Couches and Such…CXCW Wrap-up

Image by @johnradcliff

Image by @johnradcliff

I never did a Couch by Couchwest wrap-up, so here it is.

My life was way too busy with things that didn’t involve music this year, so CXCW blew by in a hurry. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t awesome. I really enjoy checking out all the great acts from all over the country (and sometimes more distant than that). It’s like a giant open mic night for everyone.

My favorite of the year this year was not too far from home, a band from Boise, Idaho called Hecktor Pecktor with the song ‘Fee Man.’ You gotta love this! It’s got everything I love about Americana and CXCW- it rocks, it’s kinda pissed off and kinda having fun at the same time, pedal steel, loud guitars, and there’s too much crap crammed in the living room. Awesome. Apparently you can download that song for free at soundcloud- I suggest you do that.

The boys from Utah did not disappoint, blowing up a whole bunch of stuff. Here’s Two Mule Blues vid of “Rosedale.’ Good song, pyrotechnics, and it led to the phrase ‘less explodey,’ which immediately entered my permanent lexicon.


Despite the overcommitment to my working life, I did manage to scrape some folks together and make a video as well. Trying something different, we did it outside on a 45 degree day. Tough to keep things in tune, but totally worth it. We tacked the outtakes on at the end, if you like seeing me screw up really simple sentences.

So here you go…

Big thanks to Pam and Marc who helped out this year, and to my daughter for her excellent camerawork.  That song will be on an upcoming record, so stay tuned. If you want me to pester you more regularly, ‘like’ my Facebook page, join the email list (red box to your right) or follow me on twitter.

Spring is Springing!

Moon over The Merc last month.

Moon over The Merc last month.

Well, things are popping out of the ground like crazy, despite the fact that it snowed here last night. That’s just the way it goes in spring in Colorado. But the snow won’t slow me down too much. I had a great time earlier this month playing at the Jamestown Mercantile- one of the really super hidden gems here on the Northern Front Range. I’m hoping they will have me back sometime later this year.

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Apparently, I was a ‘delightful small plate.’

 

Next week I’ll be at La Vita Bella in Longmont- it’s a really great coffee shop that has an awesome listening room set up- stage, house sound, the works. I’ll be there on Friday the 24th from 7 to 9.

Gig Poster La Vita Bella

I’m also chipping away at this recording project. The funny thing about working on something is that sooner or later you might get finished. We should be done tracking as of this weekend. That’s a huge milestone. Some amazing people have jumped in to help- the list is a who’s who of cool Colorado music people (nope, I’m not giving anything away. You’ll have to wait until the record comes out).

Want to know who this is doing background vocals? Too bad- you'll have to wait.

Want to know who this is doing background vocals? Too bad- you’ll have to wait.

At this point it looks like I might be shooting for an August release. Maybe a bit sooner if the next phase goes fast. Ha.

Finally, for your viewing pleasure…the latest addition to the bad-ass shirt collection.

Bad Ass Shirt

Quick Update!

“Life is what happens when you’re making other plans”

I first saw that attributed to John Lennon. Don’t know if her really said it, but it sounds like something he would have said.

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I had to move my schedule a bit to accommodate the rest of my life. So I’ll be at The Stone Cup March 8th instead of in February. And the following week I’ll be back at The Rock Inn in Estes Park. I’ve put up a new calendar on my Shows page- it’s a google calendar, so you can scroll forward and back and add events to your own calendar if you like.

In other news, Couch by Couchwest is coming. If you don’t know what that means click the link. Stay tuned for more silliness.

Hope to see you out there somewhere.

2015 Coming At Ya!

Happy New Year!

I’m looking forward to a good one. I hope you are too.

Ready to rock at The Rock Inn.

Ready to rock at The Rock Inn.

I had a great time last night at The Rock Inn in Estes Park for the first gig of the year. Big thanks to my friend Brian who has been joining me on dobro, and thanks to the crew at the Rock Inn and the folks that were kind enough to come out and listen to us.

I’ll be at The Stone Cup in Lyons for a Sunday morning sing-in on the first of February. Hope to see you there for egg sandwiches, great drinks, and some songs.

What else is coming up in the new year?  Record! That’s what.

Gotta take yer shoes off (they make noise).

Gotta take yer shoes off (they make noise).

Well, I’m gonna get this thing done. One way or another. We keep chipping away at it. We have eight songs tracked and pretty much ready to go. Now I have to do the singing bit.

Brian (different Brian) lays down some bass.

Brian (different Brian) lays down some bass.

