Category Archives: Art

Where’s Kelly? episode #19885

Every once in a while, when I haven’t been blogging much lately, I feel compelled to provide an update on my life. This is because I have found out from people that they actually read (and enjoy) my blog posts. Apparently people are interested in my posts about random stuff like my gardening and cooking projects, my attempts at getting a music career going, funny signs and earthy humor. And who doesn’t like a little earthy humor now and then?

So what have I been up to? A lot of catching up. My music partner Scott Burnett and I have been working on a “light jazz” EP titled “A Glass of Summer”. (It’s actually more of an “MP” since it’s about 30 minutes in length.) Our original plans were to have this in the can by early June, but then my 88-year old dad got real sick and Scott went and got a real day job (the nerve of him!). I am happy to say that the project is finally mixed and almost finished being mastered. And now all we need to do is design the graphics and send it off for duplication. Check out the groovy cover art that Scott has been painting. This is the latest picture taken of it, but he is still working on it.

Now that the CD project is winding down and summer has finally come to the Pacific Northwest, I have plenty of house and yard projects to catch up on. Summer here is so beautiful once the sun comes out–and stays out.

By the way, if you live in the Seattle area, Scott and I will be performing at Match Coffee and Wine in Duvall starting at 7:30. Actually, even if you don’t live in the Seattle area, we’ll still be performing there. (tee hee)

Perhaps you are wondering why this particular episode is number 19885. That happens to be the number of days since I was born. It took a while to go through all the calendars and count up the days. Just kidding! Of course, all I  had to do was google “days from birth calculator” and sure enough, there were several sites out there. The one I used can be found at http://www.easycalculation.com/date-day/age-calculator.php. You should try it. Let me know how many days you have been around.

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Working on the Scott Burnett/Kelly Carpenter Project

Scott and I are currently working on a CD which we’re planning to release sometime in June. One of the songs we have named “Catalonia”, a region in Spain, since it has a somewhat flamenco feel. This started out as an idea of Scott’s, and we have fleshed it out considerably over the last few weeks. But when we were first laying down the skeleton rhythm track on my MacBook at Scott’s apartment, I thought to capture some of his playing a scratch guitar track on my cell phone. I only got about 20 seconds of video.

We started out by creating a rudimentary drum/percussion part in Ableton Live, along with backbeat marimba and bass, and then while listening to it on his headphones, he recorded his guitar into a Sony digital recorder. I then took his recording and imported it into Live. A few weeks later when we listened to it at my house, we were amazed at how good everything sounded. It does lend credence to the idea of creating sounds on a laptop, for if you can get it to sound good there, it should sound good just about anywhere.

Since then, we re-recorded the guitar using a better mic and preamp and have added more parts, but the humble beginnings of this track were fun to document. Here are some pictures Scott took of us working on the project last week at my little studio.

A chart of the melody for the “B” section.

Throwing on a little piano.

Knee deep in Ableton Live.

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A 1998 Ambient Collaboration With Scott Burnett

Enjoy this 1998 collaboration with Scott Burnett, a piece called “Via Negativa”. He was in the midst of working on a release called “Lingua Franca” and wanted to create something for the second half of the record. I was living in Temecula, CA at the time and had him down to work on my first solo record. While he was there we also worked on this. It features his guitars, penny whistle, a mountain dulcimer my dad built, some synth pads, and Hammerhead, (one of the earliest drum loop software programs). In addition to mixing this behemoth, Tom Hall played bass guitar. (Tom mixed my “Passage” release last year. See sidebar.)

Scott is also a wonderful artist, and the image above is of one of his pieces, “Line Study 23”.

All of the tracks for “Lingua Franca” are available on his site at http://http://www.lifeisontheground.com/m-u-s-i-c.html and also be sure to check out his wonderful artwork.

