maandag 8 december 2014

What if...

There were stacks of CD's and vinyl everywhere. Between them was a desk and I sat on one side of it, thinking how to get The Rocket Swing into the right stack. We talked about possibilities for promotion of my new album. As far as I had any suspicions about what people call The Music Industry, they were not confirmed in this conversation over coffee and speculaas. I handed in my darling and asked for an opinion. The first “objective” opinion after all the praise from loved ones and fellow musicians.
Back home, I spent some aggravating hours with the nerve-racking What if ... question looming over me. Then my phone made the you’ve-got-mail-ping. And guess what? The e-mail said: “It's a good album. Well done. Congratulations.” Phew! That was a boost for my confidence. Now, I can’t wait to find out what 2015 will bring. In the meantime: MERRY XMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR. Love you all!

woensdag 12 november 2014

The cutting edge

My CD-collection is getting completely out of hand. The good thing about it though, is that you see how other artists do things. I found some good examples of how I wanted the artwork for The Rocket Swing. An all carton sleeve with two pockets, one for a CD and one for a booklet. So we went looking for a company that could make that. Easy, no?
We got some offers that made clear that sales department people had not even read our specifications. Well, we found companies in the US and Canada that can do it. But then we’d have to deal with shipping costs and import duty and all that.
We opted for a native manufacturer who needs a custom-made paper trimming knife to make what we want. Life is never easy, but there you go. I am just glad we decided to take our time and schedule the release for next February.

maandag 27 oktober 2014

Like it or not

Today, October 27, I am releasing the song Dying of the Light. A song with the chorus by Dylan Thomas, who was born this day 100 years ago. The track is from my album The Rocket Swing, that will come out in February 2015 on Come Undone Records. The song is dedicated to Fleur Mainville who plays fiddle.
You can help us promote it by listening to the song or watching the video and:
Buy the song by dowloading it from bandcamp:
Like the video on
Like my Diftong page on facebook:
Share those links with your social media friends and ask them to do the same.
Tell your friends and family about the song and ask them to listen/watch.

Thank you.

woensdag 22 oktober 2014


Things have taken a dramatic turn when Fleur Mainville who plays fiddle on three Rocket Swing tracks, was taken to hospital with serious health problems. This happened soon after the recordings were finished. Fleur had been treated for cancer before, but it returned and she has a real fight on her hands.
I am planning the release of a song about untimely death, a song that features Fleur. Which gives me an eerie and powerless feeling.
There is a "Friends for Fleur" event planned on October 29. If you are living in Nova Scotia or PEI, go there. It features awesome music. And all I can do here is dedicate my song Dying of the Light to Fleur Mainville on the 27th. So that is what I am going to do.

zondag 5 oktober 2014

Dying of the light

Two blog posts ago, my entry Wrapping up had it's picture modelled on a famous photograph of a famous person. I asked you who that person was. Nobody came up with the right answer. It was Dylan Thomas.
There is a song on The Rocket Swing called Dying of the Light. I was struggling with the chorus for this song, when I remembered a poem I had read in my Dylan Thomas Omnibus. I looked it up and saw right away that I would never be able to find words that were as good as his. So I decided to use his lines for the chorus. Which makes Dying of the Light a tribute to the work of this great poet.
Next October 27, we will release the song and a video to go with it. Dylan Thomas would have been 100 years old in 2014 and there is a celebration planned between October 27 (his birthday in 1914) and November 9 (his dying day in 1953).

zaterdag 27 september 2014

A mastered piece

My album has been mastered by I am not an expert, but from what I know mastering is adjusting the dynamics and the frequencies of the recordings in a way that they sound less restless, brighter, more open and much louder. Also it evens out the differences in volume between tracks on the album. I used to do this myself and couldn’t wait to hear my new album mastered by a professional. I wondered if I would be able to hear the difference between songs mastered by me and these ones. Well, I tell you I can. It is spectacular! No doubt Archive Mastering has better equipment, better ears and much more experience than I have, but still... wow! So this means, my dear readers, that the Rocket Swing is ready for take-off. All we have to do is finish the artwork and start the marketing campaign. You can help me make some noise. I will tell you how later.

