Happy 2019!

2018 was spent learning lots of new music and moving through some transitions.  I was lucky to get to spend some time with family over the holidays and to have a little bit of respite from my job, which I spent making music.  In addition to writing pop/americana/rockabilly types of songs, I also have an alter ego, DJ K-OM who creates electronica.  You can check out my latest, Jellybean here:

Ally and I have some shows coming up.  Friday, January 18th, we’ll be at the Fox and Goose with According to Bazooka!

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And Feb 8th, we’re opening Kevin BaconFest at the Torch Club.  You do not want to miss this!    BaconFest is a blast.  6 local bands playing some of your favorite hits from Kevin Bacon movies.

We look forward to seeing you in 2019!

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.

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!

 

At the Intersection of Art and Music

Magic happens to artists when we cross into other artistic fields.   I got back into painting after my divorce. The pain of divorce left me feeling as though I might not ever be able to make music again.  It was as if there was no strength left in my diaphragm, like I had been kicked in the gut.  I couldn’t even look at my guitar without feeling slightly ill.

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I was sharing my house with a professional artist friend and he had paints and extra canvasses and encouraged me to get back into it.  As soon as I picked up the brush and started working with the colors and mediums I found myself swimming in that same feeling of timelessness I get from making music.  It’s like a field of potential energy watching color fall onto its body.

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“City on a Tree” and “City Kitty”

It took me over a year to be able to pick up my guitar and close to 18 months before I could eek out a tune again. Painting helped make me whole.  It helped me feel the vibrancy and vigor of celebrating life and when I did finally find my way back to my voice, it was there as strong as ever, ready to rock and roll.

Dancing Ladies 1 & 2
Dancing Ladies 1 & 2

My paintings will be installed in Luna’s Cafe and Juice Bar for the months of August and September, 1414 N Street, Sacramento.  I’ll be performing in two separate shows those months, August 22nd and September 12th.  I look forward to meeting you!

P.S.  A Shout Out to the amazing Dr. Huong Bach (UC Davis) for reminding me that the heart heals on it’s own time.

The whole collection
The whole collection

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

My Songwriting and Producing Process

I work in academic medicine during the week and my evenings are packed with workouts and band rehearsals so Saturday and Sunday are ideal for composing and getting deep into my craft.  I’m coming down to the final process of my instrumental CD, 12 songs are mixed and ready to be looked at for line up, transitions and mastering.  I accidentally fell into my 13th composition for that CD last Saturday and I think I’ve decided on a name, Delandia.  Naming instrumentals is much tougher than a lyric based song so I look for a word or group of words that conveys the color/hue/vibe of the piece.

I’ve also started recording the tracks for my next CD, which will include, Sweet Delta Breeze, Fly, Oops I Fell Off the Barstool, Miss Understood, Got my One Good Eye On You and a bunch of other tracks.  As a sound engineer, I am extremely interested in the mix and the tricks, continually asking myself, what can I do to make it better, richer and sonically clear. I see so many folks listening to songs right from the speakers of their phones so I think about that mix as well.

My songs are born from all sorts of methods.  Sometimes I get the music first, sometimes I get the lyrics first.  Sometimes some sort of event occurs in my life that is so vivid, so strong it becomes the catalyst for inspiration.  I often get the song all at once, as if I opened up the front door to discover a beautifully wrapped gift left on the porch.  All I have to do is pick it up and unwrap it.  Sometimes it’s so simple it’s downright silly.   Other times it’s silly but not quite as simple.

Oops I Fell Off the Barstool took a little longer and it belongs in that vivid life event category.  Here’s how it went down: A very nice looking blonde lady was sitting at the bar of One Speed restaurant in East Sacramento and enjoying dinner and beers.  She looked a little tipsy but not drunk.  She was laughing and chatting and having a nice time.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw her hand fly up and then heard a big commotion and looked over and she was on the floor and the barstool was on it’s side.  The servers and busboys came running over to make sure she was okay and she popped right up, red in the face and embarrassed.  She went back to her meal and things settled down.

About 4 days later I was sitting in that same barstool.  I had just finished teaching yoga and was enjoying a nice cold beer or two and don’t quite recall exactly how it happened.  I may have leaned back a hair and not realized it, but the next thing you know, I’m on the floor and the chair is on it’s side and I was like, “What just happened?”  I got up and pulled myself together and did a mental review of the incident but couldn’t quite believe it.

The next morning I was in the shower getting ready for work (I get a lot of songs in the shower) and I heard the melody and the line, “Ooops, I fell off the barstool last night!, Gave the poor bartender a terrible fright…the chair flew out and I fell down, people the restaurant turned around when Oops I fell off the barstool last night.”  The rest of the song came over the next few days and involves a bump on my head, a sore butt cheek and one or two beers too many….  Bright fun harmonies and a nice rowdy feel with humor.

So tell me, have you ever fallen off of a barstool?  Or seen someone else fall off of a barstool?

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Easy Money

I should have known that by writing a song called Easy Money, folks might think that I was trying to hook them into some sort of money making scam.  I guarantee, that’s not the case.  My uncle was a paramedic at Miami Jackson Memorial Hospital and he used to love his El Camino.  He used it as a pushcar for racing.  When I was a kid I used to clean his house (gross) for extra loot.

It seemed to fitting to include the El Camino in this song.  I made the video as well, using an online program that got scooped up by Disney unfortunately so they closed up shop.  It’s amazing what you can accomplish on your own these days if you’ve got some technological prowess.  The tools that are available have rewritten the manual on what we can accomplish individually.

I’ve got two major projects that I hope to wrap by the end of the year.  It’s a good thing I get two weeks off from my hospital job over the approaching holidays.  I’m going to use that time to wrap up my instrumental CD and try to finish recording the music for my next lyric based CD, “Wild West Medicine Show.”  The songs are written and crowds are already responding to my new songs, “Sweet Delta Breeze” and “Fly.”

My head is a broken record

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“Just how lonely can lonely be?” by Southern Culture on the Skids is one of the covers I’m learning.   I’ve got it down, guitar parts memorized.  It’s pretty simple, just rooting the words down into my brain so they’ll stick and I can get off the page.  I really like the structure of this song and it fits right in with my material.

I’ve never had much of a memory for certain types of data – the order of presidents, important years of historical events (minus the depression 29-32) have always escaped me.  One thing though that does not escape me is a song.  Especially a song that I’m working on.  I can hear all the parts in my head and when it’s really bad it’s like a pinball machine on tilt.

I had a super interesting conversation with my father recently.  He brought up this story from my past and asked me if I recalled it… I had come home from Neva King Cooper Middle School with a less than stellar report card.  He was displeased.  I was in my parents walk in closet and he was yelling at me.  His exact words were, “What in the hell goes through your head all day?”

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One thing about my father was that he could smell a lie.  And lying to him was akin to an enormous betrayal.  I weighed the consequences and decided immediately that the pure truth was in order.  I looked up at him and said, “Songs.  Songs go through my head all day.”  He looked at me utterly confused and was unsure what to say.  I think at that point I was wanting to audition for Annie so it was songs like, “It’s a Hard Knock Life, Tomorrow, You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile,” etc.  I would hear the melodies and the songs as if they were on repeat.  And it was impossible to get it to stop.  Sometimes it was the last thing I heard as I got out of the car.

Now here I am, three CD’s later, songs placed with publishers and on apps and my dad said to me, “It didn’t make any sense to me back then, but it sure makes sense now.”  And it does.  Perhaps it’s just part of my creative process.  I had a voice teacher along the way say, “It’s not how much you practice but how well you practice. Sometimes the best practice is mental.”  I never have to worry about not having a radio.  😉