Jim Drake’s Entertainment Blog: Tyler’s tunes prompts me to rebuild the music

A few weeks ago, I wrote a story about a missing hard drive and the possibility that packrats had stolen it from me. Seems like everywhere I went after that, people asked me, “Well, did you find the rat?”

Answer: Yes and no. Last week, we heard some critter activity under the floor. I, of course, was “nominated” to go investigate.

So, I bought a Tyvek suit (you know, those plastic suits you see people wear when they clean up toxic waste spills) and crawled under the house. Let me tell you, I’d like to invite the TV crew from Fear Factor to come film an episode about crawling under the house. It’s that scary. I found a lot of things, but the things I found most were animal droppings that were suspiciously shaped like they were from a large mouse. I found areas in the floor joists that were supposed to have insulation, but the insulation was either a) eaten or b) used as nesting material.

As I was lying face up under the house contemplating a) my existence and b) the square footage of material that would have to be ripped out and replaced — my safety goggles completely fogged over. I blissfully could no longer see anything.

As you’ve probably guessed by now, my hard drive contained a lot of music. But unless the Fear Factor crew can come over and send some people under the house for cash prizes and 15 minutes of fame, I’ve got to seriously consider re-building my digital music library.

And I think I’m gonna start with a few tunes from Tyler Fortier. His Americana sound is reminiscent of a lot of the artists I had in my i-Tunes. His songs made me realize how much I’m starting to miss my instant access to music.

Luckily for us, and for my music collection, Tyler is bringing a show to the Gorge on April 28, at CEBU Lounge. And no little critter is gonna stop me from picking up one of his CDs and starting this whole process again. You’ve got to start somewhere, right?

Interview with Tyler Fortier

  1. It seems you were here recently (January 2012?) at the CEBU Lounge. How did that gig go and did you get to play anywhere else in the Gorge?

The show went well. In January, it was a smaller but attentive crowd. I felt connected to the room. I always say, I'd rather play to one person who is listening than to a room full of people talking over me. I'm hoping I might see some repeat faces this time around. I wasn't able to get anything else booked in the area at that time.

  1. What were you doing before you decided to make music your full-time job?

I moved to Eugene from Camas, Wash., to take audio engineering courses at the community college. After that I took some time off, but eventually headed back to school for a sociology degree from the University of Oregon. I've always been doing music, ever since the 6th grade. I graduated in March 2010 and made the decision to take myself seriously and commit myself to writing, recording, performing, and producing (and now recently, producing other musicians/songwriters music, as well as my own).

  1. Will you be bringing a full band for the 4-28 show?

The show on the 28th will be just me and my fiancee, Erin Flood. It will be very mellow. I always hope to make these small intimate shows almost like a storyteller’s session of sorts and be able to connect on a few different levels with whoever is listening.

  1. Tell us about your recording process and how do you know when you can finally say a song is sounding the way you want it to sound.

The recording process is a lot of fun for me. I always seem to have these really grandiose ideas, but what it really comes down to is giving a song what it needs to live in its best potential. I feel like a good song can live or die in the recording stage. The process itself varies for me. Sometimes I track vocals and guitar live, sometimes acoustic and vocals separate, or sometimes lay down the drums first (if it's a song with drums). From these beginning stages and even before this, during the writing process, instrument and arrangement ideas build up and I try to let them come to fruition the best they can. A song is done when you say it's done. I have plenty of songs that I love that are still sitting in the recording stages because I haven't found a way yet to let the ideas come to fruition. Maybe 50-75% of the songs I write ever make their way onto a record.

  1. What is your new single, "Dreams Are Like Fire" about?

“Dreams Are Like Fire” is very personal song for me. It's about the sacrifices and choices we all make to get to where we want to be. In this case, for me, it's about questioning my commitment, my choices, and my decisions to pursue the crazy career that I choose to pursue.

It's a plea to those around me; please understand the degree of selfishness and time that goes into what I'm doing, but it's also supposed to be inspiring. Do what you like and like what you do. “Dreams are like fire, if there ain't no fire burning, then you're better off dead.” That line says it all. Go for broke. Because...well....why not?

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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