As I’ve aged I have become a true believer in the power of incrementalism. If I pick up a rock every time I go for a walk and place it along the edge of a path in my garden something wonderful happens. Slow, but wonderful. Time marches on ⏱ Peace on you all
Gratitude... I remember back in the 80's when I was doing formal spiritual training with my Mahikari friends in Atlanta... I spent an entire year just focusing on gratitude. Powerful and challenging stuff. I'm grateful for the decades I spent writing, performing and producing music, making a record every 12 to 18 months and doing up to 160 shows a year. I look back and wonder how I was able to maintain that life for all those years without a label, booking agency, publicity or management teams. I do miss the people and places, but I don't miss the business of making music. It ain't what it used to be, but I had a helluva run and at the end of it I got to make the record I always hoped to make, Anastasia. Large thanks to Howlin' Dog Records and to everyone who made the crowd funding enterprise a success. It was a huge experience.
One of the largest aspects was getting to work with the iconic Grammy winning cellist, arranger and conductor Paul Buckmaster. Paul and I became good friends during that year of making Anastasia and the album's title was inspired by one of the many conversations we had. We spoke once a week for about an hour at a time. The topics ranged from the greening of the deserts to space colonization. We spoke very little about music or his amazing past. He was not only a true Maestro, but was also a man of huge intellect. He was especially knowledgable about science and science fiction. There are many photos of him in his NASA tee shirt. Must've been his favorite. Paul passed away November 7th of 2017. He collaborated with and was a close friend of Elton John and David Bowie and also worked with the Grateful Dead, the Rolling Stones, Harry Nilsson, Miles Davis, Carly Simon, Shawn Phillips, Katy Perry, Train, Taylor Swift, Ben Folds and tons more, including lucky me. Have a safe journey Paul and thanks for making a dream come true. That was a real bucket lister. You've been an inspiration since I first heard Elton John's 'Madman Across the Water', which was one of the first LPs I bought back in high school. I was star struck by you and your work.
My new life continues in the high desert mountains of Taos. I'm still a member of the mountain ops team at Taos Ski Valley under the stout leadership of my friend and mentor John Weinmeister and the rest of the ops crew. I call them the Special Forces. At the moment we're all making snow in a furious attempt to get the resort opened on Thanksgiving Day with as much ski-able terrain as possible. I'm on the vampire crew working the 'mixing board' (pumps and compressors) from 7pm until 7am. I love the job and the people I work with. I've found an oasis, a refuge where I can hide out these final years of my working life... injuries allowing. If I'm not going to make music for a living then I can't think of anything else I'd rather be doing than this... with a lot of skiing and mountain biking tossed in, of course. We became a B Corp this year, which is something to brag about in these times of corporate greed, corruption and environmental short sightedness. There's no lack of high adventure when you're working heavy equipment, wildland fire, search and rescue and snow making/removal. It's pretty surreal to be sailing through wilderness at 9000 to 11,000 feet in elevation on a snow mobile at 4am in the dark with snow flying everywhere. The skiing and lodging experience in Taos is about as good as it gets. Come check it out... and have a beautiful life. Love and Gratitude to All from Taos, NM. DonCon
It's a snowy winter here in Taos and the skiing is great. It's easy to disregard a lot of the chaos when you're high in the mountains surrounded by rocks, trees and sky and looking down a steep slope. The past few months have been extraordinary and the next few look like they'll be the same. All I can say for now is No Comment! Love to all from Taos
