Starting today, Monday, July 9, 2018 through Sunday, July 15, 2018, take advantage of this unheard of price and get my holiday jazz album “Tidings of Comfort and Joy – a Jazz Piano Trio Christmas” on CD for just $5 from CDBaby! Keep in mind that this offer is ONLY good on CDBaby and just for one week. Also, it gets better: Buy more than one album and get a 10% discount! Click here to purchase!
You’ll get 68 minutes of pure holiday jazz, superb musicianship, unique reworkings and fresh arrangements of holiday classics. Each song was cut in 1 to 4 takes and recorded and mixed on the highest quality analog recorders, giving you the warm, rich sound that classic tape recording provides.
This is a fantastic gift at a low price for those who want high quality music for their holidays. It is also an album for those who might not be a big fan of holiday music, but could enjoy something in that vein that is musically sophisticated and done well. No gimmicks — no technological trickery — just pure holiday jazz.
The pictures used in this post were taken at the Chicago premier of Urgh! A Music War, June, 1982. Photos: Paul Natkin.
RE Urgh! A Music War being shown in Chicago this July: I’ve asked everybody to stop contacting me about this because I am not in this particular version of the film being shown.
The Chicago Film Society is screening a much edited down version with many bands removed and I am edited out as well. As my fans have said, “So much for authenticity.”
Had I been in this version and had I been asked, I would have been happy to introduce the film and do a Q&A, because my band is the only Chicago act that was featured in Urgh!.
People have been frantically checking their DVD’s to see if Sign of the Cross by Skafish is included. The answer is yes. My band is included in the DVD.
You can pick up a copy of the DVD-R by Warner Brothers from Amazon. And, if you’re interested in hearing the history of that version and how I’m not getting paid anything for it, check out my blog post here. And, yes, I was in that edit.
You Tube has just made it harder to monetize videos. Now, a channel will have to have at least 1000 subscribers to be able to monetize. This will really hurt the working musicians, for whom every penny counts.
Currently, the Skafish channel has 179 subscribers. If you can help me out by subscribing to my channel and watching the videos, it would be greatly appreciated, and that way, I can try to post more content. Also, please spread the word to anyone who is interested in Skafish. As an indie artist, your support can really make such a difference for the better! Here is my You Tube channel link: https://www.youtube.com/user/sKaFiSh
I promised everyone that I would let them know what I decided to do regarding the re-release of the first Skafish album, and I certainly have been looking forward to sharing my thoughts with everyone. In case you’re just tuning in or only know bits and pieces of the story, here is a brief recap of where things are at: I finally regained the legal rights to my first album (along with the track Sink or Swim), the fans generously paid for the record to be fully re-mastered, and I recently asked the fans to take a survey to let me know exactly what they wanted in terms of the album’s re-release. The last time everyone heard from me, I shared the results of that survey.
I thought long and hard about the best way to deal with the project, crunched the numbers, and did a detailed analysis based on the survey results I received. I wanted to do my best to insure that eventually, everyone gets what they want, yet in a fiscally responsible way.
What I really feel the best thing to do at this time is to re-release my first album (with Sink or Swim) on CD and in digital formats. This will be the first time the record will ever be available digitally and on CD. When I asked the fans what formats they wanted in the fan funding survey, CD and digital received the strongest responses.
However, a vinyl re-release is still in the works – just down the road a bit! At this time, to keep the project costs down, we’re going to hold off on the vinyl portion of the project for right now. In 2020, though, it will be the 40th anniversary of the album’s initial release. Since most people who took the survey expressed their desire to have a deluxe vinyl package, the 40th anniversary would be the ideal time to try to offer that type of package for the fans if the support is there at the time. That could be wonderful!
Regarding the current CD/digital release, right now, I am planning the rewards (and trying to keep things straightforward and simple), as well as getting the final costs and shipping estimates together to be able to launch the fan funding campaign. My goal is to make the release affordable to everyone, while still maintaining the highest possible quality standards. I won’t compromise quality, yet I am extremely mindful of everyone’s financial situations. So, I will do my best to offer reasonable prices for everyone involved. Plain and simple, I want everyone who connects with this record and wants it to be able to have it. Of course, I will certainly follow up on all the new developments and let you know exactly how things are progressing.
It is extremely important for me to try to make all the fans happy. With that in mind, I’ve tried to create a plan that will ultimately work in that way.
