What Makes A Songbird Sing?

These are production notes to my producer, Joe Craven, and the sound engineer at Foxtail Studios for my upcoming album, Songbird

The album, Songbird, is influenced by the folk tradition of story telling. It uses music as the background in an audio landscape. Each song is a chapter in the story. The story is similar to my own. I leave home, meet friends and foes, and return transformed. Learning from my follies I share my new found wisdom with the ones I love.

Musically, the album has many influences. When I hear something I like I take note and incorporate it into my own musical style. Typically I perform with a trio of light drums/percussion and upright bass. Sometimes I play without drums and have a mandolin or guitar as a melody instrument. There is magic in the number 3; Body, Mind, Spirit. Phone, Keys, Wallet. Crosby, Stills, & Nash... The rule of three is a writing principle that suggests that things that come in threes are funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things.

Here are some musical influences of mine for this album:

-John Hartford: Most songs on the album Arereo Plain fade out instead of ending abruptly.

-Roger Miller: Roger uses his voice to scat non-sensical words to create a melody instrument. I want to scat tastefully, not gimmicky.

-Paul Simon: I Love how Paul combines modern American songwriting with world music and percussion.

-Taj Mahal: Groovy & Rootsy

-Joe Craven: He is a master of beatbox and all percussion sounds. A positive creative force in the world.

-Steve Miller Band: I totally love all the little audio embellishments on SMB albums. For example, “some people call me Maurice (wooo woo)”. The vocals are typically doubled and very out front.

-Avett Bros: I love their use of Piano, Hammond B3 as drones, piano, and hyper emotionalism

-John Prine: His albums are heavily produced, but so subtly you don’t even realize they are unless you are listening intently.

-Bob Marley Legend: If I was on a desert island and could only have one album it would be this one.

-Modest Mouse: The album Moon & Antarctica changed me. Their use of ethereal backwards instruments and sparse banjo sections juxtaposed against heavily distorted guitar parts was ground breaking. It’s a dynamic roller coaster ride of soft vs. loud.

-Grateful Dead American Beauty: One of my favorite quasi-acoustic albums ever made. I love the vocals on the album.

-Garcia/Grisman: I have listened to all the albums many times over that these guys put together. They are fun, folky, jammy, jazzy, and light-hearted. Plus Joe was an “instrumental” part in creating them.

-Story Tellers: Guy Clark, Lyle Lovett, Greg Brown

The Songbirds Story:

This journey starts where it always does. Where all was well with the world. Then calamity and chaos create pandemonium. There is a call to adventure. Then hard times and turmoil must be endured, a Love Story, and a shining moment when everything comes to Light... and all is good again.


1. Come & Get It (All is well, foreshadow)

2. South for the Winter (Main character introduction)

3. Black-eyed Susan (Take flight, a call to adventure)

4. Caravan (Seek Truth in a world of friends and foes)

5. Ray of Sunshine (Fall in Love, Meet Mentor)

6. Wedding Day (Crossing the Threshold)

7. Dig A Hole (put down roots)

8. Spiders in the Window (Blown off course)

9. The River Knows the Route (The path home is shown)

10. Grateful 432 (transformation and the power of gratitude)

11. Wallowa Mountains (happily ever after)

More thoughts on the album:

-I plan to record the song Grateful 432 with all the instruments tuned to 432Hz. This frequency is supposed to be more in harmony with the frequency human beings resonate at.

-I plan to start with an arch top guitar, nylon string guitar, or 6-string banjo. Then I will overdub some simple melody lines and solos.

-I use a loop pedal live for backing vox and would like to overdub 3-part vocal harmonies with myself on many of the songs.

-I have click tracks ready and/or I would like to use a cajon (box drum) with a bass drum pedal to keep us all on the same page.

-I have an assortment of flutes and whistles that will flavor each song. Similar to what I was saying above about Steve Miller Albums. Dashes of Audio Salt & Pepper.

-I like the use of ethereal drone notes underlying the song.

-Other than myself, Joe Craven will be adding his magic. I also plan to bring in some bass and piano to fill out the songs.

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