Seriously, I’m hoping to have this done before the spiring, and that’s actually pretty realistic. We’re working on getting the vocals right, then we’ll be putting on the finishing touches and kicking this thing into the world. I’ll make a lot of noise when that time comes.

In the mean time, go to a live show, buy some good music from an indy musician you like, and have fun in the new year!

 

Geargasm 2: More fun with amps!

Can’t really stop screwing around with amps and stuff. You were warned.

Subject: Fender Deville 2×12 (Red October Version)

Amp seeking new speaker-must be hot.

Amp seeking new speaker-must be hot.

Issue: Two killer Eminence Red Coat Wizards. Great bottom end and crunch, as one expects from ‘British’ style speakers. But not so much at the higher end. Sounds a bit too heavy metal for this bluesy/country/americana/punk guy. Need a little bit of icepick, and maybe some twang, in there, especially with the clean tones.

Solution: Swap one of those Red Coats out for something else.

But what? Something with more top end. Tight, and sparkly. (the language guitar geeks use to talk about amp sound can be like wine connoisseurs- ‘I want my amp smoky and hot with a hint of uptown neon’). Twang in the clean, spank in the breakup. The Wizard will have plenty of bottom, so something with more top end color.

I do like the Eminence line. They are as heavy duty as you can get (hold a 12″ Eminence in on hand and the original Fender speaker in the other- BIIIG difference), and the Red Coat/Patriot split provides some interesting variations in speaker sound. I have Rajun Cajuns in two smaller amps (here and in the post linked above). But that doesn’t come in a 12″ speaker.

Looked at the Patriot line. The Texas Heat looked like it would fit the bill. From the description it sounded like it would complement the Wizard just perfectly. So I ordered one up.

Time to operate!

There isn’t much room in a 2×12 as it turns out.

Deville 2x12 pre-swap. Kinda tight in there.

Deville 2×12 pre-swap. Kinda tight in there.

I had to take out more than I thought to get at the bottom speaker. I thought about putting the speaker in the top position, which is where I would prefer it, but then I’d have to pull the whole amp chassis. And I wasn’t that excited about doing so.

2014-11-02 12.13.05

Wizard on left, Texas Heat on right.

With the Wizard removed you can really see the difference in how the cones are constructed. It will be interesting to see how the sound changes with the new speaker.

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New speaker in place and the tubes back in. Time to button her up.

Post-op report: It will take time to break in that new speaker, but right out of the gate the combo sounds awesome. I should have done a pre-swap recording for comparison, sorry you can’t hear that, but take my word for it, this amp is now beyond awesome. I will put a few clips when I get a chance.

Have a safe and happy thanksgiving. I know I’m grateful for a lot this year.

The Stone Cup in Lyons on Dec. 7, 10am-12pm.

The Rock Inn in Estes Park on Jan. 3, 6-9pm.

Hope to see you out there.

It’s a process, right?

Ah the studio. The tape doesn't lie.

Ah the studio. The tape doesn’t lie.

I hate that. It’s a process. Trust the process. Don’t hurry.

Heck with that!

Unfortunately, when someone tells you that, they’re probably right. It is a process. Being in a rush probably won’t help. Won’t make it better. Won’t make it what you want it to be. And that’s true in so many realms, not just the creative. I lived in Western Colorado for quite a few years, and ran into a fair number of cowboy types along the way. I accumulated this cowboyism from one of them:

The only way to drive cows fast is to drive ‘em slow.

It’s easy to say that. Tougher to hear. I’ve been working on a record project for about four months now. Wish it were going faster, but it’s not. But it is going. We have most of the instrumentation done for six track. And they sound really good (scroll to the bottom to hear two quick clips). Might get the instrumentation for two more done this month or next, then hopefully vocals by the end of December.

Not the schedule I was hoping for, but this is what you get when you do it piecemeal.

Mystery harmonica player in the studio. You want to know who it is- wait to buy the record.

Mystery harmonica player in the studio. You want to know who it is? Wait to buy the record.

Along the way I’ve gotten to play with some really awesome folks, and I am learning a whole bunch about this process, so that’s really cool. And it isn’t like I have a record label breathing down my neck or anything.

So one bit at a time. And it’s a process. Damn it.

I’m playing at The Stone Cup here in Lyons on Dec. 7 from 10 to noon or whenever we feel done, which is usually about 1pm.  A friend pointed out that it is Pear Harbor Day that Sunday and did I have a song for that. Good thought. We’ll have to work on that.

Then I’m excited to be playing at The Rock Inn in Estes Park on January 3 from 6-9. It’s a really great place up by the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. Great food and drinks after a day in the out-of-doors. It will be a great start to 2015! Hope to see you there. Keep checking here for new show dates and times.

