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Still kicking!

Well, the it's been a long time since I've updated entries to this blog but it's certainly not a reliable sign of inactivity. I've been writing new songs, doing local shows, traveling, and preparing for my third solo album to finally get out into the world.

This year has been one of great change, but aren't they all? Sure, I'm an outspoken critic of politicians, and continue to be activist in my art, but we certainly have a gold leaf frame to wrap around our current serious complaints. Finding peace and presence when there's so much anger in the air, including my own, has been tricky, but spending a summer making sure our own house is in order has been rewarding and positive. Two new rescue dogs occupy the vacancy left by our beloved Hercules who left us almost a year ago to the great dog house in the sky. School for the seventh grade man child in our home has been going extremely well. We are healthy, and fighting to be happy, and that's a lot of currency in the bank of life.

Stay tuned for more shows, more music, and exciting new projects ahead as we near the tail end of 2017 and venture forth into the wild frontiers of tomorrow.

Peace,
Simeon

Happy New Year! 2017 Abounds!

So many exciting adventures in store for 2017; can't wait to tackle the projects I have in mind, and make some traveling dates happen as the year rolls on by! So many songs to record, wondering if this will be a two-album year!?

Right up front, here are the first few shows and dates:

Acoustic Explosion Silvie's Lounge Monday January 9th Doors: 8:00 pm, Headlining Set: 10:30
Folk Alliance International 2017 Feb. 15 - 19th folkconference.org
My Private Showcase Schedule for FAI 2017:
1. Wednesday Night (Thurs. am) 2017 FAI Anderson Fair Showcase Room #634 12:30 - 1:10 am  Caroline Cotter, Simeon Peebler, Ken Gaines
2. Thursday Night (Fri. am) 2017 Access Film Music RED Room #630 12:10 - 12:30 am Simeon Peebler
3. Friday Night (Sat. am) 2017 Listening Room Room #649 12:00 - 12:30 am Simeon Peebler
4. Friday Night (Sat. am) Violet Hensley Traditional Music Room 3:00 - 3:30 am Simeon Peebler
Then back to Chicago: 
Acoustic Explosion Silvie's Lounge Monday March 27th Doors: 8:00 pm, Set: 8:30
Folk You! Chicago Friday April 21st 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Thanks as always for supporting my art and adventures in life. Safe travels, and see you out there!

Song about Edward Snowden

It surprises some of my friends that I have not written a song about Edward Snowden. I wrote a song a few years back called "Who Will Tell Us The Truth?" about Chelsea Manning, and after all, here in Snowden is arguably a much bigger whistle blower: why have I been quiet on the Snowden front?

By contrast to Manning's reveal that military operations gone wrong were being buried, Snowden effectively shined a bright light on the inner workings of the secret parts of our government that were not even visible to those running it. The all-powerful NSA. Immune to scrutiny, free from any kind of public review, the spy tactics of the past were being institutionalized and taking the role of an extended branch of the government in so many ways. Snowden's theft of classified and top secret data, as well as public reveal of tactics and procedures, I believe in the end strengthened our individual civil liberties and made us all more keenly aware that our digital infrastructure provides no protection and no privacy without using extreme measures available to only the most advanced digirati (some argue that his actions actually caused direct harm and injury as well as completely irreparable damage; I'm not impressed by these arguments but I'm always willing to listen).

In the past few years, Snowden's story was continuing to play out in a way that Manning's did not. Manning, after all, had been arrested, put in solitary for a year, waited to for her military trial for two more years, and then eventually started serving the remainder of her 35 year prison sentence. Sure, her personal struggles and the complete insanity of her sentence pops up in the news, reminding us regularly that speaking up against the government has very deep consequences. On the other hand, Snowden, vilified by the United States government leadership in a similar way, while using language that in my understanding allows for the death penalty (treason), is still this very moment a fugitive being hosted by a world rival. He's now the subject of a major motion picture, appeared via teleconference on news shows and documentaries, and he's even getting the direct support of the ACLU who would like to see Snowden pardoned or at least given a fair trial.

But there's another reason that I haven't personally written about Snowden just yet. I think it's because the story is not just his at this point. Sure, he's been an articulate mouthpiece, and took deliberate brave (and/or stupid) actions worthy of many stories and songs...but his story is complicated because it's also just as much about the partnership he's had with journalists and various websites, and both upstanding as well as nefarious individuals who bring their own shadow to the projected flashlight cave wall puppet show we call The Snowden Leaks. How can I tackle the whole story about the Snowden Effect as a narrative in song in a handful of verses much like I tackled the singular four minute Chelsea Manning's song? That's been bothering me because I'm not quite sure how to do it. Sure, I could write a Lin-Manuel Miranda Hamilton style epic that would bring more light to the narrative with my own spin, but perhaps, just maybe, there are other ways to do the story justice.

I listened to Peter Gabriel's new song, The Viel, out today, which is precisely about Snowden and some of the subject matter surrounding his revelations. The strongest points of Peter's new song in my opinion really rally around the concepts and not just a literal telling of the situation. He hits the symbolism involved. And I think that's the central technique I need to use to make a song about Edward Snowden: by completely avoiding Snowden in the song.

A literal play-by-play approach that is a literal retelling of the story...sure, I could do that, in enough verses, but that's not inspiring much result with me as a writer. In the past that approaching worked in my songs about Chelsea Manning, Trayvon Martin, Abraham Lincoln, and others. But this time, I have to dig deeper.

The consequence of his Snowden's action, or better yet, an examination of what we would have without his impact...now THAT'S where I can move from being a journalist with a guitar to a poet with a melody.

Stay tuned. I'll share it when it's ready.

Fire and Steam Release Date

#HoldTheFloor and #NoBillNoBreak

I know that I have fans of my music on all political avenues and boulevards, but if you've listened to my music you know that I am not apologetic in my musical activism. My family and I stayed up rather late last night watching live coverage of the U.S. House of Representatives, and we were deeply moved by the passion and resounding courage of the representatives who decided to take a stand. I want to share some of my thoughts on the matter.

I have spent the last five+ years writing, performing, recording and sharing music that speaks out against the troubles of the world from my point of view. I sing out, inspired by the legacy of so many, but especially by the examples set by the late Pete Seeger who knew that if we could manage to join our voices together, we could change the world. We could shine a light on injustice that would reflect and echo intellectually and emotionally within our communities. These words and music would spread like wildfire. For example, listen to any rendition of We Shall Overcome and witness the power of song -- as Zilphia Horton wrote in her introduction of the song in the People's Songs Bulletin, "Its strong emotional appeal and simple dignity never fails to hit people." Last night, hearing our reps sing a version of that song on the floor of the House -- a song by the people, for the people -- was a serious moment that underlined for me that this was NOT a stunt, as posited by Speaker Ryan, but that this was a moment of Truth.

Hundreds of millions of guns make it unbearably easy to add up the numbers of dead -- 33,000 gun deaths in American in just one year. This is not about protection in the countryside away from law enforcement, or about hunting game in the backwoods of Indiana. Or about "Islamic Radicals" or about the Second Amendment, or about the protection of Due Process. This is truly gun makers protecting their business interests. The NRA is largely funded by gun makers. And in return for this, the NRA actively lobbies our Senators and Representatives, and pursues political support and local legislation across this country to promote the marketplace for the sale and distribution of tools of murder.

Shame. Shame. Shame.

The setup has been long in the making, and even with the technology-media-collapse of our "fourth branch", the press, many have shown ample evidence for all of this. But the problem is that changing a system from within can be an impossibly difficult endeavor. That is why we all must actively add our voice in support of the house minority. It's why we need to flood the phone lines. It's why we need to show up and vote on election day. We all need to sing out. As loud as we can.

I have assembled a bunch of my songs about these issues and more in this free to stream playlist on SoundCloud because these are things I believe with great passion, and I will #HoldTheFloor as long as I am able in my own way. Please join in. Even if you disagree with me about guns (and I know some of you do), participate and speak up, develop a relationship with your community leaders, and maybe even become one yourself.

Stream link:

https://soundcloud.com/simeonpeebler/sets/holdthefloor-playlist

Lin-Manuel Miranda's Tonys Acceptance Sonnet

I was really moved by Lin-Manuel Miranda's Tonys acceptance Sonnet, which reflected upon the terrible tragedy in Orlando on 6/12/2016.

Here's his Sonnet:

"My wife’s the reason anything gets done
She nudges me towards promise by degrees
She is a perfect symphony of one
Our son is her most beautiful reprise.
We chase the melodies that seem to find us
Until they’re finished songs and start to play
When senseless acts of tragedy remind us
That nothing here is promised, not one day.
This show is proof that history remembers
We lived through times when hate and fear seemed stronger;
We rise and fall and light from dying embers,
remembrances that hope and love last longer
And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside.
I sing Vanessa’s symphony, Eliza tells her story
Now fill the world with music, love and pride."

