Place & Time

Great News!!!  The audio master and graphic layout for Place & Time have now been delivered to the manufacturer and I am about as happy as a young fella can be.  Over the next few weeks I will be announcing more about the release and sharing more about the songs on the album.  So keep an eye out for the next few news posts!

I have to reiterate my appreciation of the great work of David Essig, David Travers-Smith, Tanya Trombetta, and Janine Stoll.  Isn’t the album cover great?

Serendipity Meets Synchronicity

When David Essig and I completed the recording of the album we were unsure of a title for the collection.  We knew that the album had a “feel” to it: a consistency in tone, dynamic, lyrical content and mood.  But, what title could encapsulate those?  By late summer I had become a tad frustrated at the search for a workable title and then, as you know it always does, serendipity bumped into synchronicity.

Deuce Coupe

The songs all share reference to locations and to times – even eras.  There is reference to the ubiquitous fall fair midways in A Matter Of Time; to the Beatles invasion and influence on a generation of musicians in Just Another Morning; to the “Lost Generation” of mid-century Paris in Paris I Remember; to the post world war community of Cornish artists in Riding To St. Ives; to the shores and legends of the Pacific West Coast in All On A Calm December Morning.  So, places and times are common among these songs.  One day I thought of the title Place & Time and I decided to “sleep on it”.  That same evening I was browsing about St. Ives (remember the last news post?) and I came across a book by Michael Bird, The Artists of St. Ives: Biographies of Place And Time.  Picking myself up from the floor, I knew the decision was made for me.

A Matter Of Time

The Tunnel Of Love

The third track on the album, A Matter Of Time, is an exercise in using lyrics to provide playful cultural references.  I worked to juxtapose those reference with the timeless story line of young love and its accompanying fervor.

Singer In Black

The melody and harmonic structure includes three verses that end with what can be known as a refrain or lift and a bridge that ties the verses together as part of the love story.  David Essig contributes a bass line that fits the song so well and gives a Paul Simon Graceland vibe.  Nice.  And whomever can identify those musical references in the lyrics is undoubtedly and officially a connoisseur.

Over the Christmas Holiday season I will be updating the website and in the New Year I will share dates for pre-release sales of the album and a very exciting announcement about the live Release Events to take place in February.  So do stay tuned!

Thanks to all of you who have followed and encouraged the progress of this grand adventure – I can’t wait to share the music with you on disc, online, and live.

A pilgrimage is usually understood to be a journey to a shrine or other designated location of importance to a person’s beliefs and faith.  Many consider it as a metaphorical journey into one’s beliefs and as a search of moral or spiritual significance.  If we understand  the spirit of the human to be consciousness, then I suggest that anything that expands consciousness can be seen to be a pilgrimage.  Indeed, Paulo Coelho, the Brazilian lyricist and novelist, has said that “life is a long pilgrimage from fear to hope”.

I find this lifelong journey of longing, discovery, vision and learning – being continuously “reborn” – to be both liberating and fulfilling.  One pilgrimage that I love to keep is to St. Ives in Cornwall, England.  It is this town that serves as the inspiration and setting for Riding To St. Ives, the second track on the new album Place & Time.  

St. Ia

The town is named after St. Ia, an Irish princess who was determined to spread her Catholic beliefs across the water to Cornwall sometime in the 5th or 6th Century.  Legend tells that her fellow saints, her brothers, thought she was too young and fragile to weather the journey and left her behind.  Shattered, she broke down on the shore, lost in anguished prayer.  Then she noticed a leaf floating in the water.  She touched the leaf and it grew large and sturdy enough to serve as a raft to venture across the Irish Sea.  She arrived before her brothers (somehow with 777 followers) and evangelized until her martyrdom.

As a child, I was taken to Cornwall often on vacation by my mother and father and as an adult, I find a very tangible sense of connection, of synchronicity, when I go there.