maandag 1 september 2014

Wrapping up

It is a logistic challenge to have musicians of your choice play on your record. They fly from festival to festival, from recording job to recording job. To make a long story short, we had to find another fiddle player and we found one. The recording of the Rocket Swing is now finished! The tracks have to be mastered, the artwork has to be designed, the CD has to be manufactured. And we have to make a marketing plan. Not my cup of tea, but it has to be done because if the album doesn’t sell, I cannot make another album.
The expected release is in February 2015. For those who cannot wait, I will release one of the songs with an accompanying video in October 2014. The picture that goes with this post is taken from that video. The first who knows from which famous person I stole the idea for this photo and who sends an e-mail to info(at) with the correct answer, will win a free CD.

vrijdag 15 augustus 2014

The missing note

I thought one of the tracks on The Rocket Swing could do with some harmonica. I had it all figured out in my head, picked the harmonica in the appropriate key and started practicing. It sounded real good except for one note that was missing on that particular blues harp. I tried others and some did have that specific note but missed most of the others. How frustrating! I know I should be able to “bend a note” like real harmonica players can, but I could not get it right.
Somewhat disappointed I then tried harmonica on another song and this time it really worked well, so I recorded that and sent the recording to Canada. It will probably make it to the album.
To deal with future harmonica problems, I ordered one of those chromatic ones with a slide. That should have all the notes I want to play. Maybe the postman will bring it tomorrow.

vrijdag 1 augustus 2014

Banjo Hey! Faster Banjo

I came across this excellent illustration of John Atkinson. It made me wonder about my own songs. What kind are there on the Rocket Swing CD? The opening track is about escaping to the country. It is an ode to a Volkswagen van, the equivalent of the famous truck in country music. Then there is a rock song about a tattoo, which is kind of The title song is a lament. The album also has a folk song about the origin of the blues, a country waltz protest song, a finger-picking love song, a rocking murder ballad and a folky rant against the Grim Reaper. Then there is one track that is part acoustic finger-picking and part heavy rock and the album ends with a drinking song in country-rock tradition. All embedded in the Beatlelesque/West Coast sound of producer/guitarist Dale Murray. Can you still follow me? I guess you will just have to listen.

PS: Go to and look at the other work of John Atkinson

zondag 20 juli 2014

Mixed up

A Rocket Swing mix arrives in the mail. The first few listens are pure joy, of course. You hear the album as it is going to sound and that is really cool. But... you have to make sure that you listen to every tiny detail. You have listened to a track twice to hear exactly what the acoustic guitar played and if the EQ of that part is as you would like it. Then you realize that you have not paid attention to the hi-hat at all. So, you play it again. The album contains ten tracks, with assorted guitars, banjo, bass, drums, organ, piano, vocals and heaven knows what else. After many hours of listening you are so fed up with that music, you are happy to wash the dishes or mow the lawn. Then you listen to it once again, just to make sure you have got it right. And you think: ‘Wow!’

maandag 14 juli 2014

Heart of the matter

I cannot remember ever recording a song about a bad situation that became worse before the song was released, but it is happening right now. For The Rocket Swing album, I wrote one about the long lasting troubles in Israel/Palestine, the region where once a man brought a message of peace. I am not much of a believer, but I take that message seriously. Like the person in a demonstration against the war in Iraq who carried a sign that read: “Which word in thou shalt not kill did you not understand?” I am appalled how many people in high places with blood on their hands claim to be Christians.
I know this is supposed to be a happy blog about the making of an album, but I just had to write this. The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart. And it is not and it is never too late to start.

donderdag 10 juli 2014


The time has come to think about artwork for The Rocket Swing. Once, with a photographer, I discussed a picture of me on a poster. I think it looks great but he did not agree, because I wasn’t looking into the camera. And should there be a photograph of me on the cover? Some say this will increase the sales of the album. I believe that might work for some artists, but it will not work for me. Not that I cannot be photoshopped into something pretty. I just think it is a boring idea.
Of all my favorite albums, hardly any have a picture of the artist(s) on the cover, let alone that they look into the camera. What to do? We came up with an exciting compromise. Believe it or not, The Rocket Swing will have a picture of me on the cover. And I will look into the camera. But it won’t be what you think.

