Thursday, March 31, 2005

UNISONG International Song Contest - 2004 Contest - Winners

Too cool - I just got an email from the Unisong contest. It looks like their generic email sent to all the entrants to let them know the winners have been posted. So my first thought was, oh well, not this year. Last year when I took third place for "Diving in the Deep Blue Sea," the first I heard of it was a message on my answering machine. So I assumed that this year I didn't place.

Well it took a few moments of staring at the website to realize that the dude in the photo is me. I took second place this time in the children's category with "Loose Tooth."! Don't ask what prizes I'll receive, cause I don't know yet, but I do know that to place in the top three in this contest is a very high honor. The competition is open to professional songwriters all over the world and it's very tough to place. So I'm excited!

Read more here:

I'm also excited for my friend Joe McDermott. His song, "Baby Kangaroo," placed second in the International Songwriting Contest. That news just came out yesterday. You can hear Joe's song several times a day on XM Kids. It's a great song - very fun and funny. And I love the ping-pong ball percussion.

All of Joe's music is great. Check him out here: Joe's Website

Monday, March 28, 2005

Computer Trouble & Upcoming Dates


Well tonight I am not editing and mixing - my computer is in the shop. Last night when we went to bed we caught a strange burning sort of smell wafting down the hallway and traced it back to the vent along the top back panel of my iMac G5. Not good! I was able to shut the computer down normally, but the mac folk advised against starting it up again until technicians could check it out. So I took it to Oklahoma City today and will find out tomorrow how long I'll be without it. Now I'm very glad I bought the Apple Care Protection plan.

Anyhow, this little break gave me a chance to post my Spring and Summer schedule to the website, so check here to see where I'll be:


Friday, March 25, 2005

Big Red Fire Truck

Howdy friends and fans,

This week I finished a mix of "Hanging Out With Heroes at the Library" and one of "Big Red Fire Truck."

"Fire Truck" really got me excited as I cleaned it up a bit and the mix came together - it ROCKS! OK, I'm calm. After I mixed the instruments yesterday, I listened several times through just jamming out and enjoying the groove. I can't wait for you all to hear it.

Well this makes ten down and only THREE to go!! "Trick or Treat" is up next.

I am so sick of editing and mixing I could throw my computer out the window! I want to be creating new music - not hashing through stuff I recorded in November!!

I'm calm again. It's OK. Really.

When I hear the result, it's worth the effort. But I don't know if I'll ever record this way again - too much post-production. Maybe someday I'll be able to afford to pay someone to do this part for me!

The other day I was bouncing around the house doing my Daffy Duck laugh. It was scary. I'm going a little loopy being focused so intently on this one project. But by the end of next week I'll be able to move on to the mastering phase and that will be very good. I'll have Steve to help me with that and we can go loopy together.

Woo! Woohoo! Woohoohoo! Woohoohoohoo!

Bdb Bdbd Bd Bd That's all, folks!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Great Green Squishy Mean Update

I've been working on my editing and mixing since I got back from Ft. Worth. I've finished "Loose Tooth" and I'm working on "The Great Green Squishy Mean Bibliovore" - should finish it today. That will make 8 down and 5 to go! And I've gotten some basics done on the 5 to go, so I estimate two or three weeks before the mixes are finished, another week for mastering, another couple of weeks for duplication.... I should definitely have these in hand by May, to throw out a conservative estimate. Guess I'd better get back at it!

Friday, March 11, 2005

Trinity Valley 2 of 5

Trinity Valley 2 of 5
Originally uploaded by Monty42.
Here are some photos from Wednesday's show at Trinity Valley. Many thanks to Carolyn Dowell for taking them and emailing them to me!!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

On the Road in Fort Worth - Part 3

Well, I'm home now! Sorry I didn't get a chance to post yesterday from Trinity Valley or Country Day School. John took some photos in the morning that came out too dark to use, so we tried, but it just didn't work out. The schools also took photos so I'll look for those in the email and share em when I get em.

Yesterday's shows were pretty amazing. At Trinity Valley I performed in a wonderful little theater, and using their sound system John said it was clear as a bell - he could hear every word. The kids were fantastic. They were so polite that during the opening song "Take Me to Your Library" I wondered if I was coming across, but they loosened up soon enough and their participation in "Grandma's House Tonight" was exemplary. The other songs in the program were "Lisa Lee Elizabeth," "The Brainiacs," "Library Bookaneers," "Hanging Out With Heroes" and "Trick or Treat." We just had a fun fun time with that group!

