March 24th, 2018

032418AI’ve been busy writing new songs and recording new material.  I love the production and engineering aspect of making music.  So I’ve been studying up, buying and using new plugins and getting better on the instruments.  It’s been over a year since the last CD was released and the band and I have been working on learning enough cover material to have a good four sets of music.  Our mix of covers to originals is about 50/50 and I’m always learning and adding more covers and writing new material.   I learned several Janis Joplin songs last year and I find that when I’m delving into an artist, that I pickup stylistic gems that end up getting incorporated into my own new songs.  I’m currently in my Linda Ronstadt phase and learning a bunch of her tunes.  Though it was written by Little Feat, Linda’s version of Willin is one of my favorite songs at the moment.  I just love singing that song.

I’ll be back at the Fox and Goose this Saturday my band The 8-Tracks.  Blame the Bishop and Stephen Ruderman will be joining us on the bill.  Come out and have a pint and a night of great music!  9:00 PM, 5 Dollar cover.

Keep checking back, I’ll have some new music out soon!

Pink Chuck High-Tops

Mom said,”can I borrow your pink sneakers?” I looked at her and thought about it, “for the detail?  That’s kind of gross.”  “I think it’s perfect!” she said and after all, it was the ’80’s.  I let her take them.   They were this color pink.   She bought them for me so I didn’t feel right saying no, “Yeah, sure” I said “try not to get them too dirty.”  She was using them for an undercover prostitution sting operation that was happening in the turnpike rest areas in Florida, near Orlando.

imagesWhen you’re the child of two cops the dinner table conversation is 61yx-181t0la bit different.  We discussed all sorts of criminal behavior, how economy affects crime rates, recidivism, whether evil really exists or is the result of environmental causes and desperation.   We chatted about every type of traffic infraction and car crash. It becomes household lingo.  You get used to cleaning guns as part of the weekend chores and schooled on the “realities” of life and the misery that some folks face.  So  mom comes back with some interesting stories.  One in particular was of this trucker/john she arrested.  During the training, undercover agents are taught how to avoid “entrapment.” One way is get the john to say what he wants and how much he’s willing to pay.  This guy offered her 5 bucks for a blow job. “Can you believe he only offered me 5 Dollars!?!” she said.  I was really surprised, “only 5 dollars?, wow, that’s cheap!” I said.  This was probably around the time when the movie Pretty Woman was out, so I was thinking we’re talking some real money here, certainly not 5 bucks.  Well that was  it for Joe.  He got carted off to the hoosegow.

Her book is out.  It’s called, “Behind Her Miami Badge.” and you can get it on Amazon: It’s a great read and it’s real life.  I remember the stories so well.  For some reason I see Reese Witherspoon playing her in this as a movie or series…

I was out one evening playing a show with my buddy and fellow songwriter,  Jenn Rogar and I told her that story and she said, “that sounds like a song.”  I thought about it and couldn’t quite wrap my brain around what that could sound like.5bj-cover-1back-cover-5bj-1

Creativity is  like gardening.  You plant a seed and give it some water and before you know it you’ve got a flower or a story about a truck driver named Joe.  This refrain popped up and the story fell together on a Saturday morning.  It’s a little punk, a little rock and roll and as my sound engineer buddy put it, “the first time I’ve ever heard anyone use the Miranda Rights in a song.  You can buy it here on Amazon or Itunes

You can hear it here on Youtube as well.

Oh Christmas Tree!

“It’s late in the evening, the sun has gone down.   The neighborhood is quiet but I hear the sounds.”  I spent the weekend working on It’s a Lonely Christmas Without You.   I somehow managed to delete my project files and had to recreate it, which was a good opportunity to make some changes and I’m pleased with the outcome.  I hope your loved ones are near to you this Christmas. If not, wherever they are I pray they’re safe and sound.

Dance More!

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/ICv95LWc3mM

I took the time to re-edit and remix this project and this is the latest version.

Though I was born in Ashland, Kentucky, I grew up in South Florida where music and dancing is a large part of the culture, salsa dancing in particular and finding a club whose live band has a horn section is a common thing.  Hence my love of horns, Latin rhythms and dancing.

As a songwriter I address a variety of topics, but sometimes I like to keep it light, fun and simple.  Life is beautiful so dance more!

 

Civil Twilight

This is my first go at producing for another songwriter.  I met Carey Seward at the Fox and Goose in Sacramento.  Carey’s from Alaska and I was immediately struck with the quality of her songwriting and the uniqueness of her material.  She was only here for a short while so we chose to record two songs, Civil Twilight and So You’ve Been Told.

