Thanks to all who came out to my shows during my short stay in KC. The night at Prospero’s was especially great. Really cool to play to a private gig in an intimate room full of friends after-hours at downtown KC’s best bookstore.
I was also afforded a few recording sessions in Lawrence with Tom Wagner in his studio, Underground Sound, while I was in town. Since experiencing Tom’s craftsmanship during the mastering sessions for It Is What It Is , I’d been looking forward to the opportunity to record with him in his back-to-the-future studio.
Tom runs his own top-notch music equipment repair shop during the day and is a lover of vintage sounds — and seeks out the instruments/machines that make them — so he’s got a museum’s worth of tape machines, microphones, amps, instruments and effects. What wall space remains in the studio is taken up by thousands of records, artwork (some his own… and good) and paraphernalia — lots of Beatles.
It’s one thing to collect, but something else to have an understanding and ear to use it. And Tom is one with his studio.
So, catching some time while he was finishing mixing/mastering a great debut album for his new band, Museum (appropriately), was much valued and appreciated. I was also fortunate to have Museum’s talented drummer/multi-instrumentalist, Jason, around for session work on drums, piano, and Hammond B3. We got in the studio four times over a couple weeks, each time for 2-3 hours.
1st sesh: I recorded acoustic guitar and vocals and Jason drums.
2nd sesh: Jason on piano, Tom on bass, and Jason layered B3.
3rd sesh: Some more B3 and acoustic guitar.
4th sesh: I recorded trumpet and we got a quick mix down.
Everything was recorded to ADAT, we all like the sounds, and feel like there’s a real spirit about it. So I’m looking forward to finishing up the mix in the next few weeks, and then thinking about a short run 7″ vinyl single release. Maybe a split with The ACBs.
At any rate, “All I Have to Give” is the first track I’ve recorded since finishing the album a couple years ago and it was really energizing. Credit Tom and Jason for making it happen in less than 10 hours in the studio. The icing on a fruitful month in KC…
I got out to LA on 4/21, which happens to be the 2 year anniversary of a gig in Venice with my bro Pete’s band, HI-Stereo (and my bday, and Pat from HI-Stereo’s bday!). Here’s the flyer that DJG sprayed up for it a couple years back.
Since arriving, I’ve been living on HI-Stereo’s tour bus with my bro and trying out for the band on keys. I’d intended to stay in LA only a couple weeks and then head north to join friends starting an off-grid community, but the prospect of playing music with Pete and HI-Stereo has me putting that on hold for the time being.
I’ve never owned a keyboard, nor had much practice since piano lessons in elementary school, so I’ve got some good rust to shake off. But hopefully I’ll be able to pick it back up pretty quick and fit in with HI-Stereo’s sound. Their debut album is currently being mixed at Jim Henson Studios and is shaping up real nice. Hopefully, it’ll be hitting your ear drums in a couple months.
The trip out here was pretty epic, and I’ve been told I should share it. So here it goes:
I set out westward in the Wookie — my ‘82 VW Vanagon — as the sun was setting on 4/19. After a few hours on the road, my headlights started flickering, so I figured my battery was quitting on me. Fortunately, I passed a Walmart (where I bought the battery) off the highway right around this time, so I pulled off and prayed this store had a Tire and Lube Dept., as only a select few do. This one did, and though they’d closed up shop, got my battery on the charger, decided it wasn’t any good when an hour had passed, and hooked me up with a new one. SCORE. So, back on the road for a while before spending the night in the Wook at a rest area.
Next morning, I was out in the SW corner of nowhere Kansas when my van started dying on me again! So, I spent a couple hours on the highway shoulder with my dog, Rainer, until I could get a repair truck from the closest town to give me a jump. Got to Meade, KS and got my battery on the charger again. Figured I had alternator problems at this point, even though I’d checked that before leaving town, too.
Wandered around, wondered aloud, saw what looked to be the town’s “biggest” draw — the Dalton gang hideout! — and got back to the shop to receive affirmation that my alternator wasn’t working. While the mechanic searched the area for a new alternator, I crawled under the Wook to check it out. After a couple more hours, I’d found and reattached a wire that’d come disengaged. Alternator situation fixed. 5 hour delay… but only $40. I felt blessed to be back moving again, for sure.
Got just outside of Albuquerque when the overheat lamp started glowing ominously from the dashboard. This is never a good thing… especially in old VWs. In fact, when I bought the van, I was told to keep baking soda around in case this light came on as it may mean the engine’s ON FIRE. So I pulled off the highway and made it to a park and ride commuter lot to check the situation. Happily I did not find flames, so I said a prayer and called it a night… hoping the Wookie’d be ready for an long final leg to the trip in the morning.
At about 1 am, I was freaked out WAY HARDCORE by 2 cops politely shining their torches in my grill and rapping on my window. After I’d let out a primal defense scream and sat up trying to gather myself, I was asked if I had a weapon — I said, yes… my multi-tool perched right next to me (ha!) — and they informed me it was legal for me to be parked there, but that they had to “check on me”.
While I waited for them to run my ID, I had a conversation with Rainer about his lack of guard dog skills, and then talked to God some more for a little peace of mind. After all, my van was out of registration/inspection by a month, and my insurance had also expired recently. These are the calculated risks you take when you ain’t got a penny to spend. Cops came back, nothing was said about my tags etc. (thank the Lord), so I slipped back into la la land.
Next morning, bright and early on my 29th bday, I set out into what’d be 25-35 mph headwinds the whole way to LA. Not good when you’re driving a glorified toaster-oven through mountainous terrain. For many long stints, I was drafting semis for wind block and was still only going 50-55 mph with the pedal to the metal. I had 12 hours drive time (in normal conditions… in a “normal” vehicle) to cover to get to LA, so although I was really hoping for something of a miraculous arrival at my final destination that night, I knew it’d be good to get close without any more problemos.
Amazingly, I pulled into LA that night after 16 hours on the road having passed through some intensely beautiful scenery without any issues. A reminder of God’s greatness. If I was more of a picture/video taker and online chronicler of things, I’d have plenty of good stuff to share more on this trip (and on a regular basis). But, as it stands, I only have some landscape pics I took with my phone while driving and waited a couple weeks to share it all. This is how I dooz it. Click the pic of me and Pete if you’d like to see a few more. (I’ve since shaved the goat but kept the ’stache, bien sur)
Thanks to those who prayed and expressed goodwill for my latest adventure. HI-Stereo’s got a gig this Saturday 3pm on the Venice beach for the Spring Fling Fest, so I’ll make sure I get a post up about it next week. Til then….