Again, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has been so generous in supporting this project all along. It couldn’t have gotten this far without you. And, I thank you for your continued patience throughout this journey. I know this has been a long and drawn-out process. But, this project is extremely important to me just as I know that it is to the fans! And, I am totally committed to seeing this record out there again.
Throughout the 1st Skafish album re-release project’s evolution, I’ve tried my best to keep everyone informed every step of the way. So, now that the fan funding survey has been completed, I wanted to share the results with everyone.
The total number of responses we received for the fan funding survey was 174.
Here are the responses to the question, “Will you participate in the fan funding campaign to re-release the re-mastered first Skafish album (with the bonus track Sink or Swim?”:
137 (78.7%), said YES to supporting the fan funding campaign.
37 (21.3%), said that they would only MAYBE participate.
No one responded NO to backing the project.
In order to create a budget and timeline for this project, I was asking for specifics on what formats and products fans were really interested in. In terms of what everyone was looking for out of the project, there was a tremendous disparity in what people wanted.
Here are those diverse responses to the question, “What format would you prefer to purchase via the fan funding campaign?”:
111 (63.8%) respondents said that they wanted the first Skafish album (with Sink or Swim) re-released on CD.
77 (44.3%) indicated that they would like the album on vinyl. Of those who participated, 57 (32.8%) said they would like 180 gram weight, while 48 (27.6%) indicated that their weight preference was standard.
53 (30.5%) of the respondents said they wanted digital. Regarding those total responses, 51 (29.3%) preferred mp3, 33 (19%) requested lossless quality, and 37 (21.3%) were looking to have both mp3 and lossless.
4 (2.3%) requested formats other than CD, vinyl, or digital.
(The reason that the total number of “format” responses is higher than 174 is because some expressed the desire to purchase multiple formats.)
When it came to boutique formats, a cassette release received the most responses, while a T-Shirt run scored the highest when it came to higher tier rewards. Finally, a group listening party with me received the most votes for a superfan package.
I was the most surprised by the responses to this question, “Do you (or did you ever) own the single ‘Obsessions of You’ B/W ‘Sink or Swim’”?:
37 (21.3%) said they had purchased the single, “Obsessions of You” B/W “Sink or Swim.” I would have thought that number to have been much higher.
137 (78.7) indicated that they had never owned the single. So, the inclusion of “Sink or Swim” offers many fans a bonus track of great value.
Some respondents strongly indicated that they wanted a deluxe CD and vinyl package. Many requested extensive liner notes, never-before-seen photos, extra comments by the band, and anecdotal stories from back in the day. A few mentioned that they only wanted to see the album available digitally.
Many offered interesting suggestions regarding making memorabilia and specialty items available through the fan funding effort.
But, this all brings me to the question of what to do from here. I was certainly hoping for far more responses than I received, especially because a great deal of support is needed to successfully run a fan funding campaign.
Because the number of total responses we received was so low, and of that number, only 137 have said definitely yes to backing the project, it is extremely hard to figure out a way to give everyone what they want. At this point, there doesn’t seem to be near enough interest to do a re-release that includes all the formats (CD, vinyl and digital). To do a low number run on vinyl and CD and still make them in anyway cost-effective for everyone is virtually impossible. Truthfully, there may just not be enough support to re-release the album.
Also, it was pretty clear that there was a big split between those who wanted it available as inexpensively as possible and those who wanted a really deluxe package. Those two extremes are hard to reconcile.
So, at this point, I have to weigh all the options to try to see if there’s any possible way to make this happen, given the responses to the survey. After 35 years, I would certainly love to have enough fan backing to be able to run an affordable, successful campaign to get the 1st Skafish album with Sink or Swim back out there in multiple formats.
To everyone who took the survey, thanks so much for taking the time to let me know what you want and what you think. Also, to those of you who have in any way supported this project, I truly appreciate all of your efforts!
If you have any suggestions other than to just re-release it digitally (that’s an obvious option), please let me know.
I will be in touch once I’ve sorted all of this out.
In my most recent entry here, I told everyone that I would be sharing a survey soon. You can read the history and recap of where the first album project is at here.
The survey is now done. I’m asking everyone who is interested in participating in the fan funding of the first album re-release to take the survey. There are a couple of things I want to point out first. In order to put this project out, it will have to be fan funded. If you read the past project updates, I had to spend a lot of money to gain the rights back, so fan funding is the only possible way to do this, particularly because what I’ve heard so far from fans is that they really want a high quality 180 gram vinyl re-release with a high quality pressing. In today’s world, doing that is quite expensive, especially for a limited-edition run. There are also some fans who have seemed to be interested in having the album available for the first time on CD and digital.
