Song Dog Music Blog

  • Dave Monterey

Songwriting is a very personal art. It causes the writer to pull from experience and to view the world through a unique lens. The songwriters of Heartwood Crossing are fortunate to be able to weave their individual works together in performance. That both male and female writers are engaged in this group offers a beautiful diversity of song expressions to listeners.

It's the dual hemisphere of female and male thinking and feeling, and other aspects, that contributes to such a rich tapestry of repertoire with this band.

If there are, in fact, differences in the ways men and women tend to be gender representative in their songwriting - it would be interesting to take a brief look at some trends. It wasn't James Taylor but rather Carole King who wrote "You've Got a Friend," and the female writer paints a gentle portrait, a soft edge of compassion.

In a similar vein, Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" offers poignant lament for a missed, much deeper connection with another:

The scars of your love

They leave me breathless

I can't help feeling

We could have had it all

Rolling in the deep

You had my heart inside your hand

And you played it, you played it,

You played it to the beat

(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)

Floral notes of other, more tart lyric varietal are surely found in songs from women songwriters - yet for this simplified review, suffice to say that the female heart in song is often portrayed as open and receptive.

For a moment, consider contrarily the headspace that delivered Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild," conjuring up a nomad's venture out on a limitless highway. In the arena of love and love songs it is not unusual for the male to take little responsibility for love's end story. For example, "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak plays the 'solitary man' card one more time:

What a wicked game you played

To make me feel this way

What a wicked thing to do

To let me dream of you

And I don't want to fall in love

(This girl is gonna break your heart)

With you

Nobody loves no one

Yes, there are examples of soft sensitives in male writing, but I submit there are many more of the rugged, independent variety. A predilection for the solo gambit.

I employ these brief examples as preface to compare notes about some beautifully different lyrical compositions form Heartwood Crossing's talented songwriting crew.

Coming at last to on-deck production for HWC performance is Tim's "Borderline." His lyric somehow evinces a bit of an endless western horizon:

I don't lay claim, got no intention

Won't be long 'till I'm leaving it all behind

I might steal some of your redemption

But when day is done this coat I wear is mine

I'm gonna ride to the end of the line

Just another running man, running out of time

There's no reason I can find

Blind, I'm drawn to the borderline

The subtle magic of Tim's songwriting here shines a light on resolute independence and pragmatism - confessions of a man's soul.

Then, by contrast, Emily's new tune "Second Chance" captures a very different orientation than Tim's writing. She relates the quest for a magnetic 'pulling together:'

Counting hours, holding on

Heads in the clouds, clear thoughts gone

When lightning strikes the same place twice

Turns worlds from fire to ice

Head over heels this avalanche, offerin' up an olive branch

When love at first sight gets a second chance

A second chance that comes along, a second chance to right old wrongs

From burning hot passing flames that treated love as a game -

When love at first sight gets a second chance

Emily's intimate poetry suggests a peace offering to a binding hope, in spite of what may be unknown in the present - an aperitif, perhaps, from the feminine chalice.

Building upon all of this, what symbolism might lay in the choice of a band name such as Heartwood Crossing? Surely, the answer to this question must include the bridging of themes borne of both male and female hearts.

Songwriting clearly pulls on perspectives from deep within us. In this regard, I'm reminded of the deep red color at the core of a mature coast redwood. And I find resolution in believing that where HWC can inspire a listener's understanding of what it feels and means to be human, then we succeed in our desire to make a spiral stairway.

Thanks for listening!

Dave Monterey

  • Dave Monterey


Heartwood Crossing has been making broad steps with our online presence. This brings more news and entertainment to our readers and serves as a showcase to talent bookers that we are well on our way to bigger and better things!

What's heartfelt in a music video...did you know that many folks form their first impression of a band by watching a You Tube video? With that as our driving force, HWC has put up a couple of gems for viewing on our Heartwood Crossing You Tube channel:

Emily's "Beer Barrel Whiskey" filmed at Twin Oaks Roadhouse lauds a primal love for the music venues that give us life. Beer joint or refined winery or special event's in a musician's blood to stir up the sawdust!

Tim's rendering of John Hiatt's "Slow Turning" also on HWC's You Tube channel puts flesh on the bones of the personal path forward, the 'evolution' if you will along the crazy river of life.

Ah, then there's the romance every musician has with recording...there's something about the camaraderie of being in the studio together. It is literally the moment of truth for your performance. HWC has recently gotten some fine work accomplished in this regard:

"Why Don't You Love Me (Like You Use To Do)" was recorded at A Room With A View Studios, Petaluma, and performed live at Mystic Theatre. The HWC version brands the good 'ol Hank Williams, Sr. tune with a modern groove and a seductive weave of harmonies to boot (currently available on the KRCB compilation CD entitled The Songs of Hank Williams).

