By: Ken Boone
Ever since the stay-at-home orders were handed down, I typically leave the house a maximum of twice per week. And never on back to back days. But this is different. I had to go to the UPS Store to notarize and mail my retirement papers in time to receive my first pension payment on July 1st!
I would describe this as nothing short of momentous. I would also like to devote a future post on the fact that this whole thing was both miraculous and unexpected. Yesterday's action officially marked the end of another chapter of my life, and I'd like to get it down on paper. But again, that's a post for another day.
Yesterday was also the day that I posted a new episode of Celia's podcast, "ISO Peace & Healing". I enjoy listening to her show so much that I downloaded all of the episodes to my trusty little MP3 player in order to play them in the car. She is such an amazing host and I can't wait for the world to discover and embrace her message.
Episode 2 of my new podcast, "Freelancer Survival Stories" will be posted to the world on Friday, June 5th. It features Celia interviewing videographer George Don Denis of Thredd Media. He owns and runs the company with his big sister, Nikki. I've seen a lot of his finished projects and he's really, really good. That comes as no surprise to me!
That combination of Celia and Don is a force to be reckoned with. If it weren't for the two of them, I never would have got off the fence and started this reincarnation of my business. I probably would have still been emailing my resume's to dozens of employers who would have just hit the "delete" button. You see, I didn't even merit a tersely-worded rejection letter from them. How do you spell "loser" in North Carolinian?
Celia and I met a little over 10 years ago. On our first date at a local Starbucks, I told her about my dream to end my 25 year hiatus from making music. I also told her that I just traded in my shiny, almost new Chevy Avalanche in order to buy some basic recording gear. The purchase was more of an act of faith, because I had no prospects for work, paid or on spec.
It came as a total surprise that in just a few short weeks after meeting, Celia told me about an opportunity to get back in the game. She arranged for me to record the theme song for a college film project. The subjects were students in the Art Department at UNC Charlotte. The producer/director was a super talented senior named Nikki Denis.
It sounded like it would be a lot of fun, so I immediately said yes. In just a matter of days, I had a bunch of art majors piled up in the smallest room of my house, waiting for George the guitar player. Nikki got off the phone and told me that Don would be arriving in about 5 minutes. Cool, two more people squeezing into that tiny space. I guess I could use my bonus room to handle the overflow.
While the gang did "rock, paper, scissors" to determine seating arrangements, the doorbell rang. I opened it to find a young man with a guitar case. "Hey, are you George?" I asked. "Yes, nice to meet you" was his response. He was greeted with a Cheers-like "George" when he entered the recording space. Now we were just waiting for Don to show up. Or maybe not.
When Nikki returned to the room after taking another call, she called out "Hi Don", and to my surprise, George responded "Hey Sis". I see. George and Don are one in the same. Wanting to get to the bottom of this mystery, I asked him what did he prefer to be called, he said call him whatever I felt comfortable calling him. So it's been Don ever since.
The first track to go down was a beat created by the vocalist. Don and his acoustic guitar was up next. What I heard next was some of the funkiest rhythm guitar work I'd ever heard. And it was laid down in one take! Nikki agreed, but asked him to make it sound more like a banjo. He said "cool" and the next pass sounded like a banjo. Wow!
He came back to every session. He added a bass guitar part, some background vocals, and even mixed the finished track with my son, Kenny. He seemed to excel at everything he attempted.
That was our first of many encounters with the great George Don Denis. In later sessions, he played guitar, saxophone, provided lead and background vocals on Celia's debut CD. You can even hear his guitar work on the mid-episode Call-to-Action on just about all of the podcasts I produce for the Descant Music & Media Network!
As I mentioned earlier, Don and Nikki now own a video production company, Thredd Media. Their work is simply stunning! Even the typically dry corporate videos that we are used to seeing are infused with the "Denis Touch". Their live band performances videos seem to take you into the club itself. Unfortunately, their growing business has been impacted by the pandemic with a lot of contracts either cancelled or put on hold.
Because I dedicated my podcast work to giving voice to others, it made perfect sense to create a show that would shine a spotlight on gig workers and small business owners, particularly in the creative arts. It was a no-brainer that one of the first people I would reach out to was Don. While a number of folk told me that they would consider my offer to give them "airtime", Don immediately agreed. That's who he is.
After engaging in some long overdue catching up, Celia launched into the interview via Zoom. I wasn't surprised when Don nailed it in one take! Again, that's who he is. We ended the interview with him saying three things:
I can't wait to check off those three items. I would also like to add seeing his sister Nikki again to that list. While it was Celia who told me about the gig, it was Nikki who had to sign off on it. It was she who put Don and I in the same room. The Denis "kids" make a great team, and I'm proud to consider them dear friends/family! Contact me if you'd like to hire them.
About the Author
As owner of the Descant Music & Media Group, Ken is a creator and producer of several podcast shows. He is also a music producer, as well as a writer and an accountant for small businesses and nonprofits.