I realized that the last time I tried to write a Sonnet in this English form, I was probably in high school. Time for a correction. It's never too late to write poetry. So I found this helpful but brief guide:

https://blog.udemy.com/how-to-write-a-sonnet-poem/

And worked out my own Sonnet, which you can read here:

In Human Hands

Does it seem so complex, oh these turn of events
Misguided young man, disregarded American
He bought from a store selling self defense
Have the cash? Try this military weapon.
He carried the guns to the famous Gay club
Bullets scattered lives across the dance floor
Headlines repeat like a mix tape overdub
Repeat never again, repeat never more.
Beautiful men and women fled to the streets
Orlando summer night, red sirens flashing lights
So loud we can't hear the sobbing or the screams
Shooter's down but we still dodge the gun sights;
We all run from shots fired and refuse to demand --
These weapons should never be held in human hands.

New Music in 2016

Well, I'm about to cast the die. I've been working on writing and recording new music for a while, and given the time that has passed and the amount I enjoy writing on a regular basis, it's a surprise that this is only my third album rather than my fifth or sixth.  But the path has been forged, and summer 2016 is the true drop zone for "Fire and Steam". Continuing work with John Abbey at Kingsize Sound Labs in Chicago to record this effort has been a huge learning experience for me on how to work with a band of artists, how to arrange my writing better, how to make the most of a limited schedule and budget, and how to accept that on a shoestring I'm not going to create a big budget masterpiece. But instead what I've been working on sounds much greater than the sum of its parts. Like all artists I ping pong between loving and hating my work, but the time it has taken since 2012's "Missing Anchor" has been well spent I think. Tomorrow, if all goes well, you'll get to hear a sneak peek track called "Arbor Day". Thanks as always for your support and interest in my music and art. 

NPR 2016 Tiny Desk Contest

I recently submitted an entry to NPR's 2016 Tiny Desk Contest. Have you heard of it?

Me along with many thousands of other indie bands and singer-songwriters will enter this second year of the contest. The grand prize winner gets travel expenses and performance opportunities to become a part of the NPR series. I have long loved the Tiny Desk Concerts hosted by NPR: When you are in a small room right in front of people and not hiding behind spotlights or fancy audio equipment, everything you have to offer is on display. It's very intimate. And some of my favorite music experiences have sort of ended up being of that ilk, both as a performer and as an audience member.

Please check out my entry here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1xEkdV9u2g

 

Flint Water Song

I wrote this song yesterday and recorded it for sharing last night. It's called the "Flint Water Song" -- and it tells a bit of the narrative behind the man-made disaster to hit Flint Michigan these past two years. Governor Snyder just called for help from FEMA yesterday and pretty much everyone is calling for investigations into who did what when. 

"Flint Water Song" by Simeon Peebler
(Note: picture is not water from Flint but it represents a child drinking filth)

They say we're mostly water
We need it like fuel to survive
Without a safe source for drinking
It only takes three days to die
It only takes three days to die

The State wanted to save some money
Switched from the Huron to the Flint
Tap water became the deep big muddy
Brown water makes you ill
Brown water poisons and kills

Don't use the water
Don't take a bath
Don't boil it for drinking
Don't give it to the dogs or the cats
Don't give it to the dogs or the cats

Because the water wasn't treated
Lead pipes began to corrode
Officials said don't worry
toxic waste filled Flint homes
toxic waste filled Flint homes

The State finally changed the water source
But the damage could not be undone
Lead continued to flow
Children permanently exposed
Ruining lives, brains and bones

Don't use Flint water
Don't take a bath
Don't boil it for drinking
Don't give it to the dogs or the cats
Don't give it to the dogs or the cats

Don't use Flint water
Don't Pay The Bill
Don't Forgive Governor Snyder
Let's Serve it up to Capitol Hill
Let's Serve it up to Capitol Hill

#ArrestGovSnyder
#FlintWaterCrisis

Hideout Show - Fan Video of "When Jesus Walked On Water"

Here's a video of "When Jesus Walked On Water" from the 12/16/2015 Hideout Show: 

Simeon had a great set at The Hideout tonight...his first time on that stage! I loved this new song about Jesus walking on water. You might too!

Posted by Kirsten Bedway on Wednesday, December 16, 2015

As Time Goes By

Did you know that the song "As Time Goes By" featured in the 1942 film Casablanca (my favorite movie), was written in 1931 by Herman Hupfeld, and featured an introductory passage that was left out of later versions? I think this first part alters the subtext of the more familiar parts. Here's the text of the original intro:

"This day and age we're living in
Gives cause for apprehension
With speed and new invention
And things like fourth dimension.
Yet we get a trifle weary
With Mr. Einstein's theory.
So we must get down to Earth at times
Relax relieve the tension

And no matter what the progress
Or what may yet be proved
The simple facts of life are such
They cannot be removed..."

...Which is then followed by the lyrics we know so well from the film and other popular renditions:

"You must remember this
A kiss is still a kiss
A sigh is just a sigh
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by

And when two lovers woo
They still say I love you
On that you can rely
The world will always welcome lovers
As time goes by

Moonlight and lovesongs never out of date
Hearts full of passion, jealousy and hate
Woman needs man
And man must have his mate
That no one can deny

It's still the same old story
The fight for love and glory
A case of do or die
The world will always welcome lovers
As time goes by"

If you think of the familiar parts of the song as a counterpoint to the often ignored opening passage, I find that this song becomes an even more pointed reference to what it means to being human in times of great change. The backdrop of science and technology shifting the world so rapidly in 1931 is ever so present in today's world too. As we put our faces in front of glowing supercomputers (iPhones, etc.), it's still true that a kiss is just a kiss. So far.

Speaking of kissing, the year is rapidly heading toward another New Year's Eve, where kissing is traditionally done in great excess. Since I have a few things on the burner, I wanted to just drop a quick note before 2016 smacks us in the head outlining cool shows and opportunities I have in the coming months:

October 17, Crossroads Comedy Festival, Indianapolis, Indiana (performing with the N20 Sketch Comedy Team)
October 23, Five Hardcore Troubadours, Four Fathers Brewing, Valparaiso, Indiana
November 5, John Lamb's Retreat for Songwriters, Harbor Springs, Michigan (attending for the first time!)
November 14, Chillfest Chicago 2015, Wicker Park / Bucktown, Chicago
December 16, The Hideout Inn, Chicago

Thanks as always for your support. I hope to do more shows outside of Chicago next, and I'll be releasing more new music soon.

Take Down Your Flag


A young white man walked into a black church with deadly intention. Nine people were killed by the gun he used on them that terrible night.

Two days later, folk songwriter Peter Mulvey wrote this song on the evening of June 19, 2015 and sang it that night at the Calvin Theater in Northampton, opening a show for Ani Difranco. He then asked for others online to help write more of the song. I have written my own middle parts, and I wanted to share some background behind the lyrics I added. I have added [brackets] with my notes.

Words:

Every flag over Charleston is at half-staff today except one. Except one.
Every flag over Charleston is at half-staff today except one. Except one.

Take down your flag to half-staff.
Take down your flag to half-staff.
Take down your flag to half-staff.

(My additions:)

The doors of the church are still open today.

[Powerfully, the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church made sure the doors were open for service days after the massacre which occurred in the building.]

Tears we've shed are not the first to come our way.

[The history of racially motivated killings is very sadly nothing new.]
From the belly of the ship, to hanging from the tree.

Trayvon walking down the street, to I can't breathe.

[I tried to paint a quick picture of the terrible aspects of racial discrimination -- from slaves being packed into the bottom of slave ships, to lynching and similar forms of black killing, to the murder of Travyon Martin while he was walking down the street, to Eric Garner's last words while being "accidentally" killed by police, "I can't breath."]

Take down your flag to half-staff.
Take down your flag to half-staff.
Take down your flag to half-staff.

It is time to let go of the things we can't undo.

[This is really pointed at the Confederate Flag holders who somehow hold on to the notion that the South should rise again.]

Drop the master's whip and help build something new.

[The roles of slave and master are etched into the minds of some people; we need to encourage a new way of thinking and embracing a mindset of discovering the power of human equality.]

The hardest thing to do is admit when we're wrong.

[Yes, the Confederate Flag is a symbol of racism and it is time to put it into a museum.]

It's time for true courage, time to join in song.

[Bree Newsome, who climbed the flagpole in Charleston and removed the flying Confederate Flag, was quoted as saying that now is the time for true courage. She is right, and I honor her statement here. As for joining in song, certainly this is exemplified by Peter Mulvey's song and his call to action. Over 130 songwriters to date have posted videos of their own versions of his song. But joining in song here also has another reference -- in a eulogy given by President Obama at the Emanuel AME Church, the president concluded his presentation by singing Amazing Grace. The entire congregation immediately joined in. Singing a universally known song.]

Amazing grace.
Amazing grace.
Amazing grace.

(Peter's ending:)

Take down your flag to half-staff.
Take down your flag to half-staff.
Take down your flag to half-staff.

