QUARTERLY REPORT: Winter 2023
NEW SINGLE “FADING FAST” OUT NOW!
“Fading Fast” is the first in a series singles leading up to a full-length album. It’s my first release since “Skeleton Crew” dropped in March of 2020. Before that I had not released any songs since The Droge & Summers Blend Volume Two EP in 2014. (Thanks a lot chronic fatgue!)
For the backstory on the lyrics check out this post on my SUBSTACK.
Watch the lyric video on YOU TUBE.
Find it on your favorite digital music service HERE.
Words and Music by Pete Droge
Produced by Pete Droge & Paul Bryan (Producer/bassist for Aimee Mann)
Mixed by Paul Bryan
Drums by Jay Bellerose (Robert Plant & Alison Krauss)
Keyboards by Lee Pardini (Member of the band Dawes)
Mastered by Dave Cooley
Special Thanks to Elaine Summers
Cover Photo by John Jeffcoat
Graphic Design by Lance Alton Troxel
LOVE SONGS ETC ON SUBSTACK IS THE PLACE!
On January 16th, 2023 I launched my new Substack newsletter, Love Songs Etc. Substack is an online publishing platform. Think of it as a combination of an email newsletter and a blog.
Love Songs Etc is part memoir, part scrapbook and part boxed set. The description reads: “Pete Droge muses on songwriting & record making while sharing work tapes, demos, outtakes, road stories & more.
It’s free to subscribe. Or you have the option of upgrading to a paid subscription if you want to support my work and receive perks like new music before it’s released. For more details click HERE.
I’M ON THE SOCIALS!
Now that I have so much to share, I’ve ended my long-running social media fast.
Find me on INSTAGRAM, TWITTER & FACEBOOK.
Peace & Love Songs,
Quarterly Report: Fall 2022
September 2022 marked my seven year anniversary with chronic fatigue. I’m happy to report that my energy is improving. And while I’m still a long way from 100%, I’m super grateful for the energy I do have. Lately I’ve been feeling well enough to begin a slow and steady return to my music career. More on all that later.
In the meantime, here are a few bits of news…
END CREDIT SONG
“Among the Living”—a Thorns song I co-wrote and performed with Matthew Sweet and Shawn Mullins—is being featured in a cool indie film called Press Play. It’s always a thrill to hear one of my songs in a film, and it’s especially cool when the song is placed over the end credits, because that means they play it loud! Press Play is streaming now on Hulu.
TOM PETTY RADIO
The folks at Sirius XM let me loose on Tom Petty Radio. It was a joy to serve as guest dj and share my favorite TP & the HBs songs along with stories from the road and studio. Yes, I did say studio. I was lucky enough to be invited to recording sessions to witness the man at work. My show begins airing on today (Monday, 11/7/22) and will be available for two weeks via the Sirius XM app.
Another Chris Ballew solo album is in the can and ready for a January 2023 release. You may know the three-time Grammy nominee as the singer of Presidents of the United States of America. Or as Caspar Babypants. This is the fourth full-length that I’ve worked on with Chris and our co-producer Mark Heberlein. The first three are available direct here.
Peace & Love Songs,
Vashon Island, WA
Quarterly Reports: Winter, Spring, Summer & Fall 2021
Vashon Island Pet Protectors Fundraiser
I’ve donated a rare item to VIPP’s online auction. Click HERE to bid on a 60 minute lesson via Zoom with yours truly. Choose your topic: Songwriting, guitar, voice or recording.
Other items up for auction include a ukulele signed by Eddie Vedder, Almost Famous swag signed by Cameron Crowe and VIP tickets to see Band of Horses at Seattle’s Paramount Theater. See all auction items HERE.
Almost Famous 20th Anniversary Soundtrack
If 15 year old Pete was told he’d have a song on an album alongside The Who, Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, Simon & Garfunkel, Jimi Hendrix, Elton John, Led Zeppelin, Cat Stevens, The Stooges, David Bowie and a bunch more of his heroes, that kid would have been beyond thrilled. Well, thanks to having my song “Small Time Blues” in the now-classic film, Almost Famous, that happened. (Or should I say, “It’s all happening!”)