The new CD is out in the world and slowly finding its way to the ears of those who are destined to connect with it. After 40 years of leaving no stone unturned I've decided to shift my focus a bit. You're much more likely to find me in my garlic patch than on stage. I'm also working at the Taos Ski Valley (TSV) which is located in the Carson National Forest just north of Taos. It is a rugged and pristine wilderness area and one of the most beautiful and challenging ski areas in the country. I'm on the trail crew working at 10,000 and 11,000 foot elevations, driving heavy equipment and training with the TSV Fire Department and the search and rescue team. I got my certification this year as a Type II Wildland Fire Fighter. Pretty amazing stuff. If your backyard catches on fire I'm your guy. I have to say I'm loving the changes and am in top shape. I have to be. I train on the weekends just to stay fit enough to keep up with the serious badasses I work with. I'm good with that. Ironically I now wake up around the time I used to go to bed. That took a little getting used to. The home studio (Studio 13) is still open for session work, mixing and mastering ... all done by file transfer, but I'm not actively pursuing that or live performances. I'm grateful to everyone for the years of love and support and am incredibly grateful for the opportunity so many of you have given me to continue to make music while tackling some serious health issues and to make my final album, Anastasia. If you're looking for digital downloads of the new album go to iTunes or my 'Store' page. If you'd like a physical CD (God Bless You!) you can find that at my label's web site. Click HERE for the Howlin' Dog Records store page and be sure to check out the releases of my other label mates. The record company is owned and operated by dear friends and there are some fine artists, including some of the owners, on the label. Large love to all of you from gorgeous Taos, NM and I hope to see you out there somewhere, sometime, somehow. Don
Way over here in the high desert Rockies we’re getting some of the best skiing weather you could hope for and we’re taking full advantage of it. When you live right down the road from one of the finest (and funnest) ski areas in the country you must partake. That’s where all all my local friends are hanging out anyway. Thank you Taos Ski Valley!
I’ve been spending a massive amount of time promoting and preparing musically for two large CD Release shows for the new album, Anastasia. The official release is impending and soon to be announced. It’s already been submitted for the New Mexico Music Awards which take place in May and this fall we hope to see it submitted to the Grammy folks for consideration by The Recording Academy. I hope that you voting Grammy members out there will give me a mention… if you like the record, of course. The first CD Release show will be Friday Feb 19th in Taos at the KTAOS Solar Center in their large, lovely pavilion. Lots of room to dance and mingle. The second show will be the next night, Saturday Feb 20th, in Alamosa CO which is located in the San Luis Valley (Beautiful Valley). The venue there is a bit more intimate with more theater style seating and this will be my first time in there, which I’m very much looking forward to. It’ll be a bit of a homecoming for me since I lived there for a few years and hold that place and those people dear to my heart. I’ve assembled the core of the studio band and some special guests and these promise to be two nights of great music and a lot of laughs. You can find out all you need to know about these shows on the Tour page here on this site or on either of my Facebook pages.
I hope you are all doing well wherever you are and finding some fine entertainment during this wild and wacky presidential primary season. No shortage of fun to be had there. Once again I send out my largest thanks to all 515 of my dedicated Kickstarter supporters and then some. I’m also extremely grateful to Don, Teri, David, Wendy and Jana at Howlin’ Dog Records for taking a chance on me and releasing this album on their small, but mighty label. We’ll keep you posted on the official digital and physical release dates. Love to all. DonCon
Greetings to all of you from lovely and snowy Taos. I'm finally getting dug out from the backlog that occurred while I was making the record and fighting Hepatitis C. Now that those things are behind me it's time to look ahead a bit. I'm getting the studio band together for a couple of shows to celebrate the release of the record on Howlin' Dog Records. The Dogs are determining the official release date as I type. I've submitted several tracks in various categories to the New Mexico Music Awards and we'll see what shakes out in May at the awards ceremony in Albuquerque. Here are the details for the two release show in February. wishing you all peace and good times wherever you may be. Love from Taos, Don
Fri Feb 19th Taos Show…
$12. Doors open at 4pm
Tickets: Click Here
Ages: 21+ without parent or guardian
Howlin’ Dog Records and Don Conoscenti celebrate the release of Anastasia, Don Conoscenti’s 1st full studio album in 15 years. This show will feature the rhythm section from Brothers Keeper (they're also the rhythm section from the John Oates Band) and Taos’ own Mina Tank, Bob Andrews, Jennifer Peterson, Patrick Turnmire and K Bolan. Howlin’ Dog Recording Artist Ry Taylor Opens along with a short performance by Brothers Keeper (duo). KTAOS's own Brad Hockmeyer MCs the show
Sat Feb 20th Alamosa Show...