Civil Twilight was a term I’d never heard before.  It’s “is the brightest phase of twilight, when the sun is less than 6° below the horizon.”  It’s legal to drive without your headlights on in civil twilight.

Lyrics:

Winter sure was long and dark I felt the freeze in every part
fire burned down to the weakest little ember.
You can see right through me caving in and I wonder
what happened to all my friends
I’ve been down that hole since last November.

But I can hear the river ice a breaking
smash me up and carry me away
Icy water naked freezing shaking
with empty hands and debts I just can’t pay

Well the sun has turned it up to civil twilight
the dark ain’t gone, just waiting in the hall
so let summer burn it off, no I really don’t want to talk.
we can leave the lights off til the fall.

Verse2
Biking to the riverside the sun so bright nowhere to hide
we both are plump and pale and scared of other
supposed to have something to say but my mind is blank I’m not okay
I need meat and fire and beer and all my brothers.

For the orchestration I wanted to create a simple warm sound which I obtained with two alternating cello lines, one plucked and lower and the other a more legato line on top.  I wanted crisp clean cymbal sounds, a water dropping type of effect and a simple vocal harmony to reflect the awakening of spring and the fragility and tenderness of this piece.  I kept the bass sweet and simple as well.

Producing for another artist was a wonderful experience and gives me some options for what to do with myself further down the road.

Thanks Carey!
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Carey on Soundcloud

Carey on Bandcamp

Carey on Itunes

Bourbon on my Deathbed

I’m terribly impatient. I want to release these as I get them recorded and don’t have anything keeping me from doing that. Freedom is a beautiful thing. I’ll eventually pull them all together into a CD format and hopefully manage to keep a few songs a surprise.  

My family is from Ashland Kentucky and my Granny and I had an especially close relationship.   She was an amazing and entertaining lady.  She would talk about how beautiful Kentucky was and how she ached to return to the land of her roots.

When she was in the assisted living facility she was a hoot.  I was visiting with her one afternoon and she was telling me about what was happening with the lady she shared the room with and somehow we started talking about  Kentucky and she said, “Oh, what I wouldn’t give for some KY bourbon.  Just a taste would be sooo good.”  and I said, “Granny, I can take care of that for  you right now.  There’s no good reason why you can’t have yourself a little swig of bourbon if you want it.”  You could see her eyes just light up at the thought and then she said, “Oh, no…no. I just couldn’t,”  “Yes, Granny, yes, you can.  It’ll only take me a moment to run to a package store and get you some!”  She refused.   It was a funny moment that stuck with me.  So this song is for her.  I tried to capture her passion and love for the state and I accidentally made up a word, which I can fix in editing  – I’m just  not sure I want to.

Lyrics:

Give me bourbon on my deathbed
fill my cup, before I die.
In that cup, I place my solace and the
secrets of my life.

Kentucky bourbon on my deathbed
when the bells begin to chime
Oh the devil comes a callin,
If I drink before it’s time.

Give me God that sweet refreshment
it’s like horses running wild
through the bluegrass fields of heaven
as I cross the great divide.

One last kiss of pure delightment –
one last taste upon my tongue,
for this land has been my heaven,
Kentucky bourbon take me home.
Kentucky bourbon take me home.

I’m Gonna Run

I spent Saturday working on this piece using Logic Pro X, my Ipad and IMac and my Blue Yeti microphone.  Composing brings out my OCD. I love nothing more than delving into edits and continually fine tuning the instrumentation and mix and getting it out of my head and into a solid format.

The scandalous NFL Rice and Peterson incidents have instigated much needed discussions surrounding domestic abuse and family violence.  The #WhyIStayed comments have been incredibly revealing and I wanted to write a song that was more hopeful and optimistic about the topic.  It takes a lot of strength to break out of something bad, especially if it’s been going on for awhile and conditioning takes hold.

This is for the women who aren’t afraid to run.

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It’s gotten bad, it sure ain’t good.
His temper’s rising, he’s gotten cruel.
It’s time to go. I’m no longer safe.
Ain’t no therapy, gonna change that face.

I’m gonna run, I’m gonna hide
I’m gonna find, the strength I left, behind, I’m gonna run.

I’ve got a plan. I’ve packed some bags.
Gonna head straight up through North Carolina
I’ve got three thousand dollars, and a clean car title.
I know I’ll be just fine, if I can make it past the state line.

Bridge:
I’ve grown stronger. I’m standing tall.
I may bend, but I’ll never fall….
cause I’m gonna run.

Photo by Sascha Kohlman