Jim Harrison passed away somewhat unexpectedly two weeks ago, and I started this post but didn’t finish, and I’m just getting back to it now. Harrison has long been one of my favorite writers, but I didn’t come to him through the novella that made him famous. Back in the nineties, before the internet had decimated many subcategories of journalism they way it has since, there were a whole bunch of magazines for outdoorsmen (loosely called ‘hook and bullet’ magazines- Field & Stream, Outdoor Life, Sports Afield). There magazines are still limping along, but most of them have changed with the rise of the internet. Sports Afield was far and away to most literary of them, at least for the mass market magazines, and I was an avid reader of them all.
Sports Afield reprinted the introduction to a book by a french writer, Guy de la Valdene, called For A Handful of Feathers. It’s a beautiful little book about quail hunting. Valdene has written a bunch of other books, both fiction and non, but the intro, reprinted in Sports Afield, really grabbed me. In a short span of words it captured everything I understood about hunting, love of the land, eating, and the friendships that are predicated on those things. The byline read Jim Harrison. I had not heard of Harrison at that point, though the movie came out in 1994 and the titular collection of novellas had been published in 1978.
I couldn’t tell you which of his books I read first, but I have read most of what he has written over the years, often twice. His memoir, Off To The Side, is rambling, funny, and fantastic, with great vignettes from his foray into screenwriting, which paid for the the hunting, the eating, and the ranch in the Southwest. It includes the oft-repeated story in which a movie executive tells Harrison, “you’re just the writer,” and Harrison writes that on a little sign and pins it above his desk as a reminder of what he’s really up to.
Harrison was also a fantastic poet, as well as an essayist and a great food writer, though I think he will be remembered best as a master of the novella. He wrote with a sense of clarity, unflinching honesty (even about himself), and joy that I have not found in too many other writers. In his fans, I find that if you’ve heard of Jim Harrison, there’s a very high likelihood that you are like me, and have read everything you could get your hands on. He just published a new book, which I haven’t read yet, and I have no doubt that his passing will color my reading. Though not nearly as famous as some other Wester writers, say Wallace Stegner, Anne Proulx, or Cormac McCarthy, his take on landscape and the people in it was unique and powerful, and while I have one more book to go, and will probably re-read some of my favorites, the silencing of his prolific voice is a loss for us all.
First- I’m still riding the high from the release show last week. Thanks you all again for coming- that felt pretty good. And a ton of people have taken the time to tell me they enjoyed the show or really liked a particular song. That means a lot. The whole reason to make a record is because you feel this compulsion to put something out there in the world, so when people tell you they noticed, well, it’s appreciated. Just for fun, here’s a clip from the release show- it’s The Ballad of Kentucky Slim. I’ll be posting other clips from the show on youtube, so check in there if you want to see more. That’s Arthur Lee Land and Brian Eyster killing it with the twangy guitar and dobro at the end.
And now on to other things- Well, as I posted a while back, Couch by Couchwest is no more. But that’s really no reason to quit at all. So I did a video anyway. The song is off the record (the record version is louder). Many others have done videos, follow the hashtag #cxcw2016 to join in the fun. Couch by Couchwest has been really influential to me. Connecting with a broader community of people who did the same sort of music I do, and are working at it the same way I am, really helped me dive into the recording project. Plus, I ‘met’ so many cool people through CXCW. Even if it is mostly on twitter. some of those people are real, right? Right? Here’s the video. Thanks to the couch nation. I know you are still out there eating tacos with no regard for the day of the week, taking bad cat pictures, playing crazy songs, and slathering everything with mustard. Goooood mustard.
Booking shows for the spring and summer. Check the Shows page for updates and directions. You can still order the record from iTunes, Amazon or Right Here.
The record is also now available on Bandcamp– check it out (if you order from Bandcamp you get a little something extra).
So it’s release day. If you didn’t know about this before landing on this post, all I can say is you are remarkably free of the disease of social media, because I did my best to get the word out. We’re doing a show tonight at Oskar Blues in Lyons. I’m hoping to see a bunch of friendly faces there. It should be a great time.
In the in between I want to pause a minute and say a thank-you to the people who made this happen in a thousand different ways. There is no way for a guy like me to do a project like this without a ton of help. So here, in place of long liner notes (hey, those cost money!), are the people who made this happen.