The survey is important for several reasons. First, it will be give me an idea of who is willing to participate, and what formats everyone wants to see the debut Skafish album available in. This allows me to crunch the numbers and come up with a package that’s both affordable and satisfying to the fans.
Again, I want to emphasize that the re-release must be fan funded. So, if you really want this record to come out, now is the time to do it. If we’re not able to run a successful fan funding campaign, then the record will not end up being re-released. It is of vital importance to financially get behind supporting this record if you truly want to have it out there once again. So, only take the survey if you are seriously planning on financially supporting the project. In putting together the survey, I tried to make sure that all the possible scenarios could be covered with the sincerest intention of the fans getting what they want.
And, don’t forget that all versions of the album’s re-release will include the Skafish fan favorite Sink or Swim.
I am so pleased to be able to announce that after nine months of consistent, diligent work, the re-mastering project for the first Skafish album has finally been completed. I want to give a big shout-out to mastering engineer Trevor Sadler for his meticulous attention to detail and his unwavering support for the project. He has been instrumental in making the re-mastering a success.
I am thrilled with the results and I hope you will be, too. If you like the first album, I believe that you will love the re-mastered version. I stayed committed to the original vision of the album. Trevor and I didn’t do anything foolish like make the entire album a brick wall of loudness, as some do when they re-master a record. Instead, we kept all of the dynamics and nuances (including the soft passages) intact. At the same time, we worked hard to gain the highest possible fidelity, clarity, power, fullness and richness of sound. We made every effort to achieve the best possible balance and enhancement of the overall production and final mix that we could.
Throughout the years, I’ve gotten emails from people who had discovered the album, stating how much they loved what they heard. Since this is the first time the album will ever be available digitally and on CD (as well as a new vinyl re-release), the record can hopefully reach a whole new generation of fans who can connect with it.
Yes, There’s A Bonus Track: I also have some exciting news to share: The track Sink or Swim (originally the B-Side to the single Obsessions of You) will be included as a bonus track on all formats of the album’s re-release. Since Sink or Swim has been a fan favorite as well as one of the band’s and mine, I thought it would be a fantastic addition for everyone.
There were two factors that determined whether I could include Sink or Swim. The first was that I was able to successfully legally terminate the rights of the record company. Since the first Skafish album and the single Obsessions of You b/w Sink or Swim were two separate releases (and therefore, two separate sound recording copyrights), I had to terminate both the sound recording copyrights for the album and Sink or Swim. Also, I had to make sure that there would be enough time to fit Sink or Swim on a vinyl release without losing fidelity.
A Brief Timeline Of Events: Here is a brief timeline for the 1st Skafish album re-release project and how it has unfolded so far:
December 18, 2012: I sent the termination notices to EMI, the record company who owned the sound recording copyrights in order to legally regain my rights to the sound recordings to my first album and Sink or Swim.
May 15, 2015: Thirty five years after the date of publication, I officially regained the rights to the sound recording of the first Skafish album.
June 1, 2015: Thirty five years after the date of publication, I officially regained the rights to the sound recording of Sink or Swim.
Mid-February, 2016: On my blog, I first extended the invitation to my fans to contribute to the cost of re-mastering the first album project.
February 25, 2016: The first donation came in.
May 1, 2016: The estimated cost of $1000.00 for the project was fully funded by my fans.
May 24, 2016: Mastering engineer Trevor Sadler began the re-mastering process.
February 24, 2017: After nine months of day-to-day work, the re-mastering project was completed.
Once again, I want to extend my deepest heartfelt gratitude to all the fans who have donated to re-mastering the album, everyone who has shared online posts, followed me on Spotify and helped to spread the word. This project couldn’t have gotten this far without you!
What’s Next: As I’ve mentioned before, I will be sending out a link to a survey to get everyone’s input before I finalize the crowdfunding and re-release plans. If you’re not on my mailing list, please sign up to be notified about this project and future developments.
I’ve got good news to report. The mastering is almost done! My mastering engineer, Trevor Sadler, and I have been working diligently on this project with the same two objectives in mind that have been there from the very beginning of this project:
First, I am committed to remaining authentic to the original vision and recording of the first Skafish album. Second, at the same time, attaining the highest audio quality and fidelity possible is essential.
Some of you have asked the question of why we were mastering from both never-before-played vinyl and the final studio tape mixes. I’ve had people wonder why I felt the need to master from both sources.
