Monday, February 28, 2011

New RPM Recording

Just a quick post to say I've completed my February 2011 RPM recordings of new folk instrumentals for both the 6 and 12 string guitar. The preliminary link is here:

The RPM crowd, I'm guessing, will make a proper website when all the RPM submissions are in. In the meantime, scroll down the page for the MP3 player.

I'm really happy with most of these songs, and hopefully as I get better at playing them (as I had to come up with the material in February) I will incorporate them into my repertoire.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

New Website!

Hi folks, another long due post in this blog. Just wanted to write three great points:

First I have made a new new website!

I am hoping to divert traffic from this site to the new site. Although you can still add posts to this one because it is a blog. Anyhow, feel free to browse and enjoy the new site. It contains a biography, testimonials, MP3 clips, contact info, links to other sites of interest and a variety of photographs and artwork, and photographs that I have turned into blue-themed "artwork".

Second, I have signed up to do another RPM album this February, I have some good ideas brewing for new songs, and if I have time, I am going to record a few previously unreleased songs as well. I am thinking of new ideas and tunes for the 6 string guitar as well as the 12 string and I have also decided to explore how I used to write my older compositions and mix it with the new for a more varied and creative, fresh sound while still maintaining the essential and familiar Dan Ficken guitar sound. I will post the link to the RPM site when the songs are uploaded at the end of the month.

Thirdly and equally as exciting, a new song I had written in 2010 called "Pulling at the Moon" is being featured on a CD of featured artists and songwriters compiled by the Association for the Arts in Mount Pearl (AAMP - to be released in 2011. I will make a new post when the cd is ready

Stay tuned, it's a good productive time for me :)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

New Songs!

Well, I haven't posted on this since July 2007, haha! But I guess its still an active site, people are still listening to the old songs posted on the side of this page. I guess I should redirect you to a new website with my latest recordings on them:

Pat Canning was nice enough to write a decent review of it, which was really nice of him to do considering he generally does not hold back on his reviews, good or bad. I don't have the URL of his blog handy, but I will direct you to his site:

He wrote: "A familiar face on the downtown scene; solo 12 string instrumentalist Dan Ficken took this February to record his album "From Tanks to Tractors". It is a nice meditative outing that showcases Dan's lush and nuanced playing, and it also showcases something most people familiar with Dan Fickens work wouldn't expect; that is Dan's singing. I don't think Dan is that used to it either, but his voice is soft and friendly enough that it works. I'm listening to it here at work (I'm also writing this when I should be working, but what odds) and this is an ideal relaxation and ignoring-the-disgusting-office-work-piling-up-and-
destroying-your-precious-youth-before-you-ever-really-got-to-enjoy-it disc."

Thanks Pat. Also I sent the following message to my contact list, I guess to describe the recordings I made for the RPM Challenge (where musicians and bands were challenged to record an album of unreleased material in one month:February)

"It was a rush job since I had to record this in February and I was out of town for at least half of February and my roommate wanted to watch hockey games in my recording studio all the time, but considering, it actually sounds not too bad at all (first song has a lower volume though careful)

Forewarned: there are some vocals in this set, some of them are cheezy and I haven't quite gotten the alleycat out of my voice yet, haha, but anyway it's all good, a little more practice and you won't notice ;)

I am a sound "nerd". These are medium quality MP3's, they won't let me post anything worth downloading in my opinion, but you can hear them right on the webpage in an at least listenable form. Headphones or external speakers are recommended though if you are using a laptop."

Anyway, for those of you who still find your way to this outdated site, enjoy, and thanks for visiting (I still haven't posted Black Water, like my post from 2007 said, but maybe one day ;)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Black Water

So here's another post.

Figured I should add some pictures to compliment the last one.

I mentioned a song with vocals. Well, I've called it Black Water since that is the current colour of Nut Brook, which passes through a rural Industrial zone on the outskirts of St. John's. It is about as polluted as water can get. I'll post two phases I have seen it in:

This phase was observed in 2005, when this section of the brook was only visibly affected by landfill leachate, quarry sediment, and a slight bit of oil and raw sewage. (See above pictures of the reddish-brown water).

The second phase was observed in 2006 when the vegetation began reappearing on the sediment deposit but the river got far worse:

It turned black when it became visibly contaminated with an increased amount of oil and raw sewage in addition to the leachate and sediment. The water was so stagnant after that, toxic blue green algae was observed to be colonising the stream. Have a look:

Sooooooo, there's a "slight" problem here. I won't get into it, and I don't think I should post pictures of the source (they are too gross to look at), but that's the mindset of the people who are responsible for the discharges, and of all three levels of government who know about this but as of yet have not done very much to work out this problem.

