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  • Writer's pictureThomas Doggett

The story behind Lines + Lineage

Lines + Lineage has been out for a year. To celebrate, here's the story behind the album.

Sometime in the late-summer or fall of 2019

Lisa, said to me one day: “you’re always telling stories about your family, you should write songs about them.”  Such an innocent statement but it was all I needed to hear to begin composing.  

October 2, 2019

Uncle Bill was the first song to be added to the Family Album in Logic Pro.  All songs began as recorded explorations; nothing was written down or even analyzed.  Every idea was kept or thrown based on how it felt.  If it felt good to play, it was a keeper.  Every idea was played on tenor sax or wind synth to a metronome; no keyboards or drum loops.  The only sound I used on the wind synth was a bass guitar sound in Logic.  All of the songs existed as melody and bass line for a long time.

October 3, 2019

Grandma Louise

October 6, 2019

Aunt Alma

November 2, 2019

Grandma Mildred

November 28, 2019

Grandpa Arthur

December 2, 2019

Aunt Ruth

December 25, 2019

Grandpa Lebus

January 19, 2020

Aunt Sally

Late January 2020

The group of songs had been renamed: "Lineage by Tommy Doggett: 8 new compositions and stories"  I've added keyboard harmony and drum loops.  I start playing the demos for close friends.  I create a time-line: rehearse, perform, record, release, perform more.  News from Asia and Europe talk about illness and something more than the flu.

February 2020

I'm busy practicing for the recording session of Mona Lucy by English.

March 2020

Lisa is told that Iowa State is not returning to class after spring break.  Gary Ruschmann cancels his CD release show in Minneapolis.  English spends two days at Sonic Factory Studios recording Mona Lucy as the news reports get stranger.  Ben Dixon says to me after live-stream performance with Courtney Krause: "If we all don't come out of this with an album, we're waisting our time."  I take Ben's words to heart.  Urbandale doesn't return to class after spring break.

August 1, 2020

Grandma Marguerite

October 9, 2020

My friend, Ann Flood, organized a fundraiser called Men for Mental Health.  It was a live-streamed event and she asked me to play for a 20-minute segment.  I tell her that it would be near impossible to put a band together but that I have some new songs and I could play along to the demos tracks.  This is the first public performance of Alma, Lebus, Ruth, and Marguerite.  I felt lonely standing by myself in front of a camera playing along to my Logic Pro tracks but it was nice to contribute to an event that I believed in and it felt good to perform these songs that I started on a year before.  I knew there was more to these songs than one performance.

May to July, 2021

I had been wanting to take a lesson with John Waugh for a few years.  I reached out to him and said: "I'm game for learning anything you want to teach me but I could really use your input on some songs I recently wrote."  John gave me a lot of advice on my lead sheets.  In an effort to be clear, I wrote down an overwhelming amount of information.  John's advice was: "give enough information that a musician can do what they do best."  We also talked about solo ideas and musical influences.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

After my lessons with John, I wanted more input for my project.  I reached out to Dr. Mike Conrad.  Despite cleaning up my lead sheets with John Waugh, there was still more to do.  It seems straight ahead: write down notes and chord symbols and musicians will play it.  But too much information is overwhelming, not enough is frustrating.  Mike's approach is so down to Earth: say what you need to say in the simplest way possible.  After this lesson, my sheet music went through another revision.  But there is also a downside to editing; doing too much.  I thought it might be a great idea to only have one chord for the solo section of Grandma Mildred.  Mike said: "No, the ascending chords represents your grandmother climbing a tree."  He was right.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

First rehearsal at my house with Seth Hedquist, guitar, Scot Sutherland, bass, and Russ Tomlinson, drums.  Up until this moment, I only knew the songs as the demos I made in Logic Pro.  This was the day the songs became real; the day they were in the hands of real musicians.  All of the editing and revisions paid off because we were able to run down the songs with minimal confusion.

Friday, July 22, 2022

It was finally safe to get together again and rehearse at my house.  Note that it's a year to the day later.

Monday, August 1, 2022

Along with Seth Hedquist, guitar, Scot Sutherland, bass, and Russ Tomlinson, drums, I debuted Lines + Lineage at the weekly series: Monday Night Live hosted by xBk Live in Des Moines, Iowa.  I deliberately made the decision to perform the songs in front of a live audience before recording them.  Songs take on a new shape once they get in front of an audience and I wanted to work the ideas out before capturing them in a recording.

Thursday, December 8, 2022

I recorded Lines + Lineage at Golden Bear Studios in Des Moines, Iowa ​with Seth Hedquist, guitar, Scot Sutherland, bass, and Russ Tomlinson, drums.  We recorded live in the studio.  The goal was to get two takes of each song and we left the studio with three takes of each song!  

Saturday December 31, 2022 and January 1, 2023 

"Uncle Bill" was featured on a special edition of All Access on Iowa Public Radio Studio One featuring music performed at Monday Night Live.  "Uncle Bill" recorded live at xBk was used throughout the program and featured at the end.

December 30, 2022, February 10 + 11, 2023

Mixing Lines + Lineage with Bryan Vanderpool.  At the first mix session, we identified that the third take tended to be the strongest take of the day.  We did three mixes of the nine songs and guess what?  The third mix was the strongest.  I have Scot Sutherland to thank. After we did the second mix, things weren't quite right...everything was loud and competing.  I take full blame because I was so excited to hear my songs, I just wanted to hear everything at once.  Scot spoke to me about depth and shelves.  I went back to the studio with Bryan and we started by turning everything down; this allowed every instrument to breathe, have depth, and sit on a shelf.

March 16 to April 11, 2023

Mastering Lines + Lineage by Chris Hesse.  I sent Chris the tracks, pictures I drew describing how I imagined the songs, + reference tracks of songs I really liked the sound of.  When we agreed that the mix was done, he sent me an email: "I can honestly say that this is the least I've touched any mix. It sounds to me like a band playing in the room together. I really like the vibe you guys created and didn't feel it needed much on my end (nice work Bryan!). So I hope that you are happy with it, I certainly am."

Friday, May 19, 2023

Uncle Bill released as the first single

Friday, June 9, 2023

Grandpa Arthur released as the second single

Friday, June 30, 2023

Grandpa Lebus released as the third single

Friday, July 21, 2023

Full album released...and worth the wait.

The album is also available on all streaming platforms. It's just that I make more money if you buy the album. Below is my 2023 sales report. One person purchased the nine songs on iTunes and that made $8.91. The songs were streamed on Apple Music and that made $0.31. Spotify: 1,117 streams = $3.07. Facebook/Instagram: 1,960 streams = $0.22. These numbers can be interpreted many ways, I'll let you, the reader, decide what they mean.

As always, thanks for reading, thanks for listening. Share this with anyone you think might enjoy it. xoxoxo TD


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