SUMMER TOUR

I’m happy to announce that I’ll be hitting the road in just a couple of days to go play a bunch of shows. I’ve been playing music for many years but this is the most ambitious tour I’ve planned in a long while. It’s an experiment really. A way to learn the ropes again. Hopefully I will see you out there!!

VLUU L200 / Samsung L200

Today I got a tripod for my phone so I can take some videos from the road. I’ll share however much of the trip is worthwhile and feasible. Here’s a little taste.

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Boredom And Sobriety

boredom and sobriety

About ten days ago I heard a Q&A session with Charlie Peacock, a Nashville based producer/songwriter/musician/author. I was in Nashville at this session because I didn’t have anything better to do. My girlfriend and I had broken up a few days before and I wanted to get out of town. So there I was and I wasn’t sure why. My ears perked up when Charlie was introduced and walked onto stage with a Switchfoot (one of my favorite’s) song playing over the PA system. I didn’t know it until then but he produced Switchfoot’s song, “Dare You To Move” and signed them to their first record deal. So now I wanted to listen closely to everything Charlie had to say. He didn’t disappoint.

He seems like a really intelligent and thoughtful and hardworking guy. I say thoughtful because it’s apparent that he hasn’t just had years of experience in the music industry but he’s clearly thought about what it all means and why it matters. I was impressed with so much of what he said but one thing really stood out. It’s something I haven’t been able to get out of my head since. He talked about connecting with humanity as a songwriter. He said that what he’s interested in is music and/or artists that are taking risks and connecting with humanity.

He had me at humanity. The more I thought about it the more I realized that not only was that concept blowing my mind but it was also a huge relief. For the past twenty years I’ve been writing songs. Some of them are good. Some of them aren’t. For a lot of those years I’ve been attempting to get better at that and that quest has led me to add numerous slashes and titles to my descriptor; “Hi… I’m Tim Pepper, singer/songwriter/artist/audio engineer/social media guy/video editor/web page designer… You get the picture. I’m getting better at some of the things on that list but, it’s a really long list. I’m probably not going to get my 10 000 hours in for all of them.

Then you hear a guy like Charlie Peacock talk about how jazz musicians employ an economy of notes in order to make great compositions. They aren’t playing every note they can play. Instead they are play the right note at the right time and maybe they aren’t playing at all sometimes. You hear him talk about that and you hear him talk about humanity and suddenly all those titles seem like a lot of unfocused activity. Suddenly you remember that you love the music of The Milk Carton Kids because it’s pretty and simple. You remember that most of the music you love touches something in you that has nothing to do with tones or beats or walls of sounds. You remember that maybe it’s possible to touch people with a voice and a guitar and a few well written words. And it’s a relief because it gives you a really definite thing to focus on and get better at. Just write real stuff and write it well. Connect with the one thing in you that is common to everyone…humanity.

For the past few months I’ve been doing tutorials online so that I can make better mixes of songs in Pro Tools. I love it but it’s enormous. There’s just so much to play with inside a modern recording software program. I’ve been working on a song called “It Ain’t Easy Falling Apart” and it’s horrible. I kept playing with the mix because I kept trying to make it better. At this point the mix is decent but the song is just a piece of crap. I hate it but I know I’ve been wasting my time with it. I know….I know….nothing is wasted…

When I got back home from Nashville I started the process of learning how to live in a new city, suddenly without a girlfriend. Suddenly without a friend at all it seems. It’s lonely of course. It’s quiet. I’m sick of Netflix. I want to talk to people. It’s weird because I keep reaching for my phone to tell my person about some dumb thing I’m doing that day. But I can’t. It’s boring. To top it all off I have high blood pressure so I’m not supposed to drink. Not that I want to go get drunk all the time but it just seems like that might at least be fun. Throughout all of that I kept thinking about humanity and realized that the best thing I could do would be to get back to writing. I decided that I’d forget all the studio tricks and just record this thing quickly and simply and let it be what it is.

This post is already long so I’ll just post the lyrics below and be done. Enjoy!!

Boredom and Sobriety – Tim Pepper

Another line on this face.
Another track for the tears.
But it isn’t what you think.
It’s not the stacking of the years.

My distress is caused by silence.
A room so quiet I can hear.
Every creak and every crack in this house;
Each heart beat drumming in my ears

I wish we had fought like lions,
Or wrestled with the Deities.
Our passion burned like an ember dying.
We parted ways so peacefully.
Now the only things that I’m left fighting
Are boredom and sobriety.

Since you’re gone I hardly know
A single soul in this town.
I guess folks would understand me
if I turned to drink to wash it down.
But I prefer to sit in silence
and wonder, “What should I do now?”
I know things will get better
But good God I don’t know how.

