We Need to Catch Up! 

It's been way too long since I've posted any news. In the past year, with covid shutting down so many things, it just didn't feel like there was a whole lot to report. But there's always something going on, so here goes... 

I've had over 40 shows cancelled, and many more never booked, because of covid. I even contracted it myself. But God provided in truly amazing ways, and I survived, physically and financially. Sadly, many people didn't, and many businesses closed. But vaccines are now available, things are opening back up, and I'm optimistic this spring and summer will be busy and fun! I hope people truly appreciate, more than ever, the freedom to gather in public to drink, dine, and of course, enjoy live music. I know I will. 

This past June, I had the opportunity to compose instrumental music for a PBS TV series, 
A Taste of History. Four of my songs were used in various episodes. I'll admit, it was quite a thrill to be watching it and hearing my music playing in the background. The show ended up winning four Grammys! It's nice to think I played a small role:)

In December, I recorded and released my sixth album of original material, Christmas Hope. It gave me something to focus on and keep the creative juices flowing. I was like a mad scientist in my home studio, often working late into the night and fussing over every detail. I'm never completely satisfied with anything I create, but overall I was happy with the result. Sales of the album were a big help through the Holiday Season, so to all of you who bought a download or disc: THANK YOU. 

Most recently, my songwriting partner Gordy Overing and I were made an offer by a music publisher to purchase the rights to a bunch of songs we wrote together in the 1990's. This company specializes in placing vintage music in movies, TV shows, and commercials. It's an odd feeling literally selling your songs--giving up all rights to them--but it was a very generous offer we couldn't refuse, and we signed the contract on March 18. We will also collect writer's royalties on any placements, which is great, but we can no longer use those songs in any way without their permission. Weird! (But fine:)   

Well, it's nice catching up, and I'd love it if you post something in the comments section below about what YOU'VE been up to! Also, check out the Where I'm Playing page on this site for upcoming show dates, and make plans to join me!  

God Bless!

P.S. London music promotion company Music Gateway has published an article I've written on their website. I poured my knowledge and experience from many years off gigging into it and I sincerely hope it helps some beginners find their way in what can be a tough, but very rewarding, business. I get paid according to how many unique 'clicks' it receives, so it'd be great if you take a look! Click here: How To Get Gigs and Get Paid  

It Shall Be Released... 

...in fact, it already has!  My latest album, Spiritfruit, was officially released on Friday, November 29 and is already selling well and earning very favorable reviews.

Like this one by Peter Welle, Blogger/Musician: "After long months of recording in his home studio, singer-songwriter Tom Hipps makes a welcome return with Spiritfruit - his tastiest batch of carefully-crafted pop confections. Like Jeff Lynne’s work in ELO, Hipps’ music is colorfully produced, lush with backing harmonies and stacked with hooks, and all bearing the unmistakable creative fingerprints of its maker. Hipps’ move to the producer’s chair was right one; his choices never feel rushed, and there are sonic treats to be found in the nooks and crannies of every song in this collection."

I worked on this album for nearly three years, and if there was ever a labor of love, this is it.  I feel I've really hit my stride as a composer, artist and producer.  The album's overall theme is hopeful and upbeat, promoting "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control"... the fruits of the Spirit, as sung about in the title track.

I hope you'll consider picking up a digital or CD copy of the album.  To do so, visit the Support My Work With a Purchase page on this site. Thanks!

SpiritFruit 

Now that the crazy whirlwind of summer (playing up to 20 shows a month!) has wound down, I've been able to spend more time working on my upcoming album, Spiritfruit. I've got about 6 tracks completed. I feel it's the best work I've done, and I can't wait to share it. I'm recording and producing this one in my home studio, a first for me. I hope when it's released, you'll pick up or download a copy, then let me know what you think! 

Here It Comes... 