It will take all of the love in all of our hearts, and it will also take something more.
It will take all of the love in all of our hearts, and it will also take something more.

Take down your flag to half-staff.
Take down your flag to half-staff.
Take down your flag to half-staff.
And then take it down for good.
And then take it down for good.

On 07/12 @ 3pm EST Peter Mulvey will kick off a benefit for the Emanuel Hope Fund on Concert Window

Concert Window Benefit Link: http://bit.ly/pmconcertwindow

Emanuel Hope Fund: http://bit.ly/emanuelhopefund

Take Down Your Flag YouTube Playlist: http://bit.ly/takedownyourflag

February Album Writing Month 2015

It's done! Well, February is done, at least. For now. This year I participated in a cool world-wide project called February Album Writing Month. Anybody can sign up and join in the fun. The goal is write and record and share 14 songs during the month. The past few years I met the goal, but in 2015 I ended up with only eight. But I'm not complaining -- eight new songs is a big deal. These songs may never exist outside of the context of this creative push, but who knows, they might end up on the NEXT album project. One of the great things about FAWM (fawm.org if you want to check it out yourself!), is having a chance to share your music with others and to encourage their greatness too. Lots of friends from around the States jumped in. All in, over 10,000+ songs were written during FAWM 2015!...here are my eight:

 

2015, Let's Do This!

Happy New Years, friends! Time to get serious...so much to do. First off, new album. I have ten tunes for this one. With the help of John Abbey, Gerald Dowd, Scott Stevenson, and Dave Nelson, along with an assortment of other artists to fill in the empty spaces, I couldn't be more excited about the direction this music is heading. Once we get all the sessions complete, plus the mixing and mastering done, I'll be taking some extra time to properly roll this one out. I want to put as much time and energy into marketing, distribution, and publicity as I have invested on the creative side writing these tunes over the past year and half or so.

In addition to the new album work, my first show on the calendar is not until the start of February (Acoustic Explosion at Sylvie's Lounge) as I need time to work through album production and post-pro in the next few weeks. So once all that is sorted, I can't wait for FAWM (February Album Writing Month), which has become a yearly tradition for me and many of my songwriting friends!

Come March and beyond I'll be doing many more shows in the Chicago area and planning to do some traveling with my guitar. This could include a trip to Austin for SXSW, and possibly a visit to the northeast and northwest to help roll out the new album. As soon as I get confirmations on show dates and times I'll update my calendar, but already it looks like I'll be playing more shows this year than I did last year.

I had previously hoped to make 2014 the year of the new album, but for many good reasons, the new path forward is the best. Side note: I also intended to read Ulysses by James Joyce and I tried on three occasions to make it past the first few pages, but perhaps 2015 will be the year of making it through one of the most important works of modernist literature. On the plus side I did read books like Ancillary Justice (Ann Leckie) and A People's History of the United States (Howard Zinn), so 2014 was not without its periodic triumphs.

Until further notice: don't text and drive, keep both hands on the wheel, and remember to refill your fluids on a regular basis. Peace!

New Album Update

Just a heads up!...My third album will be recorded by Chicago legend and accomplished musician, producer, engineer and teacher John Abbey. In the process of working with John, he has paired me up with a stellar team of musicians to make this album come to life (according to John, "That 'stellar' team is Gerald Dowd, Scott Stevenson and Dave Nelson. It's gonna be a good one!"). We are recording in January 2015.

I'm working on some possible touring opportunities in 2015 including the Folk Alliance International conference in February and SXSW 2015 in March. Thanks for your support along the way!

How to Not Write Songs

Since there's an abundance of advice out there on writing songs and step-by-step guides, I thought it would be helpful to go in the other direction on this issue.

It is important in the process of not writing songs to simply not try anything, at all. Merely the writing down of phrases and words can be too much trouble, leading to accidental masterpieces. Just avoid pens and pencils completely. Is that a notebook in your pocket? Throw it away.

When playing instruments, never allow accidents or experiments. A new interval or dissonant sound can lead to all sorts of creativity. This is a terribe way to not write songs.

Listening to the radio? I'd recommend pop stations. Do not turn on NPR. Listening to NPR has given me far too many actionable ideas on song topics.

Don't read newspapers or magazines, or books. One of the most prolific and important songwriters, Woody Guthrie, was an unstoppable researcher and synthesizer of information, famously writing in one night one of the great songs inspired by a novel, the Ballad of Tom Joad (based on Grapes of Wrath). See how dangerous reading can be?

Avoid music conferences -- any number of the Folk Alliance gatherings throughout the year in particular are bad news when it comes to not writing. They are horribly inspiring -- hearing day-after-day of great original music or traditional favorites rendered expertly by friends from around the country can lead to all sorts of song ideas. Bah!

Reflecting on memories or dreams is an awful practice and it is an absolute shame to even consider introspection when it comes to not writing songs.

Do you talk to friends and family, perhaps doing the abysmal practice of hearing them and listening to what they have to say? What a disaster. Our own experiences are terrible, as it is, when it comes to not writing songs. The trials, tribulation, and triumph of others, that's a goldmine of failure to not writing songs waiting to happen.

Are you human? Survey says, X. Yeah, I know, that's an area we can't readily change...but when the technology is available, I'm sure we'll be able to upload our brains to the cloud and hack songwriting right out.

So, in conclusion, if you find after all of this you are still writing songs, making basement tapes, and harmonizing in your head like there's no tomorrow, maybe, just maybe, you can't not write songs.

Welcome to the club.

Heading Toward 2015!

I like this weather in Chicago. Sunny, upper 50s. Low-to-no tree pollen in the air. Migratory birds flying overhead finally deciding to get the hell out of Dodge...before the return of the Vortex! (looks for wood to knock, hoping not to jinx us, as last winter was too cold for too long, and it led to one of the worst allergy seasons in recent memory)

So, just as the air is cooling down, things are heating up for me. Highlights: at the end of October I'll be doing private showcases at the Folk Alliance Region Midwest conference in St. Louis. In November I will be performing at an event for an important community arts group, and on top of that also once again participating in Chillfest Chicago (organized and sponsored by many groups and local businesses but most directly the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce).

When December comes I'll be doing a show at the Elbo Room to support a great Folk artist from Canada (Gunner and Smith), and a Chicago Acoustic Underground showcase at one of the best sounding rooms in the city, Mayne Stage (that show is on Wednesday December 10th). Post-Mayne Stage I'll be heading to Austin, Texas in December to have some adventures down there before 2014 lets out. Finally, I'm recording my next album with John Abbey here in Chicago (be on the look out for a release show early next year!?).

Safe travels over the holidays my friends! -- See you soon!

Who's Gonna Stand Up (And Save the Earth?)

Neil Young just released a new song called this week called "Who's Gonna Stand Up (And Save the Earth?" and I have done my own interpretation. I have been thinking a lot about the environment and how I can confront these important issues in my own songwriting. I've already written about man-made natural disasters (the Gulf oil spill, in "Oil's Done Come"), but a broader message required more noodling. But then Neil unleashes this song on us, and it hits all the notes, and the message, and reminder, that we have to be stewards of this world, we are a people called "earth" is pretty much right on the mark.

The original versions he released are excellent, so I sought to find my own way through the song. It's a beautiful, simple tune, and like all of Neil's songs, powerful and to the point.

For the full lyrics and information about the song, go to neilyoung.com.

Album Progress Update

I heard recently that a whole slew of unheard Bob Dylan songs would be coming out, and saw lots of people on the Internet get pretty excited for these new bits and pieces. But I'm not so sure this kind of thing automatically means we will find a bucket of hidden treasures. When I think about my own process as a songwriter, I think about all the junk I produce -- stuff I don't get around to recording or sharing. It's probably for the greater good. Why? Well, for me, it's all about scratching around and letting the brain and fingers flow without my direct intervention. In other words, when I am properly writing, my best kind of songs, I don't intend to write them -- they just come out. Even the bad words, phrases and cliches right alongside the gems and keepers. My whole point is that one day down the road if you hear that somebody is releasing a bunch of my stuff that I never fully produced...beware! It may only be as interesting as looking at a painter's used brushes.

In practical measure, in terms of what songwriting I want to shape and mold into my third album, I'm kind of on the fence between two worlds: rock and folk. I have enough material to make either kind of album. Perhaps a combination of those things will be the right prescription. Making a "Folk" album today sort of implies a kind of dense acoustic-oriented poetry. Folk leans toward a tapestry of natural sounds and voices, drawing from traditional forms, melodies and storytelling, that immediately inspires a kind of fireside warmth. Making a "rock" album on the other hand is an often colder, noisy, industrial, electronic howl, which has explosive intensity even in the softest moments. Now, it is certainly true that today's new work being produced by musicians across the spectrum in the best of both genres borrow from each other quite steadily. I can mix and match as I please. But right now I feel like I am filled with too many notes and not enough time to get them all out. Running out of canvas.

