Persona Non GrataPersona non Grata is a collection of song demos recorded in locations such as Central Florida, Northern New Jersey and Central North Carolina. Most of the recordings took place between 2004-2010. This was never intended to be an album with a consistent musical theme; rather these are a collection of demos that had piled up through the years. Most of these were demos for the sake of capturing the song idea. I had very little experience or education in audio production at that time. I was able to have fun using an archaic version of Cakewalk Pro, inexpensive microphones and whatever instruments I had laying around the house. Despite the flaws, these songs are each special to me in their own way, and capture a period in my life where I was learning to capture sounds and songs in a way that would definitely shape things to come.

 
 
 
 
 

01 – Apology (2006)

Apology was recorded using a Variax acoustic, Variax electric, Fender Jazz Bass and a Clavia D-Drum kit. This song is straight format rock, with a little experimentation on my end with layering harmonies, song breaks and structure accents, drum compression and other things. It’s an easy song, but I had a lot of fun creating the recording of it.

Apology

open your eyes, look and see
I know it’s hard not to laugh at me, it’s ok
don’t take the blame for what is wrong
it’s not your fault, whatever will be will be
don’t make this harder than it has to be
it took me this long to come clean
i’m building bridges from now on
with water running underneath
and all this ringing in my ears
is my conscience calling loud and clear
so what i’m really trying to say
is that i don’t have the words to say
yeah, that’s my apology
take it or leave it, it’s all the same
take it or leave it, but try anyway
take or leave it, it’s my apology

02 – Copper Coins (2006)

A song for Lois. I used a Washburn EA20 on this song, in a special tuning that I created around a few songs I had written when I first started playing guitar. I also used my Yamaha PF500 for the piano and organ parts. This song came together very quickly and is one I am very happy with.

Copper Coins

lily of the field, why are you crying, your season has not yet come
and all the sparrows are still flying, every single one in His control
it’s true that our days are numbered, like the very hairs on your head
it’s best to leave the story to the Author, He will write the beginning and the end
consider how they grow, the grass is fully clothed
the greatest story ever told, yes everything is under His control
so lily of the field never worry, for want of anything
even Solomon in all his glory, was never dressed like any one of these
firstborn of the dead, beginning without end
as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be
world without end, amen

03 – Domenica (1997)

One of the first songs I have written, Domenica has seen several revisions in the way it has been recorded. I started recording the latest demo early in 2004 and worked around with it until I had something passable. I played a Washburn N2 guitar for the electric parts, Washburn P2 for the solo section, Clavia D-Drum kit for drums (recorded live) and Fender Jazz Bass for bass parts.

Domenica

save a prayer for mary, maybe one for me
a kind word is sometimes all it takes
and though the distance holds me close at hand
i’m never from your grace
help me see the joy of faith
help me see the truth of fate
for i will always wonder of heaven
they say that you are in a better place
but i wonder if that’s true
after all the only things that sill remain
are memories of you
for i will always wonder

04 – Daylight Drive

Daylight Drive is another older song that I have reworked a few different times in the recording process. This track was recorded using a Washburn N2, Fender Jazz Bass, Clavia D-Drum kit, Yamaha SY85 and Shure microphones. I utilized a guitar tuning that I created for this song, affectionately called “Sandbox Tuning” for a song I had written earlier. This song was written for Travis, a friend we all lost too soon.

Daylight Drive
i’m going out for a spin, out on a whim
i’m driving southbound on a one-way street
we’re blowing stop signs, red means green
and i’m not the only one who is wondering
how your mommy cried, that night
how your daddy sat beside her, in spite
well i lost track of the line in this daylight
well i carried you there, only you were not there
i hope this goes by quickly, i can’t seem to see the beauty of it all
daylight drive, with my headlights on

05 – Fine By Me

Fine By Me was originally written on piano years ago; I later reworked the demo a few times from different vantage points and ended up with this version. I used a Washburn EA20 for the acoustic parts, Variax Bass and Guitar respectively, Yamaha PF500 for piano parts, EZ Drummer plugin for the percussion parts a few NI plugins and an MXL vocal mic.

Fine By Me
all the broken plaster, a crooked picture frame
a shouted ultimatum and the words in the way
all the creaky hinges, and all the television
your worldly possessions are a ghost on parade
it’s fine by me
if you want to stay, i won’t need to
if you want to stay
these ghosts are on parade, if only meant to
keep you on your way
the messages unanswered
are a message all the same
now tell them what you have to, it’s fine by me

06 – Mobius

Mobius was recorded with a Variax guitar run through several NI plugins for that syncopated tremolo rhythm. The drums were programmed using EZ Drummer, vocals were through MXL condenser mics. The bass is a Fender Jazz Bass through an amp simulator. I think the bass is way too loud in this demo and I somehow lost the original tracks for this, so it is stuck this way until I decide one day to breathe new life into the song.

