Random musings along Geoff's musical journey
It has been an exciting year for me since Dirt Track Racer released Kick Off Your Muddy Boots. I've learned volumes about the process of promoting an album to radio and am pleased to say that we managed to reach #4 in the country on the Roots Music Charts in February of last year ("Bucket Full of Rain" spent two weeks at #2 on the singles chart).
We've managed to sneak in a few gigs and also learned that the entire music world is rapidly changing. Original music is playing second fiddle to "tribute bands," which is incredibly disappointing, but it's the trend none-the-less and we'll have to live with it for now. We play a few covers, here and there, but remain firmly committed to presenting our own original music.
As the year progressed, the writing bug returned and I'm now sitting on three albums worth of material, ready to record. For the moment, the band plans to record an album that is 50/50 originals and covers, where we will get to play a few old standards from Blind Blake, Rev. Gary Davis and Huddie Ledbetter which have been staples in my live shows and which we want to commit to CD alongside a set of original songs with the Dirt Track Racer sound.
I've also continued to explore some of the musical ideas I gleaned from Martin Simpson and Richard Thompson at the Frets and Refrains camp back in 2013. Some of my recent compositions, written in various open tunings, have a decidedly Celtic flair to them. It will be great to hear the stamp that Paul, Julie and Nick put on them. And, it will be especially welcome for me to play some guitar with my bandmates and let Julie take over more of the vocal chores (I think you'll welcome that as well!) on a few songs I have written especially for her voice.
For now, thanks as always for the love and support. I hope that the music we make can find a home in your hearts and accompany you on your own life's journey. Here's hoping we meet up, down the road.
Ahh, the long wait is finally over. The process of recording "Kick Off Your Muddy Boots" began with rehearsals in January of 2012 and we started tracking in March of that year. Recording, mixing and mastering took us into June of 2013 and then, at the last minute, we decided to add a Christmas song to the album and went back into the studio in October of 2013 to cut "Home For Christmas." The cover art seemed to take forever and then, after lengthy consult with our radio promotions team, we decided to hold off on releasing the album until January of 2014.
But, January and the new album have arrived! The disc has been pressed and it looks and sounds great! Ron DiSilvestro at Forge Recording and Tom Volpicelli at The Mastering House did a phenomenal job of helping us to realize our vision for the album and now we have a recording of which we are all very proud. Under Fred Boenig's guidance, we have sent out over 300 CDs to radio stations across the US & Canada and have been fielding many requests from England, Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium for the disc. We have high hopes that the album will meet with great reviews and will garner regular rotation slots at stations all over the world. In that regard, the album becomes something of an ambassador for the band and should justify the next project (which is already largely written).
So, for now, thank you to everyone who has encouraged us and supported our dream. We think your patience will be amply rewarded. If your favorite radio station is one that plays Americana music, drop them a line and let them know that you'd like to hear us on the radio. And, whenever you can, drop us a line and let us know what you think of "Kick Off Your Muddy Boots."
Peace, Geoff, Julie, Paul & Nick
Well, it has been a busy year so far. We wrapped up the recording of the new album, "Kick Off Your Muddy Boots," in late June, with mastering completed in early July. Then, as we lined up our support team to organize the release, it became clear that the best time as an independent to release the album would be January. So, that became the plan and we'll be working with the great people at Americana Media Productions to get the album out nationally and internationally in January of 2014.
Meanwhile, we came up with the bright idea to release a Christmas single this year as a lead in to the album, and have recorded an original Christmas song called, "Home For Christmas." Then, just to stay in the Christmas spirit, we have partnered with the National Military Family Association, an A+ rated charity helping the members of our armed forces and their families through a variety of programs. So, this fall, from Thanksgiving til New Year's, "Home For Christmas" will be available as a digital download, with one hundred percent of our earnings donated to the National Military Family Association. We'll also add the song as a bonus track to the new album.
And, in between all of that, I found time to take a much needed vacation and went to the fantastic Frets and Refrains camp in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. There, I had the great pleasure of studying guitar with Richard Thompson and Martin Simpson, voice with Sloan Wainwright, and made quite a few new friends in the process. I came back re-energized and set about writing the songs for the next album. At this writing, they are nearly finished!
So, this fall, have a listen for "Home For Christmas" and, if you can, download a copy as a way of helping us to help the men and women who serve our country so bravely, every day of the year. It should be a great chance for all of us to show these folks just how much they are loved and appreciated.