Fire Dancers – Mark Tobey

No better example of this is the first trip that my wife and I made by train one cold, British December, to what is also the home of the Tate St. Ives, an art gallery that exhibits the work of modern British artists.  There we found an exhibit of two of our favorite artists:  the potter Bernard Leach and the painter Mark Tobey.

Each year St. Ives is host to a masquerade event on New Year’s Eve – a remarkable and inspiring gathering.  Tens of thousands of people dress in costume and gather, like pilgrims, in the harbour to welcome the advent of the future. 

St. Ives Harbour

This shared awe and expectation became the vehicle for the song which is written in the traditional Greek lyric poem form of repeated choruses, which we now refer to as verses.  The harmonic and melodic structure were meant to suggest a Celtic sensitivity – a return to the familiar folk sound of the mid 20th Century – often referred to these days as “roots” music.

So, if returning, in a sense, to one’s roots can also be considered a pilgrimage, then this new collection of songs, Place & Time, performed “live from the floor” with acoustic instruments meets that criteria.  In the next post, I will have some very specific and exciting news about the nearing release of the album.  I will also continue to write more about the other songs on the album.  Thanks for sharing this journey with me!

Patti Smith is an artist who refused to limit her creative impulses to any particular discipline.

Patti Smith

She is a poet, prose writer, performance artist and photographer and is best loved for her music – her songs.  In an interview with ‘More Songwriters on Songwriting’, Patti stated, “In times of strife, we have our imagination, we have our creative impulse, which are things that are more important than material things.  They are the things that we should magnify”

Barbara Kingsolver

In a similar vein, the American novelist, Barbara Kingsolver was asked in an interview in 2015 to offer her top writing tips.  One that caught my attention was,

“Pay attention to your passions. They are the key to starting and finishing the book you are meant to write. I don’t believe in talent. I believe in passion.”

Martha Graham, a dancer and choreographer whose influence on modern dance is comparable to Picasso’s influence on visual arts and who was the very first dancer to perform at the White House, said,

Martha Graham

“Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion.”

I began writing songs in 1964.  By the spring of 1965, I had become brave enough to share my songs on bohemian nights with close friends in subterranean apartments; talking about “poor old Hemingway”; reading Ferlinqhetti; drinking liqueurs; and fearing absolutely nothing.  By that winter, I had booked my first public performance.  I was 17 and I had something to say.

Northern Lights Coffeehouse December 1965

Patti Smith, Barbara Kingsolver, and Martha Graham have given us some clues about how to get started, and to complete, our creative adventures.  But, Patti also spoke in that same interview about the evolution of those very passions that comes through life experience.  She said,

“When I wrote the lyrics for my 1975 debut album ‘Horses’, I had a particular body of people who I was speaking to, and that was people like myself, who I felt were disenfranchised … I didn’t even think I had anything of interest to share with the masses … But in the eighties, when I stopped performing and I got married and had a family, I became more empathetic to social issues and the humanist point of view.  And I think my lyrics changed.  I was speaking to a larger body of people.  As a mother, you want to speak to everyone.”

When I was preparing for the new album, Place & Time, I was motivated to write a song that was grounded in the notion that our aspirations – our dreams some call them – can drive our creativity; and a song that acknowledges Patti’s suggestion that becoming a parent enhances and broadens our “creative impulses”.  That new song, Children Of Dreamers, brought me to reflect; to be critically honest with myself about my own experience; and to invite the listener to join in that reflection.  The places and images that thread through the song’s quintessentially Canadian references and the poet, the preacher, the painter, and their children are meant to trigger familiar and sympathetic reflections for the listener.  The lyric structure of the song uses a traditional verse and chorus form and the guitar chords, utilizing open strings,  were chosen to develop a meditative harmonic focus that would enhance those lyrics.

I know, I know, what about hearing the songs for crying out loud?  OKAY – stay tuned for news about the release of the album, Place & Time, in the next post.

AND, I will tell you about the second song on the album that addresses a historical and contemporary journey.

The importance of connection, confidence and trust has been particularly true throughout the experience of bringing the new album, Place & Time, to fruition and I thought it would be a great idea to introduce some other people who have become connected and played an active role in furthering the project to date.  Each of these people has applied a unique and creative point of view to their contribution.  And, those contributions are not finished!

