Tom Petty 1950-2017
Tom Petty was a huge force in my life. I’m devastated by his passing. My heart goes out to The Heartbreakers and their amazing crew.
I’m moving between heart-wrenching sadness and gratitude-laced trips down memory lane.
While his body of work has had an immeasurable influence on me as a songwriter and musician, I’m most appreciative of the man himself and the kindness and generosity he extended to his young, eager fanboy of an opening act.
One night during the first leg of the tour, I told him how impressed I was at how consistently great his voice sounded night after night. I explained how I was having trouble keeping mine in shape on the road. Your average headliner might have let that end with a “Thanks, kid. Now leave me alone while I go wait for the limo.” Not Tom. Not only did he take the time to show me his vocal warm up exercises and turn me on to Throat Coat tea, he personally instructed his monitor engineer to help get my stage sound dialed in.
We stayed in touch after the tour. Some of my all-time favorite memories are of hanging around the studio while he worked. If you saw the movie Sound City, there’s a scene where Tom talks about a session with Carl Perkins. I was there while Tom and Carl cut their vocals under the enthusiastic guidance of legendary producer Bob Johnston. Witnessing that session was incredible. So was the story time that followed. For a while the fanboy dynamic evened out and Tom and I were fanboys together listening to Carl tell stories about hanging out with The Beatles and Elvis.
I never quite got to the point with Tom where I didn’t place him on a pedestal. I was an aspiring rocker in my twenties hanging out with the guy I worshipped as a teenager. Looking back, I wonder if a deeper friendship could have developed if I had not been so impressed by my idea of what he represented to me. Fame is such a complicated phantom in our culture. And I grew up during the height of rock stars are gods era. But I digress.
First and foremost, I’m a Tom Petty fan. Just last week I listened to Full Moon Fever on headphones from top to bottom. And we’ll be sure to crank that one up for the Full Moon on Thursday while we raise a toast to Tom and relish the songs and records he leaves behind.
FYI: The picture above was taken in New York City on a night off. We’re dancing on a table to Bob Dylan’s “Changing of the Guards.”
New Single on Bandcamp
If you’ve been following my posts here, you may recall that I promised new music this summer. Well, it’s the last day of summer and I just released a single.
“i am AWAKE” is ten-minutes of ambient bliss.
I had hoped to release a lot more than just one track, but life had other plans. I’m working on a personal essay that will bring you up to speed on why I don’t have more music to share. And it will give you some insight into why I’m focusing on ambient music. Stay tuned.
For now, you can stream the new single for free and name your own price to download on BANDCAMP. (It will be available on all the usual digital music platforms eventually too.)
Thanks for listening,
Dog Ate My Homework
I posted this video a while ago on social media announcing that I was close to finishing the first 1000 TREES single. I have since finished the track, but it will still take some time before it’s released. There are a few reasons things are moving at such a glacial pace. Busy mastering engineers, the search for the right designer to create cover art, embarking on producing an EP for Moody Little Sister to name a few.
There are other more complicated reasons which I’ll get into later, but for now hopefully these excuses will suffice. I’ve been promising new music would land this summer, and I still aiming to hit that mark. Technically that gives me until September 22.
Peace & Love,
We’re Losing Light!!!
I tagged along on Danny Newcomb’s video shoot yesterday with my filmmaking mentor John Jeffcoat. In order to get to watch the man in action—and pick up cinematography tricks along the way— I offered to lend a hand.
I ended up giving him a second set of eyes while capturing drone footage.
I carried stuff.
I operated playback for lip syncing.
I removed dog poo from the trail so shoes weren’t soiled.
I yelled “We’re losing light!” a lot.
I even shot a bit of behind-the-scenes footage. (BTS clip coming soon.)
For those of you keeping score at home I think I racked up at least two or three credits. But who’s counting?
Danny’s lead single is a killer song called “Summer Sky.” Seriously. I got chill bumps. It’s a super cool, catchy-in-the-best-way rock song mixed by another of Vashon Island’s finest, Martin Feveyear. Danny’s record comes out on August 11.
Chautauqua Music Festival
I’ll be playing the Chautauqua Music Festival on Vashon Island at 9pm on Friday, August 4.
It’s a benefit concert to raise funds for youth music programs on Vashon Island.
As usual, I’ll be joined by Elaine Summers. Plus, I’m thrilled to have Jeff Fielder on guitar.
For tickets and info CLICK HERE.
QUARTERLY REPORT: Spring 2017
Look for new music this summer. I am working on a project called 1000 TREES. It’s not really a record. It’s more like a series of releases. In addition to good old Pete Droge songs with words and stuff, there will be ambient works, cinematic instrumentals as well as live in-studio versions of oldies from my catalog. For 1000 TREES I’ll be launching a Patreon campaign where you severe Droge Heads will get extra goodies each time I release a track. I am excited to share rarities like early demos, live bootlegs and studio outtakes.
I’ve got a podcast brewing. It’s called Pete Droge is Obsessed. I will interview folks that I admire about the things I obsess over like making records, productivity, work/life balance, the art vs. commerce conundrum and much more. Chris Ballew agreed to be my first guest. He was amazing. Love that man. I’m editing the pilot as we speak. I expect to launch in the next month or two.
Speaking of podcasts, I appeared on The Big Muse podcast with Peter Himmelman a while back. Look for it on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.