Brian Schey- bassman extraordinaire!
Brian Schey– I ran into Brian at an open mic about two years ago and we started talking about doing something. Something like an EP, all acoustic, really simple and quick. That’s all. So, it didn’t work out simple, but that’s not Brian’s fault. He played bass, produced, and was a sometimes ‘artistic therapist’ throughout this project. His fingerprints are on pretty much every aspect of the record.
Brian McRae- awesome drummer!
Brian McRae– I didn’t know Brian (notice how EVERYONE is named Brian? Yeah, that caused some problems) before doing this. We recorded in his space, he played drums, was the lead engineer, and, really, one of the nicest, most gracious guys I have ever met. And an unbelievably good drummer. Getting to know him was one of the unexpected joys of doing this.
Arthur Lee Land- guitar hero.
Arthur Lee Land– I met Arthur at Song School in Lyons about four years ago. Then he moved to Lyons and started walking his dog across the street from the house we used to live in. So when Schey suggested getting him to play guitar on this I was all in, and Arthur is awesome. You should check out his music, it’s great. And, he has been so supportive, even texting me last night with some thoughts for the show tonight (advice I’m taking, BTW). Having him in Lyons is part of what makes this town really special.
Junior Burke does not like to be photographed.
Junior Burke– Well, Junior played harmonica on two tracks on this record. But saying that doesn’t really cover what a supporter he has been. Our daughters have been friends for about eight years, and so we hung out together from time to time, and as people like us do we talked about writing and music and we ended up playing some songs together. Junior really encouraged me with songwriting. Frankly, had I known at the time what his resume really was, I’d never have been brave enough to play him a song, so I’m glad I got to know him as a friend first.
Brian Eyster and his dobro.
Brian Eyster- Brian and his wife lived across the street from us for ten years before we moved to the other side of town. We played songs on the front porch a fair bit and talked music. He has also played side guy, with his dobro, at a fair number of gigs with me in the past two or three years. So when we needed another instrument on two songs, I knew I had to get him on this record some how. Brian is classic Lyons character- He will hate that I said this, but he’s one of the best players I’ve had the pleasure of hanging with, ever. And he’s one of the kindest souls I know. Having him on this really made the project for me.
John Macy played steel guitar on three songs. Getting to see him play was a mind blowing experience. And he’s an awesome guy. If you’re in Colorado, check out Casey James Prestwood and the Burning angels next time they pass your way. You won’t be disappointed.
Ash Ganley, Jesse Garland, Cherie Taylor- All three of these people are amazing singers and performers in their own right. Getting to know them was awesome and they helped make the record sound as good as it does. Again, to live in a place where talent like this is around every corner is a privilege.
Emilyn Inglis– every time you hear me sing, you’re hearing Emilyn. If it weren’t for her, this would be really great musicians and a guy doing bad karioke. Plus, she gets all my Monty Python jokes, which really helped when she was coaching me through the vocal recording sessions.
Terry Kishiyama, Josh Elioseff– Josh is a fixture in the Colorado Front Range music scene, as a photographer and as a musician himself. He is a generous warmhearted spirit who can be seen dancing in the pit at most of the festivals in this state. He did all of the album and PR photography on this project. Terry, a killer guitar slinger in his own right with the band Interstate Stash Express, is also an amazing graphic designer and immediately got the vibe we were going for on the record and turned it into a fantastic design.
Lori & Marin- I’m doing this one last because it’s so hard to come up with words to express my gratitude to my wife, Lori, and my daughter, Marin. Lori has been putting up with me for eighteen years now. That, in and of itself, is justification for some sort of medal or commendation. She’s been a really great partner and support while doing this thing that took a lot longer and was way more involved than the impression I may have given at the start. Marin, who listened to every singe mix and tweak of this record as we drove to school in the morning has been incredibly patient and very incisive in offering suggestions and opinions. A wonderfully creative young person in her own right, I can’t wait to see what she ends up working on herself! My undying love and gratitude to you both.
And to the town of Lyons itself. I played some open mics at the Barking Dog in its original location on main street some twelve years ago now. That got me playing guitar regularly again. From all the wonderful people, musicians and non, to venues like The Stone Cup, Oskar Blues, The Fork, Spirit Hound, and Planet Bluegreass, this has been a place to be supported as an artist and given some room to grow. Thanks!
