|For the last decade, my brother has been kind enough to sponsor an annual siblings, spouses and kids ski trip, often in Canada. The last two years, that trip has taken us to Big White, a ski area near the town of Kelowna, in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. As an aside, a very funny film, Fido, was shot on location in Kelowna... Kelowna also happens to be the current home of one of the most talented musicians I've ever worked with, John Lee Sanders. Like Bruce Bowers, I met John while in the house band at The Saddle Rack. John spends a lot of time on the road, but happened to be home during the week that I was going to be in his neighborhood. I contacted him and we arranged to meet. Sadly, on the day we were supposed to meet, I woke up feeling sick, so I had to cancel our meeting. Not feeling well enough to ski, I stayed in that day. I began writing some string quartet music. We were staying in a home that had a big window looking out into the snow-covered hills. As I sipped tea and wrote, snow was falling outside; it was a picture I'll never forget - never having lived in a region where much snow falls, I was mesmerized by the beauty of it.
I didn't finish the string quartet composition while in Big White, but I got enough of it done to inspire me to wrap it up in the weeks after returning home. I roughed out the string parts with synths, wrote and produced the pedal steel parts, did my best to notate it, then asked Kent Darnielle if he wouldn't mind proofreading my charts before I embarrassed myself in front of string players. Kent revised the charts and did a flawless job, considering that once the charts were in front of the players, other than the insertion of bowing and dynamic markings, not one correction had to be made.
I recently finished producing, engineering and mixing an album for the Real Vocal String Quartet. ! I asked them to record the string parts for Okanagan Jubilee. Come to think of it, once again, the small world making itself evident, I met Irene Sazer of Real Vocal String Quartet through John Lee Sanders - so John, I guess I have you to thank twice over for this piece! We rehearsed once, then convened at my home studio away from my home studio, Fantasy Studios' Studio A. There are many firsts for me on this album - writing for string quartet and pedal steel was certainly one of them. I hope to explore more of this in the future.
Thanks to Real Vocal String Quartet (Irene Sazer, Alisa Rose, Dina Maccabee and Jess Ivry)! Also, thanks to Sean Hasselback for the use of his photo Snowghost Sunrise. Critters like these abound at Big White.