I’m also devoting energy to the recently hatched Cinema Droge. This is my very own film studio. (My dream is to be the Francis Ford Coppola of Vashon Island.) I’ll be releasing an array of videos thru my YOU TUBE CHANNEL as well as on Instagram & Facebook.
Thanks to everyone who came out for our show at VCA last November. It was a dream. More shows to come.
I played a short set last Saturday (4/22) at Vashon Island Music to celebrate Record Store Day. I was joined as always by my partner in crime, Elaine Summers. Also on the bill: JD Hobson, Shelby Earl, Danny Newcomb, Ian Moore and Jon Langford.
This Sunday (4/30) I’ll be speaking at The Recording Academy’s Songwriter’s Summit at MoPop. Ian Moore and I will be discussing how we balance art and commerce in our careers. Our moderator will be Charles Cross. This portion of the Summit is open only to members of The Recording Academy. So if you are a member maybe I’ll see you there and you can hear all about how I juggle creativity and business.
Until next time,
QUARTERLY REPORT: Fall 2016
Elaine and I have been preparing for our sold-out show at VCA’s Katherine L White Hall on Nov 12. They may release a few tickets. To get on the waiting list, contact VCA HERE.
Can’t tell you how excited I am to announce that our dear friend Peter Stroud will be joining us for the show. He’s flying out from Atlanta with a couple of electric guitars in tow to add dimension to the sound.
I’ve been doing a few interviews leading up to the show. To keep up on that stuff check me out on the old FACEBOOKS.
Elaine and I have donated a house concert—our first ever—to Vashon Island Pet Protectors’ Fur Ball. The auction is tomorrow, Saturday, Oct 29. There are a few tickets left if you’d like to bid in person. Or if you can’t be there and want win the house concert you can set up a proxy bid by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can view details on house concert in the auction catalog HERE.
EXTRA EXTRA: Doc airing on PBS Reel NW
A Lot Like You will air as part of Reel NW on KCTS. Info HERE.
Coincidence Alert: Exactly six years ago today I posted that I had completed the score for A Lot Like You. And what’s more, I looked back at the email trail for the project to discover that my first meeting with the film’s editor, Eric Frith, took place exactly eight years ago on 7/19/08.
And if that’s not enough, the date of the screening tomorrow night would have been my biological mother’s 68th birthday. This is of note since it was my involvement in Eliaichi Kimaro’s film that inspired me to search for my biological family. I’ve copied the soundtrack album bio below that tells the story.
This gig changed my life—not in some surface-level career way (even though by completely giving myself to the documentary feature, A Lot Like You, I earned my first film producer credit). The change I’m talking about is bigger than a resume. It is, to quote the film, one of “real lived life.”
It began when I checked my email one afternoon in September, 2009. I had already been working as the film’s composer for over a year, creating a catalog of musical sketches that editor Eric Frith was using as a temp score alongside a handful of instrumental mixes from my album, Under The Waves. Eric and director Eliaichi Kimaro had already been cutting the film for four years—on and off—when it took an unexpected turn. In that turn, they discovered the heart of their movie. Next, Eli was faced with a big choice: how much of her own story would she share? She worked through that decision by writing in her journal. And on that day in September, she addressed an email to me, attached a couple of documents and clicked “send.”
Having recently turned 40, I had been examining issues concerning identity and sense of self. And while questions raised in the film about what gets handed down from one generation to the next were especially intriguing to me, I had barely scratched the surface of what any of that really meant in my own life. But reading Eli’s intensely personal, unedited journal entries shook me to my core and inspired me to do some digging of my own. It took time, but after some unbelievable coincidences and a random computer glitch, I unearthed a big piece of the core that I’d been searching for: my adoption.
What followed was incredible. I began to learn how my adoption experience helped shape who I am today. I searched for my birth mother only to find that she had died just months earlier. As I wrestled with the perplexing grief that followed, I also discovered an instant bond with my biological Grandmother and Uncle, which is the stuff of fairy tales. Visiting my new family in the hills of Appalachian Ohio—where my people have lived for generations—I felt a sense of connection to place I never before imagined possible.
Meanwhile, A Lot Like You continued to take shape, giving me the perfect musical outlet for the complicated mix of emotions I was in the thick of. Eli and Eric needed music that could walk a thin line between the bitter and the sweet, and I never had to work at finding that line. I was already there.
There is a lot more to my story, and it’s still unfolding. For now we have Eli’s film, and as a companion piece, this record. But who knows, maybe one day there will be a new film, a sequel called A Lot Like You Too.
QUARTERLY REPORT: Summer 2016
I recently scored Showtime’s Miles to Go Before I Sleep for director Sam Jones. The short documentary is a companion piece to Cameron Crowe’s new series, Roadies. It features Jackson Browne, Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Chris Shiflett (Foo Fighters) and Jim James (My Morning Jacket), who speak candidly about their time on the road and the importance of the crew who work tirelessly to put the show together, as well as capturing a day behind-the-scenes with the crew of Pearl Jam. Miles to Go Before I Sleep will premier Friday, June 24 at 8PM on Showtime.
In my last quarterly report, I was excited to announce that I had put my own music on the front burner. While I did make some progress, I had to bump myself to the back burner for Sam’s Showtime doc. As I type this, I am happy to report that I am back on the front burner—at least for the time being.
The Moody Little Sister record that I produced and mixed was released on May 20. The ten-song record, Wild Places, is available digitally at the usual places like iTunes.
I have signed on to produce singer-songwriter, Jeff Kanzler. Pre-production is set to begin this summer. Stay tuned.