Turns out, middle-aged Pete is just as thrilled as that young rocker would have been. What an honor to be included in this incredible collection of music! Kudos to Cameron Crowe, Andy Fischer and Greg Mariotti and their team for putting together such a mind-bogglingly awesome deluxe package. Get yours HERE.
Co-Producing Chris Ballew
He’s made music for families as Caspar Babypants. He’s gone multi-platinum as front man for The Presidents of the United States of America. He’s even been nominated for Grammys. (Three-time loser!) And now Chris Ballew is releasing music under his own name for the first time ever!
Mark Heberleine and I have the honor of serving as co-producers on this new musical incarnation. It’s collaboration pandemic style. It goes like this: Chris sends tracks and I listen. I make notes and then share my thoughts over the phone. (A chronic fatigue-friendly gig if ever there was one.) I’m loving the music so much that I’ve joked that my credit should read “Chief Executive Cheerleader.”
The first album, I Am Not Me, was released in July. Buy it HERE. Or look for it on your favorite streaming service. The follow-up, Soul Unfolded, will be released in early 2022. Listen HERE to Chris speaking with Voice of Vashon’s Jeff Hoyt about the project.
Chew the Bone with Dr. Woody Podcast
An instrumental version of “Wicked World” from The Droge & Summers Blend Volume Two is the theme song for filmmaker Ward Serrill’s new podcast Chew the Bone with Dr. Woody. This “dogcast” features a hilarious segment with world-renowned dog psychologist Dr. Woody as well as readings from Ward’s new memoir To Crack the World Open—Solitude, Alaska and a Dog Named Woody. Check it out HERE.
Songs Are Piling Up
As I tend to my health issues—backstory HERE—I continue to chip away at writing and demoing new material. I recently finished “Fading Fast,” a jangley folk-rocker chronicling life on the road. And fans of my early days in Ramadillo will dig the old-school, classic country stylings of “Memory Off My Mind” and “Easy Country Living.”
And speaking of Ramadillo…
Ramadillo on Vinyl?
There’s talk of Ramadillo appearing on a 7” vinyl split single in 2022. This prompted me to dig out old boxes of tapes. Talk about a trip down memory lane! Among the unearthed highlights, the original four track cassette demo of “Staylin’ Street” that I recorded when I was just 19.
And speaking of rarities…
The DrogeHead Lounge?
I’m considering creating a digital space for sharing both rarities from the past as well as current works-in-progress. If this sounds like something you’d like to see happen, send us an email with your vote of enthusiasm via the contact form HERE.
Well… I think that’s all the news that’s fit to print.
Peace & Love,
A Fender guitar autographed by yours truly and my pal Elaine Summers is being auctioned off to raise money for SMASH.
SMASH is Seattle Musicians Access to Sustainable Healthcare. A very worthy cause.
In addition to the guitar we signed, there is lots of fun Seattle rock stuff including an autographed guitar from a guy named Mike McCready. (Mike’s in a band called Pearl Jam if you didn’t know.)
Speaking of Pearl Jam, Stone’s new side project sounds amazing. It’s called Painted Sheild. Check it out.
Anyway, in addition to the online auction, SMASH is broadcasting a live stream today (Saturday 11/21/20) featuring the aforementioned McCready, Dave Matthews, Duff McKagen and many other Seattle musicians who have turned out in force to support this great organization.
UPDATE: The auction closed on Friday, Nov 27,2020.
Peace & Love,
Skeleton Crew Project
Can we create a series of singles that supports a community of artists & creative professionals while incubating a donor-driven record label focused on giving?
Can we? Let’s find out!
• • •
Turns out that I cannot. Not while living thru year five of chronic fatigue I can’t.