This is a quick bit of a song called “This Road Leads to You.” Loooooove that steel player.

Here’s more of a rocker. It’s called “Gotta Fool The Devil.” It’s gonna be fun when we’re finished. I promise.

Maybe I’ll see you out there somewhere.

One Year Ago…

There was more river than we had ever seen…

We were an island…and so was almost everyone we know…

Many of our friends had their lives changed forever…

Our house was full…

The streets were empty…

Neighbor helped neighbor as best they could…

We watched friend’s houses go downstream…

We cried…

 

We ar embarking the anniversary of the flooding this weekend in Lyons. It’s a very mixed thing. I feel happy to be here, happy to be a part of this town, sad for so many friends whose lives have been, and are still, so disrupted. Sad for all those who aren’t home yet. Sad when I see the scars that are still there. Glad that I’m here, that I know more people than I did.

It’s a strange thing, to mark an anniversary like this.

Posts from a year ago here and here.

Seriously, what more do you need…

Peter Himmelman leading a conga line at Folks Festival last week should cover it.

A quick aside, I didn’t know Himmelman at all until this weekend, but then I looked him up (because his set was awesome, seriously). He played in two bands I saw back in high school in Minneapolis in the ’80’s- Shangoya, sort of a funk reggae thing, and Sussman Lawrence, a straight up rock band. I didn’t join any sessions which him at song school, and now I’m sorta bummed about that, a mistake I won’t make again.  Funny how everything comes in a circle. And apparently the circle always passes through Minneapolis.

Wednesday the 20th at 7:30 at Oskar Blues. 45 minute set.

Sunday the 24th at 10am at the Stone Cup. Two solid hours of songs.

Looking forward to seeing you there.

 

 

Songschool and Folks Fest

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It was a strange week for me at Song School. My work life intruded much more than I would normally like.

But, it ended with a bang.

Thanks to Mojo Medicine Show- MD on harp, Dan on percussion, Jim on the resonator, Christine on bass, and Julia helping with the vocals.

Dispatch rocking the main stage in Lyons.

Dispatch rocking the main stage in Lyons.

And now it’s Folks Festival weekend- one of my favorite times of year. Dispatch rocked it last night. Later today John Fullbright, Josh Ritter, and Brandi Carlile. You can’t get better than that.

Just a reminder- I’m playing a set at Oskar Blues in Lyons at 7:30 on Wednesday the 20th, and playing from 10am-12pm at the Stone Cup in Lyons on Sunday the 24th. I’ll look forward to seeing you then!

 

Song School, and Beyond! (gigs and rambling)

Ahh, that time of year when the tribe gathers in Lyons to conduct strange rituals in tents and stay up all night playing songs. Yup. Song school. This is my third year at Song School, and unfortunately my time at grownup camp this year has been cut short by the demands of my grownup job, which sucks but is the nature of grownup life sometimes (the cruel irony of having a day job is that I have money, but no time- if I quit, I’ll have time, but no money).

A bit of songwriting at Song School

A bit of songwriting at Song School

Still, it’s fun to connect with some people I have known, get to know some new people, learn some things about being a songwriter and celebrate the creative life. The main benefit of Song School is really having a sense of camaraderie with similar artistic people- yes, we all feel inadequate sometimes, yes we all worry about what we are doing more than is warranted. Yes, this can make you a bit crazy. There is a certain relief in knowing you are not alone in a pursuit that the civilian world doesn’t really understand.

It’s also great to see Planet Bluegrass, the home of song school, looking so great. The folks there have done an amazing job putting it all back together better than it was originally. Several of us have commented that last August we had no idea what was coming only three weeks after song school. Still, my town has a long way to go, but the signs of healing are welcome. And music festivals and song school are a big part of that.

After the festival I’ll put some more attention to the record that is in progress. We got all the base tracks done this summer, so in the fall we’ll work on extra instrumentation and then vocals. I’m hoping to be done by the end of October, with a release in November or December. But then I hope a lot of things.

Upcoming Gigs:

Wednesday August 20 I’m playing the opening set of a two act night at Oskar Blues. They are starting a new ‘Lyons Local’ night and I am pinch-hitting for a friend who had to drop out. It should be a really great night and my first ‘official’ gig at Oskar Blues. I’ll play a 45 minute set at 7:30 or so.

Sunday August 24 I’m at The Stone Cup from 10am-12pm. I’ll be outside in all but the WORST of weather. Their food is great and the coffee is better. Enjoy you Sunday on “Lyons’ Front Porch’ and I’ll sing you some songs.

Stay tuned for more updates…and sign up for my mailing list (big red box to the right) for more direct info.