reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


Leave a comment

the sustain pedal. [k.s. friday]

the file drawers are bursting. there are three bank boxes in the closet, next to and on top of the file cabinets. there is still music to be filed away, but it’s almost done. the ukuleles and the strum stick are hung on hooks. the cello sits silently in the corner. the black metal music stands are cleared of sheets and books. everything needs to be dusted or waxed. the wood floor needs to be swept more thoroughly – to chase away the dust bunnies. a few pencils wait. the storm is gathering. the sustain pedal begs for attention.

i’ve played maybe twice since last november. i stacked music and calendars and binders of slated songs and folders of research in there. i dragged in a box or two of supplies and cantatas that i brought home. i laid the ukuleles on the rocking chair, the poster behind the door. but i didn’t play. except for a day or two after our babycat died and maybe one or two other times. the piano is tacet. and the sustain pedal waits.

because i played and sang constantly for work before the end of november, and i was surrounded in my studio by all the tools and resources i used for that work, it has been, in the these last few days, important to me to finally move all that which i had been playing, all that which is no longer relevant to my life. this studio needs to be clean. it needs space. it needs room for new. it needs to no longer represent life doing that work, that dedication, that place. my studio needs a refacing. the sustain pedal holds its breath.

i got an email from a lovely woman somewhere in new mexico. she wants to order a baker’s dozen cds and wrote that she includes owning them up in her wish list of “large sacks of $100 bills and 25 hugs and smiles received daily for life”. i’m grateful to her and her dedication to analog music. it will be fun to pack it all up and ship it to her, though i will have to direct her to amazon for a few titles i no longer have in stock. her order is a reminder. and even in these days when i have been actively submitting titles to pandora for streaming (there are now nine titles available on pandora.com and everything on digital platforms everywhere) it is refreshing to go to the stock of cds and pull out shrink-wrapped copies of music to ship off. the sustain pedal giggles.

i’m getting anxious to finish the studio cleanse. to walk in and see possibility. to sit and listen to the quiet. to see the new project, the new song, the new composition through fog, fallow and passing time. to one day again depress the sustain pedal and place my hands on dusted keys under a full stick. i don’t know when that will be.

the sustain pedal whispers, “whoosh”.

*****

listen on PANDORA to a growing library

listen or download from my little corner on iTUNES

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

THAT MORNING SOMEDAY from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood


Leave a comment

the moose and the pig and me. [k.s. friday]

it is said – and clearly there are many people in the news now’days who subscribe to this – that any press…good or bad…is better than no press. you have to wonder.

way back in 2002 i released this album. ‘as sure as the sun’ was the culmination of much writing, practicing, arranging, driving, singing, hydrating, listening, reviewing, re-writing, more singing, more practicing, more driving, recording, listening, sitting and watching my producer, more sitting and watching my producer, re-recording tracks, more practicing, more driving, more hydrating, more singing, more writing, more listening, more reviewing, re-writing, practicing, singing, hydrating, more driving and a lot of worrying. i recorded the album in nashville and drove back and forth for sessions, in between which i spent my time finessing each piece of music, each song i had composed for the project.

as an independent solo artist and not a complete band with others to lean on or a label financially chugging it forward, it was a big project, a big investment in heart, time and money. my producer and i had to believe in it to keep it going. bottom line, i had to believe in it to keep it going. when it was done and i drove home with a mastered CD, it was with a mix of feeling proud, wiped out, anxious and full of dreams. ‘as sure as the sun’ was my sixth album and the first that was a full-length vocal. it was stepping out of my comfort zone. it was the edge.

i hired an agency to help with its release and a radio promoter to aid in its adds to radio airplay. i don’t recommend either. to the tune of almost $40,000 they took me for a ride and i wonder now how this was possible. but when your professed dreams come knocking it is hard to turn away and do it yourself. in retrospect, i should have just continued doing it all on my own as i had done with all the instrumental albums that preceded it. but ah, that whole retrospect thing is such a fine perspective arranger.

amazon, and various other entities, added the album to my lineup online and radio stations added songs to their airplay. ‘slow dance’ charted at number 13 on the secondary adult contemporary radio chart. i’m not really sure how important that was now – at the time, however, it kept me paying for the promoter. i suspect that was the goal.

i played concerts and interviewed on radio and drove around to wholesale and retail shows with product, selling to large box brick and mortar chains and small privately owned shops that played music and displayed cds for customers to purchase. at the label in our offices on lake michigan we put together more cardboard display boxes than i can count, shipping out displays and cds regularly. it was busy and fun and a time when people still purchased actual cds.

