Skip to Content Skip to Navigation

Thom Shedlock: Biography

BLISSOLOGY - THE THOM SHEDLOCK PROJECT

Enjoy relaxing music as well as nature sounds from the North Carolina coast and Pennsylvania woodlands on this inaugural album by THE THOM SHEDLOCK PROJECT. Multi-instrumentalist THOM SHEDLOCK plays Acoustic, Electric and Classical Guitars, Electric Sitar, Bass, Keyboards, Drums, Bells and Percussion. Blissology is the perfect CD for relaxation whether it be a pensive moment with your morning coffee, an escape from the rigors of a daily commute or perhaps a massage or quiet time with a partner. This seventy-minute musical compilation is splendid for your Yoga practice, from warm up to deep meditation.

BIOGRAPHY

For as long as I can remember, I have always been drawn to the beauty of music, especially in its improvisational form. I was blessed with an ear for music and as a teenager, I taught myself the basics of guitar. Although my musical sight-reading was limited, I had a knack for learning songs by ear so I developed a style where I could truly play by feeling. By age thirteen and throughout high school, I found myself playing guitar locally at school dances, summer festivals, community functions, and quite often at the various churches in my town. Although my college major was in business, I continued to grow as a guitarist. It was the mid-seventies and I landed a great paying summer job at a local cement mill. It enabled me to get my hands on a 1974 Fender Stratocaster (I wish I still had that one!) and a great sounding amp. I joined a jam band where I regularly played the music of the day at clubs and college fraternities.

In 1976 I had front row seats to see jazz guitarist Ralph Towner at a small theater in my hometown. He was improvising on twelve-string and nylon-string guitars. I was so impressed with his style and tone that I purchased a classical guitar the following day and decided that it was time to formally study the instrument that I loved. I was living in Philadelphia at the time so I joined the Classical Guitar Society of Philadelphia and studied classical guitar for two years.

In 1978 I embarked on a full time career as a CPA but I never gave up on my music. The demands of family and a career can put limits on how you can spend your free time. I found my music taking a direction that was community based by getting involved with charitable organizations, Community Theater and with my church. It certainly has had its share of rewards. I was able to personally meet legends like B.B. King, Les Paul and Duke Robillard to name a few. I played Bach at services attended by a Lutheran Bishop. I played blues festivals to raise money for the homeless and the local food bank. I watched my daughter's perfomance in a musical while I played bass in the orchestra pit (incidently, at the same theater where I saw Ralph Towner). The list goes on.

I discovered yoga and its benefits in 1998 and I have been practicing Hatha and other forms of yoga since that time. I thought that my daily yoga routine might be enhanced if I were to create my own soundtrack to play during my practice. I had several CDs that I played while going through my postures but I wanted to create one that would be peaceful to listen to, a little more contemporary and an alternative to the traditional yoga CDs from my collection. I compiled about seventy minutes of music and found it to be extremely rewarding to listen to my own sounds as I practiced.

In 2006, I suffered a setback that landed me in the local cardio unit for two days. As a self-employed CPA, my career deals me a lot of stress during certain times of the year...deadlines, clients and just the intense nature of the ever-changing tax laws. The combination of my business, caring for an elderly parent, two kids in college and temporarily abandoning a sensible diet and my daily yoga routine proved to be too much and I found myself in an ambulance en-route to the hospital. It was truly a life wake-up call about the serious nature of stress and how it can creep up without warning if you let your life get out of balance.

The experience gave me some time to reflect on the things that are truly important in life. I was fortunate that I could rely on my family, my music and my yoga to get back to the task of managing a daily balance. I decided at that point to share my soundtrack with others in hope that they will take the time to manage stress in their lives.

Blissology is my initial attempt at writing and publishing a compilation of my own music. For me, playing and performing music has been rewarding enough. This project turned out to be a labor of love and I enjoyed every minute in performing, designing and compiling the project. It is my sincere wish that those who listen to this music will enjoy it and use it to take the necessary steps to manage stress in their own lives.

Bliss to all,
Thom Shedlock

BLISSOLOGY: THE ALBUM

DON'T LET THE SUN CATCH YOU CRYING:
This was one of those then-popular songs from the sixties that occasionally seems to surface when I play my guitar for self-enjoyment. The title has some merit. It’s a pleasant song for yoga warm-up and my version seems to lend itself to starting the day with a few sun-salutations or maybe just taking in some pensive time with a nice café latte.
The track features my Martin J-40 throughout as well as the Coral Sitar. The rhythm is simply a Fender Jazz Bass, djembe and darbuke drums with fingerstyle guitar and some intermittent chimes.

BLISSOLOGY:
This piece represents my first attempt at recording and publishing an original song. It is included as track 13 on the Oasis Ambient Music CD, Volume VI #1 which was released on 12/22/06. When I wrote it, I used my natural breath pattern to determine the song tempo. I wanted it to flow so that I could transition from a warm up into some vinyasa poses like cat / angry cat or dolphin. Sometimes I’ll do balancing postures such as tree or eagle. This is a great song to light some candles or incense in the bath and relax with a glass of wine.
I play a Gibson Les Paul Special with P-90 pickups and a digital delay for the lead voice. An Ibanez classical guitar provides a repetitive phrase throughout along with the J-40. The intermittent percussive sound is a Latin Percussion Vibra-slap. An Alesis SR-16 provided the drum track along with live Zildjian cymbals and a mini conga. Also heard on the track is the Fender Jazz bass, and a Kalimba sound sampled from the Yamaha keyboard.


