john pippus

News Archive 2008

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Victoria Fringe Fest is a Go!: December 14, 2008

Sweet. I just got the word that Bit By Bit Productions made it into the Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival being held in August. Bit By Bit is the name I gave my just-born production company that is putting on my one-man musical comedy/drama about my life in music. Rachel Scott is director (see link in news item below) and Pam Searle is our business agent.

Being picked in the lottery was a one-in-three chance. There are 18 B.C.-based companies (as well as a number of national and international groups) who made it in the draw. I pay $500 up front and that gets me an official venue, technicians, ticket sellers, a write up in the program and access to their media list. Following my six performances in Victoria, I'll do it all again in Vancouver in September. But for Vancouver, I have to provide my own venue (since I missed the deadline for the lottery, besides who knows if I would have been picked) as well as pay $500 to the Fringe to get in their program. The average return to the company from tickets sales is $1500 gross. But of course that's the average. The handful of plays that draw big audiences make way more, and the plays that don't generate a buzz get a lot less.

Meanwhile, I've started the second draft of the play. Rachel and I are doing a read-through next week with rehearsals starting in January. I'm reading books about acting, learning all sorts of new skills that pertain to this craft. I'm a thespian for crissakes.

New songs, Fringe Play Coming Along: December 3, 2008

A few co-writes on the go. Recording the vocals this week for a new one called "Her Love's A Mystery". Finishing up recording on an acoustic rap song called "Yes We Can (Dream)". Adding a trumpet in the middle 8. The CD, "Sweet Regret" is in the final mixing and mastering stage. Want an advance copy? Drop me a line and I'll send it to you (without artwork) for only $5.00 as soon as I get it.

My eight-week acting course is finished. Also I took a weekend intensive class. There's lots to this acting business. I love the whole process. Digging down through the layers and exposing yourself. Great fun. My acting teacher, Rachel Scott has agreed to direct my play! I can't believe my good fortune. Planning on performing it this summer at the Vancouver and Victoria Fringe Festivals.

Featured Artist on Folk Chart at REVERBNATION!!: November 14, 2008

Earlier this week I finally signed up at Reverbnation.com, a networking site I've heard about for awhile. It's great. As of this writing, I'm sitting at #76 out of 5,076 on the folk charts.(UPDATE: Dec.2/08 #50 out of 5400). Cheek by jowl with artists like John Prine, Feist, and Brandi Carlisle.

Also, I've posted a new single there called "Some Days", co-written and produced by Michael Nowak of Saga Studio. Have a listen.

Recent Shows Recap. Also CD Title Finally Picked: November 9, 2008

Victoria show at the Detour Lounge was fun. Between Petra and I, we managed a good turnout of family and friends. And MotMot, the DJ from Songplanet.com came and did a review for their newsletter.

Three nights later, on Oct. 28th, we played the historic Yale Hotel on Granville St. A little more nervous than I expected, partly because it was being recorded, but partly because this place is where I've seen so many great blues acts over the years. We'll be releasing a five or six song "Live at the Yale" EP real soon.

The CD is in the mixing stage. I've settled on the name of "Sweet Regret" after trying and rejecting a long list. "Scattered Lines" made the short list, but got tossed out. "Remedy For A High Tech World" was my favorite for a few days. "Like A Spark To A Fuse" was in there for awhile too.

But "Sweet Regret" is the name of one of the tracks. And it's a pretty accurate reflection of where I am at this point in life. Youth is gone: wish I knew now what I knew then. Wish I knew then what I know now. Glad to be here, on the other hand, doing what I do, materially satisfied, glad to know the people I've known along the way for the most part.

What would I do different if I won the lottery? Not much. Book time in a studio, hire top session players, tour the world. Otherwise, I'd keep on writing, working out, hanging out with family and friends. Life is short, you can't really know it - other than as an intellectual exercise - when you're young. So that knowledge spurs me on to push my boundaries while I still can.