Mobius
let’s get this party started
let’s plug this thing into the socket
a thousand points of light inside your eye
perhaps we can change the channel
maybe just try the tuning
a thousand points of light inside your eye
and all our conversations, they only have one side
we never get a word in edgewise

07 – The Silver Lining (2007)

The Silver Lining was originally an acoustic demo written in 2005. This version adds rhythm parts recorded through EZ Drummer, acoustic tracks recorded on my Washburn EA20 acoustic and Variax Acoustic, electric guitar parts and solo work through the Variax Electric and Washburn P2, bass work on a Fender Jazz, and the organ parts were done with an M-Audio plugin. This is one of my favorite songs; I really like this song concept and how it moves through different pieces. I was happy with how the guitar parts were pieced together. I eventually reworked this song (again) for my solo record, Whirlybirds and the Manifest Destiny.

The Silver Lining
i would tell you all the truth
if the timing was right
and my heart is on display
underneath this pastel sky
all these words you speak
and the air that hangs between
what you said was true
all these words they ring true
the day i know you’re mine
all the trains will run on time
now press with all your might
against the changing tides
my heart is open land
for these castles made of sand
what you said was true
all these words they ring true
you can leave at any time
just don’t read between the lines

08 – Number 8

A ballad in 6/8, this song is also one of my personal favorites…although this is a very rough demo version and is sorely overdue for a remake. I used the Variax electric and acoustic guitars exclusively on this song (700A, 500E and 500B). Guitars were run through a Line 6 POD XTL, using several different patches I had worked up for the song. Drums are the Clavia ddrum set recorded live.

Number 8
among the two giants
the greater and the lesser
staring into space
and seeing the change
i saw your reflection, i saw
consider them all
deep on the outskirts
in the rings of saturn
staring into space
and seeing the change
i saw your reflection, i saw
is that all i can do
from a safe distance

09 – Sap (2007)

Sap is inspired by a carving in a park bench; I have always wondered who she is…this is my way of asking. Recorded with a Washburn EA20 tuned in some variant of open D that I have long since forgotten. I also used the Clavia ddrums recorded live, Fender Jazz Bass and Washburn P2 electrics on this demo.

Sap
letters carved, on a park bench
words and hearts, on this tree branch
do you still share, the same air i do
with noble intent, these words bleed straight through
are you a mother or an orphan?
are you a lover or a has-been?
if a stitch in time saves nine
a stitch in wood will make you mine
because after all, it begs the question
just who are you, this name in mention
and all these things i’ve held on to
all these words bleed straight through

10 – Write With Me (1998)

Write With Me was written back in 1998 with friend and collaborator Mark Coffman. This demo was touched up in 2004 or so by adding acoustic tracks recorded on the Variax Acoustic. Bass parts were done on a Yamaha PF500, as well as the piano and synth pad parts. This song is written in an open A tuning that I came up with many years ago. In this song you can hear a certain phrasing on the piano that I ended up using years later as a primary structure in Copper Coins.

Write With Me
i don’t want to sleep, and miss the sunrise
i don’t want to peek, and ruin the surprise
with a soft hello, a timid smile
i felt the shyness die
exchange a few words, and i’m captured
taken by your eyes
we will be a story worth reading, so write with me
there’s still time for poetry, so write with me
to learn a little more about you
there’s interest in your life
the story is still there, left unwritten
like the stars without a night
so write with me

11 – Reeds – 2010

Reeds is a song of redemption. I initially setup this demo as a live capture so I wouldn’t forget the song idea…it turned into this final demo. It has a very raw and emotional quality to it. Everything was recorded live and in one take (guitars and vocals) using a Martin D15 and MXR condenser mics for vocals. I then overdubbed a few guitar tracks and some strings through NI plugins, harmony parts and a synth pad. Every part of this song was recorded in live takes; I think it does a good job of capturing the emotion of the song. I would later revisit Reeds on my solo record, Whirlybirds and the Manifest Destiny.

Reeds
all these lines in the mirror, and on my face
and though i’d rather lie, this mirror has a name
and broad is the road i’ve chosen to climb
with sincere apology, the narrow undefined
such a bruise that fell upon these reeds, trembling in the wake
and though they falter in breeze, they will never break
he won’t let them break
and i feel that these wounds may never heal
yet i see that he restores the reeds
he restores the reeds