Dave's "Legend of Joaquin Murieta" chronicles a love for California history. In this case, light is shed on a Gold Rush era bandito whose generosity and commitment to justice come to life in song. Recorded at Route 44 Studio, Sebastopol.

Emily delivers a resounding note for truth and science in a great cover of Indigo Girls' "Galileo." Wait till you hear the harmonies and dynamics in the mix! You can listen here on this website - and we anticipate a 2020 CD production release to include all three of these and more!

It's a family tradition...that's how we love to tell our story. And it's true. The latest and greatest band biography retells of the long brotherhood between Tim and Dave, then comes the most wonderful moment of serendipity when the two link up with long lost sister Emily.

Says KRCB radio DJ, Doug Jayne (who counted The String Rays as a favorite local group), "I totally get why re-branding was a good idea: This is a better band!"

'Rockin' Roots and Harmonies' crows the new band bio. Songwriting, instrumental finesse, and singing performance are signature features of Heartwood Crossing.

But when all is said and done, it's the connection, the sympatico support of our community family and friends that really makes the difference. Thanks for being a part of our heartfelt journey.


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There are no hard and fast rules in the creative hemisphere. And that's a good thing. Granted all musical forms require an underlying architecture, even in jazz. But artistic exploration does inevitably involve the bending or breaking of established norms.

The end result is that five months into the Heartwood Crossing endeavor we find ourselves donning shirts of different sizes and going to new places with our art.

Let me see if I can better illustrate the ways this plays out. Every ensemble is constituted from the synergy of its members, right? With HWC, the six piece band is distinguished by an important rhythm section. When drums and bass hit pay dirt (which Dan and Daniel together orchestrate) some serious gold is produced. The band shines smartly with tight grooves and nuanced flourishes.

So it is that rockin' songs like newly added "Jaded Lover," Emily's "In My Backyard," Dave's "Stony Point Road," and also Tim's delicate "Coeur D'Alene." rise to a high level with full complement of musical production.

The ziplines high above the sturdy trunks (those would be the vocals, violin, and 6-string guitar parts) can make their scaffolding and trajectory accordingly. The canopy of a tall forest is a lovely place for a song to live. So here, signature approaches are established.

But wait! Nature in her unmatched call for resilience, turns and demands something new.

Imagine a forest without without trees or let's just say with the sturdy old growth section removed. You've got a feeling for how a vastly different 'unplugged acoustic' trio of three performing singer-songwriters plays out.

I've noticed the approach to soloing on acoustic guitars even on same songs covered by full band is significantly different than when playing electric. Both the attack on strings and cascade of the notes inhabits a different world.

The tunes of HWC Trio begged for more percussion and so Tim and Dave brush the guitar strings and faces of their instruments in ways to respond. Emily fleshes out the new canopy with addition of percussion hand-instruments.

Plus, with three, there's ever more pressure to get those harmony vocals to fall into precise line (rule conformity there...). New songs sparkle in this context. Tim's "Borderline" undergoes an acoustic transformation that breathes with life, Emily's new "Pretty Penny" shines in the 'mirror-ball light.' And Dave's introspective 'Lovelight Calling' finds a roost not quite seen or heard before.

But not so fast, grasshopper... This band has taken on a plethora of gigs, some resulting in configurations of band personnel unanticipated and certainly influential on process.

Violinist Jon, and singer-songwriters Emily and Tim have performed as an alternate trio (hence the informal acronym JET) and discovered additional elements of shape-shifting.

Some of the big ones are alterations in solo sections determined differently from what the full band has remembered. Or harmonies that get structured uniquely in absence of other players. It's a natural progression in the short term, but has an effect on the whole. We are paying attention and coming to terms with the impacts of variety appearances.

JET found a bit of a learning curve with need to add material - given having one lead singer out. Reaching back for some past-favorites brought additions of Hoyt Axton's "Evangelina," and Paul Simon's "Me & Julio." Also, Nancy Griffith's "Love at the Five and Dime' and the 70's country classic "Ode to Billie Jo," Tim took an opportunity to sing Dave's "Friends and Lovers" with Emily covering her interactive vocal parts there.

Finally, a gig appeared where HWC performed as quintet without the vocal and guitar of Tim. We rolled, we sang (two not three), we covered others' parts in yet another amalgam. Right off the bat Emily's "Three Lakes" had a different tone, and Dave's Spider Bite had alternate webbing.

Casual first-time listeners may not have experienced any lack - but some of the sonic and visual cues on arrangements re missing for the band. It takes some real accommodation to get used to wearing the spandex pants for these constant changes.

Heartwood Crossing, whether trio, quartet, quintet or sextet, is a creative enterprise. It is a living, breathing, dynamic expression that grows and adapts, and improves with time. The brother and sisterhood are at our foundation. From there, the sky's the limit.

Thanks for listening, and keep on creating good things!

Dave Monterey

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