Alright, you’re likely sick of hearing about the new album. This is the last post about it I promise – at least until it’s about to come out at the end of May. But it’s kind of been my whole world for the past month, so it deserves more than a passing message in this, the recorded play-by-play of my ragtime life.
It’s amazing the number of steps and amount of work that goes into a single album, which makes the fact that we sent the album to the plant today all the more amazing to me. Bryan spent literally three straight days this week assembling the cover, liner notes, acknowledgments, producer’s note, introduction, and track list into the PDF files he needed to send to the plant. This was the last step on our part, assembling the materials for the plant to print, and now it’s out of our hands. The master CD went out yesterday, all 73’39” of it. I can’t believe we managed to record that much music in three nights, especially after cutting five of the tracks we recorded because they weren’t up to snuff.
I’ve spent the past month editing the tracks – roughly 1 or 2 a day – and then sent them to Bryan for mastering, which is the process of tweaking the equalization, volume, and overall sound of the album so that tracks recorded at different times and on different nights sound like they belong to one cohesive whole. Once that was done, it was time to order the tracks, something I took seriously; despite the fact that I usually set my iTunes to shuffle, I wanted the album to be listenable from start to finish, and in order to do that you have to be deliberate about which pieces you put after one another. Instrumental music has a tendency to sound the same, so you have to be diligent, changing up tempo and key signature in order to maintain listener interest. I definitely fretted over this. It’s like planning out a concert, only you can’t see the audience. Happily, however, I think I found a flow that works.
One of the highlights of this album for me is the introduction, written by my friend Brian Holland. Brian is one of the top talents on the ragtime/stride scene, and is also one of the nicest guys I know. I met him when I was 16, just a starry-eyed youth with ragtime on the brain, and so for him to be writing the introduction to my CD is surreal to say the least. The feedback from him and my friends thus far has been very positive, so I’m hopeful the general public will like the album as much as I do. We’ll be cutting it close as far as delivery. In less than one month, I’ve got five ragtime events lined up in the span of 10 days, and I really want to have the new album with me and for sale so that I can make back some of my considerable investment. I haven’t decided how to pitch it yet, but I have decided that it’s important to mention at every performance that I’ve got a new album and that it’s worth checking out. Some friends have been razzing me for overselling it, but in this corner of the musical world you’ve got to be your own biggest fan! And of course I’m so knee-deep in the process that it’s hard to imagine other people not liking it, too. I’m sure time will help put the project in perspective, but right now it seems like a Big Frigging Deal.
Anyways, it’s out of my hands now. The plant has it, and in short order there will be 1,000 instantiations of my new album, a thousand pieces of Martin floating around on the planet, looking for eyes and ears. Who knows where the music will go? Who knows who the music will find? It’s fun to think of it traveling the planet, reaching listeners far and wide and hopefully bringing a smile to their faces.
I have a secret dream for this album, and I’m going to speak it out loud in the hopes of attracting it to me. I want this album to be nominated for a Grammy. I want other musicians to hear it and go, “Wow, this guy has something to offer the world musically. This is something special.” I want to stand on the Grammy stage and keep my promise to Tony Caramia, who asked as his sole payment for my lessons that he get acknowledgment on the day I accepted the award. Is it vain to want this? Is it too bold? I don’t know. I don’t care. You have to have dreams and this is one of mine. I feel like Kevin Costner in “Field of Dreams” – if you record it, they will come. Here’s hoping.
In the meantime, thanks to Bryan at Rivermont Records, and to Brian Holland for the intro and the feedback. If this CD is the torso, you guys are its legs. Couldn’t have done it without you. And now? We wait…