in the zeal of the after-release glow, i looked everywhere for reviews of this new album. i wanted to know how it resonated with people, how it measured up, what i could learn by reading others’ commentary.

and then there was this.

the title was just the start. dang. sounding like a “hoofed mammal in heat” or a “squealing pig” was a tad bit much, i thought. the first-grader-lyric-writing comment was, well, kind of first-grader-like. i noted the misspelling of norah’s name. and, much as i appreciate his style, i really wouldn’t use “soulful” to describe jim brickman’s vocal music. but i digress.

i was stunned to have such a review and didn’t know what to think. i spent lots and lots of time, an inordinate amount of time, pondering who might have written such a statement. for some reason, i did not give as much time to the emails i received, the notes, the non-promoter-sought airplay, the adds in box stores and shops around the country, and the thousands of cds that were shipped out. this review nagged me.

it’s funny to me now how i let this one commentary puncture a pinhole in my confidence. but that’s the way of negativity. to stand firmly rooted, to take on the edge, to step new steps, to grow, to believe in your ability to shift gears, sway in the wind – the inner job of every artist. one moose and one pig should not be enough to undermine you and yet, there it was.

somewhere along the line i mostly forgot about this review and got on with the business of the music business: making more music. nine albums and several singles followed this album’s release. but i never really looked for reviews. i listened to what was inside and kept stepping. one of these days, maybe when i decide that i am still relevant, i will step again.

artists of every medium adjust and re-adjust too often to the whim of the viewers’/listeners’ fancy. they lose something every time in their pursuit of wanting their work to be liked by others. yet, the artist is most certainly riding the value-train with every project released. for that project, the last project, the next new project – all represent making a living. they represent a vulnerability not broached in other life-work paths. they represent a piece of someone’s heart and soul, hoping against hope not to be pounced on. all together – the projects of all artists of all mediums – they represent the woven fabric of our narrative, diverse and rich.

as my sweet momma used to say, “if [someone] has nothing nice to say, [someone] should say nothing at all.”

though i generally like moose and pigs and am in good company either way, i trust the moose and the pig agree with her.

*****

listen to music in my little corner on iTUNES

listen to music in my little growing corner on PANDORA

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY


Leave a comment

peeled back. [k.s. friday]

time continues to peel back the layers. barney is vulnerable and is, thus, exposed.

artistry is like that. we share our vulnerabilities. we write, we paint, we compose, we lyricize – we peel back the outer shroud of mystery to reveal that which is inside. we take chances at judgement, at others’ opinions, at evaluation. we are exposed. and time goes on. winter turns to spring which turns to summer and then fall. the seasons take their toll; the seasons enrich us. both.

the first album i released felt earth-shaking. the notes – white and black keys tumbling from deep within – flew out into the world on a piece of polycarbonate, aluminum and acrylic plastic. what could be a coaster contained fifteen deeply-excavated emotions, musings each released into the light. exposed. the scraps of paper that gave birth to these were soon filed in a binder with invoices and order forms, designs and ups tracking numbers. one season. one album. done.

each original album since is no less an exposé. each still holds pieces of me, permission by me to be peeled back. a little less scary than the first but still risk-taking. vulnerability does not recede from the sandy beach as the big waves come and go. but it stands a little more stoic, with a little more sisu. the albums, like seasons, arrive when it is time. and they, in some way that albums might, tremble with anticipation and that tiny bit of fear that remains, even after many layers have been peeled. soon there will be no more black and white at all.

now i wonder if i will need shrink-wrap again. i wonder about recording. and i don’t know. yet. i do find that i am thinking of wooden stages and boom mics. i also find that i am thinking that all this writing – these written words on the page – have been feeding me and that hunger for polycarbonate, aluminum and acrylic plastic.

each day, barney and i age. the veneer blisters and the shell reveals our hearts. we are both emotional, barney and i. we are conscious of our craggier look, the wrinkles and the age spots. though we wonder about how we resonate with the rest of the universe-out-there, we take the dusty road together anyway and we hold hands, vulnerable together. though laminate no longer hides our souls, we are standing in the sun this season, new growth springing up.

*****

that first album – 1995

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

someday?