Just for fun, I put together a video with some of the folks listed above. Hope you enjoy!
We’re less than two weeks away from the release show at Oskar Blues (Saturday, March 12, 8pm). If you’re planning on coming we are psyched to see you. Join the FB Event so we know to look for you. Advanced tickets are not necessary, it will be $5 at the door (gotta pay the band!) We’ll start at 8pm with an acoustic set- Bryan Eyster will join me on dobro and we might drag a couple of special guests in to join us on a few songs. At about 9 we’ll crank up the volume and get the whole band rolling. We’ll play the whole record in order, and then throw down some other tunes just because we can. Of course there will be CDs for sale and stickers too. And Dale’s Pale Ale for those of you who are partial to such stuff.
What I’d really like to see is a bunch of you come up and have dinner so we can hang out and say Hi before we get to the music. That would be fun.
Of course, some of you can’t come. That’s sad. I know it’s a long way from Alaska, London or Boston. Sorry about that (If you can’t come because you’re a working musician and you’ve got a gig, well, I totally get that. If it’s ’cause you have to work on a Saturday night, quit that job, you don’t need that aggravation). But if it’s just too far, here’s a suggestion. Order a CD NOW. Right now. This second. Click this link and ORDER. I’m gonna ship all the pre-orders before the week is over. Even if you order over the weekend I’ll ship ’em on Monday. If you order in time, you’ll have the CD by next Friday.
Next, go to this link and find the nearest retailer of Dale’s Pale Ale or your favorite OB label. Lay in a supply. A six-pack minimum, but I’m gonna recommend you invite some folks over, so you might need more. Be safe, if you’re gonna really hit it hard, don’t drive.
Then Saturday night, at about 9pm MST (adjust for your locality), when all your friends are over, put the CD in your music device, put the speakers in your front windows, turn up the volume as loud as you can (preferably loud enough to break the system), and hang out on the lawn with all your friends. If you are kind of crazy, like me, and you actually own a PA system that can run a band, use that. Invite the neighbors so they don’t call the cops. Will it be exactly the same as being there? No. But it will be pretty good. And I think we made a record that sounds good loud, which is important to me. In fact, I think it sounds better louder.
You want loud, this thing is LOUD.
If you actually do something like this, even if it’s just you, your favorite beer, and the music, take a picture and tag me on facebook or instagram. I’d love to vicariously join you. And if we are both lucky, maybe somewhere down the road I’ll get to play a show near you (suggestions are always welcome, or if you’re up for hosting a house concert let me know).
Either way, we’re gonna have a really good time celebrating this thing. Any way you can join in the fun is good by me.
No idea what that is? Tiny Desk is a music series on NPR, and they have an online contest where you send in videos. It lacks the twitter fed witty banter and barroom vulgarity of CXCW, as well as the total punk-rock DIY craziness- I’m pretty sure Two Mule Blues ISN”T going to blow anything up for Tiny Desk (NPR might not be their thing)- and no taco Tuesday, but it is indy people putting up vids of original music- and unlike CXCW, there are actual prizes (not complaining mind you- I once got some stickers and a Lusty Monk t-shirt at CXCW). I miss the connection of CXCW. It was in no way a contest- mustard t-shirts aside- it was more a gathering-without-leaving-your-couch of like-minded music folks. There was an enormous conversation happening on twitter- in fact the videos were really the excuse to have the conversation. Because of CXCW I got in touch with a much larger community of people making music in really great ways. But like all good things it’s time has passed.
So people are throwing down at Tiny Desk.
The videos are searchable by zip code, so while shamelessly searching for my own vid, I realized a bunch of people I know had also done videos, so I thought I’d collect a few in a ‘Tiny Desk, North Central Colorado Edition.’ So here ya go.
Karen Finch- I’ve known Karen about as long as I’ve lived in this area. Her live shows involve hula hoops.
Ben Hannah– I run in to Ben at one of my favorite open mics from time to time. Ben writes some really awesome songs. Especially this one.
Anne Stott- She’s my sister, and she doesn’t live anywhere near here. But I’ve met her a couple of times and she’s pretty cool.
