• The Making of Set on a Hill, Pt.2

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    Ok, after catching an incredible performance last night of Van Morrison on Austin City Limits, I feel that I am able to return of the telling behind Set on a Hill’s genesis. Man, if the show is on YouTube, I would HIGHLY encourage you to go and watch it. His rendition of “I Can’t Stop Loving You” gave me chills. The show aired November 11th, 2006.

    “Set” as I’ll call it, was created out of pure need, however I didn’t really realize it at the time. I had two or three songs sketched out and then went to tour with an artist for a while, leaving the idea of the album on the shelf. After the tour, a previous health issue had reared it’s ugly head with a vengeance and without going into too much detail, left me with a lot of time at home. I had lost 40 pounds in almost 3 months and was really bed-ridden for about 6-7 months. So, it was a difficult time. During that time however, I wrote the rest of this album. It became almost cathartic if you will. I remember just hours after being in the hospital for a week that I wrote Change of Season. I’ll never forget that moment.

    All the while I had asked Will Ackerman, founder of the Windham Hill label if he would be interested in producing the album. If there is anyone who knows the details of creating a solo piano album, it’s Will. Not only producing the infamous George Winston albums, but also another phenomenal musician Michael Hedges. So, I knew I was in great company.

    I recorded the album in two days. My wife & I drove to Will’s stunning retreat in Vermont from Brooklyn and found ourselves in an environment that was simply beautiful. The atmosphere could not have been more inviting. When we arrived, Will was going to go and

    check on a piece of machinery that cuts trees. That’s when we found out he built the entire place by hand. Unbelievable. The guy needs wood floors, he chops down the tree, and lays wood floors! Unreal!

    We finally returned to the studio where on the scene appears Corin Nelsen, Will’s right hand man when it comes to engineering/mixing. The two of them together are such beautiful spirits that it’s easy to see how one hand washes the other there. Sitting behind Will’s 1953 Steinway B, my fingers felt like is was sliding them into butter with each pressing of the piano key. We started the session with Passing Country, then Sojourn, Promise Made on Signal Mountain, and then an unreleased song that may appear on the next album. By this point, I was getting pretty fried so we decided to call it a day, retreating back to our hotel and some rather not-so-great italian delivery that actually really hit the spot! Day two coming up next.


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