Time to drop some names. In a few weeks I'll be heading to the CD release show for two of my music friends -- Emily White and Heather Styka. Hearing what they've been up to will perhaps be a guide for me to follow a more defined path so that from the first note to the last, and every beat in between, the listener will never be bored. I hope for the listener to always discover new things about my third album at every hearing (when it comes out early next year!?). Beyond Emily and Heather's work, going to the Folk Alliance Region Midwest conference in St. Louis toward the end of October will be illuminating and inspirational, I'm sure. Last year's conference led me to brilliant songwriters Dan Weber and James Curley among many others who helped inspire me to try new things in my own music. Joining the music continuum means absorbing, reflecting, and adding a verse or two along the way.

So, before I release new music, some thanks are in order. I am so grateful for the support I've had all year long at shows I've had in the area -- very excited to be part of the September Folk You! Showcase at the Windy City Inn on September 19th, and later in the year I have a big show on the main stage at the Mayne Stage. I'll be doing some festivals in late 2014 and early 2015, and looking forward to doing shows outside of my city. Please let me know if you'd like to have me in your neck of the woods!

It's Almost May!?

In the past few weeks I've had some "good" stress. I had a Thursday night show last week at The Original Mother's in Chicago where I performed a full set of mostly new material (opening for astronomically great Brooklyn-based "Les Racquet" and a rock trio from Canada called "Autopilot"). Also in the "good" stress department, I just heard from NXNE that I have been selected to be on the music showcase stand by list -- which means they may contact me at any point over the next few weeks and I'll be quickly making arrangements to perform up at NXNE in Toronto in late June. Keeping fingers crossed as that would be amazing!

While I await word from NXNE and some other possible musical adventure opportunities, this week I've been nailing down details for some other upcoming shows: I'll be opening up the CAU Showcase at Mayne Stage in August and I'm booked for the September edition of Larry O'Dean's Folk You! series at Horseshoe. I am booking studio time at Handwritten Recording in Chicago to do some more demos in my grand plan of producing a new full-band third album to release before the end of 2014. Finally, I signed up for the Folk Alliance Region Midwest conference in St. Louis this October. The past two times I've attended the regional conference I learned so much and connected with so many wonderful new music friends.

I am so grateful for the show's I've already had this year so far at Chicago area venues including the Abbey Pub, Uncommon Ground, Windy City Inn, The Friendly Tap, and Silvie's Lounge. Thanks for your continued support at these venues! It means the world to me. As a reminder, you can always catch some of my most recent works-in-progress on SoundCloud at https://soundcloud.com/simeonpeebler.

Be the first to hear "Do You Know"

Will this be the last snow of the this season in Chicago? Unlikely. But the sun is out, and I see some blue skies poking through the blanket of lingering storm clouds on the way out of the area. 

Next week I'll be part of the Chicago Songwriters Alliance gathering at Uncommon Ground on Clark, Wednesday, March 19th, then on Monday, March 31st I'll be at the Acoustic Explosion (Silvie's Lounge). But the main event, the one you should buy tickets to right now is at The Original Mother's in Chicago. Thursday, April 24th. 8 pm. Ticket link and more details here: https://www.facebook.com/events/215854708604268/

I'll be performing this song, "Do You Know" at the Mother's show, along with a whole bunch of loud, energy-fillled music I'm looking forward to belting out.

 Do You Know by SimeonPeebler

 

Also, PRESS alert! Be sure to read the new review of Missing Anchor at The New Renaissance Magazine here.

Philip Seymour Hoffman

On my birthday, February 2nd, I heard the terribly sad news about the passing of Philip Seymour Hoffman. He was and is one of the great actors of our age. He, also, by all accounts, in the bulk of his adult life seemed to be a very sweet and good human being.

There's an intensity to every single performance that made him perfect for every part. This power of his seemed to us mere mortals as nothing short of superhuman. But, we learned too late that he was all too human. He struggled in the real world, as do we all. And his time on planet ended, for us, far too soon.

This month is February Album Writing Month (fawm.org), and while looking for inspiration to write on of at least 14 songs I need to write this month, I decided to write a song about Philip; not knowing him personally my song required some assumptions and my own artistic projection. 

 

Poet's Highway by SimeonPeebler

Pete Seeger

At the beginning of this week I saw that Mark Dvorak was announcing a new Pete Seeger class to be held at Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. I signed up right away (the class begins in March); that very evening news came that Pete had passed away. Tuesday many of my Folk friends who knew Pete directly or had played music with him, or who had otherwise been inspired by him, posted tributes online. All were beautiful and heartfelt. Personal testaments to one truly great human being who changed the world and encouraged us all to join in: participate and play our part.

Pete Seeger inspired me to sing songs about important things and push into subjects that are worth singing about. As I continue to grow as a songwriter and performer, I will do my best to follow this example. My next step on this journey is breaking down the wall between me as the performer and the listening audience. Sing along friends! This music belongs to each and every one of us!

Survey Results: I Learned About My Audience

I recently created a survey on SurveyMonkey.com and shared it on my online social media channels because I was interested in learning more about my audience. I'm working on my third album right now and I wanted to get out of the vacuum that tends to surround artists a bit to help better guide what I'm doing.

Posting a short survey is a great tool and technique I think more artists should consider, and while I didn't get enough replies to establish any kind of scientific certainty, I did learn some interesting things. These may be useful for you in some way so I'm sharing the results below!

Here's the actual survey link in case you want to see it: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SVYQFW3

Question 1:

How do you prefer to reach new music?

Buy a physical CD / Album (online or at a store) 54.55%
Purchase on iTunes 36.36%
Streaming for Free 31.82%
Purchase on Amazon 13.64%

Comments:
"I write it."
"By steamship"
"Because I am a musician and part of a self producing company, I get more music in the mail and every other way than I can handle."
"I have bought most of my new music through Kickstarter or indigogo"

My analysis: I love the comment, "by steamship" and there are a few other hilarious replies in later questions. It seems pretty clear by these results that a majority of people in my response group prefer physical media for new music.

Question 2:

Do you prefer EPs or LPs?

LPs (12+) 52%
Doesn't Matter 48%
EPs (5-ish) 4%

My analysis: I am on the fence about producing an EP or going full length due to time and money considerations -- I have enough new material for two full length albums, but the quality of the songs may prove more effective in parsing them down into one EP and stash the rest into the the "Simeon Peebler Catalog".

Question 3:

Do you care about accessing album lyrics?

Prefer in a booklet with the CD 50%
OK to have them in easily accessible online 50%

Comments:
"I can't read"
"Sometimes, it's interesting to see the lyrical interpretation of "Mis-understood" words"

My analysis: I was just curious about this because of some conversations I had with other songwriters and producers at the Folk Alliance Region Midwest gathering in St. Louis earlier this year. I'll produce an insert this time around as my last two full length albums had no liner notes or lyrics with the physical CD.

Question 4:

What kind of album art do you like?

Prefer album themed photography 38.89%
Prefer picture of the artist 33.33%
Prefer abstract album themed art 27.78%

Comments:
"Legally obscene"
"Naked women are always a safe bet."
"I like all sorts of album art."
"Just good, not one type"
"No preference, although it's nice to see a photo of the artist."

My analysis: This may lead me one way or another. I have a lot of talented artists I'd like to have help out on this -- photographers and graphic designers. Other notes -- the last two album projects I did I used iconic images and didn't really feature myself on the cover other than by name. I also made some other errors like not showing running times of tracks properly. This is not helpful to DJs.

Question 5:

What album are you listening to most these days?

Here are replies in no particular order -- some people skipped this question entirely. As you can tell, there are a few jokes in here I found to be great. But it does help me better appreciate what my audience likes.

"Andy Gullahorn, Beyond the Frame"
"New, by Paul McCartney."
"Robbie Fulks, "Gone Away Backwards""
"Chief Keef Sings Perry Como. The Muppets: Suicide and Shame."
"Jimmy Vaughan Sings Blues and Ballads."
"Can't say there is one in particular I'm listening to most, but I've been listening to Jack Bruce most often."
"Sarah Watkins"
"Damien Jurado Marquopa"
"Shuffle on iTunes."
"Lots of old stuff--CD's from the library--everything from Cat Stevens to the Stones to Keith Jarrett to Gipsy Kings to Nina Simone. Lots of jazz."
"I like to mix it up...I don't stick with one album or artist too long. Right now Passenger and a local artist playing blues are in my car"
"Any Big Head Todd and the Monsters"
"none specifically"
"I'm not, really. I got enough trouble with the music already in my head."
"Local bands"
"Though typically not a fan of radio, I keep coming back to Taylor Swift's Red and Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy."
"Nirvana's In Utero"
"One Republic & Imagine Dragons"
"Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires of the City"
"Concerts of 12-12-12, rock HOF, etc..."
"mostly listening to my songs or new Americana music"
"I tend to not get stuck on just one. Usually whatever I am working on."
"New Kings of Leon Mechanical bull"

Question 6:

What's your favorite local venue for hearing local artists?