donderdag 3 juli 2014

My time will come

Right now I am in a situation that is new for me. I am at home working on promotion plans for my music while, back in Canada, Dale Murray and Christina Martin are working on The Rocket Swing. On the one hand I feel incredibly privileged. Talented people are working on my music. On the other hand, I wish I was still in Nova Scotia to witness the Rocket Swing grow up. All this excitement is bottled up in me, I want to shout it out, but I have to be patient in this soccer-crazed country.
I feel like a child in a classroom. Many children have their fingers in the air like me and I have to wait for my turn. However, I notice that a lot of you are reading this blog and that sure keeps me going. And one day in the near future, you will be able to listen to what this is all about. My time will come, my time will come.

woensdag 2 juli 2014

Home is where the heart aches

Says the opening sentence of the last song on the Rocket Swing album. I am back home, doing homely things. Arriving in Canada, I was relieved that it was so easy to take my guitar with me on the plane. But you cannot get lucky every time. The plane was full on the way back. I paid CAD 98 and I checked in my guitar with a red label that said “priority” at a desk for special luggage. At Frankfurt airport I didn’t have to wait long. My guitar came rolling out of one of those mysterious portals. I had a sudden hunch to open the case and check the guitar. There it was: a 9 cm crack in the top and, when I had a better look, the case was wrenched. If I hadn’t bought one of the strongest cases in the world, the guitar would have been a goner. Fortunately, the crack can be repaired and you know what? I have hardly been depressed because how important is a crack in a guitar when you just had the lead role in a Canadian dream?

zondag 22 juni 2014

Acadian Driftwood

We have been hiking Nova Scotia trails after working on the Rocket Swing album. Wonderful scenery at Cape Breton and the Bay of Fundy. We went to a place called Driftwood Beach and of course it made me think of great Canadian music from the past. At the very moment I was there, my Dutch friends played a Woodstock revival show at home featuring one of my favorites, The Band. One of their songs is called Acadian Driftwood. And what are my songs but driftwood, fragments of music, washed ashore in the mind of this Dutch poet in a Canadian dream, who owes big to artists like Neil Young and The Band.
Now that my visit to Nova Scotia is coming to an end, the time has come to thank the people who made my dream come true. Dale Murray who produced The Rocket Swing, recorded it and played on it. Brain Murray played the drums. Christina Martin sang some great vocals. And the album has some surprise appearances.
Dale and Christina were also our wonderful hosts, who lend me and my wife their country home, amidst the bears and the deer. We had so much adventures in such a short time that it will take a while to let it all sink in. But I will have a great album to show for it.

zondag 15 juni 2014

Fiddler in the woods

Some things still need to be done for the album. We decided one song needed a group vocal. So one evening we formed the Dylan Thomas Tribute Quartet, stood around the microphone and sang our hearts out. It could have been finished in the blink of an eye, but some quartet members (no names here) got the giggles and we needed about 43 takes to get the job done.
There is another track on the album on which we thought a violin would sound good. And it so happened that I met another Nova Scotian at home in The Netherlands who offered to play the violin. We drove to his home that turned out to be a log cabin in a beautiful stretch of woodland. Negotiations over tea and brownies went well and I will ask the producer to see if they can make this happen.
I am still living the dream we had, to quote a famous Canadian songwriter.

dinsdag 10 juni 2014

Big Bang

We just about finished recording. The Rocket Swing has it all. Voodoo sounds and blue notes. We heard a vintage Harley farting in the background. North America is a melting pot. From all over the world, people came and brought their sounds. Tiny sounds and big bangs. North America was the home of Tesla and Edison whose genius enabled someone to build an amplifier. So the guitars could be heard over those thundering rhythms. And that was when I was born. What else could I do, but to go to North America to seek that sound. Twang, howl, thunder, bang, wail, sing, squeak, strum, slide and pick. We took it to another level and here it is, to be mixed and mastered. The Rocket Swing. I sure hope you will like it. Amen.

