Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Birth of an Audio CD

         How many hours, how many emails, how many years? Yes, years from start of the CD  idea to CD in hand.  In order to make the best CD, I needed to be ready, and so did the material. This is a storytelling CD, but the same could be said for music, you have to be ready. There is the honing of your skills to a certain level and then learning and practicing the pieces. Well that's the tip of the iceberg!

        From there it was into the studio for recording sessions, it took several sessions to get what we needed done. was where I worked and I was very pleased with the engineering by Bob Nary and his adaptability to recording spoken word.  A story without an audience and told in the limited studio space takes some tweaking. I am accustomed to certain movements and moments when I wait for audience response. Those moments were not there and so there were gaps that needed to be tightened up. There were a few phrases that relied heavily in performance to my body language, those needed some new wording to work in the world of audio.  That was a learning process on how we listen to story and what story tells the listeners through language spoken and  emanating from the storytellers gestures and facial  expression. That was all awhile ago, in the very beginning of the CD dream becoming a reality.

    Before I could do the recording there had been months of reading and research to bring the stories to life through thorough understanding of the setting and content. Google images, library hours, family documents, historical reference books, and some field trips to actual sites. Time on, historical sites, museum sites and art exhibitions and then the writing, thinking, talking it out and multiple rough draft tellings of each story.

   In the end I recorded  seven stories  and selected Tim VanEgmond to  record hammered dulcimer music between tracks as a story break. This works much like a palate cleanser at a wine tasting, the snippets of music are a simple way to give the listener a moment to soak in the story before moving on to the next. I decided to do this after listening to every storytelling CD I could get my hands on. I took notes while listening. I liked having a moment to breathe before jumping into the next story and I hope my listeners do too!
   The CD cover art process was a learning experience as well. I wanted to exemplify the art work of my Great Great Uncle and that meant getting copyright permissions. The front cover art is from the White House Art Association. The Abraham Lincoln portrait is the most iconic use of his art ,having produced this image of the popular President after three days of preliminary sketches done in the Presidential office. The portrait hangs today in the White House. The back cover has a black and white image of his Rembrandt style self portrait from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. With the permissions granted and the CD cover approved, fees paid the cover was becoming a reality. I chose a 6 panel cover to be able to showcase additional art and to properly thank all involved in this project.
        Anticipation ran high as I awaited the delivery of the cases of CDs. I was planning a launch party and  needed the CD there to make its official debut. I had given allowed extra time because it was December and shipping and all other work seems to get bogged down in holiday agendas. Finally on a snowy December 2013 day I hold one in my hands. I couldn't wait to share them with my family and peers. Now we were ready to party! I rented the firehouse banquet hall and planned some light refreshments and a Champagne toast with my brother and guests to  Great Great Uncle George, to art and to the untold stories now shared. I used the stage there to showcase a couple of the stories on the CD and  had a table for CD sales set up. I even considered the proximity to the holiday and provided a wrapping station.
   Next step on my CD journey was making my CD available online as a download through CD Baby. I finished that in February 2014 after taking a break from the project to adjust to a new schedule and to spend time with my family.  Now it is available there, it was a simple task to load and set up. They have designed a simple interface and walk you step by step through the process. It was only a matter of days before it was available.  here is the link to that
     The CD is born, but that is not an end just a start to a new chapter. Now it is a schedule of CD promotion I am working on. I have done a radio show and placed them in the local book store. I am covering my social media accounts and taking them with me to performances. I have sent courtesy copies to reviewers, award organizations and to the people who helped make it possible.
     A storytelling CD is not a big money maker. They are sometimes referred to as the " new business card" In this case the CD "George Henry Story - The Man Who Painted Lincoln" is a legacy. It was time for the world to hear his stories so carefully preserved and passed down through multiple generations, it is time to renew interest in his art. The legacy of the man named Story is his story. How fortunate that my career as a professional storyteller allows me to share it. Maybe it's not fortunate maybe the name has a genetic implication!

Links to selected museums of art galleries with George Story art in their collections:

a favorite of mine:  Hartford CT.

In Mass.

and many more as well!

 A blog about George Story's contemporary Mark Twain written after my visit to his home


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Snow Day...Again

      Another Connecticut snow day has me locked away in my home office. I had work to get done, but since I was up early my long day included some arts. 

       I had a fun time exploring the new set of watercolors, they are fancy, in little aluminum tubes. I painted  this Cod, that must seem to be a funny art subject but I am working on some stories for a storytelling performance, Cod fishing and immigration are the core of my research.

       On the subject of Cod I highly recommend the book by that title, written by Mark Kurlansky. Here is a link to my review of the book in an earlier post.
      I stirred a big pot of chili and watched the snow assault the windows, my mind wandered. I grabbed my pad and penned the thoughts of snow, nothing fancy just a bit poetic, a rare journey for my mind.
Here is a piece of my writing from today
I hear you singing
Soft and distant
I hear you singing
a whispered tune
I hear you singing
 voice now bold
I hear you singing
crescendo to forte
I hear you singing
a herald to multitudes
I hear you singing
 lament to freedom
I hear you singing
Wrap me in your cloak of white
I hear you singing
all day and all night
I hear you singing
a song of centuries
I hear you
old friend and enemy
I hear you sing
Another snow post you might enjoy or find useful if it keeps snowing! :

Here is a post about singing:

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Paper City

    The after school program I work at has been making little paper houses, bigger paper churches and more. The Paper City Project introduces maps in a 3D lesson on the students home town. The cold winter days lent themselves to  coloring tiny buildings and cutting them out. From a simple hand drawn pattern the basic houses were crafted and the small collection grew along a window sill. We had a date for the display to be shared and we worked toward it.

      Snow cancellations, and a Monday holiday and more  kept us from making as many buildings as we first imagined but we made a fine representation. This view is less than a quarter of our city.


    We learned about places in our town that children were unaware of. We learned how to give directions by the building location. We understand now that the mills are on the river and the train yards near the mills. Along with all our building we had a guest to share the paper city. The President of the CT Eastern Railroad Museum, Mark Granville, brought a length  of track, engines and cars so we had a real view of where the trains were in proximity to the town.  Thank You!

 We talked our way through the layout of the city by starting where we were and moving out from that point. Students had different buildings they were familiar with. Library, post office, schools, hospital and favorite food outlets were pretty easy. Smaller shops and businesses brought a lot more discussion as to which side of Main St and where in relation to certain churches or other dominant buildings. The entire discussion and placement process went well. Strips of  black construction paper became our roads and wavy blue pieces the Willimantic River.

      Students learned about Willimantic history, some heard the story of the Frogs of Windham, which is why we have a bridge with huge frogs on it!  This story took place in 1754 in Windham, the town Willimantic is a part of.

     Here is an image of the plan I drew for the smaller houses. For the youngest students I outlined the cutting edge in colored pencil. Once cut out and the students name added we folded the creases and then flipped the house over to color on the windows, doors, siding and accessories. Some of these also became small businesses like Cafemantic and the Shoesmith. The final piece colored was the roof. Then we used glue sticks to assemble the house.

     A companion activity to this was a timeline around two sides of the room. Our theme for the month was Decades, so it was broken out in those increments. There were many pictures of historical Willimantic along the timeline. This was a fun project for the middle of winter and one I would do again with the kids.

Looking for some other winter type activities?

This was fun too, but if you are in New England you will have to wait for better weather!