Letting go of the reins...easier said than done.
Midwest/East Coast/Southern Ontario tour dates in May!
Colorado dates first 2 weeks of June!
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Less than 2 weeks ago I returned home to Vancouver Island, BC, Canada (for those uninitiated that is not Vancouver, BC the city — check google maps if you are curious). I was in Nashville, recording a new record with a new producer. All the records I have ever made, of which I am very proud, have been made in Texas. A small portion of the album SoulSlide was recorded and mixed in L.A., but that’s a story for another post. I lived in Texas for almost exactly 20 years, and it is a big part of who I am. Specifically Austin and the hill country surrounding. I’m happy to go through the name-dropping list of outstanding songwriters I played with in the first 16 years there before I made the jump to solo artist, as I like to say, “at the ripe age of 43.,” but suffice to say I am very lucky and got quite an education. I just turned 50 yesterday, and to have a solo career in music, not be on a major label, make the music I want and tour and have that be my career, is something I do not take for granted. I know how hard it is out there. Now more than ever.
I went to Nashville, sort of “against my better judgement” to make this new album. In Nashville I think being a musician seems more like a living. In Austin, it’s more of a lifestyle. It’s who you are when you pour your rice milk on your cereal or your oat milk into your coffee. It’s who you are at your family dinners and when you go to the grocery store. It’s like a soundtrack in your mind and you weave in and out of every player in Austin whether you like it or not. Sure, big tech is changing things in Austin, but now that I don’t live there full time and I return I can tell you from my view - it’s still Austin and they haven’t ruined it yet. So going to Nashville was not my first choice. I was successful when I lived there and I liked it fine. I love Austin.
Back to my new project and why I went to Nashville. Mainly because I had a producer in mind and he is there. I had a sound I wanted for these songs. It’s not what one thinks of when they think of Nashville — it’s in no way country. Not that I have anything against country music. It’s just not what I do. I love the sound of this producer’s records and thought if they could help me make my songs sound in some way like that I would be halfway there.
I also decided to experiment with letting the producer…produce. In every project I have ever completed of my own work, I have co-produced. Meaning I have arranged, picked the players, gave them my vision, and was there for every step of the process from the first note recorded to the final fader pulled down at the end of the mix. This time I wanted to try to let go of the reins. This was not an easy idea and not an easy feat for someone who has been entirely in charge of their career up until very recently going solo (about 6 years ago). I was manager, publicist, booking agent, etc. I was songwriter and of course — co-producer. And I’ve worked with some great ones. Now I have a manager, a booking agent, an indie label that kicks ass putting out the album, and even more on my team than I have ever had. So I really wanted to experiment with only concentrating on 2 main things; great songs and great performances. In this stage of recording, before mastering and his would hopefully leave the rest up to him (and the wonderful musicians involved).
It was, to say the least, challenging.
But I did it. I was told by the producer “you ask a lot of questions.” That cracked me up. He does have a stellar reputation and track record, but I have never let anyone take my music in so many directions without my guidance and even playing. I’m a multi-instrumentalist and for years I would get “the call” in Austin because you could hire me or you could hire 4 cats. But I let him “take the reins” and for the most part decide who played on what. At times it felt like I was giving myself a slow paper cut. But I was also committed to seeing his vision through. I was letting myself be produced.
So I end this post with some reservations and some hopefulness. The truth is, I am so close to this music I can’t tell. Some of the songs my vocal, or guitar, or lap steel, or piano were taken from a first take. So many things in mixing happened after that to which I was not privy. I can only listen to something I have done so many times in a row before it’s like staring into an HD mirror — you see or rather hear every little mistake and nuance that you want to change. But if you change all those little mistakes you ruin the live feel, which is definitely what I/we/the producer was going for.
Another thing I know from experience is, I have no idea if you will like it or not. If everyone liked the same music, we would not have as much diversity as we have. Only critics rate music. For my money, the great musicians and the great listeners would never do such a thing. How dare they! I lost many fans after my first record, which was decidedly very Americana. I also have a ton of fans who still feel my live rock record was my shining achievement. I like to think they are all right. It all comes down to what moves you.