zondag 8 juni 2014

Title Track

The album is taking shape. Sometimes it rocks and it always moves and we have some surprises for the listener. Time to tell you about the title track, The Rocket Swing. What is a rocket swing, you'll ask? It was something my father built for his kids. He made a swing from an old motorcycle sidecar that looked like a rocket. One of my cousins (I have a lot of them) was my age and we must have taken turns flying it, when she was visiting. Those were golden times for us kids born after WW2.
Unfortunately, my cousin passed away last year. We had gone our separate ways a long time ago, but I knew she fought a long and hopeless battle against her disease. Still it was a shock to learn that she died and it made me remember the good times we had. So I wrote the song in her memory, though I should say the song wrote itself. So here's to you Tanja. I hope you found the rocket swing.

woensdag 4 juni 2014

Rhythm and no blues

Well things are going swell out here. Today we recorded drums and bass for four songs and it sounds groovy, tight and better than I ever dared hope. It was one of those days that passed without me noticing what the time was. That is always a good sign. At one point I was into the groove and saw a dust cloud through the window. A farmer was plowing a field. Suddenly I realized, that I was recording in North-America and that the rhythm section on my headphones was playing for my sake. I completely lost track of where I was in the song, but the rhythm took me by the hand and lead me on. And later I sat on a porch and drank whiskey, like in a western movie. Man, this is the good life!

maandag 2 juni 2014


Well it all seemed like a big journey before I left home, but it actually was a piece of cake. I wasn't sure if they would let me bring my guitar on the plane, but when I asked at check-in, they phoned ahead and I could take it with me and it ended up in the seat next to me. All credits to Condor. And then I had to figure out the 10,000 buttons in my rental car, but I saved that for later and put the car in D (for "drive", oh yes an automatic), and zoomed my way to number 444, where it is all going to happen.  And after one day of rehearsals I can tell you: it is going to be magic! Accompanied by buzzing June Bugs behind the porch screen we played all songs and when I heard what that pedal steel is going to sound like on the title track I found myself on top of the world. Happy as a clam.

woensdag 28 mei 2014


Four days to go to D-day. I like to make preparations in advance, so I can relax in the days before departure. But that is never how it goes, of course. I hit my left index finger with a hammer. Blood dripping from the place where my finger makes a barre chord on the guitar neck. But that healed quickly and I resumed practicing in my studio. Then a heavy thunderstorm raged overhead and I heard a strange splattering noise. I discovered that water was dripping in my pick tin! I thought this was funny until I realized that the roof of my studio was leaking. As the forecast said much more rain was coming, I got up early yesterday and climbed on the roof to discover four holes in the ridge. I made some emergency repairs and as I was gathering my tools, it started raining again. Four days to go.

zondag 25 mei 2014


I am so excited about flying to Canada, that I am ignoring the feelings of everyone around me. Kokopelli for instance, who will not accompany me on this trip because the airfare is just too high. To make amends, I wrote a song about Kokopelli that will be featured on the new album.
Let me explain who Kokopelli is. He is a VW van, a vintage mobile home and also the Diftong Utility Vehicle. Wikipedia says the name comes from a fertility deity in some Native American cultures in the Southwestern United States. Besides being a god of childbirth and agriculture, he is also a trickster god and represents the spirit of music(!).
The song is about how the van sometimes saves us from the perils of daily routine. He takes me and my wife to the hills, where we put on our boots and forget about social media and all that. Way to go, Kokopelli!

dinsdag 20 mei 2014


Recording an album costs a lot and wouldn’t it be nice if that was not only my own money. I read about applying for a subsidy in a Dutch magazine. I had an e-mail exchange with a lady who explained “the rules” to me. I expected rule #1 to be that you have make good music (whatever that is), but music was not mentioned at all. Instead you have to make your subsidizers believe that you are going to earn money with your project. But if you know that beforehand, you can just apply for a loan.

Then, I started thinking about crowd funding. Everyone does that these days, so why not me? However, I am not sure where to look for a crowd. And I don’t feel entirely comfortable with the idea that people pay me for writing and recording songs, before they can have a listen. So then it came to me. Suppose I pay for this album myself and then you go out and buy it? Deal?

zondag 18 mei 2014

Why Canada?

What business has a Dutch singer-songwriter recording a CD in Canada? I have my reasons. I have always wanted to record in another studio than my own, but somehow that never happened. For me, a studio or any place where one makes recordings is more about people and atmosphere than it is about equipment. You have to meet the right people at the right time. And with the right people I mean talented people that I like, that have a friendly attitude towards my music, that have their own studio and that have the time. 