I'm going to summarize the answers since they were left as open comment fields. Since most of my audience replied from the Chicago area, these venues tend to be Chicagoland-centric.

The Hideout (4 people posted that)

Evanston SPACE (4 people posted that)

Lincoln Hall

Empty Bottle

Martyrs

Fitzgerald's

Smalls

Barking Spider in Cleveland

NC Music Factory

The Java Cabana and Otherlands

Chicago Songwriters' Alliance events (Uncommon Ground, Tonic Room, Hungry Brain, Mustache Cafe)

Other replies:

"Smaller venues"
"The closer the better"
"Not that interested in hearing artists live"

Comedic reply:
"Toss-up between VIPs and Admiral Theater." (These are "adult" places)

My analysis: I am eager to launch the new album in the best venue I can book, and I was curious about other places people like to see local artists perfom. I've been networking with many of these venues and I've performed at a few of them in my "career" to date. I am very fond of SPACE and The Hideout, but I've seen great shows at a majority of these places in the past few years. There are quite a few folk-centric places in the Chicagoland area absent from this list but I think that's just due to the sample size.

Question 7:

What style or genre of music interests you most recently?

"Folk" (Traditional) 52.17%
Americana 43.48%
Rock 21.74%
Alt Rock 17.39%
Pop 13.04%
Electronic 8.70%

Comments:
"Crunkcore and Epic Doom Metal"
"Blues and R&B"
"For live shows, I've probably been seeing Folk type acts most recently"
"Jazz always"
"I've been in a jazz groove."
"Country"
"Country Blues, Tex-Mex, Conjunto"

My analysis: No big surprises there given the net I cast to try to get people to reply to my survey. I discovered that despite my love of how my second album turned out, it has a rock flair that turned some people off who probably would have been much more into an acoustic-only experience.

Question 8:

This was a sort of "thank you" note describing why I asked for people to take the survey, and I left a comment field where people gave me sincere well-wishes on my new music endeavors. That positive energy and encouragement was probably among the most valuable gained from this experimental survey.

Conclusion:

Obviously, surveys can be helpful because you can learn a lot about your audience you otherwise would have never known. You can leverage what you learn from this data collection and with some thought you can infer a great deal about audience desires and expectations. If you use that to help make decisions about how you package and deliver your work in theory your end result could achieve greater "success." As an independent artist, I suspect this survey will help me be a bit smarter in the end. Maybe my songs will reach a few more ears than they would have otherwise. That's all I hope for. I hope more independent artists try this sort of thing out!

Travel With Me

Today is the "busiest" travel day of the year in the United States. It leads up to Thanksgiving on Thursday, which I think is probably the best "holiday" in the sense that spending time breaking bread with family and friends and catching up is a really good idea. Anyway, I thought it would be appropriate to share a new song I've been working on called "Travel with me".

This song has a notable genesis: Walt Whitman. I was exploring some of his work and I read "Song of the Open Road" from Leaves of Grass (read it here: http://www.bartleby.com/142/82.html). Something about this poem really moved me, so I started writing a song about it. That didn't get very far as I ended up merging my own themes from what I took to be so powerful from Whitman's work. He exalts so many things about being on the "open road" but in the end it becomes meaningless without company; he has a phrase near the end, "travel with me" that I decided to center on in my song. The themes which come out in my lyric doesn't relay the depth and beauty of Whitman's work, but as a point of inspiration I am glad I used it as a starting point.

As with most of my demos, I didn't focus much getting a studio quality capture of my voice and guitar -- just a quick single take to make sure I have down for reference. I first performed this song to others at the Folk Alliance Region Midwest gathering down in St. Louis a few weeks ago, and then more recently I played it at Chillfest Chicago. Each time it has undergone some evolution and tweaking, and hopefully it will end up being on my new album project in early 2014.

One-Year Anniversary of "Missing Anchor"

I released my second album "Missing Anchor" this time last year. The album featured songs about Abraham Lincoln, Trayvon Martin, Occupy Wall Street, off-shore money sheltering, and finding a birthday home. I'm very happy with the overall effort, and every time I listen to it I count my blessings for working with talented folks like Andrew Sole, Christopher Elam, Shelley Miller, Rick Riggs and more. While it is available on iTunes (search for "peebler"), you can listen to it here now in full:

I had hoped to continue the one-album per year pace, and squeeze something into the end of 2013, but I think recording and launching a new album at the beginning of 2014 that I can promote all year long might make better sense. On the plus side, I've been writing more music this year than all my previous years of doing this, and I've been using SoundCloud to drop a few demos here and there. But recent experiences at the 2013 Folk Alliance Region Midwest conference, especially spending time with Charlie Mosbrook and post-conference dialog with Dan Weber, along with a deeper sense of purpose and confidence as an artist should yield something pretty compelling as I go back and add some much needed depth and careful intention to each of the songs I'd like to have on the new album, "Fire and Steam".

This past year I've had a chance to perform at some terrific venues with many talented people in Chicago -- the community in the city is mind-blowingly supportive, and some of my favorite nights have been participating in the Chicago Songwriter Alliance at venues like Hungry Brain, Tonic Room and Uncommon Ground. These nights also guided my thinking on the new album. Ideas I gathered at the Chicago Music Summit hosted by the City of Chicago also may prove to be invaluable as I also have to devote equal time to what happens after I release the new album compared to what I have to do to write and record the songs.

Immediate news though: this coming weekend I'll be doing two sets as part of ChillFest Chicago. I'll be performing new songs that likely will end up on my new album. Hope you can come by and be a part of this new festival I hope becomes an annual tradition! Plus, it's FREE and you can walk around and hear music all afternoon long in the Wicker Park Bucktown neighborhood! I'm performing at Doggie Style Pet Shop at 12:30 and Alliance Bakery at 2:00 -- follow the link for more details!

November 16th, 2013

http://chillfestchicago.com/

Furlough Common Sense

This October in 2013 has been an interesting few weeks in the U.S. in particular because of the partial shutdown of the government due to some brinksmanship by a handful of GOP members of the House of Representatives. My take on it inspired a song of course!..."Furlough Common Sense"

My next show is this week! Please join me on Friday 10/18 at Transistor. I go on at 8:00 pm! 3441 N. Broadway, Chicago, Illinois. 

Please check this event out here! https://www.facebook.com/events/168940456642006

Next week I'll be heading down to St. Louis for the Folk Alliance Midwest Region conference, and in mid November I'll be part of the Wicker Park Bucktown acoustic festival called Chillfest! 

See you soon!

Don't Cross That Red Line

I believe in an ethic of kindness, benevolence and sympathy extended to all human beings. When I witness missile strike threats and the epic Tom Clancy-like saga that seems to unfold on the international stage, especially in light of the use of gas and chemical weapons, I can't help but really try to ponder and digest the idea of a "red line".

President Obama said that Syria's Assad had crossed this red line. I wondered what the United States true stance is on the notion of red lines and not just as a rhetorical exercise. I came upon something called the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights". Once I figured out it wasn't some bizarre fiction found in an episode of Star Trek, I read that after WWII Eleanor Roosevelt was one of the original authors of the UDHR. This which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1948. This declaration has a very interesting history and it is worth reading in full:

http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/

By the measuring stick of the international community, with the UDHR as a backdrop, have we not crossed many red lines in the United States and abroad?

As soon as we say "rules don't apply to us"...that is the red line.

What Heaven Is

When I am writing songs, I sometimes jot down words and phrases which ultimately begin as a form of poetry. In practice, very little of what I write in my little notebooks end up in song form. Sometimes the words lead to no finished "art" of any sort; other times, the words feel more like poetry than song. And that's what happened below. It may end up as a song some day, but for now I'm glad to share some of my words in this poem.

Working on a new album!

And I have a title! But more on that in a moment.

I've had some great shows this year and I've been fortunate to perform at some great venues and festivals along the way. Now that summer is slipping by, August is nearly over, and hours of sunlight begin to decay toward the long dark clouds of winter in Chicago, I'm thinking more and more each day about producing my third album. I have a large number of songs I'd like to record, and taking everything I've learned about music production in my first two albums (Missing Anchor from 2012 and Follow the River Bend from 2011), along with improved and more seasoned musicianship, should yield some better things in the finished work.

You Are My Density

Yes, the title of this blog entry is one of the memorable lines from Back to the Future. George McFly’s brave attempt at proclaiming his affection for Lorraine comes out all wrong – of course, he meant to say “destiny”.

This past was a week of density AND destiny for me. Three performances, the Chicago house party for Amanda Palmer, the passing of friend (the amazing Rev. Ann Letson) – lots of highs, lows and in-betweens. 

Trayvon Martin

Last year when the story about the killing of a teenager in Florida broke, I was in the midst of writing new songs for my album 2012 album project "Missing Anchor". I read the reports, watched the news, and came up with my own assessment of what transpired. And since Trayvon Martin was the voice we couldn't hear from, after the fact, I decided to make the song's point of view basically his. This started out just being my own emotional processing of this event, but it's such an important story for us all to process -- about race and violence and guns, that I ended up placing it at the start of the album.