LOCK LANE:
This song is named after the lane along the Lehigh River in Pennsylvania where my weekly Yoga class regularly meets. Rather than a click track, I used the echoing twelve-string guitar to keep the song tempo. The song exhibits some musical tension midway through so I like to practice some core strengthening postures such as plank, side plank, boat pose or any of the warrior postures.
On this piece, the Coral Sitar is prominent throughout. The weeping sound is a Les Paul Custom guitar played using a volume pedal. The Ventura twelve-string with a delay provides the pulse of the song. The rhythm is provided by the Martin J-40 and the Fender Jazz bass along with djembe and darbuke drums. The kalimba, koto and synthesized strings are sampled through the Yamaha keyboard. For percussion, I used the vibra-slap, chimes, shakers and a cabassa.

TOO MANY ANGELS:
In my yoga space at home I have an endless array of ceramic cherubs, statues and plants. On a humorous level, too many angels seemed appropriate. This is an active song so I’ll often do postures that require some energy while listening to this piece. It is a good time in the practice to do some resistance postures intermittent with downward facing dog, or various balancing poses and twists.
Written by Jackson Browne, this song features my entire pallet of musical instruments. I use a late 1967 Fender Mustang for the lead voice of the song because of its clear bell-like tone. You will also hear the Martin J-40, a Les Paul Custom, Coral Sitar, Fender Jazz Bass and a mid sixties Ventura twelve string guitar. I’m playing a Yamaha keyboard and samples for the flute, piano, tubular bells, kalimba and the “Angels”. There’s also an Alesis SR-16 with live cymbals for the drum track along with some shakers, tambourine and djembe drums. I even add some rare vocals near the end of the track.

THE LEE SHORE:
I wanted to include a track that layered natural sounds over the musical instruments. This David Crosby song about the sea seemed to be an ideal choice. When I practice my yoga routine outside on our deck, this becomes one of my favorite sections of the CD because the sounds naturally stimulate the territorial nature of the birds in my backyard making them quite vocal. I generally do alignment poses or stretches during this section of the CD.
Featured on this track are the J-40, the Ventura twelve-string and the Fender Jazz bass. For drums I’m playing djembe, darbuke, congas and a small clay drum with a goatskin head. The stereo ocean waves and the laughing gulls were recorded at Carolina Beach, North Carolina in early May 2006. Also featured throughout is a mockingbird that was perched each morning in a Yucca plant on the Carolina dunes.

ATLANTIC CALLING:
The Lee Shore segues into a repetitive drone of guitar, bass and sitar. The sound of the surf turns to a more relaxed series of waves lapping against the shore of the Cape Fear River in North Carolina. Sounds from the North Carolina coast and Pennsylvania woodlands feature flickers, gulls, terns, sandpipers, crows, cardinals, catbirds, woodpeckers, the mockingbird and other songbirds. Midway through the track the tone changes to the evening call of the swamp, recorded after dark at Carolina Beach state park. You will hear the nighttime calls of the gopher frog native to that area, along with various night insects and tree frogs recorded at my wooded home in Pennsylvania. The whip-poor-will singing at night was recorded in some woodland rushes at Carolina Beach state park.

MARY DID YOU KNOW:
This is a very spiritual song for me. Three years ago during an evening service at our church, I played guitar on this song accompanied by piano and a full choir. It was a musical experience that I will never forget. Here, I chose to play this song free form without a definitive tempo. It’s a rather lengthy piece that drifts off lending itself to ideal background music or a piece for meditation. Generally, I will use this track for pre-meditation postures such as bridge, cobra, locust, fish, plow or inverted poses.
On this track I play the Les Paul Custom, the J-40, the Coral Sitar and the Fender Jazz Bass. I added some synthesized strings and “goblins” to add to the ambience of the track.

BOSOM OF INFINITE JOY:
I generally use this song to begin the meditation portion of my practice. Because of its repetitive and hypnotic nature, it lends itself to help clear a chattering mind.
This song is simply a guitar duet featuring the Martin J-40 and the Ibanez classical guitar. I also added the Fender Jazz Bass using a volume pedal to render a “bowed” effect.

VISION:
This piece was inspired by the 1977 album “Dis”, recorded by Jan Gabarek, a jazz saxophonist from Norway and the guitarist Ralph Towner. On this album, the engineer records the sound of the Norwegian North Sea winds through an instrument known as an “Aeolian Harp” (Aelous: the Greek god of the wind). The instrument resonates and produces an endless sound image of the wind as air passes through its chambers. I used the sound of synthesized strings to create a drone similar to that of the Aeolian harp.
Vision originated as a solo piece for the Coral Sitar. I recorded it one evening after my Yoga class while I was in a somewhat relaxed and peaceful state. For ambience I darkened the room, lit a candle and some incense and freely played what I was feeling at the time. Subsequent to the original recording, I added the djembe with a delay effect as well as some shakers and chimes.
I use this piece for deep meditation at or near the end of my practice while resting in corpse or while postured in a cross-legged seat.