Because I took an interest in the Jill Townsend/Cellar Live Ross Taggart recording project and a lot of the funding came from Vancouver Island donors, I thought I should draw your attention to the latest Kickstarter update released today. I had begun to wonder if the project had died on the vine, and so it was great to hear that progress has been made thanks to the freedom of the summer and the facilities at the Banff Centre.
Here’s the update from Jill Townsend and Bill Coon and a short video:
“The Leighton Artist’s Colony at the Banff Centre consists of nine private studios, dedicated to writing, painting, music and multidisciplinary arts. In late August, Bill and I spent two amazing weeks in our studio with a grand piano where we worked on arranging several of Ross Taggart’s compositions for the 17-piece large ensemble. We each spent 6 hours or more in the studio every day, trading off every two hours. The opportunity to have this kind of quiet, focussed and uninterrupted time to spend on writing music was absolutely fantastic and the beauty of the surroundings was breathtaking. The writing continues now and throughout the fall season.”
D.F. Bailey, a novelist friend, recently “tagged” me to participate in a “blog tour” that promotes writers and writing. The idea is that each tagged writer will respond to four basic questions and post the answers on his/her blog. The writer then tags two other writers, inviting them to do the same. Readers of the blogs can then follow the links in the chain and discover new (to them) writers and their works.
D. F. Bailey’s fourth novel, Exit From America, is set in San Francisco and explores the intersecting lives of a writer, a guru, a therapist, an artist and her daughter — and their escape from a world slipping into environmental collapse. He lives on-line at dfbailey.com
First the writers I’ve tagged:
Craig Morrison is a Victoria-born ethnomusicologist teaching courses on popular music and its roots at Concordia University, as well as a musician and bandleader with 11 CDs released. He is the author of Go Cat Go! Rockabilly Music and Its Makers (University of Illinois Press, 1996), American Popular Music; Rock and Roll (Facts on File, 2005), and numerous articles for encyclopedias, journals, music magazines, and daily newspapers. He is currently writing a book on West Coast psychedelic music, based in part on dozens of interviews with musicians active in the 1960s.
My second tag is in the works. Stay tuned.
And now my (Rick Gibbs’) answers:
1. What am I working on?
I’m writing two books. The working titles are The Perfect Guitar and West Coast Jazz: The Long and Short of It. The first is a work of creative non-fiction that follows the building of an acoustic archtop jazz guitar by Victoria luthier Robert Anderson. I commissioned Robert to build the guitar for me in 2012 and sat in his workshop off and on for a year while he completed the project. Inspired by books like Tracy Kidder’s House and Witold Rybczynski’s The Most Beautiful House in the World, I’m weaving various historical, technical, scientific, cultural and personal threads into the story, including my encounter in 2010 with internationally acclaimed jazz guitarist Pat Metheny while working on a CBC radio documentary about the celebrated Canadian guitar builder Linda Manzer.
The second book will be a collection of articles about Canada’s west coast jazz scene, some already written for publications like Monday Magazine, Boulevard, Coda, and my blog Island Jazz. I’ve covered the scene for seven years now, writing profiles of jazz greats like Ian McDougall, Hugh Fraser, Phil Dwyer, Ingrid Jensen, and Joe Coughlin and profiling institutions like Hermann’s Jazz Club and the lively jazz vespers scene on Vancouver Island. We live in one of the most jazz-rich regions in the world but it’s never been seriously documented except in short pieces in the local media. By collecting stories I’ve already written and telling new ones, I intend to create a historical and contemporary mosaic that tips a literary hat to the great jazz musicians on Canada’s west coast.
2. How does my work differ from other work in its genre?
I’m not sure that it does except to say that I always try to find my own voice and write as clearly and simply as I can. I’ve been told by editors that reading my work is a pleasure because there’s rarely a bump in the road. I embrace Nathaniel Hawthorne’s sentiment that “easy reading is damn hard writing” and do a lot of rewriting even for the most basic piece of journalism. But all good writers do that and so ultimately any differences will be found in voice and subject matter.
3. Why do I write what I do?
Writing for me comes down to three things: love of subject, love of form, and love of language. It’s always about my heart even when my head is involved. I spent a year writing about a four-month trip through India, Nepal and Sri Lanka that my wife and I undertook in 2002. While that manuscript remains unfinished, it’s a good example of my heart driving my writing. I fell in love with India and so I wrote about it. I love travel books like Tony Cohan’s On Mexican Time and Gary Geddes’ Sailing Home and and so I tried to emulate them. Similarly, my latest projects are inspired by subjects that excite me and works I’ve read and admired. Books like But Beautiful by Geoff Dyer, the only book about jazz that Keith Jarrett recommends.
4. How does my writing process work?
I’m not a planner. I plunge in with an image, quotation or detail that excites me and go from there. I’ll follow it until it runs dry and then grab something else and pursue it, gradually piecing the story together around ideas and details that interest me. In the end I have a rough mosaic that I work and rework until all the pieces fit. I tend to rewrite on the fly, which goes against all the advice I gave my students when I taught high school English and creative writing, but I can’t help it even though it slows me down and sometimes blocks the flow of ideas. I just can’t wait to get in there and tinker with the words.