Leave a comment

rough cuts. [k.s. friday]

you're here songbox 2

rough cuts.  there are lots of them.  recorded on an iRiver or an iPhone so i don’t forget.  scraps of paper with lyrics and chord indications, rhythms jotted above the words, a few melodic notes scribbled in the margins or throughout the page.  songs that haven’t yet been recorded.  songs that may some day be recorded.  songs that will never be recorded.  rough cuts.

before the cantata i prepared for this holiday season i had carefully selected music – all contemporary pieces, all meaningful lyrics that i felt would resonate with those watching, making the experience touch their hearts.  but, as i mentioned in a past post, i’m pretty picky and there was this one song.  after playing around with it with the band, i deleted it from the line-up.  with a spot still to fill in-between narrative, i decided to write a new song to fill the slot.  this is the song i wrote –  YOU’RE HERE – and you can listen to a very rough cut of it recorded on my iPhone played on an out-of-tune church piano if you click here.

it’s been a long while since i recorded an album.  more time has passed than i ever thought possible.  i wonder which songs in my rough cut collection will make it onto the next album.  i wonder if there will be a next album.

in the meanwhile, i’ll keep paper by the piano and have my cellphone ready.  the iRiver is in the drawer, along with the microcassette recorder and a pile of cdr’s.  maybe the presence of at-the-ready songs will eventually tilt the earth and i’ll be back in the studio.  maybe people buying cds will come back into vogue.  maybe i will record on vinyl (again).  maybe it will all be virtual.  more to stream.  (note my tone of voice.)  maybe.

or maybe i’ll just put the piano at full stick, pull up a boom stand, throw on a mic and sing.

listen to the rough cut of YOU’RE HERE by clicking here or on the image just below:

you're here songbox cropped

view most of my albums on iTUNES

view most of my albums on CDBaby.com

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

whitetree website box

YOU’RE HERE ©️ 2019 kerri sherwood


Leave a comment

part of the wind. [k.s. friday]

part of the wind songbox copy

with the sun not yet up over the farmlands, the hot air balloon lifted.  we slowly sailed over fields and stands of trees, watching the world wake up.  as the sun rose over the horizon, we could hear what was going on below us.  we weren’t that high up and any conversation in backyards and barns, on patios and decks or driveways was easy to hear.  we weren’t intentionally eavesdropping; you just can’t help but hear clearly up there in the wind.  it’s an amazing vantage point floating low in the sky, sharing the sunrise with the earth, an endless horizon.  a little wary, i had asked the pilot if he had any anti-motion apothecary suggestions.   he responded by telling me that none are needed, that you are “part of the wind.”  we were.  we are.  part of the wind.

when we go antiquing and wander around in vast collections of other people’s lives, we pass by paintings on the walls and in stacks against cabinets, displayed beautifully and piled haphazardly.  we stand in front of bins full of records and 45’s, stacks of CDs not even alphabetized, the vinyl and polycarbonate/aluminum blend all beckoning us to sort through and remember songs or moments in time.  and we, artists of the canvas and of song, draw in our breath.  it’s an amazing vantage point floating here in time, sharing this day with the earth, contemplating.

and we wonder if this is where all of our paintings and cds will end up one day…in an antique shop where browsers will pass by, exclaiming, “wow!  look at all those paintings!” or “wow!  look at all those cds!”  we wonder if they will stop, page through, recognize a track or two, an image or two, or if they will be curious or spellbound and buy something to bring home.  perhaps we will remain part of the stacks, the bins, ever-growing, the horizon endless.

either way, we are part of the wind.

download BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL on iTUNES or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

birdy feet website box

PART OF THE WIND from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood

 

 

 


Leave a comment

i didn’t know. [k.s. friday]

i didn't know song box

Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 12.03.36 PM

yesterday, the senate passed the Music Modernization Act, a complex bill that is supposed to help songwriters in these days of streaming.  as quoted in one article questioning the feasibility of pushing through this bill as is:  “…niche labels and independent musicians face either a zero, or statistically insignificant, chance of a return on their investment through streaming. many report barely paying for a sandwich with their royalties.” (maria schneider, musicanswers.org) yes. creatives are still facing a grotesque misalignment of power and income despite an effort to supposedly be “helped”.

i didn’t know, back when i released my first album, that there would be another…and another…and another…

i didn’t know how vulnerable i would feel each time i released a collection of my soul, turned into tracks of music.

i didn’t know how grateful i would feel each time i stood on stage and spoke to an audience that was there to hear this music – my music.

i didn’t know how many stores, in the early days, would carry these cds (and cassette tapes, way back when), how many times i would be live on QVC-TV, how many radio interviews i would be relishing.

i didn’t know how humbling it would feel that many people would respond to something in my music, something would resonate with them, something would be healing or heartening or touch them.

i didn’t know, through the years, how many thousands of cds would sell, how many boxes i would carry, how many wholesale shows or retail shows i would be present at or how many phone calls i (or wonderful people who worked with me) would make or receive, taking and shipping orders.