Will this record move you? I certainly hope so. The recordings may not be my first vision of the songs, but they are my songs (and co-writes of course). I’m pretty dang proud of it (even though you won’t hear it until September unless you are one of my patreon followers and get sneak peeks now and again). One thing I have learned in my years is that if you go out and get your fans one by one, show them all the respect they deserve for spending $20-$30 of their hard-earned cash to come and see YOU, and give your best show every night, well this world is big enough that there will be enough people out there to come and listen that you will do alright. As long as you don’t need a Jaguar in your driveway.
Oh and I started writing the next record on the plane when I left Nashville…so there’s always that — the next record will come. I will make more.
Private House Concert
Sat, Apr 29 @ 7:00PM
Music in the Gazebo
Sat, May 6 @ 6:30PM
Jeff Plankenhorn (solo) performs at this nice House Concert Series. Tickets/suggested donation is $20. Doors open at 6pm, showtime is 6:30pm.
The Stillwater River Lodge
Sun, May 7 @ 12:00PM
Jeff Plankenhorn performs a solo concert at The Stillwater River Lodge. Doors open at 11:30am, the show begins at noon.
FTS sound recording and podcast
Mon, May 8 @ 7:00PM
Wed, May 10 @ 8:30PM
FITZGERALDS SIDEBAR PRESENTS:JEFF PLANKENHORN for a FREE SHOW (w/Tip Jar)! Click Book Now to RSVP for guaranteed entry. The show begins at 8:30pm sharp.
The Southgate House Revival
Thu, May 11 @ 10:00PM
Fri, May 12 @ 7:00PM
Jeff Plankenhorn performs at a Private House Concert in Pittsburgh.
The Marcus Backyard
Sat, May 13 @ 4:00PM
Private show with other performers. 4-630pm
Plank performs a 1 hour set
Private House Concert
Mon, May 15 @ 7:00PM
Tue, May 16 @ 8:00PM
Private House Concert
Wed, May 17 @ 7:00PM
Bop Shop Records
Fri, May 19 @ 8:00PM
Come join Plank for stories and songs at this iconic record store.
The Dakota Tavern
Sat, May 20 @ 7:00PM
Jeff Plankenhorn (solo) in Toronto, ON at The Dakota Tavern! Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 day-of show for this 19+ ages event. Doors open at 6:30pm. Jeff begins at 7pm.
Telluride Ski Resort
Fri, Jun 2 @ 5:15PM
Plank returns to the incredible - Beyond The Groove Concert Series
Pickin and Grinnin
Sun, Jun 4 @ 7:00PM
Grand Mesa Arts & Events Center
Wed, Jun 7 @ 7:00PM
Guilty Pleasure Concert Series presents...
Jeff Plankenhorn performs in Cedaredge, CO @ the Grand Mesa Arts & Event Center. Doors open at 6pm, the show begins at 7pm. Tickets are $30 for this 21+ ages show.
Rockland/Fairfield House Concert - Victoria, BC (PRIVATE)
Sun, Jun 18 @ 3:00PM
Jeff Plankenhorn (trio) performs at this very cool Victoria, BC House Concert. Suggested donation is $30 Canadian. The show begins at 3pm. PRIVATE EVENT
Sharon Prete Main Street Plaza
Wed, Jun 28 @ 7:00PM
Jeff Plankenhorn (band) performs a big FREE SHOW in Round Rock, TX at Sharon Prete Main Street Plaza. The show begins at 7pm. More details to come...
San Marcos Plaza Park
Thu, Jun 29 @ 7:00PM
Jeff Plankenhorn (band) performs a big FREE SHOW in San Marcos, TX at San Marcos Plaza Park as part of their cool annual Summer in the Park series (thrilled to be back). The show begins at 7pm. More details to come...
Sat, Jul 1 @ 8:00PM
Jeff & his band return to The Saxon Pub! Tickets $20 advance, $25 day-of show. The show in March SOLD OUT so advise ya to get tix early.
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