$20 - Doors open at 7:30pm
Get Tickets at:
Lightshine Music - 514 La Veta Ave, Alamosa Co (719) 589-8900
The Green Spot - 711 State Ave 719-589-6362
Or call 719-580-7838 to reserve and pay
Howlin’ Dog Records and Don Conoscenti celebrate the release of Anastasia, Don Conoscenti’s 1st full studio album in 15 years. This show will feature the rhythm section from Brothers Keeper (they're also the rhythm section from the John Oates Band) and Taos’ own Mina Tank, Bob Andrews, Patrick Turnmire. Howlin’ Dog Recording Artist Ry Taylor Opens along with a short performance by Brothers Keeper (duo). KTAOS’s own Brad Hockmeyer MCs the show.
I just finished the new record, Anastasia, and am about to re-enter cyberspace and the world at large, which I’ve been dreading because I’ve fallen so far behind on so many fronts. The baptism by fire begins with a solo acoustic show at Front Porch Music in Valporaiso, IN on Friday Nov 6th followed by two very cool house concerts in Muncie and Bloomington IN on Nov 7th and 8th. I had to pull back from everything this past 7 months and focus completely on getting the record done and getting treated for Hepatitis C. The Hep C is now gone and the master for the new record was turned in to Oasis CD for manufacturing a couple days ago. My mind is slowly coming back. I most definitely lost parts of it during all this that I'll likely never see again. My apologies to anyone I may have offended along the way. When you get to work with the world’s finest it’s all about the work and setting the bar high. Not the quickest way to make or keep friends unless they’re on the very same page with you. I got lucky enough to do that on this record thanks to the artists involved and all the supporters who made it possible.
Not sure when the official release date will be. That’s being tossed about. It’ll be on the small, but mighty Howlin’ Dog Records owned by some dear and talented friends of mine from Colorado and Indiana and there are some other great artists joining the ranks soon.
The record came in on budget but was way late getting completed. I saw many deadlines blow past me at the speed of sound. It was constantly taking sharp turns and i had to pull it out of the ditch many times, but I never gave up. There was no going to lunch or having coffee with friends unless they stopped by the studio like Bob Andrews did on many occasions to listen to mixes in progress and offer some wise suggestions. I also spoke with Paul Buckmaster weekly about the orchestrations and every other thing under the sun and moon. He’s an extraordinary guy. A true Maestro and my own personal Panditji. We recorded the drum and bass tracks with dear friend and musical badass Don Richmond at Howlin’ Dog Studios in Alamosa Co (the Beautiful Valley) during 7 memorable days in March. Our friend Abe Rosenberg of Jack Rabbit Hollow Productions shot a very fun video during one of those days which I hope everyone gets a chance to see. Check it out on my Videos Page or on my Youtube Channel. I ended up doing all the rest of the production work myself in my home project studio, aka Studio 13, and sent tracks out across the internet to studios in cities around the country. None of this was particularly easy, but the guest artists sound fantastic. Many of them were recorded by me in my motel room at the Woody Guthrie Festival in Okemah Ok.
I was never completely sure if I was going to succeed with any of this, but I was willing to figure it out as I went and to go down trying. I worked 10 to 16 hours every day for a full year except for the days I was too sick or had surgeries. We raised $46,000 during a very successful Kickstarter campaign, but it cost a lot to make that happen and the original projected cost of making and promoting the record was closer to $72,000. I worked hard to save money everywhere I could and saved about $20,000 by orchestrating 10 of the 14 songs myself (including a horn section on Smith Road) and by mixing and mastering the record in my studio. It was a scary ride.