i didn’t know that the BMI royalty statements i was getting earlier would soon decline as our world and the internet changed them drastically.  the one i got two days ago for a period of the year included 59,000 performance counts and a $47.47 check.  streaming has made it unnecessary to purchase a physical cd or even pay for and download an artist’s music and so i agree with the writer who said: “streaming revenue for most independent musicians doesn’t even amount to pocket lint.” (m.schneider)

i didn’t know that the yearning inside me to compose and record more music to be released on cds would be stymied by the cost vs earnings debacle that has been created by an industry that doesn’t lift up the independent, while the behemoths remain behemoth.

i didn’t know how sad it would make me.  i didn’t know how it would change me.  i didn’t know i would keep wondering ‘what next?’  i didn’t know i would be seeking answers to where i stand as a composer.  i didn’t know my piano would call from my studio and i would ignore it, feeling betrayed by a profession that should pay my bills like any other.

i just didn’t know.

purchase the physical cd THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY or purchase a download of I DIDN’T KNOW (track 4) on iTUNES or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts on this K.S. FRIDAY

I DIDN’T KNOW from THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY ©️ 1998, 2000 kerri sherwood


Leave a comment

trust where you’re going. [two artists tuesday]

TRUST this one.jpg

so if you are an over-thinker like me, this is tough – to trust where you’re going.  there are too many details that get in the way of the overall picture.  d is a global thinker…he looks at the bigger picture, he calls it “from 30,000 feet”.  i need to be able to envision each foot to get there….ok, maybe not EACH one, but i need a few more details lined up in order to believe something is possible.  that disparity gets us in trouble sometimes.  we talk about something and are having two different conversations within the same conversation.  mostly, we usually agree on the ultimate Thing, but getting there is, well, sometimes cloaked in a tad bit of disagreement.

who was it that said, “everything will be ok in the end.  and if it’s not ok, it’s not the end” ???  such brilliance! and optimism!  i suppose we gauge so much of what might happen on what happened Before.  we have pre-judgments about how something will turn out; we have reluctance to start; we think, “i’ve already DONE this and it didn’t work.”

i am at a crossroads.  after 15 albums, i haven’t recorded an album in 8 years, haven’t recorded a new vocal album in 16.  16!  where does the time go?  albums are very expensive projects, not only financially, but emotionally.  as i have already talked about numerous times, there is financial pressure on independent artists now like never before.  streaming and illegal downloading has lead to a literal trickle of income, despite millions of “listens”.

so – where do i go from here?  songs have been waiting; the piano beckons.  something in me resists, afraid of not recouping even what it costs at the front end for something new to be released.  part of me wants to believe – believe that it’s time to release something new, in this new time of my career.  put it out there and not be concerned with how it is received, how many cds are purchased, how many paid downloads vs how many times it is streamed or pirated.  but that won’t pay any bills, won’t afford a living.  i am having trouble seeing the 30,000 foot view.  not to mention all the feet in-between here and there.

like you, in some arena of your life, i am trying to trust.  that whatever decision i make it will be ok in the end.  and, if it’s not ok, it’s not the end.

if you'd like to see TWO ARTISTS copy

read DAVID’S thoughts on this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY – ON OUR SITE

www.kerrisherwood.com

iTunes: kerri sherwood

trust where you’re going ©️ 2016 kerri sherwood & david robinson

 

 


Leave a comment

ks friday

jacketrfthjpeg copywith the advent of ancestry kits and accessible dna testing, we are a society of people with more desire to learn about our individual heritage.  for christmas, The Girl and The Boy each got a dna testing kit from their father.  i’m excited to hear the results of these.  it’s fascinating to me to find out what our roots are; despite some specificity flaws and rounding up (or down) of genetic heredity in the testing and reporting kits i have read about, it is still interesting to know just a little bit more about where we come from.

my sweet momma and poppo traveled to salt lake city to work on the genealogy of our family.  they spent hours in the library there, researching.  they would have loved the idea of simply submitting dna to find out a broad spectrum of heredity, of lineage, but i suspect they still would have traveled to work on this the old-fashioned way, looking for names of family and how the branches of the tree spread out.

without doubt you have seen the commercials for these tests.  my favorites are the ones where people find that they were either mistaken about their ethnic heritage or they found that there were some surprises.  the best part is that – and i know it’s a commercial, but hey, i’m gullible – they embrace learning about this new part of their identity they had no idea existed.  they embrace something different.   they want to celebrate ethnicities they knew nothing about.  why not celebrate these whether or not it is a part of our heritage?  maybe we can make the legacy we pass down one of inclusion and acceptance and a curiosity to learn and welcome others, whether or not their dna matches ours.

