My how time has flown since our last newsletter back in February! While mankind continues to demonstrate its inability to cope with problems of its own making and goes full steam ahead creating new ones, we can still calm our souls and try to spread love and peace through music. So, without further ado, some music...
Video version of "If I Believed"
Penny sings our humanist love ballad along with alto sax, harmonica, and pedal steel features (background fine art selections by Penny).
This year I spent some time upgrading our "live" toolset with the addition of a new looper and drum box which work nicely together. This has taken some time to get right, but with these particular tools I've been able to craft my own drumsets based on my favorite samples from the many drum libraries I've been using in our studio recordings over the years. Then I custom programed the drum parts for each tune. This is all time consuming, but fun! Then, when performing the tune, I'm able to live-loop my guitar parts and have them stay perfectly in sync with the drums. - Slim
Slim's latest pedal boards for harmonica, guitar, looping, and drums:
For Monterey Bay Area folks..
Penny has two Viola da Gamba gigs coming up to celebrate the new year:
There's the annual Cherry Trio & Friends concert at the Carl Cherry Center in Carmel, CA, which is on New Years Day at 3pm. They'll be joined this year by two other fabulous musicians on Baroque Violin and Dulcian.
Then on January 5th and 6th, she'll be playing in the Pastyme Consort for the Madregalia!! concerts, also in Carmel, at All Saints' Episcopal Church.
Penny's been busy as she continues leading the choir at the Stroke and Disability Center at Cabrillo College as well as working on the boards of both The Santa Cruz Baroque Festival and The Santa Cruz Chamber Players. Slim's been doing some outside sessions on harmonica, playing some experimental music with friends on pedal steel and we've both been working on some new studio recordings which will most likely be the subject of our next newsletter.
Finally, a reminder that all our published music, bios, and video links can be found on our website:
Since our last newsletter back in August of last year, we've published a few things: A new "live in the studio" video, a new studio recording of a new tune, a remastered old Penny Hanna album, and a video showcasing one of the songs from that album.
"If I Believed" - A Humanist Love Ballad
New studio recording of a tune written by Slim and sung by Penny with alto sax, harmonica, and pedal steel features. Listen or download here:
"Organic Software Vol. 2 - Cruel Lottery" - Penny's 1987 politically-themed pop album remastered
Penny's songs on this album were, with a couple of exceptions, political in nature. It was 1987, Reagan was in the White House and plenty of bad stuff was happening here in the USA. The lyrics riff on wide-ranging subjects including nuclear annihilation in "DEW Line" and "They Say, I Say", televangelist con men in "Oral Tradition" (fellow oldsters might remember Oral Roberts in the prayer tower), the never-ending racism towards African Americans in "Still Walkin'", the feminist lament "Girls Can Play", and Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative (aka Star Wars) in "Somewhere Up In Outer Space". Sadly, much of her biting commentary holds true to this day. Most of all, I hope that you'll agree that the craftsmanship in these songs, both lyrically and musically, is exceptional -- a thing of beauty. - Slim.
Listen or Download (no charge) here (this page also has links to this album on the major streaming services):
And for Black History Month: "Still Walkin'" - Video showcase (with lyrics) of Penny's song from the Cruel Lottery album
The year was 1987 and we were on the road doing a hotel gig in Hutchinson, Kansas. One night on the local news we caught a story about Martha Woodard Rawlins, a local African American civil rights leader who had recently organized Hutchinson's first MLK Day celebration. Rawlins had awakened to find racist graffiti spray painted all over the outside of her home. Penny was outraged and channeled her anger over this into a song which we recorded and subsequently performed during a return engagement in Hutchinson. The grainy footage incorporated in this video was taken by the news crew of Wichita TV station KWCH for their follow-up on this story.
Like so many of you, we're concerned about the political environment here in the good ol' USA.
Among other things, our democracy is at stake in state after state where
Republican propagators of the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen
have been nominated for secretary of state and governor positions.
Should they win, these are the very people who's job it would be to
certify election results.
And then there's the US Congress to worry about. Without solid
Democratic majorities in both houses, nothing can be done with respect
to voting rights, abortion rights, and the out-of-control Supreme Court.
We will need huge voter turnout in November to make a difference.
It's with this in mind that we've released our new get-out-the-vote anthem Stand Up!
and nothing would make us happier than for musical artists, especially
those with a bigger following than ours (a very low bar), to perform
and/or record this song to help remind people why their vote is so
important this November.
So, if you like the tune, please share widely!
Video version (with lyrics) on YouTube:
Listen and/or download the MP3 version here:
Also available on all the major streaming services, including:
Over a three year period beginning in 1985, Penny wrote and recorded three albums worth of pop tunes under the "Organic Software" banner. These recordings were done in our home project studio using what was in the 1980s the latest computer-controlled synthesizer technology along with semi-pro multi-track tape machines. Penny would write the tunes and author the basic MIDI tracks and then hand them over to Slim for further enhancement before laying down the vocals and other instruments. Back then we got as far as the album cover but unfortunately none of these albums ever made it to vinyl -- so we just sold cassette versions at our gigs (as a few of you on this list may remember).
We're currently in the process of remastering and re-releasing all of these recordings. We're starting with Organic Software Volume 3 "Often Running", originally released in 1988 and currently available to listen to or download from our website (no charge) and is also now available on all the streaming services.
We've just uploaded a new video of Penny performing on the viola da gamba in our project studio. Penny says:
"The composer and viol player Tobias Hume (c. 1579 – 1645) was also a soldier who traveled away from his native Scotland to the continent. Here is his "Pollish Villanel" a light hearted composition for solo lyra viol, perhaps inspired from the Italian 16th century Villanella. It appears in "The First Part of Ayers French, Pollish and Others" published in London, 1605."
And for those in our area, Penny will be performing on gamba with the Cherry Trio plus special guest violinist David Wilson at the Cherry Center in Carmel, CA on Sunday, January 2nd, thus reviving their annual tradition which was paused last year due to the pandemic.
Also, since our previous newsletter, we published a video from deep in the memory vault of Penny (along with yours truly) performing at the 1988 Austin Music Umbrella Songwriters Competition where she was a finalist and voted Best Female Vocalist for the outstanding performance of her tune "Love Rises Up".