This is in no way a comprehensive list. These are just the people who came up that I’ve actually met at one point or another. You should be looking at the rest of the Tiny Desk Postings. ‘Cause it’s cool.
Here’s mine, with my friend Brian Eyster on dobro. This song is on my record Dirt & Heartache, which you can pre-order here.
By the way. I could use another Lusty Monk tshirt. If you’re listening.
Ask any kid, stickers are cool. We all like stickers, ’cause they’re, well, sticky. And fun. You can stick ’em places. All kinds of places- cars, bars, walls, halls, cases, faces. It’s like freakin’ Dr. Seuss, only better ’cause you’ve got stickers.
At least, if you pre-order Dirt & Heartache you do.
Pre-order a CD, and when we ship it, we’ll throw a bunch of stickers in too! Then you’ll have a CD, and STICKERS!
The stickers were designed by Terry Kishiyama, who also did the awesome design for the CD and cover. Click here to pre-order the CD and get some cool stickers. Yes, you can also pre-order from Amazon and iTunes. And that’s cool. But NO STICKERS FOR YOU if you go that route. So click on over to the music page, hit the yellow PayPal button, and get in on the sticker fun.
Stickers on cases! They’ll look even better on yours.
This post is really by way of a great big thank you. David McIntyre, Lyons local and Americana and roots music connoisseur, was kind enough to spin a track from the record this morning at Boulder station KGNU. He played “The Ballad of Kentucky Slim” on the Morning Sound Alternative this morning.
If you want to give it a listen, the whole show is at this link, and Kentucky Slim is at about the 1:09:50 mark in the show. Dave spoke kindly of me a few minutes later. But I don’t recommend that you click in to that point, because Dave’s show is awesome, and you should listen to the whole thing. He played some Corb Lund, John Prine, Pokey Lafarge, Justin Townes Earle, Dave VanRonk, and The Flying Burrito Brothers, some of my favorite musicians ever, as well as other great stuff. So, thank you, again, to Dave and KGNU, both of whom have been fantastic supporters of local music for much longer than I’ve been around.
Of course, if you need to order an actual CD, with the cool cover art and stuff, you can order here (or just click the image above and to your right- the one that says Pre-Order Now in red), and we’d love to see you at the release show at Oskar Blues on March 12, 2016. Stay tuned for more radio, internet, and release updates.
Here’s another song from Dirt & Heartache for you to check out. That’s John Macy making the pedal steel guitar sound so fantastic. He’s one of the few people on the record who doesn’t live in Lyons. He came all the way up from Denver to lay down these tracks. He really helped make this song sound great.
Of course, you can still pre-order an actual CD right here. Just click the album art to the right up there, or go to the Music page. We’ll ship them before the release date so you have yours by the 12th of March. If, for some tragic reason, you can’t make it to the release show at Oskar Blues in Lyons on Saturday March 12, order a CD and I’ll post instructions on how to join in the release celebrations from afar. And big thanks to everyone who’s already ordered a CD.
Actually, one of you discovered that we had already put the button up for pre-selling CDs last week. You are sneaky. You clicked the button. You get to be first in line when we mail these things in a few weeks- and we’ll throw in some extra stickers just for you. You know who you are.
Everybody else- here’s the deal. As of today, you can pre-order an actual CD copy of Dirt & Heartache. You get the music, and the really awesome album art with photographs by Josh at Dancer Productions and design by Terry Kishiyama. We’ll ship them so that they arrive the week before the release party at Oskar Blues here in Lyons (that’s March 12- take note!) Along with the cd, we’ll throw some stickers in the envelope as well as a personal thank you from me. Because, well, if you buy it, then thank you.
Awesome album art!
Pre-ordered CDs will ship the week prior to March 12, 2016
I understand if most of your music comes in 1’s and 0’s these days. I buy a lot of music that way too. I love the instant gratification and the portability. But as an artist, it feels really good to give people something you made. And as a person who likes art, it feels really great to get an actual thing.
Also, as an artist, it’s a better deal for me if you just buy a CD. The album will be available for pre-order on iTunes in a few weeks, of course, but Apple takes their cut, and that’s true of every other outlet as well. So if you buy it straight from me, you get the music, you get an actual thing, and most of your transaction goes to me making more things.