I’m grateful to have my mind, body and heart mostly intact again after such a long and perilous journey. Thanks for every little thing. Hope to see you all soon somewhere, somehow. Peace. Don
The garlic is harvested and drying, the new record is in the final stages of production and my medical situation is finally moving in a positive direction after of year of back sliding. Not sure what the words are to express what I've been through the past 12 months but they would include both awesome and horrific. The past six months were especially challenging. I got very sick and just couldn't get treatment. After six solid months slugging it out with my insurance company I gave up and applied for a patient assistance program with a drug company called Viekira. They accepted my application and were generous enough to give me a free ride ($90,000) for their new Hepatitis C treatment. It takes three months of meds and testing and as of this blog it's been one month and I feel like a different person. Nearly human again. The whole time I was dealing with all that I was launching the Kickstarter Campaign and then started making the new record. Unfortunately I was also losing the battle to save my teeth from some serious infection. It's been a very difficult transition, especially in the middle of producing and managing a very ambitious recording project. I'm doing the bulk of the work in my home studio and sick or not I had to show up every day and put in 10 or 12 hours to keep up with the work and that schedule will continue through August. I'd hoped for a mid summer release, but now it makes more sense to release in the fall. I'm very happy with the record so far. The guest list has shifted a bit from the original one, but is still stellar. I was able to bring a remote recording rig to the Woody Guthrie Festival and recorded several people in my hotel room every day and did another session on the stage of the Blue Door after a show. I've been posting rough mixes here on my Listen page. I've been so immersed in getting well, keeping the garden alive and finishing the record that I had to abandon updates, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I'm just one person and I can't do it all. When the record is finished I'll reenter the social dimension and beg forgiveness. I was able to go out and do some touring in July and was very relieved to see that i could still play, sing and put on a fun show. I hadn't performed live since early December 2014.
One of the founders of Red Dirt Music and a talented and witty friend passed away at the tail end of the Woody Guthrie Festival. Happy Trails to Tom Skinner. For the rest of us life roars on. Wishing you all a happy and peaceful summer.
I survived the basic tracking sessions. For me as the artist, writer. arranger and producer it was one of the finest record making experiences I've had... and I've had some good ones. The people I was working with were total pros and beloved friends. Spent 7 days with the band laying down 15 songs. I've added the first rough mix to the listen page. The song is called Anastasia. It needs to be re-sung and have orchestration and a few other layers added but it's coming together nicely. Heading up to the the Colorado Front Range to do a couple shows... Gold Hill Cafe Wednesday 3-18-15 and Larry's Guitars in Longmont 3-19-15. Will be hanging with some great friends and hope some of you can join me before i head back to Studio 13 to resume speed on the new record. Peace from Taos.
Thanks again to everyone for your support of my wild and crazy Kickstarter ride. The first wave of rewards fulfillment is completed. All the prints and various other physical rewards were sent out. There were 515 backers and postage so far for the mailings was close to $300. The digital rewards will go out at the time of the record's release.
Basic tracking of the new record was delayed a month due to conflicts in the rhythm section's tour schedule and that has had an adverse effect on the budget, but the record is still on track and on schedule. I'm sitting in on a show Thursday Feb 19th with keyboardist extraordinaire Bob Andrews who is doing a residency at the Taos Inn in Taos. Then heading to Amarillo to do a Feb 21st show for High Plains Public Radio's Living Room Concert Series hosted by the talented Mike Fuller at the Chalice Abbey. Then it's off to Alamosa Colorado to get the basic tracks recorded at Don Richmond's Howlin' Dog Studio followed by a couple more live shows in the Boulder Co area with my buddy Kort McCumber. After those shows I go back in to have more dental surgery and will be recovering from that for a few weeks while I continue to chip away at the record. Never a dull moment.
In closing I wanted to mention that my good friends and sometime collaborators from Oklahoma in the Damn Quails are in the midst of a Kickstarter Campaign of their own which ends on Wednesday Feb 25th. For a look at all things Quail and links to their Kickstarter Campaign click HERE. Wishing you all the best from Taos NM.