A Song about Bradley Manning

I have a hard time keeping my muse out of the news! Part of this comes from the fact that I went to school for journalism, and another is that I grew up with family who had protest in their blood. This sort of merges with my songwriting in unexpected ways...I've written songs about Trayvon Martin, Occupy, the Gulf Oil Spill, Drones, the bombings at the 2013 Boston Marathon, and more. Earlier this week I found myself thinking a lot about Bradley Manning since he is finally getting the court martial underway...after three years of being imprisoned.

New Music for the Summer!

I performed at the Heartland Cafe in Chicago last weekend as part of the Chicago Acoustic Underground Records Showcase there. I followed two other bands -- Sound Cinema (which features the awesome violin of Sarah Wong) and The Real Jane Martin (I've seen them perform before -- a year or two ago at Goose Island in Wrigleyville). My 45+ minute set was made up of 9 songs -- 8 of them are new songs that have yet to be properly recorded and I expect to be going into the studio before too much more of 2013 slips by...I'm trying to explore new styles and new topics for my songs.

2013 Boston Marathon

This week I had two gigs in Chicago, and I had planned on playing a song I wrote in February about drone strikes called "Executive Order" -- but on Monday that all changed in an instant. I realized that my song was a bit graphic and the imagery it conveys was too close to what had just happened in Boston on that day, April 15th, when two brothers deployed terrible bombs at the finish line at the marathon. 

In trying figure out what I was going to play in its place, I ended up writing down lyrics on Monday night to a song I wrote called "Brave in Boston" -- I ended up using some simple music, and played the first version of it the next day in Chicago at Uncommon Ground on Clark as part of the Chicago Songwriter Alliance.

February Album Writing Month and Catching Up!

Newtown, Connecticut and "Healing Hearts"

As a songwriter I immediately felt challenged to respond to the difficult news that came out of Connecticut last week. Almost everyone I know had some sort of reaction to the terrible story and its aftermath which will haunt us all for some time. I wrote some music and lyrics that I am going to sit on a little while longer, but my new song "Healing Hearts" might be an appropriate song to share in the meantime.

2012 End of Year Notes / Off so See the Wizard!

What a journey this has been!

I decided in early 2011 that I would write songs and make an album. Since then I have released two albums and performed at venues throughout Chicago, had radio airplay, attended Folk Alliance conferences, and am continuing to write almost daily. I've made lots of new music friends who are among the smartest and most genuine people I've met. I aimed high, threw myself into the fire, and ended up doing things never imagined I would have the courage to do -- conquering fears, or at least facing them. A level of courage I truly didn't know I had.

Holiday Song "Cold Zoo Winter"

Chicago Acoustic Underground Podcast and More!

Upcoming musical adventures...

I'm really excited to share this news...at the end of November I will be recording a podcast with Chicago Acoustic Underground! Check out http://www.chicagoacoustic.net to hear scores upon scores of amazing episodes helmed by Michael Teach. So many musicians and songwriters I admire and respect -- many of them have become very supportive musical friends -- have been on Michael's podcasts or have been a part of his label CAUDog Records.

In December I will be performing at the Chicago Fine Arts Building "A Night at the Fine Arts" -- I'll be one of many performers during the evening, but I play at 6:00 pm. Dec. 14th. 410 South Michigan Ave. http://www.nightatthefab.com/

I'll be performing at "Folk You!" on Friday, January 18th. 8:00pm at the Horseshoe in Chicago. 4115 N. Lincoln Ave.

New album release!

Here's the latest on my musical adventures, and some thoughts about what's ahead!

Piano Arrangement for "I Will Not Leave"

Thanks to the most excellent Chicago composer and performer Kyle Greer (his website is http://www.kylegreerrocks.com), you can now get some music from my new album as sheet music!

Kyle's interpretation and production is excellent, and I hope to get several of the songs from my new album Missing Anchor arranged by Kyle in the weeks to come. While this comes as a part of the album (as a bonus item), please feel free to download the sheet music for "I Will Not Leave" here:

I_Will_Not_Leave_Piano.pdf

...Now that I have posted this music, I would love to hear your own version of this song! Please use the contact form on this site to let me know if you've done a version of any of this one or any of my songs and I'll be glad to share them.

 

Pre-order Missing Anchor for only $5 and get one track now!

Pre-order the new album starting NOW! Get the track "I Will Not Leave" now as part of the purchase. This first song available from the new album is all about the Occupy Wall Street movement. It was inspired by those protests that now celebrate its first year anniversary. The full album will be available in late October.

New album "Missing Anchor" cover revealed!

 I wanted to share with you what the cover is looking like these days! ...

New album "Missing Anchor" track list announced!

Hey, check out this working track list for my new album! As many of you know, I'm busy working on my second album "Missing Anchor" (release date TBA!) -- Last week I played with a stellar Chicago-based drummer, Andrew Sole, to give seven of these songs a heartbeat I could never give them on my own. This week and next week I'm doing some more tracking to put the finishing touches on these songs, and then we'll start the process of getting them mastered and prepare them to go out into the world. I'm doing all the work at Handwritten Recording in Chicago under the supervision of studio owner and sound engineer Jedi, Rick Riggs.

Defining My Genre

I've been spending time trying to really pinpoint how to describe my music and really think about what it means when I use genre labels. In analyzing what I like to write and what I like to record and perform, I think I've got the answer. 

Announcing New Album: "Missing Anchor"

Well, the next chapter begins! I released my last album, Follow the River Bend, in November of 2011. And here we are at the start of summer in 2012 and I'm getting in gear to record my second album, Missing Anchor. I'll be doing the recording with Rick Riggs at Handwritten Recording in Chicago, but this time around I have six musicians (more about them later!) who will be assisting at various points along the way for a fuller and more complete sound as we record this summer.

Ready for an early listen to two of the tracks? I just performed the first one at the First Friday Songwriter Group at Old Town School of Folk Music on Friday, June 1, and had some feedback which will likely lead to a title change, but here's a VERY EARLY demo version of this song...(follow the link to play the song!)

http://soundcloud.com/simeonpeebler/stand-your-ground-demo

Here's another!

http://soundcloud.com/simeonpeebler/what-remains-demo

Lot's more to come. Thanks for your interest and support and encouragement along the way! I'm writing a lot of new music and I can't wait to share it with you this year! Please join the mailing list (on the right part of the this page), follow @SimeonPeebler on twitter, or visit my official facebook page. You can also find me on ReverbNation.

Best,

Simeon

May 2012 Newsletter

Hello friends!

Monday night, May 14th, I will be playing at Silvie's Lounge in Chicago. I'll be playing at 9:00 pm (9:10 to be more precise), and it would be great if you could come by! I'll be playing some new music (written this week!) and some Simeon Peebler classics...from last year.

New song about the Titanic: Twenty Lifeboats

I recently recorded a song I wrote during February Album Writing Month called "Twenty Lifeboats" -- 2012 is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, and although thousands of songs have been written about the disaster, I decided to do my take on the tragedy by focusing on the numbers. My research culminated in this simple song.

You can get the song on iTunes or through Bandcamp! Thanks for your interest and please share it with friends.

or get it here:

Twenty Lifeboats - Single - Simeon Peebler

Trip to Folk Alliance Midwest Region FARMette 2012

I attended the Folk Alliance Midwest Region (FARM) one-day conference in Fayette, Ohio this past weekend. It was called FARMette. Usually the regional Folk Alliance conferences last a few days and accommodate a sizeable crowd. FARMette was a one-day event (held on Saturday April 28th, 2012) that handled a smaller group of musicians and music professionals from all over this part of the country.

minioperas.org submission!

I'm interested in doing all kinds of writing and songwriting. While I am focused on writing short-form music at the moment, I thought it would be a great challenge to write the script for an opera after I noticed Neil Gaiman Tweet about this project where people submit opera scripts for consideration. Learn more at: http://www.minioperas.org/ Here's my working script for the challenge! 

El's Kitchen Open Mic Night!

Last night I attended the first Open Mic Night at El's Kitchen in Chicago hosted by Leigh Evin McCullough. I walked into the door with my Breedlove on my shoulder, signed up to play and ended up going third.

Sing Me A Story!

Tonight (March 26th, 2012) I have a show at Silvie's Lounge -- music starts at 8 pm, but I'll be playing a short set sometime after nine. This is a busy music week for me...on Sunday, April 1st, I am doing another show at the Elbo Lounge where I'll be performing with seven other musicians (Chris Quigley, David Kav, Dawn Xiana Moon, Jeff Brown, Kyle Greer, Shelley Miller, Dan Clingman!) and playing some of our best work from songs written during the 2012 February Album Writing Month (http://www.fawm.org).