That's where my song Black Water came about. Maybe I'll record it and post it sometime. And a reminder to newcomers, all the other songs posted can be heard by clicking on the titles on the top right.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Finally a New Post

Well, I haven't been posting on this site at all for the last many months, but as far as I know, people actually do still check the site, and since I'm aware that this site gets advertised on other people's sites and posts and things, and since I can't figure out how to hide the old posts anyway, I guess I should start making new posts, and eventually the old ones will get pushed into an archive somewhere anyway, automatically making this page fresh and new again.

So, to update:

I play a lot of gigs, and people hear my music all over the place so they tell me. I have one, for example, in Mount Pearl at Centennial Park at 7:00pm on Thursday the 12th of July. It's for the Association for the Arts in Mount Pearl's summertime Gazebo performance and arts series. Apparently it's just me that night, so if anyone comes to see me, I'll play better, lol. I might even sing, as I have been toying with the idea of expanding my musical versatility.

Which brings me to something I should discuss. Occasionally, people ask me if I ever sing, and some of them ask me why I don't sing. These are people who are two things:

1) Innovative, and can detect a way for me to advance my musical ability and target a wider audience, and...

2) Have missed the musical point of the type of genre I am practicing

In the latter case, if I start adding vocals to my songs, I will effectively change the subgenre of music I play from (self described) traddy, post-modernal instrumentalism - to - cliched early 70's folk genre with a bit of Johnny Cash thrown in, (LOL)! Which is not necessarily a bad thing, but is certainly a drastic shift from what most people would expect me to be playing (the former).

However, I have taken that advice of those few of my peers who mentioned and I may start piloting some new stuff in the near future. It may or may not work out as I really have no singing voice either. But then again, neither did Bob Dylan.


In other news, I also have a small bit of new instrumental material that is unrecorded and not on the site as of yet. But since I have been playing a lot more lately and still pretty involved with the environment stuff, I haven't given much go at the songwriting in the past little while. Luckily I have lots of songs anyway.

I am also involved with a fast punk band called "Are You Phobic?" that is unrelated to my 12-string show, but we gig a lot and hopefully soon will have a demo finished and a website up that I will link to here if anyone is brave enough to check it out.

So, that's that. Business as usual, still going, but just have been very quiet on the website. I've got the odd wedding coming up too, and most likely many more benefits to come. I was going to put a picture of something up, since this page probably looks a little bland now, but I think I'll do it later.

Yay! New post.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Sad news plus good news

A sad time for traditional music, Newfoundlanders, and Irish Folk alike; Dermot O'Reilly has died. I haven't really posted much on this since I started this blog, so I will post my regrets online for Dermot and everyone who knew him. I hope there will be a great concert in his honour.

As a positive note, I am going to add a link to SWORDS' website. An excellent band who have helped me out musically and who gave me the idea to start this blog. They have their entire EP available to listen to at:

Although I borrowed their idea to post my MP3's online, they borrowed my idea to make their website the colour black. Although I can't prove that. We will fight, Adam Goodwin, we will fight. Oh, but thanks for helping to master Sound On Earth. Just remember, Star Wars is best enjoyed on VHS when remastered in THX. The picture and audio will not be compared to the pathetic CG of the newer releases. I laugh at thee face, computer graphics, I laugh upon thine crumpled heap. Ok, I've gone too far. I have mixed good taste with bad taste. But you gotta have a sense of humour during sad times.

Perhaps I will randomly add a picture to momentarily distract you all while we reflect on the wonderful music that Dermot O'Reilly has provided us with over the decades.

This is a backyard shot of some houses packed into the east end of Gower Street. Taken from a gap in Cochrane Street. We live close together in downtown St. John's. As an added fact, the A1C area code, where this picture is located, has the most dense population of artists and people of cultural note in all of Canada. Maybe I will add more pictures in the future. For those who haven't seen the Costa Rica pics, the link is on the side of this page and is a little bit inconspicuous. Maybe I will make an Ireland album too because those pictures are really nice to look at. Anyway, I will make a permanent SWORDS link on the side of this page. I think I will try and record a few more things I have been working on and post them in the near future as well.

Well, here we go. So not to underplay the original message of this post, I have decided to add this drawing to the bottom instead of making a new post. Reviewed and neither approved nor disapproved by a modern art critic in New York City in 2005 or late 2004 when I originally created this work of art, I thought it would make a great show poster for last fall. It was immediately rejected. I will slip it in there one day though.

All walk good now.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

My house

Ok, for a lack of anything else to put on this site at the moment here are the coordinates to my apartment at 19 York St. in downtown St. John's that can be copied and pasted into Google Earth if you got it:

47 34'10.97" N 52 42'08.12" W


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

PreDem and Sound on Earth Canvass

(click on the song titles on the right side of this web page to hear them)
Here's a bit of info:

PreDem is the temporary name I have given to an imaginary album that I will use as a demo to eventually become a real, professionally recorded CD. I recorded this myself in December 2006 in various spaces. Except for Beekeepers in Black, which is a newer better version of the one that I recorded for Sound on Earth, all the songs were written in 2006. Any of these songs are subject to change and become rerecorded (by me) because I can play some of them better since the time they were recorded.