Winter in a state like Minnesota can be a slow and somewhat tough time for us working musicians. There just aren't as many opportunities to perform as there are in nice weather. Summertime lends itself to additional opportunities, like restaurant patios, marina bars, company picnics, music festivals, city celebrations, etc.  I made it ok through the winter, in fact I enjoyed the additional time off to write, record, and enjoy my cozy house, but now I'm gearing up for a very busy summer. I've already booked 14 shows in June, 16 in July and 18 in August. And I'm not done yet... there are more shows in the works. But I'm thrilled to be blessed with the work... I do not take it for granted. As always, thank you so very much, all you who support me by coming to see me play and/or purchasing music. Have a wonderful summer, and I hope to see you at some of the shows!   

Upcoming Album and Other Uncertainties :) 

I've never been a prolific songwriter. I'm not cranking out a tune a day... in fact, sometimes a month will go by without any concrete creative output. Being that live performance is currently my main source of income, I focus on that first, and write/record when I can. But I do manage to produce a song here and there, and eventually they add up to an album's (or EP's) worth of material. Of course, the reality of the music business is that the traditional "album" is not the dominating music medium it once was. People now "consume" music by streaming, YouTube, downloads, etc.  So, why not just release a single every few weeks and forsake the idea of releasing a traditional album? Well, it may as simple as some of us artists being "old school"... we hate to let music traditions die. And if we wait long enough, some things come back around... for example, vinyl is making a slow but steady comeback (yay!). In a nutshell, I hope to be releasing a new album/record/collection of songs sometime this year. I've got a few pretty good songs in the can already, and when I feel I have enough quality tunes, then I'll let you know, in hopes you'll download a copy, or buy a CD... or better yet, buy an old-fashioned vinyl album--because I might just release it in that form as well!   

On another front, I've also been busy working with music libraries... those are the guys that supply movies, television, and advertising with their background music. I'm creating tracks (some are instrumentals) and shopping them around, and have signed several songs to music libraries already, and have licensed some to various companies. You can hear some of the tracks in the "Today's Top Ten Songs" feature on the Home Sweet Home page of this site. Let me know what you think! 

Heavenly Peace 

I love this time of year.  As a Christian, no matter how stressful this season can be, with all its parties and shopping and overeating and bad driving conditions and commercial greed and overplayed Christmas songs on the radio... I'm still able to sit in my living room at the end of the day, with only the lights of the Christmas tree glowing, and relax and rest in the fact that Jesus came into the world over 2,000 years ago and still gladly gives his peace to those who will only ask for it and then open their minds and hearts to it. Keep that sentiment, focus on the baby Jesus, the grown-up Jesus, the crucified Jesus, and most importantly, the risen Jesus... and you'll find that the noisy static of the outside world is kept at a distance. You can climb into your bed and sleep in heavenly peace. 

Silent night, holy night / Son of God / Love's pure light / Radiant beams from thy holy face / With the dawn of redeeming grace / Jesus, Lord at thy birth / Jesus, Lord at thy birth.

May God bless you, and may you embrace his grace, mercy and peace this holy and beautiful season. 

Goodbye, Tom Petty 

I bought my first Tom Petty album in 1980. It was Damn the Torpedoes, his latest at that time. I loved what I heard... songs like "Refugee", "Here Comes My Girl", "Don't Do Me Like That" and "Even the Losers" had a somehow raw-yet-at-the-same-time-polished sound to which I gravitated. As a new songwriter, I wanted to create music like he did. And I liked his attitude... strongly opinionated, but not forceful or rude. In fact, he was quite the laid-back dude. And he loved The Beatles, and he loved Elvis, and I did too. He also reminded me a bit of my first guitarist, Rick Glenna, in looks and in attitude. I loved that he battled his record company when they were going to charge a dollar more per unit for his about-to-be-released record just because he was a hot commodity and they knew they could get it, and he withheld the master tapes until they agreed to keep it at the going rate for albums, $8.98 at the time. In fact, he threatened to title the album "$8.98" ...and he would have, I'm sure, had they not backed down! (And perhaps that's where the inspiration for that song came from...?) My bands through the years have covered several of his songs, including "I Won't Back Down", "Free Fallin'", "Runnin' Down a Dream", "The Waiting" and "Refugee" to name a few. "The Waiting" is still in my solo show repertoire, and methinks I'll be adding another title or two. 