And, come January, the journey takes a new turn! - Happy Holidays, one and all.
Peace, Geoff, Julie, Paul & Nick
It seems we're headed in a bold new direction and I for one am loving it. I have been compiling new material for about two years now and this past March I entered the studio (Forge Recording in Oreland, Pa.) with Dirt Track Racer to lay the new tracks down. The most exciting part of the process is when the songs that I had written on guitar take on a new life with the addition of drums, upright bass, Hammond B3, piano and violin.
The results have been astounding. The band hears nuances of rhythm and subtleties of harmony and melody that didn't register with me and each of the gang has added tremendously to the songs. For me, all music should be treated as dance music, in that I believe that the best way for music to reach an audience is for it to do so on a physical level. If the song makes you want to move to it, you take the music into your physical being and make it your own. You become a part of the song and the experience of making it.
Well, the songs on the new album flat out cook! The rhythms range from straight up old school R&B to Afro-Cuban, Bossa Nova and jazz blues. Hooks abound and the interplay of the instruments is such that everyone has room to shine without stepping on each other. The guitar, which was the principal solo voice has now been joined (and occasionally eclipsed) by the violin. There are many new textures to the songs which add layers of expression I could not have imagined. This is a very exciting time indeed.
The sound is a far cry from the Country Blues of "Pilgrim's Progress," which was more about flashy Piedmont style guitar. This is a "Band Album." We're only at the rough mix stage for the instruments and the vocals have yet to be recorded, but we all believe we are creating something truly special.
So get ready to hear much more about the wonderful musicians who are a part of "Kick Off Your Muddy Boots." Paul Deck, who was with me on "Pilgrim's Progress" returns on all things percussion. Nick Terramani moves into the rhythm section with Paul on Upright and electric bass. And Julie Myers adds the harmonic underpinning on B3 and piano, while taking the melodic aspects of the songs to uncharted territory on violin. Each in their own way has made the songs their own and the brilliance and soulfulness of their playing is making them into songs you'll want to make your own.
Thanks to all of you for your support and encouragement. The journey continues. I'm glad we're on it together.
It's hard for me to believe that it has already been two years since "Pilgrim's Progress" was first released. A lifetime's worth of work to develop my own style of playing and writing culminated in that album, released in November of 2009. I'm proud of the album, of the songs and the musical performances, but in truth remained dissatisfied with the vocal performances until this past summer, when I went into the studio again and re-recorded all of the vocals. The entire album was then re-mixed and remastered and was re-released in October. It really feels great to have the album finally sound as I imagined it.
Now I have to deal with the even more difficult task of getting the music out in the world in a way where more people might get to hear and hopefully enjoy it. There is also the challenge of developing my performing (and hopefully touring) career while remaining the father of two young boys. But, if there weren't challenges, I might not be here in the first place.
Next up will be the recording of the second album. Tentatively titled "Kick Off Your Muddy Boots," it is a collection of songs very different from those on "Pilgrim's Progress." Where the first album concentrated thematically on the journey of life, the next album is largely a collection of love songs, some straight up and some a little warped. I'm very excited to get this project off the ground and hear the songs take shape in the studio.
Meanwhile, it remains an honor to just be a part of the ongoing tradition of folk and blues music in America. When "Pilgrim's Progress" was named Album of the Month on Llew Garner's Blues show on RadioWarrington in the northern UK, I got a chance to tune in and hear tracks by John Lee Hooker played side by side with my own work. It hit home that I'm part of a continuum of folk and blues musicians, holding a space in line until the next generation is ready to receive the mantle. There is a certain degree of responsibility to the tradition that comes with admission to this particular fraternity but that also serves as a focusing agent for my work and for that I am grateful.
Well, thanks for checking in. Have a look around the site, have a listen to the tracks and maybe watch a video or two. I hope that the songs put some swing in your step and keep you up at night "thinking about things." Maybe I'll bump into you on the performance circuit; if so, don't be a stranger.
Keep on keepin' on, Geoff
Dirt Track Racer
Phone: (215) 852-1570
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Would you like to study music with the members of DTR? If you live in the Philadelphia, Pa. region, you can. Geoff, Julie, Paul and Nick all teach, as well as perform. The easiest way to do so is to visit the Cappella School of Music site, where Geoff, Julie and Paul are teachers. Follow this link: www.cappellaschoolofmusic.com