Twilight Zone moment of the week: John had made a joke the day before about the concertina I use with "Library Bookaneers." I usually have the kids guess what kind of instrument might be hiding in the little treasure chest I keep it in. He asked if anyone had ever guessed "Grand Piano." I said, no not that I remember. Then at BOTH of yesterday's shows we got "piano" as a joke guess-!!

The afternoon show at Country Day took place in a sort of a square carpeted pit with three or four levels leading down to the center. John and I didn't see how they planned to fit 300 kids in there, but the students arrived in an orderly manner and quickly took their places, and sure enough there was room to spare. I was close enough to everyone to see their eyes, so it felt very cozy.

I started off with "Jungle Junk" (for John), then "Take Me to Your Library," "The Brainiacs," "Frog Song" (being so close together this group was a bit more raucous - in a good way of course - and the frog song seemed a good choice to put some of that energy to use), "Library Bookaneers," "Hanging Out With Heroes." After "Library Bookaneers" I let myself get drawn in to answering a few questions from the audience, which is always fun, but then we ended up with time for only one more song. Ah, well.

The night before I had talked to my daughter Evalyn (4 years old next month!) on the phone. She told me, very excited, that she had heard me on XMKids. She said if the kids asked what my daughter told me to tell them she heard "Take Me to Your Library" on XMKids. Well, they didn't ask, but I told them anyway. I was surprised by how many hands went up when I asked who has XM radio and who listens to XMKids. It's very exciting to have a national outlet like that for kids' music!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

On the Road in Fort Worth Part 2

Monty - 13
Originally uploaded by Monty42.
Here I am at Remington Point Elementary School in Fort Worth, TX. This photo shows me wading into the audience with my concertina during the song "Library Bookaneers." If you click on the photo you'll go to flickr where you can see 11 others from the same concert!

This group sang particularly well, and "Silly Song" and "Grandma's House Tonight" were highlights of the show. I also did "Take Me to Your Library," "Loose Tooth," "Hanging Out With Heroes" and "Trick or Treat Smell My Feet."

It was picture day at Remington and we felt bad for the few kids who had to leave early, but as John likes to say "such is life." They only missed one song.

I hope all your pictures came out great!

This afternoon we were at Bryson Elementary. Another great group! The program was similar but instead of "Loose Tooth" we did "Our Principal Plays in a Rock n Roll Band" and Ms. Southerland did a great job rocking out on stage.

We had fun with "Grandma's House" - the kids began screaming at the mention of each new character - the alligator, polar bear, big foot and especially the T-Rex. It was all in good fun, but I've never seen that particular reaction before. Just goes to show - I can sing a song for years and years and still get a surprise from the audience!

We don't have photos from the Bryson show yet. John left his camera behind so we borrowed one from the school. They'll email 'em to me and I'll put them up when I get them. So please check back!

Monday, March 07, 2005

On the Road in Ft. Worth, TX - Part 1

Today through Wednesday I have six schools in the Fort Worth area. This is my annual trip down (third year now) for John Prevost of Rainbow books. He hires me to perform as a thank-you to some of his best customers. (He sells books to school libraries.)

This morning we were at Peaster Elementary in Peaster, TX and this afternoon we were at Eagle Mountain Elementary in Ft. Worth, with about 400 kids in each group.

At Peaster I performed in a huge gym with big blank parallel cinderblock walls. Needless to say the sound bounced around in there like mad. John commented that he could tell how much better the sound is with the new Bose system as compared to the more traditional sound system I had last year. In that big gym, that's saying alot!

The kids (K-5th) were very enthusiastic, with lots of cheers and hoots and whistles after every song. Many of them had heard the CDs in class ahead of time. We did "Jungle Junk" (by request), "Take Me to Your Library," "The Brainiacs," "Lisa Lee Elizabeth" (a fav of John's), "Grandma's House Tonight," "Hanging With Heroes" (great clappers!), and "Trick or Treat, Smell My Feet."

At Eagle Heights the group was kindergarten through 3rd grade. It was mighty warm in the room, and I'm not sure we ever quite got completely quiet, but the kids were good participaters. We did "Take Me to Your Library," "Lisa Lee Elizabeth," "Silly Song," "Library Bookaneers," "The Great Green Squishy Mean Bibliovore," "Hanging With Heroes," and "Trick or Treat." I used the concertina for "Library Bookaneers" which helped draw their attention back after the chaos of the "Silly Song."