OK – once the final mixes of the tracks on an album are done, those tracks need to be ‘mastered’ and I had the great fortune to connect with David Travers-Smith in Toronto.  Synchronicity offered that David’s studio, Found Sound, was a five minute walk from my daughter’s house and I had plans to visit her right after the final mixes were done.  David, a soft spoken guy who generously welcomed Nickie and me to his studio, has done a wonderful job of completing this important stage for the album!

Songs, when they are well written, already create personal visual images for the listener.  But, at the same time, it is important to have a graphic representation and packaging for those songs that enhances the words and music.  Well then, step in Janine Stoll (Janine Stoll Media and the Ladybird Animal Sanctuary).  Janine is a fine songwriter and performer from Brantford who is designing the layout of the album.  Janine’s visual concept demonstrates her sensitive understanding and interpretation as a fellow musician – and makes the fabric of the project stronger.

Needing photographs to be part of Janine’s vision, I was introduced to Tanya Trombetta of The Creative Nest in Kingston.  Tanya took our requirements for photos and structured a shoot that “fit” so well.  Man, did we have fun on that shoot!  So, this post has photos that Nickie took of Tanya taking photos.  Did I mention we had fun?

Soon all these components of the album will come together in the final “product” and I will be sharing it through live performance releases, radio play and social media posts.

That means another new friend will be working with me on the promotion process.  Allison Brown, from Windsor, is a wonderful performer in her own right, a radio host, a promoter, and someone who encourages her fellow musicians with heart, dedication and skill.

You can see the team of new friends who have supported and encouraged me in this project.  I learned once more the value of reaching out to others to contribute their strength – knowing that they too have drawn or will draw on the strength of others at some point in time.

My friend, the Laichwiltach artist Mulidzas-Curtis Wilson, uses the phrase “standing together in support of each other”.  I sure hope that this post gives you a sense of how the new album, Place & Time, benefits from the contributions of artists who accepted my invitation to stand with me.  

Stay tuned for news about the songs that are included on the album in the next post and for news about the release and my mini-tour with David Essig.  Soon!

Pete Townshend, guitarist and writer with The Who said in an interview in 2014 that,

“A great rock or pop song can stand on its own.  Its function is to grapple with whatever issue is on the table, but bring release, empowerment and mutual acceptance in the audience.  So when you string a bunch of songs together to help tell a story, you are really just starting where we all spend most of our time in any case, in one of the many days of our lives.  One way to appreciate our own ‘story’ is often to immerse ourselves in other stories.  This is what art has always done I suppose”

Place & Time my new album collection of 11 original songs that are “strung together” is gaining momentum toward release, promotion and audience.  So, I thought I would share a bit more about the songs and the process of recording them.

The Thread

Place and time both run through this collection of songs, like a thread through a string of pearls.  The songs move through the sweep of Canada’s prairie towns, busy cities, mountain ranges and majestic oceans; to the banks of the Seine and under Vincent’s Starry Sky; to a foggy bridge over the Thames; to the rugged Cornish shores with pirates and painters and surfers; and head to Pueblo on the I-25 under a Colorado blood red sky.  The snow falls; the Thunderbird glides; the Eagle soars; the surf roars; the lovers share their secrets, act out their parts, and seek their beloved “all around this great big world”.  Yearning, the rawness of love, and the struggle to connect with and understand each other and ourselves are “grappled” with, hoping to bring the release and empowerment that Pete Townshend spoke of.

