In December, 2011 while on tour in Colorado (USA) I got a message that made my spine tingle.
It was an invitation to perform with a percussion duo plus a female vocalist, all of whom I greatly admired and had been dreaming of playing with.
There was just one catch: Due to my schedule there would be no rehearsal.
That meant I’d have to go in cold, and trust my wings to fly.
The singer was Beth Quist. She’s a mega talented multi-instrumentalist, performer and composer who at one time toured as part of Bobby McFerrin’s “Voicestra” and appears on his albums "Circlesongs," "Mouth Music," and "VOCAbuLarieS." Beth also was a featured vocalist with Cirque du Soleil.
I had met Beth and first saw her perform during my brief period of musical dormancy in 1996. (In between my last prog rock band and when I started creating music for healing and meditation.) I remember attending Beth’s performance at that time and wondering what it would have been like to have her in my band.
The percussionists were Gilly Gonzalez and Lisa Wimberger.
Gilly and Lisa have a reputation for displaying the full range of melodies available in the percussion world, utilizing their insane drum collection to its fullest extent in live shows. Drawing from Middle Eastern, Afro-Cuban, African and American influences, they create a sound that can only be encompassed under the umbrella of "world music."
I have to admit, I was a bit nervous going on stage without rehearsal, but hey, “no guts no glory!” When I arrived at the venue Lisa told me the set was being multi track recorded, and the files would be shared among us performers to use however we want.
Long story short: We performed a kickass set. The drums were a pulsing driving force to be reckoned with, and Beth’s voice and energy was so potent it nearly buckled my knees at one point.
I was so stoked afterward, knowing I’d soon have a recording of the set to work with, I literally could not sleep that night!
I share this story because 2 of the tracks from this performance are finally seeing the light of day, featured on my new album, Song of the Ancients.
I hung onto the tracks, waiting to manifest my time in the studio to flesh them out with more of my voice. When I recorded my second album, Grace in 2017, I knew that these songs were for a different album, and would have to wait.
Yep, I’m old school. I love the concept of concept albums - a cohesive body of music that takes the listener on a journey.
When the opportunity arose to record Song of the Ancients, I reached out to Mark Fenster at Autumn Studios in Vancouver, where I had recorded Grace. I added more layers of my voice to these tracks, and they became the songs “Om Shaman” and “Invocation: Opening the Portal”.
It was clear that most of the tracks on this new album would be best with the right touch of percussion, so I reached out to Gilly Gonzalez in Denver, CO and managed to hire him to play on the album.
I couldn’t have asked for a better match. When Gilly asked what I was looking for on any given song, I could speak to him in metaphors and he totally got the vibe I was seeking.
I would tell him things like “Imagine flying through the clouds listening to this music. What would the drums sound like?” (Valhalla) Or “Bro, just bring the tribal thunder.” (Song of the Ancients) On every song Gilly delivered. Big time.
In the years I had been performing around Vancouver, BC, I met another female vocalist/songstress by the name of Theda Phoenix. Theda’s specialty is creating music spontaneously with her angelic voice, sometimes even summoning profound lyrics on the fly in live performances.
Theda and I have had a handful of performances together over the years, and I asked her to sing on the opening song “Valhalla.”
It rocks. (In a loving, peaceful healing way.)
The title track “Song of the Ancients” came to me while journeying in Peru in 2013. I had been invited by a very powerful, kind and wise brother, Jhaimy Alvarez-Acosta. Jhaimy invited me to bring my music and instruments to Peru on a pilgrimage to sacred sites and temples with a small group of people.
On our way to Lake Titicaca, we camped out overnight in a high desert valley. I set up my instruments by the campfire and we stayed up through the night in ceremony.
The next morning I was shown there were ancient, undisturbed tombs under the rock formations that surrounded us. Moments later I began to hear these voices singing in my head, punctuated by thunderous drums.
I could feel in my bones that this was a transmission… A gift from the ancient ancestors meant to be shared with the world in this time of upheaval and rapid change. This is why I named it “Song of the Ancients.”
As with all of my music, the songs on this album are a form of wordless prayer for healing...healing for the Earth and the collective heart of humanity.
I am blessed and honoured beyond words to share this sacred transmission with you.