I am hoping that the finished product will become an audio environment in which there is land upon which to anchor oneself and and atmosphere in which to breathe so that the ears feel at home when listening to it. That may never make sense, but we'll see.

Sound on Earth (SOE) differs from PreDem in that it was recorded in 2005 and it is a more solid entity. It is "finished" and so won't change. It is what it is. More importantly, it represents my thought patterns with respect to the way I wrote and performed those songs that December (2005). I think all those songs were written and/or arranged between 2004 and 2005. Postmodern Bluegrass, which I haven't included on this site, goes back even further.
SOE builds on its strengths.

PreDem builds again on the strengths of SOE. And is the closest representation to where I am right now, musically. The recording of "Alzheimer's Repeat" on SOE (written in 2004) is a good example of the direction I branched off in. It has one of those sonic components that simulate the act of free-falling, which occur more frequently in PreDem. However, I took it even further when I wrote "Seamount", which is a mysterious underwater song about one of the most ecologically sensitive and equally as threatened areas on the planet. It required a more focussed variation on technique to perform. "Seamount" actually is musically inspired by "Intro de la Nina" from SOE, but thematically inspired by something completely different. "Intro" by the way was a rewritten version of the song "La Nina" on Postmodern Bluegrass from 2004 (or earlier?).

I should point out that PreDem has an anomaly as well. I primarily play and write with a 12-string guitar, but the song "York Street Village" was written and performed on a six-string guitar I rescued from an empty, freezing apartment on Golf Avenue early 2006. The guitar was mistreated and abused to the point where it was unplayable and abandoned by the time I found it. I put it in intensive care and healed it. "York Street Village" was what eventually came out of it and represents a more classical approach to playing. I have no classical training, but I am always open to changing my style once in a while. The song "Anticipate: Relief" on PreDem was also written in this way in the summer of 2006, and represents the more open approach I took to developing the new material. The song "We Make Ways", which I wrote about a month ago takes another turn as I decided to vary my style again. I may rerecord this one because I can play it much better now ;)
The same goes for "York Street Village", although I'm very proud of the part I added near the 2 minute mark where the entire structure of the song melts down like the T-1000 in Terminator 2 and then snaps back into its position in time to recover completely on cue.

Anyway, to sum up: PreDem and what will become of it is essentially an audioscape that acceptingly takes many new forms, while I continuously create it.

Before I bequeath the critical examination of my music, I should point out (because most people ask), the recordings here are only one track each. It's just me playing a 12-string guitar. This is what I sound like live in person, no overdubs. I recorded with a minidisc player and a condenser mic. I didn't spend much time with the frequency equalisation, so if the volume is turned up too loud you may experience clipping from your speakers or headphones. That's more my fault than anything. But these tracks are not meant to be perfect. I won't get into the ongoing incompatible software drama I go through on a regular basis trying to get audio files into MP3's either. Maybe another time.

As a last note to this long posting, if anyone notices any flaws on this site, let me know so I can fix it.
Thought I would add the Sound On Earth cd art and liner notes for those who have never seen it. Unfortunately, I seem to have lost the Post Modern Bluegrass JPEG, but I haven't included those songs on this site anyway. There is no art for PreDem because, well, PreDem is but an imagined entity right now. When it becomes something real, it will not only have original artwork, it will also have a real name.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Commence: Dan's Blag

Ok, I've got the technicalities figured out thanks to the help of my good buddy Dave, who happens to not only know computer programming, but exactly the type of programming I need for the purposes of this website. This freeeee freeee freeeee website. I'll explain:

There was actually very little coding involved compared to the advice I received in order to create this site the way I wanted it. A person by the name of Philip Clark, who also creates very unique music under the name of A/V, happens to have a large hard drive which he is generously offering to share with other musicians and bands in exchange for a hard copy of the posted music.
His website is:

Anyway, I have stored my music on his hard drive (I think that's how that works) and now anyone (you reading) can access them whenever you want. Just click on the song titles on the side and poof. If you have Quick Time already installed, the songs will play right away. If you don't then you will have to download them in order to listen to them on your media player. Right-clicking the links will also give you an option to download them if you want to.

If you download them, share them etc if you want or not whatever, but be nice about it if you know what I mean. I wouldn't mind that if you download the songs and decide to keep them or share them, send me an email or leave a comment on this site just for my own tracking purposes. It's nice to know who is listening and doing what with the files. Of course, nothing compares to a good hard compact disc anyway :P

So that's that. Thanks to Philip I have a means of storing these MP3's to be shared, and thanks to Dave I was able to create this blog the way it is. I plan on posting other various things for your interest (pictures, links, articles, etc) in the near future. You'll just have to check back every now and again to see what they are.