Song & Story: A New Podcast

If you haven’t already heard, I launched a podcast back in April. It’s called Song & Story. And I haven’t been this excited about a project in a long time. Here’s the trailer.

You can listen + subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, TuneIn, SongAndStoryPodcast.com, or wherever you get your podcast fix.

THE CONCEPT

Every song has a story. That’s the premise (hence, the title). I want to dive into songs that have piqued my interest over the years and learn more about them by discussing them with the artists who brought them to life. I’m following a unique format designed to give the listener an immersive experience into each episode’s featured song.

THE FORMAT

I. Introduction  //  Every episode will begin with a brief introduction.

II. Song  //  The featured song will be played in full.

III. Discussion  //  I’ll ask the artist about the story/stories behind the song. I’ll poke and prod and ask about specific lines, phrases, themes, metaphors, production decisions, etc. I fully anticipate each conversation veering off onto backroads and tangents — an inevitable result of our subjective experiences with art — though it will always come back around.

IV. Song (again)  //  Having digested and discussed the song, we’ll close each show by listening to it again with fresh ears and a new perspective.

THE “WHY?”

I’m a songwriter. As such, I’m a storyteller. I know how much time, energy, and thought goes into crafting a song. Some come out quickly, in minutes. Some take days, weeks, months, even years to be fully revealed and refined. I know what each of my songs means. I know the stories behind them. Sometimes I share those stories when I’m performing, though I never quite reveal every detail; I never really tell the whole story.

I’ve been traveling with my music for almost a decade. In that time, I’ve had the privilege of meeting and collaborating with some incredible songwriters. The opportunity to meet an artist I admire and talk with them about their work is something I cherish. Contemplating a song and discussing it — the thought and intent behind it, the stories around and contained within it — is essential to valuing music as art. What a song can reveal about the human condition in all its glory, tragedy, comedy, error, absurdity, and mystery: that’s what I want to explore.

You can support this project on Patreon. And you’ll get cool things for doing so. For your consideration: patreon.com/songandstory

“Created” Book Review, Part 2 (of 3): Challenge Your Audience

If you haven’t yet heard of the Created project — Likable Art‘s cool new book for artists and creative types interested in the unique intersection of art and faith — I recommend checking it out. Submitted by 62 different artists [of various mediums], the articles written for the book are just as diverse in style and substance as the artwork created to complement them.

I’m about half-way through the book so far. Since it contains so much rich content from so many uniquely enlightened contributors, I’m taking it slow. I want to make sure I soak in each perspective, to consider each contribution on its own and in light of the greater collection. After reading each article, I’m sitting silently for a few moments to contemplate the corresponding artwork. I’m trying to not simply consume but digest the material.

Part three of this “review” will have more of my thoughts on the other contributors’ thoughts. For now, I’ll simply share this: As someone who experiences creative inclinations in a variety of artistic mediums and appreciates authentic artistry in any form, reading the learned wisdom of others has been invaluable. I definitely have some favorite nuggets so far, and I’m looking forward to sharing them with you.

Part one of this review featured one of the two articles I submitted that was not chosen. I’ve dubbed these “the rejected articles.”

Here’s the second…

Challenge your audience. Be controversial.

Flannery O’Connor once remarked: “I am not afraid that the book will be controversial; I am afraid it will not be controversial.”

That resonates with me. I get it. I’ve felt it — that need to be controversial, to push the envelope, to provoke discomfort, to challenge myself and my audience. Perhaps, on a subconscious level, this need exists to ensure resistance against the formulaic, to prevent the asexual reproduction of art wherein passion and the joy of discovery are absent from the creative process and the offspring lack the beauty and necessity of genetic diversity.

In the quest to understand what it means to be fully alive, what it means to be human in light of the divine, there are no heights without the depths. And the depths will always be rife with controversy. Don’t shy away from it. Don’t fear it. Bring it to the light. Present it for discussion in your own uniquely creative way. To merely bask in the glory of the heights without ever diving into the depths is to remain comfortable: “But you were not made for comfort — you were made for greatness.” (PBXVI)

(To be continued…)

“Created” Book Review, Part 1 (of 3): Leave Something for the Imagination

“Wanna see a sign of the end times?”

