Why “Nine Before One”?

What does this domain name mean? Is it just a playful, absurd title? Does it mean putting the interests of the many ahead of the interests of the individual? Does it refer to how many cups of coffee (or pints of beer) one can consume before the first hour of the afternoon? Perhaps it is the way a person with dyslexia might count to ten. In reality, when I was trying to come up with a domain name and I was under great pressure to make a decision I happened to look at the clock, and it was 12:51 pm.

About Swallow Hill Music (please consider donating)

Since moving to Denver in 2010 I’ve seen countless live music performances at Swallow Hill itself at their main location at 71 E. Yale Ave. or at one of the many other venues around Denver where they also sponsor concerts. I’ve also had a chance to perform there many times at the Hootenanny (hosted by Harry Tuft on the first Friday of every month) and at the Open Stage (hosted by Ed McElvain on the fourth Thursday of every month). I’ve also participated in guitar classes, bluegrass ensembles, and songwriting workshops through them. Many of the best friends I’ve made in Denver have been people I’ve met through Swallow Hill. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic Swallow Hill has had to postpone all its concerts and cancel all its classes and workshops until the threat of infection passes. This has caused extreme economic hardship for the music instructors and performers, and thrown Swallow Hill as an organization into financial strain as well. I would ask anyone visiting this website to consider either becoming a member of Swallow Hill or making a donation to Swallow Hill to help them get through these hard times.

Swallow Hill is a tremendous resource and a treasure that Denver is very fortunate to be able to enjoy. Our city has many, many talented musicians and a rich music culture which Swallow Hill nurtures, promotes, and enriches. It would be a tragedy if, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they were not able to continue their essential work. Once again, I would ask anyone visiting this website to consider either becoming a member of Swallow Hill or making a donation to Swallow Hill to help them get through these hard times.

NOTE: This information is repeated on a separate page of this website, accessible through the menu at the top of this page.

Shelter-In-Place

Since March 16th I’ve pretty much been alone in my home with cat (I had two cats up until March 22nd when on died.) playing guitar, writing songs, and recording. I’ve made two trips to the grocery store, taken several bike rides, and gone for several walks around the lake, but the songs have taken up most of my time. Yesterday I decided to put together this web site in order to post the recorded songs. As I thought about the huge sacrifices that so many are making in order to serve victims of the pandemic, including healthcare workers, first responders, grocery store employees, delivery persons, and others who have no choice but to leave themselves vulnerable to exposure, I wanted this to be a little more than just a place to display my own work. Among the many groups of people that are being affected economically by the pandemic are musicians who cannot perform in public. I decided I would include some information here about Swallow Hill, a not-for-profit music school and concert venue that has been a big part of my life since moving to Denver ten years ago. I also learned about an effort called Lunches for Clinicians through a friend on Facebook. I’ve included separate information on both of these organizations on separate pages where you can find out more, access their web sites, and make contributions.

Songwriting

In order to write, perform, and record these songs I’ve had to write lyrics, compose melodies and accompanying guitar parts, sing, play guitar, and operate recording software, which in this case is ProTools. My skill with any one of these functions is mediocre at best, but I find it very satisfying to come up with a final product that I can actually listen to and share. As an amateur songwriter I compare myself to the hobbyist landscape painter who spends hours in the open air with easel and palette and fills the house with colorful canvasses but never has a show or sells a painting. These are decidedly amateurish, but I wanted to do something with them, so I decided to create a web site where I could post them.

Part of the process of recording songs is playing with effects. Sometimes the result is good, sometimes it is not, but playing around is part of the fun. What does it sound like if I add more reverb? Should I sing the same part with two octaves? Am I overdoing the guitar solo? In the end, I’m not really aiming for perfection, I’m experimenting with these variations. (OK, sure, I’d like to have better products, but since they are what they are, I’ll just say I’m playing around). As I listen to these recordings again I hear many things that could be improved, and other things I would simply like to change, but one can only be so obsessive before deciding to move on.