There are several important reasons why we used both. First, we wanted to see which medium provided the best sound. And, it is clear that the tapes offer superior sound quality.
However, the flat vinyl master still continues to provide a valuable purpose. That transfer is the exact record everyone has heard and is familiar with since 1980. It is authentic.
So, with the intention of remaining true to the spirit of the original album, we have been able to compare the new studio tape master to the original flat vinyl transfer. That comparison gives us a solid, objective reference point to keep navigating from. It is a lot of extra work, but I feel it is necessary to get everything done correctly.
While we are putting the final touches on re-mastering, I wanted to let you know about something coming up soon where I will need your input. I am creating a survey. This survey is only for only those who are planning on buying the album (and not for those who don’t intend to purchase the record).
If you are planning to buy the album, I need to know what you want. Would you like the album to be available on vinyl, CD, digital, or in other formats? Are you interested in a limited edition re-release? Do you want signed copies? And, there will other questions as well.
Since this pressing will initially only be available through crowdfunding and pre-orders, I want to make sure that we get the numbers right. Please stay tuned for the survey – I am working on it!
As you may already know, I finally have over 250 followers on Spotify! Therefore, I can apply to gain control of my artist account there. Thanks to all of you who have followed me there and who have spread the word. This means that I will have more control of what I can offer to you on Spotify. Also, please add my music to playlists on Spotify. It is a great help.
In the meantime, please spread the word about my music on social media. Spreading the word about Skafish is a subterranean grassroots movement that all of you are a vital part of.
It is so exciting to finally be able to see that we’re really coming to the end of the re-mastering process. It has been a lot of work — and well worth it for my fans. I will be in touch.
About a week ago, I promised an update to let everyone know just where the 1st Skafish album re-mastering project is currently at. And, for those of you who have just tuned in, let’s start with a little recap:
So far, two never-before-opened vinyl copies of the first Skafish album have been transferred to digital. Mastering engineer Trevor Sadler and I have listened to both, studied them and compared notes. Of these two, one pressing was from the United States and the other came from the United Kingdom. The vinyl transfers were promising.
However, there was still the unanswered question of the tapes. These would be the original tapes from the studio where the album was originally recorded that I talked about here. They are high-quality reel-to-reel tape dubs of the final master mixes. We wanted to see if they would sound better, worse, or the same as the vinyl transfers.
Current update – the tape transfers:
Trevor successfully transferred the tapes and sent me two copies in mid August. The first copy was a straight, unchanged flat transfer, meaning, nothing was done to adjust the sound whatsoever. The second copy had a small degree of mastering that Trevor had done. After listening to the second copy, it was pretty evident to both Trevor and I that the tapes sounded extremely promising. Proceeding from there, Trevor started working toward the final master.
Then, on Saturday, 9-3-16, I received and began listening to a more finished master made from the original tapes. This transfer further developed the album to be closer to a completed audio master, which involved such things as working with the treble/bass, overall EQ, balance, volume levels, compression, etc. That’s all technical jargon for getting the best sound out of the album possible.
So, what’s the verdict? It is absolutely clear that the studio master tape dub is superior in sound and quality to either of the vinyl masters – and that’s what I am going with.
I know this process has taken some time, but there are a lot of details to pay attention to as well as multiple sources we have needed to master from. The most important thing is not speed, but getting it right. Moving forward, there are a few tweaks and some details that still need to be taken care of. That’s in part because we need two separate masters: one for vinyl and the other for CD and digital. The vinyl and digital medium are notably different in terms of what they each require for a proper master. It’s important to me that both sound excellent.
When it comes to the audio master to the 1st album, there are two primary objectives I have in mind. First, I want to keep the sound authentic and loyal to the original album and its fans. Second, it is important to have the music work in the best way possible for both a vinyl and CD/digital release.
While the re-mastering is being worked on, there is something I would ask you to do for me. I am trying to gain control of my Spotify artist account, and I need 250 followers to do so. Currently, I have 111. Please follow me on Spotify. It doesn’t matter whether you have a free or paid account, because you can follow me with either type on Spotify. That will certainly help with making the 1st album project a reality, because I will be able to post updates, add pictures, playlists, and share things directly with the fans on Spotify.
I am not one who neurotically and obsessively posts about every little thing in a project, which is why you don’t hear from me constantly. In other words, I don’t believe that listening to the album at low volume versus high volume is worthy of a post, lol. My goal is to share substantial information with you that is relevant. Of course, you will be hearing from me as everything develops and comes together.