Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Album Project

It's been four years since I recorded an album. That one was my first and was done quickly in San Diego with mixed results. It has its moments, but when I look and listen to it now I react the way one might when seeing a slightly embarassing school picture from years ago ("Did I actually wear my hair like that?!").

I've written over a hundred songs since then, made three trips to Nashville, got two songs published and started playing out over a year ago up here where we live near Woodstock, NY. An album's worth of songs have continued to make the cut and after much support and nudging it's time to do this.
Yes it is.

There was a place called "Alchemy" in Woodstock run by Nick Martin (himself a great singer/songwriter) which had a short life but afforded me via it's Wednesday night Open Mic's the chance to meet some great artists. Alchemy was in the large house built in Bearsville by Albert Grossman (Dylan's old manager) and it was charming with it's fireplace, many windows and wood floors. It was converted into a wonderful and expansive cafe, bookstore, art gallery and performance room. The photo above shows the stage in the background. Several people with some serious credentials played there and Wednesday night's the place was jammed inside and out with people drinking coffee, eating burgers, looking at art and getting up to perform. Nick never got the liquor license in time and I feel the enforced sobriety helped keep the mellowness and furniture intact.

Alchemy on Wednesday's was not your typical Open Mic by any means. A sort of "busman's holiday" for already established acts to mix, hang, and get up and make music. It was, for me, a great gift. I met so many generous artists who gave me such tremendous support. Nick Martin, Elly Winninger, Dave Kearney, Marji Zintz, Denise Jordan Finley, Daniel Pagdon, Doug Yoel, Marilyn Kirby, Peggy Atwood, I could go on and on (and will at some point).

They all helped me move from the isolation of my home studio where I had been holed up writing songs through some bitter winters, not getting acting jobs and living off the residuals of a TV commercial and my wife's theatre work as a voice and dialect coach. Two freelancer's praying for a miracle every first of the month when the mortgage came due (this hasn't changed, only now the commercial ran it's course and it's unemployment insurance!)

I am so very grateful to Alchemy in Woodstock for the friendships forged, and the chance to get up and sharpen my performing chops every Wednesday night and then on weekends when Nick would book me for an actual gig. Thanks Nick.

Now, I am beginning the daily process of getting an album done with no money of our own and our own personal situation seemingly dicey. But others have faced similar challenges. This journal is going to keep track of the journey. You're welcome to come along.

Don Sparks
Gardiner, Ny
August 22, 2010


  1. So glad you have started this blog, sweet husband! I look forward to each and every post.