Thursday, October 08, 2015

Skelly and Jack star in "Halloween Candy"

Howdy friends,

My wife, Lisa, and I have been working long hours on a secret project which we started a year ago; now it's ready for your eyeballs, just in time for Halloween!

Today we bring you "Halloween Candy," a stop-motion animated film featuring the instrumental song "Skeleton Dance" from my Halloween Madness EP. We've always wanted to see this piece of music animated with dancing skeletons, and finally decided to just do it ourselves. Lisa and I worked out the story together. She took charge of art direction and dance moves; I took charge of technical details and pushing little bits of cardstock around beneath the camera.

We achieved the eye-popping colors using florescent ink under an ultraviolet light mounted inside a cardboard box. We laid out the figures at the bottom of the box and mounted the camera on top. My shooting sessions achieved a certain rhythm: move the figures, step onto the stool, click the camera, step down, move the figures, step up, click the camera, step down... Time slowed for me as five seconds of motion became four hours of shooting, and all the while I'm wondering - what will this look like when I play it back? I was always amazed when the individual shots came to life. Just like they say in those Disney "how animation works" documentaries - it's magic!

We put lots of fun details and references into the story, so we think it bears repeated viewing. In fact we can't stop watching it ourselves, though we may be a bit biased. See if you can recognize some of the dance moves Lisa choreographed!

Many thanks to my Patreon patrons, whose contributions help keep us going!

If you like, please click "like" and share with your friends. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

New Options on

Some of you know I've been releasing new songs under the label "Flying Spaghetti Music" via the crowd-funding platform Patreon. The closest analogy I can think of is it's like a subscription service. You pledge $1 or more per song, then you automatically get each new song delivered to your inbox. Patreon charges you only when there's a new song available.

I've been experimenting with this, posting songs about once every month or two. (Below is a YouTube playlist of the songs I've released to date.)

So far I'm loving it. My Patreon patrons are supporting me for a total of $81/song right now. It's not a lot of money, but it feels great to know that I have people waiting and excited to hear the next song I record.

If I can get my total up to $350/song, I'll start to break even on my recording costs. If I can get it up to the $1500 - 2500 range, I could start shifting my main source of income from performing to recording.

Not that I want to give up performing altogether, but having the option to lean more on recording would be a dream come true for me. It would mean a more predictable and steady income, less stress, and more time for my creative work, especially writing new songs. It would also help my work reach a larger, more wide-spread audience.

Patreon allows artists to set up a rewards structure, incentivizing patrons to pledge more than the minimum. I recently polled my patrons and found out that they didn't care about most of the rewards I was offering. Their typical motivation is to help bring more of the sorts of songs I make into the world. One more reason to love Patreon!

The rewards they did care about were related to getting the music. So my new options are focused there.

Patreon suggests that $1, $3, and $5 are the most common pledge amounts. So I wanted to make the $5 level a no-brainer.

For $3/song, I offer a download package with the new song plus some extras. For $5/song I'm throwing in a CD download of your choice from my back catalog. That's $5 for a new song, bonus material, and an entire CD. I think it's a great deal. We'll see if I get any takers!

I'd love to have you on board! You'd probably buy my music anyway at some point, right? :-)

Monday, August 03, 2015

Kimberly to the Rescue...

Okay, here you go... Old site on top, thanks to Kimberly Chapman, who knows how to find things. (Nothing on the web is gone forever, I should know better than that!) And.. the new site on the bottom. Don't tell me which you like better. The new one is better. It just is.

Brand New Website

Darn - I didn't take a screenshot of the old website, and now it's gone forever. I'm unexpectedly emotional about that. I keep reloading the page but for now it just says "coming soon." Dealing with my nerves by writing to you.

It's the end of an era for me. I learned html back when the World Wide Web was a brand new fad, so I could make my own website. I was one of the very first children's musicians to have one (if not the first - sure, let's just say I was the first, why not?) Back then it was mostly text formatting, and if you included a photo, you had to wait and watch it load in one pixel at a time (practically).

