’s interpretation. Watch this space for an update when the album lands!
Here it is ... March month, or as the elders would say (and still say, now that I am approaching 'Elder' status myself - some would say I'm already there!) the "Long, hungry month of March".
Such an endearing description to describe the time that historically meant your food stores for winter have depleated!
Anyways, these days we have grocery stores! Praise the farmers and fisherfolk!
Here's a plug for East Coast Rising 97.5 Community Radio (#EastCoastRising) (@EastRisingCIOE) (communityradio.ca) in Halifax Nova Scotia, who have been playing East Coast Music regularly, and have featured some of my work. I am humbled to share the lineup with so many musicians and songwriters I admire!
I'm including this song, 'Old Irish Wake' from my first album, 'Migration Songs'. It's a song that means more to me than the sum of the words. In case you're wondering, the lovely children's voices at the end are from when mine were much younger, and we sang around the table!
Thank you Dermot!
As an added treat I'm also posting for the first time ever, a brand new song! It is a song with a message of inclusion. With the way things are these days I feel compelled to comment. We are all together. We are one.
Here is 'Shine on Me Shine on You'. Enjoy!!
Feel free to leave comments or simply say hello!
All the best for all of your days!
Hey all! Just a quick note to tell you that my first Album, Migration Songs, is now available at O'Brien's Music on Water Street in St. John's! Also, watch this space for more news on the new album, A New World Story, coming later this year!
Hey all! I'm happy to say we've been having a 'flat out' summer, and it's been wonderful! Friends, family and adventure! It's nearly the middle of August and the activities just keep on keepin' on.
One of the highlights of this summer was the past weekend in Avondale NL with my darling Hellcat (and wife!) and my good friend from way back, Larry (check out his website regeneratorrecords.com). We spent the better part of 3 days at his family's cabin laying down 'bed' tracks for a collection of new songs I've been writing. No samples yet, but they're coming! In the meantime, here's a shot of the two of us, taken by the Hellcat!
I hope everyone has a safe and happy conclusion to their summer activities and that the Fall is full with new adventures! Stay well!
Here we are, 102 years past the slaughter of the Newfoundland Regiment at Beaumont Hamel, France, on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. It still stands out as one of the most horrific days in our history. Regardless one's views on war and conflict it cannot be argued that this was a senseless waste of life.
Once again, I'm posting my 'Blue Puttee' song in remembrance and respect of those who were impacted by this day, may the likes of which never be seen again.
So here's the thing...I've been working on new songs and here's one I was fiddling with today. I'm breaking in a new audio interface and getting reacquainted with my recording software. This is pretty much a first mix of a first take, with myself providing musical accompaniment ...to myself!
I remember as a child in elementary school being subjected to black and white film reels instructing us on the appropriate action to take should the catastrophic event of a nuclear warhead strike occur. The movie was complete with a shot of a huge mushroom cloud, military personnel with binoculars, and animations of what the shock wave and radiant heat would do to an ordinary looking house. I may have some of the memories mixed up but I’m not too far off the mark. It seems the makers of this macabre cinema felt that children should leap underneath their desks and cover up their heads in a cowering embryonic crouch. The intent of this film was to reduce the anxiety we might be feeling living under threat of annihilation. Well, speaking only for myself (although I suspect my classmates were of a similar mind) this sort of ‘schooling’ did nothing to ease my anxiety. In fact, I was pretty innocent as most 7 or 8 year olds are, but even at that tender age I knew without a doubt that should something like that happen the only thing to be accomplished by jumping under my desk is that I would be vapourized in a crouching position. Looking back now it’s incredible that this kind of fearmongering was not only tolerated, but encouraged and supported by the educational institution of the day. I am not being critical of the system though, that was the general mood of the times…and the threat of a nuclear apocalypse was seemingly real…as it still is.
I did not notice on any of the news feeds from Hawaii recently if anyone was crouching on the ground in terror…apparently that defense is not prescribed anymore!
Looks like it’s time to post again, but I’m wondering exactly what to say. I’ve been taking some time away from the internet and social media, and media in general. Reason? I believe they have been responsible for helping to plant seeds of anxiety and unease in the general populace. It seems that world politics and events have become the meat and potatoes of all things worthy of journalistic scrutiny. A truly frightening thought if one considers the possibility of a series of loudmouth and ignorant entertainment washouts following one another in succession. The conspiracy theorist in the dark dim corner of my mind wonders in horror what is actually going on out of the view of the cameras. Thankfully (mercifully?) the optimist in me wastes no time pushing that thought away and replacing it with some other more uplifting musings. But now, once again I am struggling with the one topic that never seems to let me rest without outrage.
Climate Change? Cryptocurrency? World War 3? Armageddon? Nay I say! The thorn in my paw that never rests is the state of Shipbuilding in this country!
Many many moons ago as only my closest readers will remember I wrote a short article discussing the state of Canadian Shipbuilding, which was published in The Downhomer Magazine. I bemoaned much of what I saw as a taxpaying citizen trying to make a living as a homegrown Shipbuilder, in hopes that things might change, or at the very least I might purchase some peace of mind having vented my feelings. Alas, I’m sorry to say that my relief did not materialize. For a while things were looking up, as Canada raced along at a snail’s pace in the development of a Shipbuilding Strategy but it has become obvious that we’ve still a long ways to go.