Before I left home I burned a disk of all the mixes for the new CD as they currently stand and I listened in the car last night on the way down. It's sounding good - this is the first time since the shows in November that I've heard all the songs back to back. It's coming along, sounding good - I can't wait to get it done and get it out there!!

Hi Lisa! Hi Evalyn! I love you!

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Jenks West, 3/4/05

Jenks West, 3/4/05
Originally uploaded by Monty42.
I performed at Jenks West Elementary today. This was one of their "traits" assemblies, about courage, so I was asked to speak and sing about courage. I didn't have time to write a song that was directly related, so I went through my catalog ahead of time and gave some thought to which songs might be related to courage and how. It was a thirty minute program, so I picked out five songs and wrote little introductions for each one (see below.)

The show went really well, considering it was the last thing on a Friday of a busy week and everyone was hot in the gym, and I did all that talking to introduce each song! I had three kids come up to add their responses to the "Fifty Ways to Say No" song, and Principal Tilkin came on stage with the air guitar for "Our Principal Plays in a Rock n Roll Band.

Many thanks to Bev Straub who took the photo of me with Principal Tilkin in her rock star get-up and emailed it to me!

Here's the program:

"Diving in the Deep Blue Sea"
Courage means facing the unknown. Nearly all the great things about modern life we owe to those few who were willing to take a risk and try something new. Our very country was founded on the spirit of exploration. This song is dedicated to all the scientists and explorers out there with the courage to discover something new. It's also dedicated to anyone who loves to read because reading is a great way to explore new places and new ideas.

"Howdy Song"
Courage means sticking your neck out. It takes courage to be the first to offer your hand in friendship, especially at a time of conflict. Violence may get you what you want in the short term, but it is the coward's way. Listening to the other side in an argument means risking that your ideas might be wrong. It takes true courage solve a problem through negotiation. This song is about bridging our differences and is dedicated to all the peacemakers of our world.

"Our Principal Plays in a Rock n Roll Band"
Courage means sticking with it. Those of us who work with kids have the most difficult and important jobs in the world, and also the most under appreciated. Your teachers face so many different challenges every day it can take a heap of courage sometimes just to get out of bed in the morning. This song is dedicated to all of your teachers and especially to Principal Tilkin.

"50 Ways to Say No to Drugs"
Courage means doing the right thing, even though you feel afraid. There will be times when you'll be afraid to make either choice, right or wrong. Doing the right thing might get you called a "fraidy cat" or "goody two shoes" while doing the wrong thing might be very hurtful or dangerous. Doing the right thing even in the face of ridicule is always courageous. Choosing the wrong thing because you are afraid of someone else's opinion is cowardly. This song is dedicated to you kids, because you will be making these kinds of choices as you grow up; they are what will make you the adult person you're going to be.

"Big Red Fire Truck"
Sometimes courage does mean facing danger. This song is dedicated to all the rescue workers - police, firemen, EMTs. These people face danger every day as part of their job in order to keep the rest of us safe.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

"Pop Up Sit Down"

Well I finished another song Friday - "Pop Up Sit Down." Actually I made two versions of it. If you know the song you know that I say a lot of things other than "Pop Up" just to play with the audience a bit and try to fool them. So each performance of this one was unique. I may find a way to release multiple versions so that once you learn what to expect on one you can surprise yourself by listening to a different performance.

It's been a long two days so far this week. I wanted to get the rest of the songs loaded up and ready to edit. I was maybe even going to do a quick mix of each so I could start working on sequencing the CD as a whole. Instead I've spent most of the time battling the computer. I won't bore you with the details, but I've done a lot of file copying and moving trying to get the software to deal properly with the audio so that I'll be able to take it to Steve later for mastering, bla bla bla. Anyhow, it's a lot of trying this or that and then waiting 20 minutes while big files get moved around. And I can't work on 'em while that's going on. And I may have just made a big mistake. Waiting for files to copy right now in an attempt to fix it. Very frustrating!

My guitarist, John, is coming over this evening to hear some of the mixes. It'll be the first time any of the band have heard the post production. Hopefully I'll have all this straightened out before he gets here! Wish me luck!