The Work

In the early months of 2017, I made home demo versions of 21 songs.  Then producer David Essig and I worked toward selecting a cohesive grouping that shared musical value, lyrical direction and common feel.  Once David and I had narrowed down to 13 songs, we booked a week at his beautiful Watershed Studio on Malcolm Island just off the coast of Vancouver Island.  And there you go – two friends who hold genuine respect for each other set up to record a collection of earnest conversations that each, and all, tell about place and time.  My vocal and acoustic guitar parts were recorded “live” – with no overdubs added – just as if I was performing in a living room or performance venue.  During that process, we chose to leave two songs out of the collection.  As we moved forward into the week, David added breathtakingly tasteful backing with acoustic guitar, bass, banjo – and, yes, Greek Tzouras.  Days of serious, professional musicianship; evenings of reflection and fellowship grounded in shared experience; and visits from Island neighbours making contact with their dear friend.  You can be sure there was no shortage of good natured humour. We both realized, quite early in the process, how this album felt and how it moved us.  

Thank you once again for your ongoing support and encouragement.  If you haven’t yet “liked” Kenneth Paul Cooper Music on Facebook, please do and please share this post with your friends and acquaintances.

Oh, right, and stay tuned for updates on the individual songs, the development of the graphic elements of the album, release dates and shows – and how to be a part of that process, a preview ‘single’ release, and how to pre-order the album!

 

 

 

On the March Equinox this year, I began a new recording project with the Canadian music icon David Essig at his Watershed Studio on the beautiful left coast of Canada.  David and I became close friends after sharing a stage at the River City Theatre in Campbell River a few years ago and we both agreed this spring that the time was due to work together and to produce a collection of some of my new songs, along with some older songs that begged to be recorded.  And, we agreed that the recording should have a “live” dynamic to it.  The result is an intimate and rewarding interpretation of 11 original works that bear witness to a line from one of the songs, “I love to tell the story and I sure do love to set the scene”.

By the end of April, I had embarked on an adventure with my wife, Nicola, and our dog BJ.  We moved, lock, stock and barrel (well, I am a Cooper), from Vancouver Island to the town of Gananoque in an area of South Eastern Ontario known as “the Garden of The Great Spirit”.  David finished mixing the recordings and I sorted out the “matters of consequence” that go with a cross country move, while engaging with decisions about mastering, a title, the graphic elements of the CD album, and a plan for “releasing” and performing the work in live settings.

Now, here we are at the September Equinox, ready to announce more about the album.  Over the next few weeks and months, I will keep you up to date on the developments and plans and important dates associated with the release of this conversation that speaks about friendship, family, place, remembrance, longing, purpose and meaning and which, I hope, stays true to my goal of writing songs that, “engage your mind and relax your soul”.

The Hope of Friends

11 songs written and performed by Kenneth Paul Cooper, vocals and acoustic guitar.  Recorded, engineered, and produced by, and featuring the sensitive and remarkable playing of, David Essig. Watch and listen for news and detail about songs on the album, their stories and origins, techie info, graphics, release dates and performances, and opportunity to pre-order (yes, pre-orders would likely have some “stuff” attached, eh?).  Stay tuned! 

Thank you for your support and encouragement.  If you haven’t yet “liked” Kenneth Paul Cooper Music on Facebook, please do and please share this post with your friends and acquaintances.

Did I mention, stay tuned?

 

I am so happy to post a brand new video for the song Wish I Didn’t Miss Her from the CD Album This Lovers Dance.  Producer, Director, Actor Jesse Matthew Cooper (@thefamousjmc) filmed and edited this video from shoots that we did in Battersea, London, which is my birthplace, and at the majestic Land’s End in Cornwall.  We had a wonderful time conceptualizing and filming this piece on a budget of “that’s right, a bit o’ dust”.  Please enjoy and share this video; and, if you haven’t already, please order your copy of the album from:  kennethpaulcooper.bandcamp.com.

copyright:  Kenneth Paul Cooper

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Kenneth Paul Cooper Joins Shammick Acoustic at the Pack O’ Cards in Devon UK

Join Kenneth Paul Cooper and hosts Tom and Barbara Brown at the renowned Shammick Acoustic night in historic and beautiful Combe Martin, Devon UK. Kenneth returns to the land of his birth and west country where his heart sings to join in a traditional folk music circle where “occasionally the club has a Visiting Performer, from ‘furrin’ parts, who they ask to do a few extra items!”