Watercourse Media began by re-releasing the best titles from Rising Sun Records, a pioneering record company established in 1980, and now it’s releasing newer titles, continuing to produce music like no other music anywhere in the world.
Rising Sun’s first album, Breathe, is considered a classic in the New Age music genre. It has sold over 100,000 copies, with international distribution and airplay on hundreds of radio stations around the country. It was among the first New Age albums played on in-flight airline programming and at spas throughout the world. Enjoy the music!
Music like no other…
The origin of Watercourse Media
By Marc Allen
It all started in the creative whirlwind of Berkeley, California, in the early ‘70s at the spiritual growth center created by Ken Keyes, Jr., the author of a book called Handbook to Higher Consciousness. The book affected me deeply, and then I took a weekend workshop there that changed my life.
I became a staff member there in the fall of 1974, and that’s where I met Sky Canyon, a staff member who had arrived just a month before. I started writing and playing a lot of music on the upright piano in the dining room, and then one day Sky wheeled his vibraphone in, and magic happened.
Marc Allen in the 1970s
The band in Highlands, North Carolina, 1976
I’ll never forget the first time we played together: It was as if we’d been playing for lifetimes. Sky is a musical genius (I’m not exaggerating); he played immediately and beautifully to whatever I’d throw at him. I didn’t even need to tell him the key or the chord progression, and his playing took my music into the stratosphere. It was inspiring for both of us, and in early 1975 Ken asked us to record an album of “new age” vocal music for the Center; he paid for the recording equipment, and Sky and I set to work, pulling in other musicians and singers.
We completed the album in the spring, then ran it by a noted record producer in Los Angeles who told us to up our game — get in a real studio and take everything to another level. We reported back to Ken; he hired us to record another album. Among the musicians we had assembled was a monster guitar player named Jim Gleason, who was also a great songwriter. We rented a house in North Berkeley, created a rehearsal space, and set about writing and practicing to prepare for a studio album.
We needed a bass player, and Robert Powell came along at the end of 1975. Along with his terrific skills on bass, he’s actually a virtuoso guitarist and pedal steel player as well. Now the band was complete. A funny thing happened in our rehearsals: our “new age” album became a progressive, all-originals rock album. We named our band Reunion, with Sky on drums and vocal harmonies, Robert on bass, Jim on electric guitar, lead vocals and harmonies, and me on keyboards, lead vocals and harmonies.
Robert Powell and Sky Canyon
We completed the album in the spring of 1976; however, it was way too much rock ‘n roll for Ken Keyes, so he shelved it. By then, we had been hired by a close actress friend to be the house band at a dinner-theater club in Highlands, North Carolina, for the summer of 1976. To our surprise, we were a bit like a mini-Beatles invasion, famous before we even arrived. We rocked a packed house five nights a week from June through October until all the tourists left. Jim and Robert were anxious to get back to California, but Sky and I stayed for another two months, recording in a little cabin in the beautiful Smoky Mountains. The result was two albums: Eveningsong, quiet and romantic love songs, and Seeds, spiritual music for a new age. Both have now been re-released on Watercourse Media.
Sky Canyon, magical vibes player
We returned to Berkeley in January 1977 and released the albums on vinyl and eventually cassette. In 1978-79, Sky and I recorded our first instrumental album, Breathe, which we released in 1980, and was an immediate hit. It really launched our new record company, Rising Sun Records.
We followed Breathe with Petals, bringing in two truly extraordinary musicians, Dallas Smith on his magical Lyricon wind synthesizer and Teja Bell on guitars and bass. Next came Summer Suite, then a couple of albums with other artists, and in short order we had airplay on 500 radio stations around the country, international distribution and licensing. Rising Sun Records was in the midst of the burgeoning “new age music” phenomenon.
Eventually we went our separate ways and did solo albums: Sky recorded the soaring, multi-instrumental Immersion; Robert Powell recorded Desert Beach, featuring the cosmic, sweeping sounds of his magical petal steel guitar; and I recorded Quiet Moments and Solo Flight, both solo piano albums, and then my most orchestral work, Awakening.
Sky (far right) and some of his other favorite music and life collaborators, 1990s
With Watercourse Music, we’ve taken the entire collection of collaborative and solo works and brought them under one label. We’ve had a great time recording this music, and it’s truly wonderful to know that the music affects people so deeply. Women have played our music repeatedly during pregnancy and childbirth; mothers write and tell us it calms their children, especially at night. We’ve had people tell us it’s helped them through a dark time in their lives. A few weeks after we released Breathe, this beautiful short note arrived:
Dear Marc and Sky,
In my 27 years of living, I’ve never had a more awesome musical experience than listening to your album Breathe.
Our music springs from the heart, and we hope it touches your heart as well.
Sky Canyon and Marc Allen
The band, a reunion, 2009. And the music never stopped.