While I was doing the FAWM thing I noticed somebody mention on fawm.org that they were doing some songs for something called Sing Me A Story. It turns out that a former Chicago musician (Austin Atteberry) who moved to Nashville started this cool non-profit organization that matches kids in need who write down and draw stories, to songwriters who then craft some music for them. I HAD to jump in and try that! It just sounded cool.

Late February 2012 Update

Here's the latest! I recently played a show at the Elbo Room in Chicago, on 2/12/2012, and had a great time! The room was crowded and the crowd was appreciative. The metal band downstairs was an interesting challenge to overcome, but frankly it wasn't all that terrible. Coming up in March, 3/26/2012, I will be playing at Silvie's Lounge in Chicago as part of the regular "Acoustic Explosion" (thanks for the heads up to fellow musician Peggy Walker, who I met while taking a class last year at the Old Town School of Folk Music). That should be a fun time for sure. 

Join me at the Heartland Cafe on 1/26/2012

 

One week from today in Chicago, on Thursday January 26th, come by the Heartland Cafe up in Rogers Park -- I will be playing a set as part of the Chicago Songsalive! Showcase. Music begins at 8 pm (there are several great performers excited to kick out the jams that night, so if you come by please help support ALL the songwriters who are playing!). There is a $5 suggested fee at the door. I will be playing music from my album Follow the River Bend and some new tunes as well that night!
I played two new songs last night at the Hidden Shamrock in Chicago (at an open mic night held there every Wednesday -- I've been there three times now in the last two months), and I'm making some tweaks on them for my show at the Heartland Cafe. One is called "I Can Do This" and another is called "Abraham" (it's a song about Abraham Lincoln). 
Join the mailing list to make sure you get all my updates and information about new music adventures I am undertaking in 2012!

One week from today in Chicago, on Thursday January 26th, 2012 come by the Heartland Cafe up in Rogers Park! -- I will be playing a set as part of the Chicago Songsalive! Showcase. Music begins at 8 pm (there are several great performers excited to kick out the jams that night, so if you come by please help support ALL the songwriters who are playing!). There is a $5 suggested fee at the door. I will be playing music from my album Follow the River Bend and some new tunes as well that night!

I played two new songs last night at the Hidden Shamrock in Chicago (at an open mic night held there every Wednesday -- I've been there three times now in the last two months and I've learned a lot each time I played there!). I'm making some tweaks on them for my show at the Heartland Cafe. One is called "I Can Do This" and another is called "Abraham" (it's a song about Abraham Lincoln). 

Please take a moment to join the mailing list to make sure you get all my updates and information about new music adventures I am undertaking in 2012!

 

Writing a Song About President Abraham Lincoln...

...Since I have a show coming up on President Lincoln's birthday, I decided to challenge myself to write a song about the man. He is considered one of the greatest leaders of the United States -- and with great reason...

Please Share My Music!

I need help promoting my independent music. Can you give me a hand? Here's how you can help out! 

...Join my mailing list

...Mention the music, this site, or one of my upcoming shows on twitter and include my twitter address @SimeonPeebler

...Share my website on your Facebook or Google+ status (http://www.simeonpeebler.com)

...Listen to my music on Spotify and share that on your social outlets (search for Simeon Peebler or Follow the River Bend)

...Tell one friend about my music and direct them to http://www.simeonpeebler.com

...Like me on Facebook! http://www.facebook.com/SimeonPeebler  

...Review my album, Follow the River Bend, on your blog/site/status update

Come hear new songs at the Heartland Cafe on 1/26/2012 in Chicago!

Please join me on Thursday evening, January 26th, 2012, starting at 8 PM at the Heartland Cafe, to hear three singer-songwriters perform sets as part of the Chicago Songsalive! Showcase. The lineup also includes Susan Picking and other talented performers. $5 at the door.

Fun at the Open Mic

 

Last night I performed three songs at the Open Mic night at the long-lived, wonderful bar in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood called the Hidden Shamrock (http://www.thehiddenshamrock.com/). 
The Open Mic was completely packed -- with regulars and fellow students from a class I just took at the Old Town School of Folk Music called Open Stage 101. We had a blast, drank, ate, sang, and applauded each other through a wide variety of great tunes -- covers and original alike. I played two songs from my new album plus a new one I've been working on for a few weeks, but not before listening to my great new friends from Old Town -- Keith, Sheila, Peggy and Paula totally kicked out the jams, and everyone was smiling all night long.
The open mic at the Hidden Shamrock is hosted by Chicago musicians Leigh Evin McCullough and Scott Besaw. All evening they energetically and enthusiastically set each performer in motion and provided the ideal audio levels to best capture the qualities of each performer.

Last night I performed three songs at the Open Mic Night at the long-lived, wonderful bar in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood called the Hidden Shamrock (http://www.thehiddenshamrock.com/).

The open mic was completely packed -- with regulars and fellow students from a class I just took at the Old Town School of Folk Music called Open Stage 101. We had a blast, drank, ate, sang, and applauded each other through a wide variety of great tunes -- covers and original alike. I played two songs from my new album Follow the River Bend plus a new one I've been working on for a few weeks, but not before listening to my great new friends from Old Town -- Keith, Sheila, Peggy and Paula totally kicked out the jams, and everyone was smiling all night long.

The open mic at the Hidden Shamrock is hosted by Chicago musicians Leigh Evin McCullough and Scott Besaw. All evening they energetically and enthusiastically set each performer in motion and provided the ideal audio levels to best capture the qualities of each performer. I highly recommend attending and performing there!

 

What's next after Follow the River Bend?

A few weeks ago I reached a critical milestone as an "Artist". I released 30+ minutes of original music in the form of a ten track album called Follow the River Bend. I believe that I somehow managed to create something raw, acoustic, authentic, and worth listening to in its entirety. Despite its imperfections, I think the album stands quite well on its own two feet as a first effort. As I breathe a sigh of relief -- that I actually went through with it, and added my own songwriting and tunes to the modern continuum of music -- the inevitable question is...what next?

I immediately found myself craving the goal of making new music (and as a result I picked up a mandolin and ukelele so that I can have different tools to use to write more songs!). Of course, I don't want to abandon the baby I've put out on the street, so in addition to writing new music, I am wanting to promote Follow the River Bend to the world in every way possible. I'm also taking a class on performance called Open stage 101 at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago to help me better able to perform my music live. I've played out before, but this gives me a chance to learn from true masters in Chicago and take that experience out with me "on the road"!

So after releasing the album, I'm not sitting down and listening to my album every moment just to experience a great sense of accomplishment. Rather, it is better to say that I'm feeling like I have just started to climb a very tall mountain.

When I started this musical journey in earnest, I had no ambitions for my work. I just loved the process of writing and wanted to eagerly learn how to record and ultimately learn how to get something I made out into the world for people to easily get on the Internet. I put a little bit of my soul and spirit into each song, and I have no problems saying that this music is part of how I communicate with the world. But the journey, and process of writing, performing, promoting, recording, is such a challenge and the process of doing it brings such fulfillment, that I realize that the mountain I am climbing doesn't really have a top. It has nothing to do with success. Success is inherently committing and doing it each and every day in some small way.

So the question, "What's next?", can be partially answered by the fact that I can remove the quotes around the word Artist when I refer to myself. That feels great.

Thanks for your support and encouragement! Perhaps I have a holiday single in the works!?!?! :) Yes I do!

Stream Follow the River Bend here: http://simeonpeebler.bandcamp.com

Album released! Follow the River Bend

 

"Follow the River Bend" represents a year of songwriting for me. This
year from one end to the other, I wrote music and words almost daily.
I learned how to play guitar a bit better than I did before. I took
songwriting classes as Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music (with
instructor and extraordinary songwriter Shelly Miller). I went
to a great recording studio (Handwritten Recording) and played and
sang, and played some more.
For inspiration (and education!) I attended dozens of more local
music events than I ever did before as a musician more than being just
a fan. I've had the support of my family every step of the way, doing
this, and always felt like they were behind me as I reached for this
life-long goal of producing an album of my music.
When I was a teenager, I created a little makeshift recording studio
in my closet in our south-side home in Indianapolis. Using tape
recorders and a Yamaha DX-7 I wrote a whole slew of songs nobody ever
heard but me. That music was my safe place, my home, and my peace, in
a life filled with family chaos, illness, and the crushing anguish
that sometimes accompanies poverty. As I made
my way into adulthood, just as I fled all the pains of my childhood
life, I left my music behind. Decades later, I came to realize, and finally
accept the fact that the music was still inside me. The process of
writing, recording, playing, singing -- all those things were still a
big part of me, demanding some attention.
At the start of this year, I found a good guitar, and went to a guitar
class at Old Town School of Folk Music. After the guitar class I took
two songwriting classes there, and started writing many, many songs.
In the summer I sorted through ones I felt could work together, and in
the early fall I found a great place to record my songs at a studio
that was very welcoming to people who've never been in a recording
studio before. Many sessions later, working with Rick Riggs at Handwritten Recording, spending hours here and there over the
course of months led to ten tracks I'm proud to call my first album.