For the past 14 years I'd be packing my bags Christmas Day or already be en route to Boston for the New Year's Eve shows with Ellis Paul. A week long affair of joy and madness. with sometimes four shows a day. This year Ellis wisely suggested I stay home and focus on my medical treatments which is allowing me to kick back on Christmas Day. A rare and sweet experience for a guy like me. I'll sorely miss Ellis and our friends, but I trust they'll rock it regardless and my thoughts will be with them and with the rest of you as I get well and prepare for recording to begin first week of February. I'm going to slip one local show in on Jan 2nd opening for Brothers Keeper which has a morphing lineup of guest members. This show includes Jono Manson and John Popper from Blues Traveler. John Michel and Michael Jude are the core of Brother's Keeper and they'll be the rhythm section on my new album. Thanks again for everything. Blessings and Happy Holy Days. Taos NM
So if today is longer and lighter than yesterday I wouldn't really know. Still buried under a backlog that piled up and/or was created by the amazing Kickstarter Campaign that successfully funded Dec 17th. Thanks again to all 515 backers. I'm on my way to my first appointment with my Hepatitis C specialist. Have waited two months for this appointment and so glad to get this ball rolling.
I spoke to my friends Dave Clemmer and Don Richmond and we've decided to release the new record on their Howlin' Dog Records label. We will be David duking it out with Goliath late summer and fall to get this project some international attention, airplay and Grammy consideration. What else can we do? Thanks again for making the dream real. Taos NM
It was a real thrill ride right to the finish. There were 515 backers! Hardest thing I've ever done. It took six weeks of technical and scheduling roadblocks to get the video done and to assemble all the moving parts before hitting the Go Button on the Kickstarter Campaign page. Then the Go Button didn't work for two more days. Then it was 30 days of suspense with me emailing, texting and Facebooking every day all day right up to the final moments. I also did a Concert Window online performance during the final hours which was really fun although I was in a truly altered state during the whole performance.
So thank you everyone who went to bat for me and put up with my madness. I've got a mountain of backlogged business and recording work to get back to. Happy Holy Days to all of you. Taos NM
I'm firing up a Kickstarter Campaign, doing a huge music giveaway and preparing to do One More Record. Find out more at my Kickstarter Page and watch the 5 minute movie created by Heather Lynn Sparrow.
I have a home studio setup now so I'm producing and recording more music than ever, but the process of making a complete album of songs is becoming more challenging and in some ways obsolete, but thanks to the prodding of my friends David Clemmer (chemist and songwriter extraordinaire) and Don Richmond (national musical treasure and southwestern icon extraordinaire) I've assembled a crack band and am heading back into the studio the first week of February with an eye on a June of 2015 release. It’s been fourteen years since my last full blown studio release, although my friend Patrick Turnmire helped me spit out a valiant effort in 2009 to help pay down uninsured medical expenses when I shattered my left femur. What a guy. I will revisit and reinvent some earlier songs on this new project that will now have a chance to be heard by thousands more people and will add some new material to the mix. Expect string sections, woodwinds, horns, lots of voices… things I couldn't manage in the past, but that the songs asked for. The core of the record will be recorded in Alamosa, CO in our beloved Beautiful Valley where I also previously recorded The Other Side and Drink Another Round with the ever awesome Don Richmond at Howling Dog Records. My long time pals John Michel and Michael Jude, from the band Brother's Keeper and the John Oates’s Band will join me as the rhythm section to assemble the backbone of the record. The amazing and world renowned Paul Buckmaster whose work you've all heard on Elton John's records as well as David Bowie, Harry Nilsson, Train, The Rolling Stones and many more has agreed to do some orchestrations if the stars align. Getting to know Paul has been one of the true highlights of my career (and life). There is no one on the planet quite like Paul Buckmaster and I hold him, his work and his ideas in the highest regard. Other parts of the record will be recorded with the legendary producer/player buddy Lloyd Maines in Austin (Dixie Chicks, Terri Hendrix), with renowned jazz buddy Mike McGinnis in New York City, rock/jazz/singer-songwriter buddy Bill Kahler in Atlanta and Nashville string player hotshot buddy Tim Lorsch (Kris Kristofferson, Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban).