Friday Afternoon: October 24, 2008

Sitting here in the apartment, putting off practising for the show in Victoria tomorrow night. I'll be doing new songs, and excerpts from my one-man play, so I really need to get busy. I like doing new tunes, keeping the performance fresh, but it leaves me open to errors, bum notes, forgotten lyrics. So it's a balance between challenging myself and doing tunes that are 'tried and true' (and error-free).

We rehearsed last night for the Yale Hotel gig coming up on Tuesday. This set will be recorded and I'm hoping we get at least a few tunes that can be used for posting around, maybe even including on a CD. The line-up for this gig is Petra Dueck on vocals, Babak Hazrati on bass, and Pat Covernton on keyboards. And me of course on vocals and guitar. And swift dance moves from time to time, especially on our homage to 70s funk tunes ("My Baby Loves Me"), that Petra and I wrote. I was hoping to have Kamilla Karoli join us on cello, but she's working three jobs at the moment and just doesn't have time to rehearse. Hopefully in January we can add her to the mix for our gig at Trees Coffee House.

Co-Writes, Acting Classes, and CD Mixing: October 10, 2008

Busy on the co-writing front. Finished one called "Your Mouth Is the Gun" with Aaron Joyce the other week. Demo'ing one called "Mid Life Crisis with Winston , and working on a tune with Ivan Boudreau .

I'm signed up for an eight week acting class. The first class wasn't how to act, but how to be ourselves. Or how to recognize what our day to day 'act' is. Being aware of what we project in other words. An interesting and fun exercise.

I've got fifteen songs recorded and in the mixing stage for my CD tentatively titled "This Train's In A". Along with producer Bruce Gerrish, we'll get that down to 10 or 12 for the final product. I'm working on the cover design with Allan Wong , same fellow that designed this here website.

Vancouver City Limits Festival: September 29, 2008

What a day of music! On Saturday I played M.C. and wrangler at the inaugural VCL Music Fest. Fifteen local acts including Adrian Glynn, Chantel Upshaw, Adaline, Redgy Blackout, and many more. The crowd continued to grow as the day went on.

The food was supplied by a new Russian restaurant called Red X. To-die-for beef stroganoff, potato salad, and some kind of root veggie soup. For 8 bucks. Two stages, outdoor mural painting, killer sound system and lots of volunteers making it all work. Bruce and Colin at the Beaumont deserve a lot of credit for making this happen. Everyone wants it to be a regular event.

2nd "Pippus Newsletter" Is Here: September 8, 2008

My long overdue newsletter went out to my mail list last week. Not too late to get a copy. Just sign up for the mailing list and I'll send it along.

This issue has photos from my Wisconsin trip (as does my Myspace blog). Also word about a one-man fringe play I'm writing and other bits and pieces of what's new.

Kacy Crowley: August 21, 2008

One of the songwriters I met in Wisconsin is Kacy Crowley from Austin, Texas. I had the privilege of writing and recording a duet with her called "Steady As The Rain". I'm writing about her because I love her music and like anyone who discovers someone who rocks their soul, I just have to let you know about her.

During our week in Wisconsin (for more on the Wisconsin week, read a couple of postings below), Kacy wrote and recorded - with just her voice and guitar - a song called "Write Him Off". It's full of honest pain and emotion. You can hear it by clicking here. If you like that song, check out Kacy's main Myspace page.

New CD is Half Way There: August 20, 2008

I've been working on and off with Bruce Gerrish at The Vocal Booth getting my 12-song CD recorded. I'm keeping it, for the most part, barebones. Just voice and guitar. I think this intimate, stripped down approach is working. I know when I go to a coffee house, say, and hear a solo/acoustic act that I like enough to buy their CD, I'm a lot happier to hear on their recording what I've heard live. When it's overproduced or lacking that intense, seat-of-the-pants quality that a live performance can have, then the CD generally falls to the bottom of the pile.

That said, there will be a few songs on the CD that have been recorded with other voices and instruments (work I've done with Winston the producer, and one or possibly two songs I recorded in Wisconsin). Still, these songs will have that up- close delivery the other tunes have so the whole project will sound 'of a piece'. That's the plan anyway. I'll keep you posted. The working title is "Steady As The Rain". But I'm open to suggestions if you've got a good idea for what to call the CD.

