What is Tortoise Climbing,™ how did it come to exist, and how did it evolve? Depending on your philosophy of how, or why things happen, you could perceive the creation, or coming into existence and evolution of Tortoise Climbing™ as:
Here's the story.
Singing was the major catalyst.
Tortoise Climbing was initially created by David Goettee as as small undertaking after he recorded the first private album, Nostalgic Solos. The songs on that album are dominantly from shortly before, during, and after the World War II era.
He began singing in elementary school choruses. (Remember when public schools included music education in elementary, junior and high schools?) He continued singing in choruses and doing solos through high school and college. Those provided many wonderful life experiences.
Then after college he became involved in various community singing activities, including:
In the latter 1980's his singing gradually evolved toward a greater emphasis on solo opportunities. Beginning in approximately 1990, based on a desire to create more with his love of singing, he started dabbling at recording.
The reason he wound up recording at Bias Recording Studio, rather than at a number of other studios in the Washington, DC metro area, where he had recorded for very small special projects, was particularly influenced by geographic location of the studio, and a personal friend. That friend was making personal recordings at Bias Recording Studio and asked David to do some duets with him there.
The first significant influence on his recording was Mr. Bill McElroy, who was one of two partners who established Bias. Mr. McElroy has a knack for being supportive and helpful to his clients, and getting them comfortable recording in his studio. David's friend largely worked with Mr. McElroy. Thus, when David began making his own recordings, Mr. McElroy became David's recording engineer at Bias Recording Studio, and the initial album of Nostalgic Solos recording were mostly done with him.
Mr. McElroy's previous experiences in the recording industry provide another illustration of how incredably small a world we tend to revolve within. Before Mr. McElroy and his partner started Bias, Bill was a recording engineer at Edgewood Recording Studio in downtown Washington, DC. That recording studio had been used by David’s college choir director, Mr. Fague Springmann, who was literally a bass-baritone operatic voice to die for.
That was before multitrack master tapes, when editing meant using a razor blade to cut the tape to take out the unwanted recording take and to splice in the desired recording take. During the period David sang in Mr. Springmann’s choir in college, he had an opportunity to accompany Mr. Springmann to one of his editing sessions at Edgewood.
Mr. Springmann was instrumental in facilitating a number of wonderful choral experiences in David's college life. Those occurred because Mr. Springmann commonly requested that his chorus be used as the supporting chorus when he was an artist in a production needing a chorus. Those opportunities occurred because of his operatic bass-baritone voice, which caused him to be selected to do solos for very well-known classical venues, and then often succeeded in getting his chorus used in the supporting roles.
A subsequent influence on his recording is Ms. Gerber-Salins, who came to work at Bias in 1991, and initially occassionally assisted in the recording studio sessions as part of her responsibilities.
That too has it’s own back-story regarding Ms. Gerber-Salins' choice to pursue becoming a recording engineer, rather than a gourmet cook. After graduating from college, she studied recording engineering and was hired by Bias, rather than some other studio.
Then, in about 1993 for personal reasons, Mr. McElroy decided to go do other things in life and started fazing out of Bias. First he followed a dream to work with trains in a couple different jobs. But, after a couple years in order to be near his son, he moved near Richmond, Virginia, and returned to recording enginering by establishing a new studio there just north of Richmond, Virginia in the little town of Ashland, Virginia (just south of the King's Dominion theme park in Doswell). You can find out more about Mr. McElroy's new recording and mastering studio by clicking on SlippedDISCAudio.
As stated above, David created Tortoise Climbing when he was completing the first private album, Nostolgic Solos. That was also about the time Mr. McElroy decided to phase out of Bias. Ms. Gerber-Salins stepped in to provide a few final touches of assistance for completing that album. A limited number of privately released cassettes were produced and made available to family and friends.
The current plan for the future is to revisit the analogue master tapes David has from that project, and produce a digitally remastered and remixed version of the recording.
When Mr. McElroy left Bias in 1993, Ms. Gerber-Salins became David's recording engineer and co-producer. Together they slowly worked on recording what was envisioned as the next album of largely Romantic Duets, dominantly from the early to mid 1990's, many from films and musicals.
Over the next 4 years dabbling on that project, Ms. Gerber-Salins’ professional relationship expanded to include her fulfilling roles of co-producer, singing collaborator and very importantly, friend. Ms. Gerber-Salins played a significant role in helping David record some wonderful draft duet recordings with various others. Ms. Gerber-Salins also facilitated him becoming involved with DC branches of several music organizations where he met others working in the field.
However, following completion of Nostalgic Solos and during the ongoing work on the draft Romantic Duets albums, David's father died in late 1996. Then, in spring 1998 David's mother asked him to record an album of his father and her favorite, traditional hymns and songs. That became Hymns and Songs for Living.
That is another example of a succession of serendipitous (or was it destined?) events. It is another scintillatingly delicious story, and another critical part of the evolution of Tortoise Climbing™ to what it now is.