It just so happens that sometimes we have musicians staying the night at our house. Many of them are from Canada. On one of these occasions we got talking and now here I go. I am taking my chances and I bet, that if the result comes anywhere near my expectations, you are going to want this CD in your collection.

woensdag 14 mei 2014

That liquid feel

I went to the guitar shop for my refretted guitar. It had been quite an operation and I had to answer questions like: “Do you want equal spacing between the strings or between the cores of the strings?” How can I, a person struggling to play a proper barre chord, answer a question like that? I never had complaints, so I asked to leave it as it was. The moment it was placed gently into my hands was the moment I dreaded, the moment of truth. It looked great. In fact it looked like before. So I started playing and that was when I realized what a fine instrument it is. It has that liquid feel like it almost plays itself and it sounds … well, it sounds great. Eddy managed to get the action, the distance between the neck and the strings, a little lower, so it even plays easier than before. Playing a barre chord on this beauty is a piece of cake, really.

maandag 12 mei 2014

Providing time

You only realize how reliant you are on internet communications when those communications fail you. I already wrote about how my first time skyping was postponed, because a provider was temporarily not working. Well at least, then I was warned beforehand. This time, however, I didn’t see it coming. I checked all the cables but nothing helped. All because I did not read the paperwork. My fault. Always read the paperwork before you start cursing the technology or the people behind it.
The big plus is of course, that I suddenly had the time to do the things that I hadn’t gotten around to. Like doing the voice-overs for a Diftong documentary or preparing a tasty fish chowder. And today a man came with a modem, plugged it in and switched it on. Nothing to it. And it works, as obviously you can read this.

vrijdag 2 mei 2014

Fretting about my guitar

When you are about to record you start wondering if your instrument is in good shape. I took it to the shop where I bought it. Aha, said Ed, you have really played it those last four years, it needs new frets! Today, at Piet Guitars in Arnhem, it was gently placed on the workbench. Ed chose a fierce-looking tool and started ripping out the frets, those little metal bars on the neck. Oh no, I thought, I don’t really want to watch this. I will come back next week to check the result. So, while I am writing this I am staring at an empty corner in the living room where my guitar usually stands in its case. Fortunately, I have Norman by my side. An old budged guitar full of scratches, not so sophisticated, but a good companion nonetheless. And... Norman was made in Canada!

woensdag 30 april 2014

Lessons learned

During preparations for a new album you learn all kind of new things. For instance, today I skyped for the first time in my life, going back five hours in time. No big deal really, which figures when you are seeing good friends again. There was a small effort from a provider to sabotage our rendez-vous, but we are a tough breed of musicians and never did we panic. Anyway, all the rest is going according to plan and I must say I am getting pretty excited about these recordings. A webcam shot of the studio confirmed my high hopes with stacks of amps, a Hammond organ (!), two banjos (!), a pedal steel (!) and loads of other instruments. And there will be people to play them too. And all that just a couple of steps from the beach.

zondag 27 april 2014

The Notebook

Where does a new album start? With songwriting, of course. And in my case it starts with words and ideas scribbled in a notebook. Once in a while I browse the pages, combine words and sentences and start a train of thought that ends up as a lyric. I pick up my guitar or my banjo and usually some melody and chords will surface and behold: a song is born. For the Rocket Swing album I did something very daring. I made the arrangements and set a recording date when I had about four songs more or less ready. And in a few months I wrote six more and I must say I am quite happy with the results. Now this may not sound as a big feat to you. But I am a slow writer and very critical of the results, so I am kind of proud of myself.

zaterdag 26 april 2014

The Diaries

This year will be a crucial year in my career as a singer-songwriter. I will be thinking out of the box, leave my comfort zone, get on a plane and fly to Canada to record my next album with working title “The Rocket Swing”. I use the word crucial, because several signs point in that direction. I wrote ten new songs that I truly think are good songs. I will be recording in a studio from which I have heard some great productions. And I will be working with some musicians that I admire very much. How lucky can one man get?  Because I want to keep a record of this adventure and all the highs (and the lows), I am starting this blog.