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My Evening at Levon Helm’s Studio

Several years ago (I’m thinking it was 2008), I had the wonderful privilege of hanging out at Levon Helm’s home studio in Woodstock, NY for what was then a monthly house concert called “The Midnight Ramble”. In those days, one could simply order tickets to the event by making a donation, the suggested amount being $100, and the proceeds were used for Mr. Helm’s medical care and to keep up the mortgage payments on his home and studio. Helm has been battling cancer  for the last 20 years, and he finally lost the battle last week, passing at the age of 71.

photo courtesy of themusicsover.com

I don’t recall who out of our longstanding trio of friend couples suggested the trip. Scott Burnett, my musician buddy whom I have written about elsewhere, grew up in Kingston, NY,  about 12 miles southeast from Woodstock, so he was the official trip guide. He and his wife, Hilary, flew with Merrilyn and I to JFK, rented a car and drove upstate. We stayed at the historic Woodstock Inn, which is basically a motel, made historic by Woodstock ’69 and famous musicians who stayed there. The third couple, Lee and Pam Haldorsen, joined us a few days later,  just in time for the concert.

The Midnight Ramble was an organic affair. Along with your ticket, you also bring whatever food and drink you want and some to share, so it was pot luck. There were three sets of artists, and many shared band members along the way. Alexis P. Suter, an impressive soul singer, opened the show with her band, followed by legendary saxophonist David “Fathead” Newman, (who passed away last year).

Finally a somewhat emaciated-looking Helm came out with his mandolin for the first three numbers of his set and then switched to drums afterwards. Helm performed many classic Americana and roots songs, as well as a few of his songs from his years with The Band, although he stayed away from the Band songs that he had been in longstanding dispute with Robbie Robertson over publishing rights. Helm had lost most of the power of his voice from his health issues, but his drumming was still strong and it was a great show nonetheless. A couple years later he released an album called Dirt Farmer and from the quality of his singing on that record as well as subsequent photos it was apparent that he had become stronger in the ensuing years. Here’s a video of him in 2009. Enjoy!

 

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Scott Burnett, the Artist

My guitar-slinging buddy Scott Burnett has been my partner in music-making crime for close to 30 years. We have written a lot of songs together, I did  session work for him back when he was a music producer, we can usually be spotted gigging together, and lately we have been collaborating on a light-jazz/latin/easy-listening/perfect-for-wine-swilling CD.

Meanwhile, he has been gradually establishing himself as an artist. I don’t recall when he started painting, but it’s been at least several years, and he has been getting serious about it the last two years. I don’t know much about art, but his work reminds me a little of Kandinsky or Klimpt given Scott’s penchant for building larger pieces out of small geometrical shapes.

If you are in the Seattle area you simply must visit Cafe Lulu (on Latona and N 65th) and check out his art up close and personal. Here are pictures of his art featured on its walls. And have a great espresso drink prepared with love and care. You can see more of Scott’s art on his web page lifeisontheground.com.

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Here Is Music to Chill To

We all need music that is therapeutic in nature that helps us de-stress, unplug, chill out–whatever you wish to call it. And as you know, chillaxin’ music is what I have been producing lately, but I thought I’d share my short list of other people’s music that always takes me to a serene place. Warning: Many of these records are now quite old.

Mark Isham – Film Music  If you have never seen the film “Never Cry Wolf”, then you will never have heard Mark Isham’s sweeping synthesizer soundscapes. I remember going with my wife and a friend to see the film in the old Crossroads theatre in Bellevue (a long time ago) and being totally captivated by the textures. Mr. Isham, who is primarily a trumpet player, has composed dozens of film scores since, but this will always be my favorite. Another great CD of his is “Castalia” if you can find it.

Checkfield – Water Wind and Stone  A co-worker turned me onto Checkfield back in the late 80’s. In fact, he gave me two of their CDs. This one is their second offering–the first was never released on CD. The opening cut, “Crystal Water”, starts out with the sound of water and soothing, pastoral acoustic guitars, accompanied by gentle synths and percussion. But this eclectic album ranges from folk textures to sweeping symphonies with a full orchestra as well as electronic grooves. Their later music got more “poppy” but still very enjoyable.

Iona – Journey Into the Morn  Iona is a unique blend of different genres. They are a celtic band. No, they’re progressive jazz/rock. Wait, they’re CCM. They are all of the above and in a way that works. This album was their fourth. I distinctly recall having a moment at our house in California where I was floating on my back in the pool in the dark, the speakers pointed out through the sliding door, and just being transplanted to another place. It opens with synth textures and Joanne Hogg’s haunting voice as she sings something in gaelic. The music gets boisterous and intricate at times, but always in way that is not jarring. Perhaps it is the ever-present generous amount of reverb.

