Friday, May 20, 2022

Press Release: Van Niddy Press, May 2022

2021: The Year of Collaboration

These last few years have been challenging for all of us, but when I look back on what I attempted to accomplish from the confines of my home office during a global pandemic, I’m pleased not only with the results, but also with the diversity of the projects on which I was asked to collaborate. Here they are for your review.

Departure: a book of black and white photographs by Dianne Woods with accompanying haiku poetry by Ken Owen.

I met Dianne while playing with The Craig and MacGregor Quartet at The Marsh in Berkeley on their Wednesday night residence gig. Dianne had become the resident house photographer and the band’s webmaster. One morning she posted one of her always brilliant photographs that inspired me to write a Japanese style haiku: 

A project was born that day, and we worked on it most of 2021 and had a wonderful book signing party with live music by (who else?!) The Craig and MacGregor Band in November. You can still order your copy here:  

 Departure: by Dianne Woods and Ken Owen

Viva La Exotica: Hunka Hunka Hula Review Debut CD!

While being sequestered for 18 months as the rest of the country argued about vaccines and masks, it became clear to us that we no longer required two cars here at the offices of Van Niddy Press. The irony of using the proceeds from the sale of the car that used to take me to onsite gigs to purchase an electronic drum set for my home studio projects was not lost on me. 

The kit came with hundreds of world drum and percussion samples, and I was having big fun trying them all out. So when my good pal Todd Jenkins asked me to play percussion on some of his new tracks, I jumped at the chance to use my new rig to add some groovy exotica-surf-percussion to his ukulele and steel guitar party songs. The songs came out great and should be in your collection for this summer’s back yard Mai Tai parties! You can check it out here:   

Hunka Hunka Hula Review

Morning Walk: Dave Berry and Friends

My pal Dave Berry, local bluegrass player and genre aficionado, asked if I could add some snare drum and brushes to one of the original tunes he was recording. After listening to the track, I realized it sounded fine and rhythmically didn’t need any percussion, BUT I happened to mention a few things I thought might make it sound a bit better. ( Any musicians reading this will instantly recognize this as the moment when the drummer says, “Yeah…but…”)

However, if you are consistent in your pestering (going on 50 years now for me and my unfortunate band mates) someone is bound to listen to your ideas. Dave took the plunge and enlisted me as his second set of critical ears for his project. Yes Virginia, the drummer…as an ‘Associate Producer’…on a bluegrass album…where he played no drums. Strange days, indeed.

I enjoyed the challenge immensely. Dave and I are very proud of how the project came out; these are his original bluegrass/Celtic tunes with strong melodies you’ll be singing by the end of the track, with top notch performances by all the musicians. Available for sampling and download here: 

Morning Walk: Dave Berry and Friends

Well friends, just when we thought it was safe to head back into the clubs to bring everyone some live entertainment, it looks like we still might be playing in roped-off parking lots for a while. Thank you for supporting our local musicians; live when we can, streaming from an empty club or at home working on our projects when we must.

In appreciation of your continued support,

Ken Owen

CEO, Van Niddy Press

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