That created a short but critical collaboration with his mother where they discussed whether the album should be:
The defining decisions made were:
Their decisions to create a quality album for general distribution was crystallizing! It was a departure from the previous private album for friends and family, and thus significantly expanded the focus for Tortoise Climbing.
David immediatly began work on the album with Ms. Gerber-Salins, working from the list of hymns and songs decided with his mother. Every weekend until September of 1998 he met with his mother to review progress and plan next steps. She was thrilled with the progress being made, but sadly did not live to hear the final recording.
David was trained (inculcated?) in the philosophy of diligently preparing for whatever might be something you would need in your future. Many of the things that had preceeded seemed to fit into place. They included:
They helped lay foundations for undertaking many of the pieces Tortoise Climbing has undertaken.
The decision to make a quality recording generally available, meant all the following new things then became necessary:
That meant it was necessary to undertake and accomplish everything done by:
Some of these were new, somewhat significantly different undertakings from the initial simple concept of Tortoise Climbing. They were also outside David's previous experiences and training, especially without a mentor.
A whole new dimension of detailed business knowledge about what record labels, publishing houses and website publishers must do either had to be hired or learned to produce an album, book and website for release to the public. David undertook learning the new skills of what were necessary.
For those interested, here is an illustrative list of examples of things that must be accomplished within the recording; book publishing; and website business models:
Work on the album progressed rapidly from 1998 to 1999. Work slowed after David’s mother died, and basically went onto hold around 2004.
A related decision was also made around 2002 to expand the CD notes to become what is now the book of detailed Hymn History Stories for each of the hymns and songs.
During Phase II of the Hymns and Songs work, David decided to provide considerably more biograpical information about all persons involved as part of the credits for that project. That is more information than could practically fit on notes accompanying a CD.
(CD's were the accepted quality record album medium at the time the Hymns and Songs project began.)
So the additional parallel projects of writing the book and developing the many content materials for the credits, and developing an extensive and interactive website were in addition to making the audio recording.
After about 10 years at Bias, just as Mr. McElroy before her had left Bias, Ms. Gerber-Salins also left. Unlike Mr. McElroy, who initially followed his dream of working with trains before he wound back up with his own recording studio, Ms. Gerber-Salins struck out on her own and started her own recording and production company, All-Access-Audio.
To see a summary of archived information for the recording engineer and producer projects Ms. Gerber-Salins was responsible for while she was with Bias, click on this link for Heidi-Gerber-at-Bias. This archived material is from around 2001 when Ms. Gerber-Salins left Bias. It is preserved by Tortoise Climbing for your edification.
In about 2013 Ms. Gerber-Salins' life moved on again from running All-Access-Audio to being a teaching professor.
The very simpatico working relationships David had with both Mr. McElroy and Ms. Gerber-Salins during those years were:
Then in January of 2019 David became able to devote all his time to tying up long hanging loose ends. His initial focus is addressing the complementary projects under the title of Hymns and Songs for Living that resulted from his mother requesting him to record their favorite hymns and songs.
Then there are the loose ends associated with the Nostolgic Solos and Romantic Duets for future attention.
The loose ends for Hymns and Songs are:
Luckily from a recording perspective, since Ms. Gerber-Salins moved on to doing other things, Mr. McElroy was again available at his Slipped DISC recording studio in Ashland, Virginia. Thus, in somewhat of a full-circle experience, David again began working with Mr. McElroy.
Luckily from an editing perspective, as part of his research for the Hymn History Stories book, David came in touch with Dr. Nancy L. Graham, who expressed an interest in providing editorial help with the Hymn History Stories book.
Another lucky evolution is that a number of artists in the music business now either place, or others do, information about themselves on the internet. From those contacts, David was able to obtain at least summary biographical information for others. Thus, most of persons involved with this project are covered. (Placeholder pages are created for those on whom information is still being pursued.)
Luckily for building the website, Mr. Goettee has a relatively extensive background in Information Systems from college and various job responsibilities over the years.
From a website building perspective, David drew on his considerable Information Systems background from both college and work. Those gave him the foundation on which to accomplish the learning curve and become competent with current internet protocols and languages.
When he built the initial website in 2004, HTML3 was the dominant protocol, CSS was only in its infantile stages, and he did not use any server-side programming. That meant he had to acquire a working knowledge of:
All of these complementary projects for the totality of the Hymns and Songs for Living project are coming together in 2020.
There are two other immediate projects in the pipeline to produce recordings, accompanying publications, and expansions of this website to include details about them. These will be elaborated on later.
This too represents somewhat of a serendipitous or otherwise evolution. K was friends with a then neighbor who had relatively recently established a petsitting services company. At one point that neighbor needed assistance with her Petsitting business, which caused K to review her situation. Namely, she:
Therefore, K decided to volunteer to help out the neighbor's company in providing such services. That evolved into K providing such services to other friends, acquantiences and then others. Thus, over time that initial volunteering grew into K's ongoing Petsitting services.
After all these, and more, Tortoise Climbing™ has functionally evolved into an independent recording label, publishing house, web content creator, and also providing Petsitting services in central Southern Maryland. So, were all these logical evolutions, serendipitous happenstances, or destined?
What do you think?