I gave it my all. But it’s taken it’s toll on my recovery and I have accepted that I simply can’t pull this off while staying within my “energy envelope.”
So… I’m going to punt.
I’ve decided to delete the previous post where we tried—and failed—to distill my ideas down to a short mission statement. “Damnit Jim! I’m a songwriter, not a communications major!!!”
Before going off-of-the-grid to tend to my health, I will try and share my grand vision of what I had hoped the Skeleton Crew Project could begin to incubate.
I am hoping to produce a few more ‘advance’ episodes of my forthcoming podcast, PETE DROGE is OBSESSED, in which I’ll try—in 25,000 words or less—to give you an idea of my vision for what our little corner of the music world might look like post-COVID-19. [UPDATE on 5/5/20: Kicking this can down the road so I can tend to my health.] Maybe someone out there might hear my ideas and be inspired enough to give them a try. At the very least I hope to get a conversation going about how me might use the massive reset this pandemic has brought upon as an opportunity to make the music business more artist-friendly moving forward.
For now, we’ve released Skeleton Crew (Version One) feat. Elaine Summers on our little label, Puzzle Tree Records.
100% of the proceeds from Bandcamp will go to Vashon Youth & Family Services.
Finally, we are currently seeking matching grant donors so that folks who want to donate directly to this wonderful non-profit can do so and have their contributions matched. If you’d like to help with this, please hit up the contact button above. [UPDATE on 5/5/20: We are still actively raising money for VYFS, and will keep doing so. I suspect the need is even greater now than when the pandemic began, so please reach out if you’d like to help with a matching grant.]
Peace & Love,
Vashon Island, WA
March 31, 2020
UPDATE: April 03, 2020
1) “Skeleton Crew” is available wherever you find digital music. 100% or proceeds from Bandcamp go to Vashon Youth & Family Services.
2) I posted PETE DROGE is OBSESSED!!! episode 000… a podcast teaser. In it I discuss the Skeleton Crew Project and share a sneak peak of my interview with Chris Ballew.
3) Lance Alton Troxel—the insanely gifted designer of our cover art—blew us away with this short film for “Skeleton Crew.” He’s submitted the work to Inspiration Oregon, a contest launched by Oregon Film as a way to encourage filmmakers to get creative in their homes during times when citizens are urged to remain indoors. Watch the film HERE.
4) I spoke with Jeff Hoyt on the Voice of Vashon about the Skeleton Crew Project. He asked if I would talk for 5 minutes. The interview lasted almost 30. Yeah… I’m pretty passionate about this thing alright.
5) I married a dharma talk by Gil Fronsdal with a piece of ambient music. Listen HERE.
Okay… time for me to hit the mediation station!!!
Quarterly Reports: Spring, Summer & Fall 2019
Slowly but slowly my health is improving. (Health backstory HERE.) Assuming the trend continues, it shouldn’t be too long before I’m ready to begin pre-production on my next record. In the meantime, I’ve been dusting off the old live chops.
Live & In-Person
On November 8 Elaine Summers and I will play a couple of songs at The O Space to help celebrate the release of Vashon Calling, an album to benefit Vashon Events. The album and show will feature a fine array of Vashon musicians: Chris Ballew, Ian Moore, Martin Feveyear, Danny Newcomb, Rusty Willoughby & Jennifer Potter, Jeff Kanzler, Kat Eggleston, Saint Ophelia, JD Hobson, Sarah Christine, Allison Shirk and Madeleine Wolczko will all grace the O-Space stage. Info HERE.
We played a wedding gig earlier this month. Yeah, you heard me right…a wedding gig! The groom surprised the bride with a live performance of their favorite song, “Island,” performed by the original artists! It was heartwarming to watch the happy couple snuggling in the front row while she smiled and wiped away tears of joy.