So, another music legend, another influence on my own craft, has passed. Though I've never met any of my true music idols, they become a part of me, of my psyche... a part of my life. Thankfully we have recordings and video and the internet to keep our legends alive. If you think about it, before these mediums came about, when an artist was gone, they were gone... period. No way to ever hear them again. So I thank God for records, I thank him for films and photos, and I thank him for Tom Petty.

P.S. If you want to see an excellent film biography of Petty's life, check out Runnin' Down a Dream, directed by Peter Bogdanovich. It plays like a good movie... as Tom's life surely did.  

My Sincere Thanks 

So here I am, over a year and a half into my return to self-employment as a musician. To say I'm thankful for the way things have gone would be an understatement. I've been blessed with the freedom, and financial provision, to work at what I love, and I don't take it lightly. I had, of course, hoped and prayed things would turn out, but this summer has been CRAZY beyond expectation! I played 18 shows in July and am booked for 18 this month (August). I'm getting to travel to all sorts of different places, and have met so many great people along the way. I've not had to rob my savings account for several months, and my bills are all paid (except for a chunk I still owe the IRS... boo, hiss:) Of course, living in Minnesota, many gigs are seasonal... bar & restaurant patios, music fests, outdoor parties, etc... so winter can be tough. I've been focusing (or trying to focus, busy as I am) on more writing and recording in my home studio, and submitting material to music libraries, who provide songs for movies, TV, advertising, etc.  I recently had 4 of my tunes licensed, which is exciting, though for these particular uses I won't see royalties until next year. Yes, there were times I doubted that this would work... and I still have to be careful of letting doubt creep in... but mostly, I live in the expectation that God is going to take care of me no matter what. If it all ends tomorrow, if I have to go back to a corporate job, I won't like it, but I'll have no regrets... only gratefulness for the time I was able to spend making a living sharing my gifts and talents with whoever was listening. My sincere thanks to every one of you who has come to a show, bought my music or merchandise, befriended me and/or encouraged me in some way along the way... or hired me to play! God bless you!

Gearing Up for Summer Shows / House Concerts 

I've worked hard over the winter adding venues to my list of places to perform. Happily, my summer is booked fairly solid (53 shows booked through the end of September), though I still have some dates I'd like to fill... if you've ever thought of hosting a House Concert, talk to me! It's the new 'thing' in parties. Generally, what happens is, a number of people kick in a certain amount per person to hire a music artist to come and perform in the house, or outdoors, or whatever setting they choose (within reason:) Donations are often taken as well, to help offset the cost of hiring the performer. The artist usually will play about an hour or so, then offer CD's and other merchandise for sale, autographing the items and posing for pictures, as the guests desire. It's a really fun way for artists and music lovers to connect on a personal level. If this is something you'd like to consider, let's talk! 

 

I'm One of Those Weirdos... 

...that actually loves winter! I've heard a couple of people in the last few days say they're ready for spring. I'm like, "I'm ready for another blizzard!" I think cold air is refreshing (to a certain extent)... freshly fallen snow is gorgeous... the world seems quieter. Having said all that, as December turns into January turns into February, and March rolls around, I'm as ready as anybody for warmth and budding trees and sunshine. But here's a thought: If you're feeling a bit of cabin fever, a little shopping might lift your spirits. I invite you to click on the "shop" link here on this website, where you'll find all kinds of goodies. There's my latest album, The Road So Far, a best-of collection featuring 18 hand-picked songs (three previously unreleased) that define my 20-year recording career; T-shirts with a cool drawing of me in the recording studio and the saying, "Music Happens... when a heart and mind expose the soul"; for hard rock fans there's Savior Rock, a 2-CD set featuring tracks by Lou Gramm of Foreigner, Michael Sweet of Stryper, and many other artists, including my band From Ordinary (our song opens the album); if you want to get a jump on the 2017 Holiday Season (!) there's my Christmas album; you can also pick up my earlier solo CDs and singles. Happy shopping... and Happy Winter! :)