"Follow the River Bend" represents a year of songwriting for me. This year from one end to the other, I wrote music and words almost daily. I learned how to play guitar a bit better than I did before. I took songwriting classes as Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music (with instructor and extraordinary songwriter Shelley Miller). I went to a great recording studio (Handwritten Recording) and played and sang, and played some more.

Notes on Making of a Occupy Wall Street Song: "I Will Not Leave"

I've been watching with great interest the Occupy Wall Street movement. I've been irked in particular by the "media" coverage I have not seen, which contrasts with the quite newsworthy activities unfolding through the eyes of YouTube postings, and grassroots Tweetcasting through social media. The spirit of these Occupations seems to be peaceful, but aggressive. That aggression -- and courage -- is very inspiring.

Here's my take: In the United States, our system of term limits and political service, which was intended to bring about peaceful, regular revolution, has dramatically changed in recent years. The act of voting for some positions has become more of a corporate game of cards behind the scenes. At this time, at this moment, coming out of a very low place emotionally, a group of common people have determined that through action, and courage, they can make a difference -- as long as they don't give up, they don't go home, and they don't walk away.

As a songwriter, I wanted to honor that spirit. I spent a few hours on Saturday October 15th creating a song called "I Will Not Leave".

Embrace Imperfection

 

Here's the deal. I'm getting really close to wrapping up the production of my album "Follow the River Bend" (...release date: 11/1/2011!). I've learned a lot more about recording music in the last two months since I've been doing regular visits to Handwritten Recording Studios in Chicago to get the album recorded. Working with Rick Riggs (sound engineer and studio co-owner who has helped record over 85 albums there!) has been a huge help in me achieving my goal of producing an album this year because of his great enthusiasm and expertise in the studio. In looking back, I can summarize our strategy and one of the things we did from the start was decide that we were just going to be authentic as possible. Essentially, we would do this: embrace imperfection. 
This was a handy strategy because I am a passable guitar strummer-person, a fairly inexperienced vocalist, and an untested songwriter. Rather than worry about being perfect, and having a recording that was "ready for radio", I needed to face reality. That kind of music is exactly the opposite of the spirit of what I wanted to do. I wanted to take some of my songs and render decent versions of them for me to get out into the world. I had no plan to redefine the speed of light, but rather, take music I had written throughout the year and make it into something I could share with people.
At the studio, every time we started a new song, that was the most anxious moment. On a few occasions we stepped away from something that wasn't working, but it really helped that I was prepared and somewhat rehearsed. So when it came to laying down the first track -- let's say just plain ole guitar -- I didn't strive for perfect. We did several takes, of course, but all in all, we embraced the imperfections of the moment. The buzz in the strings (due to my playing). The momentary timing issues here and there. My singing not quite timed right. All kept. Not looked at as disaster, but as opportunity. Not something to necessarily be fixed using software. Rick's first-class work with microphones, wiring, studio sound proofing -- and wizardy at digital audio workstation software -- allowed us to quickly move through songs and embrace the writing, or at least the attempt to do something completely human, completely authentic -- and spiritually, my music. 
"Follow the River Bend" will be released on November 1, 2011.

Here's the deal. I'm getting really close to wrapping up the production of my album "Follow the River Bend" (...release date: 11/1/2011!).

I've learned a lot more about recording music in the last two months since I've been doing regular visits to Handwritten Recording Studios in Chicago to get the album recorded. Working with Rick Riggs (sound engineer and studio co-owner who has helped record over 85 albums there!) has been a huge help in me achieving my goal of producing an album this year because of his great enthusiasm and expertise in the studio. In looking back, I can summarize our strategy and one of the things we did from the start was decide that we were just going to be authentic as possible. Essentially, we would do this: embrace imperfection. 

This was a handy strategy because I am a passable guitar strummer-person, a fairly inexperienced vocalist, and an untested songwriter. Rather than worry about being perfect, and having a recording that was "ready for radio", I needed to face reality. That kind of music is exactly the opposite of the spirit of what I wanted to do. I wanted to take some of my songs and render decent versions of them for me to get out into the world. I had no plan to redefine the speed of light, but rather, take music I had written throughout the year and make it into something I could share with people.

At the studio, every time we started a new song, that was the most anxious moment. On a few occasions we stepped away from something that wasn't working, but it really helped that I was prepared and somewhat rehearsed. So when it came to laying down the first track -- let's say just plain ole guitar -- I didn't strive for perfect. We did several takes, of course, but all in all, we embraced the imperfections of the moment. The buzz in the strings (due to my playing). The momentary timing issues here and there. My singing perhaps not quite timed right at the end of a line. All kept. Not looked at as disaster, but as opportunity. Not something to necessarily be fixed using software. Rick's first-class work with microphones, wiring, studio sound proofing -- and wizardry with digital audio workstation software -- allowed us to quickly move through songs and embrace the writing, or at least the attempt to do something completely human, completely authentic -- and spiritually, my music. 

"Follow the River Bend" will be released on November 1, 2011.

Announcing release date for "Follow the River Bend"

In August and September of this year I spent some time getting some of my new music recorded, and I am very excited to share this great news...My ten track album called "Follow the River Bend" will be released on November 1, 2011 (11/1/11). A more formal news release will be forthcoming with more details. Thanks for your continued support and interest!

Performing at the Songsalive! Chicago Songwriters Showcase at the Heartland Cafe

I will be performing at the Songsalive! Chicago Songwriters Showcase at the Heartland Cafe (www.heartlandcafe.com) on September 22nd, 2011 at 8:00 PM. I will perform a 45 minute set alongside some other really talented musicians. I am in the middle of working on a new album, so I will have a chance to play almost all of the songs from that project!

Let me know if you are coming by that night (there's a $5 suggested donation at the door) -- the Heartland Cafe is a gem in Chicago and is in the heart of Rogers Park. They have a really great menu and the venue is nice for just relaxing and enjoying live music.

Find more information at http://www.songsalive.org/ and http://www.heartlandcafe.com and of course http://www.simeonpeebler.com.

How I Write Songs

This year, 2011, has been the year of songwriting for me. Despite a crazy life, and busy work, I managed to get out over two dozen songs during those "in-between" moments we all have throughout the week. I've figured out a few things that are helping me write more music than I ever have before, and I thought this would be worthwhile to share on the site, especially if you are interested in the process another artist uses. I'm sure it will evolve over time, but this is what works for me now and it has become a habit. ...

Why I am a Songwriter

 

Why I am a Songwriter
The truth is that I write music because the it's the cheapest form of therapy out there. Well, if you start buying really expensive instruments, perhaps not. But really, when in comes down to exploring your own reaction to what is going on in your life and in the world, writing music and playing it is quite a release. 
I also write music because I think it is a great creative challenge. Like real mountain climbing can be -- you have to be fearless on some levels and just get it out there. Thankfully, I don't spend much time worrying about what people think or will think about my songs. This came in handy because recently I spent time at a songwriting class at Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music where the other participants were really accomplished professional or semi-pro musicians and had excellent skills with a 6-string and killer voices to boot. Even in that company, every week I showed up with a new song and played what I had using my own special brand of awesome. What I learned, above most anything else in those workshops, is to not be afraid of just putting it out there. I should also note that while I don't spend much time worrying about what other people think, I do care if I get critical remarks, suggestions, changes, or ideas from my audience, because in general, that can only help improve what I'm doing. 
I also write music because I want to return the favor. Let me explain: as a child I would sneak Beatles and Paul Simon vinyl records into my little red record player in my bedroom. Listening to those songs affected me deeply, and opened me to a world of experiences beyond my own. It firmly planted songs, as a form, as an important part of living life and being human. If I can affect just one person with one of my songs the way that some of the great songwriters have done for me in my life, then that result pays tremendous tribute to the what music has done for me. 
So to summarize, I write music because it is a cheap form of therapy, it is a huge creative challenge, and I want to return the favor. 
Oh, one more thing. It makes me happy. My happy place is writing music. To quote Buddy the Elf, It's my favorite!

The truth is that I write music because the it's the cheapest form of therapy out there. Well, if you start buying really expensive instruments, perhaps not. But really, when it comes down to exploring your own reaction to what is going on in your life and in the world, writing music and playing it is quite a release.

I also write music because I think it is a great creative challenge. Like real mountain climbing can be -- you have to be fearless on some levels and just get it out there. Thankfully, I don't spend much time worrying about what people think or will think about my songs. This came in handy because recently I spent time at a songwriting class at Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music where the other participants were really accomplished professional or semi-pro musicians and had excellent skills with a 6-string and killer voices to boot. Even in that company, every week I showed up with a new song and played what I had using my own special brand of awesome. What I learned, above most anything else in those workshops, is to not be afraid of just putting it out there. I should also note that while I don't spend much time worrying about what other people think, I do care if I get critical remarks, suggestions, changes, or ideas from my audience, because in general, that can only help improve what I'm doing.

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