Back in August I played a couple of songs at a private dinner salon. About fifteen of us gathered to break bread and play music at the historic Dockton Store. I used the opportunity to world premier two songs: “You Called Me Kid” and “My Mind’s Eye.” It felt great to play the new songs. We’re looking forward to booking a few low-key house concerts around Vashon Island as soon as my health allows. (Sign up for my Newsletter to be among the first to know when shows are announced.)
Speaking of house concerts, imagine you and nine pals cozied up in a stunning west side home on idyllic Vashon Island, enjoying wine, appetizers and a super-intimate set by yours truly and my trusty sidekick Elaine Summers. This experience could be yours! We’re auctioning off a house concert at this year’s Fur Ball. (The Fur Ball is Vashon Island Pet Protectors’ big fundraising event that takes place on Saturday, October 26.) Tickets and info HERE. If you are unable to attend the auction but want to try and snatch up that house concert, email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange making a proxy bid.
In my last Quarterly Report I mentioned the possibility of a 25th anniversary edition of my debut album, Necktie Second. Well, my health is not to the point where I can tackle that project this year, so Necktie 25th will have to wait. Necktie 26th doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. Maybe we wait for the 30th anniversary? Or just call it Necktie Deluxe and put it out whenever it’s ready? In any event, there are piles of VHS and Hi-8 video tapes from that era. At some point, we’ll get it all digitized and start lobbing clips out to my YouTube channel.
Amazon Music’s Expert Listen
I am featured on Amazon Music’s brand new Expert Listen playlist. Dial it up to hear me give my expert opinion of the Tom Petty track “You Don’t Know How It Feels” from his classic album, Wildflowers. I’m in pretty good company. A couple of tracks after mine is some lesser-known expert named Sir Paul McCartney. #sarcastichumblebrag.
KEXP Sound & Vision
Drew Pine stopped by the Puzzle Tree Studio studio to interview me for KEXP’s Sound & Vision. The show, set to air in late October or early November, will feature a segment on Vashon Island musicians. In addition to going out over the radio waves, Sound & Vision is available in podcast form.
UPDATE 12/10/19: The episode is now live. Check it out HERE. Or look for it in your favorite podcast app. The segment with my interview begins at around 36 minute mark.
Elaine and I have been chipping away at writing material for my next record. For years, songwriting took a back seat to record production and scoring work, so it feels great to be back at it with the same kind of single-minded focus I had when I was younger and life was simpler.
As much as I love creating music for film & tv, and producing other artists, nothing thrills me more than conjuring a good old-fashioned song from thin air. Actually, conjuring may not be the best word. While the process can feel magical at times–especially those moments when inspiration strikes–most of the time is spent laboriously crafting lyrics and phrasing. This process is especially slow due to my limited energy these days, but that makes it all the more satisfying when we cinch one up.
Despite the glacial pace, we are making progress. Taking stock of our bounty recently we found we have enough completed songs for a double album. (I doubt I’ll make a double album, but you never know.)
Well, that’s all the news that’s fit to print.
Peace & Love,
Quarterly Report: Winter 2019
My sabbatical continues while I focus on recovering my health. (For the backstory, read my Healing Music post.) My energy is still low, but the general trend is moving up. Recently I had a stretch where I felt like I was operating at around 50%. After being down in the 20% range so much, that felt amazing. I see light at the end of the tunnel. Actually, I don’t feel like I’m in a tunnel at all. Mentally and emotionally I’m in a great space.
I’m looking forward to rekindling and reimagining my career. Droge 5.0, if you will. I’m eager to get out on the road and play some shows. I’m also excited to continue the development of my podcast, Pete Droge is Obsessed. And I’ve got tons of ideas in mind for Cinema Droge, a video channel. For now though, I’m pouring all of my creative energies—limited as they may be—into songwriting. I’m working on material for a new record. As always, Elaine Summers is proving to be an invaluable collaborator. We just finished a song called “Sundown at Francis Nash.” (To my BHS pals: you’ll have to wait for the record to see which of you gets name checked in the song.)