Over the past twenty or so I've kept my own site updated, including porting it to different formats and different hosts, but it's all been my own doing. Yes, the thing had grown into a sprawling mess, but it was my mess.

But over the past few years the technology has left me behind. These days your site needs to be responsive, so it can re-shape itself for iphone screens, and that kind of programming is beyond me.

So... I've entrusted my new website to HostBaby's Site Builder system. It limits me in what I can do, but that also forces me to simplify, simplify, simplify. I'm still "doing my own site" in a way - but now I'm in charge of content and they are largely handling the format and look with their automated system.

Bad news is - all my old files will disappear. I have them all backed up, but things like old podcast episodes will no longer be available. Over time I can replace and repair those links, wherever they may be (iTunes, my blogs, etc.), but my online presence is a sprawling mess, so I'm sure someone somewhere will click on an old file of mine and find it missing every day from now until the end of time, leaving many people slightly annoyed and infinitesimally disappointed. What a legacy.

The good news is - HostBaby makes it really easy to employ music on your site, so there is music music everywhere. If you want to spend a day listening to everything I've ever recorded (nearly) - you can do so now, straight from my website. Also, it should be a lot easier for me to keep things updated, and that, in theory, will create more time for me to post here on my blog.

A...nd, there it is! My new site is live now. Old one is gone forever. On we go...

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Pet Rock

What do your pets long to do in the middle of the night when the moon shines blue? Crank out some old-school rock n roll music, of course!

My brand new song, "Pet Rock," is now available on YouTube, CDBaby, and iTunes

This is the first of many songs to be released through, a new venture powered by Patreon. At Patreon you can help support my music-making by pledging to pay $1 per song as new songs are released.

I'm really excited about "Pet Rock!" - it's one of the best-sounding songs I've recorded, owing its awesomeness to an unlikely collection of talented musicians who never set foot in the same room together!

The story begins with a surprise visit from fellow children's artist, Mr. Billy, a rock guitar virtuoso. When he came to Oklahoma this past August and offered to spend some time recording, I felt like a kid in a candy shop, but with only one quarter, because we only had time for one song!  

I didn't have to think hard about which song to tackle. I'd had this song in mind for him for years. "Pet Rock" was inspired by my neighbor's dogs keeping me up at night - I imagined they thought they were performing rock n roll music. The song has a raucous kind of an Elvis-y vibe and I knew Mr. Billy was the perfect person to help me do it up right. 

Next I brought Mr. Billy's tracks along on a client session at Bell Labs in Norman, hoping we'd find a bit of extra time. Sure enough Trent Bell, the engineer there, was able to squeeze in a session with drummer Nathan Harwell. They synced right up with Mr. Billy’s guitars to give the song a rock solid beat. 

I told Billy about the drum session and somehow finagled him into adding a bass track for me from his home studio in Appleton, Wisconsin. Billy used his U-bass - an electric bass ukulele, if you can wrap your brain around that - which sounds a bit like an upright. He said it was the best bass performance he’d ever recorded. No doubt! It’s playful and confident, perfect for the tune!

Oklahoma visual artist Julie Plant provided all the whimsical figures you see in the video. Her dog playing the saxophone made me realize that I really needed a sax part to round out the arrangement. So I turned last minute to my friend Chris Wiser, AKA funky keyboardist “Boom” of the Sugar Free Allstars. I happen to know Chris is also a teacher and player of many reed instruments. His sax parts put the final sizzling touch to the mix. 

Speaking of which, for mixing and mastering I called upon children’s music producer James Coffey of Blue Vision Music. It’s great to get a fresh pair of ears in for the final phase of a project, especially one with Jim’s prodigious experience and know-how. Jim's final mix rocks! I think you’re gonna dig it!  

Many thanks to my Patreon patrons at - your support makes new recordings possible!