In a nutshell: my Recording Tour of Love visited all 48 contiguous US states, recording all kinds of music with all kinds of people from each state, a piece here and a piece there, which I am compiling into three “studio” albums of all original material, with a virtual band made up of hundreds of musicians all across America.
The idea for this amazing project was born out of the happy marriage of these three facts:
Fact 1: I’ve been writing songs since I first started with music. Before the Tour, I had well over 50 unrecorded songs. Some of them will stay that way, and rightly. But the rest… by and large, I’ve been just sitting on them.
Fact 2: I went to two different universities and was very involved in music both places. (I should hope so, since I got a music degree.) Through those experiences, I have the honor of knowing quite a lot of great musicians.
Fact 3: As I’ve pursued songwriting, I’ve also invested in some decent recording equipment, and have familiarized myself with recording and production techniques. I’ve already recorded a bunch of my own stuff as well as made demos for several other great songwriters.
Hmmm, I thought. I have tons of songs written, know a ton of great musicians, and have recording equipment. Why on earth am I not recording all of these musicians right now?
Answer: geography. After graduating, all of these great musicians spread out across the nation. Which created a bit of a problem, except…
Let’s introduce Fact 4: I love road trips. And voilá! The idea for Zach’s Recording Tour of Love was born.
As I began to excitedly plan for this project, I realized something else: why limit it to people I know? Why not allow anyone to be a part of it? With the marvels of the internet, including blogging engines like WordPress, great online communities like Couchsurfing, and bulletin boards like Craigslist, the project can expand greatly in awesomeness to include absolutely anyone who might fall in the route.
So the plan became traveling around the great 48, recording absolutely anyone who has something to contribute. Awesome eh?
I’ve gone through all kinds of phases with music. Simple and complex, mainstream and lo-fi, arranged and spontaneous, tonal and atonal… all kinds of genres and philosophies. But just putting great stuff in your head from all over the place is not enough. All these musical ideas have been bouncing around in my head, colliding and reacting and metamorphosing. What if you put A and B together? Or X and Y?* Or how about… A and X? Ooh!
This tour is about combining A-Z. Not just from a musical standpoint, but from a human standpoint as well.
“What?” ask some people. “How?”
Typically, an artist making an album has a bunch of songs ready to record, and brings in great talent to record the mostly predefined parts. I’m doing the opposite; I’m going out, taking songs to the talent to discover and define the parts. In that way, the songs will be arranged as I go. I believe that every person, no matter how “talented” they are, has unique ideas about music. That means every person has ideas that I don’t. If enough unique people contribute to this project, I do not doubt that it will be far richer and far better developed than if I simply recorded everything myself.
So I took my portable recording studio all across the nation, to tons of great musicians, and, using the marvels of modern digital recording technology, record a huge collaborative band of hundreds of Americans, playing songs in all kinds of American styles past and present — blues, jazz, soul, surf, bluegrass, you name it. The result will be a celebration of diversity — people from all across the nation, from many walks of life, joining together their many different talents and musical upbringings in harmony to create an album (or two, or three) exploding with cooperation, ideas, community, and universal identity. Is this not one of the most beautiful concepts you have ever heard?
Please, if you are a musician, or even if you just like music, contribute by playing/singing something for me or hosting me. I need lots of both (hosts and musicians) to make this project a success. Unless I’ve already visited your state, I’ll glady work the Tour around people who want to contribute.
* I’ve heard this has already been done by some band from England.