November is one of my most favorite holidays here in the US. I like the autumn season, the beautiful colors, and the nip in the air. It makes me think about gratitude as I crunch through leaves and try to be more appreciative for all the goodness in my life. The song “JOY” from my 12th album and newest release, Hunk-Ta-Bunk-Ta HOLIDAYS, is all about Thanksgiving and the joyful times that happen when families and friends gather.
What I often forget to give thanks to, is creating: the musical process of writing a song, playing in a band and completing a project.
Musical Process– Although the ability to write a song may seem like a natural gift, I am most grateful for all aspects of it: the actual process of writing, producing and recording it. Like many artists, there are a million different way of approaching the process of creating. Melodies, lyrics and rhythm happen simultaneously when I am composing. And then I hear instruments mostly in my head, so when I get to the studio, I can tell an engineer almost exactly what I hear—and what feeling I want expressed in the song. Then I get to play the songs live with my band and it’s a whole other level of creativity. Writing a song and carrying it through to a studio production, and then to a live performance, is both empowering and a thrill. In a way, I have gotten to create something from nothing.
Playing In A Band– Collaboration is key. When the Hunk-Ta-Bunk-Ta Band plays live together, I feel a sense of belonging! It’s a second family for me. I’m grateful for their partnership and incredible musicianship on stage. Shout out to my teammates who make performing so much fun!
Bandmate #1- Ed Contreras – This guy is a global percussionist and actually brought all of us together. He and I did a global tour with the US Dept of defense and had the BEST time.
Bandmate #2- Chadzilla Johnson. Bass player, vocalist, drummer, Flugelhorn and all-around awesome musician. Chadzilla’s entire family has a “zilla” in the name. Like: Dadzilla, Momzilla, Siszilla, etc. You’ll have to hear us live to learn how they came up with that!
Bandmate #3- Brian Mullins – What can’t he play is what I should ask? Banjo, mandolin, flute, weird wild and wacky global instruments and… he can say “I’m sorry I don’t understand that” in 22 languages.
Above we are pictured after my record release party last month at the Denver Puppet Theater.
Completing A Project – Completing a project is an accomplishment! When so much time and energy has been spent getting to the final step– the release….it’s a big deal! I had been working on HOLIDAYS for a long time and had to make sure it was the right mix of songs, spoken word and historically accurate. It had to be a unique album—and not just a bunch of Christmas carols. When we had our release party, it was a proud moment. And having it win a NAPPA award right off the bat, was really wonderful!
Having friends, family and children all around the country who support my work is something I am eternally thankful for. Another review is from Jeff Cohen, the geekiest NOT Dad EVER.
To listen to Hunk-Ta-Bunk-Ta HOLIDAYS and all of my other songs, click HERE.