I gotta be honest. There’s a part of me
That likes drinking whiskey straight.
Cause it’s more fun and a little easier
Than this here skinny, narrow gate.Share on Facebook

MUST BE HOME

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HEY HEY HEY!!!
It’s been a lot of work getting these songs to a point where I could share them. I hope you love them as much as I do.

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Bright New Year

V__9FDBIt’s nearly a new year. It feels like we could all use a new one. 2015 has been an amazing year for me personally. I won’t get into the details but a lot of good things have been happening.

But then it’s also been a year in which crazy religious people have done things that seem….well, crazy. Horrendous acts, that make any sane person wonder what the world is coming to, have been splattered across the news on a far too frequent basis.

I travelled to my old home in South Africa this year. It’s a country that will intoxicate you with beauty one minute and sober you with heart-wrenching social chaos the next. Chaos is the only word I can use to describe a situation which has folks crying out for racial equality on one hand and practicing genocide on the other. It’s just a really difficult place to spend any time at all in and not come away feeling conflicted on some level.

Lately, I get that same feeling every time I visit FaceBook. It’s just a constant stream of stories and events that one moment lift me up and make me feel proud that I’m a human being with the capacity for love and understanding, and then the next moment make me ashamed to be still sucking air.

We know a lot more about the world we live in these days. We hear about it when things happen in other countries. We can follow stories developing in real time. We know about where our produce comes from when we buy it at the grocery store. We are not isolated from the chain of events that brings us food and necessities to convenient locations. We know that we are affecting the world we live in and we know that increasingly it is affecting us.

It’s difficult to know how to respond when there are so many stories and people and events and causes screaming at each of us for a response. It’s beyond our capability to completely care for everything we come across. It’s beyond our capability to even discern what deserves our care because we are just too inundated. We feel too much, too often. We are too accustomed to allowing those feelings to wash over us and then dissipate into oblivion. We live in eternal expectation that something else will come along and we will pay attention to that when it happens. We might even be addicted to that feeling. It makes us feel good that we still feel.

But it’s not hopeless. If you start sifting through the barrage of information that is slung at you on a daily basis you will see that, amidst the stories of ISIS and global warming and genocide and corruption, there are also stories of progress and love and kindness and social uplift. There are still people out there caring for other people. There are still people building things for future generations. There are still people creating art. There are still people cleaning up messes left by other people.

At some point during the last year, as I thought about what I’ve been describing above, I realized that I don’t really want to add to the darkness in this world. There’s plenty of it to go around and I’d rather not add to it or dwell on it. I decided I want to be a channel of positivity and grace. I want to find the good stuff and highlight it and show it to other people. The only thing that combats darkness is light and if I’m going to continue breathing air and damaging the world I live in, then I’d like to try and be an agent of light.

As the new year approaches I wish you the very best. I pray that God will grant you grace and mercy and love and peace and light. He already has.Share on Facebook

Fireside

 

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I love pop music. The clean, huge sound of Lady Gaga or Katy Perry is a beautiful thing. The 90s was full of rock music that was so produced that it was essentially pop music. The 90s is probably why I became a songwriter in the first place. There’s just something about a well produced song that makes me happy.

Let’s not argue about what “well produced” means. But we could: We live in an age in which nearly everything is manipulable in the studio. There is a complete set of artists the world knows very little about. They are the behind the scenes crowd. They are what the cool kids always tried to be. They are the sound engineers. They know how to work the magic. They can take a crummy rock and roll band and give them a mix that is sparkling and powerful.

That’s not to say that a great mix can fix a bad song. The point is simply that what we are hearing on the radio today is some pretty amazing stuff. It’s the result of a huge amount of technology and although I don’t love the music “industry” and I don’t love all the pop bands or what they stand for, I still love music and sometimes I listen to the radio and forget about the “industry” and the moral high grounds and I just enjoy a great pop song.

Then I like to flip the coin and listen to something that breaks my heart because it’s so raw and wonderfully emotive. I’ve always leaned more towards that side of the coin in my own work. It’s where I prefer to live I suppose; In the anti-pop world of acoustic guitars and zero vocal tuning.

“Fireside” is an example of the anti-pop. Last Sunday I spent the afternoon chopping wood and making food. Just as dusk was beginning I sat by the fire and decided that I’d record a few songs. I had a couple of hours to kill before any friends could make it over so it was me and the racoons (or possibly possums….or  groundhogs….I’m pretty sure I’ve even seen a coyote running down my street so who knows?). So I pulled out my Taylor and my Tascam DR-07, got set up, which took about seven minutes, and recorded this short set.

I love that Nolensville Rd, with all it’s ambulances and muscle cars can be heard in the background fairly prominently. In the foreground there’s a few birds twittering and a fire crackling. The neighbors dog and my phone sounding off an Instagram notification make cameos here and there. The rest is just a guy playing a few songs on guitar.

It’s hard to escape technology these days but at least in this record the technology stayed out of the actual songs. I hope you like them as much as I do.

 

 

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