I'll be doing a lot of the work myself at my home project studio affectionately known as ‘Studio 13' altho on a day riddled with tech problems, and there are MANY, it's also known as "The Torture Chamber". Doing this level of work has forced me into the 21st century and required a full immersion into the ridiculously complex and problematic world of digital audio and it's been three difficult years learning how to record, mix, edit and master with little more than a desk, a laptop and a keyboard. I can thank good friend Abe Guthrie for getting me past the first soul crushing roadblocks and later Glenn Harvitz in Abuiqui, NM. Also large thanks to Ellis Paul, Dustin Overbeek and SONiA for trusting me with my first professional long distance session gigs. I started out in Cubase then migrated to Pro Tools and sometimes work in Logic, all very impressive recording environments, but I've found true love and a happy home recording in Studio One V2 Pro and I have the kind and brilliant folks at PreSonus to thank. They generously gifted me with Studio One V2 Pro and their music notation package Notion 5. I also have my music for sale and digitally distributed by their subsidiary, Nimbit. Nimbit hosts my online store here at DonConoscenti.com and also on Facebook. You can listen to and download both High Def WAV files as well as High Res MP3 files. PreSonus founder, musician, inventor and visionary Jim Odom is my hero and so is my friend Rachel Klein who is their Artist Relation guru.
To stream/listen, hear interviews, watch videos, see pics and discover a community of amazing artists I highly recommend the Standing O Project. This is a creative online movement where artists offer their new work and special insights, directly connecting to their audiences and actually getting paid for their work, which is becoming increasingly rare in the corporate world of digitally streaming content where the artists are the last in line to be paid…if they get paid at all:
Standin O Project
I've asked some of my famous friends to jump into the fray, but being famous can really restrict your movements and it's unsure who will actually be able to jump in when the time comes. So far I have 'Yes"s from Ellis Paul, Bill Miller, Eliza Gilkyson, Kevin Welch, Abe (and hopefully Arlo) Guthrie, SONiA, Jimmy LaFave and am in the process of reaching out to Keb Mo and Robert Mirabal. Taos boasts some serious badasses from around the planet and I'll be recruiting my friends Jimmy Stadler, Bob Andrews (Graham Parker and the Rumour), K Bolan (The Damn Band/Don Conoscenti Band), Mina Tank (The Damn Band/Vanilla Rawk), Patrick Turnmire (Don Conoscenti Band), Greg Thum (Proximal Distally//Vanilla Rawk/Vanilla Pop) and Jennifer Peterson (Jennifer Peterson Band). The last touches of the project will probably be done in Los Angeles. To do a Grammy worthy record (a guy can dream, right?) is costly and so it’s off to Kickstarter for me. My amazing friend Heather Sparrow has applied her immense (and beautifully twisted) talents to a 5 minute plus silent movie for the Kickstarter campaign and her amazing still images will grace the CD cover and subsequent promotional materials. I feel a T-Shirt coming on. Believe it or not there have only been three or less Don Conoscenti T-Shirts made in the almost 40 years I've been at this. Heather lives about a mile from me here in Taos and the Rio Grande Gorge is one of the primary characters in the movie. If making the record is as fun as working with Heather I have some good times ahead.
The music business has changed so dramatically since my last major release and without a booking agent and support team there's no way I can tour like I used to. I won't be able to take advantage of that process to spread the word from town to town so I'll need to hire radio promotion and publicity experts. I'm looking at a $25,000 to $30,000 price tag for that stuff alone. Add a little over that much again to actually make the record plus the video and extraneous costs and you can see the size of the rock as well as the mountain I plan to push it up. I hope you can help spread the love … and the word. It would be greatly appreciated. Meanwhile I have a pesky little issue with Hepatitis C to contend with. Apparently it has tagged along laying dormant in my system since the late 70's. I did have my fun back in those formative years of my rock and roll journey. Luckily the new treatments can cure it completely within three months. I've suffered worse than this for longer stretches, but I'm not going to say that it's been a whole lot of fun… especially the dental side effects. I do have to say out loud that thanks to the Affordable Care Act I have medical coverage for the first time in my adult life and it has removed bankruptcy from the table while I get through these next several months of dental surgeries and Hep C treatments. By summer of 2015 I'll have a new album and a new lease on life. Now back to you. Peace and Love. Taos NM