Loreena McKennitt – The Book of Secrets  I could choose any of the recordings by this Canadian songstress, but this was the first I heard, and even features a song that got some airplay back in the day, “The Mummer’s Dance”. I love music that blends a variety of styles and her’s fills the bill. Celtic, new age, and various world textures all blend together in a way that doesn’t seem contrived. The CD includes a generous amount of liner notes that reads like a diary that chronicles the evolution of each song. This is the epitome of eclecticism.

This was just a short sampling of my “go to” music when I need to take a chill pill. But I only want this to be the start of a conversation. So I ask you this: What music do you like to chill out to?

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Piano Instrumental

Inspired by our recent vacation in Mazatlan, Mexico, I recorded an impromptu piano piece to the sound of the ocean. I thought it would be fun to put a slideshow together of some of the sunset photos we took and use the recording as a soundtrack. It inspired me to consider modifying my current “15-second pitch” to include the phrase “Like a soundtrack for sunsets.” which I think captures the essence of my music quite well. So, in that spirit, please enjoy the following video.

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Gliss Bliss

I just discovered this from a blog. There are some pretty cool ambient music creation apps on iOS devices that use a visual approach. One of these is called Bliss. Here is a short video. Pretty cool.

Of course, one can’t look at one YouTube video without discovering other music creation apps. Here are a couple of others, first Aura Flux:

And here’s the mobile version of Reactable, not quite so ambient, but fun:

Pretty cool, huh?

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Peace On The Earth

Last year at this time, I was inspired to write a strident song about peace. I had thought about writing a new one this year but got too busy with other things. So, here once again is “Peace on the Earth”. I hope you enjoy. Lyrics and credits below.

Break the silence
Confront the madness
Make the voice of reason heard

Crush the hatred
with ruthless kindness
Let your love be the last word

Peace on the Earth
Peace on the Earth

Stop the violence
of cold indifference
Too much goes on that we allow

Pierce the darkness
with fierce compassion
Beat the drum of justice NOW!

Peace on the Earth
Peace on the Earth

—————–

Music by Kelly Carpenter. Words by Kelly Carpenter and Scott Burnett.
© 2010 KelSongs / Kelly Carpenter Music (ASCAP) / Scott A. Burnett. All rights reserved.

Recorded December 2010 at Avondale.Blazing guitar solos by Scott A. Burnett. Vocal choirs by Kelly and Merrilyn Carpenter and UPC Gospel Choir. Programming, rhythm guitar, and lead vocal by Kelly Carpenter.

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Mylo Xyloto – First Impressions

Yep. I’m a big Coldplay fan. I was one of those who “eagerly awaited” their latest release Mylo Xyloto on Monday. Not so eagerly that I stood in line for days in the freezing sleet–rather, I swung by the local target on Wednesday to pick it up while shopping for “active wear”. Trying to stay active this winter–therefore, I need something to keep me warm in the freezing sleet. But I digress…

I have heard Mylo Xyloto through about three times. Before I add qualifying remarks, I must say I just LOVE it! Coldplay is one of those bands that can indulge in overproduction–and it works! Being a keyboardist, I love the shimmering digital synths up close and personal in the mixes. (Digital sounding synths, mind you, not those digital make ’em sound like analog synths.) And the groove on “Paradise”: spectacular! These boys know how to deliver a hook, loud and proud!

Standout tracks for me are “Every Teardrop a Waterfall”, “Paradise”, “Hurts Like Heaven”, and I’m captivated by the haunting “Up Against the World”:

Oh morning come bursting, the clouds, Amen.
Lift off this blindfold, let me see again.

I must say, the inclusion of the duet with Rihanna, “Princess of China” feels like pandering to the BIG RECORD COMPANY. Still a great song, it seems out of place to me.

At third blush, Mylo Xyloto still feels like a wall of sound–an excellent wall of sound, mind you–but I don’t find it breathes quite as nicely as Viva La Vida, which I consider to be their finest record. But Viva La Vida is a hard act to follow–Life in Technicolor is one of my all-time favorite pieces of music, so much so that I simply had to put some hammered dulcimer somewhere on my album, Passage.

So, if you love Coldplay, you should definitely…. oh what am I saying? I if you love Coldplay, you probably already bought a copy.

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