A Month of Co-Writing: July 31, 2008

Mid way through the summer and looking at my planner for the month, it's interesting to see how many co-writes I've been involved in recently. This is a habit I picked up from going to Nashville where co-writing is a way of life. Here on the laid back West Coast it's more of a novelty with a lot of my fellow songwriters more used to writing alone, waiting for inspiration to strike. I like writing both ways - alone or with others. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Co-writing doesn't always work, so you just have to move on and not let it discourage you from trying again - with the same person or someone else.

In July, I've sat down, guitar in hand and pen at the ready, with: Karina Morin (we've completed four songs together including "This City" which you can hear on my Myspace site); Aaron Joyce (got a start on a great tune that Aaron had a first verse and chorus for);Michael Millman (we wrote a song called "Skinny Dip Creek"); Shelagh O'Neill (wrote "Inside and Out"); Michael Nowak from Saga Studios (got a start on a killer tune called "Some Days"); and Petra Dueck (wrote "Don't Want To Think About That").

And that's on top of the seven songs I co-wrote in June with my Wisconsin compadres (see item below). So that's pretty damn productive.

Still buzzed from the Wisconsin trip: June 20, 2008

Well that was some week... One night I got to bed at 3AM and congratulated myself on having an "early night". We were wined, dined, and accommodated at a resort motel right on Lake Michigan. So much to tell - I made new friends from all over the US, co-wrote and recorded four songs (and got a good start on three more), performed at a bunch of venues, including sharing the mainstage with Jackson Browne and so many other talented folks in front of thousands of people on Saturday. I'll write more about my magical week in my next newsletter (sign up for my mailing list to receive my once-in-awhile newsletters) but for now I'll just say that being part of The Steel Bridge Song Fest was a highlight of my musical career so far.

Steelbridge Song Fest Coming Up: June 4, 2008

Looking forward to leaving for Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin in a few days. I'm one of 25 songwriters invited to spend a week writing and recording songs. The week culminates with three nights of performances at a dozen venues around the town and a day-long festival headlined by: Jackson Browne, Jane Weidlan (The Go-Go’s) and Pat MacDonald (Timbuk 3).

Male Artist of the Week!: May 12, 2008

Nice way to start the week - I just found out I was picked by Ray Porter at IAC as his "Male Artist of the Week". Ray has posted my song "Just Need A Friend" on his station. This is a song that is on my "Song Tourist" EP. Produced by Don Erhardt of Glasswing Productions. Don also plays the great harmonica that comes in halfway through the song. Via my links page, you can visit my IAC site and hear "Just Need A Friend" as well as a whole lot of other songs I've got posted there. BTW, I've been getting thousands of plays each month at IAC.

New Website: May 4, 2008

Welcome to my new website. Allan Wong of Five Stones Creative created it for me. If you're looking for your own website I can tell you Allan is easy to work with, has lots of ideas, and doesn't talk in technical mumbo jumbo (although I'm sure he could oblige if you're feeling so inclined). Allan does this for a living, mostly corporate accounts, but he's also a musician and so has a soft spot for fellow performers. Talk to him. Ask him about musician's rates and the new web template idea he is working on.

Photography: May 4, 2008

The main photos on this site were taken by Petra Dueck. Besides having a great eye and a sense of when to snap the shutter, Petra is also a singer/songwriter. The home page photo is one that Petra took when I was playing a gig in North Vancouver in early April '08. I had no idea I could look like that when I’m performing. Petra and I are currently working on a few tunes together that we’ll be debuting around town soon. We’re working on a couple of my songs, a tune of hers called “Your Love” and - get this - a sultry version of James Brown’s “This Is A Man’s World”. Other photos were taken by my friend (and the producer of my six-song EP “Song Tourist”) Don Erhardt. Don is a an excellent musician and plays in a duo called Fretwork. Kat Arnett another talented photographer friend who has taken performance photos of me, a couple are posted on the site. I am truly indebted to my talented friends and colleagues who have helped me chase my songwriting aspirations over the years.

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