I’ve been giving this topic more thought as of late and have started jotting down more of my thoughts. This posting is a comment on the practice of buying designs ‘off the shelf’ rather than using our own skills and resources. A future extension to this posting will discuss the sorry state of the ferry services in my own province of Newfoundland and Labrador (which I am at the moment, too infuriated to think about very clearly).
Please read and comment if you feel like becoming a part of the discussion!
Canadian Shipbuilding – An Investment in the Future.
Shipbuilding in Canada is trying to come back, having been badly weakened by decades of neglect and ignorance. At one time this country led the world in terms of our merchant marine, but that was a long time ago. It was at the end of the second world war and Canada’s sailors roamed the seven seas bringing trade and commerce to all parts of the globe. With one of the world’s longest coastlines stretching across the North Atlantic, the Eastern Pacific and the frozen vastness of the Arctic ocean, Canada could once boast of a proud self-sufficient seafaring tradition. We still have the coastline but the abundance of Canadian designed and built vessels has been decimated and a generation of tradespeople have missed out on years of valuable experience. Our sailors ply the waters under foreign registries. I believe it is time to rethink a lot of the philosophy of the last several decades and to work on strategies that get Canadian Design Houses, secondary suppliers, tradespeople, educational institutions and businesses in general back to a philosophy of ‘doing it ourselves’.
There are any number of reasons that might account for the decline in our performance as a nation of shipbuilders, amongst them the volatility of global economics, fuel costs, labour issues, political wills, and competition from other nations. The list continues but that is not the focus of this article. I am only touching on the surface of the many issues and challenges that affect this industry. However it is worth noting that the general premise of this article could without much trouble, be applied to any industry.
I speak as one who has been working in the Shipbuilding Industry in Canada and can give a firsthand account of what I’ve witnessed over nearly four decades. When I came into the business Canada was building the Frigate ‘City Class’ ships. These were, until recently our last Federal investment in the navy. Thankfully, following a long period of woefully under supported actions on the part of many, our government has finally seen fit to rebuild our country’s capacity to patrol our waters. The result of this new found government attention is the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy and it has certainly been a long time coming. Time will tell just how many ships will actually be delivered through this program (I’m guessing it will be less than originally stated). Although the NSPS indicates vessels for the Coast Guard are imminent as well as the navy the actual plans are less forthcoming.
Let’s consider the case of commercial transport vessels (and to a lesser degree the navy and coast guard). The ferries that carry the passengers and goods throughout the country. It has been the wisdom of the day since the latter part of the last century that it is better to buy an ‘off the shelf’ design from an established shipyard in another part of the world than it is to design and build our own here in Canada. While the cost saving might appear to be a little more visible initially, and the logic may seem to be sound, history is showing us that this is not the case in many instances. It is true that it’s possible to get a good product in this manner but in order to ensure this, some important conditions must be met.
I have spent a significant portion of my career working on various vessels and vessel designs that have been purchased from ‘overseas’, ex-soviet block countries, Europe, asia, and so on. While it’s kept my colleagues and I quite busy fixing and redesigning poor and inadequate workmanship this is less than desirable, it’s not the way to build ships. Speaking personally I would much rather be working on ships that we design and build here in Canada. It’s not too late for this.
Admittedly many of our shipyards have fallen into ruin, or gone out of business, or struggle along surviving on repair work and small jobs. Our workforce of experienced tradespeople has diminished considerably, but regardless we do have the means to take this challenge on in Canada. There are several institutions in the country that teach Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, there are many small independent design houses that employ highly skilled professionals that at present find most of their work outside of Canada and there are many designers that work freelance both in North America and globally. The obvious question that arises is “How is it that the skilled designers and tradespeople cannot find work at home and yet are finding work abroad”? The answer is simple. The skills are present in Canada in spite of the state that our shipbuilding has fallen to.
We can do it here, so the next time a smiling politician comes to your door, or a surveyor calls your number let them know that designing and building (and outfitting with local and national resources) Canadian Federal and Provincial ships is a better option than the ‘cheaper’ option of buying garbage elsewhere. Personally I’m fed up with my tax money being wasted to support other nation’s industries. If we’re going to waste money, let’s do it here. Who knows, in time we just might see a return on our investment in the future.
Yup...you read right. There's not a lot happening in St. John's work wise for me at present, and as you may know, I don't stay on the market long. I'm off to Halifax NS next week for the next gig. I hope to do a bit of site upgrading here and to pick up where I left off...before the wonderful summer came along and all thoughts of work were flushed from my head!
Here's a shot from the deck of our newly stained cabin (which hopefully will help to make my excuses for not spending lots of time online developing websites)!
Keep watching for new updates, music and art! Thanks so much!!
Hey there, I haven't posted in a bit, not due to any negative input, but because I finished the shipbuilding gig in Quebec and returned home to NL. I've been enjoying some time in the country and around the Bay. It's been busy...and glorious! This is a quick post because I am headed out the highway, this time to sow potatoes and get a start on a coat of stain for the Studio on Random Island.
We've been doing a little hiking as well so I've uploaded a few pics to show you all part of the reasons we love living where we do! I'll do a post later on with a bit more depth to it lol! (once I'm relaxed completely).
This is a view looking north at the end of our road. I took this pic while down on the beach checking out a dead whale that had washed up on the shore, possibly having drowned weeks earlier under pack ice. This is Outer Cove looking towards 'The Beamer' with scattered 'Bergy Bits' still floating about. I'm happy to say this was a couple of weeks ago and the ice is no longer around here...although there are still many to be seen up the coast!