On the TV
If you tune into the new Ricky Gervais series After Life on Netflix, keep an ear out for my voice tucked in harmony under Matthew Sweet and Shawn Mullins. “Among the Living” from The Thorns record is featured in the soundtrack.
My debut album, Necktie Second, turns 25 this year. I’m considering releasing Necktie 25th, a deluxe edition with outtakes, demos, live recordings etc. I’m thinking vinyl would be cool. And speaking of vinyl, we’re also keen on compiling both Droge & Summers Blend EPs onto one slab of wax.
Regular readers of the All Droge News Compendium know that I produced Moody Little Sister’s debut, Wild Places. What you may not know is that I also produced a single for the duo last year. Working on “I Got Soul” made it clear that chronic fatigue and record making do not pair well. So reluctantly, I had to pass on producing their next album. They are forging on without me and recently launched a Kickstarter campaign. I encourage you to check them out. They’re the real deal.
I’m 50… 50 Years Old!
I know it’s silly (and vain) but every year I check to see if I still make the celebrity birthdays lists. Eventually I imagine whoever decides will say, “Hold the presses! This guy hasn’t had anything resembling a hit in years. What’s he doing on here?” Well, according to the New York Times, I’m still a celebrity. And boy is my ego glad to hear that! #humblebrag
Well that’s all the news that’s fit to print. At some point this space will become more active. Until then…
Peace & Love,
Spacey & Shakin’ Turns 20
20 years ago today, on April 7, 1998, Epic/57 Records released my third album, Spacey and Shakin’.
I wrote the album with my band The Sinners in mind. Peter Stroud, Dave Hull, Rob Brill and Elaine Summers all shine on this disc. Our producer engineer team of Brendan O’Brien and Russ Fowler created what to my ear is a damn cool sounding record. (Audio dorks might be interested to know that much of the compression you hear is a real Fairchild.)
It seems that many fans of my music missed this record altogether. For whatever reason, it did not enjoy as much press and radio as my previous records. So if you count yourself as a Pete Droge fan and have never checked this one out, give it a spin wherever you listen to digital music. It’s also available to buy direct thru my Bandcamp page.
I can’t believe my third record is 20 years old! Feels like yesterday and a hundred years ago all at the same time.
Peace and Love,
My new single, “I Am Awake” was crafted with relaxation in mind. It’s a sonic elixir of sorts, and maybe an antidote to a week that began with the horrific events in Vegas and the death of our beloved Tom Petty. I hope it brings some peace and ease into your day, or at least a brief respite from the sadness and shock.
But as much as I hope this music provides some benefit to listeners, my intentions are not 100% altruistic. I’ve been creating relaxing music in part for self-serving reasons: I want to create tracks that will help with my own healing process. You see, for the last two years I’ve been dealing with chronic fatigue.
Before I knew the causes of my fatigue I was completely baffled by it. I remember thinking, “I can’t believe how exhausted I am. I need to lay down.” But then, “I’ll just work for a little while.” And while making music, the exhaustion faded. My inner mad scientist was calling the shots and I was swept away by the force of my own enthusiasm. Positive psychologists call this flow. Eventually, I’d come up for air, and while shutting down my studio I’d be hit with the exhaustion again, only stronger. I repeated this pattern over and over, depleting my reserves. And my reserve reserves.
During the end of 2015, I kept returning to my doctor trying to make sense of how I was feeling. She threw some meds at me. And some naturopathic herbs. None of them helped. I tried taking time off and doubling down on sleep and rest. That didn’t help either. Avoiding the creative work that I love only made me stir crazy; and putting my career on hold added financial stress to the mix.
This went on for months. At one appointment all I got from her was a shrug and a dismissive, “Maybe you’re just depressed.” My father had passed away recently so I was grieving, but I tried to explain how this felt physiological. Looking back, I wish I had pressed her harder to run more blood tests. I’ll spare you the complete play-by-play, but suffice to say she’s no longer my doctor.
