Fun fact about me: before all this food/writing stuff, I considered myself, first and foremost, a songwriter. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, I played in several bands; I started with punk rock, then softened up a bit over the years. I met my wife through friends I made when first starting in Hawaii’s independent rock scene in 2002, and my wife and I even played in a band together for a while (she’s a killer drummer, by the way).

But once my health started to decline in the mid-2000s, I no longer had the energy to keep up with music, and songwriting became a real challenge. Anyone who’s struggled with chronic illness can relate to the struggle of just getting out of bed each morning, let alone trying to squeeze something productive out of your day before crashing back into bed that evening (or afternoon, depending on how that day went). I eked out a few songs during that time, but nothing stuck. Once my health returned in 2010, I began to focus on recipe development, photography, and writing; I had my energy back, but alas, now I didn’t have time to also write music.

Given the state of affairs in the world right now, you can probably guess where this is going: in March, once Hawaii started its “stay-at-home” order, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands. Additionally, I happened to be cooped up with a few of my old instruments. So besides perfecting my sourdough recipe, I also started playing music again. I initially thought about re-recording some old favorite songs, but wouldn’t you know it, I found out there were a few new songs still floating around in this 40-year-old brain. A few songs turned into ten, and so here we are.

So my new album, entitled “Stark Sudden Morning”, is now ready to share. I’ve submitted it to all major streaming platforms, but it won’t appear there for another week or two. In the meantime, you can grab the mp3s for free via my Bandcamp page, to add to your digital music collection. I’ve also uploaded it to YouTube and SoundCloud if that’s your thing. If you’d rather own a physical product, I’m doing a very short run of vinyl records, too. I need to finalize my vinyl order by June 1st, so if you want a copy, please order one before then. It’ll take a couple months to press the records, so expect delivery in August.

Update: Streaming options are now live. Here are the links to Apple Music and Spotify.

A few notes about the album:

– I recorded everything myself using just an iPad and a single microphone. I definitely could have used a proper computer for more advanced recording sessions, but I found that the limitations of recording on a tablet helped spark my creativity. A friend of mine recently shared this quote from Orson Welles: “The enemy of art is the absence of limitations”; I think it’s a fitting quote for this moment in time.

– The album title “Stark Sudden Morning” is taken from a poem written by my late grandfather (whom I am named after). In a lot of ways, my life’s journey has mirrored his: he also served 20+ years in the U.S. Navy, and always had his hands stuck in some sort of creative endeavor. My aunt introduced his poetry to me last year, and it’s stuck with me ever since.

– I didn’t focus too much on getting perfect takes during my recording sessions. 10 years is a long time to not play music in earnest, and so my (negligible) skills have atrophied over the years. I’ve learned to live with a few mistakes here and there, and I think it adds to the authenticity and intimacy of the music itself.

– My friend Giang Cao, who helped me photograph all three of my cookbooks, contributed the cover art for this album.

Hope you like it.