That’s what I asked my mom as I showed her my advance copy of Created, a new collaborative book for anyone who has ever been interested in the mysterious intersection of art and faith. (The “sign of the end times,” as I interpreted it, was the strange reality that something I had written was just published in the same book as something that Bishop Robert Barron and Dr. Peter Kreeft — two brilliant minds — had written.)

When Cory Heimann (founder + creative director of Likable Art) reached out to tell me about the project and see if I might be interested in contributing, I jumped at the chance. The concept was so cool and so simple:

(1) pick 5 words to share with other creatives trying to do great work
(2) unpack those 5 words in 200 words or less
(3) a graphic/visual artist would create an image to complement + accompany my article

After taking some time to think about which 5 words I felt moved to share, I came up with a couple different options. I sent Cory two sets of five words and three different articles expounding on them. And I let him decide which of those three articles would be my official contribution to the project.

To find out which article he chose, you’ll have to get the book. You can order it here. And if you place your order by February 12th, you’ll also get an exclusive digital album featuring songs from myself and few other musicians  — Alanna Boudreau, Mike Mangione, Joe Zambon, to name a few — who also contributed to Created.

I’m still working my way through the book, slowly. I don’t want the wisdom of my fellow creatives to hit me all at once. I want to let each contribution sink in, to digest each morsel individually, to fully appreciate the whole meal as best as I can. That’s why this Created book review is in three parts. Before I share my full thoughts on the book itself, I’d like to share with you the other articles I submitted for consideration — the rejected articles.

Here’s the first…

Leave something for the imagination.

Honesty invokes resonance. Intentionality inspires active participation. Details and specifics help people relate to a story and its characters. But, sometimes, being too explicit, spelling everything out, or drilling a message or moral home with obvious intent can seem preachy, lazy, or worse…boring.

When you say enough to make them wonder, to make them want to know what exactly is being said while leaving something for the imagination, you challenge the audience to engage in a whole new way. You give them something to talk about, and the subsequent discussions allow us to learn something about art, ourselves, and the people we discuss it with.

With his use of parables — stories more allegorical than explicit — Christ challenged his audience to use their God-given capacity for thought. And when he said “I desire mercy, not sacrifice,” he didn’t elaborate or explain what that meant. Rather, he actually said: “Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice’” (Mt. 9:13). He presented his audience with a truth, then challenged them to unpack it.

When you leave something for the imagination, you leave room for exploration, for growth and discovery. And isn’t that the point?

(To be continued…)

Kevin Heider on Balcony TV

At the end of September, Kevin spent a beautifully sunny autumn morning on a rooftop in downtown Cincinnati with several other local artists for the inaugural video shoot for Cincinnati’s own Balcony TV channel. (check out a few photos from the shoot below)

Sponsored by the good folks at Cincinnati’s Downtowne Listening Room, Balcony TV offers “music with a view.” It’s a cool project. And it’s a great way to discover new artists from all over the world.

Kevin’s live/acoustic performance will give you a good taste of Balcony TV’s mission and format. If you like, share it. Cheers!

COMING SOON | from Love Good Music

We can’t tell you too much, but we can tell you this…

Back in February, Kevin spent a few days at Sony Music Studios in Nashville, TN with fellow singer-songwriters Chris Cole and Alanna-Marie Boudreau. They were in town for about a week, each recording 4 brand new tracks to be released exclusively to patrons of Love Good Music - a cool new indie music patronage program – at some point in 2015.

Here’s a behind-the-scenes shot of the band prepping in the studio…

…and here’s a clip of the song [they were prepping for] in an early stage of mixing…

It’s got drums, guitars, mandolin, banjo, upright bass, a flying fiddle, a saloon-style piano, real trumpets, fake trumpets, drunken mob vocals, and more. It’s a raucous Irish drinking song of sorts, a folksy Americana/rock anthem called For Those I’ll Leave Behind. It’s a happy song….about death. Get excited.

#LoveGoodMusic

Meet Mrs. Heider!

Ladies and gentlemen, friends and fans, kith and kin, right here, right now, for your utter and ultimate delectation and delight: meet Mrs. Heider! (Because exploiting your new wife’s incomparable adorability is the surest way to boost record sales and increase artist awareness.) And to answer the question you didn’t even know you were asking: Yes! She is the girl from Frederick :-D

*The Spark is now available on iTunes, Bandcamp, and a variety of digital media outlets. You can purchase CDs in the Store here on KevinHeider.com.