In February 2016 I visited another doctor here on Vashon Island. She identified a couple of the causes of my fatigue, but after treating me for a while with no improvement, she had the good sense—and humility—to refer me to a specialist in Seattle. So, nearing the one year anniversary of my fatigue, in August of 2016, I met with a doctor who gave me solid diagnoses. Yes, diagnoses plural.
As we talked about the treatment plan the obvious question arose, “How long until I feel better?” She prefaced by saying that by the time folks come see her, things are pretty bad. Then she warned that my recovery could take anywhere from eight months to three years.
As daunting as three more years sounded, knowing what I had—and that it was not life-threatening—was a huge relief. It also felt good to have a treatment plan in place. The optimist in me figured I could lick this in six months if I really hunkered down and kicked ass on my regimen.
So for the last 14 months, I have dutifully taken my meds and supplements. I mix 20 drops of this into water and swish for one minute, twenty minutes away from food. I stir a teaspoon of that into grapefruit juice and chug it down daily. I drink probiotic smoothies. I avoid sugar, gluten and dairy. I’ve guarded my precious morning routine of yoga, light walking in nature and meditation. Plus I’ve augmented my healing routine with a variety of treatments during the coarse of my illness: IVC therapy, acupuncture, epsom salt baths, relaxation techniques and essential oils to name a few.
As complicated as all this sounds, it’s the easy part. The bigger challenge has been how to strike a healthy balance between work and rest. For a workaholic like me, that ain’t easy.
For much of the last two years I’ve been in pursuit of the ideal ratio. I need to rest. And I need to engage in the work that feeds my soul. When I rest too much I turn to mush and get stir crazy. When I work too much I get excited and push harder than I should and spend energy I don’t have.
I’ve swung to both extremes. When a great opportunity to score a documentary short came my way, I couldn’t turn it down and found myself working crazy long hours fueled by coffee and cortisol. Interestingly, the weighty fatigue I had come to know so well was nowhere to be found while I was in the heat of battle chasing after my nearly impossible deadline. I felt tired—as you’d expect when putting in 14, 15 and even 17 hour days—but it was not the heavy exhaustion I was used to.
Sure enough, when I hit send on the very last email, buttoning the gig up for good, that heavyweight exhaustion returned. The fact that my fatigue was masked while I was cranking on the job was another stark reminder of how enthusiasm and stress can override the messages my body was trying to send me. Mine was saying something like, “Dude, stop working. Lay down. We need to fight this.”
On the other extreme, I’ve attempted staycation mode. This works for a little while, but I’ve never been very good at being on vacation. There is just too much I want to do. And the more I lay around resting, the more ideas I stockpile of things I want to do.
So I’ve been chipping away at the things I’m most passionate about. And I’ve said “No” a lot. I’ve tried my best to manage my time, and my expectations.
If you are a certified Drogehead, you probably know I’ve been talking about launching 1000 TREES (a series of digital releases) for quite a while. Plus I’ve been developing my podcast, Pete Droge is Obsessed. Both of these have a ton of moving parts and I’m feeling overwhelmed trying to keep them cooking. Feeling overwhelmed is not conducive to healing rest.
Recently, it dawned on me that I have too many plates spinning, and too many pans on the stovetop. So I’m pulling these projects off of the stove, placing them into nice glass bowls and moving them to the freezer until I’m well.
So now that I’ve released my new single, “I Am Awake,” I’m going on sabbatical. I need a break from my career. I need to focus on healing. I will continue to write songs, and I’m committed to doing a bit of production work in my studio, which I’ll follow thru on. But mostly I’m going to unplug and take it real easy.
I’ve got lots of things I’m excited to do when I get my energy back, including a bit of touring. Until then I’ll be stirring that medicated goo into my grapefruit juice every morning, swallowing all those pills and keeping to the rest of my healing regimen. And I’ll make time to sit around the fire pit with friends and guitars.
Peace & Love,