 

to download LEGACY from RELEASED FROM THE HEART track 12 – on iTunes

to download LEGACY from RELEASED FROM THE HEART track 12 – on CDBaby.com

to purchase the physical CD RELEASED FROM THE HEART

and if you’d like to browse KS DESIGNS on SOCIETY6.com:

LEGGINGS

THROW PILLOWS

WALL ART

TOTE BAGS, CARDS, HOME DECOR

 

KS FRIDAY (KERRI SHERWOOD FRIDAY) – ON OUR SITE

to read DAVID’S thoughts on this KS FRIDAY

LEGACY from RELEASED FROM THE HEART ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood

 

 


Leave a comment

ks friday

jacketrightnowjpeg copy 2as much as i like black and white, NOTHING is really quite black and white.

we walked the tax stuffff into the accountant’s office this morning.  it’s been over 20 years that i have been keeping precise records for the company that is my recording label: sisu music productions inc.  this company (like me, like any of us) has seen its ebbs and flows through the years.  some of it was due to economy, some due to personal reasons, some due to technology and the internet changing every professional musician’s life, some due to the matter-of-fact financial challenges on any independent recording artist.

while i was compiling all the information this year, i had many conversations with d about how i was feeling.  at one point, he turned to me and said, “this is like reading your calendar at the end of the year, isn’t it?”  mmm.  yes.  a cruise through the year in my life as an artist with albums, an artist who has spent time on the radio, on stages, on wholesale show floors.  some years that ramble-through is exciting; some years that ramble-through is disappointing.  there is always back-story behind the activity, the sales, the decisions.  it’s not black and white.

i stand here in march, 23 years after the release of my first album, touching the very very black of my piano and the very very white of the scrap paper i use so often to write on, and look out ahead of me.  i wonder where – in this arena of my life, this heading, this column – i am going.  the view from here is foggy and unclear.  do i have albums to make?  stages to play on?  my end-game is different now – it has to be; i am 23 years older than i was back then – at the beginning.  i can only wonder if the music that is still a part of me, still inside me, never yet hitting anyone’s ears as a finished recording, will find its way, will find relevance, will lead me into the next.  it’s not black and white.

IT’S NOT BLACK & WHITE from the album RIGHT NOW track 4 – on iTUNES

IT’S NOT BLACK & WHITE from the album RIGHT NOW on CDBaby

PURCHASE THE PHYSICAL CD – RIGHT NOW

KS FRIDAY (KERRI SHERWOOD FRIDAY)

 

it's not b:w framed art copy

 

it's not black and white LEGGINGS copy 2

 

it's not b:w square pillow copy

read DAVID’S thoughts on IT’S NOT BLACK & WHITE

IT’S NOT BLACK & WHITE from the album RIGHT NOW ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood


Leave a comment

ks friday

i used to spend a lot of time driving across the country to wholesale shows where i would represent my cds and sell to stores everywhere that stocked music.  the world has changed since then and not only are there less boutique-type shops with original work (inexpensive copies have taken over), but there are few shops that actually sell physical cds.  in this world of downloading (read: streaming, but don’t get me started on THAT subject) it is hard for a proprietor to invest in anything they aren’t sure will fly out the door.

when i drove east with a vanload of boxes and merchandise, i would pass a lake called meander lake.  i looked forward to these signs and the view of this lovely lake through the trees.  the word “meander” conjured up images of every time i had taken the time to do just that:  meander.  on a back road, on a trail in the mountains, in the woods in a state park, along the lake, through a magazine or book, or in my mind’s eye.  i am a meanderer.  i believe i come by it naturally; my sweet momma loved meandering…any day she would suggest a car drive or a bike hike to some distant spot, meandering on the way.  she wasn’t afraid of getting lost; for her, meandering WAS the meaning in the time spent.

sitting at yamaha artist services in nyc i had a list of titles i had collected, words that had spoken to me or touched my heart.  “meander” was on that list.  with “record” on, i simply ‘played’ the word “meander.”  the amazing “fine” ken orchestrated this piece back in chicago, bringing in musicians to add tracks.

sitting next to me right now, david just listened to it.  the richness of that orchestration wrapped around me and i was back on I-76, jotting down on a scrap of paper the word “meander.”

MEANDER from the album AS IT IS track 3 on iTunes

MEANDER from the album AS IT IS track 3 on CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts about MEANDER

 

 

 

MEANDER from AS IT IS ©️ 2002 kerri sherwood